State Of My Personal Indie Nation: March 2011

31 Mar

Goodness gracious me, how the time does fly when you’re working twelve hours a day on something you love. I can hardly believe it’s April already, or as near as makes no odds. First, I’d like to post my sales for the month of March, 2011, to give some perspective on where I stand:

Charlotte Powers: Power Down – 4
Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns – 8
Miya Black, Pirate Princess II: Freedom & Responsibility – 4
Resonance Book One: Birds Of Passage – 5
The Boy & Little Witch – 0

In total, 21 sales across five books. Let me be honest here; I’m really happy with these numbers (aside from The Boy & Little Witch not getting any love, but more on that in a bit). Anything more than ‘zero’ is absolutely fine for me at this point. I’m moving forward, it doesn’t matter how slowly I’m going.

The Boy & Little Witch not selling any I put down to the fact that kid’s and middle-grade fiction just don’t sell on the Kindle right now, not apart from the popular, vetted titles. Why? Lots of reasons. This isn’t the place to go into them, but I think the most important one is that parents buy these books for their children and they’re (understandably) not going to take a risk on an unproven quantity. There could be anything in a book nobody’s heard of. (Not in mine though, it’s completely gentle and lovely.) I think eventually this will open up, for now I’m happy it’s out there and I’m still very proud of it–I loved writing it and I’m enjoying (slowly) reading it to Miyario and Lunigi. Enough of that, though.

Miya Black continues to be my best-selling book, which I’m quietly happy about. I love all of my babies but Miya Black is special to me. The first in the series is the ‘roughest’ book I’ve published–the first novel I ever wrote that I was happy enough with to want to share with other people, but re-reading it now … there’s a lot I’d change, let’s put it that way, except I never will, because it’s … it’s written. It’d be like if someone went back and changed Dragons of Autumn Twilight, goodness knows it needs it but that wouldn’t be RIGHT, the story is THERE, it’s TOLD, it’s in the hearts of millions of readers, you can’t just change it–correcting mistakes is fine, of course, but once your book is out there in the wild, you just … I don’t know, you can’t go back and say “No, actually it wasn’t like that, it was like this“, it just doesn’t work like that.

Whoops, got side-tracked there. So, Miya Black is rough but good, and the series really picks up with the second novel and will launch into a higher gear with the third and then the fourth (as I keep saying) is one of the best things I’ve ever written so–huh, I got side-tracked again really quickly, how does that keep happening?

New paragraph, new focus. Resonance is starting to see some sales, which I’m happy about. Again, there’s a lot I’d change about it, I don’t think there’s enough external conflict and I probably should have put some more action scenes in–getting back on track, I’m happy people are starting to read it. Or buy it, at least. Hopefully they’re reading it. Even more hopefully they’re enjoying it.

Charlotte Powers is chugging along nicely. Nothing much to say about that except the sequel really opens things up and starts to properly explore the superhero mythos of Charlotte’s world, and it has a lot of great characters and really fun/intense superhero action scenes. I’m looking forward to sharing it with people.

So, to sum up, I like these numbers, I’m excited to have them. In February (although it wasn’t a full month) I got thirteen sales in total. Thirteen to twenty-one is a nice jump, I think. Also, with time and sales come connections–already I’m seeing ‘customers also bought’ titles on my books’ pages, and hopefully soon my books will start showing up on other books’ ‘also bought’ pages. Time is not my enemy here. Forever is. I mean … I just have to be patient.

That’s enough about numbers, now I’d like to go over what I did this month in terms of promotion. To start with, I began this bjournal! Best decision I’ve made since I became an indie author. It’s fun to write about what I’m doing and I think I needed a place to vent, too. Going on Twitter and Facebook also have been good, they’re fun and I like talking to other people about things. Kindleboards, always great. Goodreads … still a little scared of Goodreads, to be honest. I’ve voted on a couple of lists and I like adding books I’ve read, but I haven’t found many discussions I’m comfortable joining. Shelfari I enjoy, I like the layout and the interface makes sense to me, also the ‘book extras’ that link back to Amazon are fun. The giveaways I tried to do were a complete wash, not even a single response. As I predicted. Sometimes it’s no fun to be right. Won’t be trying those again. What else? I guess I’ve covered the major things. I might do another entry about ‘Self-Promotion For People Who Hate It’ later, so I’ll go into more detail then.

