It took me six years to write Blue Fall, and now I can officially say that it has taken me three years to write Grey Winter. I can say this because I just released it on Nook, Kindle, and paperback this week. The iBook release for Apple devices is pending Apple’s lengthy, slightly annoying approval.
I’m excited to finally be able to deliver a second healthy dose of the Tournament to the fans of the series. It’s a hell of a book, and it answers the great whodunit posed in the first book. I humbly suggest dropping the mere $3.99 it takes to be swept away on a tide of action and intrigue the likes of which haven’t been seen on this earth or in the minds of men since The Empire Strikes Back or maybe ever in the history of the written word. I humbly suggest this, of course.
It’s $3.99. Hold off on tipping that Starbucks barista you’re too shy to talk to for a day or two and it’s yours just like that. If you haven’t read Blue Fall yet, congratulations on ignoring my not-so-subtle plugs for the past year, that really is impressive, but give it a spin first before jumping into the sequel.
This is officially the end of my shameless promotion (for now….muahahah!). It wasn’t too bad, was it? It’s not like it took me three years to write the book or anything. I think I can be allowed a plug or two.
Now onto the meat of the post. It took me three years to write Grey Winter (have I said this yet?), and unfortunately in the modern age of self-publishing and indie publishing, that’s just not going to cut it.
I was reading an interview with Michael J. Sullivan, a fellow indie-author and a fellow thriller author, who is wildly successful at what he does. He’s full of awesome advice, but one thing he said in particular struck me: He wrote all six books of his flagship series before publishing a one of them.
I couldn’t help but think where this would have left me, had I taken this advice and written all three of the Tournament books before publishing any of them. Do you know where it would have left me? Old and gray and possibly doddering after the playful squirrels in the park instead of publishing. Seriously. When all is said and done, the Tournament will have taken me well over ten years to write, and all this just for three books!
Sullivan suggests that if you write one book every five years, go for the traditional publishing route. If you write 2-3 books a year, go self-pub. On the one hand, I think this is excellent, often overlooked advice. On the other hand, don’t worry about following it. I say self-pub whatever you think is ready, whenever you think it’s going to be ready. Just realize that if you don’t have many books ready to go, it may take longer for you to develop an audience.
Can you imagine what would have happened if Sullivan had taken all that time and effort to write six books and then hit the publish button, and they had sucked? He’d be singing a different tune. Then again, that wouldn’t have happened because Sullivan doesn’t write books that suck. So there’s that. Of course, he wasn’t sure he didn’t suck when he was just starting out, so there’s that too.
My point is, it doesn’t hurt to publish your first book in a series to see if readers are even interested in what you have to say. Then, if they are, you’re just going to have to write fast. If they’re not, you saved yourself a lot of heartache and cash you may have otherwise spent on Advil for your Carpal-tunnel syndrome.
I said earlier that the pace in which I wrote Grey Winter just isn’t going to cut it in the self-pub industry, and I meant it. My goal is to have the final book of the trilogy finished in one year. That would keep me on trend of about a 50% reduction in writing and publishing time for each consecutive book in the series. This seems realistic to me, given that I’ve gotten faster at writing and have streamlined my editing and publishing services over the years.
I wish I could tell you that you can take all the time you want to polish your precious work and you would be rewarded commensurately. I wish I could tell you that your book will sell more if you take ten years to think it out than if you took one year. I wish I could say that you can write whatever you want and it stands just as good a chance of selling as anything else out there. But if I did, I would be lying.
There are some clear trends that have emerged for me in three years of self-publishing, and they are these: Series sell better than standalone books, and series that promptly release additional entries sell best of all. Of course, crappy, hastily written books don’t sell at all. So beware.
My thinking is constantly changing as I see the way this industry is changing, but right now I think you will be in fine shape if you release one well-polished book a year. You would be in great shape if you could release two, but that’s simply unrealistic for me and for many other authors I know. I wish someone had told me all of this ten years ago when I started writing the Tournament, but that’s the breaks.
I’m going to have to stick to my guns here and break with Mr. Sullivan when I say that I still maintain you cannot publish three or more great, full-length novels in any one year. Maybe soon I will come to think differently, but right now I think that if you push yourself to that extent, you’re going to end up with one decent book, one average book, and one junk book as you try to beat your deadlines. Full time authors with entire support staffs don’t even manage three a year. I mean, honestly…
So right here and now, without even the courage of a stiff drink to aid me, I am boldly claiming that I will finish the trilogy by the end of 2013.
In the meantime, dear readers, thank you for your patience and for hanging with me during this wild ride. I hope you enjoy Grey Winter. You can rest assured that every word within it came from the wild heart of my imagination.