Category Archives: Self-Publishing

Self Publishing vs. Traditional Publishing – How Much Do You Want To Write?

Hi everyone!

A month ago, I read an article that, like so many others, bashes self-publishing.  One of the biggest reasons?  “When you’re self-published, you don’t spend a lot of time writing.  You spend most of your time advertising, marketing, working with cover artists, basically anything but writing.  You’re lucky if you spend 10% of your time actually writing.”

The author goes on to say that if you would rather be a writer, you should work on your craft until you are worthy of traditional publication.

That statement bothers me.  “Until you are worthy of traditional publication.”

Why does it bother me?  Well, partly it goes back to another recent article I’ve written where we explore major motion picture studios compared to smaller ones, such as Netflix.  Big-name studios are less likely to go with a story that is unusual or different from what is currently mainstream.  Netflix is more willing to try to break the mold and think outside the box.

Traditional publishers, even ones that claim they love searching for talent, all boil down to one fact: they want a story that will definitely make them money.  Not because they are greedy, but because they are running a business, and cannot publish more books if they have to shut down.  It’s just a fact of life, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

But the elitist idea that your stories aren’t good enough if they don’t get picked up by a traditional publisher?  Hogwash.

Was J.K. Rowling’s story, Harry Potter, unworthy when it was rejected by a dozen publishers, before finally being picked up?  What about Carrie by Stephen King (rejected 30 times before being picked up)?  Or Dune by Frank Herbert?

A story can be brilliant and written incredibly well and still rejected by publishers.  Just as a story can be horrible and poorly written and still picked up by publishers.  It all depends on where the market is going, what is currently trending.  IE: what will be the safest bet in the market, what will more likely make money, regardless of quality.

Now that I’ve got that rant out of the way…

Should You Self Publish?

Despite the generally negative tone the article had about self-publishing, it was right that being a self-published author means you have a lot of work outside of writing to do.  And if you’re going to do it well and do it right, there’s more than I ever realized.

I’m not quite yet ready to divulge what my current project is, but I’m in the midst of a huge endeavor involving self-publishing, and the fact of the matter is, almost none of it is writing fresh content (lots of editing, though.)

And compared to the amount of work I put into the first run of The Sword of Dragons, it’s a lot more work, a lot is involved, and you could even say it’s taken years to get to this point.  I still have months of work ahead of me.

I could be spending that time writing, instead.  Writing and trying desperately to get an agent or publisher to pick up my existing stories.  So am I hurting myself by doing all of this work?

Some people might answer with a ‘yes.’  There are those who say you should write something every single day to keep your craft honed.  Maybe they are right, maybe not.  I do agree that practicing is the only thing that will make you a better writer.  There’s no secret trick, there’s no fast-path.  Practice makes perfect.  So the more you can write, the better.

Have you decided to self-publish?  Then I’d recommend striving to write at least once a week, if not more.  And by write, I don’t mean an entire novel a week.  Just write something if you can, to help keep yourself in practice.

Having said that, self-publishing definitely is not for everyone.  Marketing is hard.  Cover design is hard.  Book layouts is hard.  And there’s even more I’m learning about this whole publishing trade, and it’s no wonder publishing houses have so many people on staff from so many different fields of expertise.

If you think you would enjoy learning all of these fields and practicing all of them, then I am a huge proponent of it.  Go out there and publish your work!  But if dealing with all of these different pieces of the puzzle, many of which I haven’t even touched on in this article, is not your cup of tea, then perhaps working more on finding an agent for your works is the better course for you.

I am not a hater of either.  I think both have their places, and to be honest, if there came a day where I didn’t have to do all of the things involved with self-publishing, I’d be happy.  I’d much rather write full time, and do other artistic things as a hobby on the side.  But I AM enjoying most of the aspects I’m working on now.  Not all, though.  My biggest bane in self-publishing?  Marketing.  That does not come natural to me at all.

But the results are very much going to be worth it.  I promise you, my silence about my writing lately has not been because I’ve been idle.  Something big is coming :)

Thanks for reading everyone!  I’d love to hear any feedback on this topic, what do you all think?  Would you rather self-publish or go traditional publish?

