Monday, October 31, 2011

Gearing up for NaNo 2011

We're less than 11 hours -- on the east coast -- away from the beast known as NaNoWriMo 2011. Of course, I'll be taking part.

This year, I'm going a little bit out of my comfort zone of thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy for this year's tale. I'm writing a historical romance set in Boston's old Scollay Square during its waning years, mainly the 10-year period between 1953 and 1963. It's basically the story of a Boston Brahmin girl from a WASPish family who meets and falls in love with a West End boy... they fall out of love and don't see each other for eight years, right before the city of Boston begins the eminent domain process to take land for the new Government Center.

Government Center... yes, you've heard that before. I've written about Government Center before, mentioning it in two books. It held a great deal of the plot for Model Agent, and I mentioned it a few times in Turning Back The Clock. The line "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot" in MA references the demise of Scollay Square in 1963.

I'm excited and nervous for this project. Like I said, I'm going outside of my comfort zone. I've read my outline, and it looks mighty vague, especially on the third page of three. I have plenty of reference material to go with. And of course, I'm thinking there's no way in Hell that I'll get 50,000 words out of this story.

Of course, I've said that before. I just need to relax and do what I do best, and that's write and create.

Midnight can't get here soon enough.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Excited for new stories/releases

I just had the pleasure of checking out the PDF of the 2011 Bump In The Night horror anthology from Bucks County Publishing. As you know by now, BCP is the publisher for Zombie Showdown, and I've worked with BCP on its 2010 edition of BITN. My Christmas horror short, RED CHRISTMAS, is more like a novella: nearly 52 pages (in 5x8 book form) of blood and snow, set in my hometown of Fitchburg, Mass.

I just posted on Facebook about it: And I may seem a tad biased, but if you're not taking a deep breath after reading RC, then you need your pulse checked.

Red Christmas, if memory serves me, is coming out as a standalone ebook on Nov. 1, with the full anthology coming out on Nov. 15.

Soon after that, I have a short story coming out in Dark Continents Publishing's Phobophobias anthology. This was a great project to be a part of: 26 authors, mainly from the UK and a smattering from the US including yours truly, taking a letter of the alphabet and writing about a phobia beginning with that letter. I chose the letter C, and I wrote about Coulrophobia -- the fear of clowns. I put the clowns and the main character, Camille, in a cemetery, and, well... if you've read me, you know there's some sort of action involved. I'm excited for this release; it'll put me in front of a whole new audience.

Phobophobias comes out Nov. 25.

And of course, shortly after that, I'll release the third Jaclyn Johnson novel, Double Agent. This one is set in Las Vegas. I'll go into more detail in a couple of weeks, after edits are finished and everything is nice and straightened out.

Let's just say this: It's a big novel.

I can't wait to release it.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Ten personal book selling facts I want you to know

I updated my book sales spreadsheet this morning. I don't use Excel; I use a legal pad and a calculator. I'm so old fashioned that way. I wanted to share my findings with you all.

A couple of disclaimers.

First: Before this morning, I hadn't updated my spreadsheet since May. The fact that I've been busy with Double Agent's first draft, which I finished Friday afternoon, as well as the delay in Smashwords' reporting has delayed my updating. Since I know I've had some strong boosts via Smashwords and that I'm nearing 2,500 lifetime book sales (lifetime being since Nov. 1, 2009), I wanted to verify my counts before I threw a party. That would've sucked if I thought I had arrived... and then found out that no, I'm not there yet. It happened yesterday in South Africa; that country's football team thought it had qualified for the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations... but it didn't. So yeah, I want to avoid that at all costs.

Secondly: I had posted on Facebook back in July that I hit 2,000 books sold lifetime on July 2, which is what I knew at the time. At the time, my data did not include the numbers for my short story Vuvuzombie, which I had traditionally published through Bucks County Publishing (the same publisher for Zombie Showdown) as part of the Bump In The Night anthology. As soon as I started receiving numbers for ZS, I requested numbers for VVZ. My thought was since I'm including my trad-pubbed data in my sales reports to my IAM members, I might as well add VVZ to it, too. My new data updates that.

And third, I'm breaking this blog down into what information I know and what I'm thinking about that information. I hope this will help other authors on their sales journey, whether being a newbie to the publishing world or a traditionally published author making the jump to do-it-yourself.

All right, without further ado...

Fact No. 1: I've sold 1,788 books in 2011. Of those, 1,768 are digital books.

What I think about that fact: Holy shit! Little ole me sold that many? Wowza.

