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Cha-cha-changes

I’m working on compiling the data and figuring out how to make nice graphs and stuff for a year-end wrap-up post.  Meanwhile, I figured I’d post about the changes that will happen here on this blog for 2012.

First, I won’t be posting monthly ebook and writing stats.  The numbers I’ve been posting aren’t the final numbers anyway since Smashwords doesn’t report montly for places like Apple, Sony, etc.  I’m going to switch to posting the ebook sales stats on a quarterly basis so that I can post the real numbers and have 3 months of data available to talk about.

I won’t be posting the writing stats because 1) I get too much flak for my word counts and 2) I’m switching to project goals more than word count goals.  I’ll post when I have projects completed, though most of what I’m planning to write next year won’t be under this pen name.  I’m also going to try to put together some coherent thoughts about writing series.  But no word counts except in the “writing goals and progress bar” section, which I’ll update at the completion of each project.   That section will also only have final wordcounts. No more counting words I write and then discard or delete.  I’ve fallen into some bad habits with second-guessing myself and throwing out whole unfinished manuscripts and it has to stop. I’m aiming for consistent, completed work next year.

The serialization of my cyberpunk thriller Casimir Hypogean will resume in January on Mondays. I am also resuming the Neo-pro Interview series on Thursdays.

So to sum up: no word counts here (maybe on twitter), quarterly sales updates, and both the novel serial and the interviews will resume in January.

In other news, I sent in my final Writers of the Future entry. Pro-ing out is bittersweet.  While I can hope for a Hollywood ending where I magically win my final quarter of eligibility, I’m betting on an Honorable Mention.  It would be a humorous end to my WotF stint.

Goals for the New Year (2012)

It’s that time of year again, I guess.  I’ll be doing a summary of this past year around the 30th or so, along with a look back at least year’s goals and how I did.

But as the year draws to a close, I am looking forward and planning what I want to do next year.  This last year has seen a lot of changes in my life, in my writing, and in how I am approaching my career.  My goals for next year reflect those changes, I think.

One of the shifts is going to be away from sending novels to publishers.  I’ve decided to not send anything this next year and instead focus on publishing my work myself.  My preliminary experiments with self-publishing this year have been pretty good (much better than the nothing I expected) and I want to see what happens when I make it a focus.  I’ll be continuing experimentation, of course, including putting up a few things in the new KDP Select program.  I also have some genre and length experiments planned.

Another shift is going to be toward longer work and away from short fiction.  This doesn’t mean I won’t write short stories, but many of the ones I have planned this year will go up as ebooks instead of out to markets.  I do have a challenge planned for May which is all short fiction.  I’ll get into that later.  While it is cool to be eligible for SFWA and nice to collect the checks that come with selling short stories, I don’t see them paying my rent.  My goal for the new year is to keep 10 stories on the market at all times, a big drop from my submitting high of nearly 40.  I figure 10 is enough to stay visible and keep up the habit of sending work out without requiring much time or upkeep on my part.

So here are the writing goals:

Novels:  Five crime novels (Books 2 and 3 of one series, Books 1-3 of another), one fantasy novel (Remy Pigeon book 1), and books 2 and 3 of the Lorian Archive (Casimir series).  I will also finish serializing the first Lorian novel (Casimir Hypogean).  I’ve got a cool surprise planned with those and the full series should be published by June.

Novellas: Four YA romances and seven adult contemporary romances.

Short stories: 50 total short stories written.  31 of these will be during the month of May.  In May I turn 31, May has 31 days, so it is fate, really.  I’m going to write 31 in 31 for my 31st b-day.  Sounds fun!  These stories will be a mix of SF/F which I will submit to markets and romance/erotica which will go straight to ebook.

That’s it. Much of this will be under pen names, of course.  Officially, Annie Bellet is only writing maybe 25-30 short stories and 3 novels this year.  It’s fun running multiple careers, if a little crazy-making at times.  Thank god for spreadsheets!