-Jon Wasik

Defining Moments – Response to Peter Dinklage

Hi everyone,

What is a day job?

I know, a weird question to start with.  But that’s what I define as my day-to-day job, my work in I.T. that pays the bills.  My Day Job.

And I’m going to steal a quote from Peter Dinklage: “I hated that job, and I clung to that job.”  Except I’m still clinging to it.  And I don’t know how to let go of it.  I don’t know how…

Peter Dinklage Commencement Address

Image Source – speakola.com

A few weeks ago, my fiancee sent me this video, a part of a speech given by Peter Dinklage at a commencement speech at his former university.  And it struck a chord in my soul.

I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  In my waking moments.  In my dreams.  It’s a voice in the back of my head saying “these are the words you’ve searched for, they give voice to what you’ve felt for so long.”

Would you believe that Peter Dinklage was once in I.T.?  He was in data entry, and as he said in his speech, he hated that job, and he clung to it.  Like me, he clung to the job that gave him the freedom (outside of work) to live for himself, to not have to depend on others.  And yet, from the sounds of it, for him it barely even did that.

Until one day, when he was 29, he decided he needed to do something more with his life.  So he took the first acting job he could get, quit his Data Entry job, and went hungry for a while…but kept going.  One job led to another, to another, to another, until now, he’s one of the highest paid actors on television.

And in his speech, he pleaded with the college students not to wait until they were 29, like he did.

29.  I’m 33.  He did Data Entry for 6 years.  Counting my work study time, I’ve been in I.T. for 14 years.

Like Dinklage, who put on puppet musicals as a child and acted in school plays at least since the 5th grade, I’ve been a writer all of my life.  No, strike that: I’ve been a story teller all of my life.  Because funny enough, it was in 5th grade that I actually wrote my first story, but before that, I would tell anyone who would listen stories.

Clinging to the Job

Photo by Wayne Adams of Death’s House Productions

Ask any of my friends or family members, for the past year or so, my desire to leave I.T. and write full time has been stronger than ever.  I feel like my day job has been sucking the life out of me, and it’s only gotten worse.

There are days where I even allow myself to feel a little hopeless in that regard.  I feel like I’ll never be able to escape it.  I’ll never be able to write full time.  I’ll never be able to follow my passion, to do the thing that has given me meaning since I was a child!

How do I escape?  Do I take the plunge like Dinklage did, quit my day job, and just write and publish and try to get an agent, and hope that I land on my feet?  What he did took courage beyond all measure.

Yet to do something like that right now would go against everything I was raised to be.  Not that Dinklage was wrong, in fact I admire him for what he did.  But I’m in the rabbit hole too deep.  I can’t just throw caution to the wind and then go “oops, it didn’t work out right away, now I’m living on the streets until I can find a way to land on my feet.”

Whether it was skill, luck, or some combination, Dinklage was able to get through the rough beginning, and came out on top.  But let’s face it, that’s a rare occurrence in life.

…So yes, that means I’m afraid.  Terrified.  Of what?  Failing?

Yes…but what does failing mean?  Dinklage covered this in his speech, too.  He hated his job, he clung to that job, maybe he was afraid of change…are you?

If I were to quit my job and write full time, the chances are extremely high my entire life style would have to change.  Quality of life would definitely go down the tubes for a while, and who knows for how long.

It would feel like a step backwards.  It would be like all of my hard work until now was for nothing…

Would it be worth it?  That’s the maddening thing, I can’t begin to calculate it.  Just as I’m sure Dinklage couldn’t calculate it.  I doubt he had any idea he would one day end up being one of the highest paid TV actors.  Maybe he dreamt of it…but when he took that acting job…  It would be worth it if I knew I was going to come out on top and someday make just enough from writing to live off of, to pay the bills, to have a roof over my head.

Honestly, I’d love to sit down with him and talk, to ask him how he felt as he did it, what he thought, how long he pondered over it before he made his decision.  What was it that prompted him to take such a daring and dangerous course of action?  What got him through the hard times that followed, the doubts as he struggled to pay the bills as an actor?

Hmm…maybe that’s the question everyone should ask those who have ‘made it.’  Not “how did you succeed.”  But rather, “where did you find the courage?”