All right! On to the fun stuff, my actual writing accomplishments this month! Really, I did a lot. I took Imogen Shroud from the germ of an idea into a 115k third draft, I wrote 20k of Power Play, I did a really good editing pass on Miya Black III, I updated the covers for a bunch of my books, I wrote a couple of decent short stories, and I even found time to peck away at Miya Black VI and VII. Adding things up, my total word count for March 2011 is around 150,000. All in all, I’m very happy with how my writing’s gone in March. If I’m this productive every month I’ll be very happy, no matter how my sales are.

Looking ahead? Well, next on my to-do list is to convert MBIII into Kindle format so I can do a final pass on it, then send it off for publication. Excited about that. Imogen Shroud also, after it’s had a rest I’ll do another proof, then probably one more, maybe aiming for an end-of-April release. Aside from that I’m going to keep myself open, after MBIII is out I’m going to read through MBIV again, mostly because I just want to, and then Resonance Book Two and Power Play should probably be my priorities. Mystery Kids keeps pecking at me, too, and I had a look at the Miya Black spin-off “The Legend Of Jean Scarlet” yesterday and remembered how much I loved it and how badly I want to tell that particular story, so … I don’t know. Best to keep things open for now. Still hemming and hawing about Fairytale-X, so I’ll probably pick at it from time to time until I decide. Probably shouldn’t have made the cover so good. I suspect the cover might be better than the actual book. I also woke up with a really weird idea–well not weird, the idea itself is solid, it’s just weird that I had the idea for a book about vampires. I guess it was thinking about all the vampire things that I don’t dislike–the TV show Forever Knight was good, and Vampire: The Masquerade had some good ideas … I think that a vampire book about a properly old vampire–wise, dignified, powerful through real charm and intelligence and presence rather than ‘powers’–just kicking sense into these modern poncy flowery poser vampires might actually be kind of fun. Not a parody or satire, but more of a deconstruction. Reconstruction, even. But anyway, I have too many other projects right now, I shouldn’t even be thinking about starting something new.

As for promotion, I think I’m going to go into ‘passive’ mode for April. I have no new books out, I have no obvious avenues to explore. If an opportunity arises I’ll go for it, but other than that I’ll just keep updating this bjournal, remaining active on Twitter and Facebook and Kindleboards, and generally just being out there without actually trying to promote myself. The good thing is that I’m feeling much more comfortable these days, doing all of this ‘putting myself forward’ stuff, and I really like that I’ve taught myself to be able to say “I wrote this and I think it’s good” without feeling sick. Because I honestly do think my books are good–and I’m really picky, so they must be at least decent.

I’ll leave off with a passage from the sublime Sir Terry Pratchett, one that’s been on my mind recently:

“Come and sit where I can see you. That’s good manners. And let me tell you right now that I ain’t at all afraid of you.”
The tall, black-robed figure walked across the floor and sat down on a handy barrel, leaning its scythe against the wall. Then it pushed back its hood. Granny folded her arms and stared calmly at the visitor, meeting his gaze eye-to-socket.
“I have faith.”
“Oh, none of them.”
“Just faith, you know. In general.”
Death leaned forward. The candlelight raised new shadows on his skull.
Death grinned.
Granny leaned forward, and blew out the candle. Then she folded her arms again and stared fiercely ahead of her.
After some length of time a voice said, ALL RIGHT, YOU’VE MADE YOUR POINT.

-Granny Weatherwax and Death, Maskerade, Terry Pratchett



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