Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Obloeron Re-writes: Back at it

Now that the first draft of Chemical Agent is done and dusted and The Long Crimson Line is with readers, it's time to settle the focus back on The Obloeron Saga re-writes. If you'll remember, I took the original trilogy off sale in November 2013 because I felt the writing from more than a decade ago was poor, and last year I thought it would be best if they never saw the light of day again. Since then, my thinking has changed and, as I have weaved a set of short stories into the original trilogy and kept two aside for freebies and such, I'm proceeding with getting them to a better state than they were two years ago.

And that includes the prequels, too. The first two have been out, and starting yesterday, I dove into a re-read and, ultimately, a revision--the final revision--of The Rise Of The Dark Falcon. After a little more than 24 hours of work, I'm a little more halfway through the book. I expect to be done with Dark Falcon by the time I go to bed on Thursday, and I may even get into The Shadow Looms. In other words: Don't buy those two books until I give you the go-ahead.

I'm pacing myself with this revision, breaking it up into manageable sections and revising as I go. Right now, I've broken Dark Falcon up into quarters--the manuscript without page breaks is 133 pages, but with what I've done to it so far, I've added a little more than a page or so or prose; the opening was a tad thin, in my opinion, and I've bulked that up. I'm sure with the new prose that I added to The Quest For The Chalice in December and January, I'll have to split that book into fifths in order to make it manageable and not seem as daunting as a 100,000-word book sounds.

Now remember: this is six books we're talking about here, and I fully expect that with two books a week, this project will be done by the end of July; of course, I sit here saying that knowing it's approximately a 500,000-word behemoth of a tale and I'm currently 36,000 words into it. I'm not taking into account my weekend chores here on the farm, game coverage, or going back into the chronology for exact detail of how things went down, so it may be that in order to meet that goal, I'll have to be scarce from the Internet, which for me is rather difficult. I may have to do thirds a day instead of quarters (I gave serious thought to reading another 15 pages today, that way I'd be two-thirds of the way through instead of only just above halfway, but again, I don't want to rush it), but I will do my best to meet the goal I have set for myself. By July 23, I should be done, if everything goes to plan.

Either way, the entirety of this series will be better for it, however I break the books down in order to make them perfect for the reading eye.


Monday, June 29, 2015

Happy Book Day: The Long Crimson Line now available

Edit: Nook is up; link below.

Happy Book Day to me, Happy Book Day to me, Happy Book Day, Happy Book Day, Happy Book Day to me!

(And to buddies Daniel Arenson and David McAfee, too.)

Well, it's here. The Long Crimson Line: A Thriller has finally been released on all platforms. Novel No. 21, in all its bloody glory.

This novel pushes the envelope far beyond anything that I've done before. The amount of description in the murders detailed--the second to last murder, especially--will make the reader smell the blood, even on an eReader.

I'll be working this week to get the paperback copy up, and right now we've had a good launch thanks to pre-orders. Will it continue?

Oh, I hope so.

US Kindle
UK Kindle
iBooks (coming soon)


Thursday, June 25, 2015

An author, re-assessing his business plan

Warning: Long post. For the TL,DR crowd: Author talks about changing his business plan, along with some insight on his sales figures.

Call me a real-life Sheldon Cooper. Go on. I don't mind.

Much like Jim Parsons' beloved character, I love Star Wars and Doctor Who. Trains? Eh, I could take them or leave them, but I could ride the T all day. Science? To a point. Having a special spot? Well, let's not go too far there, Charlie. The same goes for comic books.

But for the most part, I don't like change much. I like things the way they are; you can call me a champion for the status quo, if you so desire. Change doesn't send me into a tither like it does to Sheldon; my face doesn't jerk about.

However, changes to certain places in the social media landscape--which is quite possibly the poor author's best friend when it comes to promoting their books and letting potential readers know about books--has kept me up nights, has killed my organic reach, and has sent my sales spiraling into the abyss.

