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State Of My Personal Indie Nation – May 2011 Edition

31 May

Well, well, another month has been and gone, and it’s time for my monthly wrap-up. As always, let’s start with some numbers:

May 2011 Sales

Miya Black, Pirate Princess I: Adventure Dawns – 8
Miya Black, Pirate Princess II: Freedom & Responsibility – 2
Charlotte Powers: Power Down – 9
Resonance Book One: Birds Of Passage – 3
The Undying Apathy Of Imogen Shroud – 14
The Boy & Little Witch – 0

Total sales? Thirty-six! That makes this my best month for sales yet, which is encouraging. I suspect the ‘also bought’ lists my books are starting to show up on may be part of it. Some lovely reviews from lovely people may also be (read: are almost certainly) a contributing factor. Naturally the book I’m currently writing the sequel to remains my lowest seller, but oh well. (Aside from The Boy & Little Witch, of course, but there’s a simple reason for that: kid’s books don’t sell on Kindle. Not yet, at least.) I think Resonance is destined to be my ‘cult’ series. Besides, as things currently stand, I suspect Charlotte Powers 2 will be finished first (first draft in June, editing/proofing July, release in August) (maybe). Imogen Shroud continues to do well, which I put down to the ELZ (Everyone Loves Zombies) factor. Zombies just have such a wide appeal, and to be honest, having looked at a lot of other zombie novels recently, it’s not hard to stand out in this sub-genre. Good writing and zombie books just don’t seem to go together (if you’re reading this and you’ve written a zombie book, don’t worry! I’m not talking about yours.) (Unless you’ve gotten a bunch of sub-three star reviews, in which case I actually probably am, sorry.)

So, what have I accomplished this month, in terms of writing? I finished outlining Resonance Book Two: Against Darker Days and wrote 120,000 words of the first draft, that’s not bad. I did an editing run of Miya Black III and picked away at Charlotte Powers 2, mainly just notes. I had the idea for an entirely new series, but I’m trying not to think about that too much at the moment. Oh, and I submitted a story for the second Machine of Death anthology, that was very fun. I’m thinking of doing another one, actually, but I have to think about the idea a little bit more first.

In terms of productivity, I feel that I could have done more. I was busy with daughters and things and a little bit sick for most of the month, especially this last week, but there were a lot of days where I just faffed around doing nothing for hours before I even started writing. To be fair on myself this was mostly due to the Daughter Uncertainty Principle, where I didn’t want to start writing before both daughters were settled and happy–I don’t work well when my writing time is fragmented, I really need solid blocks of time to get into things, and when I’m interrupted at those times I get grouchy, so I try to make sure everything’s fine before I begin, which leads to me just faffing around for hours dealing with daughters and mucking around on the Internet because I can’t commit to anything that requires actual concentration.

In terms of promotion, I’m actually pretty happy with the balance I found this month. I did a couple of giveaways, I talked with some people, and that was basically it. I didn’t do anything I didn’t want to do and I feel happier for it. As I said last month, if I think about it in terms of exchanging solid productivity for ethereal promotion, I’d much rather just work.

Speaking of work, I’ll be happy to finish off this first draft of ADD so I can work on Charlotte Powers 2, I’ve been in a real superheroes mood lately. Resonance does, of course, have characters with abilities that could be considered slightly ‘super’, but it’s not the same when it’s in a fantasy setting. Charlotte Powers is the series where I get to play with superheroes, so it’s kind of a favourite in that respect. And the second book is where I really start exploring Charlotte’s world and introducing a lot of key players and some of the action scenes are so intense that I had to go outside for a breather just outlining them. Die Hard with superheroes? Die Hard with superheroes.

So, goals for June?

– Finish writing the first draft of Against Darker Days.
– Finish outlining Charlotte Powers 2, start first drafting.
– Proof and publish Miya Black III, do an editing run of IV! (Really looking forward to just reading it again, actually.)

That’s it, I’m keeping it simple. I’d really like to have a finished first draft of CP2 in my hands by the end of the month, so I’ll aim for that. I’m not sure what the word count’s going to be but I’d estimate around 100k, maybe a little more. Definitely a longer book than the first one. Still have to decide whether or not I’m keeping the diary format for the whole thing. At this point, I’m leaning towards ‘yes’. I wrote the first twenty thousand words a month or two ago and it seems to work–it’s a little gimmicky, the way I’ve done it, but I think it’s kind of fun, too. The only problem is that there are certain parts that have to be from C2’s viewpoint. So do I give her a diary, too? Is that stretching things too far? On the one hand, I feel it kind of betrays the premise, that this is Charlotte Powers’ diary. On the other hand, just thinking about writing C2’s diary entries makes me go all tingly and happy.

It’ll be strange to have finished the Resonance and Charlotte Powers sequels, even just as first drafts, because they’ve been my ‘next books’ since I started this whole indie author thing. In a way, finishing them will mark the end of the beginning for me. It’s my sixth month as an indie author in June, too, a significant goalpost … time certainly has gone by in a flash. In any case, it’s exciting to think about what I might move on to next, I’ll be free!

So anyway, to finish up I guess I’ll write about how I feel right now. As usual, I’m optimistic. My books aren’t the kind that were ever going to be instant successes, it’s going to take a long time to find my audience, but that’s okay. I’m a patient person, and even if I never find a huge audience for my books I’m happy that at least a few people enjoy them. Also, if I think about authors I love, I didn’t discover any of them in their first years of writing–Terry Pratchett had been published for a decade before I discovered him. Granted, I was only two at the time he put out The Colour Of Magic, so … actually that’s probably not such a good example. Let’s see, an author I enjoy who began more recently … this is tougher than I thought. Ah, here we go, how about Hiromu Arakawa? Yes, she’ll work nicely, I only discovered her work around five years ago, that’s like six years after even Fullmetal Alchemist began! Kiyohiko Azuma is another good example, I only discovered Azumanga Daioh after the anime was made, years after it first began appearing. Warren Ellis? It took until Transmet was almost finished for me to discover him. So really, my ‘plan’ is the same as ever: keep writing, keep putting out books, keep quietly plugging away, and focus on solid goals that I’m in control of. Not “sell a hundred books a month” but “get this first draft finished”. With that said, back to writing!

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