Forward and Back – A Look Ahead at 2023, and at the Accomplishments of 2022

Wow. 2022 was a year.

No, not in the way 2020 was. In fact, I mean that in the best possible sense. 2022 was, by almost every metric available to me, a standout year. Sales were up overall despite a few slump months, with books such as Axtara – Banking and Finance finding success in almost double the number of markets as any of my other closest books, and then Starforge smashing its way to victory in the final months of the year. Site hits were up—in fact, the site saw more traffic, interaction, and the like in 2022 than it ever has. That’s including two prior years in which a single post in each year went a bit viral and accounted for a good majority of all traffic.

Yes, that’s right. Without having a post go “viral” and score thousands upon thousands of hits, Unusual Things still saw more visitors, readers, and regular reads than in any prior year in 2022. And, while it’s still only week two of 2023, the current level of site traffic isn’t just holding steady … It’s growing. December of 2022 had more hits than November of 2022, which had more hits than … well, you get the idea.

And this introduction has already gotten away from me. Welcome, readers and writers, to a post-2022 news post, and a look ahead at what’s to come in 2023. We’re going to talk about what went on in 2022, what the impact was of the lone book release (but it was a big one), and then we’re going to discuss what’s in the pipe for this year.

And folks, I’ve got a good feeling about what’s to come. Hit the jump!


The State of the Site in 2022

2022 was, as I mentioned above, a pretty big year for the site. Unusual Things has continued, year over year, to see new readers discovering its pages as well as the continued presence of regular fans. The end result was that in 2022, Unusual Things eclipsed ever prior year. But, not only did it eclipse any previous statistic, it did so without a single post hogging the majority of those views, as had happened in the prior big years.

2022 was the site’s biggest year yet, and it was entirely without viral influence. It was driven solely by thousands upon thousands of writers seeking writing advice. Whether it was by a school link (I’m still thrilled when I see a college syllabus link to the site), social media, or search engine, enough people came to Unusual Things to populate a city!

Unsurprisingly, the most-viewed posts were Being a Better Writer, but a number of people stopped by to see what I’d made of the new (and to save you a click, awful) Halo TV show, posts about libraries … even discussion of book pricing (yes, The Price We Pay still resonates with people years later).

You get the idea. 2022 was the biggest year ever for the site … but there’s no signs of that slowing in the latter months, and that momentum seems to be burning strong now that we’re in 2023.

So … while we’re on the topic—


What Can We Expect From the Site in 2023?

2023 is here, and what will that mean for the site, especially on the heels of its best year ever?

Well … nothing. That’s it. I don’t plan on changing a thing. There are no plans to start putting in ads (yuck) or change things up in any way. For now, it ain’t broke. So I see no need to “fix” anything.

Being a Better Writer will continue to roll along, dropping each Monday. New articles and updates will drop as they come along. At some point I’ll put more Discord links up for those of you that want to chill in the pretty laid back site Discord.

But for the most part, actually, all the parts, really, things aren’t going to change. Unusual Things works. Why change it until there’s an obvious need to?

I can hear the groans of the WordPress automated system that’s so desperate for me to enable ads from here. And to it, I deliver a hearty raspberry. Unusual Things stays ad-free. Folks that like that and want to help keep it that way can join the Patreon.

Now, there are a few posts I have planned as of this moment, so there’s no sense in not mentioning them. The big one, which will drop in the next few weeks, will be a full on follow-up to the release of Starforge. Because yeah, the trilogy is done now. Complete. Released. In your hands (and we’ll talk about how many hands that is in a moment, because it is a lot). And me? I want to look back on everything that went into the series, start to finish, and talk about some of the elements—and spoilers—now that everyone’s finally gotten to read the whole thing.

So there’s definitely that coming. And then of course LTUE is in February, so you can expect to hear a bit about that as well. Yes, once again I am paneling there, and I hope you can make it! Not just to my panels, but to the con as a whole. It’s all about writing—plus a bunch of other awesome creative stuff—and it’s always worth attending!

But outside of that, the site will pretty much be what it’s always been. A new banner will go up when the next book goes out, etc. If you’ve been around here for a while, you know how this works. And you’re probably fine with it. So hopefully, hearing that things will stay the same is good news.

Now, let’s get to the other half of this post and talk about books for a bit.


Book Releases and Sales in 2022

So, I’ll answer the big question first.

