God, sometimes I don’t know how to start or where to begin. With rambles, I’ll write them out, then go back and organize. In this case, it’s pretty easy. I’ll start with Feb 1st. Feb 1st I had a ‘controlled fall’ in the shower from sheer pain and eventually discovered four herniation’s in my lumbar region.
I literally could not get off the floor without spasms that whitened my mind and devolved me into a cursing machine. While I’ve never gone through childbirth, I imagine it’s fairly close to late stage contractions – just less repetitive. Essentially, I sit at a computer too much, am not active enough, and after a decade or two of this I ended up with old man back.
I felt crippled and wondered if I could ever walk again. I tried to figure out if I could make it to work (Which is about 1 1/3 hours of commuting one way each day) – to keep supporting my family. Lastly, I looked to my own writing and wondered if it were possible to do this full time. All of this happened in the days that followed while I was given drugs, had an MRI, talked to doctors, my wife, and so on.
I took a few days in there while recovering to clear out my queue of ‘review requests’ and if you’ve been following my website – you’ve seen them posted. This was tougher than it sounds. Focusing on anyone one thing while trying to recover has been tough. Taking a shower (where I fell) has filled me with anxiety. I’m getting better. I can walk without pain. I am on the mend. I have exercises and am reminding myself to bend at the knees.
Still, the point of today’s ramble isn’t specifically about how I broke myself – but the reflections and ideas spurned by nearly a month sick at home.
Could I make it as a full-time writer?
The answer is yes, and no. We did our taxes recently, and I made enough off of writing to theoretically pay all the bills – but no nearly enough to buy a new house, a new car, and eventually shovel the children off to college.
But during this month off, I wrote nearly nothing. I spent every day simply trying to make it to the end of the day so I could sleep. It’s not a good month to use as a judge for the rest of my life.
There are a few things to take away – if I were to leap to full time, I would need to make more than I am now. Which means more works being put out. To that end I did manage to figure out my project order for this year and next. It’s been posted to the front page post – but I’ll relist it here for the nosey.
- The Fiasco, In News – estimated release: June / July
- Prince in the Tower (Royal Scales #4) – estimated release: Oct/Nov
- Wayward Online: Tales – 1st release of 2018?
- Lawless Ink – 2nd release of 2018?
- Prince of Neverwas (Royal Scales #5) – 3rd release of 2018?
- Silk Bird Cage (Fragments of Aeon #1) – 4th release of 2018?
I know that I can finish out this year. I’m fairly sure I can get three and four draft finished before the end of the year as well. Five, may be tricky and pushed back depending on sales for book two. All these ideas go through my head because going full time depends on money making ability.
Since Royal Scales is urban fantasy – an insanely saturated genre – it’s hard to get noticed until a lot of books are set up for binge reading. Kindle Unlimited makes most of my income now and that series is ‘wide’. One day it may not be, I personally have seen next to no success from the wide market verses Kindle Unlimited.
That’s an entirely different ramble for another day.
My wife and I are getting better at the processes. We’re (she’s) keeping better records of expenses. We’re (she’s) setting up editing well in advance instead of pushing deadlines. We’re (she’s) finding cover artists so we can shift away from stock photos. All these things mean that we’re getting better at the trade – at least a little bit.
So, can I make it as a full time writer? If every year is like 2016 – yes. At least for a little while, but I’m unsure if it’s sustainable. I’ve had the pleasure of talking to Michael Scott-Edwards and a few other full time writers recently. They’ve said they’re consistently a flop or two away from becoming homeless failures. I’ve concluded that working my current job and writing as a second job is much better – especially since there’s a family to support.
That being said, becoming full time, writing for a living – has always been a dream. Since about fourteen. But at some point I realized that one has to go out and live some stuff first – otherwise whatever is being written isn’t really unique, it’s regurgitation. I still dream of someday doing courses in college about creative writing and sharing my experiences – but I need to have more. I need a portfolio. I need to succeed and be a ‘doer’ for more than a year and a half.
Still, I am writing. I’m making a lot more than I expected; and we’ll see if the trend continues for more than a year. Maybe it was a one hit wonder, maybe it was the genre. But I’ve got my lineup figured out, and I’ll get back on the horse here, I swear. Hopefully by the end of March we’ll be back to bi-weekly releases of chapters.
Where I am now
I talked a little bit about this above. I’ll give it a personal section since I don’t want people to think I’ve stopped writing all together. My current format, for anyone new – is to post chapter by chapter as I work towards completion of a novel. Afterward it gets bundled then eventually published – the draft chapters come down, and I move onto the next work.
It’s a very strange mixture between being serial writing, book publishing, stealing beta readers (you folks), and market testing.
This will continue once I’m mentally prepared to start releasing chapters again.
It may change format as I debate pulling away from RoyalRoadL and figure out how to utilize Patreon better.
However, the final stage (publication) means I must police the serial pages a bit more. I’ve revamped the Continue Online and Royal Scales pages – and the ‘preview’ chapters were removed from my WordPress to ensure I didn’t violate any sample size regulations tied to Kindle Unlimited. I’m slowly, very slowly, improving stuff on the site in terms of making things easier for potential readers and those interested in the ongoing stuff.
