To be … whatever you want to be!
And on that basis, here’s a quick update on what’s been happening in my busy world over the last few weeks.
First off, I’ve managed to find a few fragments of time and done some more work on G’host. Admittedly, not as much as I’d have liked, but some all the same. I’m pleased about that, but also slightly disappointed that I’m not going to be able to post a scene from it, here, as a tribute for the holidays.
The scene I am working on suits the season very well and my idea to use it as a post is what inspired me to get back to the keyboard. Unfortunately, inspiration can only get you so far, and tiredness from several months of long work days doesn’t facilitate good prose. So the scene is coming along but is, sad to say, nowhere near ready enough for a public airing.
It is, however, nice to report that I’ve had some more, very nice, positive feedback from a number of readers over the last month. This is always a real joy. Thanks to anyone who’s ever offered encouragement to any writer: dark days haunt more than just winter months…
I could blather on about restarting my ski-fit regime in readiness for heading for the slopes next year, or about finally sorting my kitchen out after six years of putting up with randomly painted duck-egg blue walls but, as you can tell, it’s not exactly rock and roll news, and so I’m not going to waste any more of your precious seconds in the countdown to the big day…!
Rather, I’ll close by saying: to any stranger who happens past, and to all of my kind and wonderful friends, I wish you all a joyful Christmas and prosperous New Year.
See you in 2014…!
I’m not sure why, but there’s a seemingly endless fascination with rankings and chart numbers. In certain circumstances, sports for instance, this all makes sense: it’s about competition and determining victory and there are a whole host of governing bodies to ensure fair play. Charts are also considered helpful to indicate relative popularity but this kind of benchmarking is much less reliable and is liable to manipulation or abuse. Of course, you might have guessed that the charts that I seem to be most fixated with are Amazon Sales Rankings. I confess: I try not to look at them but for some reason I can’t help it! Anyway, I thought I’d share a little of what I’ve experienced about them over the last few years.
When I first published Firebird, back in 2011, the concept of ebooks was still very new. Back then, Firebird would oscillate between the top 10,000 and top 100,000 books in both the UK and US Amazon charts. At that time, the general author consensus was that if you were in the top 10,000 then that was a very good sign.
Nowadays, however, things have changed. All of the major publishing houses have, to some extent, conceded to the ebook format and published their back catalogues. Indie writers, good and bad, are pouring their wares into the e-marketplace and the trend of publishing shorter stories as “novellas” is not doing anything to reduce this literal tsunami.
So, two years on, Firebird is selling more strongly than ever – albeit that this means approximately two copies per week – but is now generally ranked as being between 100,000th and 200,000th. A good day might see it spring up to a circa 30,000th slot but, within a day, it’ll drift back into its more normal resting place.
Thunder, despite having a lower overall circulation, is not too dissimilar. It ranges between 200,000 and 500,000th.
Initially I was concerned about this. Now I’m not.
I celebrate days when either book breaks the top 100,000 as this tells me that someone new has been kind – or perhaps crazy – enough to try out my efforts and I have settled into being satisfied that if my books are anywhere in the top million then that’s still pretty impressive considering the wealth of global competition they’re up against.
And who knows? I may have to add even more zero’s to my benchmark in another couple of years!
Well my trip to Finland was, once again, extremely restful. Except for the journey home where, somehow, I managed to damage my lower back on the way to the airport. Eight hours of transit and tight connections later; I couldn’t even stand upright unassisted! Ouch …
My doctor says, “Things like this happen, as you get older…”
Thanks, Doc. That makes me feel much better…
Anyway, I’m pleased to report that I’ve made a start on the new novel and the opening pages – assuming I don’t shuffle things as I go – have been drafted. Openings are vital for any piece of writing, particularly novels. They need to drag readers in by the eyeballs and may, in the end, determine the entire success or otherwise of a story. As a result, I try not to be too precious about the opening pages. If I get a better idea later, I’ll swap stuff out. Looking back, Firebird hasn’t got a ‘bad’ start but I think Thunder’s is better. For me, I’m looking to stir up shock, confusion and to create intrigue from the get-go – although I don’t deliberately sit down and try to force this to happen – and recently I’ve been to paying more attention to missing things out, rather than putting them in… In other words, I’ve noticed that a little deft cutting sometimes adds more value than a hundred extra words…
On another subject entirely, I noticed yesterday that Amazon have adjusted their pricing regimes again. As a result, I’ve been able to reset Thunder’s pricing so that it’s a little bit lower than it’s been since publication. Other authors might also want to check out the pricing policies in detail. Certain country price points are lower than the US which, thanks to Amazon’s global price-matching rules, means that there’s a little bit of headroom to offer better deals for your readers (and for us to still get a few cents to contribute toward our next computer upgrades!).