Yes. Starforge was the biggest launch I’ve ever had. In fact, I’ll go one further. While 2022 wasn’t my best year ever for sales (that honor goes to 2020, which was an anomoly in a number of ways and also a year where I spent far more on advertising), 2022 was my second biggest year ever. Again, largely due to Starforge, which dominated the charts for release and led to a stellar November and December.

Speaking of which, let’s talk about Starforge. Starforge was the project of 2022. I hadn’t realized myself that my editing began in January of last year (in hindsight it all starts to blend), which literally meant that I spent almost the entirety of last year editing and working on Starforge, responding to Alpha and Beta feedback, and polishing some more. I likely read that book at least a dozen times cover to cover, to say nothing of the excerpts and moments I spent reading and polishing individual chapters.

But then it released. And oh man, did it ever land.

I kid you not, literally two days ago on Reddit someone who didn’t realize my account was my account replied to one of my own posts in a Sci-Fi sub gushing about how ‘amazing Florschutz’s latest book is’ and wondering if I’d read it yet.

Starforge tore up the sales charts. With just a few days to sell in November, it still managed to be the biggest month for sales of the year up to that point, only for December to smash it out of the park with sale after sale after sale.

Not that Starforge sold alone. Being book three of a trilogy, it sucked in a lot of readers who bought the first book, which we’ll talk more about in a moment, and then the second book, and then the third book, all in rapid succession. The boost was enough that all three books made it, at one point or another, into the top 50,000 best-selling books on Amazon. Each of them actually made it much higher—I know for a fact that two of them made it into the top 20,000 best-selling for at least a day, but keeping track of all three is surprisingly difficult. Colony made it even higher, if I recall correctly into the top 5,000 for a bit, but that’s because of the other news to talk about where it is concerned.

Point being though, a lot of this was because Starforge dropped. And, since its release, the momentum hasn’t slowed much. Starforge is still well within the top 10,000 best-selling Sci-Fi books on the site, and still picking up new ratings—all of which so far have been heavily positive.

Starforge was a colossally heavy project, one that stressed me to no end. Not just because it was titanic—half a million words is no joke—but because it was the culmination of two other massive titans of Sci-Fi before it. If you’ve read my Being a Better Writer post on how endings are the keystone of any story … Well, you can probably guess how much pressure I was under to make sure Starforge delivered. To put this in perspective, the book came out in November, and it wasn’t until last week that I really started to feel like I’d emerged from the morass of stress that book put me under.

But it paid off. Starforge is a hit, if that Reddit post someone pinged at me is any indication. It delivers. It set out what it intended to do, and did so in bombastic and incredible fashion. I will say that I’ve been contacted already by some readers who have told me that the whole trilogy is one of the best modern Sci-Fi adventures they’ve ever read.

So all that work … it’s paid off. And if you’re reading all this and thinking “Huh, maybe I should read this. I like big Sci-Fi stuff.” then I will just say yes, you really should!

Now, three more things to discuss here, since we’re talking about 2022. The first is the other reason Colony got a boost outside of Starforge dropping: It made it to the quarterfinals of 2022’s Self-Published Sci-Fi Contest.

If you’ve not heard of it before, that’s because it’s new. This is the second year of the competition, and they’ve done some refining from the first year. Anyway, as a consequence of that refining to the rules, Colony was invited to participate, and so I sent it off. To my delight, it made the quarterfinals, and I’m now waiting to see if it will make it into the finals or even end up as one of the finalists.

Those of you that have read it probably have your own estimates in that regard. But the point is, this announcement from the contest that Colony was one of the quarterfinalists by complete coincidence happened right as Starforge was releasing, so Colony ended up with two sources of attention … and a whole lot of sales and 5-Star ratings as a result.

Now, the other two things from 2022 to discuss. The first is that Axtara – Banking and Finance has now officially sold in more markets than any of my other books! In addition to being available through Wal-Mart, of all places (Has anyone gotten a copy there? Is it legit? Someone asked me about that, so I’m curious), Axtara has now spread her wings and flown to ten different nations! She just keeps going! And if not for Colony‘s last-minute boost, I have a feeling Axtara would have swept past in terms of ratings and reviews … though she’s not far behind.

It’s going to really be interesting to see what happens when the sequel drops. More on that in the 2023 section of this post.

