Friday, December 30, 2016

Writing Reflections, Directions, and Resolutions for 2017



The T&M gang on the day THE REMAINS hit the top spot
The quiet and the solitude of my apartment in Florence is shattered by an ambulance that tears down the street, its Waaaa Waaaa wailing horn piercing my eardrums even though I'm seated at my desk inside the building. Soon as the ambulance has passed, some of the refugees who live across the street toss empty beer bottles against the walls. They are afforded fifty euros per day by the Italian government, and in this case anyway, they spend a lot of it on booze. Go figure. The other night I was woken out of a sound sleep to two men of Middle Eastern decent trying to kill one another with knives.

Times are changing. Not always for the better.

It gets me thinking about the new year that lay ahead. What new publishing and writing challenges will it present, and what new opportunities will there be to take advantage of. The first half of 2016 was stellar, on a personal level. THE REMAINS hit the number one spot on the Overall Amazon Kindle Bestseller List and remained in the Top 100 for about a month. For a novel that's four years old, I couldn't have asked for a better situation. In turn, I published the second in what I anticipate as the Rebecca Underhill Trilogy just last month, THE ASHES and it's doing very well (Curiously, the publisher tagged this sequel as having come too late. We'll see).

THE SHROUD KEY also nailed a Top 50 spot early in the year and just three weeks ago, it hit the Top 80 once again. It also went to the Top Ten in Kobo, iBooks and Nook. These books, along with several others, are my bread and butter books. My 'go to' books in terms of my steady income. At the same time, I saw the release of ORCHARD GROVE in hardcover, and for the first time in years, I actually did some book signings at real brick and mortar bookstores. That novel received rave reviews from Publishers Weekly, BookReporter, Library Journal and a starred review at Booklist. Now there's talk of a film option which I'll know more about early in January.

My only disappointment, if you wanna call it that, came with the publication of WHEN SHADOWS COME in April, when it sort of stalled out of the gate. The problem? Its editor left at the precise moment the novel was published. Other changes also were occurring at the house, and this never bodes well for a novel. It simply gets lost like a mother who suddenly decides to leave the supermarket without her groceries or her kid. I've been through this kind of thing before at another large house and it took not weeks or months for the book to recover, but years. In this case however, "SHADOWS" has picked up some steam especially in light of it having been named one of the Best Books of 2016 in the Thriller category by Suspense Magazine. In my mind, that's validation enough. Enough for now, that is.
Congrats "When Shadows Come!"

So what do I see happening in my writing life going forward? As a hybrid author, I see myself seeking out more traditional book deals. By this I mean hardcover and trade paper on top of eBook. To this point, Polis will be publishing THE CORRUPTIONS in harcover, the new Jack Marconi PI thriller at the end of January (I'm leaving Italy a little early in order to jump on the promo bandwagon for this one). Next year, they will publish THE DETONATOR, a killer standalone. I see more foreign rights being sold, and if I'm bold enough to say so, 2017 will be the year for film and TV.

As for the indie side of things, I will be putting out at least two more Chase Baker action/adventure pulp novels. Perhaps even a third. I will also be introducing two more serial characters. The first is another PI and the second is a CIA Field Operative. I guess I'm prolific enough to take on a pen name or two like that other infamous Albany born and bred hard-boiled author, Don Westlake. But right now, I don't see the point. Like Popeye says, I am what I am.

But in terms of indie sales, I see it getting harder and harder for authors who don't have a decent platform already established to get ahead. There's simply too many authors out there vying for a limited number of reader's attention. All the more reason to build up that mailing list, and to form a tribe of readers who will support every new release. I make a point of being good to my subscribers because I'd be nothing without them.

I'll also be concentrating on having all my indie books produced for Audible. Many of the Chase Bakers are now available on Audible and all of them will be by the end of the year's second quarter. Same goes for the Moonlights that I own outright. While I adhere to strict promo schedule, I still believe that the best promo policy of all is to write more books, novellas, and stories. When the one steady trade journalism gig that I maintained died this past August due to a corporate takeover, I thought about searching for another one. But then I thought, why not put 100% of my efforts into writing fiction for a while. Then, if I want to pick up another journalism gig, I can. And that's what I've decided to do. It's my resolution, if you will. Already my word count has picked up by at last 500 words per day. Noting to shake a stick at, if you'll pardon the cliche.

That said, it's probably time I get back to the rough draft of my newest book. A writer should write and not blog or talk about writing. I'm sure you would agree. Happy New Year to you and yours, and if you're a writer, look forward to writing harder this year and writing smarter. If you're a reader, get ready for some good books. And thanks again for your support.

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1 comment:

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