Artwork: The Rose Valley Murders (R.J. Blain); design, painting, etc by Rebecca Frank.
I leave for Australia Very Soon (hooray!!) so before I dive back into the preparation fray, I wanted to take some time to go over as much as I can regarding the upcoming schedule, what is being worked on, and so on. (This is very long post, SO very long. Has ALL the updates/information for you. MUCH long, read carefully.)
TL;DR version: Nobody panic: nothing is being cancelled. Nothing is being cancelled.
Now that the surge of inevitable panic has (hopefully) been contained, let’s get this show on the road! This is an epically long post. I will probably miss something, but I’m trying to make sure I attend to all of the little sections of my garden.
To help me keep track and simplify, I will be going by series. In any order I please. (My brain is currently chaos.)
Before I begin this show, I wanted to take some time to answer some questions and address the behind-the-scenes work stuff.
As I’ve told people many times before, writing is expensive, especially when there is a focus on quality. Editorial is not cheap. Cover art is not cheap. Advertising is also not cheap.
This is a me problem and not a you problem.
Currently, I use the earnings from vendors to pay my expenses. To give you a rough idea of how much things cost, I budget a minimum of $6,000 to do the very basic production of a book.
My Monthly Patreon pay the rent/bills, and is what I use to help make sure I can actually keep writing and supporting my family. This is essentially my “paycheck”, and I emotionally treat my patreon as my “stable” source of income. (Although granted, it’s not stable like my spouse’s traditional job is stable.)
Here’s a general breakdown of my costs for a book. Once again, these numbers cannot be lowered and maintain an acceptable quality… and my staff deserves a fair and living wage for the work.
$3,000 goes to editors.
$1,000-$2,000 goes into cover art, depending on cover, depending on extras I get, etc. My baseline bill is never below $1,000.
(Please do not ask me to cut these expenses. My staff deserve a fair and living wage for their work.)
My PA also gets a chunk of the pie.
Audiobook editions cost an extra $2,000 to $3,000 on average. Longer books are closer to $4,000 to $5,000 to produce.
I pay all of these expenses out of pocket before I see a penny.
I use vendor preorders to determine interest in a series, and I prioritize future projects in that world / series based on those numbers.
I use ratings/reviews on the vendors as well.
The real MVP is sell-through rate and buy rates, though.
That’s what killed the Librarians series. (Reminder: by killed, I mean I will not be doing any expansions on the original 5 books I have planned for the series. Once the 5 books are done, that’s it. I will not be revisiting the world unless the stars align, book 3 sells FAR more copies than book 2 has (P.S.: that’s basically an impossibility), and so on. I love Janette and her friends, but I will give them their happily ever after and ride them off into the sunset at book five.
What this really means is that I won’t be leaving nice, juicy threads open for continuations. That’s all. Did I have ideas for a new series in the same world? Yes. But financially, I simply can’t pursue them. I bled out money like crazy trying to make that series fly.
I spent tens of thousands of dollars trying to promote the series, and it did not fly. That’s fine. The ratings also did not support continuing the series beyond the original five planned books.
This is also fine. Don’t be sad about it. I’m not. It was disappointing, but it isn’t the end of the world! Not everything can be a success.
So, I’ll start with that series.
Please note that estimated arrivals are not set in stone. If there is not a preorder live for the book, it’s not ready for showtime.
Vigilante Magical Librarians
- Next Book in Series: Booked for Theft
- Total number of books in Series: five.
- Status of next book in series: conceptualization, plotting, mad scheming, giggling
- Series status: Backburner/passion project
- Estimated arrival of next book in series: Late 2024/Early 2025.
I know this series has some cult followers, and you’re appreciated. It will be done as originally planned. I just won’t be expanding this world. That’s it. The only consequence of its failure is a lack of expansion. No series is ever expanded without there being a good reason to expand it.
The Witch & Wolf world was expanded because of passion. It is tiny but fierce in terms of readership, so it trucks along. It doesn’t earn me much, but it also doesn’t lose me much.
The numbers for the Vigilante Magical Librarians currently state that I will be doing the final three books at a probable loss.
That boils down to this: if I were running my business like a good business, I would ruthlessly cut this and kill the series. But I’m not.
I don’t run my business “properly.” I like finishing what I start, even when I ultimately take financial losses to do it.
But here’s the gig: I can only do projects like this if something else does really well.
Right now, you can thank the Magical Romantic Comedy and the Royal States series for the backburner projects. They’re the ones paying the bills.
This is the standard reminder that it doesn’t matter if you don’t READ a series before it’s finished, but if you do not BUY the series before it’s finished.. it simply may not get done.