How do you learn to believe in yourself like that?  Because that’s also what holds me back…my self doubts.  I’m waiting for validation.  I’m waiting for my novels to be at least somewhat successful, as if to prove that I at least have a chance.  Does that make me a coward or prudent?

Honestly I don’t know anymore.  In the commencement speech, Dinklage says “The world might say you are not allowed to yet.  Please, don’t even bother asking.  Don’t bother telling the world you are ready.  Show it.  Do it.”

…I’m trying.

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik

PS: if you’d like to see the full speech, click here.  It’s worth watching if you have the half hour to spare.

The Cost of Self Publishing

Image Source – http://infocus.emc.com/

There’s so much advice out there about what to do or not to do for self-publishing.  Some of the most common include “Hire a professional graphic design artist to make your covers.  Even if you’re a graphic designer, don’t try to design your own, it’s a mistake.  Hire someone instead.”  Or, “hire an editor.  My god, hire an editor!”

That’s all fine and dandy, and perhaps even is sound advice.  Except…that all costs money.  And if you want someone who is actually good at it, it costs a lot of money.  In fact depending on the size of your manuscript, an editor will probably cost you more than a graphic design artist.  Worse still, if you want custom artwork made, hiring an artist will probably cost you hundreds if not thousands of dollars.  Then that art still needs to be turned into a cover.

So, okay, you have a novel you want to self publish.  You want to publish it as strongly as you can.  But you don’t have a penny to spare, let alone $500 or more for just one of these services.  Sure there are cheaper ones out there…so maybe you’re lucky enough to find a cover artist who will do it for you for $100.  That’s still $100.  Not to mention an editor.  To speak nothing of advertising.

The fact of the matter is, if you want to self publish and you want to follow the advice of all of these people and pay for all of these services, you need a fair bit of money up front.  But what if you don’t have that money to spare?

Before anyone says it, I’ll say now what the two most common responses are to that question.  “Go traditional publishing” and “If it’s important to you, you’ll find a way to make it happen.”

To the first response, this usually comes from people, both those who are published and those who are not, that don’t seem to understand the challenges a writer faces finding an agent and/or publisher when they are an unknown.  Even if you have an amazing story written extremely well, you’re an unknown, and as I wrote in my previous blog about prequels, these industry professionals need to make money.  Not because they are greedy, quite the opposite: they need to live, just like you and I do.

So the other response, “You’ll find a way to make it happen.”  If only it was that easy.  Especially in today’s supposedly ‘recovered’ economy.  Perhaps my viewpoint is unique to where I live, but it would take me years to save up the money to hire editors and graphic designers.  For just one novel.  Let alone more.

“What’s your advice, then?”  Well, my advice is, if you have the skills, do it.  Take the time to do it right.  Research.  Work on it.  And if you have friends with the skills you need and they are willing to do it cheap or free, take advantage of that (but don’t expect them to, just ask, and if they say they can’t or won’t, don’t be offended by it.  Both editing and graphic design are serious and time-consuming skills to develop.)

I’m fortunate to have started developing both of these skills early on.  Editing for my love of writing, and graphic design when I was writing my fan fiction.  I’m no professional at the graphic design end of it, and I’m always learning.  But until I make enough money to hire these professionals, I have to rely on myself and my talented friends.

That is not a sin.  That does not mean your heart isn’t in it or you’re not willing to make sacrifices to make your dream come true.  It just means you’re willing to do whatever you can to work towards your dream.

Because if you don’t, if you say “I don’t have the money, therefore I’ll never get published,” then yes, you’re right, you won’t ever get published.  But if you take the risk, and take the time and make the effort to make your self-published novel the best that you have the resources to make it, then you’re taking steps towards making your dreams come true.

Taking steps, even baby steps, is better than doing nothing at all.

My Dream for the Future

I had an idea, and I hope there comes a day when I can actually make this happen.  I’d love to someday set up an organization that seeks out potential authors and helps them find affordable editors and artists, and even has funds to help them get their first novel off the ground right.  I’m not talking about an agency, we won’t publish it or find a publisher for them, we’ll merely provide them the contacts and resources needed for them to do it.  And education on how to do it.