The crime novels will run between 65k and 75k words each. The Remy novel will be about 80k words. The Lorian books will be between 80k and 90k.  With the novellas, I’m aiming for 25k to 30k words apiece.   Short stories will count as long as they are over 2k words minimum and under 15k maximum (anything over 15k will get put up as an ebook novella).

Total predicted word count: 1,112,000 words.

Which looks terrifying.  It isn’t. Let me break it down.  I write about 1,000 to 1,200 words per 45 minute session (if you don’t know what I’m talking about with the sessions, see my post on productivity here).  My word count goal for 2012 works out to about 700 hours of work.  Not insignificant, but not terribly much, either.  For perspective, if I worked 40 hours a week, it would take 18 weeks or so to finish those 700 hours of work (yep, people with a full-time job work more than 700 hours every 5 months).

But I’m lazy. I love to read, play videogames, hang out with friends, and I tend to need time to myself to let writing stuff sort its self out.  I don’t want to work 40 hours a week. I don’t want to work everyday either.  So I made a plan which allows for over two months off. I’m planning to write 290 days out of the next 366 (woo, leap year!).   I’m allowing myself plenty of days to be stressed out, for life shit to happen, for me to get sick or get stuck (though that rarely happens when I’m working on multiple projects).

So how hard will I have to work on those 290 days I do choose to show up to my job? I’ll need to average about 3900 words a day.  That’s 3 hours of work (4 “sessions” with my hourglass) most days, maybe a little more if I’m starting something new or going through a tough spot in  the murky middle of a novel.

There is my plan.  I debated taking a picture of my calendar (I print off calendar pages and do a color-coded goals thing for each month so I can visually see when stuff is due), but I don’t think I could get the whole thing into a frame. Probably for the best, too, since while I’m fairly sure I’ll finish the things I want to finish, I want the freedom to move projects around if I get stuck on something or if something cool happens.

November Summary

November was a bit of a mess for my writing. I tried two different starts on the novella I was working on before deciding to switch to working on The Raven King.  The bad news is that I didn’t finish anything.  The good news is that I finally found a stride in this book and it will be done shortly and likely out in January as I’d hoped.

The novellas are percolating in my head and I think I’ll be ready to make a third run at them as soon as I finish this novel.  That’s the benefit of working on multiple projects at once.  When I get stuck, I can just switch to something else and work still gets done.

All right. Here are the numbers for November.

Short stories sold to magazines: 1

Words written: 39,078

Ebooks sold: 226

My husband has been compiling my ebook sales data into spreadsheets for me and making nifty graphs. I will have a giant data-filled post for the end of the year, hopefully with visual aids and stuff.

In happy news, I just published a Remy Pigeon short story.  Ever have one of those characters who just storms into your head and won’t leave? That’s Remy for me.  I have two novels planned with him to be written in the next year or so and I’ve already written three short stories about him.  After many near misses with the magazines, I have decided to publish one of them myself.  So here is the cover for Flashover, a paranormal mystery short story.  I hope others will love Remy as much as I do.

Description: Creole gentleman Remy Pigeon has a gift, or a curse. He can touch objects and read the past from them.
He prefers to stay away from trouble, but when an attractive red-head with a serious problem and a supernatural secret wanders into his house on a hot summer day, Remy knows that trouble has just found him.

It isn’t live yet  for Nook, but it is on Kindle or all formats are available via Smashwords HERE.

I also have discovered a very cool new way to organize my writing time. I think it deserves its own post, however, so I’ll work on that this week.

October Summary and NaNoWriMo Challenge Thingy

So, first off. October was my best e-book sales month yet, with 184 sales (that I know about, SW hasn’t reported for October for the places like Sony and Apple).  124 of those sales were from post-free sales last weekend after the short story collection and the novel I had up free went back to paid. Seems a little crazy, but giving away thousands of copies of my work seems to help sell the work later. Who knew?  I’m definitely going to continue with the experimenting there.