I worry that, and I’ll use The Fiasco as an example. I’ll finish it, won’t start book 2 right away, and once it starts being serialized book one will be released, meaning people can’t read straight through for free. This stratagie may be the death of my website side. It may not – I’m unsure and will try to keep notes for those interested in the methodology. I know lots of authors out there are always looking for new ideas to help market and eventually earn money. I am. My wife is.
Still, managing all this is hard when there are only two of us.
Anyway, more about current state of affairs.
My wife has been reaching out to artists for The Fiasco – we found one, the draft pieces look fantastic – and I’ll do a piece on the artwork process verses photo manipulation eventually. Feb had some scarring lessons there about stock photos and how covers can end up looking like someone else’s – that we didn’t even know existed. It’s frustrating. That’ll probably end up in the artist verses designer ramble.
Back on point (again, Jesus, I Segway too often). I like this artist’s style and hope he’ll do the cover work for all three books. Type setting is a different skillset we’ll be reaching out to someone for. We’ve spent parts of Feb (where I’ve been home sick) talking about this process.
I’ve spent a lot of time off and on trying to approach the ending for The Fiasco’s first book – something fitting, amusing, and that isn’t a huge letdown. However, the work has been one long action scene after the other so I decided what I needed was something else. Hopefully people will enjoy it (and it took me the better part of the month to figure it out) – or at least find it comical.
Once it’s complete I’ll post the last 4-5 chapters then start on my wife’s list of first round edits. It’s important to note that nearly everything going up on this site is ‘draft’ one. We plan on moving to professional editing mid April so I’d best get a move on.
Lawless Ink – I managed to write out 3 episodes during Nov and went through it again last week. I love how it turned out and feel like my skills as a writer have really improved. I plan to do another episode or two in March while wrapping up The Fiasco, and moving on with Royal Scale’s 4th book.
I also found out that NaNo does a ‘Camp’ event for April. I’ll be joining that as a personal challenge to get back on the horse. My writing speed has ramped down a lot since finishing Continue Online. Hopefully it will give me the boost I need to finish another book.
Too many Projects
Those of you who took note of the numbered list up above, can see that I have a lot of projects and books I want to work on. And if you’ve been reading along, you probably know that these projects are essentially a second job. This is part of why my focus and release haven’t been 100% on point since Continue Online finished.
There are simply too many works I want to do and finish. This doesn’t touch on about 12 other books that are sitting in synopsis form. None of them seem to be single novels I can just do and be free of. For some reason series writing is more enjoyable and I like telling stories over longer stretches.
Royal Scales, as an example, is a labor of love – not of money or attention. It gets about 2% of what Continue Online does. But I write it because I owe the characters for being the first ones I really felt good about writing. (We’re not going to mention the trunk works which will stay buried). So this project can’t be set down for long – and in the next year I’ll be pushing out three books. One’s already set to release, one’s halfway through draft, and the fifth book in the series will be an 2018 novel.
But that one project isn’t along. This means series I want to write and be done with get pushed back. Sitting down to focus solely on one work is very difficult at this stage. Even while writing Continue Online I was releasing the first three books of Royal Scales.
I’ve also talked to other LitRPG authors, Travis Bagwell as an example – is absolute monster in terms of attention, reviews, and a really nice guy. I’ve been following his success methods and trying to steal ideas. Blaise Corvin is another huge name in the genre. He’s got a very powerful ‘CHARGE THE ENEMY’ personality that amazes me. Both started after I did and their sales, success, and so on have skyrocketed past me. I’m stealing all the ideas I can to apply to future releases.
But this part is about juggling too many projects.
The reviews by request had to go. They felt like chores I owed other people to get done. They weren’t being done for me. I got to read some nice works but there were a few that ground my teeth the wrong way. Those projects took four or five hours to finish reading, write up, and post to the website. Time I could have spent doing another chapter or editing. Reviews by request are dropped.
As for writing projects, there are three major focuses in my head at this stage. I have a lot of hope for The Fiasco, but fans of Continue Online may not like the work since I’m honest to god doing different vibes. The characters are different, the worlds are radically different. But it’s a fun project.
Lawless Ink feels like it can do absolutely awesome once I get it written to, as I said my own skills have gone up. It’s just a matter of telling better stories, adding touching moments and mystery, depth and characters.
And I already talked about Royal Scales. It’s on the list of works to finish eventually but it’ll probably take me another four years to reach the end of the series. That feels like forever.
All these are projects I want to continue, but I also want to revisit LitRPG as a genre. It’s just a lot to juggle and my mind keeps getting caught in the short term goals verses long term realities. There are too many ideas in my head, some will be successful, some won’t. Each one is an exercise in stretching my own skills, applying learned lessons, and trying to reach higher points in some measure than my books prior.
Still, something has to give – and I can’t do it all at once. So, I vow to keep plodding along for as long as I can (even after a terrible month like Feb) and finish these works. Even if it takes too long for my own tastes.
Anyway. I’m still alive. I’m here. Feel free to drop a line and ask about anything!
If other writers out there are interested in exact figures, pie charts, and earnings, I may do a piece on that as well. I’m not super shy about sharing – but I don’t want it to be a brag either. The idea is to serve as a data point for anyone interested.