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2014-07-06

By The Numbers

Possible Delay of Next Week's Post
I leave for Laramie, Wyoming next Sunday to attend the 2014 Launch Pad Workshop. This means I may not generate a blog post next week. I'll be meeting another wonderful group of authors, editors, game developers, and others in the entertainment industry. In case you're curious, here's a list of who's coming:

            Ann Leckie                            Ann Toole
            Lisa Yee                                Malinda Lo
            Jenn Reese                             Meg Howrey
            WilliamLedbetter                    Amy SterlingCasil
            Eugene Myers                        Marc Halsey
            Geetanjali Dighe                     James L. Sutter
            SarahMcCarry                       AndrewLiptak
            Susan Forest                          Gabriella Harbowry

My apologies for the two missing links. I have not yet mastered the zen of Google. I also hope I got all the links right.

By The Numbers
As an indie author, I like to know where I stand in relationship to other authors – especially other indies. Writing is NOT a competition (which is why I'm not a big fan of awards), but knowing how well you're doing in comparison to other authors is very useful. If my sales figures are low then I need to work harder. Based on reviews it may be better writing or it must might mean I need to spend some time on the internet talking about my book. But, unless other indie authors share these results with the community there's no way to make a comparison. Everyone seems to know how much actors make – especially well-known actors. Why not indie authors?

I've discussed this topic in the past and I mentioned that I've compared my sales (not monetary income but units sold) with another author who is far more well known than myself. I've learned that I'm doing quite well. The daily sales numbers I'm about to present might seem low but they are steady and that's what an author wants – a steady flow of sales.

I'm going to share my sales numbers with you on a regular basis and, if I can find the time, I plan on posting them to my website. I hope that other authors may share their sales figures publicly so other indie authors can learn how well they're doing in comparison. Indies should stick together, share our numbers, share how we promote our books, and talk among ourselves.

I don't collect the data every month but usually do it about 3 or 4 times a year. There's a tremendous spike in sales beginning in October of 2011 and peeking in March of 2012. Sales then dropped and have been fairly steady for some time. Smaller spikes occur when I release a new book. Why the giant spike in sales? I wish I could tell you. I suspect Amazon may have featured Translight in their daily deals but I really don't know.

There's a lesson in the sales numbers – just because you have a good month – or several months – don't quit your day job. Sales can fall just as fast as they can rise.

Year
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
2009




7
12
6
4
3
9
4
13
2010
31
16
29
6
11
16
12
28
51
53
38
51
2011
51
60
51
64
52
69
89
138
216
676
913
1,197
2012
1,608
8,614
10,752
7,838
5,568
3,693
2,766
2,119
1,429
951
586
455
2013
435
262
280
232
252
189
185
165
133
400
820
526
2014
330
202
149
73
98









If anyone else cares to share their numbers, I would be happy to receive them. If you do, please let me know if I can make them public otherwise I'll keep them private.

Peacekeeper is still being analyzed by my beta readers. If I get comments back before I head to Laramie I'll begin the final editing pass while I'm there. Then it's off to my wife for her proofing.

2014-06-30

PK2 is Off to the Beta Readers

Congratulations!
I would like to congratulate everyone on their Locus awards. I met Ellen Datlow at Launch Pad 2012 - she won best editor - congratulations.

A Day Late But Not a Dollar Short
I'm a day late in getting my blog out but for a good reason. We've been having some remodeling done and things have been very hectic around here. My wife has been up early and then out of the house while the contractor has been removing our old bathtub and installing a walk-in shower. I've had nearly 2 days of uninterrupted time to edit and that's what I've been concentrating on. The end result is that the first editing pass of Peacekeeper 2 is complete and the novel is now off to the beta readers. I don't expect to be getting the results back until I return from Laramie in three weeks where I will be attending Launch Pad 2014.

With the editing done, I find myself in a rather strange position. I'm heading off to a place where I normally expect to get a ton of writing done but I don't actually have anything I'm working on at the moment. What to do? The solution - I'm going to start fixing The Galactic Alliance Technical Reference Manual. It's a free publication that's available on my website and it's in dire need of a major upgrade. I don't write short stories or I would be working on one right now so fixing the GATRM is a good choice.

Editing
There is an art to editing and I'm still learning how to be a good editor of my own work. When you read books on editing you hear things like: "Each sentence must resonate with the reader"; "Every word, every sentence, every paragraph must be dissected, the useless parts discarded, and the remaining pieces stitched back together again to form a more coherent whole". Okay - I made those up, but you get the idea. Editing is hard work! My problem is I tend to rush through the editing process. I read the words as if I were the reader, listening to how they sound and looking for improvement ideas. I will occasionally stop and delete something or go back and add in something. But I tend to rush the process.