Right, it’s time for me to go and enjoy the, highly unusual and probably short-lived, British sunshine…!
Apologies for a distinct lack of posts recently. I’ve been kept rather busy by the boring and mundane necessities of living a normal life and only being a part-time writer!
Nonetheless, I am cracking on in the background on the storyboard, character biographies and research for my next novel. Things are progressing nicely although, for the first time, I’ve realised that the scope of the tale is now definitely far beyond a single work. This is kind of tricky, and new ground for me. Whilst Firebird and Thunder are both written with open hooks for pre or sequels, the storyline I sat down with for each of them had a contained beginning, middle, and end. It was clear how much ground they’d cover. This is not the case with the new one. In fact, I’m scoping and storyboarding across what will likely be several manuscripts.
There is the option to write one, massive, blockbuster – but I’m not sure that the few fans I’ve got – or even I – have got enough patience to wait till I’ve finished it! So, as it is, I’m just marking up thoughts and ideas for later works and concentrating on honing the important components for at least a “Book One”.
It’ll be another sci-fi/fantasy/action and adventure mashup with possibly a tiny dash of UF just for the hell of it… Crazy? Maybe, but my objectives have and always will be to try to create stories that are a little bit off the beaten track!
Anyway, I also promised an update on how my pricing programme was progressing. Well at the moment, my jury is still out. Firebird does seem to be ticking over slightly more regularly at its price of 99c and Thunder is also selling the odd copy at my old base price. Recent weeks have seen a very slight upturn, but that might just be a seasonal effect. I’ll keep you posted as the months roll by.
To be honest, I’m way past thinking my books will ever earn me more than the odd pound or two and I’m genuinely excited and honoured whenever I see that someone has taken a punt to give one of them a go. And at least with slow sales I’m not under any pressure to pump out the next one!
There’s not much writing going on at the moment: partly because the routine distractions of life are preventing me from having much mental bandwidth and partly because I’m simply not in the mood. Given that my writing is a hobby, I’m not going to try to force myself…
Instead, I’m trying a bit of an experiment. Having two books in circulation gives me the opportunity to try out different pricing regimes.
I’ve always kept my pricing as low as possible within the constraints of Amazon’s royalty-based rules. I’ve also learned, from promotions, the risks of ascribing zero value to a book. One thing I’ve not done so far is try out the lowest royalty band and, as the levels of royalty I receive are pretty much nil, now seems a good time to play with a few changes!
Personally, I think Thunder is a big step forwards from Firebird; so I’ve been considering for a long time adjusting my pricing to reflect this. Although, as an aside, the first US review for Thunder claims that Firebird is better… hey ho… each to their own…!
Anyway, for a few weeks I’m going to trial having Firebird at the lowest price point available to me: 0.99 cents. Let’s see how it goes and I’ll let you know if I see any results…
I’m back from my trip to Canada. The long journey was recompensed by lots of nice powder-snow, some bright sunshine, and news that the UK was colder – at times – than British Columbia! Have to admit: it is blooming chilly here… Roll on Spring!
I’ve noticed that, whilst I was away, both Firebird and Thunder have picked up some nice reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. I’m always very grateful for any words of support and encouragement, so thank-you to those who have taken time to write them! I really appreciate your support.
Am still storyboarding my next project which will be a return to a science-fantasy, action and adventure, theme. More news and updates shortly…
[Now then, where did I pack my woolly jumpers…???]
