Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Celebrating My Second Anniversary as a Writer!

 Welcome everyone!

It was back in March 2019 that I first released The Huntsman and the She-Wolf. With all that's gone on, it seems like so much more time has passed than just two years. But here we are: The Second Anniversary.


To celebrate, I want to share with you my sales data up to this point. I always share my data so that anyone else who's thinking about self-publishing a book has an understanding of what my experience has been like. Publishing is hard, and each person needs to set a goal that measures success for themselves, not compared to others. I had a goal to reach 500 copies sold across all formats by the end of my second (fiscal) year of being an author. Let's see if I got there:

(special note: I abbreviated the Book 1 as THatSW and Book 2 as THatV)

E-Book

THatSW: 81
THatV: 12

Paperbacks Online

THatSW: 103
THatV: 22

Hardback Online

THatSW: 65
THatV: 9

Audio Books

THatSW: 24

Paperbacks In-Person

THatSW: 104
THatV: 25

Hardbacks In-Person

THatSW: 18
THatV: 22

Kindle Unlimited Pages Read

THatSW: 10190
THatV: 1347

Grand Total Copies Sold

485

Grand Total Pages Read

11,537


Alright, time for reflection! Let's get the obvious out of the way. I didn't make 500 copies as I had hoped. Without a doubt, the COVID pandemic greatly impacted my ability to sell books in-person. I had a couple appearances and book signings lined up for this past year, and everything was canceled. I have no doubt in my mind that, in a normal year, I easily could have sold another 15 copies.

However, all is not lost. If you take the Kindle Unlimited pages read and divide by 209 (the length of both of my first two books), you would get an additional 55 copies. I do get paid per page read, so most authors do consider KU pages to be a "sale" of sorts. That would put me at 540, so if I wanted, I could think of it that way. But I'm not going to fudge things and say I got to 500. Nope. Failing to meet a goal isn't 100% a bad thing. It just helps illuminate the path forward. I think, in the next year, I should put both books on discount on Amazon. That will help bring in new readers and probably help me reach my 3rd year goal of 600 copies sold.


There are a lot of other very important takeaways. 1) The Huntsman and the She-Wolf hit 10,000 pages read on Kindle Unlimited. WOW! That's an amazing number. I never anticipated so many people would choose to read my book that way. 2) The audio book of Book 1 is up 24 copies sold. That puts it ahead of The Huntsman and the Vampire online paperback sales. Maybe I need to reconsider not doing an audio book for Book 2! 3) I crossed 100 paperbacks online AND in-person for THatSW! To me, that's a big deal. I'm ecstatic about those numbers. They're terrific. 4) I easily made enough profit on Book 1 and 2 this past year to fund all my needs for Book 3. 5) The launch party for The Huntsman and the Vampire was critical to getting sales off to a good start. I hope health regulations allow for me to do one again when Book 3 is ready.

So what does this mean going forward? Well, I think I should anticipate Book 3 struggling to put up numbers anywhere close to Book 1. I've always known that the first book in a series sells best. I just didn't know it would be by such a staggering amount. That's fine with me, but now I have to consider my costs more carefully. I also need to invest more in Book 1. I'm going to fire up my advertising again and do some price promotions in the next 12 months. I'll be interested to see how those turn out.



All in all, it was a very successful year during most difficult circumstances. I'm proud of what I was able to do even if one of my best avenues of sales was cut off. I'm sick of the COVID crisis. I'm sure you are too. Let's all hope it passes into history this year so we can get back to enjoying the things we love. Look for more updates soon about Book 3. Take care of each other.

Peace,

-Troy

Thursday, March 25, 2021

Here's Where the Pain Begins

 Welcome everyone!

In the middle of Book 3 there are four chapters that just do not flow with the rest of the story. Everything before them is great. Everything after them is great. But these four chapters are as rough as 24 CAMI sandpaper.



The biggest problem is those four chapters, all on their own, tell a fascinating story. Not only that, the last third or so of the book is built on what happens there. So, it's not just something I could easily cut out.

The only recourse is to fix the chapters. I have already revised these chapters the most compared to any other portion of Book 3. That leaves me two choices. 1) Just continue to polish away at what I have or 2) Start over from scratch. It's a big job either way.

At this moment, I'm unsure of which is the best coarse of action. Maybe I'll have some clarity by tomorrow.

