A nice quick update for you folks! The Coin of Kenvard, the sixth Main Series book in the Book of Deacon Saga, is available for pre-order now. Wide release is on April 16th, and “Novel Supporters” of my Patreon get it on April 1st.
In the wake of the Perpetual War, the world cannot afford for history to repeat itself.
Myranda and Deacon have helped to guide their world out of the clutches of the D’Karon. But victory has come at a price. Deacon’s mysterious affliction is becoming more than he can handle. Will he be forced to choose between his own life and finding the source of the anomalies that threaten his home?
The Coin of Kenvard is the sixth full-length novel in the Book of Deacon Saga, and marks the end of the Perpetual War Era for the series.
Hey folks! It’s April Fools’ Day! Time for my annual “Non-Canon Mess-around.” But before we get to that, I’d just like to let folks know that The Coin of Kenvard (Book of Deacon 6) has just been delivered to Patrons, and can be pre-ordered now!
Hey, folks! Right about now we’re all supposed to hunker down and keep infection risk from the COVID-19 to a minimum. For us author types, that’s par for the course. But some of you may be hard up for cash and going a little stir crazy. Thus, I decided it might be worth giving folks something nice to read.
This is a collection of short stories that have appeared either in Patreon or in the Collected Editions of my three main series. Here’s what you get:
Squee’s Day Out – Squee goes on an adventure on her own. (Big Sigma)
Building the Perfect Pet – The story of how and why Karter created funks. (Big Sigma)
Meeting of the Mas – Ma has a conversation with Coal and Ziva about Lex’s state of mind. (Big Sigma)
The New Inspector – The story of how Wink became a member of the Wind Breaker crew. (Free-Wrench)
Lil and Coop – The story of how Lil and Coop joined the Wind Breaker crew. (Free-Wrench)
The Beast of the Cave – The story of what Mott got up to after The D’Karon Apprentice (Book of Deacon)
This will be the new Newsletter Perk starting in a few weeks, but I thought it would be nice to not require folks who might just be hungry for a story to get it free and clear.
You can still sign up on for my newsletter now and get the previous newsletter perk. And if you’re new to my stuff, I’ve got three other books that are absolutely free:
Hey folks! Got some exciting news for you. If you’re a fan, but you haven’t had the money or the notion to support my Patreon, you’ve been missing out on at least one short story (and as much as a full novella) every month. I promised, way back when I started the Patreon, I wouldn’t lock anything behind the paywall forever. Well, today’s the day I make good on that promise!
Paradoxes and Dragons is a collection of ten short stories and novellas, representing roughly one full year of Patreon stories. Here’s what you get!
A story of a man trying to survive the dehydrated remains of his world when he finds companionship in an unlikely form.
The fabled “Fat Unicorn” story I talked about in the past. Bella is a zaftig cryptid shy about how different she appears from her sisters, but that won’t stop her from leaping to their rescue when they need her.
It Does Not Follow
Afraid that AI may be too smart for its own good? You might be right…
Note to Self
One of the stories that fulfills the “Paradoxes” requirement of the title, Note to Self is about a guy who future people keep sending on errands.
The short story that spawned the Shards of Shadow series, this is the tale of an imp trying her darnedest to take over our pesky little planet.
The Back Way
Another time travel short, this follows a woman who gets a suspiciously well-paid job at an antique shop and learns that the clientele might not be as contemporary as she thinks.
A short continuation of The Other Eight, this story shows what a government funded superhero team does when there’s no evil doers to vanquish.
A Big Day for Blodgette
Because (contrary to my sales history) some people just can’t get enough Pizza Dragon! We follow the events after my novel Structophis to learn what becomes of Blodgette and the crew.
A second dragon story to keep the promise of the title, Something Precious is about a little girl hoping to get adopted who doesn’t care how “monstrous” her would be caretaker is perceived to be.
The most substantial story in the book, The Rills continues the story that began in Between, this time focusing on the three-headed water dragon who is beginning to wonder what it would be like to be someone else.
Patreon supporters have had access to these stories for as much as a full year, but there are some bonuses even for them. This is the first time they’ve been available in a single book, and several of them have had fully illustrated covers added that weren’t available at release. This ALSO marks the first book with illustrations scattered throughout, as I have included the “story cover” of each short.
I hope you enjoy it!
