I didn’t really realize how busy this week has been until I sat down to chronicle it. In fact, my stretch objective became even stretchier. Is The Sword of Sirius Book 2: Collapse finally underway? How did the dreaded marketing attack my mental stability? Let’s take a look at the numbers first!
Progress Report 2024 Week 06 By the Numbers
I had hoped to write about 2,000 words this week. This was a pleasant surprise!
The final pieces of Collapse Zone’s plot came together while I was on the elliptical last week, so I started writing earlier than I thought. As you can see, I wrote six total chapters! That doesn’t even include the word count for Owen Payne’s new opening chapter in The Sword of Sirius Book 1: Red Flag Warning. More on that in a moment.
If I don’t encounter any significant head winds, I should be able to finish writing the first draft in ten to twelve weeks. In many respects, Collapse Zone is the easiest book in the trilogy to write. The first one had its challenges (again, more on that in a moment), and the third is going to be a monster. I only have the vaguest of ideas how I’m going to get my protagonists out of the mess they’re about to find themselves in. That means I’m going to try to enjoy writing Collapse Zone as much as possible!
Alpha and Beta Feedback
Beta feedback on Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis came back on time. Unnatural Crypsis worried me. I took some risks I wasn’t comfortable taking until I had already written five books. I worried about whether I’d gone too far, or if the concepts were too unfamiliar to still support the emotional beats.
The beta reader’s feedback blew me away. The beta reader, J. Flowers from Fiverr, did point out some things that needed touching up. But the main feedback focused on just how effective several scenes and chapters had been. And guess what? Those were exactly the chapters that had made me the most nervous! If you need beta reading support for any kind of fiction, then I strongly recommend them.
Marcelle from Fiverr had been scheduled to deliver The Sword of Sirius Book 1: Red Flag Warning’s alpha read this week. However, she delivered early! And wow, did she find problems! The volume kinda freaked me out, to be honest, until I worked through them and realized there were exactly two causes. And the root cause? I’m stupid.
This is the Plottr representation of the opening for Red Flag Warning. In retrospect, I should have been able to look at this and see that Owen Payne’s Hook wouldn’t work if the reader didn’t engage with him. Heck, I should have known that without looking! I guess I’d been writing a long-running series too long to appreciate the mental reset I needed.
That’s a bit imprecise. The Sword of Sirius is a trilogy set in the same world as Evolution’s Hand. Two of the characters, Ira Malhotra and Owen Payne, figured prominently in Evolution’s Hand. So, in my little brain, I knew all about what had happened to them. But I didn’t provide the necessary foundation within the narrative for people who haven’t read the previous series. I dove right into the story. Two alpha readers (Dewbond is also taking a look) voiced various concerns that come back to that mistake.
Fortunately, it’s still early. I just finished writing a chapter introducing Payne’s situation (the 1,365 word count isn’t included in the infographic above), and I beefed up Malhotra’s introduction. Is it enough? I don’t know! So back to Fiverr I went. This time, I contracted with Jonah H on Fiverr to provide feedback. I’ve been impressed with his reviews on his site Jonah’s Daily Rants, so I’m looking forward to his feedback.
The Specter of Marketing
Every time I bravely announce I’m over my reluctance to embrace marketing, reality finds a way to remind me I’m lying. It’s not intentional. I’m really trying to come to peace with this monster. But so far, the monster’s winning.
I’m going back through Chris Fox’s book Write to Market. It’s a treasure trove of concepts designed to breakdown writing to a specific audience. The level of actionable detail impresses me. I’m using some of the concepts to refine parts of my writing process. But I look at the effort I currently need to move product, and I see how some of the algorithms mesh together with Chris Fox’s concepts, and I have to admit I feel a bit dejected.
I do not look down on anyone who writes to market. I chose The Sword of Sirius as my next project because it’s a step away from the esoteric Evolution’s Hand towards a more marketable concept. But I look at my favorite works of fiction, and I know they were not written to market. They were written, then became the market. Look at The Fellowship of the Ring. That’s a novel that helped establish a market.