A year ago, my friend Amanda and I bet each other that we could write 100,000 words a month.  We both owe each other a lot of dinners, because neither of us ever made it to 100,000 in a single month. Between the health problems, the job loss, Clarion, and other things, my own writing this year fell off a lot.

But it is November again. Which means time for another November Crazy Challenge.  I’m not actually going to do NaNo this year because I’m currently working on novellas, but I’m going to be a NaNo rebel and go with that.

So what’s the challenge?  Finish five novellas this month.  The word total should be around 110,000 because one novella is already partially done, so even though I’m aiming for 25,000 words per book, I don’t quite have to write 125k to get there this month.

The word count breakdown is 4,075 a day for 27 days. It isn’t 30 days because I’m going to be at Orycon and I know I won’t get anything done on those days.

I’ll post what I got done at the end of the month and probably keep a running tab on Twitter.

I know, I know, I can hear the head-shaking now. Yep, I’m sure that everything I write will suck, blah blah blah, why don’t I slow down and make the books good, blah blah blah, why don’t I work less than four hours a day because writing for four hours a day is nuts, blah blah blah.  The nice thing is, no one will ever know what I wrote during this time and only other writers seem to care how fast something gets written anyway.  Good thing, too.

Anyway, if anyone is also doing NaNo, I’m around on the forums over there.  Good luck to all of you. Writing daily is a great habit to develop.  Go forth and do it.

My Orycon 33 Panel Schedule

Yes. They are putting me on panels. Seriously. It’s a squee Immareelritur moment.

So here is where you can find me during Orycon 33, which takes place in Portland, OR from Nov 11 to the 13th.

Fri Nov 11 2:00:pm- 3:00:pm The Real Middle Ages
Why do writers love the Middle Ages? What do writers leave out or get wrong?
(*)S. A. Bolich, Donna McMahon, Annie Bellet, Renee Stern

Sat Nov 12 11:00:am- 12:00:pm Heinlein’s Rules
What are Heinlein’s rules of writing, and should you follow them all to the letter?
Steven Barnes, (*)Edd Vick, Mike Shepherd Moscoe, Mark Niemann-Ross, Annie Bellet

Sat Nov 12 12:00:pm- 1:00:pm Kung Fu vs Wire Fu
Are your fight scenes realistic? Even if they are, do they work on the page? What makes combat feel real, what makes it clunk, and how much blood you can get away with splashing on your readers.
Sonia Orin Lyris, Rory Miller, (*)Steve Perry, Annie Bellet, Steven Barnes

Sun Nov 13 1:00:pm- 2:00:pm Self-publishing, the new vanity press?
Will going it alone work or not?
John C. Bunnell, (*)Jess Hartley, Annie Bellet, Victoria Blake

Sun Nov 13 2:00:pm- 3:00:pm Getting your first professional sale
An author can struggle for months or years before achieving their first success, but even after writing their opus, they can be tripped up by a process which is both entirely new to them and yet critical to their success. This panel describes what an author may experience as they revel in their first success.
(*)Jess Hartley, Mary Robinette Kowal, Annie Bellet, Edward Morris, EE Knight

So if you are in town, Orycon is a pretty sweet little convention.  And you could watch me get kicked out after being mobbed by my fellow panelists (note: mobbing is not promised.  But my friends have always said my special superpower is that I can make anyone want to hit me and I have some pretty strong views on writing as anyone reading this blog might have noticed, so I predict at least a few sparks in some of these panels).  I also am doing the writing workshop and have multiple victims stories to read and critique for that, which any of my fellow Clarionauts can tell is my favorite thing, ever. Really.

It should be fun though. I enjoyed Orycon when I went a couple years ago, and it is neat to be able to come back as an invited panelist.  Shows that even though I still feel like I’m sitting in the ditch, I have actually come quite a ways in the last couple years with this whole writing thing.