Urban Fantasy Audio
If you’ve been holding off on picking up the books of Shards of Shadow because you don’t have time to read, the audio books are steadily releasing. Books in Motion has got two books finished, and a third on the way!
Read an Ebook Week
If you’re reading this shortly after I posted it, then we are in the midst of Read an Ebook Week. Smashwords has got loads of books on sale, including nearly all of my books for free or half price. Check it out!
Book of Deacon announcement to come…
Book of Deacon Six has a name, and a cover. I’ll reveal them both soon…
This is a little bit of a personal thing. If you’re a fan, feel free to read it, but this isn’t really for you. This is for my friends and myself. It is long, detailed, and mostly serves as something of a record of an incredibly touching moment, as well as a snapshot of a time in my life. Sort of a public diary. If you’re interested in book news, I’m sure it won’t be long before you’ll have to scroll past a few lengthy posts of such in order to get to this. But if you’d like to know about something important to me, then buckle up, we’re going for a ride.
Hi, folks! January 28th is the 10th anniversary of The Book of Deacon’s first publication. I’m going to celebrate with a Q&A/Announcement Video.
Do you have any questions for me?
They can be anything from questions about past and future books, questions about/for characters, personal questions, business questions, trivia questions, you name it! You can ask in comments here, or if that turns out to be problematic, head over to my Goodreads Page, my twitter page, or my Facebook Fan Page.
I’ll also be announcing some plans for the year, if only to hold myself accountable so next year, if I fail to do any of them, I’ll be able to shake my head at Past Jo for putting so much on my plate.
The Questions So Far (POSSIBLE SPOILERS):
Dave (from Twitter): Where did the red shadow get the cloak that made him appear to be just another human?
April (From Goodreads): Will there ever be a follow up to Structophis?
Zachary (via Email): What books are you planning to release this year?
Gin (From Facebook): I’m curious where you got the inspiration for Entwell Num Garastra. That was quite a trek for Miranda and friends to reach!
Joseph (From Facebook): How many more books in The Book of Deacon series do you have plans for?
Greg (From Facebook): Will you write more [in the Shards of Shadow Series]? More from Blot’s perspective or even before from her world?
Ngoc (From Facebook): How were you inspired to create the characters in The Book of Deacons? I love that they are so complex with their own unique personality.
Sean (From Facebook): When is Oriech getting his own story?
Various: Which of your stories is your favorite?
Various: How can I get one of those cool coins?
Questions will be in the video first, and subsequently posted (along with the video) in a new Blog Post.
Hi folks! As I write this, it is the last day of the year, and thus the last day of the twenty teens. As has been pointed out by an awful lot of people, this is just an arbitrary point in time and thus has no more real importance than yesterday or tomorrow, but I’m all about assigning meaning to meaningless things, so let’s take a look at the last few years!
The Year is 2010. I am working at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey. I’ve been there for about five years, and it is becoming increasingly intolerable. I’ve spent the last three years or so sending out query letters to agents, seeing if anyone would be interested in taking me on as a client so that I can perhaps have my pet project, The Book of Deacon, published. I’ve sent out a few dozen of them in groups of two, and the vast majority of the the agents failed to reply. Of those that did, most rejected me outright without looking at my story. If I recall correctly, exactly one of the agents asked to see the first five pages of my story, and rejected me shortly after that. I was sick and tired of being rejected, as I did not handle that very well at the time. (I don’t handle it very well now either, but I was FAR worse then.)
My friends (mostly Cary and Sean) are the only people who even know I have a book I’m shopping around. I’ve not told most of my friends and most of my family because I am, inexplicably, horribly embarrassed that I’d written the story. I announce my intention to stop shopping my manuscript around, so they convince me to self-publish. I look into it, do some research, and publish it on Smashwords and what was then called Amazon DTP. The book looked like this.
The book is not professionally edited, I made that cover, and it costs $9.99. I sold one copy.
Over the next few months, see that customers have about the same opinion of my book as agents. They don’t feel the need to read it. I drop the price to $4.99 and sell one more copy, then drop it again to $2.99 and sell another copy. After getting some bad reviews, I go through and give it another cleanup pass to iron out some of the typos, and I make a new cover.
It’s better, but not much. I decide that maybe people don’t like how long the story is, so I write and publish Jade, which is shorter. I sell it for 0.99 cents. No one buys it.