Authors have to pay everything up front and out of pocket, so we decide what is worked on based on what pays the bills. In my case, what pays the bills and ALSO pays for the passion projects.
So, when a book just doesn’t do as well as I anticipate, passion projects get pushed back because I can’t afford to work on them. I have to prioritize a book that makes money to pay for keeping this dog and pony show truckin’ along.
That leads me to the Witch & Wolf Series…
Witch & Wolf World Books
- Next book in series: Old Secrets
- Status of next book in series: About a quarter done. (Slightly behind schedule)
- Series Status: Wrapping up!
Things I need to finish before this world is a wrap:
- Dustin Walker storyline.
- The Edge of Midnight (final Wolf Hunt novel)
- Anthology short stuff I want to do
- Continuation of Pack Justice story
Much like the Magical Romantic Comedy series, I will probably do rare anthologies with a novel and shorts once all the main line stories are done.
I do like revisiting this world, but… I will accomplish the main storylines I wanted to accomplish with the conclusion of the Karma series, the Pack Justice set, and the Wolf Hunt set.
Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count)
- Next book in series: Whiskers on Kittens.
- Status of next book in series: chaos. I have a plot, I have not actually started writing this yet. AHAHAHHA.
- Series Status: barreling towards the end of the series.
Hopeful end date for series: Late 2026 or Early 2027.
- Whiskers on Kittens: December 25, 2023
- Dragon Her Heels: The Tuesday the Week of May 16, 2024
- How Hawkward
- On Point
- Probable Caws
- Cobra Chicken
- Somewhere before this point: Herding Polecats.
- The Heir of Hell (Series Conclusion.)
Things to be done outside of series: * to be included in an anthology
- Client from Hell trilogy
- Otters series (5, 6 books… something like that.)
- Leashed I Could Do (Last but not Least Sequel) *
- Serial Killer Princess 2 *
- x2+ Anthologies of random Mag Rom Com World stories, usually in short story to short novel format. I may do one novel plus a collection of shorts and novellas, but I’m not sure at this stage. The anthologies will cost $9.99, they will not be available via Patreon, and they’ll be chunky bois.
Any other potential spinoffs and shenanigans in this universe will be done via anthology.
At absolute most there will be one anthology a year, but I would expect every 2-3 years once the series is concluded, with the spinoff trilogy/otters novels being released one title every 2-3 years. (Backburner/Passion project style.)
My current focus is on finishing this series.
G.P. Robbins is essentially the replacement series for the Magical Romantic Comedy (with a body count) novels. I am aiming for a once every 1-2 years release schedule for these novels.
They’re beasts. I am expecting 120,00-150,000 words each. Magical Romantic Comedies usually fall in the 80,000 to 100,000 word range. They simply just take longer to write, and with the aggressiveness of the error reporting tool, I simply need a great deal more time to prepare books for publication. I currently have at least six books planned, and that’s just to wrap the general storylines opening up in book one.
Do not expect a neatly wrapped package with these books. There will not be any true cliffhangers, in that you will know the fates of all primary characters at the end of each book, and that I will be maintaining my general preference for happily for now… but if you want to know the who-what-where-when-whys of the entire series at the end of the first book, you will be disappointed.
There will be questions left open, and it’s being done this way on purpose.
Sales are what will determine the frequency of release on these books.
There are unicorns, dragons, sentient songbirds (and other birbs!), shapeshifters of every stripe, spot, and feather, and so much more in this world. If you enjoy the Quinns, you’ll find plenty to love in the Magic, Mayhem, and the Law series. Sure, you won’t find the Quinns, specifically, and the unicorns don’t eat napalm and go on benders… but they have their own tricks up their sleeve.
This is probably a series I’m going to choose to “die on that mountain” over, as it’s just SO MUCH FUN to write.
Please don’t let me die on that mountain… pwease?
- Series status: backburner
- Next Book in Series: #3, Stone Bound
- Estimated Time of Arrival: Not a clue in bloody hell. I have to be in a really specific mood for this series. Jesse is a pretty hard write for me in general… but in good news, whenever I AM in the mood, I do tend to make / carve out the time to work on this.
I’m going to give working on Stone Bound a shot after I’ve finished drafting Old Secrets, Whiskers on Kittens, and The Trickster King, though.
There will be four novels and one anthology for this world, and that’s likely it. (There is mental room for another set of books afterwards, but it would be from different characters as this set of characters would run happily off into the sunset.) The likelihood of a continuation series from new characters is not impossible, but very slim chances.
Currently, from the creator viewpoint, I will be letting the characters ride off happily into the sunset and let the series come to its natural conclusion.
