Friday News Post – Cover Reveal Countdown, Sick Days, Strange Catch, and more!

Hello readers and writers! I’m back! Well … almost.

Let’s start with the most prevalent news before we move on to other stuff: The sick days. Yes, I spent a good chunk of this week sick. No, it wasn’t COVID, at least not that I know of. None of the symptoms matched, so I didn’t get tested. It was, as far as I can tell, just a run-of-the-mill cold caught from a friend’s kids. But it did delay some stuff that was supposed to take place this week, such as Being a Better Writer being delayed from Monday to Wednesday, the finishing of Strange Catch, and the editing for beta of Starforge (we’ll have more on all of these in a little bit).

So, this does mean I’ve revised some of my own scheduling for things. I lost about three days of work due to being sick, but I’m going to try and condense a few things and make up for it. Next Monday’s Being a Better Writer should be up on the usual day, I worked on Strange Catch yesterday and will continue working on it today … basically, I’m trying to make up for the days I lost, and hopefully things will be back on speedy track next week. After all, August is ending, and September is almost upon us, and with that we’ll only be a few months from the release of Starforge!

Speaking of Starforge, we’re also less than a week out from the cover reveal! It’s next Thursday on September 1st, people! You’ve all seen the teaser (and if not, here’s the link to the tease to get your appetite whetted), so now it’s just counting down. Seven days, people! Seven days!

Speaking of Starforge, isn’t the Alpha 2 supposed to be ending soon? Why yes! Yes it is! Getting sick pushed things back a few days, but the plan is still to start making edits in earnest as soon as Strange Catch‘s draft is done (more on that in a bit). Which means that in addition to the Alpha 2 nearing its end … the Beta 1 is coming.

That’s right, Beta Readers. I know you’ve been patiently waiting all summer. Well, your moment is nigh. Next week, as I start the Alpha 2 edits, the Beta call for Beta 1 will go out. This is to make the process similar to the Alpha 2 in that each chapter for the Beta 1 will go up as it is edited from the Alpha 2. While some of you who haven’t dipped your toes into the book might wonder “But won’t that mean we’ll be waiting for you to upload the next chapter every time?” to which I say “I dare you to keep that pace” with a bit of a cheeky grin. Starforge is a juggernaut, and I think I’ll be able to keep ahead of the pack, especially with a small day or two headstart.

Either way, the implication here is pretty clear: Starforge will go into Beta 1 very soon. We’ve got the cover reveal next week, a Beta Call coming … Starforge nears at long last.

Oh, and eARC preview invitations will start going out sometime after that. Hopefully we can drum up a little early fire from a few reviewers before the big drop in November!

Speaking of November, there still isn’t a specific release date yet. Right now the focus is on Beta 1 and 2, then Copy-edit and so on and so forth.

Okay, that’s all the news on Starforge, I think. Hit the jump and let’s talk about some other stuff.

Okay, so let’s talk about stuff around the site for a moment. The big one is that visually the site is about to get a switch up for Starforge, so the green and draconic look we’ve had since Axtara dropped is about to disappear. Never fear, I’m sure she’ll be back in the future. After all, there’s more Axtara coming.

But there’s another thing that’s about to change. Some of you might have noticed that for the past month (plus a few weeks worth of change) I’ve been experimenting with having a “featured book” at the end of each Being a Better Writer post with a link to free preview instead of a more generic “Hey, check out some of my books at the books page!” And the results have been … mixed.

Well, that’s not fair. The results have been clear: More page clicks to the book, but fewer sales overall. Which is interesting. Apparently there’s something to the more organic nature of finding the book and clicking the preview yourself, rather than going right to a specific preview.

So in the coming weeks I’ll switch it up again. I’m going to start including a cover preview, like a lot of other writing blogs do, and I’m only going to link to the store page, rather than to the preview itself. I’ll see if this leads to greater or fewer sales than just saying “Hey, check out the books page!” Hopefully it does, because sales have been light recently (after the change) and I’d really like to hit 10,000 by the end of the year.

What’s that? Oh yes, this definitely counts as “and more” news, but it is news. A few weeks ago I was talking with someone—I don’t even rightly remember who at the moment—and they asked about my lifetime sales on a certain book. Well, I hadn’t checked in a while, so I bounded over to my sales records, pulled out a calculator, and started doing some math.

You guys ready for this? I’ve been a published author for nine-and-a-half years, and in that time I have sold almost 9,000 copies across my whole library.

In fact, it’s likely very well over 9,000. I don’t have the sales numbers for the LTUE anthology set I’m in, but I’m sure it’s sold pretty well. The number is so close to 9,000 just with the numbers I do have that even the last few weeks might have pushed it over (and yes, I was tempted to track the direct number down just to make an “it’s over 9,000” meme, and I may still do that).

So basically, 9,000 sales. In nine-and-a-half years. That’s … not that bad. That’s actually really good. According to a quick Google, one estimate of the “average” indie book (remember, this averages the unlucky book that sells ten copies lifetime be it good or bad and the megastar indie title like The Martian or Wool) sells lifetime 250 copies. Every single one of my books has surpassed that. Most are quite a bit more (and those that aren’t tend to be kind of young). The average trad-pub book sells 3,000 copies total lifetime, and I’ve got one title that surpasses that.

Basically? I’ve done a lot better than I (or most) would guess. I’m beating the averages, and still going up. But getting back to what kicked this off: With Starforge coming out at the end of this year, and four months left to go until 2023, I could make 10,000 sales in ten years.

Technically, since One Drink came out in February of 2013, I’ve got six months, until the end of February 2023, to hit the milestone of 10,000 sales in ten years. Sure, some might scoff and say “Bah, I get 10,000 sales in a month!” and yeah, good for them! Me? It’s been a long road from the bottom upward, and I’ll take 10,000 sales in 10 years. At the rate of increase, maybe in the next ten I can aim for 100,000. Either way, I’m happy to have this as a goal for the next six months: 1,000 sales.

With that in mind, let’s change topics completely and talk about Stange Catch.

So Strange Catch is what I’ve been working on while the Alpha 2 readers made their way through Starforge, and in the classic case of “Oh yeah, I’m me” what was planned as a short, goofy one-off has turned into a novella.

I think I’m sorry? But not really. If I’d realized this was going to happen, I probably just would have written the next Jacob Rocke novella instead, but hey, I didn’t realize how quickly this story would balloon. The prompt was short and sweet, a tale about a bird-watching mermaid, but like many other things I set out to write, it quickly magnified.

Now, it’s definitely going to get some rewrites. The opening alone already needs some rewrites to account for decisions I make later that changed a few things. But this story has been an interesting sort-of slice-of-life but in a weird way. It’s not done yet (though close), but I will say this: It’s set in the same universe and world as Axtara, A Game of Stakes, and A Trial for a Dragon. But without dragons showing up. Weird, right?

Joking aside, I think the Patreon Supporters will enjoy this one once the draft is done. It’s different (once again) but also kind of neat and a different look at a different part of a world I clearly need to name.

Oh, and the name is definitely going to change before it gets published. Strange Catch is only the working title. I’ll probably settle on something a bit more … thematically obtuse … before the end.

All right, I think that’s the news! Keep reading, I’ll keep writing, and enjoy your weekend! Max out.

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