With PK 2, I hope to have a final product that everyone can enjoy. I'm going to try to take a single chapter at a time and read it, slowly, patiently, keeping myself detached from the story but engaged enough to spot errors. After each chapter is done, I'll take a break. It might take me another month to finish the editing but I think it's worth it.

I just finished replying to a fan who has found a few errors in Translight. Over the years since being written, I've gone over this book at least a dozen times and yet there are still problems in some of the words I chose. "Road" vs "rode", "sighting" vs "citing", and one sentence that had a word that should have been removed. It's embarrassing but I want my readers to point these out. That's how people learn. Just because you've done something wrong all your life does not mean it's the right thing to do.

The contractor should be finishing up today and our bathroom (except for painting which I will take care of) will be complete. We'll have a new walk-in shower and a new toilet. My wife wanted to widen the door but because of how the frame is built and the flooring around it, we'll have to wait until when we decide to replace the flooring in the living room and hallway. We plan on retiring here and making little improvements like this now is called 'planning for the future'.

One final note: Today marks the first official day of my new job at the power plant. I can now tell everyone I am a DataBase Administrator (DBA). Like my wife likes to say - "You're not AN I&C technician, you're not A planner, you are THE Database Administrator." I like the sound of that.

2014-06-22

Job Status

First Up - Congratulations!
I would like to congratulate an author I've never met. John Joseph Adams is the husband of an author I met at Launch Pad. His anthology The End is Nigh was featured on Amazon and has risen in the ranking until as of this morning it stands at #11 of all paid Kindle books. I suspect this is what happened to my Translight book back in 2012. I'm always glad to see someone's book doing well. Again - congratulations!

Peacekeeper Update
Editing is moving along at a good pace. I'm about 1/3 of the way done. I've added about 2,000 words to the manuscript as well. My goal is to have the book ready for my beta readers by the time I leave for Launch Pad next month.

Job Update
There is some exciting news (well, to me anyway) regarding my job at the nuclear plant. If you've been reading this blog you may remember I recently took a new position as a maintenance planner. During the interview process another manager learned about my computer programming skills. He's been trying to get me into his department ever since. I'm used to working a lot of overtime making my annual income considerably higher than my base pay. The job he was trying to get me to accept would involve little overtime and it was a salary position as well. But, a lot of people thought I would be a good choice for the position and so the bargaining began.

Last Friday, I was handed an offer that came with a considerable pay raise. Even though the number that will appear on my income tax form from now on will be slightly lower, I accepted the job. There were many factors involved in my decision. The position becomes official on Monday and it is everything I've always wanted in a dream job.

I am the maintenance department's DBA (DataBase Administrator). Basically, I will be doing Access database programming as well as maintaining a number of database applications and interfaces. I love programming – more than writing I admit. It's a strictly 8-hour a day job with semi-flexible hours. I will no longer ever have to put on a hard hat, work in high heat or high radiation areas, and never work nights. This get's me home early enough for me to not only spend some quality time with my wife, but to have quite a bit more time to write nearly every day.

I am a happy camper!

Next Project
Looking into the future, I think I've decided what I will be doing after Peacekeeper is finished or perhaps while I'm waiting for some feedback from my beta readers. First up – the Galactic Alliance Technical Reference Manual is in dire need of a major upgrade. I'm determined to turn it into something everyone will enjoy and it's going to remain freely available. Once that's done, and Peacekeeper 2 is behind me, I'll be doing a minor rewrite of the Dragonverse books. This is in preparation for a third book in the series that will be about the children of the series' main character. After that, I'm seriously thinking about writing a sequel to Off Course – something several people have asked me to do.

Finally
I hope my use of email to remind everyone of this blog post is being well received. The way I look at it, if I were on the receiving end and I didn't feel like reading the post I would just click delete. Simple. I've been using MailChimp to send these emails which has worked out quite well for me. I did however, screw up the last one when I forgot to change the link. Nobody seemed to notice that it pointed to an older post. I hope not to repeat this error in the future.

I would like to remind everyone to share your good books with your friends. If you enjoyed reading a book, tell your friends. 85% of all book sales are done through word of mouth. Feel free to forward my email reminder to your friends as well. If they're interested, they can sign up to receive my updates themselves.

That's it for now. Have a great day!