September and Sundry

September was a stressful month.  I was still recovering from the summer and Clarion (and all the other travel I did).  I was also doing a lot of sitting around and trying to figure out what I should be writing and where my energy should be going.  I think I’ve  got that sorted at least, though it means writing in other genres.  Science Fiction just doesn’t have the large readership I want to tap into, so I’m expanding my horizons and testing new waters.

Ebook sales started out amazing and then died off almost completely until the very end of the month.  I don’t know why but I wasn’t the only one seeing the Kindle sales fall like a stone, so who knows.  I put up another short story collection and a novel in a different genre under a pen name.  Over the next six months or so I’ll be putting up quite a bit of work under pen names, so Annie Bellet probably won’t have much new (other than The Raven King which is coming this winter at some point, I promise).  My Clarion project book is also in the works and that will be up in the next month or two.

Here are the stats, such as they are:

Ebooks sold: 102

Paper books sold: 0

Words written: 11,206

In other news, Daily SF got SFWA qualified, which means that if I can scrounge up 80 bucks, I, too, can be a full SFWA member.  At the moment I’m super broke, so I won’t be joining.  But I will before WorldCon next year, probably, even though I’m more or less leaving NY publishing behind and focusing my efforts on publishing my own work.  I am still going to write and (hopefully) sell stories to magazines, so it might be useful to be an SFWA member.  We’ll see.

I will be a panelist at the Portland, OR convention Orycon.  I’ll post my schedule closer to the convention.

So that’s the news with me lately.  Chapters of Casimir Hypogean will still go up each Monday and I have many new victims for my Neo-pro Interview series, so look for those on Thursdays.

WotF Results, August Summary

Well, in what very well might be my second to last quarter of eligibility, I got another honorable mention in Writers of the Future.  Go figure.  At least I’ll pro-out with a stack of certificates, right? Bright side and all that.

Ebook sales held steady for August despite people apparently thinking that summer would be the slow months.  I’m hoping they were right and that this fall is going to be even better.  And I’m really looking forward to the holidays when many more people will acquire e-readers.

Here’s the numbers:

Ebook sales: 105 (Note: Smashwords hasn’t updated since June for most of the places other than Apple, so I don’t know about some sales yet)

Paper sales: 3

Words written: 19, 904

Yeah. My word counts have died down horribly.  But that’s okay. I’ll make up for it this month.  There’s probably no way I’m going to hit 900,000 words this year, but I think I’ll hit 500,000 or so, which is more than half of goal. Clarion and my husband losing his job side-tracked me a lot.

I have another SF collection ready to go (just waiting on one rejection (or sale) ) and I’ll start the weekly chapters of Casimir Hypogean tomorrow so that my blog is totally neglected while I’m writing The Raven King.  Most of the plot for Raven King fell on my head while I was driving to Reno for Worldcon, so I feel confident that I can bust out the novel in good time.

 

One Year of Indie Publishing

Yeah, I am not sure I like the term “indie” either, but it has become pretty common usage, so here goes.

In July of 2010, I decided to test out the e-book waters with three short stories.  I put them up under a name that has no internet presence (you can find those stories here if you are curious) and sat back to see if anyone would buy them.  That’s right. I didn’t bother with promotion or anything because hey, they were just short stories and literary short stories at that.  Since then, well, Music in the City became my bestselling story, outselling anything until I put up Surfacing.  When I wrote Surfacing and put it up at the end of April, it then became my new bestselling story (usually it accounts for 30-40 of my sales each month, which, as you will see, is the bulk of my sales).  Under my published/known name (Annie Bellet), my short story Broken Moon was my bestseller (10-15 copies a month) since it went up in April until I put my SF novella Light of the Earth as Seen from Tartarus free. Since it went not-free, it has sold over 40 copies in just a couple weeks though that appears to be slowing down.

