Essay–Mind The Order

I have a ton of writing to do. And by ton, I mean reams and reams and reams of stories before I finish the series known as Garaaga’s Children. Considering it starts in pre-history and continues on through history until it meets the modern era, it’s a very large undertaking. But I have a question to answer.

Since the success of The Black and the fact Shadowpublications.com is (re)releasing Legends of Garaaga next month, I have to make some decisions regarding my writing schedule. First off, yes, I’m still working on the paraquel to The Black. That’s the first priority. Second priority? Hmm… Good question.

I have three other novels in various stages of completion. Three. That’s a larger number than it seems. Why? From a marketing/sales point of view, I have to decide which book is more likely to bring in readers and pay for itself. “Pay for itself?” you ask? Yes. In other words, break even on editing, artwork, and layout. Breaking even is always the first goal. Anything after that is gravy. And yet…

If the book only pays for itself, I essentially wrote it for free. I did all the work for free. Not exactly the best business model if I never get paid, especially if I want to make this my full time job.

Let me be clear: all of these books will be finished. All of these stories will be written. The only question is what I need to do to make them successful. The Black has demonstrated I CAN write something that sells. It has, in fact, performed far beyond my expectations. In a way, it might even help pay for these other stories I want to write but seem far less popular.

Last year, I wanted to spend 2015 writing Crusaders of Garaaga. Now? I’m not so sure. As I said, GC takes place over millennia. But what I’ve noticed from quite a few of the fiendlings is that the modern stories are more popular. Two Balticons ago, I read a story called “Marker” that takes place in the 90s and features “Nigel” from Tattoo. The story is goddamned creepy and horrifying and folks loved it.

Was it because the writing was better? Probably not. Was it because it had Nigel in it? Perhaps. But I think it was because the story was easily accessible. When folks don’t have to keep history in their heads, it’s perhaps easier to focus on the tale and what’s going on.

I don’t know that for a fact. I’m just guessing.

Another thing I keep hearing? “When are you bringing back Tony Downs?” Ah, yes. There’s the rub.

Some of you have guessed how Tony Downs will intersect with my other series. You’ve sent me texts, emails, and private comments regarding that issue. And many of you want to see it come to fruition. Are those books more marketable? A telepath in today’s society? An “urban fantasy” series done Cooley style without the romantic bullshit present in the others of the same genre?

I don’t know. Once I am past the current book, I can make those decisions. But the great part of GC is that although the stories intersect, cross, and build upon one another, there’s absolutely no reason to write them in any specific order. Other than, of course, the fear of confusing my readers.

The great, wise, and talented Scott Pond came up with a plan for this particular outcome. Can’t thank him enough for it either. It’s given me the courage to consider madness. Writing Crusaders will more than likely take six to eight months of my life. The research required to make it happen is both daunting and enticing. In other words, I’m really itching to write the tale. But I need to pay the bills too.

As it is, The Black royalty checks will more than likely be used to fund the other series which I can’t seem to sell to anyone. Why? Because, dammit, those are MY books and I’m going to write them. If y’all like them, great. If not? Well, I did.

But like I said, there is a monetary issue to consider now. And I hate to bow to economic realities, but my business has to turn a profit. And profit means one step closer to “the dream.”

So, yes, I have choices to make. As we close in on Halloween, I’m hearing those voices in my head more than ever. Closet Treats is selling more copies than it has in two years. Something is happening. And I need to figure out how to jump on it before it escapes. This is the year I hit the charts. Next year, I need to hit it again three more times. The only question is how to do it and what will do it. When I figure that out, you’ll be first to know.

4 comments on “Essay–Mind The Order
  1. Dave says:

    It’s not just economics. Things move fast in the publishing world, especially for indie/small press authors. The Black is doing great, but if you don’t ride the wave, you might miss it entirely. I think you could really harm your long-term career if you set aside 6-8 months to do a Garaaga book just as you’re finally gaining a broader audience. (Of course, you already know my biases.)

  2. Paul Cooley says:

    Thanks for the comment, Dave. And yes, I believe you’re right.

  3. The “Long Game” requires multiple considerations. At the core of it HAS to be readership. Building solid, returning readership in great numbers requires relatable characters and/or situations at a level that is accessible to the readers. THE BLACK captures this demographic perfectly. Why? Because it has relatable characters in a situation that doesn’t require study, research, or excessive brain-power. Why else. Because it’s–GASP–mainstream thriller/horror. That’s a powerful combination that draws readers across the spectrum. As soon as you start moving away from the mainstream genres or into topics/era’s that require research or study to really get into the flow, the potential readership drops off, especially if you are trying to build the fanbase “from scratch. Ideally, the approach to building a solid fanbase flows something like this:

    1) Write very accessible and relatable stories (majority of effort) with a few non-mainstream
    2) Build a solid fanbase
    3) Continue focusing heavily on accessible and relatable mainstream stories and increase the number of stories you WANT to write
    4) Fanbase continue to grow and you get natural cross-over interest into your non-mainstream
    5) Strike the balance between the in-demand mainstream stories and the stories you want to write
    6) Fame and fortune

    Bottom line: Establish a larger solid foundation of fans/mainstream stories and then start tackling the larger “fun” projects you want to delve into.

  4. Aleleeinn says:

    You know my biases too. I read GC stories first from your works. I knew quite a bit about the mythology and history of the period and found the tales fascinating and very well written into the historical context.

    BUT

    I also love your other works.You have written nothing that I don’t like. You make horror a part of the work-a-day world. As I’ve said before. I can’t see an ice cream truck without thinking of “Closet Treats”. And oil slicks and spots in parking lots–I don’t even want to talk about them.

    I would love a GC tale right now. And a modern one would be fine with me. I absolutely would like to read GC Crusades, but I can wait. Hell! I don’t have a choice about that.

    I’m content to see you get some well deserved recognition and cash before I get the myriad of Cooley books I want to read.

    The Black was an excellent tale. An parallel sequel sounds great and I’ll read it as soon as it gets published. The Black is in no way a disappointment.

    I have followed the careers of authors over my life. The already dead ones gave me a body or work that I could pick over anyway I chose. The living ones offered me books that they chose to write. That was the reality and that was just fine with me.

    All I will ask of you is to KEEP WRITING. I’ll be honest about what I like and don’t like. I’ll be patient about the tales that are my personal favorite.

    I like the books you are writing. Make a few bucks and keep developing. IMHO The Black was a step forward in you development as a writer, from a technical point of view. The actual writing (not the story itself) showed growth. The Black was also a first rate story. It deserve all the attention it is getting and more.

    Pick your own path. Just keep on keepin’ on.

    Thanks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.