Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Quick update

Hal Spacejock 6: Safe Art - I've completed 28,000 words in 24 days. Target 65,000, and I'm hoping to have the first draft done by the end of August.

Hal Junior 3: The Gyris Mission.  The first draft is complete at 31,000 words, editing is in progress and the draft paperback layout is in place. Cover art under way. Hoping to get it all ready during September, with a release date towards the end of the month. (ISBN for the paperback is 978-1-877034-24-4)

October will be Hal 6 editing month, and I'm looking to release the ebook towards the end of November. However ...

November is Nanowrimo, and this year I intend to write a brand new novel featuring another character from the Hal Spacejock series. It'll be more gritty than the Hal Spacejock books, and it should satisfy my itch to write a proper thriller.

It's possible Nanowrimo will delay Hal 6, but not by much.

After that I have a half-finished Hal Junior 4 novel waiting to be restarted, and Hal 7 is already 2/3 complete. Deadlines are a bit nebulous this far out, but assuming December '12 to write Jnr 4 and Jan/Feb '13 to write Hal 7, then Jnr 4 could be out in March '13 and Hal 7 could be April/May.

On top of that, Albert Aribaud, the translator who did such a good job on the French edition of Hal Spacejock book one, is currently working on the translation of Hal Junior: The Secret Signal. Very preliminary estimates are for a December completion, but that's just a wild guess at this stage.

I'll also have more translation news soon. Hal Spacejock really is spreading his wings, isn't he?

Obviously these deadlines are subject to change, and they depend very much on how much programming I have to do to pay the bills. My ebook income for the past 6-8 months is the only reason I've been able to write and release more books: I can point to the income and convince my family this writing business isn't just a hobby, and the long hours I spend at the computer really are worth it.

This isn't some lame author plea to buy my stuff, it's just a fact of life. For the first time in the past 15-20 years I can afford to devote more than odds and ends of spare time to my writing, and my output has increased enormously.

I hope your own projects are coming along - please feel free to comment below, letting me know what you're writing and how much time you're managing to put in every week.

Simon Haynes is the author of the Hal Spacejock and Hal Junior series (Amazon / Smashwords / other formats)


Satima Flavell said...

It's great to see you making such an amazing amount of progress, Simon! I'm looking forward to all the new books but first I must buy myself a Kindle - reading on screen is tiresome, I find.

The first book of my trilogy is out with a publisher at present (first time I've ever been asked for a full!) so that's got me all keen about book 2. I'm 67,000 ww in, and counting.

Simon Haynes said...

Thanks Satima. The progress is all down to the enthusiasm people have for my work. It's hard NOT to be motivated when I can click-clicky Amazon KDP and see sales ticking over. It was much harder to keep myself going when I had to wait interminable months to find out whether something was selling ... or even being read.

Yes, a Kindle will make all the difference. The screen on the cheapest model is absolutely no different to a printed page, with the added bonus of resizable fonts. I'd avoid anything with a backlit LCD though - no better than a computer screen.

That's brilliant about your book. I'm sure it's well-edited too ;-)

Vero said...

Yay -- thriller! Will it be a sci-fi thriller? :)

Sounds like you're really busy, and Hal's setting a sturdy foot in Europe. Hope he spreads.

28K in 24 days is great momentum. That's pretty much my wordcount as well, when I get to write consistently, +/- 1K per day. Been caught up in da job lately, so that count went down to an average of 500 words/day, but hell, I'm still writing. My WIP's at 70K now, which is also about 70% of it. Hope to finish it by (sniffs at the wind) September, if all goes well.

Simon Haynes said...

Yes, sci-fi thriller. Darker than Hal Spacejock, more adult. Not sure how adult yet - I don't want to release it under another name (in a brown paper bag), but it would be nice to put some racier stuff in there too. It's tough because I also have a series for 9-12s and traditional wisdom is that you use different names for each series. I'm not traditional OR wise, so there.

Re the WIP, that's good going. 500 a day is plenty, especially if you're coping with a job. There's no prize for writing fast anyway, only for finishing your novel. (The prize being ... you finished a novel.)

Vero said...

I don't like pen names, feels like mild schizophrenia. You'd have to double up the networking and promotion, and practically start from scratch with building yourself a "name" in the industry. Ugh.
There must be a way to publish darker stuff under your own name. It's not like it'll be porn or anything, and it'll be shelved in a different place in libraries as well. Hm...

"There's no prize for writing fast anyway, only for finishing your novel."
You're so right with this! It's an easy thing to forget. I'll scribble it on a post-it and stick it to the bottom of my screen. (I'm writing a scene right now, at work, between server monitoring and defect tracking. Good times! *snicker*)

Simon Haynes said...