So yeah, new markets, new sales in new countries. Which leads me to the last thing from 2022 …

It’s over 9,000!

Okay, you might a need a moment for that one. The last big deal of 2022 was that I cleared 9,000 lifetime sales of my books, and am approaching 10,000. In fact, I hope to hit 10,000 lifetime sales by the end of next month, which marks my ten year anniversary of being published.

But that’s a 2023 topic, so …


What’s Coming in 2023?

Ten years. That’s right. By the end of February 2023, I will have been a published author for ten years. And in that time, well … I’ve sold over 9,000 books. I hope that by the end of February, I’ve managed to push it over 10,000 copies. Because 10,000 in ten years? Well, that’s a pretty sweet number. Especially when you look at the metrics. A quick Google says that the average US book now sells less than 200 copies per year, and less than a 1000 copies lifetime.

Seeing as I only have eight books, and am nearing 10,000 copies sold … well, you can do the math of what my average is. I’m not only beating the average, but my sales are accelerating.

Now, I could wax about how much work this has been to this point for what I’ve managed to claw back, but that’s just part of the job. No, instead I’m going to talk about how my goal is definitely to try and hit that 10,000 mark before February’s end.

And if I manage that I’ll … I don’t know yet. I’ll do something awesome though.

So what else is coming? Well, with Starforge done, here are the projects planned for 2023. First up is a new Jacob Rocke novel, which I am already working on. Once that’s written, I’ll dive right into a new Axtara novel, so both of those are being written back to back. Also, neither is that long, so barring any big upsets, I should have both done in a few months.

Then, while those “bake” for a bit, I’m not sure what I’ll tackle right afterward. Strange Catch needs a rewrite, but I also owe folks a new Dusk Guard installment, and it has been a few years since the last one. Plus, I’d like to do a paperback release of Fireteam Freelance and get that polished up, and then there’s trying to look at getting Starforge a paperback …

Not gonna lie, I don’t have much hope for that one. How do you guys feel about size six print in order to make it work? That’s kind of the hurdle in its path …

Now, there are other books waiting in the wings to be written. I’ve got an idea for another trilogy that I’ve been baking on for a while, but I also want to let that one relax after this last trilogy. Oh, this new one will be smaller than UNSEC. That’s gonna be the big one for a long time, I think. But I want to destress, so maybe we get the new Jacob Rocke book, a new Axtara book, Strange Catch … and then maybe a new Indrim book? I’ve had an idea for a new book set in the Shadow of an Empire setting for some time now, and maybe this year I’ll finally get to it!

That, and while the UNSEC trilogy is over, the setting is still there, and I have an idea for another story set in that universe that’s been floating around in the back of my mind for about two years now.

Huh. I think it’s safe to say I’m not going to run out of things to write anytime soon.

So yeah, 2023 will come with at least one or two new book releases in the latter half of the year.

And … well really that’s about it. Being a Better Writer will continue as normal, and there are more books coming. I’m aiming for the 10,000 by February’s end, but even if it doesn’t make it then, it likely will sometime soon after.

So, barring any big life disruptions, that’s the plan right now. Jacob Rocke, Axtara, and more.


So, that’s it! 2022 is behind us, and 2023 lies ahead. And I will say this: I’ve got a good feeling about it. I think 2023 is going to be a really good year.

There’s plenty to keep me busy. Time to get to it.

Here’s to 2023, everyone. And 10,000 sales!

4 thoughts on “Forward and Back – A Look Ahead at 2023, and at the Accomplishments of 2022

  1. Congrats on your successes thus far! Looks like Starforge was a big success for you and together with Axtara: Banking & Finance is really helping to get your name out there in the market!

    As a finance professional, I am very much looking forward to the next book in the Axtara series ! X3
    Though I do wonder if it will focus more on the non-financial aspects of business since I see that the tentative title is Axtara: Magic & Mayhem.

    Like

    • Glad you enjoyed Axtara’s first adventure so much and are excited for the second. As to the matter of finances, never fear! Axtara will always be a banker first and foremost!

      Like

      • Happy to hear that! I’ll be very interested to see you explore other banking products and services like asset backed loans, project finance, syndication and valuation advisory as Axtara’s bank grows along with the fortunes of Elnacier!

        I’d be happy to help you with any ideas or details about potential expansion plans for Axtara if you ever need it X3

        Like

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