|Anyone have a defibrillator?|
Expectations. They can be brutal and tricky beasts. As much as we (okay, I) work hard to stay in the moment, it's damned difficult not to give in to disappointment when things don't immediately work out the way you had hoped.
The launch of ITHAKA RISING, book 2 in my Halcyone Space series, has been one of those events where I feel both elated and depressed. Elated because the book is in the world, is selling, and is garnering excellent reviews and recommendations from readers and writers I trust.
"Usually I can point out one or two reasons why a novel wows me, too, but this one was just cover to cover awesome. Expect great characters, who actually grow and change and have to deal with new problems; a nail-biter of a plot, that manages to be both twisting and absorbing at the same time, settings that expand to take us to new and scary-thrilling places in this universe, and the kind of SF adventure you probably haven't read in a very, very long time (if at all.)"
--Lynn Viehl (AKA Paperback writer)
"space opera with a brain and a heart." -- Mike Reeves-McMillan (Netgalley reviewer)So why depressed? Because compared with the launch of book 1 (DERELICT), ITHAKA RISING is flatlined. (Comparisons - they are evil.) It's hard to know why a book breaks out; certainly I didn't do anything significantly differently for each of these two novels, and, in fact, I believe ITHAKA RISING to be a better story. And I'm this strange mix of hopeful and confident that it will find its readership, even if that journey is slower than it was for the prior book.
It would be easy to let my discouragement get the better of me - and, yes, I have done my share of moping with my fellow writers (expectations - it's hard not to have them) - but I know I have no control of what happens after a book is released into the world. Sure, you can tinker with price, run ads, do an internet/social media blitz, but I'm not convinced those things will be the secret sauce that gets a book noticed.
As. Nathan Lowell, a writer friend/mentor keeps reminding me, your best advertisement is to write the next book.
So, I'm writing the next book. Book 3 in the Halcyone Space series has a working title: DREADNAUGHT AND SHUTTLE, and is the interlocking 'cat and mouse' stories of Micah vs the drug cartels and Ro & company vs the Commonwealth. I'm about 10% into the story and finding my writing groove again.
And there are other novels in the pipeline, including a joint project with a writer I respect the hell out of (waves to Rick Wayne!), and a revise/resubmit of a fantasy title to a medium-sized publisher.
While huge sales numbers and stratospheric rankings are the stuff that author's dreams are made of, what I'm really focused on is creating enough of a back list that selling in modest numbers will allow me to make a basic living as a writer. This is an expectation that I know is within my reach.
I also know I have the discipline and the focus to get there. ITHAKA RISING represents my 5th published novel, but in reality, the other three are low sellers - primarily because they don't appeal widely to an eBook buying readership. I don't regret writing and releasing them and it is my hope that they will also find their right readers in time, however, my functioning backlist currently consists of two novels: The Halcyone Space books. That is not sufficient to be self-sustaining.
In the next two years, I plan to add three additional novels to that pool. And I have no plans to stop writing anytime soon.