Friday, November 30, 2018

Kissing the Old Year Out...

This will most likely be the last general info update of the year because tomorrow begins the annual Advent Calendar! :-)

It has been quite a year! And although writing is always a precarious business--and it feels especially precarious at the moment, given the very latest changes on Amazon--I'm feeling mostly satisfied with what I managed to accomplish in 2018 and very much looking forward to 2019.

Patreon has been a big factor in my restored equilibrium. While I can't survive solely on those monthly donations, they've more than once made up the necessary difference in my book earnings--this month is a case in point. Patreon has allowed me to produce new product (the audio for In Other Words...Murder and Green Glass Beads for example(s)) when I really didn't have the funds. And, crucially, my Patreon income allows me to advertise, which is no longer an optional strategy. It's definitely been a learning curve though, and moving forward I will most likely structure my Patreon like a high end subscription service so that (depending on tier) members receive everything I produce during the year as well as the extras and bonus items. I think that will be simpler (and more rewarding) for everybody.

Print. Well, it turns out that pulling all my print books out of Createspace and off Amazon was not necessary. WHOOPS! All that was really required was to take everything out of expanded distribution and then do expanded distribution through IngramSpark. So my old print backlist has been restored to Amazon. We're currently going through one title at a time and reformatting, changing covers, updating back material for IngramSpark and expanded distribution channels (so the Amazon titles will also be updated). The goal is to have this completed by the end of March.

Our first print title is Seance on a Summer's Night (the novel I did for Patreon) and you can order it right now right here.

Audio. I produced a number of audio books this year. The first experiment with going wide was In Other Words...Murder which can be purchased at Nook and Google Play and Scribd and as well as the usual places. You can purchase "The Boy Next Door" through PayHip and "Halloween is Murder" through Payhip.  Green Glass Beads will be going up hopefully before Christmas! I have to be honest, so far the results of going wide have not been encouraging. For example, if you search In Other Words...Murder on B&N, the audio book does not come up. It's only available on the Nook. I'm not ready to throw in the towel, but my audio needs to earn out, and going wide so far seriously reduces the chances of that. Yikes.

Ebooks. This year saw the release of The Magician Murders, Murder Takes the High Road, In Other Words...Murder, and Seance on a Summer's Night. The Ghost Had an Early Check-Out comes out December 18th. All in all, more than double what I managed to produce last year!

The first projects scheduled for 2019 will be The Monuments Men Murders, my novella for the Footsteps in the Dark anthology, Blind Side, (Dangerous Ground 6)  and the first book in the new Bedknobs and Broomsticks trilogy I'm writing for Patreon, Mainly by Moonlight.

I haven't talked much about this last project yet, but it's going to combine mystery and paranormal and romance. A bit more romance (and sex) than usual, in fact. I describe it as Adrien English meets McMillan and Wife meets Bewitched. (Okay, I need to clarify that because Cosmo Saville is NOT Adrien English and John Joseph Galbraith is NOT Jake Riordan -- I'm referring more to the intimacy of the characters and their relationship than the actual characters, if that makes sense).

Here's the initial blurb:

Though they’ve only known each other a couple of weeks, San Francisco's first openly gay Police Commissioner John Joseph Galbraith is all set to marry antiques dealer and (little does John know) witch Cosmo Saville in a big, society wedding—until Cosmo is arrested for murder after being discovered standing over the body of longtime rival dealer (and witch) Seamus Reitherman.

I start writing that next month and hope to have the entire trilogy finished by the end of 2019. Fingers crossed because there's already a LOT planned for next year.

Anyway, a good year. Not every plan came to fruition but a very productive year overall. And still some good stuff to come!

See you tomorrow for the beginning of the annual Advent Calendar! :-)

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Happy Thanksgiving!

One of the things I love best about the Thanksgiving holiday is the way it has slowly evolved from being about Pilgrim Fortitude (and the moral and ethical complications that go with all of that) to a day where friends and family gather together to simply give thanks.

Given the state of the world, I think taking a day to simply focus on what is good and right in your life--and humbly giving thanks for that--is beyond price.

The Attitude of Gratitude. It's a good thing.

May you always have more to be grateful for than not.

Monday, November 19, 2018

Let Me Count the Ways

Today is Patreon's official Celebrate Your Patrons Day.

Creators were encouraged to find special ways to say thank you to their patrons. I made a bunch of little goofy videos to share on various social media platforms

AND I made sure to complete Seance on a Summer's Night on Saturday, so my patrons could enjoy it this weekend.

I've had my Patreon account for just about 11 months now. There are things I love about Patreon and things I don't love, but on the whole I would have to say it's been a great success.