… Almost permanently wet.
It feels like only yesterday that I sat and drafted last year’s resume and here I am again: doing my annual audit and checking off what’s happened. It’s kind of scary how quickly this comes around – time flies past us at an alarming pace, doesn’t it?
So anyway, 2012 was a year of quite significant contrasts for me. Almost a “game of two halves”, if you’ll allow me to disabuse a soccer analogy…
For much of the year I was, effectively, unemployed. This is never a great place to be but I didn’t give up on finding gainful employment (of the type that pays well enough to cover the bills) and was lucky enough to land a new role this Autumn. That, on its own, would probably be achievement enough for one year but I have a few more:
- Garden fences painted (despite the perpetual rain)
- Garage woodwork stripped and painted (despite the perpetual rain)
- Loft boarded (because there’s only so much rain you can take…)
- Bedroom decorated (will it ever stop raining?)
- Olympic flame watched (in a brief gap in the deluge – lucky me!)
- Olympics cheered (along with 55 million other damp Brits)…
And, probably most importantly:
- Thunder written (12 hours a day until May, then left alone for three months, then edited alongside starting my new job – i.e. over a month of far too many hours a day)…
With Thunder, I’d set myself a personal goal to see if I could improve on some of Firebird’s flaws: I think I have. I’d also set myself a goal to publish in Autumn: I only just made it. So why push so hard? Why not just kick back, or give up, or not bother to set stretching goals?
Well, regular visitors will know that my year also included the unexpected and sudden loss of a friend. A friend from whom I’d drifted apart, but was on the verge of meeting up with. A meeting that circumstance kept delaying until, one day, he just didn’t come home from his holidays…
It’s shocking when something like this happens. Especially when death comes prematurely to someone only a handful of years older than me. But it serves to remind us that life is a short and fleeting gift. Time travels past us too quickly. The rain may never stop…
We have a choice as to what we do with the life we’re given: use it, or lose it. And I’m determined to try my best to grab every second I’m lucky enough to be gifted, and to wring the most I can out of every single one…
Here’s to 2013: another cycle, another raft of seconds, another chance to do crazy things, to laugh, to cry, to make merry, or hay, or just to have fun…
Happy New Year Everyone!
So this is it. More than five years of musing, and over a year of hard writing, bring me to this point… Thanks to all of my visitors and alpha and beta readers for your help over the last few months. Now it’s time to see if Thunder can stand the scrutiny of general release!
Available from today…
Mine is a love story, written in blood.
A tale of an ordinary life, destroyed in the same white-hot furnace of fire and metal that snatched away everything I ever wanted, that stole everyone I loved, that scorched my soul and then forged me into something new.
I am changed, alone, and in pain – with no friends, no allies, and no-one I can trust.
People call me Nick Tonner, but I don’t care much for names. Some might say I’m a hero. Some might say I’m no better than those I despise. Call me what you will, because it doesn’t matter to me.
I have nothing left to lose, and only one thing left to live for…
I want you.
I watch as a strong gust of wind billows amongst the trunks of the watching trees, curving between their crowding trunks, snatching up fine dust from the bone-dry earth and dragging it into wispy translucent ribbons which curl and twist around the clearing.
“A storm is coming,” says Ace, from the midst of these vapourous streamers.
“I’m already here,” I reply. “Time to play.”
I’ve finished my hardcopy edits and transcribed the changes into my master manuscript. Yesterday, I started the file conversion process and the usual iterations of layout corrections necessary to get the document into eReader format (which is something of a mind-numbing task that I’ll need to produce a guide for at some point…).
The net result is that I have a pre-publication copy of the first edition on my own device.
Now I’m doing a final page turn. Just to make sure that everything looks okay and, if all goes well, Thunder will be published at the end of next week.
Now a combination of nerves and excitement kick in… After over a year of hard grafting, I’m finally in the home straight and, I have to say, I’m feeling very satisfied with how the book is looking. The scary part is whether readers will feel the same way…!
Planned Publication Date: Saturday 15th December.