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So How Are You Doing, Clover Island Publishing?

19 Nov

Aha, pretty good lately? Getting a little better? I mean I can’t say it’s been a great year, in terms of productivity. I hit a low point around the start of the year, sick, tired, no energy, sales were hilariously terrible—in January I sold less than twenty books, in February less than ten—and generally I felt that whatever my personal thoughts about my books, the fact was that not a lot of people were much interested in them. Still, I kept at it, my pace reduced but still trying to do at least something every day, even if that was just reading over draft manuscripts and murmuring “hmm yes what a clever author person I can be sometimes” (we all need a little ego boost from time to time). So it was that I somehow managed to finish off Charlotte Powers 4, and without all that much enthusiasm publish it (the previous month had seen a grand total of zero sales of the first book in that series). To my surprise people actually bought the blessed thing, around thirty in that first month and then another thirty the second month, and then maybe they told their friends about the series or something equally wondrous and splendid because the first book started selling again. Which was lovely! I mean it’s all very well to be all ‘art for art’s sake create for the sake of creation the reward for making something good is having made something good’ but when you’re sharing stories it’s nice when other people are a bit interested in them.

So! I figured that I should do a bit of an update on everything, because it’s only fair to be upfront about where you are with series and such. So here we go:

Resonance
Oh, I love this series. But nobody else does. In three years the series has sold less than a hundred copies, and in the entirety of this year the grand total of sales is … zero. None. Not one single book sold. On top of this the second book wasn’t well-received even by people who liked the first one, so … I don’t know. I guess it’s one of those things where I’m completely in love with things that other people just don’t care about. Also, writing a Resonance book takes at least twice the effort and planning and time as another book—book two took over eight hundred hours just to write, not even counting planning and research and outlining and most of the edits. That is a hefty chunk of time and energy to put into something that people just aren’t interested in. So I can’t really justify continuing it right now. It’s a shame because I had such big plans for it, but there you go. You don’t get to choose what works and what doesn’t.

Miya Black
Not doing quite as poorly as Resonance, but pretty close. This year I’ve sold about thirty in the series, although in the last few months this has dropped to nothing. The main problem here is that I have the figures showing exactly how many people have bought the fifth book—the latest—and it is a nicely round but not overly large twenty. That means that the potential market for the sixth book is currently twenty people. It’s just not enough to justify putting it out. I mean it’s pretty much written, I’d just have to add a couple of things, put in maybe ten thousand words in the middle, do a bunch of editing and it’d be done. But the real problem is that the sixth book kicks off the next arc of the series and it ends in a way that I’d feel really uncomfortable just to leave hanging. Maybe in the future the series will attract more attention. For now, with the latest arc finished, I think it’s best to set it aside.

Charlotte Powers
Finally, some positivity! This is the one series I’ve written that actually sells. I don’t know why, maybe people like first person, maybe they like journals, maybe it’s the superhero thing, maybe it’s just more accessible. In any case it’s selling about two a day across the series, which is, like, amazing. Not to most authors, sure, people writing in popular genres can brag about dozens or hundreds or even thousands of sales a day, but for me in my comfortable little niche even a single sale a day is just brilliant. I mean, that’s progress! That’s one more copy of one of my books out in the big wide world. If a book isn’t selling at all it’s really hard to get enthusiastic about continuing the series—I know where the story goes, I’m interested, but if nobody else is then, well, what’s the point of writing it? Just keep it in my head, that’s the best place for it. But if people ARE interested in the story and the world and the characters, well, that’s a definite wellspring of motivation.

So anyway. Charlotte Powers is the series that’s selling—the series that people are actually interested in—so Charlotte Powers is the series that I’m focusing on. The fifth and final book is almost finished, and I fully expect to have it out before Christmas. After that, well, I do have an idea. Something I’ve been working on and aiming towards. I’m pretty excited about it, to be honest. But best to keep it under wraps until I have something more solid. For now I’ll just say that while this fifth book will provide a definite (and hopefully satisfying) ending to the series, as with all my stories Life Goes On (except when it doesn’t, on account of people being deaded).

Other Books
I’ve had a pseudo-sequel to The Boy & Little Witch in the back of my mind for years, but haven’t quite summoned the motivation necessary to write it. It’s always been a bit of an odd duck anyway, kind of a throwback thing, aimed basically at a target audience of “me when I was eight”, and there’s not much of a market for kid’s books in any case. Well, not this kind of kid’s book, anyway. Similar situation with Imogen Shroud, have the sequel in the back of my mind, can’t quite get excited about writing it—although partly that’s because I’m just a bit sick of zombies. It’s kind of like, there is so much zombie stuff in the world right now, I almost feel guilty contributing to it. Also the first book occupies an uncomfortable middle ground where people who are really into zombies don’t much like it and people who aren’t really into zombies won’t read it because zombies. For a certain kind of person I think it works really well, but that certain kind of person certainly isn’t in the majority. So. Set aside for now.

Future Projects
I do have a couple of things I want to do. The first is Bright Battle Story: Tactics Heart, my underdog sports story set in a kind of fantasy MMO SRPG, which I’ve been putting off releasing for just ages, literally years. Partly it’s because I know it’s so niche and odd, limited appeal, kind of a bit self-indulgent. Again, that ‘certain people’ minority demographic. Also because I’ll release it as a web serial and kind of keep waiting for a really good easy way to do that. But anyway. I do want to start putting it out there. Maybe a project for the new year, although I said that two years ago and look where that went.

The second project is something that I’m currently calling EndSong, or The Song That Ends The World. It’s a really, stupidly ambitious project that I’m a bit nervous about even starting. Massive story told over multiple series of books, kind of a light novel approach, multiple timeframes, locations, politics, timeskips, oodles of characters. Currently my focus point is another web serial-type series called Death Theory, which would be a very tight, plotty, fast-paced story set in the world but apart from it. Kind of a tester, to see if anyone would even be interested in what I’m doing. Anyway, it’s the kind of thing I have to plan and plan and PLAN and plan so I’m not expecting anything of it any time soon, but who knows.

That’s About It
So that’s where I am right now, and that’s where I’m going. In short, expect more Charlotte Powers, expect less everything else, maybe expect some new stuff sometime.

Just as a final note, kind of out of place but it’s something I’ve wanted to say for a while, if you like something—not even one of my series, just anything really—then dropping a note to the creator is a really good thing to do. Not just for the sake of the artist’s ego, but to pump up motivation and get the next one out sooner. Honestly, there have been a bunch of times where I just did not feel like being remotely creative, but just a little note or something charged me up and got me going again. It’s also a good way to get creators to pay attention to a series they haven’t been thinking about. Just knowing that someone out there is interested is enough to get me to look over my project files and remind me why I love that particular thing.

To get a bit painfully earnest for a moment, if it wasn’t for those brave and splendid few who have mentioned to me that they like my stuff, I might not even still be doing this. Certainly you make it more fun and easier and just generally better. Thank you for being there and for digging my offbeat little stories. I do not have a great quantity of fans, but you make it up in quality.

Okay, that’s it from me for now. Remember, be good to yourselves. And each other.

Love,

BJK White

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Posted by on November 19, 2013 in Of Writing

 

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