Wednesday, October 30, 2019

A Little Bump in the Road

As anyone who read my Dear Agnes post knows already, I've had to push back I Buried a Witch from its original Halloween release date.

I'm truly sorry. I know it's disappointing and I know it's frustrating. For me too, believe me. And it's also expensive. I don't like doing it, but sometimes there just isn't an alternative. At least it's a relatively short delay. The new release date is November 30th, so maybe a little witchy mystery will make a welcome change from the glut of holiday releases? Or maybe not.

Anyway, it is what it is.

Of course, pushing one title back inevitably impacts other titles, so in order to NOT move Blind Side--which has been bumped so many times (and is now a sort-of-mildly-holidayish story), Haunted Heart: Spring is now scheduled for...spring. Which seems symmetrical--if also aggravating for everyone who was looking forward to that one.

So my release schedule for the rest of the year looks like this:

I Buried a Witch - November 30
Advent Calendar (including codas) - December 1
Blind Side (Dangerous Ground 6) - December 31
Hide and Seek (on-going serialized novel for Patreon)

Here's an insider's tip. If the book isn't listed on Amazon, the release date is not yet firm (even if I'm almost sure it is firm). And if it is listed on Amazon, the most it can be delayed by is thirty days. Frankly, that's more about how Amazon works than how I work, so you can rely on it. 

I've planned out next year, obviously, but the unexpected crash of this year's schedule has shaken my certainty, so I'm holding off scheduling anything for a bit.

A few readers have asked why I schedule release dates before a book is complete. Isn't that just asking for trouble?

Well, I schedule release dates for unwritten projects for the same reason most mainstream publishers and indie publishers do. In order to arrange audio, translations, even some marketing and promotion you've got to have some tangible proof the work is coming--and that tangible proof is a listing on a bookseller's site. From cover art to arranging for reviews, it's all interconnected, and the lynch pin is the book listing.

But I also need a publishing schedule for myself. If I don't have a hard and fast schedule (okay, a reasonably hard and fast schedule) with actual dates to aim for, I tend to wander around creatively. I jump from project to project, I change my mind, I lose confidence, I get lost in research or How To vids... Watching pre-orders pile up keeps me focused.

Each pre-order is like a vote of confidence from readers that yes, this is a book they really do want. This book is the priority.

So in that sense, the publishing schedule is as much for me as it is for readers.

(Just to be clear, I don't actually get ANY money until a book is published--and then it's usually 30-60 days (or longer) from when it goes on sale. So while there is a monetary component to preorders, I'm not getting any money for things I haven't yet earned.)

Anyway, there you have it. The book is delayed. I would love to be able to say it will never happen again--and for this book it actually won't ever happen again--but of course I can't in honesty promise that there will never be a delayed release date again. I can't predict the future. Things happen. Life happens. 

Saturday, October 26, 2019

Dear Agnes

I'm a fan of yours but I think it's pretty sad that you couldn't be bothered to announce to your fans especially the ones that had pre-ordered 'I Buried a Witch' that it had been delayed. I didn't see anything on your blog or even your newsletter. If it wasn't for the same Amazon that you rail about we would still be in the dark.

I had an irate reader contact me last night after I had to push back the release date on I Buried a Witch to November 30 (a thirty-day delay).

Now, delays in book release dates happen. Nobody likes them. Readers are naturally disappointed when a book they're looking forward to is pushed back. Nobody likes being disappointed. For an author, a delay in a release means a delay in getting a real pay check. And not many of us can go a month without a pay check.

Worse, it means whatever promo activity has been scheduled and paid for is now wasted. It means attached deadlines for audio and print and translation, are now thrown out of whack and other professionals are also being impacted.

So however disappointing a delay in a publishing schedule is for a reader, it's way worse for an author. It's not something we do lightly or happily.

But it's also a fact of publishing life. Big publishers have delays. Big name authors have delays. Indie publishers and indie authors also have delays. Delays in the world of publishing are unfortunate but common.

Why do delays happen?

Well, partly they happen because publishing schedules are planned out based on how things stand at a given moment in time. A publisher (or indie author) looks at the year ahead and tries to calculate a reasonable work schedule based on information available. But as we all know, life is what happens while we're busy making other plans.

Sometimes a book just isn't coming together and a delay is always preferable to putting out a book that isn't our best work. If writing was simply a matter of typing, no one would ever be late on a book. But writing is--at least in theory--not simply data entry. In my opinion, it's better to delay than put out a book that isn't ready.

Agnes's mileage may vary.

Sometimes it's nothing to do with the book. Sometimes it has to do with things happening in the author's real time life.