Due to limited funding, I know we couldn’t help everyone.  But maybe if there were enough people working or volunteering, they could at least read manuscripts from potentials, and if the potentials don’t quite meet the standards needed to qualify, at least give them advice on what they can do to improve and have a better chance the next time they submit.

At the very least, help give budding authors the tools they need to make themselves better and have a chance at getting their names out there.

Here’s hoping I can gather the connections and resources to get something like that off the ground someday :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Self Publishing Success – The Martian

Hi everyone, welcome back to A Writer At Heart!  After a short hiatus, I’m back for more writerly goodness!  Please note that starting today, the posting schedule will be once a week every Sunday.  This will give me Friday night and Saturday’s to write new content for you all :)  And now, on to today’s post!

The Martian

Movie Poster for The Martian

In recent years, the movie The Martian has garnered considerable attention.  Based on a novel by Andy Weir, the producers and director of The Martian went to great lengths to ensure (mostly) scientific accuracy, working with NASA on an unprecedented scale, and creating what some critics call one of Ridley Scott’s best movies.

The novel itself was becoming a success before the options for the movie rights were sold in 2013.  However…what if I told you The Martian was self-published?

And not even self-published in the ‘traditional’ way, but in a rather unique way.

Chapter by Chapter – For Free

When Weir started working on the idea for The Martian, he had already been rejected by traditional publishers for other works, and decided to go a different route.  He published The Martian, for free, chapter by chapter on his website.

The Martian hardback novel

It was only when his growing number of fans asked him to publish the novel on Amazon Kindle that he started charging, at only 99 cents (the cheapest KDP allows authors to publish their novels.)  Within three months, he’d sold 35,000 copies!  In 2013, an audiobook publisher and a print publisher both bought rights to The Martian.

So how did he go from an unknown, posting his story for free on the internet, to making hundreds of thousands of dollars, and getting a multi-million dollar movie adaptation?

I’ve not actually read The Martian myself, but a part of it I think has to do with the quality of the story (based on reviews.)  Weir went to great lengths to make his novel scientifically accurate, and from some articles I’ve read online (including, yes, Wikipedia) he listened to what readers of his chapters said when they corrected scientific inaccuracies and had suggestions about characters.

Perhaps this is part of it, too.  Not only does he have a compelling topic in his novel, one which is growing in everyone’s mind as NASA prepares to send humans to Mars in 2030, but he listened to and engaged with his readers.  He didn’t dismiss them.  He didn’t belittle them.

To quote a character from Stargate SG-1, “Never underestimate your audience. They’re usually sensitive, intelligent people, who will respond positively to quality entertainment.”

What do you all think?  What was the secret to Weir’s success?  Is there another element that took him from an unknown to a best-selling author through self-publishing?  Curious minds want to know :)

Thanks for reading!
-Jon Wasik

Can A Writer Live Off Of Writing?

Hi everyone!

In just a couple of months, this blog, A Writer At Heart, turns 3!  I’m excited that I’ve kept this going for all of that time!  There’s been ups and downs, and I know I haven’t always been able to keep up on posts, but it’s been an enjoyable medium to write in.

I know I’ve talked about this before, but one of my goals that I wanted to work towards when I started writing this blog was that I was going to make a living off of writing within 2 years.  3 years later, I’m nowhere close to achieving that goal.

Despite that apparent failure, my attempt to achieve that goal is why I worked so hard and was able to self-publish 2 novels in 2 years, and finish writing The Orc War Campaigns within a year (even if barely).

I may not be raking in the cash, but I am so much more accomplished as a writer than ever before!

Still, I’ve wondered lately, is it even possible to make a living off of writing?  Can only the big names make it, the ones who make the top sellers lists and make millions?  Was it a lofty, unobtainable dream of mine?  Should I let that dream go?

The Market Has Changed

With this question in mind, I decided to do a little digging and research.  Just going to google and typing in the question “Can writers make a living off of writing” yields apparently mixed results, or so I thought at first…

There were a lot of articles that enthusiastically said “Yes!” and a lot that unequivocally said “NO!  It’s a pipe dream!”  Who was right?

But the content of the articles, as well as their dates, is what started getting me to wondering about it.  You see, most of the ones that said it was a one in a million occurrence for a writer to live off of writing were either, A: 7 years old or older, or B: were talking about traditional publication only.

