CAIN’S BLOOD and PROJECT CAIN are a year old today.
Cake and balloons for all as paperback editions now hit the shelves for round #2.
A good milestone for some kind of reflection. Maybe blog about all the things I learned this year, but it proved mostly validations of what I already knew/suspected. The CAIN books weren’t my first rodeo; they just gave me much-larger bulls/arenas to experience.
But I should still list some takeaways (even those I’m still trying to sort out myself). Because a lot happens in a year. To consider:
1] Revolving Doors – Both of my original editors departed for greener pastures. One quit publishing all together, one moved on to another company. My main publisher and earliest supporter was asked to seek greener pastures. So it goes. My three biggest supporters all gone, replaced by people who love other projects/writers. Heard similar stories all year from other authors with the bigger publishers. As traditional publishing tries to weather the current storm of changes (and they will), there’s gonna be some movement. Expect it. Don’t get too attached. Work hard enough to impress someone else…
2] Follow the Money – This time last year, Barnes and Noble and Simon & Schuster had just made up. Unless your name was King or Higgins Clark, B&N had stopped carrying S&S authors for most of last year as part of a contract dispute/negotiation. Eventually it settled, and I snuck in at the last hour to get some books into B&N. So it goes. Better than those many authors earlier who got no orders from B&N. Now, Amazon and Hachette are it. Next year will be someone else. Authors get screwed, readers get screwed. Someone makes more money. [Note: during the B&N outage, S&S sold fewer books but made more profit.] Never forget that it’s a business. No bad guys here. Just the casualties of dollars and cents.
3] R.I.P. – Speaking of, half the bookstores in my town closed this year. A Barnes & Noble and a Books a Million. One year. Gone. Giant empty spaces where lots of books use to be. Traditional publishing is doomed! 99 cent deals on Amazon is how fiction will be sold ongoing. But, wait… Meanwhile, a smaller bookstore opened up downtown. As the giants fade, will smaller boutique shops take their place? As it was in the 1970s, before the behemoths took over and drove most all of the smaller beloved independent shops away. Time will tell.
4] Busy Bees – I honestly don’t know how they do it. Those who work in publishing, that is. Editors, marketing, etc. The number of books, the hundreds of details and deadlines. And it never stops. Ever. The second they’re done with your book, there are a twenty more just as good coming right behind. Expect special attention for a short while. After that, “Don’t go crying to your momma, cause…” etc. Most authors I’ve met this year often feel they’re the forgotten/unloved child. But there’re lots of children to keep happy. Kudos to those in the trenches trying every day…
5] Nicer Reviews? Amazon bought GoodReads this year and quickly changed the rules so the community would be a little “nicer” – making it harder for authors (and reviewers) to be criticized/attacked so personally and aggressively. Naturally, Amazon was quickly criticized/attacked for stomping on freedom of speech, etc. Half the internet’s “charm” remains being able to freely/safely discuss (rip on) movies, celebs, sports, politics, and, sometimes even books! And while Amazon’s reader platform may become a little “nicer,” there are still ten thousand other places to do this. Let ‘em have their fun! People ripping on your book (or you) is like rejection letters. Upsetting the first time, tenth… and then by the fiftieth, you realize: Oh, cool! Proof I’m doing/creating something. If you’re gonna come out of the stands and get on the field, you gotta expect to hear cheers and boos from the crowd. It’s just part of the game.
6] – De gustibus non est disputandum – Speaking of, and paraphrasing a year’s worth of reviews:
Fast paced and thrilling. Couldn’t put it down.
200+ pages in a motel room? Couldn’t put it down fast enough.
Informative and filled with great history, facts and figures.
The worst info dump since the phonebook.
This guy clearly did his research.
This guy never left Wikipedia.
This author loves bashing America and our military.
This author is clearly in love with the military.
I learned so much about serial killers, cloning and military experiments.
I learned absolutely nothing about anything.
This is my new favorite book. (* People really said this.)
Making prisoners read this book would be against the Constitution. (* See above.)
“Insulting” – someone at Kirkus
“Best YA of the Year nominee” – the Stoker awards
Etc. Etc. You get the idea… A point I tried to make a year ago (not as successfully as I’d hoped) was that a writer cannot get worried about, or directed by, reader reactions. The myriad responses to the CAIN books were/are all over the friggin’ map this year. The readers’ past reading history, life experiences, schooling, interests, age, current disposition, TBR pile, etc. The factors are almost endless. And the result? Good, bad, indifferent, and the million shades between. My song remains the same: You just gotta write your book. The best book you can for whatever imaginary ideal reader you have in mind. In the process, you’ll lose some readers, but you’ll win a whole bunch too.
7] – Go Indie, Young Man - Self-pubbing and smaller “Indie pubbing” exploded this year. More titles, more pro authors, bigger sales, more best-sellers and splashes. That number is only going to go up. I leave it to other posts and authors to address better. I will say that this time last year, I was personally opposed to self pub for me. This year, however, I have plans coming to boil…
8] What’s Next? - After your book comes out, you get two questions from everyone: (1) How’s the book doing? (2) Are you writing anything new? You’ll hear one of these every single day for the entire year. There’re all sorts of snarky responses for Q1, but I don’t ever take that one too harshly. I assume it’s just people being polite and not knowing how else to bring up your book, not as nosey as some suspect. (Maybe I’m naïve. ) Q2 is YES. It should always be yes, but when you can say ‘yes’ and mean it, and be excited about it, then it’s the right YES.
And so… Happy Birthday to my horrific beautiful twins. Daddy’s gotta go now. Busy making you a baby sister…