Peace,

-Troy


Wednesday, March 24, 2021

There's Only So Much to Do in a Day

Welcome everyone!

Currently I'm making revisions and edits based on the feedback from my most recent round of reader feedback. I'm currently on Chapter 10, which is great. It's coming along a lot faster than my previous round where I had to force myself to make blog entries each day just to hold myself accountable to get the edits done!

Things are going so well, in fact, that my drive and motivation to get this round of revisions done is stronger than it's been since I was finishing up The Huntsman and the She-Wolf! That drive is so strong, that whenever I'm not working on Book 3, I feel the need to stop what I'm doing and go work on it some more. However, this feeling is very unwise.

I know some might think that the faster you get your corrections finished, the better. I mean, who wouldn't want to publish their books as soon as possible? Especially since this will be my third novella and the publishing process itself is no longer the primary challenge I face.

The truth is, there is only so much a writer can -- or really should -- do in a day. 

Now, every writer is going to be in a different place. I'm not a professional author. I do it as a hobby on the side. But I have spoken with numerous professional and hobbyist writers alike, and they all agree: it is possible to do too much for your book all at once. 

I try to get one, maybe two chapters done a day. Any more than that, bad things will begin to happen. For one, I get careless. I'll miss errors because I'm focused on the number of pages I get done instead of the quality of the work I'm producing. Two, I'll start making compromises. I'll go, "Eh, this sentence/paragraph/scene isn't so bad. I'll just leave it in unless the next reader/editor says something about it." Three, I'll get burned out. The old adage goes: the flame that burns brightest burns briefest. 

And it's true. I have to hold myself back in order to produce good quality work. The last thing I want is to get sick of my own creation. That almost happened with The Huntsman and the Vampire, I was pushing myself so hard. Some of the best chapters and scenes I've ever written are in Book 3. If there is any of my writing you have really enjoyed so far, you are in for quite a treat. 

But I don't just want two or three chapters to be their best. I want as many as I can get. So while I have to disappoint myself by going slow and doing it right, I know that doing so is the proper choice. 

I want Book 3 out yesterday, but I'm not willing to compromise the story that much in order to rush it out the door. My goal is to have it out by the end of the year. But if that doesn't happen so be it. I'll be done when it's ready to be done. And I know it will be better that way.

So if you're a writer, remember, there is only so much you can physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually accomplish in a single day. Rest is important. You need to recharge your creative juices so you are still interested in your work enough to put in the hard work it takes to make it as good as possible.

Peace,

-Troy

Monday, March 15, 2021

Coming Up on 3 Years

Welcome everyone!

Spring is such an excellent time to celebrate the birth of something. The end of this month marks three years since I began my publishing journey. So much has changed. It's been wonderful. At the end of March, I'll be giving an update on how things have gone and where they are going. I have some great news to share. I hope to see you then.

Peace,

-Troy

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

I Was Asked: Literary Cannon

Welcome everyone!

I don't often think about the so-called "Literary Cannon." It's a useful reference for sure and no doubt fun to debate. However, it's not anything that would really occupy my mindspace despite the fact I deal with literature on a daily basis.

Anyway, I was asked on two different occasions today what books were being added to the Great Books/Literary Cannon. I can only assume there was some kind of debate online about it, so I answered the curious minds as best I could.


I said that I am no expert on it and absolutely have no say on the matter. Therefore, my opinion is not particularly valid. Pressed, I told each inquirer that my observations tell me that books written in the 1960's were currently entering the cannon.

I pointed out that novels and stories from the 50's such as The Lord of the Flies, The Lord of the Rings, Fahrenheit 451, Atlas Shrugged, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, The Old Man and the Sea, and Things Fall Apart are widely regarded as great classics. In fact, some are even cliché at this point.

One of my interrogators wanted to know which books specifically from the 1960's I felt were being added. I shrugged and said if I were forced to give my own guess I would say:

  • To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
  • A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
  • One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
  • The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan
  • The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Slaughterhouse 5 by Kurt Vonnegut
  • I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
And if you're wondering, yes I knew all of those off the top of my head - which is what I am speaking from even now as I write this post. Again, I'm no expert, and I have no say in the matter.

Anyway, I was also asked why newer books aren't being added. I had to answer that new books, while immensely popular, have not yet had a chance to stand the test of time. It is only the stories that are truly useful to humanity that are remembered and beloved.

