I seriously can't believe it is already March. Insane. You may have noticed that I've been pretty absent the last couple of months. I promise you it's only because I've been crazy busy writing. A few people have been asking about the next book in the CASTLE trilogy. I truly appreciate the interest, and I'm glad there are readers out there as excited about the second book as I am. I assure you, it's coming! It will definitely be out this spring. In fact, in April. I don't know the exact date yet, but I will keep you updated. If you haven't already seen it, check out the cover:
In the next couple of weeks, I will post some excerpts from FORTRESS. I'll also be publishing my middle grade book in the next few weeks and I'm having a blast finishing it up. I'm labeling it as middle grade, but I think it will appeal to young adults as well. Okay, back to writing!
I just had to post this picture of my awesome new slippers. I love them. They are big, warm and have eyeballs hanging off them. What you can't really see in the picture is that your foot actually goes in their mouth which has felt teeth and blood around it. Love. A must-have item for the zombie lovers in your life.
Okay, I started this post with a ridiculous picture because the rest of it might be a little boring and dry for some people. I sat down this morning and ran some numbers. I've been wanting to do this for awhile, to give some concrete numbers for people who are interested in the indie-publishing world. There are a few success stories out there about people making six figures selling their books online, and while I do think these stories are amazing, I also don't think they are probably the norm. Writing/publishing/selling books is hard work, and at the end of the day it's just like any other job. In theory, the harder you work and the more time you put into it, the greater the rewards.
For me, I don't have a lot of time to put into marketing or promoting my books. I have a full time job that is more than 40 hours per week. I travel for work, and I travel for fun (as evidenced in my prior posts). I'm not complaining. I love my life. But I don't have as much time for my writing job as I would like to be able to make it a successful career. It's my own fault. I know that. I'm just pointing out the fact that the people who have been able to make self-publishing a successful career have likely put in a ton of time and completely deserve their success.
That's not to say I don't consider my own results to be a success. I'm thrilled beyond belief to even have one sale of a book I wrote. It's an amazing feeling. So while I'm certainly not making six figures, (probably not even four figures), I still think my 2012 was successful. Let's dig a little deeper.
I published my first book, The Shadows, toward the end of May. I had 2 sales. It was awesome. I released five books total in 2012, including the complete Shadows Trilogy. I also released two novellas in the Castle Trilogy. In the very last week of 2012, I released a Shadows Novella, and a complete set of the trilogy. Neither of those had any sales until January of this year, so my sales for 2012 include the three books of The Shadows Trilogy, the first book of the Castle Trilogy, two Castle novellas, and one stand alone adult book. So that's five full books and two novellas. Here's the numbers.
May - Dec 2012: 235 sales, 13 loans on Amazon, and 5,565 free book giveaways.
Again, not a roaring success by some people's standards, but I was pleased. The last book in my trilogy wasn't released until toward the end of December, and I think having the complete set out now will help sales quite a bit. Lots of people don't like to start unfinished series by unknown authors.
Something else worth noting is that January of 2013 has already been a huge improvement for me. Let's look at those numbers:
Jan 2013: 97 sales so far, 34 loans on Amazon so far, and 2,955 free book giveaways so far. And the month is only 2/3 of the way complete.
I don't want to draw too many conclusions from these numbers. January was bound to be a better month with the after Christmas bump. Who knows if it will last.
What I do want to point out is that 332 people have paid good money for my books, and that is awesome. So thanks if you are one of those people! Another 15 people took time to leave reviews on amazon, and again- thank you! Even if someone leaves a less than stellar review, it means a lot that they take the time to write it at all. Also, 8,554 people have taken the time to download my book, either through a loan or a giveaway. Many of them may never read it, but a few probably will. And that is awesome.
