I usually do a monthly update, so the fact that I haven't done one in several months makes me a very naughty boy. So, I'm apologizing for being remiss in posting content.
Now that I got that over with...
The Wizard's Stone
The release of THE WIZARD'S STONE went stunningly well. I sort of have to pinch myself to see if I'm dreaming. By the end of March, I was rapidly approaching 50% of the books I sold for the entire year of 2022 (actually, I gauge a year from one release to the next but you get the general idea). As it stands right now, I've passed last year's sales. Moreover, I can say - without any reservations - that in a little over a year, I've sold hundreds of copies of my book. Hundreds. Yeah, it's not going to get me on a USA Today list, but for an unknown self-pub author who is only able to release 1 book a year, I think that's pretty good. The feedback I've gotten on THE WIZARD'S STONE has also been fairly solid. Being my second book, I was really concerned about whether I could hit the same notes that I did with THE REVENANT AND THE TOMB, but this appears to be the case. I've had at least one person say to me that they liked it more than the first book.
Likewise...the audiobook. Audiobooks seem to make up a quarter of my sales. Recently, the sales of my audiobooks have escalated, and from some pretty unlikely sources. When THE WIZARD'S STONE was released, there was a succession of check-outs from Bibliotheca (a library service) - double from the previous year. Chirp ran a promotion on both of my books, and I started to get organic sales from there too. I know I have sales at Apple and Audible, but the surprising one was Storytel. Storytel services countries outside of the English language sphere. One morning I woke up, and - BANG! I see 29 additional audiobooks sold in places like Norway, Poland, Sweden, and so on. That's a 107% increase in sales in that market!
My actual sales starting March 3rd is actually far higher than I know. I have yet to receive any of the Audible and Apple numbers yet, but I have tools to inspect a historical sales rank, and the resultant graph is like a sawtooth pattern. So, something sold. As to how many, I'm not sure. Unlike last year, book sales have been happening organically, meaning that they occur without the need to run ads. Since March 3rd, I've been selling a minimum of 3 books a week. Last year, I'd get about 2 - 3 sales a month without ads.
I don't know how long this will last, but it is a very welcome change.
The Next Book
Development of the next Halsedric book is still ongoing. I have a ton of material written, but the story is in pieces. Currently, I'm writing the beginning chapters...which is actually a rewrite.
My original plan was to give the reader a closer look at Halsedric, Herodaini, and the Elanni kingdom of Elenur. The intention was to provide my readers with more depth to the relationship that exists between Herodaini and Halsedric - this was actually requested by several of my readers. However, I was sitting at Chapter 5, realizing that just about every chapter past the prologue was slow.
So, the entire strategy has been revised.
I've cut those backstory chapters and reworked the beginning (I’m on Chapter 5 at this point). I'm also adding more tension to the story, as - at present - the reason for Halsedric to be in this region of the world is not really apparent. I still have a bit of a slow start - comparable to THE WIZARD'S STONE - but I get the characters engaged in the events of the region, which then gets me into the action quicker.
A number of people have been disappearing in and around the city of Orem and Halsedric and Herodaini are sent to find out the reason behind them. While Halsedric already suspects the reason why, what he discovers is something far different than what he expected. And that's all I'm going to reveal. While THE REVENANT AND THE TOMB gave you a peek at some of the lore of this Fantasy world, the next book will be an introduction to the greater struggle that's currently going on. And it has to do with a couple of prophecies that are foundational to some of the books I've already written.
However, those cut chapters, and all of that backstory? Those may not go away. I'm toying with the idea of releasing an "author's complete edition," at a later date, for those who really want to learn more about the characters.
Other Books on the Horizon
As some of you may already know, THE REVENANT AND THE TOMB was the second attempt to write a story about Halsedric. The first attempt was his origin story, and it was abandoned. The beginning and the end were compelling enough and it had some great characters. Halsedric’s actions and his inner conflict were interesting topics to explore but, in the end, I had to drop the book. The middle of the book was a mess.
I’m considering picking up that abandoned project. Huge chunks of it are already written. It would not be a huge effort to develop it alongside the current book I’m working on now. While I’ve not committed to pursue this, I’m giving it serious thought.
As I have it planned now, I think there will be no more than 4 stories with Halsedric as the main character. They would break down thusly: his origin, THE REVENANT AND THE TOMB, the book I’m working on now, and a final story that has yet to be determined. What I will say, however, is that one of these stories may incorporate a dragon along the way. No guarantees. Just something I’m mulling over.
Dragons are a touchy issue for me. Everybody writes about dragons. E-V-E-R-Y-B-O-D-Y. To the point, in my opinion, where the sheer terror of facing such a beast is lost. There are stories about people who ride dragons, kindly dragons, wise dragons, people with powers to control dragons, and so on, and so on.
If I write about a dragon, it’s going to be a malevolent force of nature. Something that even some of the greatest powers in my fantasy world fear to challenge. Something like a nastier and crueler version of Smaug from The Hobbit, except without all of the prissy dialog. (Yes, I know it was a children’s book. I’m trying to make a point here.)
And, as per usual, the story of this encounter will be dark and gritty. Because the European version of a dragon was a nasty, vicious beast. Typically, that doesn’t coincide with all things sugar and spice. Just sayin’.
Another book I want to write dovetails into THE WIZARD’S STONE and Odo’s fate. It’s the tale of a fallen angelic creature who has become disillusioned with the cause to which he and his fellow rebel brethren have committed themselves. Something happens where he finds himself on an odyssey where he must finally come to grips with the things he has done in the past. I hesitate to call it an epic story, but I think it has a lot of potential. While I’ve talked about resurrecting Halsedric’s origin story, this is the book I’ve presently committed to develop when the story I’m currently writing is done.
Well, that's all for now. I have lots of plans for things I want to do. Sadly, I don't have a lot of time to do them. Plus, at this stage, I think it's probably better to go slow, building something solid along the way, as opposed to going in fifteen different directions with material for which there is no audience.
Once again, if you've read THE WIZARD'S STONE, please leave an honest review of your experience. This is especially true if you liked the book. :D
I also need your help to spread the word. Word of mouth is still a strong driver of book sales. If you liked the book, tell a friend. Tell a bunch of friends. If even one of your friends buys the book, that's a "Winner, winner, chicken dinner" moment for me.
I've been pushing my books as hard as I can, without being obnoxious about it. I spend a lot of money on advertising, and it's beginning to pay off. However, the reality is, unless I actually start making money on my books, this is nothing more than a very expensive hobby. Or a vanity project. And that type of endeavor doesn't usually last. And yeah, while I shill my wares like a madman, I'm already slipping into promotional burnout. So, any little thing you can do to keep the ball rolling is more than appreciated.
Until next month. (Of course, I probably said that back when I let the updates lapse...)