Sunday, December 23, 2018

Year end review and what a hell of a year it was...

Coming April 2019...

It seems as though lots of full-time authors feel compelled to write up an end of the year summary about how things transpired over the course of the past 12 months and where things are likely to go in the coming months, and I'm no different. But seeing as I can't exactly speak for any other authors, I can only speak for myself. 2018 was a year of renewed bachelorhood and I used the extra time on my hands to fulfill my promise of publishing at least one book, be it short read, novella, or full-length novel per month. This doesn't include the book or books I did with traditional houses. Combine maybe a couple dozen short articles and at least one blog per week for the Vox and it's no wonder I've been feeling a persistent tingling in my fingertips.

I also traveled more than 40,000 miles to six or seven different countries, spending in total, three-plus months on the road. Having just arrived home two weeks ago I've had at least a half dozen people ask me, "So where you off to next?" I usually respond with something witty (Not!) like, "I have no clue." Because I truly don't. I guess I could say the same about my writing. Sometimes I never know what I'm about to write. I just do it.

So the indie marketplace got a little tougher this year. I had a better year than the year before, but with Amazon's new Pay to Play Amazon Ads marketplace, things have become a little more difficult. That is, unless you're pouring money into ads, your books are likely not to be seen by hungry readers. I'm not going into major detail on this stuff, because other authors are better at it than I am. Bestselling author Russell Blake just write a terrific piece on the subject of Pay-to-Play. You can get it here. It's enlightening if not a tad depressing. But like they say, it is what it is.

While I use Amazon ads on a daily basis along with watching my ad spends like an over concerned parent keeps an eye on her kids in the park, I rely more on promo services for sales boosts. But creating ads and running promos takes a lot of time (and casheshe). Like Mr. Blake points out in his piece, I got into this thing to be a full-time writer, not an advertiser. Also, unlike some authors who are literally bringing in tens of thousands of dollars per month utilizing Amazon, FB, BookBub, and other ad platforms, I just don't have the skill set for the job. I don't think analytically (which probably explains why I was such a disaster as a construction project manager). I envy these talented indie and hybrid authors and all the power to them. They are killing it and making themselves millionaires in the process.
Coming this Winter...

What this means is, again like Russell, I must sub out my promo and advertising needs. I can suggest my guy to you if you like. Just email me at and I'll hook you up. He takes care of everything from SEO, to setting up BookBub-like promos, to keeping up with your KU free days, etc. In other words, he does everything I would love to do if only I had the skills and the time. But I'm a writer and that's what I'm good at (he said, humbly).

Even though the market always seems like it's getting tougher and tougher to compete in, I still say it comes down to consistent and steady output (I mean, what else are you going to do with you day?). Even if you don't advertise, a steady stream of titles can't be ignored by the Amazon algos nor the B&N algos, nor Google Books, etc. At the same time, keep on building your tribe of followers and fans. Eventually you will reach a point where you're selling enough to create a full-time semi-passive income (I say semi-passive because books always need tweaking here and there after they're done. Product descriptions can be improved upon, keywords need updating along with SEO, etc.).

Creatively 2018 was a year of experimentation. I delved into several genres I never would have touched in years prior, including YA and it's polar opposite, Erotic Noir. I also started a new "short read" pulp fiction series. Whether these efforts were successful or not remains to be seen, but they were fun books to write and at the very least, I know I am capable of creating something beyond the mystery and thriller genre.

So then, as for 2019? This will be more of a traditional year in that I am back to writing big thrillers and in particular, a thriller with a female protagonist, not unlike that of The Remains and The Ashes. The first book is called Primary Termination and it is the pilot in a three book trilogy that takes place in the near future. Part cyber punk, part apocalyptic, part romance, this thriller will receive a major launch in June. But before that, we will see a new Jack Marnoni PI novel, a new Dick Moonlight PI novel, a full-length Young Chase Baker novel, and in April, my big book, The Caretakers Wife will be published in hardcover by Polis Books.

I'll also be collaborating on at least two books this year. More on that later.

I wish I could predict what the marketplace will be like, but I suspect that more and more thriller authors will go indie and/or like me, hybrid. It seems as though the major houses have not a clue about what can sell and what can't. Even after moving just under a million books since 2010, I still get books rejected and some of these go on to win major awards and sell quite well independently. Like I said, the pubs have absolutely no clue. Zero. Nada. And now, with some editors also rejecting manuscripts deemed not PC enough or too right leaning to be published, we're going to see a significant defection from the majors. You just wait and see.

So then, this is way too long for a blog post, but I thought you deserved a full update. Have a wonderful Christmas and Happy Holidays to all. For me, it's back to the writing.



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