Some suppose that the Great Books are only considered great by luck or chance: they grabbed the zeitgeist as just the right time and are remembered for that. I pointed out that at one point Twilight had captured the zeitgeist but is now more memed than read, in my experience. Perhaps that's a personal bias, but regardless, just because something rockets to popularity doesn't ensure status as a classic work of literature. 

The Road, The Kite Runner, Never Let Me Go, etc. are all amazing works of literature, but they can't be judged if they are timeless yet since not enough time has passed to tell. There's no need to rush it. Besides, perhaps in a decade or two we'll look back on this era of literature and find a hidden gem no one is talking about right now, and THAT book will become the defining work of literature (fiction or nonfiction) of our time.

Finally, I assured both of the people who asked me this, that the cannon isn't really all that important when it comes to deciding what books are important to them. It's just one heuristic for categorizing literature and one that can be predisposed to snobbery and rigidity. 

If any of my readers wondered what my position is, well now you know it. Like I mentioned, I suspect there's some controversy brewing on some social media platform, and I may have inadvertently stepped in it. I don't mean to. Don't want to. I just found it odd I was asked the same question on two occasions on the same day, and I thought I would share that with you.

Peace,

-Troy

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

2021 Public Domain Celebration!

Welcome everyone!

In 2019 I made a post about the Public Domain. I plan to update that each year as new works enter it. For those who don't know, the Public Domain is a system by which copyrighted works (such as songs, novels, screenplays, paintings, photographs, etc.) lose their exclusivity. That means, anyone can use those works in any way they see fit without paying the original creator.

The rules about Public Domain are strange. Congress and big business have interfered with them numerous times. In fact, the works that become owned by the public this year should have been Public Domain back in 2001! Thank Disney for the 20 year delay, if you like. You can read more about it on Duke's School of Law page dedicated to the Public Domain.

Anyway, the big deal is that this year some significant works enter the Public Domain. Namely, they are The Great Gatsby by F. Scot Fitzgerald, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf, and In Our Time by Ernest Hemmingway.


So that means you are free to write your Adventures of Nick Carraway novel you always wanted or the tennis career of Jordan Baker or even the steamy midnight trysts of Gatsby and Daisy. 

Public Domain isn't limited to just print works. You can now make songs, art, and film of public works without paying any royalties. However, it still must be all original work. For instance, any images or changes to the novel made in the 2013 film still belong to Warner Brothers. So be careful on that.

Other upcoming important works that will enter the public domain in the near future include Mickey Mouse and Steamboat Willey in 2024, Little House on the Prairie in 2028, Superman in 2033, The Chronicles of Narnia in 2034, and The Hobbit/Lord of the Rings in 2044. 

So start writing now, and be ready when those dates roll around!

Peace,

-Troy

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!

 Welcome everyone!

I want to wish you a happy new year! I'm hoping for all of you that 2021 is a happy, healthy and prosperous year. Love all of you!


Peace,

-Troy

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Round 1 Revisions are Finished!

 Welcome everyone!

Saturday I got all the the revisions from my first round of readers completed. The new draft is off to the second round readers who have already started. Man, it feels good to get that done. There's a huge weight off my shoulders now, and I can enjoy the holidays with a clear mind.

I wanted to post this yesterday, but when I tried, it appears Google's services were down due to a hacking incident. 2020 just won't quit, will it?

I don't expect to get anything back form my second round readers until after the New Year. That's fine with me since I won't have much time to work on their notes until then. I've been under a lot of stress lately, so I need to take a few weeks for myself.

Anyway, I want to wish all of you a very happy holidays this year. I'm glad 2020 is drawing to a close. I'm ready for something new. I hope all of you are well. Take care of each other.

Peace,

-Troy

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Saving a Draft is Not the Same As Posting

 Welcome everyone!

So yesterday I wrote a little post about how I got the next chapter done in Book 3 in my Hunter's Rose series. It was short but sweet, and I was ready to publish it. Then, I went to help make dinner. When I came back, my computer had shut itself off to save power, and when I restarted it, I forgot to hit the publish button! Ugh.

So... today, you get a two for one. Chapters 22 and 23 in the third book are ready for my beta readers. I'll probably get the last of it done Saturday, as I've said. That means I can send off the book on a Sunday, which will give them a chance to start it before the work week begins.