I have a ton of projects underway right now. I'm working on the second book in the Castle Trilogy, Fortress. I have a middle grade fantasy/adventure book halfway done. I love this book, by the way. I think it will be part of a four or five book series. I can't wait to publish it. I also have another adult novel underfoot. I'll be finishing up the Castle Trilogy in the first half of this year. I have a mystery adult series outlined. So yeah, I'm a busy girl. Even if I never get another sale, I'll still be working on these things. That's the thing about stories- they have to be told, even if only the person that writes them is also the only one that hears them.
Happy Sunday, everyone! I'm off to buy some bananas for the deep fryer - don't ask. Oh- CASTLE is on free promo on Amazon today so go check it out.
I'm not very good at new year's resolutions. In fact, I never even make any. Instead, I think it's more helpful to look back at the previous year and learn from your successes and failures. And hopefully avoid repeating them in the coming year. So this is going to be a long recap of my 2012.
To start off the year, my work paid to send the entire company on a three day ski trip to Sundance, Utah. It was a cool surprise, even if it did force me to spend three days trapped on a mountain of snow. After two days of hiding inside our mountain home doing puzzles, I finally gave skiing a try. I was NOT good at it.
After my failed attempt at becoming a skier, the next big milestone in my life happened in May. I turned 30. I was NOT happy about it. But rather than forcing myself through a painful party with friends, I planned a trip to LA instead with my pops. We did some touristy things, and then fullfilled a lifelong fantasy by attending our first ever game at Dodger Stadium.
Added bonus- the Dodgers beat the Giants! Happy birthday to me.
Back in Chicago, we were facing an even bigger opponent than the World Champions- NATO protestors.
Most of the city was shut down for a few days because of the rogue protesting. My company stayed open, and this was just one of the protests in front of our building. Note the police officers surrounding them. All in all, everyone- including the police- did a pretty swell job.
One of the other fantastic things that happened around this time was that I published my first book, The Shadows, on Amazon. I had no idea what I was doing, but I had a lot of fun learning. Once I got started, I couldn't stop myself from writing more and more books. But we'll get into that more a little bit later.
Also in May, one of my very best friends and favorite people in the world had her bachelorette party. My friend and I traveled down to P-Town to party it up.
How cute are these shirts we had made? Also, that's my pink butt on the left.
About a week after this, we all headed down to Mexico for a week long celebration, capped off by their beautiful wedding on the beach. It was such an amazing time, we all want them to do it again every year.
Yes, I know I'm a dork. I literally could've posted a million pics because it was so beautiful there, everything looked amazing. Ugh. I'm ready to go back.
Sidenote- there was a celebrity wedding that same weekend and we got to see Michael Bay and have a drink with the Old Spice Guy.
So that takes us through June.
In July, I move apartments and accepted a new job. Big, scary changes but I don't regret either of them.
August was a month of adjustments, and a bit of a reprieve before September. I started traveling for work and finally got to visit Philadelphia. Very cool city.
In October, I finally had a great excuse to visit the state of Florida. Another excellent friend got married! I love my friends and their amazing destination weddings.
My friends and I drank a few Miami Vices and spent a lot of time by the pool. I'm ready to go back there, too!
In November I made it back to the Q to visit the fam for Thanksgiving. I ate a LOT of food. Finally something I'm good at.
In early December, I made another work trip to DC and NY. It was my first time ever in DC and I loved it. Can't wait to go back for fun some time and actually visit some museums.
I got stopped by the presidential motorcade twice while I was there which means that the president may or may not be stalking me. I also got stopped by him in Chicago on election night, and by Air Force One in Warsaw, Poland. Don't ask- long story.
December was also the month for the office holiday party (which happened to be insane) and then 11 days of recovery until the new year. I swung back to the Q for xmas with the fam, and made it back to Chicago just in time to get the flu. So with just a few days left, I'm going to go ahead and call 2012 a great year. The world didn't end which was a huge bonus.
It wasn't always a perfect year. My family had some crazy health scares, and life threw some curveballs. But when I look back at the past year, only one word comes to mind that summarizes it all. BLESSED.
With that, I wish you all the happiest of new years, and don't forget to count your blessings.