The ones that said it was possible?  They pointed out the change in the market.  Everything began to change as the internet grew and took on new characteristics.  eBooks changed the market, because suddenly you didn’t have to do a huge print run.  Self-publishing was a rare and very risky thing, and cost a lot of money up-front before eBooks.

Furthermore, as things continue to evolve, print-on-demand suddenly is no longer prohibitively expensive, and in fact is at a point where it can compete with traditional print runs.

Suddenly there are all of these avenues, and just about anyone can get published with little or no up-front cost!

Does This Mean Lower-Quality?

I want to state something important before I continue: I am neither bashing nor supporting either method (traditional or self-publishing) above the other.  In fact, even being a self-published author, it is still my dream to get picked up by an agency and publishing house.

Having said that, I’ve been scoffed at by some traditionally published authors in the past.  They think of self-publishing as an evil, and the most common reason behind it: “Anyone can get published without even trying, so a lot of garbage makes it onto the bookshelves.”

I respectfully disagree, this is something that hasn’t changed.  Before the internet, eBooks, and Print-on-Demand, there were a lot of good books that were published, true…but there were also plenty of bad.  No, I’m not going to cite examples, but I’m willing to bet you can think of a few on your own.

Despite the risk publishers took doing print runs, and therefore despite how careful they were in who they published and the content of their publications, not everyone in the world agrees on what is a quality piece of work.  And many trade publishers followed the market.  One of the articles I found while researching this topic said it right: a lot of bad books were published for this reason, and a lot of quality books were overlooked for any number of reasons, such as not being right for the market at the time.

So now that it is easier than ever to self-publish, what does that mean?  It just means more of both – the good and the bad.  Lots more.

Market Saturation?

So is this bad, then?  Does this market saturation mean readers are more picky, because there’s too much, and therefore it is harder for all writers to live off of writing?

Strangely enough, it seems like the answer is no.  I’m not an expert, but I have a lot of theories as to why things are better than ever, rather than worse, and the biggest one is: audience.

If you get published by a trade publisher, your book goes out to stores.  Depending on how much your publisher likes your work, it may just be your local market, or it might be out to a handful of countries, depending on what international deals they have setup.

But now?  Well, I’ve had people from all over the world read my books!  I only know this because of how Kindle Direct Publishing tracks sales and royalty currencies.  I’ve seen Canadians, Australians, Brits, and a few others buy my eBooks and even some print copies.

Suddenly it’s not just specific locations.  It’s whoever has an internet connection and the means to the right kind of currency.  Suddenly there are billions of potential readers rather than millions.

On top of that, people who are voracious readers don’t have to worry about physical books taking up space or waiting for them to be delivered.  Most people I’ve talked to outside of friends and family have read my first book in a single sitting.

Voracious readers are, if you’ll pardon the pun, eating up the increased volume of works to be read!

The Bottom Line?

The bottom line is that it is possible to make a living off of writing, more than ever!  However…that does not change the fact that it requires hard work.  A LOT of hard work.  You don’t have to have that one best-seller anymore like you used to, but from what I’m reading, those who DO live off of it, write a great volume of stories.

And that is no guarantee, either.  That’s an important thing to remember about writing: it doesn’t matter how good you are, you are not guaranteed to succeed.  In fact, Picard once said it perfectly in Star Trek The Next Generation:

Image source – fanpop.com

“It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose.  That is not a weakness, that is life!”

So what should you do?

It all boils down to one thing: do you love to write?  Is it your passion?  Your calling?

If you can answer yes to that, then my advice is the same advice I’m giving myself: don’t give up.  Don’t stop.  Keep going.  Never stop.

Believe.

What Does Your Cover Say?

They say a picture is worth a thousand words.  And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in the past couple years, the cover of your novel can make or break you.

Recently my fiancee found an article that we read together today, found here, and it made me think of a lot of things, and I think even helped me answer one very important question: why have sales for Burning Skies been so much worse than The Sword of Dragons?