Now it is May of 2011. I’ve made a grand total of $19 from my writing. After reading an interview in which Brian S. Pratt explained his decision to make his first book in his series free, I do the same. Not long after, a website called Pixel of Ink picks it up and features it in a blog post.
25,000 people download the book.
Something like 10% of them pick up the sequel. I make $1900 before the end of the month. Against the advice of my brother, who was decidedly of the “Take the money and call it a win” camp, I decided to reinvest the money in a professional edit, plus professional covers from Nick Deligaris. Now the book looks like this.
My sales quintuple over the course of the next few weeks.
Over the next few years, my earnings continue to grow, year over year. Start a sci-fi series which could come to be called Big Sigma. Then a steampunk series which I call Free-Wrench. I jump back and forth between these series. Once I get the hang of things, I’m able to write about one new book in each series per year. By 2014, I am making far, far more from my writing than my day job.
Now I’ve been working at Horizon for 9 years. When they hired me, it was with the promise that I would be recruited into the main company as soon as possible. Nearly a decade into it, that day had finally come. I was going to be given a raise that would bring my annual salary to about half of what my books had earned that year. In exchange, I would be expected to work nearly double the hours I’d been working, and my hiring would come with no seniority from the 9 years I’d already spent with the company. I’d effectively be a new recruit with a slightly bumped up salary.
I politely declined. In September of 2014, I quit my job.
I was now an author.
The next few years went pretty well. I increased my creative output. I experimented with a few new books, most of which didn’t make much of a splash. My earnings stayed comfortably in the six figure range. By this time I was co-host of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast. Things were good.
The Going Gets Tough
One of the impressive parts of my career to this point was that I’d maintained it almost entirely off new releases. I did little in the way of promo and nothing in the way of advertising, save the occasional BookBub Feature. My earnings were sagging a bit on the bigger stores, but it was made up for by other opportunities. I got to work with StoryBundle and helped put together bundles. Audio Book companies contacted me to do releases of my stuff. Foreign publishers bought the foreign language rights. Basically, I didn’t see the need to steer the boat in any new directions, because things were holding steady.
But things weren’t improving. I experimented time and time again with fun new ideas, or new promotional tactics. They fell flat. I tried my hand at advertising or spicing up my blurbs, but found I lacked the knack. No big deal, I figured. Things are going pretty strong without them. Plenty of time to work them out in the future.
But the earnings kept ticking down. I was not kindle exclusive, and bit by bit the introduction of lots of Amazon Ads and the dominance of Kindle Unlimited in rankings made my earnings at Amazon slip. My earnings elsewhere slid as well, albeit more slowly.
In 2017, I narrowly missed the six figure mark from my author earnings.
In 2018, I missed by a little bit more.
Now 2019 is coming to a close, and it has been my worst year professionally since my first big break. (It’s been pretty bumpy in my personal life, too, but this post is already a bummer, so I won’t trouble you with that.) I tried a Kindle Unlimited experiment, but I botched it by not adjusting my release tactics properly. Dedicating the time necessary to get that gambit in place meant my other series went without new entries. Earnings plunged.
I have no one to blame but myself. As the co-host of The Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing podcast (and now the Six Figure Authors Podcast), I had all the information I needed to get things rolling in the right direction again. Indeed, I’ve helped young writers get started in the biz by giving them advice that I myself had yet to start following. But here I am, ten years into my career, struggling more than I have in the last half decade.
So what comes next? Well, for starters, I’m shooting to release new stories in (and potentially conclude) my three main series this year. Each will earn a sixth book, if I play my cards right. Each of those new releases will include attempts to boost sales in the earlier books in the series.
Some experiments I started more than a year ago are also likely to bear fruit, or at least blossom.
I’ll be trying to get a solid baseline of advertising established. I’ll be trying to get my newsletter whipped into shape. I’ll be trying a lot of things.
I’ll be trying.
Who knows what the next few years will hold? I certainly didn’t know in 2010 I’d be looking at literature as a career. Maybe I’ll get my butt in gear and start rocking and rolling again. Maybe I’ll run out of steam and go back to the workforce. But whatever happens, I’ve cherished the decade of writing that is just coming to a close, and I thank each and every one of you for the part you played in getting me to where I am today. I hope in my small way I’ve returned the favor.