*Re-reads that last graph*

Huh. Not bad. Maybe I should be an author when I grow up. Moving on.

All kidding aside, it's pretty true. The number of books I've sold in recent months--shit, in just the past year--has plummeted dramatically (yes, I keep a spreadsheet). Where once I was good for triple-digit sales months, my newer books with better writing (in my humble opinion, of course) barely scrape enough together to pay the cable bill; I'm at 41 sales for June with less than a week left in the month, and a new book coming out Monday. In May, I sold 39 books, thanks in part to a website glitch that I didn't notice until it was too late. I had a fantastic, triple-digit April thanks to the Double Agent audiobook coming out (and I didn't even promote it). Before that, my last triple-digit month was August 2014.

Suffice it to say, the last ten months have not been kind to this author.

The twelve months before that, it was like a teeter-totter: there were a few months where the sales came in droves. Sure, I had a couple of zero days, but nothing like in recent months. I had triple-digit sales months dotted in with a couple of double-digit sales months. I thought everything was fine, and that there wouldn't be any changes--or that I would have to make any changes--to my business model. Then the last 13 months happen, with two triple-digit sales months. Yikes.

It has led me to believe what I initially thought was false is now indeed true: what had worked for me, and many other authors like me, back in 2011 and 2012 (two of my best years writing and selling my own books, 2,319 and 4,001 sales, respectively), doesn't work any longer. For the record, in 2013, I sold 1,545 books, and 1,037 in 2014. So far in 2015, I'm at 404... and we're barely halfway through the year. Honestly, it feels like 2010 again. The simple posting of links on your personal Facebook page may work, but some people are going to get pissed, and others that used to buy your books are at a different stage in their lives and don't have the time to read at the present. I posted the link to The Long Crimson Line the other day, and it got five shares, but nothing in the way of sales came out of those shares. You can post links to your professional "like" page, but the reach has shrunk to miniscule figures (read: Facebook wants you to buy sponsorships, and up until now, I've been rather hesitant to do that): on my Sean Sweeney, Author page, where I have 569 fans, I only reached 11 people with my most recent posting. The posting before that, 27. The one before that, 34. Before that, 16. The one before that, 97. I won't even tell you the fan total/reach on my Jaclyn Johnson page.

In addition, Facebook groups, in my recent experience, are no longer working; there are certain groups where you can promote your wares, but there are very few actual readers/non-authors there. If I'm being honest, I don't want to pitch my book(s) to just authors who are trying to scream over me and trying to plug their books to readers that aren't even there. And as for the "you buy mine, I'll buy yours" type of authors who I don't know.... sorry, guys. I know you're not going to read my book, and I'm not going to read yours. One sale isn't going to placate us; we should be honestly looking to build relationships with readers for long-term benefit. In other words, let's stop with the authorly hand jobs, OK?

And Twitter? OK.... I will admit, Twitter is successful. No one in my circle has Kobo, so those Kobo sales have to come from somewhere. I know many authors who are successful with Twitter. There are days I wonder, though, if anyone is truly paying attention to me there. Google Plus? People read my blogs there, but I'm not posting book links there. The old Kindleboards? I don't believe I've received a sale through my dealings there in many months.

Now it's time to re-assess how we're moving forward. Call it eBook Publishing 2.0, if you will. Over the past few weeks, I've given things serious consideration. No, I'm not quitting; I could never truly quit. But if I want to remain in the game... I have to ch-ch-ch-change.

Like I said, I thought the old ways would still work. I had considered starting a mailing list as early as February 2014, but at the time, I thought it too complicated (I have since learned otherwise) and never followed through. Now that I have some time, I'm concentrating on building the mailing list on various fronts: I've placed code here in the blog and on my website to take names and email addresses (which I won't sell, not even for Monopoly money). Yeah, it's generic. I have a newsletter that is coming out Monday. If you want on, by all means, register. The newsletter will have updates on drafts, as well as links for books. It'll be like my blog, but mailed to those who want it.