We've never quite hit goal, but we've come within spitting distance several times. That's not really even the point though. Well, maybe I shouldn't say that because the money does absolutely matter. Most months I've folded it right back into my writing business so that I could invest in more product or better product, but once or twice it's been a lifesaver. Frankly, it will be a lifesaver this month because Amazon has been fooling around with the algorithms again and I've been hearing authors across the board talking about seeing anywhere from 30-40% decline in sales. Yikes! (I'm afraid to look at my numbers, to be honest.)

So thank you, Patrons, for the cold hard cash. It is much appreciated.

But what has proved even more valuable is something harder to define. My productivity is back (THANK GOD) but even more of a relief: my creativity is back. Tenfold. My confidence is back. Yes, part of that is getting healthy again. But part of it is simply the validation that comes from having readers willing to...invest in me.

That sounds wrong because all my readers are willing to invest in me, given that they buy all or most of my books. And I'm beyond appreciative of that. It's kind of the point of everything--not to mention how I pay my bills. The bills like my mortgage(s) and our health insurance (currently $1800. a month and going up to $2100 in January) and Marlowe the Mutt's bullystrips. The essentials. ;-)

But there is something inspiring--literally inspiring--having readers willing to chip in a little (sometimes a lot) extra simply out of a love of the stories and their own generosity. In fact, that's even something I struggle with a bit. I keep feeling that it needs to be quid pro quo, but Patreon is not designed for that. It is not intended to be a marketplace where goods and services are purchased.

Every single dollar I receive is a gift--and I receive and appreciate it in that spirit. No one has to donate a single extra cent to me EVER. So how can I be anything but grateful for having already received so much?

(I mean, I do certainly try to make the rewards worthwhile--I want people to be enticed by my wares--;-D, but my patrons are actually the ones who frequently remind me that I am not running a grocery store.)

Anyway, we're all figuring Patreon out in the age of subscription services, and it may be that Patreon will eventually evolve into a high end kind of subscription service. I'm just encouraged and energized by the process--and very grateful to everyone who has been part of it.

So this is me saying thank you to all my patrons, past and present--and even future. Even with all the uncertainty in publishing these days, I feel surprisingly calm. I'm excited, engaged, energized for what is to come in 2019--and each and every one of you is a big part of that.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Something Wicked Good This Way Comes

One of the best parts of this year--and I have to give a big chunk of credit to my Patreon group for this--is my newly restored creative energy.

This has been a good year for me. By the end of  2018 I'll have published five new novels, produced a slew of new audio books, compiled several boxsets and collections, launched a successful Patreon, attended my first GRL, taken back control of my print backlist...  So, yes, the most productive year in, um, years, but it's also been a really inspired year. Not that I've had time to put every single new idea into action, but a surprising number of projects are at least in the beginning phase--and although it's still really, really early--we don't even have our cover art yet!--I want to announce one of those upcoming projects now.

Footsteps in the Dark is an anthology of original contemporary M/M Mystery-Romance novellas by eight of my favorite authors in the genre:

 Harper Fox
LB Gregg 
Nicole Kimberling
Josh Lanyon
Dal MacLean
Z.A. Maxfield
Meg Perry
CS Poe
S.C. Wynne  

Nine original stories with plenty of suspense and romance and at least Happy For Now endings.

Expected release is May 2019.

There really has not been anything like this in M/M Mystery, and I'm hugely excited about it. I'll keep you posted--I can't wait for the cover reveal!

Friday, November 2, 2018

What's Black and White and Read--Uh Oh!

As previously warned, most of my print list is now pretty much unavailable as we begin the process of moving everything from Createspace/Amazon to IngramSpark.

Why are we making this change? Because, generally speaking, bookstores do not--and will not--stock Createspace books.

Why would this be the case?

A - Most indie print titles don't sell enough to make it viable for bookstores to stock them, and B - Most bookstores view Amazon (Createspace) as their mortal enemy.

Why am I complicating life for readers by turning to IngramSpark when most of my print titles will be sold online anyway?

Because I refuse to hand over complete control of my writing career to the Zon--even if it means taking a financial hit in the short term. Or even in the long term. I just won't do it.

When will my print backlist be available again? Hopefully by the start of 2019 everything will be moved over and back into circulation. We've already started moving titles, but the holidays are coming and life gets complicated. Not just for me personally, but for the entire publishing industry.

So I am sorry for the inconvenience (I've been warning this would be coming for the past three months) but the good news is I have not abandoned print, and if all goes well, my print titles will actually be more widely available and possibly even less expensive.