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State Of My Personal Indie Nation, April 2011 Edition

30 Apr

Goodness goodness goodness, where does the time go. It seems like only a month ago I was sitting here, writing about … oh. Well, anyway, let’s begin with some cold hard figures:

April 2011 Sales

Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns – 8
Miya Black, Pirate Princess II: Freedom & Responsibility – 3
Charlotte Powers: Power Down – 2
Resonance Book One: Birds Of Passage – 4
The Boy & Little Witch – 0
The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud – 13

Overall, I can’t say I’m unhappy with these numbers. I had hoped that they’d be a little higher this month, but I’m certainly not complaining. Overall, there’s an increase of sales over last month, although that’s because I released Imogen Shroud. Looking at it that way, it could be said that I’ve actually seen a decrease in sales this month.

Is there any reason for this? Well, I have been doing less promotion. That could have something to do with it. But in doing less promotion I’ve been happier and more productive, so, well, to be honest I don’t mind a lessening of sales if it means I can write more and my mood is better.

However, there was one thing that certainly increased this month; feedback. I’ve been getting feedback about my books, and all of it is positive. This is … I can’t lie, this is utterly fantastic. I’d rather have one person say “I really liked your book” than a hundred anonymous sales. Hopefully with the great reviews I’ve been getting I’ll see an increase of sales also, although to be completely honest I haven’t seen that happen yet. Still, I’m only four months into this thing, patience is what I must have. In two months, at the half-year point, that’s when I’ll have to seriously start looking at what I’m doing and whether I could be doing it better. And another six months after that, at the Year One point … well, that’s too far ahead to speculate on, really, but at this moment, here and now, I have to say that I’m feeling optimistic. I feel that I’m starting to get some wind in my sails and that slowly, so slowly, my ship is beginning to move.

So, in terms of actual writing, what have I achieved this month? I worked like an electric beaver on Imogen Shroud and managed to get it edited and proofed and published, huge achievement there. If that’s all I’d accomplished this month, I’d be happy. But it isn’t! I also did a huge amount of outlining work on Resonance Book Two: Against Darker Days, some on Charlotte Powers 2: Power Play, and made that spiffy new cover for Birds Of Passage. I did some light editing on Miya Black III, and managed not to do any actual writing at all, aside from the Machine of Death short (which I’m very happy with). But that’s okay, writing isn’t just about writing, especially when you’re an indie, and I think that any month in which you actually manage to release a book into the wild is also a month where you should probably take it easy for the rest of the time.

So! Coming up on May, eh? What’s in store? Well, I’d love to release Miya Black III. It needs at least one more editing run and at least one more proofing run, but in terms of structure and story and so forth it’s done. Yes, very keen to get that one out. I may make it a priority. And then I can start editing book IV, yay. I’d also love to get the first draft of Against Darker Days finished, but I’m not sure how realistic a goal that is. Hmm … oh, what the heck, let’s try for it and see what happens; in May I’m going to try to get the first draft of Against Darker Days finished. I’d also like to work on Charlotte Powers 2 some more, so … well, if I have time and if I’m in a superhero kind of mood then yes, CP:PP will be worked on. Let’s sum up:

May 2011 Goals:
– Edit, Proof, and Publish Miya Black III.
– Write first draft of Against Darker Days.
– Work on Power Play in some kind of ill-defined capacity (outlining I guess).
– Do an editing run on Miya Black IV.
– Finish off the MoD short and submit it.
– Maybe eat something if I find the time, possibly a sandwich.

This working towards a June-July release of Against Darker Days. Mid-July, maybe. If I stagger the editing runs that could work well, it’s going to be a long book (around 150k at the least, I’d say) so those editing runs are going to be tough, I’d be foolish to attempt them consecutively. Something like 1st week June, 3rd week June, first week July … might be better off aiming for a late-July, early-August release, actually. But now I’m just muttering to myself.

General thoughts? Well, I feel good. I have one more book out than I did last month, that has to be viewed as positive and progressive and a step forward. Also, because it’s a zombie book it has far more widespread appeal than any of my other books. I can’t help but think of it as a lure, of sorts–if people read and like Imogen Shroud, they might try my other books, and enjoy them, too. Anyway, I think next month will be interesting, seeing how ImoShrou does against my other books outside of its ‘release month’, on a more even footing.

In terms of productivity, I can’t really fault myself for my April output. I worked hard, but I also relaxed more than in previous months, especially after finishing the final proofs on Imogen Shroud. I think there were even a couple of days where I didn’t do anything writing-related.

In terms of promotion, it’s true that I could’ve done more this month. But if I think about it in terms of exchanging solid productivity for ethereal promotion, I’d much rather just work. The thing I dislike most about self-promotion, aside from the whole ‘not wanting to bother people’ thing, is that you’re never quite sure what’s working and what isn’t. Often it feels like you’re working yourself to the bone for absolutely no real result at all. I think that there is a minimum of promotion that is necessary, and that the more you do the more quickly you’ll find people willing to take a chance on your books … but there’s a part of me that says “Just wait, just be patient, your books are out there, people are starting to find them, relax and enjoy the ride”.

Also I can’t say it enough, self-promotion is horrible and I hate it.

Actually, speaking of ‘promotion’, I did join one thread on Amazon.com’s boards, about zombie book covers, but that was just for fun–this is what I mean about taking opportunities as they arise, I was checking ImoShrou’s Amazon page, I saw the ‘zombie cover’ thread below, it looked interesting, I read it, I joined in, it just happened naturally. I wasn’t forcing anything, and although I felt self-conscious as an indie author joining in, the people in the thread were lovely and so I could just relax and enjoy myself. There are stories about indie authors getting ripped to shreds on the Amazon boards, and I can see it happening, especially with some of the blatant self-promotion that goes on there … I don’t know, I don’t really have any wisdom or easy answers on this subject. Just be yourself, as hard as you can, and things generally work out okay.

One thing I’ve been getting a little worried about lately–well not WORRIED, as such, more ‘aware of’–is that now I have four different series out there. It’s interesting, I always (naively) felt “Oh, people who like one will like all of them” but actually it’s not like that, most people find one series among those I’ve written that they enjoy, and the others aren’t so much for them. This is both good and bad, I mean I’m happy if anyone likes ANYTHING I’ve written, but it kind of ‘splits’ me, as a writer. For example, before I started this whole ‘actually selling my books’ thing, I just wrote for myself. If I wanted to start a new series, I just did it, if I wanted to write another Miya Black book, I did that. But now I have to admit, I am starting to feel pressure. I kind of like feeling pressure, I work well under those conditions, but it means that external forces are beginning to act upon me. It’s not bad, just … different. Something I have to adjust to. To be honest I kind of like the extra motivation–if even one person says “I’m looking forward to the sequel to Charlotte Powers” then I kind of go “Hmm, yes, me too”, and start thinking about that particular project.

In the end, I’m just making all of this up as I go along. I’m not a particularly organised person, and I don’t have as much control over my creative urges as I’d like, so I’ll just go with whatever I’m feeling on any particular day. For example, right now I’m totally focused on this Machine of Death short, Against Darker Days outlining has become priority zero–but I know that sooner rather than later I’ll pick it up again and be just as excited about it as I was before I switched to the MoD short.

This post is probably already too long, so I’ll wrap it up here. Basically, April was a great month. Technically, I sold a book a day, which is pretty much my current ‘sales goal’, I released a book, I did a lot of work on a lot of things, I got some amazing feedback and reviews, and I’m feeling both confident and optimistic about the future. I don’t have much more to add than, roll on May!

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