No, not a fan of pen names. Unfortunately - especially in the US - authors are forced to name-hop thanks to the computerised (-ized) ordering systems in use. Big chains would look at the order and sales for author X's previous book, then order a smaller quantity so they'd have fewer returns. Smaller order = fewer sales, which is a death spiral for any author, as you can imagine. So, using a new name was like hitting a magic reset button.

I'm not worried about shelving because my primary target is ebook, with a POD release for those who want print.

I did the trade publishing tango with my first four novels, but now I'm an indie publisher with my own personal imprint. In fact, Satima (1st comment) was my editor for the first Bowman Press release - Hal Junior: The Secret Signal. Incidentally, I'm making more out of my ebooks than I ever did out of my trade publishing contract. That's reason enough to write and publish more!

So, you're in computers too huh? The only server I have to deal with these days is a low-powered linux machine running various web/email services. I do a lot of programming though.

Simon Haynes said...

Incidentally, anyone seeking a publisher needs to read this first. (It's not for everyone, but I'm in agreement.)


I'd rather sell $15,000-$20,000 worth of ebooks for 20-30 years than get an advance of $5k, especially with new publisher contracts appearently going after 'permanent' assignment of print rights (author's life + 90 years.), instead of reverting to the author when the print edition sales tail off. (And as for ebook rights - I'll take 70% of $4.99 over 25% of $9.99 any day.)

Plus you don't have to wait 12-18 months for each finished book to appear.

Anyway, Joe says it better than I can.

That's my public announcement for the day.

Vero said...

JA Konrath's perspective on indie publishing fits writers who've been traditionally published first, and/or already have a readership, much more than unknown writers who try to go indie from scratch -- especially if the latter have no clue about marketing. But I can totally see why indie fits you, and I'm really glad it's going so well and that you're satisfied! :)

Computers - yup. I'm a system test analyst and software quality consultant. Bit of a geek. I know you're programming (and quite well too), I've been using yWriter on and off since 2008. Great, nifty piece of software! :)

Simon Haynes said...

I understand where you're coming from, except ... when I released my ebooks I was completely unknown (as a writer) outside Australia.

I always thought my free software and the websites would bring in a few readers, but I'd suggest there's very little crossover between keen writers and keen science fiction comedy readers.

As for Spacejock, from 2005-2010 only a handful of my novels were sold outside this country, and those were very expensive exports.

So, the success of the ebooks has nothing to do with their publication in Australia, and everything to do with the following:

1) offering the first book free
2) To a small degree, my online footprint in terms of Myspace (back when), Facebook, Twitter etc. I do mention my stuff there, but don't regard them as a sales channel.
3) having a decent product

Numbers 1 and 3 were the key.

Obviously it's impossible to offer a freebie if you're releasing your first novel, and that's where it's important to get the second out asap. Basically you publish the first, do a bit of low-key promo and then ignore it while you focus on making the second even better.

Once you have two or three up the fun can really start.

There's another thing to consider too - if you self-pub an ebook and attract an audience by yourself, there's every chance a trade publisher will come knocking. It's almost like a rehearsal these days, whereas when I was starting out if you self-pubbed an ebook you could kiss a trade publishing deal goodbye.

Simon Haynes said...

PS I think the Simon Haynes author page on Facebook has about 200 likes after a year or so, but I'm now selling over 500 ebooks a month, split fairly evenly between the US and UK.

Unless those 200 Facebook fans are super-keen (and have multiple Amazon accounts), my sales are all going to people I have no contact with.

Vero said...

Thanks for sharing your publication road, that's very interesting, and a well deserved achievement. The digital age is pretty great news for writers, in my opinion. Not that I've lived long enough to personally experience any other age, but I still think it's a great time for writers.

Having a quality product is obviously essential, but the rest of it -- the marketing (freebies are also part of marketing) is important too. After a book is liked by enough readers, marketing pretty much becomes independent as word-of-mouth. There's no better marketing than that! But it needs a bit of maintenance too, though that requires much less effort than initially.

In this light, I think you might find Kristen Lamb's book on smart social media marketing interesting (as opposed to spamming, or like you said, transforming your social profiles in sales channels), if you haven't read it yet -- We Are Not Alone.
What I found most instructional in this book was her understanding of how social media can work in favor of writers. Useful perspective.

It's true that successful self-pubbers attract traditional publishers, since they prefer to invest in writers who come with an implicit promise of sales. I think self-publishing is a very viable alternative for writers regardless. In time, the stigma of poor quality will also lessen, one way or another, most likely through the development of a generally accepted rating system or channel. But I digress.

P.S. Wow, awesome sales, kudos! And thanks very much for the conversation. :)