This is not a bad thing.
Fox Witch World
This is the replacer series for the Witch & Wolf world. Currently, I have over 20 books (dished out in trilogies and quartets) planned for this series. There will be a minimum of one trilogy or quartet per quadrant. Outfoxed is book #1 of the Alley’s story line. The second set I’m doing overlaps everything and does not count towards the one per quadrant numbers.
Some quadrants have two or more trilogies/quartets planned.
This is a passion/play project for me, so I work on these as time and money allow. They don’t earn me enough (at this stage) to go all in on, and that’s fine.
I will be working on Death’s Door (Book #3/Conclusion of the first trilogy) beginning in 2024, after I have finished the books currently up for preorder.
I do not have a tentative publication date at this time.
Bernadette Franklin Books
- Next book in series: Murder Floof
I work on these as I have time. Once I finish Murder Floof, I’ll probably write Juliette. (Yes, Juliette’s book, probably from her husbutt’s perspective for a change of pace…. because let’s face it, a day in Juliette’s head when she’s at her worst might be the end of us all….)
No estimated time of arrival on these. They get done as they get done. They are fun backburner projects that don’t really make me much money, so they’re done out of pure joy. I’m not precisely caring or looking to expand this pen name… it exists because I want it to exist.
I’m probably a third of the way done Murder Floof at this point. It’s a weird one for me, so it’s not “any mood will do” but that’s okay.
- Next book in series: Trickster King (Pat #3)
- Next Book in Spinoff Series: Iron Unicorn (Terry / Olivia)
2024 for both titles most likely. I mean, Trickster King is already up for preorder, but I expect end of year 2024 for Iron Unicorn. I’ve already started it.
Expect a pacing of 1 per year for this, with some years having two (Spinoff plus main series.)
Yes, I have a “this series is finished” point in mind, but i haven’t charted how many books it will take for me to get there.
Requiem for the Rift King World
- Next Book in Series: Tides of War
- Things to be done before next book in series: rewriting of the entire series in first person.
This series does not earn money. It’s the definition of “how to lose money when writing.” As such, it’s backburner/passion, and it’ll get done when it gets done.
Patreon users (monthly and per novel) will get the box set including the first book of the Erelith series (which is in the same world as Requiem, just a different landmass, for the record), sometime after I’m back from Australia, so they have copies of it. I will be delivering AFTER I finish the read alongs of all books in the set.
This is a passion project, and I’m hoping it becomes a breadwinner. Dragon shifters, much fun. Paranormal investigation stuff. Somewhat more serious fare, but with humor. I can’t seem to write anything without humor anymore.
Oh, well. This is my fate.
Please don’t let me die on this specific mountaaaiiinn. I will write myself into epic debt on this mountain. (I might be begging for interest on this one, because I am REALLY liking the world and don’t want to see this one die after one or two…)
I’ve only committed to two books, as in, that’s all I have purchased covers for at this point. I was going to book in for cover three, but the preorders are low enough I can’t justify it even though I would very much like to. Oh, well. That is what happens.
Tales of Catalina de la Corona
- Next book in series: does not have a title yet
- When: no clue
There will be another adventure romp with Catalina and her beloved, along with some old… er… friends. It will be standalone romps with happily ever afters.
Spoiler alert: if you think they’re getting their curse broken.. you would be incorrect.
This playground is where I will go when I want to write random pirates and have a one and done standalone romp. Passion/play project territory, and I will get to it when I get to it.
- Next book in series: Death Dance
- Current conclusion of series: Death Dance
- Estimated time of Arrival: 2024.
- Expansion possibility: Maybe. This is sales reliant.
Time to face to cold and bitter truth: When I started Lowrance vampires, it began with a test pilot for Blood Bound. Blood Bound did okay. Not great, not bad. Enough to justify writing the second book. The second book has done not great, not bad in the grand scheme of things. There was a 55.1% sell-through from book 1 to book 2. Which likely means there’s going to be an equivalent drop in readerships.
That math means I can’t justify writing anything else in the series once the current arc is concluded.
This is one of the series I am prioritizing to be finished in 2024 so something else, hopefully with better sales, takes its place.
Nobody really wanted me writing vampires, and that’s how it goes. And so, this will probably just be a trilogy unless it has some mystical resurgence. I am running some ads for it, but the ads aren’t doing a whole lot.
It’s likely just a case of ‘too saturated a market, not a big market for vampires that don’t have sex on the page.’
And that’s fine. It will be a trilogy, and that’s a-okay! (With current projects based on series performance, the book will pay its bills and put maybe $1,000 to $2,000 total, before tax, into my pocket. My tax rate is currently a little over 50%.