But here is a year of sales, by month:

July- 3
August- 4
Sept- 3
Oct- 4
Nov- 2
Dec- 12
(released Spacer’s Blade & Other Stories)
Jan- 17
(released Light of the Earth as Seen from Tartarus (LoTEaSFT)
Feb- 18
(released Heart in Sun and Shadow)
March- 39
April- 34
(Released 3 short stories)
May- 84
(Released Gifts in Sand and Water collection, lowered LoTEaSFT to 1.99)
June- 87
July- 103
(LoTEaSFT was free for 2.5 weeks of July on Kindle with 3257 downloads)

I have also sold 2 print copies of A Heart in Sun and Shadow, one via Amazon, one through the distribution.  (If you are in the Portland, Oregon area and want a print copy, Annie Bloom’s Books in Multnomah Village carries a few and they (and I!) would be thrilled if you went and bought a copy there.)

I don’t know about all the June and July sales yet since Smashwords hasn’t completely updated, but usually for this sort of recording purpose, I count sales in the month they show up, not when they were actually sold (I don’t do this for my tax/permanent records, for obvious reasons).

But a year of ebooks looks like I’ve sold about 410 ebooks and 2 print books across 10 titles.  Only one of the ebooks up is a novel. I have two short story collections, one novella, and the other six ebooks are short stories.

By December I should have at least three more novels out (including the sequel to A Heart in Sun and Shadow), so I am optimistic that this next year will look even better since releasing new work has so far been the best way I see to increase sales.  I also have three more short story collections in the works including my Clarion project book.  Everything should be out by the Holidays.

Speaking of sequels- The Raven King, book 2 of the Chwedl duology, has been delayed. When I set the deadline for Summer ’11, I didn’t realize I’d get into Clarion.  So I’m pushing it back to Winter ’11 because I want to make sure I have time to write the book I want to write and make it awesome.  I also need to re-acquaint myself with the world I built for the first book.  So it is coming this year, just a little later than I’d originally planned.  Also coming in December are at least the first two books of the Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division.  Book 1: Avarice is mostly complete, I’m waiting to write the others before I release it.  I’m also waiting on the cover artist (the covers are paintings!). I’m really excited about this series though (it’s my Law & Order with sword fights series).

So that’s a year in indie publishing for me.  Here’s for a kick-ass Holiday season for all of us. *grin*

Quickie July Summary

Final week of Clarion is upon me.  I’ll have my post-Clarion wrap-up post (and Kickstarter project book update) AFTER I get home and find out what sleeping in a real bed is like again.

So here’s some number for July (that’s the reason you are here, right? Dirty little numbers):

Ebooks sold- 103

Free ebooks “sold”- 3,257

Print books sold- 1

Words written- approximately 29,275

Stories sold- 0

So yeah. That’s my sad stats.  So far I’ve written 8 stories at Clarion so far with two more on deck this week (one will be workshopped, one will just go into the project book) and maybe one more started this week so that I can slot it into the project book if I need to.

June Summary and Other News

I didn’t keep great stats for June, but here goes the quickie version:

Ebooks sold: 87

Words written: 18,654

Stories sold: 2

Monies earned: 1959.17 (most from Kickstarter project)

So, in other news:

Clarion is awesome so far.  We have a really nice group here and everyone is super interesting.  This has led to me getting precious little writing done (about 12k words the first week, only 8.5k that I kept.)  I am going to be better about carving out writing time next week, I swear.  I’m learning lots (got a whole novel outlined using an exercise that Nina Hoffman did with us) and having a good time so far.

I also sold a story to Daily Science Fiction which means that come September when I think DSF has their first anniversary,  I should be SFWA qualified.  That’s a nice milestone and I’m pleased to have done it in less than two and a half years.  I’ve also sold half the stories I’ve written this year, so I hope it is a sign that my skill levels are rising.

Anyway, need to go read and do some stuff for tomorrow.  I will probably be pretty absent from the blog due to Clarion.  Must get up to antics and such, you know.