Another update, so soon!? Yep! Let me tell you a little story about a somewhat longer story, shall I? (For the quick version, you can buy a Halfax Novella now.)
I’m currently running a Patreon as a way to make shorter stories financially viable. I tend to price my books low, which means stuff less than 50,000 words or so has to be 0.99 cents. A book that cheap has to sell a LOT of copies to make back the cost of a professional cover and a professional edit. But in a patreon, so long as the whole subscribership can get me up over the cost of the cover and the edit, then I can release a story a month without putting myself in the poorhouse or having to so aggressively push their sale that you all get sick of me.
The art (until recently) has been provided by Fable. They’ve really done a great job, but they’ve got some tight deadlines so they’ve had to hand off the illustration task to a whole phallanx of other talented artists. A few months ago, they got to work on the cover for Halfax. When the release date came around, I had (roughly) this.
Looks good to me! But I believe the specific phrase Fable used was “I am becoming invested in this dragon.” So I released with a placeholder and the illustration continued, now with the $100 price tag bumped to $200. Over the course of the next few months, that kept happening. Month after month, the cover became more gorgeous, more powerful. Finally, this glorious thing arrived in my inbox.
Magnificent, right! But then I was in a dilemma. This beautiful piece of art was intended to be applied to a story that was already released, hidden away where only 18 or so people could enjoy it. AND THAT MUST NOT STAND!
So what we have is a situation where art was so good, it got the associated story a full release. Thanks Fable!
Now, what sort of story is it? One of the first stories I ever released was Jade, a distant spin-off sequel to the main Book of Deacon series. Halfax is a sequel to that. So if you’ve read Jade, you’re ready for this one. Enjoy!
Boy oh boy, it’s been a while, hasn’t it. I’d love to say I’ve got a good excuse for not updating my web page, which ostensibly is my primary source for new information, but mostly it was a confluence of very avoidable maintenance issues combined with a little bit of burnout. But all of that is beside the point. I’m here, you’re here. What’s been going on!
A BRAND NEW SERIES
The main update, and one I really should have focused on a long time ago, is the recent release of a brand new series! I call it “Shards of Shadow.” Unlike most of my other series, which either take place in another world or in the distant future, Shards of Shadow is my first real foray into urban fantasy. It takes place in modern day Philadelphia, and follows the exploits of a photographer named Alan, who has found himself embroiled in a supernatural invasion thanks to the arrival of a shadowy fiend called Blot.
It’s been so long since I updated this page, I’ve released the first three of the books in Shards of Shadow. They are, in order:
Currently, they are Amazon exclusives, and are included in KU, but the paperbacks are available everywhere, and if you’re curious when the series will be available in your store of choice, feel free to drop me an email (the address is on the contact page.
A Brand New Podcast!
Though I never spoke much of it here, I’ve actually been the co-host of a podcast for quite some time. It was the Science Fiction and Fantasy Marketing Podcast. We closed up shop on that podcast a few months back, but recently we started up a new one very similar to the old one. The Six Figure Authors podcast features Lindsay Buroker, Andrea Pearson, and myself interviewing authors and marketing experts on how to sell more books. There’s very little talk about craft or my own stories there, so it’s probably not much of an interest for readers, but if you’re an aspiring author yourself, give it a try!
A Brand New Plan!
So, you may ask, what are the plans for the future? Well, I’m glad you ask.
I took a lot of time to prepare and create the Shards of Shadow series. While it was a lot of fun, and readers really had a great time with it, it hasn’t blown me away with its performance. I’ll most likely continue it one of these days (it is a planned five book series), but for now it’s time for a return to form.
I’m proclaiming 2020 “The Year of Six.” All three of my main series will have a sixth installment. Book of Deacon 6 is already mostly done, in fact. It needs some bulking up, but I blasted through it for NaNoWriMo this year. After that, the long overdue Free-Wrench 6. And then Big Sigma 6 to close the trio out. I really hope you folks will like them, and I’ll do better to keep you apprised of my activities in that regard.
And finally, Patreon
Yep, I still have a Patreon. It’s been puttering along pretty nicely this past year. I’ve released a dozen short stories or novellas there, and soon I’ll be collecting up the formerly exclusive stuff for a collection that’ll be for sale. Keep your eyes peeled for it!