You may remember that I mentioned starting a new job back in August. I blame that job for my lack of posting. I've been crazy busy, but still loving the job. Unfortunately, with the increased travel component and some big releases, I haven't had as much free time as I would like for writing.
Good news though- my job gives me a winter break, which started yesterday. So with 11 days off, I hope to make some excellent progress on my current work in progress, the follow up to CASTLE. I also managed to get the final details wrapped up on the third and last installment in The Shadows Trilogy- The Warriors. It was a lot of fun to write, and very cathartic to be able to wrap up the stories and give the characters some closure. It's up and available on Amazon if you'd like to check it out.
What else is new... I had a recent trip to DC and NYC and finally got to see both the White House and the big tree in Rockefeller Plaza. I did the Christmas thing with my family yesterday and today, and now I have a lot of movies and books to catch up on these next few days. We got the first snow of the season (and I'm not particularly happy about it). We had a holiday office party that included not one, but two after-parties.
I'm still hanging out with the fam, watching the new Total Recall movie. So I'll include a much longer post later this week but just wanted to wish everyone happy holidays.
Yes, I admit it- I am obsessed with zombies. And I have been for a while now. This can mostly be blamed on The Walking Dead (which incidentally will be on very soon as this is a Sunday night.)
I was in Florida last weekend for a wedding. Prior to going, I made sure everyone knew how I would like to die should I become a zombie. (Also, when I went to Mexico a few months ago I made my dad memorize that line from Taken about "a particular set of skills" in case I got kidnapped. I'm weird.) Do people still remember how that guy on bath salts tried to eat that other guy's face? And then they found out he wasn't really on bath salts but just pot. Anyway, that happened in Florida. I'm still convinced this is the first sign of the coming zombie apocalypse.
I made it back to Chicago without being infected with the zombie virus or a zombie encounter of any kind. Frankly, it's a little disappointing. I've been looking to try out some of my survival
While this post is mostly just an excuse for me to ramble, it does have some ties to my writing. I am still working on the final book in my Shadows Trilogy, but concurrently I have been developing an outline for another series about apocalyptic survival. Mostly because it's just so much fun to write. I will keep you updated but for now I'm off to watch some Walking Dead.
It's October. When did that happen? I swear it was just May and I was hyperventilating about turning 30. I love autumn, don't get me wrong. But I HATE winters in Chicago. And Winter is coming, my friends. Winter is coming.
So let's talk a little about what I've been up to lately. My new job (2 months in) has been going well. I passed my first certification (of many), and even got to hit the road. I was in Philly and New York last week. I've been to NYC a couple of times and always love it. I almost moved there after college for law school but chose Chicago instead and I have to say I don't regret that decision. I love visiting New York, but I don't think I could ever live there. Namely because it's too expensive. But I'm also a midwestern girl at heart.
I had never been to Philadelphia and I must admit, I enjoyed it thoroughly. It almost felt like a small New York to me. I woke up early before my business meetings to stop by the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall. Swung by Ben Franklin's resting place and Betsy Ross' house. For a huge history nerd like me, this was not an inconsequential trip.
So why am I telling you all of this? A couple of reasons actually. One, it explains why I haven't gotten a lot of writing and blogging done in the past couple of weeks. But also because it has really made me reflect on the last decade and a half of my life.
When I was fifteen, I was living in a small town in the middle of the midwest. Life was pretty simple and bland. I was relatively smart, and that meant I was often bored in school. I couldn't wait for college and life beyond because I was certain I was destined for greatness. I wanted to see the world. I wanted to live in a big city, have a fancy job as a lawyer, go on business trips. Basically, I wanted the exact opposite life that I was living.
Fast forward fifteen years later- I live in a cool apartment in Chicago. I spent five years working as a lawyer, and now I'm still in the legal industry. I work for a hip, trend-setting company and take business trips to amazing cities. I've travelled to a bunch of different countries and seen a lot of America in the process. And now, I'm also a (self)published writer. It's a pretty cool thing to see your dreams come true, even if they don't turn out exactly how you see them in your head.
