2017/01/03

2016: My Year in Self-publishing

Thanks to my readers and several new author friends, 2016 was a breakout year for me. Here's a recap.

February: Souldancer, Soul Cycle Book II released

Souldancer - original

I'd originally planned to launch the sequel to my debut novel Nethereal in time for Christmas 2015. The release was delayed by about eight weeks because I was still figuring out this self-publishing thing.

But the delay proved to be a blessing in disguise. Not only did Souldancer launch day set a (then) high water mark for sales, releasing SD in 2016 made it, unknown to me, eligible for a Dragon Award, which we'll get to shortly.

April: Campbell comes calling

2016 Campbell Award Nominees

The year's first major development broke in April, when my readers nominated me for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Author.

Courtesy dictates that I say the nomination was a surprise. But the truth is, support from Sad Puppies IV, where I tied with Andy "The Martian" Weir, and Rabid Puppies 2 pretty much made me a shoe-in.

Being nominated for a major literary award was a profound honor sweetened by the fact that fans of fun SFF included me among the many nominations made to save the field from dull message fic.

Unknown to the CHORFs, my Campbell nomination was a landmine set directly at their swollen, flabby feet. More on this momentarily.

May: Larry Correia BOOK BOMB!s Nethereal

Larry Correia - International Lord of Hate

Many aspiring authors fail to anticipate the many hours of self-promoting, networking, and stalking that are foundational to a successful writing career. When Larry Correia: the Mountain that Writes, Speaker to Manatees, and International Lord of Hate, held a BOOK BOMB! for Nethereal, it was the culmination of three years of effort.

Thanks to Larry and the Monster Hunter Nation, Nethereal had the fourth biggest Book Bomb ever, peaking at #418 on all of Amazon, #4 in SFF, and briefly making me the 28th best-selling horror writer on earth. Seriously, Nethereal outsold every Stephen King book that day except for Misery.

Part of the reason that Larry does Book Bombs is to gauge his platform's influence. To put his ability to sway fandom in our own terms, I'd rate his clout at a solid Paul Muad'Dib.

Once again, because I can never say it enough, thank you, Larry!

August: Shadowbanned by Twitter

Twitter shadowban

At the beginning of August, I noticed that Twitter had added me to the distinguished list of people it has shadowbanned.

For those who don't know what a shadowban is, it's when the slouching despots at Twitter single out someone they don't like, but who hasn't broken any of their rules, for passive-aggressive censoring. What happened was that Twitter made all of my followers' accounts treat my account as if it were blocked, and vice-versa. The only way anyone could see my tweets was by manually going to my feed.

Remember when I referred to SJW censors and landmines? Well, Twitter's shadowban of my account ended up being a big one, and they stepped right on it. The initial detonation came when Allum Bokhari of Breitbart News ran a story on my shadowban.

The result? My blog traffic spiked, book sales soared, and best of all, by the time the ban ended my Twitter followers had tripled.

You may have heard the term "antifragility" thrown around recently. Twitter's ill-conceived attempt to censor me is a perfect case study in not just weathering your enemies' attacks, but drawing strength from them.

Thanks, @Jack!

Also August: Souldancer nominated in the first annual Dragon Awards

Dragon Awards
Disclaimer: not the actual Dragon Award trophy

Earlier I mentioned that not getting Souldancer released until 2016 was a blessing in disguise. Here's where the delay paid off: the CHORFs predictably voted in lock step to make sure that I finished last below No Award in the Campbells. Considering how Twitter's attempt to punish my wrongthink turned out, you can probably guess what's coming.

I didn't care about losing the Campbell, if for no other reason than Andy Weir richly deserved his win. Frankly I was delighted just to serve as an arrow in SP and RP's quivers.

What I do care deeply about is my fans. You told Worldcon that you deemed me award-worthy, and the CHORFs spat in your faces by voting your choice below No Award. Since the SF SJWs had thus begged for a dearly needed lesson in humility, I decided to actively campaign for Dragon Con's freshly minted Dragon Awards.