Fact No. 2: I've nearly tripled my overall sales from 2010 (659). Of those, 52 were ink and paper.

What I think about that fact: Once again, holy shit. I never dreamed that I would triple 2010. Let me breathe for a second here... OK. The numbers just kept going up and up. I've had some really awesome months and I've toppled many milestones, including 1,000 and 2,000 lifetime books sold. The 2,500 milestone is only 23 books away.

Fact No. 3: I've released five new books in 2011, with a sixth coming in December (as long as everything goes right).

What I think about that fact: Six books in one year? Really, Sean? Here's the beauty of independent publishing, my friends. As an independent publisher, I have the ability to put out as many or as few books as I like. I spent a good portion of 2011 going through my backlog, polishing my books to make them as good as I can before putting them out in the marketplace. Three of the books I wrote in 2010, one in 2009, and the other in 2007. I've only written one book in 2011, which will be out in December. I also have a few short stories that will come out in the next few months, one of which to what should be a new audience. I'm looking forward to 2012 with that one. As soon as my backlog is fully clear, I'm expecting to put out, at the very least, three new books a year: One of which will be an AGENT thriller. I know that much.

Fact No. 4: A few of my John Fitch V titles have received a new lease on life.

What I think about that fact: Amen. I never thought my JFV titles were exceptional. A few of them, yes. They were the books I cut my teeth with. The stories are solid. The writing isn't my best, but I've done my best to improve the titles, with the exception of the Trilogy.The covers do suck, with the exception of Galaxy. Part in parcel of that success could be my making The Mastermind free in December 2010, as well as contributing to my buddy David Dalglish's A Land Of Ash anthology.

Fact No. 5: A Galaxy At War is currently my personal best seller.

What I think about that fact: You want to run that by me again? My sci-fi novel on the JFV name is my best seller? I guess putting it at .99 cents/70 pence really helped. Through its first nine months of existence, Galaxy had sold 92 copies. Since January 3, when I lowered the price from $2.99 to .99 (and since back to $2.99 for a few weeks), I've sold 472 more copies. I've not made a lot of money on the book, but the fact that people are reading that book (I hope its not languishing on their Kindle or Nook) touches me more than you know. The fact that it's my personal best seller right now simply astounds me. Also see No. 4.

Fact No. 6: The AGENT series is currently my top series.

What I think about that fact: This doesn't surprise me. What does surprise me is that Rogue Agent only accounts for 114 of the series' 636 sales. It shouldn't surprise me, though: The snippet of Rogue Agent in the back of Model Agent says Rogue will be released at Christmas 2011. I changed my mind and moved it up, and I never updated the file. I don't have it listed on Goodreads, so that may also be a problem I need to rectify. I also think my dragging my heels to get an ENT slot for it has hurt that book's success. I expect it to rebound in a month (my ENT slot is Nov. 3). My mate Steven Savile has told me that sometimes readers don't pick up the second book for a variety of reasons. So far, I'm happy with the series' success. I'm a little troubled with RA, but I expect it to rebound, as I said. And Double Agent is coming. Big things will happen with that book. Stay tuned.

Fact No. 7: The Obloeron series is performing well.

What I think about that fact: Great cover art works. So does strong writing. But also, too, is great escapism fantasy. Since I've released The Rise of the Dark Falcon, the original trilogy has seen a boost, 155 books combined. That could be due to Land of Ash and Mastermind... but I think it could be due to the fact that I mentioned the trilogy in the product description in DF, as well as mentioned C.S. Marks as the cover artist. She is a great author and artist, and her artwork graces the cover of DF; I'm sure a good portion of those sales came from Christine's fan base. For those of you who mocked me for my original name of Obloeron, well, the mock is on you.

Fact No. 8: Turning Back The Clock still sells.

What I think about that fact: TBTC has sold at least one copy a month since its release nearly two years ago. Nine days into October, it's at 0. Still a lot of time left and I have faith. The Little Book That Could is perfect for baseball's postseason.

Fact No. 9: Royal Switch kind of sells.... but doesn't.

What I think about that fact: I think I fucked up with RS. I honestly do. Around the time that I had released Model Agent and saw the success of that book, I wanted to feed off its success instead of linking Royal Switch with the success of its predecessor, Turning Back The Clock. I put my real name on the cover instead of the pseudonym. I think I made a mistake. Then again, I haven't updated my files nor really promoted the book, so that may have a bit to do with it...

Fact No. 10: An author can't have great book sales without great readers.

What I think about that fact: Thank you. I really mean it. Great readers drive me to write great stories. I'll continue to do so. You can take that to the bank.