Overall, I'm pretty excited about this one. I get to tell some very intimate stories about my characters, stories I've been saving for a while.

Previews will start in 2021, at a time yet to be determined. Keep checking back here for more updates as we go!

Peace,

-Troy

Tuesday, December 8, 2020

Just Four Chapters Left in Book 3!

 Welcome everyone!

Chapter 21 is in the books (get it?). That leaves the last four to go. I'll be finished by Monday, which will be December 14th. Originally I set December 12th as the goal, and I could still make that, but I've been super busy at work this week.

Being a teacher during COVID has been an extreme challenge. If you're a parent with school-age children, I don't have to tell you how hard it can be for students to stay focused and engaged when learning from home. While it's certainly been necessary because of the virus, the sooner "virtual learning" on a large scale is abandoned, the better. 

Anyway, that's enough griping. On to something positive. The 2nd wave beta readers should get their copies this weekend since I'll probably finish on Saturday. If you're in that group and you don't get your copy, hit me up through our regular channels of communication. If you'd like to be part of the third wave readers, reply to this post or contact me some other way with your interest. Positions are still open.


Thanks for reading, and I hope you are doing well in these difficult times. Stay strong and take care of each other.

Peace,

-Troy

Monday, December 7, 2020

A Great Weekend!

 Welcome everyone!

I worked hard this weekend to make some progress, and man, did I! I got three chapters done! 18, 19, and 20 are now ready for the next stage of the writing process. 

Speaking of which, I was able to reach out to my next set of beta readers. I was worried that they wouldn't be able to read for me this time around. COVID has affected so many people in my life, I sorta assumed that they'd be too busy.

Turns out, they're not! In fact, all is well. So I'll be able to continue with the fabulous feedback I've gotten in the past. So hopefully by the end of this week, I'll be able to get my current revisions wrapped up and new copies of Book 3 sent out.



Anyway, I hope all of you are doing well. Happy Holidays and take care of each other.

Peace,

-Troy

Friday, December 4, 2020

Chapter 17 is Now Revised

 Welcome everyone!

I almost forgot to post an update. I worked on chapter 17 today and got it knocked out. I'm also swamped at work at the moment, so I just don't have time to go into detail. The main thing is, I'm still on track to finish by my self-imposed due date.


Peace,

-Troy

Thursday, December 3, 2020

Sweet 16

 Welcome everyone!

I finished up revising chapter 16 last night, and I am SO glad. It brings about a major shift in location for the main character, Tristan. This is the part, as I remember, where writing the book got easier. I'll talk more about that during the launch. Regardless, I expect revising will get easier from here on out as well.

Anyway, I'm doing something very different with Book 3 than I did with The Huntsman and the She-Wolf and The Huntsman and the Vampire. I figure by the third installment, people are ready for something new. I hope they are, anyway haha! 


So anyway, that's 16 down, 9 more to go. Right on schedule.

Peace,

-Troy

Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Chapter 15 Completed!

 Welcome everyone!

Chapter 15 is now revised. 15 isn't the longest chapter, but it does have a couple complicated scenes, and now, I'm so much happier with how they turned out.

Several times in Book 3 I split a scene between chapters. 15 is one of those chapters, at least for the moment. So at the beginning I had to finish up the scene from 14 and resolve a whole new scene that gets introduced.

I have to pay close attention to continuity in these situation. I constantly ask myself two questions: "How did the characters get to where they are?" and "How do they know what they know?"

A good reader will pick up on lapses in continuity very quickly, so writers have to be on the lookout for people who magically show up out of now where or characters that clairvoyantly know what everyone else was talking about. It's a challenge, but so is all of writing.


So thanks for reading. I'm marching on towards my goal, and it's good to have you here. Take care of each other, and I'll see ya tomorrow. 

Peace,

-Troy

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

14 Down, 11 to Go

 Welcome everyone!

Chapter 14 is revised. I'm not moving on to 15 and already making good progress. I see some things in this chapter that I'll probably have to change again later down the road, but I can't let that stop me from pressing on. I need a new draft ready to read for the next stage. The second set of revisions will come in their own time.

But for now, it's me vs. Chapter 15. I'll be back tomorrow with an update on who wins ;-D



Peace,

-Troy