Well, it's that time of year again. This morning I went back and read my "Goals for 2013" thread, just to see how close I got. Hmm... it was a bit off the mark, but I still got a lot done, haha.
So, without further ado, here's a few thoughts on the year and what I'm hoping to achieve in 2014. I'll be doing a fuller roundup of what happened in 2013 in a couple of weeks when I reach my two-year self-publishing anniversary (Jan 24th).
So, the current state of play is that I have 32 items available for sale on Amazon on my own account, under four different pen names, Chris Ward, Michael S. Hunter, Michael White, and one that's a secret, haha. Don't worry, it isn't porn, just an experiment that was kind of fun. But anyway.
In 2013 I added two novels to the canon, Head of Words, and the long awaited Tube Riders: Exile.
Tube Riders: Exile is selling pretty well. Head of Words isn't. It should, because its one of the best things I've ever wrote, so go and check it out.
In addition, I published four collections of short stories, the Five Tales Series. There will probably be more of these as and when I get around to it. For these, because I'm a cheapskate, I did the covers myself. Five Tales of Horror sold amazingly well over the summer but has sold nothing since. The others sell the odd copy. Still, better out than in, and all that. These collections are made up of some stories that are in magazines and others that are available elsewhere. There's also an exclusive in there somewhere in each.
I also published two new action comedy novellas under the name of Michael S. Hunter, one in January and one in September.
They sell bugger all, but they're awesome and the covers look great, so I'll likely publish more in the future.
And in addition to this, I published several short stories under the name of Michael White. Again, proving my versatility, these are simple tales of village green heroism featuring my favorite sport. Believe it or not, they actually sell pretty well, particularly when there's a Test match on!
I also have my fingers in a number of other pies, including The End of the Road anthology, and Insignia, a collection of Japanese short stories. Early this year, I've been featured in a dystopian boxed set with many far more famous names than me, and also in a forthcoming anthology by the publishers of The End of the Road, entitled The Kiss. My contribution is a Tube Riders origin story. An important one to check out.
So, all in all, 2013 was a pretty busy year for publishing. My sales, which I'll be saving for the look back post in a couple of weeks, were triple 2012. I'm expecting a lot more of 2014. Here's a few things I'm aiming to do.
First of all, I don't believe in luck. You could say that my whole life is one long stretch of luck, in that I'm still here whereas several close friends no longer are. That I'm healthy, when others are not. That I'm not starving to death, not every day at least, haha. In writing, though, what I consider luck to be is a spontaneous take-off of sales, for something that wasn't selling to suddenly break out and make me rich and famous.
Yeah, it might happen. Whatever. I don't do the lottery, and I don't believe in it (although I'm partial to a scratch-card or two when I'm back in the UK!). What I do believe in is graft. As long as I continue to work hard, listen to those around who are doing better and continue to improve my craft and my business sense as well as increasing my backlist, then I'll see myself all right.
Because I live in an out of the way part of the world, I've not had to put up with as much of the stigma towards self-publishing that a lot of others have, but I've still had to put up with plenty. At the end of the day, I don't care. I know a lot of people have this attitude that self-publishing is somehow cheating or that I'm not a real writer because I'm not giving 85% of my earnings to some traditional publisher and then waiting for two years for them to pay me, but that doesn't matter to me. I don't care if people think I can't write (read the Amazon reviews, haters :-) ), or that I shouldn't be publishing or that me being a self-published writer becomes an elephant in the room in certain situations. I don't care about any of those things. What I'm doing is building a supplementary income to help my family and building a legacy (and hopefully some income) for those who come after me, and that's way more important that what a few people still rooted in the past think. I'm long past the "gee up" stage. That was fifteen years ago.
So, what I'm going to do this year, to give myself as best a chance of being successful as possible -
1. I'm going to publish Tube Riders: Revenge.
In fact, it should be out within the month. I'm just waiting for the proofreader, then I'm going to give it one last read though. Then ... here it comes. You won't be disappointed. Trust me on this. It's a beast. I still laugh and cry every time I read it, even though I can practically quote whole paragraphs.
2. I'm going to get involved in as many promotional projects as I can. I've mentioned several above already. The biggest one so far is the dystopian boxed set A Taste of Tomorrow, which is rocking the Kindle charts as I type this. Tube Riders is book number 6, and I think it can hold its own in a group of really great writers. I'm currently enjoying reading through the other books in the collection, and for $2.99 for 11 books, you can't go wrong.
3. I'm going to concentrate on writing novels. Short stories are easy to publish, but they don't sell. I'm aiming to write four novels. Last year I wrote a little under 300,000 words, but this year I'm going to push that on towards 500,000. I could do more, but that's a solid figure, and would get me the number of books I want.
First up will be a horror novel that I'm working on now. In addition to this, I'm going to finish another one that I started last year, and also if I can publish an older horror novel. Then I'm going to brand all three as well as Man Who Built the World into a horror series. While not connected stories, they are connected by genre, and probably will be by length. Branding is sooo important. Look at my Michael S. Hunter books. THAT is branding. My Tube Riders stuff too is familiar. The rest of my stuff, not so much.
4. There will be more Tube Riders books. I've got at least two in the pipeline. The main trilogy is done, but there will be at least two connected books, featuring some of the smaller characters in the main series. I was going to get to it right away, but I needed to step back from that world for a while. The horror I'm working on should be done by mid-Feb at the current rate of progress.
5. I'm going to be everywhere. I'm part of a really special group of writers who've helped me so much with both craft and marketing. You'll be finding me cropping up all over the place this year, particularly in social media, but if I can branch out of that into the "real world" :-) I'll let you know. 2014 is going to be big for me, but the only way I can do that is to get out there and make it happen.
So that's about it. A nice short list, haha. Anyway, any comments would be great. For now, though, I have to go and get some words done (and feed the cat!).
January 11th 2014