So, yes. That does mean I’ll be spending 2-3 months writing a book that will only earn me $500 to $1,000 total.
And yes, I’m open and honest about the situation so people understand why things aren’t expanded. Lowrance Vampires did pretty well to get a third book, because I had to decide based on preorders while finishing the second book if I was going to do a duet or a trilogy. I picked a trilogy.
And yes, I could have just added some extra words to the book and just finished it with Silent Stalker. But, the preorders had been solid enough I decided to take the risk.
Was it a good choice? Probably not, but that’s the choice I made. I wanted at least one more book in this world, so I gave it on more book.
Personally, I’d like to do more than Death Dance, but in reality, with drop rates along the series, I just can’t justify it. Unless the first two books mystically starts selling a lot of copies randomly, this one ends with Death Dance.
And that’s fine, really.
I got to play with vampires, and well, readers didn’t want me playing with vampires long term. And so it goes!
The Mag Rom Com series, in comparison, survived because enough readers wanted it long term.
- Next Book in Series: A Light in the Dark
- Status: In Progress
Expect titles in this world to happen every 1-2 years. This is pure play / passion project, and I don’t give a flyin’ fuck (assuming I had any left to give, kinda don’t because of the error reporting tool right now) if anyone else likes it or not. So, I work on the books as I have time / money, and they’ll be released as I have time / money.
I’m about 10% into the book at this point in time? Maybe a bit more? I think it’s going to be longer than I thought it would be. Oops.
Dae Portals (Formerly Trillian Anderson/’Writing as Trillian Anderson”)
- Next Book in Series: Chameleon and the Hound
- Status: lololol I have to restart it. Bye bye, words
Sometimes, the first chunk of a book just doesn’t work and the book needs to be rewritten. That is where I’m at right now. I’m mostly through the stages of grief on having to restart this one from scratch, but it is what it is what it is, and that’s fine. 🙂
At current, there’s a plan for six books, which I’ve already plotted out for the most part, although my outlines need to be adjusted.
Seeking the Zodiacs
- Next Book in Series: Day of Reckoning & Achlys & Memento Mori
- Status: Plotting/Outlining
- Anticipated Dates of Arrival: End of 2024, Beginning of 2025.
I will be releasing Day of Reckoning, Achlys, and Memento Mori back to back. I am something like 80k into the monster that is Memento Mori, which is a spinoff series that takes place after the events of the Zodiac series.
The world is the same, but there are no overlapping characters, and very limited mentions of the events in Seeking the Zodiac.
Day of Reckoning is the Prequel novel about World War III… and here is why Memento Mori is being done.
The character in Memento Mori was in New York at the same time Olivia was.
I suppose, in a way, there may be some spoilers re: Memento Mori and the Seeking the Zodiacs series… as in “Clearly, life went on after the events of the Seeking series”… but we already know I write happily ever afters.
So, the Seeking the Zodiacs triple header is why a lot of things are “I don’t know about timing, MAYBE 2024/2025″… three books take a LOT of time to write, and I’m detouring to get all three of these done in close proximity.
My current plan is to stagger the releases as such:
Month 1: Day of Reckoning
Month 2: Another Pen Name
Month 3: Memento Mori
Month 4: Another Pen Name
Month 5: Achlys.
Of course, depending on mental health, it may be several months between each release, but we’ll see.
The error reporting tool has completely trashed my emotional and mental health, and a lot of my facebook friends are suggesting I should go on hiatus. I’m not going on hiatus. And while the error reporting tool definitely makes me contemplate just flat-out quitting publication, in reality… I hate leaving things unfinished.
But the reality is… if I have to choose between my emotional and mental health and publication, publication is going to lose. Until I reach my breaking point, I’ll just keep trucking along.
I just hate publishing books because of the error reporting tool, the herds of people who think they can write better books, and the criticism. (Seriously… if you think you can write better books, go do it! More power to you. May you enjoy wealth and prestige and whatever you want from writing a better book…)
But unless I approach you and offer to give you money (or you slide into my editorial team somehow…) try to be happy with what you read. Mistakes happen.I do my best to get rid of themas much as possible.
Just because I didn’t write something the way you wanted me to does not mean it is wrong.
Language is a fluid, living thing. I recommend you accept that.
If you don’t appreciate my voice and way of phrasing things, then go find an author you actually love! But if you are like “You phrase things oddly, and I don’t appreciate how you phrase things” you don’t ACTUALLY like my books. Please go find an author you actually appreciate. Please.
I don’t want unhappy readers. I really don’t.