Thanks to some timely advice by Russell Newquist, I asked my fans to nominate Souldancer (which was eligible thanks to its 2016 release) in the Best Horror Novel category. Since the book features demons, werewolves, and more body horror than David Cronenberg can shake an Existenz controller at, it definitely qualified.

TL; DR: the campaign worked, and you guys nominated Souldancer for the Best Horror Novel Dragon Award.

But even that wasn't enough. To fully avenge your honor from the CHORFs' insult, SD had to win--a feat I accomplished by giving the nominated book away for free shortly before voting closed.

There was some stiff competition. I honestly wasn't sure if we'd pull it off. But judging by the massive number of books I moved (more than the Best Novel Hugo winner), Souldancer became the most-read horror nominee. Readers liked what they saw, and SD took the brass ring (pun intended).

Souldancer Dragon Award
Pictured: the actual Dragon Award for Best Horror Novel. Credit: Declan Finn

September: My Trip to SLCCC

Larry Correia - SLCCC

It's not a former Eastern Bloc country. It's the Salt Lake City Comic Con. I journeyed from the Midwest to the real West in order to personally thank Larry for all the kind support he's given my career.

Along the way, I got to have lunch with my Geek Gab co-host Daddy Warpig, turning an internet friend into a real-life friend!

December: The Secret Kings, Soul Cycle Book III released

Soul Cycle Book III, The Secret Kings

Awards are nice, but pros get product to market. That's why the achievement I'm most proud of in 2016 was setting a pre-Christmas release schedule for my third book and launching The Secret Kings with time to spare.

Once again, thanks to you--and writer friends like John C. Wright, L. Jagi Lamplighter, Vox Day, Jeff Duntemann, Rawle Nyanzi, Jeffro Johnson, Rod Walker, JD Cowan, and lots more I'm probably forgetting (but still love), SK's launch was my biggest yet! Not only did it break past release sales records, it blew away its predecessors for number and quality of launch reviews. As of now, it's sitting at eight reviews with a solid 5-star rating.

And SK's launch festivities are still going on. You can get it here.

2017: A foretaste of what's to come
I can't say much about what 2017 has in store for me and my readers publishing-wise, which is downright agonizing since the stuff that I have slated for this year already makes 2016 look uneventful.

One big project is already wrapped up and will be announced later this month. All I'll say is that someone whom Twitter treated far more shabbily than me is prominently involved.

If you've been keeping up with this and other Puppy-related blogs, you're probably aware of my upcoming collaboration with the fine folks at Castalia House. I'm likewise hesitant to discuss this project in greater detail, but an announcement should be forthcoming soon. What I can tell you is that it marks the start of a new, non-Soul Cycle SF series, and if you liked The Secret Kings--which it looks like everyone does--you're going to love this.

Also, as hinted at in the next book preview at the end of SK, I plan to release the fourth and final book in the Soul Cycle, The Ophian Rising, later this year.

2016 was a wild ride. Thanks to all of my fans and friends--and especially my ever-helpful enemies--for increasing my sales tenfold over 2015 and bringing me the kind of exposure that Big Five publishers have to spend tens of thousands of dollars on Hugo "scholarships" for.

In all sincerity, my author brand has seen more growth in one year than most struggling writers ever enjoy. I self-published Nethereal hoping just to break even. Thanks to all of you, it's returned a 1000% ROI. Your readership and support allows me to make a living pursuing my passion without bending the knee to the gatekeepers. There is no way I can adequately repay you for this rare and priceless gift, so in return I pledge to continue producing fun, Niemeierian fiction that puts my readers first.

13 comments:

  1. Man you are going to be busy.

    I've been following you from the shadows since you first started on Geekgab, before you even published Nethereal. It's been fascinating to watch your success in real time. And it kind of backs up the formula laid out by Larry and others. 1) Writing skill. Again I'll agree with Larry that you have serious chops. Your stuff read like the best mix of Frank Herbert and Brandon Sanderson (although I realize since you've only read Elantris, he isn't really an influence, so I'm guessing the rich world building and fleshed out magic systems owe more to John C. Wright, but my brain felt is was sandersonian). 2) Hard work. You put out two books this year. 3) Marketing. Your networking with other indie writers this year, and smaller publishers has certainly shown, as well as capitalizing on events in a way that got your personal brand out there. 4) There were events that came outside of your own personal control, that you were able to capitalize on. For those wanting to take the indie SF route, there is a lot to learn from watching this blog.