But that’s not why The Lord of the Rings occupies a special place in my soul. It’s because the book is something authentic. It’s a labor of love. If you read Unnatural Crypsis, I hope you get a similar sense. It’s not that I’m against commercial success. It’s that I want it to mean something. Which, I guess, puts me at a financial disadvantage.
I didn’t expect to make this much progress on Collapse Zone this week! I’m grateful everything lined up so well.
That’s a great excuse, isn’t it? It’s me trying to dodge responsibility. Yes, I’m sensing rationalization going on. I set up a false dilemma in my mind. Now that I see that (and honestly, it just happened as I typed this), I can still use the concepts from Write to Market, combine them with my growing expertise in advertising, and come up with something that’s still uniquely me, but is easier to market.
Towards that end, I’m going to try to stop saying “Marketing.” I’m going to try to be more precise. I intend to think and speak in terms of ad copy and promotional campaigns. Or even better, in terms of Amazon blurb copy, Book Barbarian ad copy, stacked promotional campaigns, pre-launch ad campaigns, and the like. That’s how I’ll come to peace with this whole field — by respecting it and learning to use its tools and concepts to convey my own personality and works.
Which sounds all kinds of embarrassing when I come out and say it!
Release Plans for The Sword of Sirius
Thanks to everyone who shared their thoughts about how to release this latest series. With the help of those perspectives, after thinking about it for awhile, I came up with a plan. I’ve settled into a cadence of writing/editing/publishing that has helped me write seven books (going on eight!) without a significant pause between. Writing is the most important thing I can do in terms of getting the next novel out. Anything I do that reduces the chances of new writing is bad. So, I’m going to keep the current cadence.
That means I’ll publish Unnatural Crypsis in the next few months. As I put Red Flag Warning into its second draft/beta reading/proof reading stage, I’ll finish writing Collapse Zone. As it lays fallow, I’ll publish Red Flag Warning and start writing The Sword of Sirius Book 3: Firebreak. In other words, I’ll keep moving forward as I have.
Launch Evolution’s Hand Book 5: Split Infinities helped me decide how to launch The Sword of Sirius.
There’s one different that bears mentioning. I’m going to experiment with putting The Sword of Sirius into Kindle Unlimited. Evolution’s Hand is wide, and it’s going to stay that way. Non-Amazon sales account for about 20% of my total. I know some writers are pulling out of KDU right now, but I know others who are making a killing. I want to see if I can generate income that exceeds the 20% I’m generating wide.
Yeah, I abhor the idea of all my eggs in one basket, which argues against going into KDU, which requires Amazon exclusivity. But if something goes south with Amazon, I’ll publish the trilogy through Draft2Digital. Maybe even experiment with selling direct, though I have too much experience with such infrastructure to think that’d be easy. All in all, this is an advantage of writing not being my primary career: I can experiment without harming my ability to put food on the table — or to have table to put food on!
Progress against Last Week’s Goals
Here were my goals from last week:
- Complete the first iteration of Collapse Zone’s plot: Done!
- Take delivery of the beta reader’s feedback for Evolution’s Hand Book 6: Unnatural Crypsis: Done!
- Write Collapse Zone’s first chapter (stretch objective): Done!
Goals for the Week in Progress Report 2024 Week 06
Here are my goals for the coming week:
- Write Ira Malhotra’s Plot Turn 1
- Write Owen Payne’s Plot Turn 1
- Write Malhotra’s Pinch 1
- Write Payne’s Pinch 1
- Write Luisa Brunner’s Midpoint
What Do You Think?
Let’s try to think positive about the disciplines involved in marketing! What’s your favorite aspect? Do you like blurbs? Back cover copy? Facebook ad copy? I’d love to hear what you think in the comments!