23 November 2012

One Thousand Stars

After two years and two months, nine books and two compilations, I've hit one thousand ratings on Goodreads*!   I consider this a bit of an achievement, since it's no easy task getting people to read a complete unknown self-publisher, though from a trade publishing point of view - when a new release can easily hit a thousand ratings in two months - it's nothing spectacular.  Heck, some books get a thousand ratings before they're even released!

At the same time, I'm still a "slow and steady" sales type.  To give an idea of relative successes, Goodreads recently posted an article about the Goodreads recommendation engine.  The most interesting point was this:
In late April, the Goodreads Recommendation Engine picked up the book. On average, a book needs to have several hundred ratings before it starts to be included by our algorithm. From that point forward, it became the dominant way that Goodreads members discovered the book. That's the blue section you see in the graph.
So even with Stray's 228 ratings, I have a long way to go to even start to be recommended.  The recommendation engines over at Amazon are even more complex (with participation in Select, sadly, being extra helpful).

With And All the Stars only two months into release, it's not really possible for me to say how successful it is or isn't.  It had solid sales on release as my small established audience picked it up and devoured it, and has now settled into a 1-2 books a day sales pattern.

It's very difficult to tell whether the decision to place the book on NetGalley was worth the expense.  I now have many more book blog reviews for And All the Stars than I have for all except Stray, and it's certainly a much more graceful and pain-free way to get the book out there available for reviewers than emailing reviewers individually.  I'm sure I've picked up a few readers thanks to the various reviews I've received (all but a couple of which have been positive or very positive) and there is a chance that the gradual weight of these reviews will combine into genuine "buzz".  But the impact is still absolutely nothing compared to the sales I receive by making Stray free every six months or so,  Periodically making Stray free remains my best way of picking up new readers, with a small fraction of Touchstone readers moving across to my other books.  I probably won't use NetGalley again unless something changes, and just enjoy the smaller amount of reviews I gain naturally.

Hunting is more or less on track to be released in February.  I've changed quite a lot since I wrote this particular book, and in the editing process have so far removed two extraneous characters and spent more time on worldbuilding.  Hunting is actually the first in a series of four books, but I'm in two minds about publishing the rest of them - there's a plot development in book two which some people will hate, book three is only half-written, and book four is this endless sprawling and self-indulgent mass.  So, lots of work if I want to put them out.

Next year will be catching up on sequels to earlier-released fantasy - Bones of the Fair, which is a companion to Champion of the Rose, and focuses on Aspen and a new character.  BotF is almost complete, but needs thorough editing work.  Then The Sleeping Life, which is a sequel to Stained Glass Monsters and about half-done.  I'll also consider whether or not to slot Wellspring (my magic as a non-transportable commodity book) in at this point.

After that I'll be back to writing fresh stuff - Pyramids of London for a start - I've been doing some elaborate mental worldbuilding for that one and am looking forward to getting some of it on the page.  Then another book started thanks to Goodreads - talking about books generally gives me ideas about books, and in this case I ended up deciding I wanted to do some form of Space Opera MMO trapped in a virtual reality novel.  Very over the top space opera with space elves and a beginning section called The Drowned Earth and, well, I'm trying not to think about it all too much because I'll start writing it and throw my schedule out again.

I've actually written quite a bit of space opera/space adventure, but for some reason I always hit a wall and stop around chapter 12.  There's Surrogate, my "space naga smut book".  And Runes, which is rather plainly influenced by Andre Norton's Forerunners - lots of space archeology and ancient working tech.  And Solitary Stars, where a survey pilot gets kidnapped off on a hunt for, again, a Forerunner planet.  And then there's the one which I think I actually called Space Elves, with blue-skinned, pointy-eared people insisting on fighting duels all over the place, much to the dismay of this long-suffering space station cop.

I love non-scientific, over-the-top space adventure, but damned if I ever seem to finish it.

Anyways, here's to the next thousand stars**!

* [26 of these ratings are for a book which I haven't even released yet, but oh well.]
**[Technically it's more like four and a quarter thousand stars, but that's not so catchy a title.] *


  1. Yess ! with such a list, it seems like I'll have much pleasure reading it all !

  2. 1) Can't wait for more :)

    2) I just bought the paperback of And All the Stars (my pretty pretty collection of your paperbacks) so now I have a loaner copy. I can see how the free copy of STRAY brings in folks--I've found a lot of authors that way myself 'cause anything vaguely interesting is always more interesting free.

    I just need to start loaning to people who write reviews. My one friend handed me back the Touchstone trilogy and was like 'OMG' and I asked her if she wrote a review of any and she was like 'I leave that to you' :sigh:

  3. Reviews are in an odd position these days in that so many people distrust them. AAtS already has 20 reviews on Amazon, and by the criteria people use these days, they're sure to be dismissed as suspicious fakes.

    But, oh well. Still nice to read. ;)

  4. Heh, I was just noticing the high rate of 5 star reviews on AAtS and wondering whether I should give it a 3-star to help with authenticity. (No I wasn't)

    Your release schedule is impressively and terrifyingly crowded - you're a machine! It also makes me pine for how long I'm going to have to wait for Pyramids of London, but I will learn to live with disappointment (/patinkinface). Keep 'em coming.

    Ooh, I just remembered I haven't done a review of Stars, have I? Whoops. Will get to that asap.



  5. I just have a big backlog of books I've written. When I'm going from scratch to release I don't think I could manage more than one a year.

    When I was in Critters I critted a book by a person who had written over 70 novels. Makes me well aware of how slow I am comparatively.

  6. I'll be interested to see how prolific you are once you get through the backlog. I'd have thought your natural pace would be more than one per year. Then again you do hold yourself to a standard that precludes churning out new material as fast as possible, which is what I hear when someone talks about having written multiple novels in a year.

    (No slight intended on your Critter colleague, because obviously there are some people who can write at that pace, but comparitively few who can produce high quality work at the same time)


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