    I know you don't like to put out too much personal details, but were you able to go to full time writing this year?

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    1. "I've been following you from the shadows since you first started on Geekgab"

      Like I said above, stalking can pay off big :)

      "I'll agree with Larry that you have serious chops."

      Thank you. I've worked quite hard to earn them.

      "I realize since you've only read Elantris, he isn't really an influence..."

      There was a time when I'd listened to every episode of Writing Excuses (eventually stopped listening after the 3-piece act bloated to 4). So Sanderson's philosophy of writing does affect the way I do things. Honestly I'd had the world mostly built years before reading Brandon or John. It blows my mind every time someone compares me to them.

      "I know you don't like to put out too much personal details, but were you able to go to full time writing this year?"

      Here's the thing. There really aren't many more details to put out. What you see on this blog is basically what you get.

      Every ingredient for author success that you listed above is right. However, there's one omission that everybody makes because nobody wants to talk about it. That missing element is sacrifice, and it's the real reason why so few people make a living in this business.

      You know how I'm always the one guy who hasn't seen the movie we're discussing on Geek Gab? What I told Blake J. Harris was true. I don't get to go to movies. I don't get to have Netflix or Amazon Prime or even cable. I write, manage my social media, and read. There is eating and sleeping in-between. Those are the details of my life, because that's what it takes to launch two books a year.

      I've actually been writing full-time off and on since 2011. For most of that time, I'd rather have been fully employed doing something else. But I lost the only living wage gig I've ever had to SJW tactics a few years back, making me basically unemployable at a real job. So I work my ass off at the writing game because at this point, it's succeed at writing or be homeless.

      Good thing I made the J-list ;)

      That is why I'm eternally grateful to John and Larry. They saved my life.

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    2. That's for sure. On good days I get writing in some, go to work, and maybe get some writing in after I get off (not often since I'm not home till after ten, and then go to bed. I've had to give up anime, and TV just to get the time to write in.

      And yeah, John and Larry are great guys.

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  2. I hope my 2017 is like your 2016 -- in terms of success, at least. And I hope your 2017 propels you to heights yet unseen.

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    1. Thanks. You will succeed if you can make the necessary sacrifices.

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  3. >One big project is already wrapped up and will be announced later this month. All I'll say is that someone whom Twitter treated far more shabbily than me is prominently involved.

    Is it this?

    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01N5LU9C4/ref=as_li_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=B01N5LU9C4&linkCode=as2&tag=nickcolebooks-20&linkId=64e6829d58fedbc57c9c24e87089f85

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    1. OK. Nick Cole spilled the beans :) Yes. I'm in a short story anthology call Forbidden Thoughts with a foreword by Milo Yiannopoulos.

      There are also stories by John and Jagi Wright, Larry Correia, Brad R. Torgersen, Sarah Hoyt, Col. Tom Kratman, Vox Day, Josh Young, and Nick himself, among others.

      My offering takes place in the Soul Cycle universe and fills in the back story of a major player in The Secret Kings.

      NB: There's a page at the end with links to the contributors' books. If you want to pre-order Dangerous by Milo, use the link in Forbidden Thoughts.

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    2. Just bought it. Great lineup of writers. I'm backed up on the reading side, but I think I'm going to bump a couple of things to get through this soonest.

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  4. It's been quite awhile since I've seen anybody roar in out of nowhere as quickly and as well as you. Whatever you're doing, keep doing it. I envy your success (hey, who wouldn't?) but mostly what I envy is your youth and energy.

    Oh, and the way you played your opponents like a symphony orchestra. First class, and some of the best online entertainment I've been privileged to watch for years.

    Give 'em hell.

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    1. Thanks, Jeff. For everything. One of the best things this business has given me--better than any award--is my friendship with you.

      "Give 'em hell."

      I'm the Dragon of Horror. That's kind of my thing :)

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