As I wrote earlier this week, I'm closing in on 10,000 sales (I'm actually at 9,986 right now). In addition, I've given out more than 102,500 copies of Model Agent for free. Not all of those 9,986 sales are Jaclyn books (it's actually 6,945 not including this month's sales, but that's neither here nor there).

But here's what I find interesting:

874 paid Model Agent
2,803 Rogue Agent
2,120 Double Agent

Those were the first three books, all published in 2011. All three did very well, and all three, it should be noted, were featured sponsors on Ereader News Today between March 2011 and April 2012. Altogether, those three books have accrued over 5,800 readers, and I presume a lot of those are repeat readers.

However, moving forward:

674 Federal Agent
235 Literary Agent
177 Promises Given, Promises Kept (the novella)
77 Travel Agent

Ouch. What happened? I don't have a real answer. Federal came out in 2012, the novella in 2013, Literary in 2014, and Travel in 2015. I didn't get ENT sponsorships for them. Maybe I had hoped that the readers would continue after Double. Did they find someone new? Did they think I suck? I know some do think that, and I know I'm not going to please everyone.... were the other 90,000 who downloaded Model just hoarding it and haven't read it?

So, how do I get those readers back?

Easy: Hopefully a paid Facebook ad pointing out that I'm still here, still writing a pretty darn good character? That may be what I do, along with getting names for the newsletter. You can't spend what you don't have, so the hope is that I can devote a few dollars to winning the readers back.

And if that doesn't work... then I'll have to think of something else. I can't be afraid of changing any longer.


Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Starting off summer with a bang--a Book Bang

A lot of things to cover in this start of summer blog:

1. On Friday, I finished the first draft of CHEMICAL AGENT. All told, the first draft checks in at 100,243 words. I still have the little matter of the subplot, which shouldn't take me too long to write later this fall. That needs a little more percolation, as the intention is for the subplot to irk Forrister a little. I shouldn't need more than another 10,000 words, but we'll see.

2. As of this morning, I'm 17 books away from 10,000 sold in my career, and that's between ebooks, trade paperbacks, and audiobooks. It feels like molasses, this journey right now; I need to stop obsessing over this! Sure, 10,000 doesn't sound like a lot. There are plenty of authors who are doing better than I am, sales-wise. There are some, though, that aren't selling as much as I am (some who really should be selling better than I am).

3. In addition, MODEL AGENT has been downloaded for free on Kindle and iBooks (as well as few other entities) more than 102,500 times. I'm absolutely humbled by that number: add in the paid books, my novels and short stories have been downloaded upwards of 112,500 times. That is simply astounding to me. If I didn't make MODEL free, would I have 10,000 book sales right now? No. Not at all. I would probably still be struggling to get to 5,000.

Of course, the question now is how much longer am I willing to let MODEL stay free? I'm not getting many downloads on Kindle any longer, but I'm still getting loads of downloads on Apple. This is one of those "cut your nose off to spite your face" kind of deals... and I really don't know how to approach it.

4. I am taking a few days away from the writing in order to get a few things done: weeding the garden, mowing the lawn (I usually do it on Saturdays, but Jen and I went to the Cape this past weekend), and catching up on my laundry. But once I get that out of the way, I should dive into the final read-through of the entire Obloeron Saga. The plan is to put it out in one compendium later this year. Then, return to the Scollay Love romance, revise it, and put it back out under a new URL. It will stay under my D.L. Boyd pen name. Then, after all that is done, start writing the first draft of a New Adult Romance under the D.L. Boyd name.

5. And of course, we're six days away from the release of THE LONG CRIMSON LINE: A THRILLER. Pre-ordering is still going strong. Get your copy for US Kindle, UK Kindle, and Kobo at these links. June 29 can't get here any sooner.


