I may have had a sort of breakthrough today.

I had to work this evening. For those who don’t know, I work in the Shoe department of a retail chain while I’m going to school for Electrical Engineering. It was Friday night, so it was pretty slow. That gave me a lot of time to think, and I came to a realization. I don’t need to write huge epics. In fact, I would prefer to write shorter books loaded with action (not that my epics don’t have action, of course). In fact, my books would still have a lot of the more epic characteristics, just with smaller page counts. This may lead me to write more books in a series, but that isn’t a problem.

The big thing I want to do is write the kind of entertaining stories that keep the reader glued to the pages. While I enjoy longer and slower epic fantasy as a reader, I don’t think those are the books I’m trying to write. I’m sure anyone who’s read Empire of Chains can see that I’m not the kind of author who spends pages and pages on worldbuilding. That’s just not my strength. I prefer to focus on the characters and the plot and fill in relevant details about the world as I go.

My general rule: If I’m bored writing it, then the reader will be bored reading it, and I should either cut it or rework it.

Some of my more recent projects may already be trending in this direction. My World in Chains series has somewhat epic word counts, ranging from 120,000 to 170,000 words. My Sunweaver trilogy, on the other hand, has every book coming in between 104,000 and 105,000 words (I have no idea how I managed that). The first book of my God War trilogy comes in at about 114,000, and I’m anticipating the second book being somewhere in the neighborhood of 100,000. (Side note: there was a sudden jump in my progress on Godchild because I adjusted my word count goal from 120,000 to 100,000.) Looking at these more recent word counts, I’ve come to realize that I’ve been trending toward shorter novels for a while now.

This style of fantasy may not appeal to everyone. I know there are a lot of fantasy readers who read for the immersion in a detailed world. I enjoy that kind of fantasy myself. But it is outside my strengths as a writer. That doesn’t mean I may not come back to it at some point. That’s one of the fun things about the self-publishing career path I’m taking. I can experiment without worrying too much about failing.

Thanks for reading my rambling. I promise my books are a bit more focused. If you haven’t read it already, I encourage you to take a chance on Empire of Chains. The second book, The Shadowed Land, should be out either late this month or early next month. The next two should follow at roughly three-month intervals after that. The first book of Sunweaver should be coming out late next month, with a similar three months between each book’s release.

If you haven’t signed up already, there’s a spot on the right side of my website where you can sign up for my mailing list. I will not send out constant mailings. Usually, I send out a newsletter only when I have a new release or have a special sale going on.

Finding balance as a writer.

This post is kind of a Part 2 (yesterday’s post was Part 1). I’ve been thinking more and more on what I want out of life and out of my writing career in particular. Today, I was eliminated from the Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off, which leads me to more thinking. Any hopes of a near-future writing career were dependent on success in the competition. That obviously didn’t happen, but that doesn’t mean I should give up.

But I think it may also be a sign that I need to find balance in my life again. I’ve put a lot into writing, to the point that it has almost become an obsession. That’s the surest way to burn out. I need to dial things back a bit and approach writing from the standpoint of having fun again. All this worrying about the success of my writing career has completely killed my writing productivity, oddly enough.

I also think this could help me do better. The more fun I have writing, the more fun my readers will have reading, and that’s the most important thing to me.

Am I pushing myself too hard?

Just less than two months ago, I published Empire of Chains, my first published novel (though not the first I’ve written). Since then, it has been a roller-coaster ride of emotions. On the good days, I love what I’m doing. On the bad days, I get demoralized. This happens most often whenever a bad review trickles in. I worry that people will see that review and no one will buy the book.

At the same time, I have a set of deadlines I want to meet to get more books out there. As it is, I’ll go from one published book to seven within a year. All of these books are written, so they only need to go through editing, and I don’t anticipate having too many issues meeting my various deadlines.

Where¬† I run into trouble is producing new material. I’m halfway through the second book of another trilogy right now, and I’d like to have the entire thing written by March, when I’m getting cover art done for the series. But lately my depression has been hitting me hard, and I’ve barely been making any progress. Part of this is my normal depression. Part of it might also be worry about my overall writing career. I’m putting so much pressure on myself in writing my books, and my perfectionism is rearing its ugly head. I keep thinking I’m just not good enough, and that paralyzes me as a writer.

I need to reclaim the sense of fun I used to feel when writing, but I’m not sure how to do that. Choosing this as a potential career has not had the effect I thought it would, and that leads me to think that maybe I need to back up a bit with my expectations.

I need to have fun writing. I need to publish my books because I’ll be happy if just a few readers really enjoy them. I’m currently in school for electrical engineering, and that’s a worthwhile career that I should also find interesting. There’s no reason I have to go all-or-nothing on the writing thing.

My goal is not to slow down in my writing. It’s to take some of the pressure off myself and just enjoy the writing process again.

Updates: World in Chains Book 2, The God War trilogy, The Broken Sky.

If you’ve visited my website recently, you’ve probably noticed that I put up a little widget on the side that shows my writing progress. I got the idea from Brandon Sanderson’s site. His looks a lot nicer than mine, but mine still gets out the information it needs.

