Dealing with Setbacks

So, the last few days have been pretty rough. I won’t really go into details, but basically several things have hit all at once that have cast a lot of doubt on things.

For the first time in a long time, I had a day with zero writing in it. It takes a lot for that to happen since I’ve been pretty driven lately. Starsea Cycle is an undertaking I believe in a lot, though I took some creative risks with it. While there are similarities to my past work, I wanted to grow as a writer and challenged myself to write a different kind of story – one with a more human element that I know I’m capable of writing.

But all these setbacks have occupied my mental energy so much that I just couldn’t focus. I haven’t fallen terribly behind – I’m giving myself more grace for the next book because I’m pretty much a full-time stay at home dad and part-time writer, now. Or rather, I just move the writing stuff to early morning or late at night, and other things have suffered for it.

Rifts of Psyche will still be coming out on April 8. But Book 4 (title unrevealed) will be something of a wait. I’m looking at July 29 as a possible release date for Book 4. That might make some of you recoil in horror, but I have to take a look at my life and what I have on my plate. Ideally, I can crank the words out despite everything I have going on and have the book be done early. In which case, the release date probably wouldn’t change, but it would give me a chance to get a head start on Book 5. I have covers for the first five books now, with number six on the way, and that one should be done soon. They look totally awesome, by the way, just beyond anything I ever expected, encapsulating everything this series is going to be about.

In my ideal world, six books of Starsea will be out before year’s end. Worse case scenario, only two more will be after this, but I think 3 books is possible. I’ve been sticking with a goal for the most part to write 3,000 words a day, and have held that up pretty faithfully. Book 4 is almost 30,000 words now and coming along nicely.

Outlining the stories ahead of time has helped, even if I deviate a lot from the outline. Enough people are going on from book 1 to book 2 that I can safely say that what I wrote didn’t totally suck, however I knew I’d lose a few people for it being too “slow,” especially for the conventions of the genre I’m writing in. I always knew this series would reward patience, and unfortunately a lot of people want things to happen right off the bat. Which is totally understandable, as life is short and we only have a certain amount of time, and the days where an author could just sit back, build up a world and characters and set things up for the long-term, are pretty much gone. I think the instantaneous nature of the Internet has ruined a lot of things for us, and maybe some of that has made its way into books. That was the creative risk I talked about earlier – to write a story that focused more on the characters’ internal journeys than anything exterior. That was something newer to me, so it’s possible I just didn’t pull it off in quite the right way.

But for all the “setbacks” I’ve had along the way, I’ve had some even bigger boosts. The BookBub feature was huge, and my audiobook publisher just informed me they are going to run a Chirp deal on Apocalypse in later April, which should give that series a nice boost. And even with a little baby, I’ve published more books this year than since 2013, and I’m on track to make it my most prolific year yet.

Last year, I took my books out of KU and distributed them everywhere, and that move is helping me to earn more. I was barely scraping by before, but now I have the means to reinvest in my books, getting new covers, commissioning audiobooks for Starsea, trying to promote a bit. The Starsea books are selling the most on Amazon (which is normal, but nothing earth-shattering) but it’s also picking up some sales on Nook and Apple Books, which is really nice and somewhat unexpected. Preorders for Rifts of Psyche are double what they were for Orb of Binding, showing me that there’s demand for the series and people want to know what happens next.

It makes it a bit easier to weather the setbacks. I guess I’m lucky that there’s more good than bad, but there’s always good if you’re willing to look for it. It can be hard to remember sometimes, but it helps one to keep perspective and keep going when things get rough.

4 thoughts on “Dealing with Setbacks

  1. I don’t have to tell you to hang in there because you already are doing a great job in doing that. Your stories are awesome and I can’t see you losing many readers, if any.

    I’m eager, but patient, to read the next one.
    Can’t wait to see the covers; your excitement over them means they’re probably outstanding.

  2. Thank you for sharing.

    You’re right, family comes first. Once family is taken care of, you can focus better on writing.

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