Monday, July 20, 2015

The Obloeron Re-writes: Done, Done, and DONE!

When I finished the first draft for the manuscript that became The Quest for the Chalice in early February 2005, I remember a weight seemingly leave my shoulders. The manuscript was, I thought at the time, completed. I had just finished writing my first novel, and the emotion of the moment took over my body. The fact it took me just over two years to write that particular novel and all the issues surrounding it, dealing with writer's block and not knowing where to take the story a few times (and then discovering my backstory in Kayiko), dealing with the death of my father and life without him, and then nearly losing the entirety of the manuscript in a Christmas 2004 disk problem, and then typing those two little words... yeah, you can say I was a little emotional that evening.

And while I've felt the finality of writing novels in the last 10-plus years--the weight leaving, the feeling of "Oh, thank Cthulhu that's over!" and then following that up with "OK, what do I do now?"--I've grown to the point where there is no need for tears when I finish writing a book. It's my job now, and there is no crying at work.

On Sunday, I didn't cry when I finished this read-through and revision of The Obloeron Saga, even though I felt a bit of an emotional tug around 1:30 p.m., when I saved the file to The Fall of Myrindar.

Yes. After 12 years, six months, and 15 days after I first started writing about a little halfling known as Yanos Kingsfoil, I can safely say that Obloeron's six-book saga is now completed.

There have been some changes, as I've mentioned before. I've tightened the story from front to back. Passive voice is gone; it littered my writing a decade ago. I've deleted whole sections that slowed the story down. I made a few character changes to fit continuity and canon. From what I can see, the story, as a whole, reads much better than it did two years ago. It simply feels better, in my opinion.

Of course, there are some spots where it drags a bit; the whole exposition coming back from Statuary Tower at the end of Quest... there's not much I can do, and I really cannot cut it; it's just a really boring section, the action done. The exposition builds up to the ending, where Grumpet tells his Jessica that he must go south with the dwarves. But the rest of it is pretty darn good; seriously, I still get chills at the end of Fall, when Aidan Rosar makes his first appearance in a while--and I wrote that scene in 2006!

Now, the next thing to do is to compile the multiple book files into a single compendium and read it again, this time on my Kindle. I'll do that in October, right before it's time to re-publish, as well as upload the finished files of the single books. And yes, there may be a few tears, too.

I can tell you that the final quarter of 2015 will be pretty darn exciting as I say good bye to Obloeron one last time.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

10,000 book sales and beyond

I wrote the other day that book sales have come to a crawl for me personally; it has made me re-think my business plan moving forward. It came to such a crawl at the worst time--just as I approached 10,000 book sales lifetime.

Let me allow you access to the dusty mind of an author: We are an obsessive bunch, especially about our book sales. For those of us who hail from the indie variety, we center our lives around checking our book sales on Amazon, Nook, Smashwords, and Kobo (I throw in CreateSpace and ACX for paperbacks and audiobooks, too). Write a paragraph in the new WIP? Check the sales. Finish a page of prose? Check the sales. Wake up at 2 in the morning to use the bathroom? Bring your smartphone along and check the sales. Lather, rinse, repeat.

So it won't surprise you to learn that over the course of June I did all of this; a few months ago, while checking my spreadsheet and noticing the dip and figuring out my averages, I had figured that I would hit 10,000 by the end of June. I had ended May at 9,938 sales before the Apple iBooks update came through on Smashwords--when it finally came, I was at 9,945, which I believe came down to my bookstore site 404ing earlier in the month. Add in June's sales coming into the last week, I neared 9,990 (I was at 9,986 when I penned my change of business plan blog on June 25). That weekend, I was away from my laptop for a majority of it, so posting book links on Twitter was out, but I still sold a few books--just not enough to eclipse 10,000.

Then Monday, with me at 9,991 and one sale already in the tally books after writing the release blog for The Long Crimson Line, I took a nap. I woke up at about noon to a message from a high school classmate of mine who said that she had bought nine books.

"I love your writing," she said.

Thanks, Jess!

So there you have it. I've crossed 10,000 book sales, doing so in slightly less than six years. There are so many different reasons why it took me so long. I'm not going to analyze them here. I can tell you that there were no tears this time, unlike when I crossed 1,000 back in February 2011. I just gave a bit of a fist pump and went on with my day.

But I do hope that with the aforementioned change in my business model, and with constantly improving writing, that the second 10,000 will come much sooner than the first.

Stay tuned.