I’m currently about a third of the way through the first draft of the second book in my God War trilogy. I’m expecting a March or April release for the first book in the trilogy. The other two should follow within the six months after that.

I’m also hard at work on revisions of The Shadowed Land, the sequel to Empire of Chains. I’m currently 37% of the the way through the manuscript on this current editing pass. I’m not sure how many there will be, but it’s looking better and better, and I’m excited to get it out there. I’m still on track for a September release.

Then, of course, there’s my Sunweaver trilogy. The first book is mostly edited, so it should be pretty easy to get that out there in either October or November, with the other two books following over a six-month period.

I’ve also been working a little bit on what may be my next series. The series and the first book are both titled The Broken Sky. It’s a fantasy series set in an empire of floating islands with a hint of steampunk and perhaps a little science fiction as well (which I often like to include in my fantasy novels to begin with). I’ll have more details on that one later. I wouldn’t expect the first book until this time next year at the earliest.

The last few days haven’t been the most productive for me. My laptop gave up the ghost after three and a half years of devoted service. I had to go out and buy a new one today. I wish I could say my writing career can pay for a new laptop, but I’m not at that point yet. Don’t get me wrong. I’m pleased with the results so far for Empire of Chains. But I still have a long way to go before I’m making more than trivial money.

For me, that’s something I obviously want, but I’m also happy to know that my story is out there and people are enjoying it.

Thanks for reading. I hope to get more regular about updating this blog.

And if you’ve enjoyed Empire of Chains, it really does help out if you take just a minute or two to post a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Even if you didn’t like it, it’s always helpful for me to know where I could improve.

 

Current results of $0.99 experiment.

So far, I’d say dropping the price of Empire of Chains to $0.99 for the weekend has been a success. Am I getting tons of sales? No. But I have sold more books in the last four days than I have in any other four-day span. I’ve also been doing fairly well in Kindle Unlimited. So far KU has been much better for me and more consistent than actual sales.

I figure that’s to be expected when you’re just starting out. People are more likely to give your book a chance when it’s free or $0.99. I’m hoping that I can start getting more good reviews. As a reader, I often ignore books that don’t have many reviews, so I’m thrilled that at least a few people have tried out Empire of Chains despite its lack of reviews.

Before publishing, I never understood just how hard it is to get reviews. When I look at my KU pages read, it becomes clear that a decent number of people have read the book. Very few of them have left reviews, however. It’s a bit frustrating, but I understand that not all readers want to leave reviews.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the results so far for Empire of Chains. I’m also working hard on getting The Shadowed Land ready for publication. I’m currently on the third draft. I’m not sure how many drafts it will ultimately have, but I expect it to be ready by mid to late September. I have to fight the urge to be impatient with it. I know that authors often see a surge in purchases when additional books in a series come out.

As it is, I will have a pretty fast and demanding release schedule. I’m pretty sure I can hold to it because I’ve written all the books I plan to release over the next nine months. It’s a matter of revising those books and turning them into the best product possible.

Thankfully, I tend to enjoy editing. I gain a lot of pleasure from taking the potential of the first draft and turning it into a story readers will enjoy by the time I’m done. It can be difficult at times, but it’s worth it in the end.

If you haven’t checked out Empire of Chains yet, please do give it a chance. There are only a few days left of the $0.99 deal.¬†Empire of Chains

Tentative release schedule.

With the release of Empire of Chains in the books now for two weeks, it’s time for me to address when I’m going to get more books out. I have drafted two entire series, so at this point, it’s a matter of beta reader feedback, editing, and cover art before I can release the rest of these books.

Ideally, I’d like to release one book every three months or so. At times, I may go faster or slower than that. It depends on a number of factors.

Tentative release dates:

WORLD IN CHAINS

Empire of Chains (Book 1): June 30th, 2017. You can get it here: Empire of Chains

The Shadowed Land (Book 2): September 2017

The Gilded Empire (Book 3): December 2017

The Winds of Time (Book 4): March 2018

SUNWEAVER

Sunweaver (Book 1): October 2017

Fireweaver (Book 2): January 2018

Sunlord (Book 3): April 2018

THE GOD WAR

Watersong (Book 1): Spring/Summer 2018

Godchild (Book 2): Summer/Fall 2018

Endlord (Book 3): Fall/Winter 2018

Please note that Godchild and Endlord have not yet been written. Release dates for The God War are all subject to change. Some of it depends on the editing and revision process. Some of it depends on the wait for cover art. I usually send out a request for cover art while I’m drafting the final book in a series.

I will also post a page on my website with release dates.

Early results for Empire of Chains.

It’s been two weeks now since I’ve released Empire of Chains. Overall, I’m happy with the results. I haven’t been setting the world on fire with my sales, but I’ve made some sales. I’m having more success with Kindle Unlimited.

A lot of this is a learning process. I’m happy where I am, but I’d still like to improve things. Not sure how that will happen. A lot of it is trial and error. You can do all kinds of research on the self-publishing business, but once you publish your first book, it’s a different beast altogether.

I’m enjoying it, though. Since I’m not in dire financial need of income from self-publishing at the moment, I can work on it without obsessing too much.

That being said, I am obsessing quite a bit.