And one final dream is coming true later today- I'm going to see Taken 2. Loved the first movie and pumped about the second one. I'll let you know my thoughts on it later.
Oh- writing update. Working on the final book in the Shadows Trilogy. Should finish it up this month. And I'm also working on something a little different that I'm still feeling out so I'll update you about that later.
So I'm going to let you guys in on a secret. One that you already know, but my family and friends do not know. I'm a writer! I have four novels and two novellas published, and no one in my inner circle knows. I mean, no one. There are a couple of reasons for this (no, not because I'm paranoid and/or crazy).
1- When I first started this undertaking, I did tell a couple of people. That was like four years ago I think. I wrote a rough draft of a book that was really bad, and told a couple of friends about it. But then it needed rewriting, and I got super busy with work and life. So whenever I would see them, they would ask me about my book. And I didn't have anything to say. It made me feel like a bit of a failure, so I just let them think I had given up on it completely. Which I had for a while. But when I started up again, I never told them because I wanted to make sure it was for real this time. Which apparently it is :)
2- I would like it to be a fun surprise. I'd like to get to a point where I'm making strong sales and I could just present them all with copies of my books and be like- here's what I've been doing for the past year.
It's not a bad secret to keep; in fact, sometimes it's kind of fun. I write under a pen name, so it allows me to really write whatever I want and not worry about judgment. Though to be fair, I don't write anything too scandalous. But if I wanted to, I totally could ;)
It does pose some problems though. When I talk to my parents and they ask me what I've been up to, I have to bite my tongue. I could be like, oh I just published by fourth book or whatever. But instead I say, oh not much. Just the usual. Again, I don't want to say anything to them until I can prove that this is going to be sustainable. I think it will be much more fun that way.
My friends are another problem. Because they constantly want to do stuff with me on the weekends. Ugh! (Kidding) So I have to be "busy" all of the time without telling them why. But again, it will be super fun if I wait until I can take them all out to a fancy dinner or something and then be like, oh yeah I'm a best-selling author (dream big!).
So thanks for sharing my secret with me. It's part of the reason I keep up this blog. This is only place I can talk openly about my writing. Sorry if it bores you sometimes, but for me it is very cathartic.
Shameless writing plug- Searching for Glory has been discounted to .99 cents for the near future so be sure to pick it up!
It's time for a disclaimer- I hate winter. I hate being cold. I live in Chicago, so this is problematic. I love summer. I love the sun and hanging out at the beach. But my absolute favorite time of year is September and October. Autumn, fall- whatever you want to call it.
So when I got the email saying that pumpkin drinks are back at Caribou I was equal parts excited and sad. Happy that it's pumpkin time, but sad about the fact that winter is just around the corner.
In other news, it's almost time for fall TV to start up again. I don't watch a ton of live television. DVR and Netflix are my best friends. But the first week or two of new episodes is still a little exciting. Especially for the brand new shows that start up and either amaze us, or end up getting cancelled in six episodes.
In writing news, I just finished up my rewrite of my contemporary adult novel, Searching for Glory, and now it's time for editing. I should hopefully be publishing it soon, so I'll keep you updated. In the meantime, I've got a gazillion writing projects going at once so I'll give you sneak peak:
The Warriors- Book Three in the Shadows Trilogy should be released in early October.
FORTRESS- Book Two in the CASTLE Trilogy will be released in either late October or early November.
The Guardian- A Shadows Novella will be out in November.
The Sweet Surrender- My second contemporary adult novel will be out in December.
It should be noted that I'm using adult only to signify that they are not young adult novels. Try not to read anything into that ;)
So that's where I'm at for now. More updates will follow.
I can't believe it has been a month since my last post. I try to blog at least once per week, but obviously I failed at that recently. I have a good excuse though! It's been an insanely busy summer for me, so let's do a bit of a recap.
