Trying New Stuff (Early 2016 Edition)
In the game of publishing, you have to be willing to innovate and change with the times. I realize that’s generally not true for huge sections of history, but when it is, holy shit it is. We went from hand-written pages to a printing press, and anyone who tried to stick to the old way burned out fast. Same with the internet, you may not have to release solely e-books, but people sure as shit expect it to be an option. And, of course, the publishing industry is going through an inward upheaval as Indie finds more and more success stories while Traditional works to retain its appearance of superiority.
Point is, I try to make it a habit to never get too comfortable doing anything a certain way. I have to be willing to explore new options, tackle fresh markets, or open myself up to things I haven’t tried for any number of reasons. With that in mind, I thought I would give you all a heads up on the new aspects to my works and plans, some of which are already in place.
Full Release Schedule
As of last week, I have officially placed the planned release date for almost every book I have in development on my Events page. Not the projection, the date. It goes up through Forging Hephaestus, which will be out on February 24th 2017. Now some of these are subject to change (I don’t control the audiobook dates, for example, I’m just relaying what Tantor had put on their own website) but that will happen pretty minimally, and only with works I don’t have direct control over. For those wondering, the lone exception to my schedule is Fred #3, which will be added when REUTS announces an official date.
I did this for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that it makes things easier for me when people ask when something is coming out. If it’s on the page, there’s the answer, if it’s not, I don’t yet have an answer to give. But I also did it because I’ve always tried to push the idea of author transparency on this site. The more I can pull back the curtain, the more I can take away the mystery of what it is an author does, the more of you I hope will be willing to take the plunge yourselves, assuming that’s your dream.
This is a tool that demonstrates just how much scheduling goes into the work we do as indie authors. Getting the work done in enough time for promotion, placing releases strategically so that riskier works go in between ones expected to sell, keeping an eye on how much time is left before the self-imposed deadlines, all of it is important, more so than I realized when I was just starting out.
Going to Conventions
I’ve mentioned this in a lot of spots (and on the Events page) but so far this year I’ve been accepted as a guest at two conventions: Comicpalooza and Contraflow. I’ve applied to several more, and they’ll get added to the schedule if I hear back, but for now those are the only ones I’m officially a guest at.
Cons are something I’ve been interested in forever, and honestly the only reason I’m just now starting is that A: Cost of travel seemed a bit daunting, so I wanted to build up funds dedicated to the purpose, and B: There’s not a great metric of understanding for when an author is big enough to guest at a Con. I know some indie authors who’ve been on the circuit for years, and some are like me and just starting out, but the actual books we write span all over the place. It’s a weird system to look in on from the outside, and very easy to tell yourself that you need another year building sales and earning readers before you’ll feel appropriate asking to be a guest at a Con. That’s what I did all through 2015, and nowadays I’m wishing I hadn’t. Better to get your hands dirty, to experience some mistakes and failure, and walk away with knowledge for the trouble.
I’m really excited about the Cons that have been kind enough to take me, and if you’re an Authors & Dragons fan then you should know almost everyone from the podcast will be at Contraflow. I don’t expect this to radically increase my appeal or give me the chance to sell thousands of books, but I do think it will end up being a lot of fun and helping me meet more awesome readers and authors. At the end of the day, however, I don’t really know what the effect of going to Cons will be. Lest you think all of these experiments are carefully crafted and well thought out, let me tell you right now that most of the time I just decide to give something a swing and see if it’s fun.
Probably not the most responsible system, but it’s worked out well so far.
Forging Hephaestus Promotion
If you’re already getting tired of hearing me talk about this book, I understand. I’m not going to stop, mind you, I just get how it can be annoying to hear it teased endlessly with no way to actually read the thing yet. But I have to talk about it this much, because launching a new series is some risky business. There are no previous entries in the series for people to enjoy, no tools to use to get people acquainted with the plot or characters, no fans to spread the word. A new series comes in with only the promotion the author can create for it, and given the size of this project I have to do my best to give it some legs out of the gate.
To that end, I’ve actually been thinking of ways to use the long lead-up time for Forging Hephaestus as a strength. How? Why, by actually using the tools that traditional publishers avail themselves too. Setting the book up through Ingram-Spark to get a wider network, offering a finished manuscript to my audio company in the hopes of having both versions release at once, and doing classic promotional options like using advanced reader copies.
That last one will be a big post all of its own later down the line. I’ll open up applications in Fall of 2016, but right now the plan is to release ARCs in early January. However, I decided that I’ll do it with a bit of a twist. Instead of only offering ARCs to reviewers with their own blogs, I’ll be accepting all sorts of different mediums. People who do podcasts, draw fan art, have videos, and any other medium I haven’t thought of yet will be invited to apply for ARCs when the application opens. I feel like sticking to just reviews is ignoring the wealth of awesome things that the internet loves to produce and that a potential reader might be great at. Like all the above ideas, this might go over great, or it might be a total bust, only time will tell.
I can’t say how well any of this will go, or if any aspect will be around permanently, and really that’s not the point of trying different tactics. The important thing is to try new stuff. Win, lose, or draw, you walk away knowing more than you did, and there’s always value in experience.