It boggled my mind, because almost everyone who has read Burning Skies told me they loved it as much if not more than The Sword of Dragons.  So it wasn’t that it was poorly written or a bad story.  And my advertising campaigns for Burning Skies have all tanked.  Fewer clicks than my ads for book 1, and no purchases.

Your Cover Describes Your Book

I’ve said this in a previous blog, long ago, but what’s the first thing a person sees when perusing either a book shelf or an online book store?  The cover.  “But don’t judge a book by its cover!”  So the expression goes, but frankly, everyone does.

David Penny's original covers...Thriller or Historical Mystery?
David Penny’s original covers…Thriller or Historical Mystery?

So what does your cover tell potential buyers?  What does it tell people your book is about?  The one time I went to a writer’s convention, one of the panels I went to covered this very idea, and again in the article I mentioned earlier.  An example writer, David Penny, had a well-crafted cover for his historical mystery series, but what he was shocked to realize one day was that his cover made readers think it was a thriller.

David Penny's redesign.
David Penny’s redesign.

So he had his cover redesigned and re-branded his series, and suddenly sales skyrocketed!

Why?  Not because the original covers were bad, quite the opposite.  But because the original covers weren’t attracting the right readers.  Those looking for a thriller would click on the cover to see what the novel was about, only to find it wasn’t what they were actually looking for.  And those looking for historical mysteries didn’t look into the book because they thought it was a thriller.

Target audience.  Who is your target audience?  All of your marketing should reflect who your target audience is.  If your book is a fantasy adventure but the cover makes it look like a teen romance, you are very unlikely to attract readers.

What Does This Mean For The Sword of Dragons?

Cover by Christian Michael
Cover by Christian Michael

Well…….I’ve been thinking.  A lot.  Lately I’ve felt like a failure as a writer.  A failure in a lot of things.  And I’m a bit lost as to where to go.

But…maybe the author David Penny is on to something.  Maybe this article was exactly what I needed.  The original cover for The Sword of Dragons was great, Christian Michael is a talented artist.  But for one thing, I didn’t do a very good job as a client helping him create an appropriate cover.  I was, to put it mildly, an amateur at being a client to a cover artist.  The article helped me realize my short-falls in that regard.

I also didn’t have maps ready for the release of books 1 and 2.  Not to mention I’ve since come up with some ideas to make the book as a whole even more attractive.

But the cover…I know some people say a cover isn’t that important, but everything I’ve been seeing and reading in the past year completely disagrees with that claim.  And I think I need to take a step back and reassess some things.

I am very strongly considering doing a re-brand.  Designing new covers for the first two novels using the tips and advice in the referenced article, as well as giving book 1 it’s own unique title.  Since this is the Sword of Dragons series, book 1 needs a title to indicate it is the first in a series.

Burning-Skies-Digital-FinalAnd the more I look at book 2’s cover, the more I think: this does not in any way convey that this is a fantasy adventure novel.  Even book 1’s cover, as well-crafted as it is, does not necessarily convey that it is a fantasy adventure.

In other words, I need a 2nd edition of the series…

I have some thinking to do.  What do you all think?

Thanks for reading,
-Jon Wasik

The Trials Continue – 2016’s Highs and Lows

Hey everyone, welcome to the last blog of the year!

And what a year it has been…with some of my greatest highs and some of my lowest lows.  I wish I could say this roller coaster was for me only, but based on the memes I keep seeing on Facebook, 2016 has been one of the most difficult years for many people, and not just because of celebrity deaths.

Originally Posted by Cinnabon.
Originally Posted by Cinnabon.

Though I do wish to pay tribute to some of my favorites who passed this year, those who have inspired and left behind a legacy no one will soon forget: David Bowie, Alan Rickman, Anton Yelchin, Ron Glass, John Glenn, and Carrie Fisher.  Not to belittle all those who passed in 2016, but these five were the ones that hit me the hardest.

