4.15.2014

On Going Mainstream: Why You're Not Seeing Much From Me on Amazon Lately

I feel like I was more prolific once. I could spit out one short story after another, and for a period of about two years, nearly everything I wrote I released onto Amazon for download. Looking at my publication dates, I was releasing things every few months for awhile there. A good bit of it was older work that I had polished, but a lot of it was written for the express purpose of self-publication, and the output was steady and plentiful. It was a great way to build a small fan base as well as network with a whole host of other authors who have been great to me. Eventually I condensed all my work into collections so it would be easier to manage. Soon I'll be doing a wide release on all my work as we ramp up for the big release of The Last Supper.

You've seen all this before
Notice how I'm speaking of my indie publishing endeavors in the past tense? Well . . . here's why. I've recently made the decision that unless it's for Colt Coltrane or some other niche project, or work that has been published elsewhere for which I have had the rights returned to me, I probably won't be publishing directly to Amazon again for awhile. In other words, I'm trying to change the course of this ship, and in doing so, things will be slowing down in the output department, much to my chagrin. I'm playing the long game, though, and one can only hope the dividends will be there at the end.

That doesn't mean I'll be working less, mind you. Anyone who knows publishing knows that it's often a bit of a log jam. You send things down the chute one after another and it all piles up until someone opens things up downriver. And then it's like BAM, you have a glut of stuff hitting the market at once.

Ever since Strings came out back in October, I have been consumed with trying to get the Next Big Thing finished. I have The Last Supper coming out this summer still, and while I expect that to carry me into 2015, I have no other novels currently on a release schedule, and I've been hungry to leap to the next level of my career and see if I can break out into the mainstream a bit more. The sophomore book that most debut authors twist their guts over was already taken care of for me by having back-to-back contracts with Hobbes End, and I feel lucky that way (Supper has yet to be proven successful, though, so I'm still holding my breath a little on that). But for me, it has been all about nailing down that third book so I can start shopping it around this summer with the hopes I can have another novel out or at least announced in 2015 (fingers crossed).

My current project is a slight departure for me, but still in the realm of Strings in that it's a realistic crime thriller, only it doesn't have the visceral horror elements of the latter story. It's called Grace, Georgia, and here is my hastily written blurb:
Tonya and Amanda Crawford are cousins who were raised as sisters in a family full of unsettling secrets. Tonya was a troubled girl from the start, manipulating Amanda into playing sinister games that left the young girl traumatized with shame. It all culminated when Amanda stumbled on the brutal death scene of a little girl named Chloe March, with Tonya sitting right in the middle of it covered in blood and crying that it was all an accident. Amanda helped Tonya hide the girl's body, and they both agreed to plant evidence to set up their older cousin Abel, a pedophile who had been molesting Tonya for years. Though he didn't kill the March girl, Abel eventually confessed and was sentenced to life in prison, and the secret of what really happened to little Chloe has never come to light. Seven years later, Amanda fled Grace to start a new life in New York with the man she loves, and she's since done everything in her power to forget her harrowing childhood. But when she receives news that Tonya is dying of AIDS and wants to see her cousin one last time, Amanda gives in and returns to the scene of so many childhood nightmares, and the careful life she's built for herself quickly starts to unravel when she learns the true nature of Abel and Tonya's relationship, and the plot her family has engineered to wrap the past around her neck like a noose.
I'm really excited about this story and hope like hell it sees the light of day. In the meantime, I also have the second book in the Strings trilogy nearly finished, and there are several other irons in the fire for completion this year. So I'm not worried about a lack of big projects. Just about finishing them and getting them out there, and sadly this leaves me little time to complete short fiction.

However, not all is lost in that department. I have published three short stories this year. "Daddy's Glasses" currently appears in the Wrapped in White anthology, and the other is a fun "mini-episode" in the Colt Coltrane universe that you can currently buy on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. The third one is a fun historical fantasy mash-up called "John Dillinger and the Blind Magician," which was accepted by Apex Magazine a couple months back and will hopefully be released later this year. I have plans for more stories this year, but all of them will be submitted to other publishers first, and if I'm lucky they won't be floating around too long in purgatory before they find a home.

Of course, my indie collection is stagnating, and I worry that people who have discovered me through this avenue will forget who I am, but I have to hope that if I can make a breakthrough in the mainstream world, it will somehow manage to bring together the two worlds I'm currently living in. All I know is, things have to change. I have seen the same peaks and valleys in sales year after year, and the trend is still pretty much flat. I do have another Colt novel in the works, but that's a very niche project, and I know that will only appeal to a select few. I can only hope with my increased public promotions of the series, it will eventually start to reflect in digital sales.

If you've been with me awhile, you know my career has gone through its share of fits and starts and other changes as I've tried to figure out the best way to release and promote my books. What I'm finding is that in the battle of what's best, DIY or traditional publishing, it's good to balance both, but it's also very hard to pay equal service to both at the same time. The traditional side of things has done a lot for me in the last six months. Strings is my best selling title by a country mile, and it makes sense that if I want to continue to see that kind of success, I have to focus more on that side of the aisle, even if it means taking all the drawbacks that come with it. Namely, that the work won't hit your hands quite as fast.

But publishing has never been for impatient people. I think I can handle the waits, as long as you dear readers stick with me.