There comes a time when you have to slow yourself down, take a look at the what you are working on and make tough decisions. For me the past few weeks have been interesting, to say the least. I’ve been working really hard at revisions on the Terminus Cycle follow-up and have gotten to a pretty good place in it. Pretty soon I’m going to be sending it out to beta readers and wait for feedback to start filtering in. The tough decision that I’ve made is that I need this book to sit for a while.
Initially I had set a lofty goal for myself of releasing three books from this Andlios series in the calendar year of 2015. Terminus Cycle would be March, Andlios II would be August and Andlios III would be December. A part of the reason why I wanted to do this was by studying what was selling on Amazon and how authors were getting attention. It felt like there were two schools of thought to being a success as an indie author; release a ton of stuff in short succession or release one well-polished work and get picked up by a major publisher.
There is a tremendous upside to both, but I tend to work best when I feel like I’m working upstream. The idea of releasing books on my own and being able to do it under my own terms was incredibly appealing, as was the fact that Amazon offers a 70% commission rate. It’s a feast or famine situation to where an author can make a flat rate through a publisher and possibly get royalties in the future if it sells well, or an author can make a lot more if the book sells the same amount through Amazon. Of course, if your book doesn’t sell a ton you are kind of out of luck. I’m not out of luck, but I’ve found that money on marketing is very important to keeping copies moving and that most of the time I just make my money back.
Anyway, this was my plan and as time moves on I’m not sure that I like this plan as much as I did initially. The way I looked at it was that maximizing revenue was the most important thing for me. If it meant rushing through and releasing books that are pretty good but not great I was willing to take that risk. Now that Terminus Cycle has been out for five months and has received both positive and negative feedback I’ve realize that this probably isn’t the best approach for me as an artist.
These two methods remind me a lot of something from the 90’s that plagued the world of clothing in the way of the one size fits all t-shirt. The one size fits all t-shirt was a thing that existed in the 90’s just about everywhere and was a male extra large. Sure, it did technically fit most people, but it would either be too big or too small. If you were bigger than a male XL it would be way too small for you, if you were smaller than a male XL the shirt would be like a dress. That’s how I view these two methods of publishing and attaining a fan base.
Simply put the method that I chose just doesn’t work for me and how I work. Last August I quit blogging (for the most part) after years and years of making money writing as a blogger. Blogging was a strange process where quality control was inexistent on most sites and the sheer volume of posts that had to be made as well as the expediency of them dictated that they were usually quickly tossed together without much craftsmanship involved. On average I was making about $5 an article and working 6 – 7 days a week outputting many, many articles a day. Under such circumstances the idea of sitting back and combing through an article was insanity. Most were fine the way they were and the readers wouldn’t notice if anything was off anyway.
Once again, sort of one size fits all. Writing on the internet doesn’t work the way that it used to before the bubble burst where I’d be able to write an article for a larger site and invoice them for $35. Pumping out a dozen 300 – 500 word articles a day led to a lot of malaise when it came to writing and a distinct lack of worrying about overall quality. Once again, it’s sort of a one size fits all affair when it comes to blogging. Nothing really matters in the end, just page views and Facebook shares. Crafting a perfect article just does not matter outside of the occasional longform piece.
When reflecting on Terminus Cycle I see the convergence of these two one size fits all mentalities into a perfect storm. I was used to writing fast and loose and was under the impression that the only way that I could possibly work towards success would be to be incredibly prolific. This is where the idea of releasing three books in a year was born and where I decided to overlook some of the problems with Terminus Cycle before releasing it. I wanted it out and wanted to adhere to the plan and in retrospect there are some things that I’d absolutely change.
This has all led me to believing that when it comes to the second book I need to let it ferment for a while so that I can look back on it with fresher eyes and do what I need to do to bring it up to my own standards. I want to be able to create art that I feel 100% about and that when it gets out to readers I can feel completely confident that I’ve given them my best work.