Looking Back on 2016

2016 started on a heart-breaking note for me, as my relationship at the time was already coming apart.  I’d spent the holidays alone, and it was one of the loneliest times of my life…  On top of that, I had failed to get Burning Skies out in November as I had originally planned, 6 months after book 1’s release.

digital-cover-1While production of The Orc War Campaigns was in full swing, I wasn’t sure it was going to do well.  I was scared that fans wouldn’t accept that as a substitute for the delayed release of Burning Skies.  I wasn’t sure the story would do well.  But I was looking forward to exploring my own wounds in the story…

In fact, as a reader recently pointed out to me, I have infused my past relationship failures into my writing a lot lately.  At the beginning of 2016, I was full of cynicism and anger, I’d given up on relationships.  I couldn’t bear another heartbreak…

Never-the-less, I trudged forward.  I said “Hell with it” and focused all of my efforts on writing and getting my name out there.  This year I had my first table at a convention, that of Starfest 2016, and sold several novels there!  It was an exciting beginning, and sales for book 1 were relatively steady in general at this point.

Character design and model: Beck Stewart. Photo by WeNeals Photography.
Character design and model: Beck Stewart. Photo by WeNeals Photography.

Then I attended Anomaly Con, a steampunk convention in the Denver area, and met some amazing authors!  In fact, of all of the conventions I’ve attended, I think Anomaly Con had the best organization for Author’s Row.

Better still, one of the most important introductions of my life was made that weekend: I met fellow author Beck Stewart.  And while I didn’t know it at the time, that brief introduction late Saturday night would become the love of my life…  :)

Burning Skies Release

Burning-Skies-Digital-FinalWhile the Orc War Campaigns had to go on a mid-season hiatus, this led to the successful release of the 2nd novel of the Sword of Dragons series, Burning Skies, and what a release it was!  I had an amazing release party with family and friends, and in the first couple months of release, I sold dozens of copies!

I was on a high – everything was starting to go right.  A couple months after the release, Beck and I started dating, and interest in my novels was on the rise.  Though terrified at one point that I was going to lose my mother, she pulled through, and the middle of 2016 was one of the best times of my life :D

But alas, not all would continue to go so well.  Sales for both book 1 and book 2 suddenly just…stopped.  No gradual draw-down, no indication it would happen, just all of a sudden…

Image source - google.com
Image source – google.com

And as 2016 comes to an end, sales continue to be almost non-existent.  Honestly I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong…  Advertising campaigns on Amazon are no longer drawing interest, and all attempts to get others to buy my novels have failed.  And while The Orc War Campaigns has completed successfully…I’ve received no feedback.  I don’t even know if anyone has read it.

As a writer, right now, I feel like a complete failure.  Months of negligible sales, including at a convention this fall, no more fan mail, it’s like everyone just…forgot about the Sword of Dragons.

I’m not sure where to go from here.  I’m trudging along on book 3, though running into a bit of writer’s block (3 days to write 1 chapter?  That’s bad…) And I don’t know what else I could do to boost sales.

Ending 2016 On A High Note

Image Source - stylecaster.com
Image Source – stylecaster.com

But for all of the despair I feel about writing, I can’t end this article on a low note.  Because for all of that, there are also some amazing things going on in my life!  My relationship continues to grow, and I got to spend a usually depressing time of the year with my girlfriend and our families!

In fact, writing aside, this turned out to be one of the best years of my life!  :D  And while I really hope I can turn my writing career around in 2017, I am so glad to no longer have to face it all alone.  I am so glad to have a companion in life, a writing partner, a cosplay partner, and my best friend :)

For all of the darkness in 2016, my Starshine has lit up my life in a way no one else could ever do.

Plans for 2017

For 2017, I want to try to get The Orc War Campaigns into print this year.  But more important is my desire to release book 3 of the Sword of Dragons by the end of May…and I honestly don’t know if I can.

The Orc War Campaigns took up more of my time than I expected, and I fell waaaay behind.  Between that and my bout of writer’s block…I’m really afraid I won’t make it in time.  Maybe a novel every year is an unrealistic expectation for myself.  I’m really not sure.  I also don’t want to rush out a mediocre product.  I want book 3 to be at least as good as books 1 and 2.

So that’s a decision I’ll have to make in the next few months – try to keep to the schedule, or delay book 3’s release….  Which would you prefer, my dear readers?  Try to get it out on time, or take my time on it and shoot for a winter release?

On that note, I wish you all a fantastic New Years tonight!  Be safe, have fun, and I’ll see you in 2017!

Thanks for reading :)
-Jon Wasik