Friday, June 12, 2015

JJ7 Update: Four chapters to go

The title of the blog says it all. After today's 2,464-word writing session, I am at 88,818 words and four chapters away from putting the capper on JJ7, a.k.a. Chemical Agent. I believe this next chapter will be three scenes in total: the first scene rather quick, the second scene with more dialogue, and the third scene will be full of detail. I will more than likely start this chapter on Sunday or Monday. The next two chapters after that will be intense resolution chapters, before the final one will wrap everything up nice and tidy.

Or does it?

(Quick aside: That was my mind snarling, "Muhahahaha." As far as you know.)

There is still the question of the subplot. I had brainstormed a light subplot for this story with the intention of making the character involved in the subplot to feature a little more in the eighth Jaclyn Johnson novel. Unfortunately for me, I'm starting to think that the subplot would slow the current story down, and I'm harping on whether or not to include it at all.

If I keep the subplot, I need to do more brainstorming: I only wrote the initial subplot scene back in March, then stuck with the main plot all the way through to this point; I even skipped over the second subplot scene a couple of weeks back. As I have it right now, the character involved in the subplot is tied to the antagonist--but I really didn't make that connection in the writing of the first draft. If I do keep it, I need to brainstorm what happens with this character between the initial subplot scene and the second subplot scene, as well as a resolution for this character headed into book eight. I shouldn't have to look too hard to find ideas for this character, but I may not do any thinking about this topic until September when I revisit JJ7 for the first round of editing.

All told, I could have the first draft of this book done in a week, or two. I haven't decided yet, but within two weeks should be a rather safe estimate. I'm not trying to rush this book: after all, it has taken me three months to get to this point, and I'm nearly done with the first draft.

Just have to pace myself, and everything should work out.


Wednesday, June 3, 2015

What is THE LONG CRIMSON LINE all about?

A very good question, Mr. Title!

THE LONG CRIMSON LINE: A THRILLER is my 21st novel, and it may just be my most daring, push-the-envelope novel yet. Here, take a look at this:

There is NOTHING you can do about the blood that's about to run through the streets of Boston. Absolutely NOTHING. The police can't stop it. The mayor, the governor. Not even the victims themselves.

However, there's one person in Boston who feels he can stop it, and that's Ricky Madison: a Washington Street florist and ex-cop from Worcester. With the help of Mary Ruggles, and old friend and fellow businesswoman, the pair go through the files, visit the sites where the murders took place--and discover that their killer may not be male.

Did you get that? The killer may not be male--meaning the killer can only be one thing...

They also discover, thanks to a note, that the killer is a devotee to a long-dead serial killer in his own right, one that terrorized the streets of London 130 years in the past.

Pre-order THE LONG CRIMSON LINE on Amazon Kindle US, Amazon Kindle UK, Kobo, and Smashwords. You can read a snippet of the first chapter here.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Cover Reveal and pre-order links for THE LONG CRIMSON LINE

There was a bit of a delay, but last night I finalized the cover for my forthcoming thriller novel, THE LONG CRIMSON LINE: A THRILLER. I even have a blurb for it, too.

In the city of Boston, women are dying in a heinous manner. The police are baffled. They have no clues, nor any leads. The public is frightened.

Enter Ricky Madison, florist—an ex-Worcester cop with an insubordinate streak.

Madison and his friend, Mary Ruggles, find the patterns the killer is using, until they discover the one thing that ties all the murders together—the killer may not be male, and that the killer is a devotee to one of the most sought-after killers in the history of the world.

WARNING: The graphic nature of this book is not intended for those under the age of majority where local laws apply.


It has a WARNING LABEL, ladies and gentlemen! A WARNING LABEL. What does that tell you?

THE LONE CRIMSON LINE: A THRILLER is available for pre-order on Kindle US, Kindle UK, Kobo, and Smashwords right now. It will also be available for pre-order on Kobo. Nook does not have pre-orders, but I will click publish on the day it is slated to come out; you can also pre-order through Smashwords and select the epub version. It will be available to read on June 29, 2015.

For a bit of Chapter 1, you can read it here.