I want my readers to be happy. But I will not always write the book you wish I had written.
I will always write the book I want to write, though. Always… and the books I write are books I want to read.
I just decided, perhaps somewhat foolishly, that I would invest the $6,000ish per book to share the books I want to read so I wrote them with you.
Will I ever stop writing? No.
Will I ever stop sharing what I write? That answer is always in the hands of readers. Always.
Because yes, there are limits to how much money I can light on fire and burn for the sake of others.
(I need to eat, too… as do my staff.)
Back to the books.
Life-Debt World (Shapeshifters in Space)
Life-Debt was the Pets in Space 7 contribution I made. The book is not being edited much at all, and I will be writing a short story for the non-amazon vendors before it is time for it to released.
The first full-length novel in this world will be called the Rose Valley Murders.
No ETA, but you can generally expect a story of some sort in this world on a yearly basis.
Life-Debt is a 50k length story, and the yearly ones will also be in the 50k length ballpark. The Rose Valley Murders will likely be in the 120-150k range, possibly longer, as I will be mostly doing standalones in the same world for these. There will not be a series page for them at this point in time. They’ll just be floating off in space, doing their own thing.
There are a BUNCH of covers / projects I have shown off as things I’m doing, but here’s the reality: They are play / passion projects until they start paying the bills.
I will get to them as I get to them.
This covers most of the things I’ve written… and what ISN’T here will also be finished, eventually.
Asking for it to be done faster is not going to render any results, because the bills have to be paid, staff has to be paid, and I’m working on things that pay for the next book AND pay my bills right now.
It’s a very delicate balance, and should it fall out of balance, the reality is the whole thing will come toppling down.
I’d rather keep writing, and so the dance continues… writing what I need to to pay the bills and hoping that passion and paying said bills continues to align.
But that’s the nature of this business. One pivots… or one quits.
And I try not to quit, but some days, I thoroughly think about it.
And yes, taking off like five months of publication really hurt my general finances, so please stop telling me to stop publishing for a while. Those breaks really hurt fiscally, because my new releases are what pay the bills. (The backlist doesn’t move many copies very quickly, and while I’m very appreciative when someone DOES come along and go on a binge, I cannot base my career on the backlist.)
New books are what pay all our bills, and I am the one paid last.
And no, while I think readers really need to not use the error reporting tool, as they were not invited nor asked to do such things by me, it is the fault of Amazon from top to bottom for allowing such a tool to exist.
The reality is this: over half of my earnings (or more) come from Amazon. The bulk of my preorders are also over at Amazon. Many Amazon readers don’t even know I have a website because their relationship with me is simple.
They bought a book, liked it, and wanted to buy more, so they did.
Do I think it’s a pretty awful thing to do to tattle to Amazon about mistakes? Yes, I do.
But it doesn’t mean the reader is being malicious. They may think they are helping, not aware of the damage they are doing.
It’s also a matter of entitlement.
Apparently, a perfect novel costs $7.99, and the bulk of readers truly do EXPECT perfection. And they become upset with indies… even when the indie releases may have fewer errors in them than traditionally published books.
But the reality is? Books will not be releasing as quickly as before. I have to spend so many more hours doing additional passes, and so on, to account for the error reporting tool. This really does mean I won’t make as much money, and thus begins the slow death of yet another writing career.
People expect perfection, and to survive in this industry… authors have to give it.
And don’t take this as biting the hand that feeds me, please. It’s just a reality of being an author in a modern world.
Thirty years ago, when books were print only, if there was a mistake, that was it. The mistake is there. It might get corrected in the next printing. Everyone worked hard to eradicate the mistakes before print, but I’ve seen so many traditionally published books with mistakes that were never fixed.
And that is okay.
But in our modern era, readers expect perfection… and they expect it now.
And they expect to pay less for it.
So, with that food for thought out in the open, I am off to get ready for my departure on Tuesday to the great Down Under.
May you find books you love, no matter who wrote them… and yes, I will be finishing everything I started, assuming death doesn’t come pay me a visit first. I’d like to avoid that. Yes, some things will take time to complete, because I have bills to pay, but they will get done eventually.
Please be patient, and know that I hear you when you want the next Jesse, you want more Janette, you want to know what is going to happen with Sean and his evil ex-wife…
These things will come knocking at your door, in time.
Thanks for sticking with me despite the ups and the downs.
P.S.: My friend’s mother passed away a few days ago. She loved sea turtles and charities. She’d love if you adopted yourself a sea turtle friend. I’ll be getting mine after we return from Australia.
And yes, she was an awesome woman, always ready with a smile and hugs, and she’ll be missed dearly. I can has a sad.