For me, the last two months have looked like this:

Jury duty
Rehearsing for and performing at a music festival
An unplanned visit from my mother
A planned visit from my bestie
An unplanned visit from my step-daughter
Rehearsing for and performing at a concert (which included recording new material)
(Probably stress-related) illness
Preparing for attending GRL
Trying to catch up up after being gone a week to GRL

It's not that I haven't been writing, but the writing has been interrupted. A LOT. And so this week I had to look at my schedule and make some difficult decisions. Not because I enjoy disappointing Agnes, but because I can't deliver on time a book that Agnes will enjoy and that I can be proud of.

Now, I had only pushed the book back a couple of hours before Agnes contacted me, so it's not like I wasn't going to announce the delay, but I was feeling under the weather and I figured Monday was soon enough to disappoint readers. My mistake. Agnes is a gal who likes her bad news served hot off the grill. :-D

(Plus, as Agnes points out, Amazon sends a notice out to readers who preordered, so I already know that readers are going to be informed of the delay.)

That's irrelevant though, because as Agnes points out, this is not the first time I've had to push a release date back:

I’d give you the benefit of doubt if this is the first,second,third...deadline you’ve missed. Or the first,second..promised sequel you’ve failed to deliver. Anyway, I’ll move on and take my money elsewhere. Hope you feel better.

I want to point out that delaying a sequel is not the same as "failing to deliver." We're talking about a month's difference here--and that is still WAY faster than I usually turn in a sequel. But yes, I do occasionally change my mind about sequels. That is my prerogative. I'm not a jukebox. I'm not a teletype machine. I'm another human with all the ordinary stresses and challenges in my life as Agnes.

But after all, I am letting my readers down by not delivering a book when promised. So shouldn't readers be able to punish the author who disappoints them? Shouldn't the author be made to pay?

It's a fact that occasionally author priorities don't align with that of an individual reader. And that's annoying as heck because what recourse does a reader have other than screaming at the author on Goodreads or Facebook or Twitter? How else can the author be made to feel the pain the reader feels?

Well, as Agnes points out, she can decline to buy the book once it comes out. (It seems a bit like cutting your nose off to spite your face, but okay.)

If a reader really does hope for some practical outcome--if the goal is not to simply berate and bully--sending a nasty-gram from a stranger on Facebook is probably not going to have the desired effect given that author decisions are at least partly based on factors the reader does not know--and which are arguably none of the reader's business.

Admittedly, I'm not exactly sure what Agnes's hoped-for outcome was. To make me regret my decision? I already do--see my above comment about not getting much of a pay check this month. To punish me? Well, hearing from Agnes was certainly unpleasant. But happily, I just spent a week with hundreds of readers in real time and have plenty of lovely memories and reminders that not every reader is like Agnes. Maybe Agnes just wanted to vent her frustration and forgot--as is all too easy to do--that there's a real person on the other end of that screaming into cyber space?

I don't know. I don't know Agnes and I don't want to leap to conclusions about her based on our sole interaction. Maybe Agnes screams at the people who get her Starbucks' order wrong too. Maybe she saves it all for her favorite authors. Or maybe in real life, she's the one being screamed at all the time. It's a weird period in reader-author interactions. As authors we want to be accessible, we want to encourage reader interaction, but that can lead to some fairly dysfunctional exchanges. So, for the record, I am always sorry to disappoint readers, and if learning that I am pushing back the release date of I Buried a Witch particularly upsets and angers you, I'm genuinely sorry.  I'm not happy about it either.

But I can't say it won't happen again. It almost certainly will.

Oh, not with this particular title--I Buried a Witch will release on November 30th--but a time will come when I feel it's necessary to push back a release date. And we will both be unhappy about it--but it will happen nonetheless. The advantage of a preorder is you get the book for a lower price than the regular price will ultimately be, but if the risk of a possible delay in the release date is too much to take, then of course you should wait to order.

If there's one lesson to be gleaned from reading my work, it's that the world is not a perfect place, people make mistakes, life goes on.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

Announcing the Gay Author Podcast

Today kicks off the official launch of the Gay Author Podcast, the brainchild of author Brad Shreve. (This is a brand new endeavor and not to be confused with Jeff and Will's Big Gay Author Podcast.)

If you're not familiar with Brad and his work, he writes a series about gay and down-on-his-luck LA PI Mitch O'Reilly, so it's not surprising that LGBTQ crime and mystery will be the focus of the new show. Brad has a terrific lineup of authors planned, stretching into next year, so why not tune in? 

  • Michael Craft is the first guest
  • Each week Brad will be interviewing an author who writes LGBTQ crime fiction. (He'll also be doing a book recommendation. )
  • The program is available on all major podcast apps, including Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeartRadio, Stitcher and many more. (It may take longer to show up on some than others)
  • Website address is
  • It's a weekly show. Episodes release each Thursday