Turned 30 and went to Los Angeles for my first ever game at Dodger Stadium. They beat the Giants with no problem. Also got to see Magic Johnson. Go Blue!!!
Published my first book on Amazon, The Shadows. I believe I had two sales in May (the book was available for about 10 days I think), and I was thrilled.
Saw two of my dearest friends get married in Mexico. It was amazing, and I was so excited to be a part of it. I was in the wedding, too, so it was even more special. We were there for six days and everything was so perfect none of us wanted to leave. Amazing.
Published my second book, CASTLE, on Amazon. Did some free promos and gave away a lot of books. Also sold about 40 books total for the month of June and was so happy that people were actually willing to pay to read my books. Also got my first reviewer feedback and was so happy it was positive.
Moved. I upgraded to a two bedroom in the city and I love my new place. There was a lot of stress around getting everything set up for the move, but once it was done I immediately fell in love with my new place. My mom came up to help me move which was great for two reasons. 1- I got to see my mom and 2- I came down with a terrible cold the day before the move and was practically useless. Mom to the rescue!
Published my first novella, SHANE. Sold between 40-50 book total in July. Received my first reader fan mail and almost cried. Received some reviews on Goodreads that were both good, and not so good. Still amazed that anyone is actually reading my books.
AUGUST (So far):
Became obsessed with the Olympics. This happens every two years because I'm equally impressed by both summer and winter Olympics. Also became convinced that I could've been an Olympian if I wasn't so lazy.
Quit my old job as a lawyer and started a new job, still in the legal industry. Spent two months interviewing and was blessed to be offered the job. Saying goodbye to my old colleagues was hard, but I'm so excited to learn so much in my new job. I've been there a week and so far I love it.
Published third book- the second book in the Shadows trilogy, The Rebels. Hopefully it is as well-received by readers as the first book. Nothing worse than a crappy follow-up to a book you liked. I also got my first two reviews on Amazon (one 4 star and one 5 star. Thanks!!!!), and did a free giveaway on LibraryThing.
Along the way, I also attended bachelorette parties in both Illinois and Wisconsin. Celebrated a half dozen birthdays of friends (almost all of which were 30th birthdays). Said farewell to a friend that moved to DC. Made new friends. Had some scary health moments for family members that turned out okay. Saw the Cubs beat the Cards at Wrigley. Had a root canal and a bunch of other dental work done. And basically had one of the most amazing summers of my life.
So yeah, that's why I haven't blogged as much as I would like. Most days I can't believe how blessed I am. So I thought this recap would be a good way for me to list all the great things that have happened to me recently and remind me to count my blessings.
I have had quite a bit of dental work done the past couple of weeks, including a root canal (ouch) so I've been splurging on milkshakes and ice cream almost non stop. It doesn't hurt that it has been 100 degrees in Chicago lately.
I'm also in the midst of packing up my entire apartment to make a move eight blocks north. While I'm excited about the new place, I'm not excited about moving all my stuff. However, as I have been cleaning things out and packing up boxes, I've been formulating some ideas for a giveaway blitz.
I will be releasing the second book in the Shadows Trilogy, The Rebels, in August and I'm going to be doing 5 days of promotion leading up to the release. Blog readers and fans will have a chance to win copies of my books, both paperback and kindle version, and some other fun stuff. So be on the lookout for that the first week or so of August.
I will also be creating a nice long blog about my experiences as an indie writer. Part of the process is keeping track of what works and what doesn't, so I'll be including some details of my successes an failures over the past couple of months. While I've been writing for a few years, I only recently took the plunge and put my stuff up on Amazon and I'm quickly learning that simply loading your book doesn't guarantee you fans and sales. There's a lot of behind the scenes work that goes into selling your books online and I'm just beginning to wrap my brain around it all.
So if you have read one of my books and enjoyed it, please tell your friends. And family. And pets. And neighbors. Tell everyone that will listen. I will be eternally grateful.