Category Archives: Empress of Storms
If any of you follow me on Twitter, you might have noticed my writing thread of yesterday. Essentially, I had a come-to-Jesus talk with myself WRT Empress of Storms, the success of that title, and the issues I’ve had with the books that followed.
To summarize, my first self-pubbed title, Empress of Storms, did amazingly well. To this day, I honestly don’t know why, nor do I know why it continues to sell at least a copy a day. It just did and does. Which filled me with gratitude because the income made me feel 1) justified in my choice of careers and 2) like I was contributing to the household expenses.
The other novels that followed … did not do amazingly well, and I couldn’t figure out why. In the back of my mind I kept thinking that I must have screwed up somewhere down the line, did something wrong, or pissed off people. Because I clearly did something right with Empress, so that must mean that I did something wrong with the other books. Even though Palace of Scoundels, Degree of Resistance, and the Shifter Woods novellas are good pieces of storytelling if I say so myself, the fact that their sales are meh must mean that I wasn’t diligent enough about promo, or I missed some tricks somewhere along the line. Somehow, I screwed up, and I had to track that down and rectify it or else my career would circle the drain and I’d wind up in a nice refrigerator box under a bridge somewhere in my old age.
And then yesterday, I had an epiphany. Well, no, I had a sobbing fit (stupid hormones, I swear, menopause can get here at any time and I won’t complain) and then I had an epiphany. WRT my promo efforts, I hadn’t done anything wrong.
Let me repeat that for the folks in the cheap seats. I hadn’t done anything wrong.
I’d made all the right moves, did due diligence on my editing and covers, sent out ARCs, bought advertising, threw release parties, made appearances, gave out swag, everything I was supposed to do as an indie author. Everything I did for Empress, I did for Palace, Degree, and the Shifter Woods novellas. The truth of the matter was, Empress‘s success … was luck. Sheer dumb luck. I didn’t do anything particularly brilliant or savvy. I had a killer cover (thank you, Jay Aheer) and a story that appealed to NA readers, but the most important thing was that I was simply in the right place at the right time.
Ouch. The truth may set you free, but it will burn like a mother in the process.
And then I lost that sweet spot with the following books because the business moved on, as it does. New authors grabbed the spotlight, established authors brought out new books. It’s how things work in publishing. But losing that sweet spot didn’t mean I did something wrong. In fact, I did everything I was supposed to do. I was not a fake, a phony, a screwup that the reading public had finally cottoned onto. I just wasn’t in the right place at the right time anymore.
I know this sounds crazy, but realizing that was remarkably reassuring. Hitting big with one book and seeing a slump afterwards happens to a lot of writers. This isn’t me being a failure, it’s just the vagaries of the market. And the fact that my sales are slowly picking up again goes to show that people do like my stories (and bless each and every one of you out there who does) and maybe, just maybe, I need to keep writing them and remain stalwart in the face of occasional “long dark teatime of the soul” moments.
So, yeah, that was the backstory on yesterday’s Twitter thread. And while I’m busy cleaning the house today for my sister’s upcoming visit, I’ll be working out dialogue and plot points for Lady of Thorns and Cross Current. Because dammit, I’m a writer and that’s just how I roll in the Shire.
Just found out that Degree of Resistance, Empress of Storms and Palace of Scoundrels have all been requested for review at Manic Readers, so hopefully that will generate some positive reviews and sales. The funny thing is that Empress still sells at least one copy almost every day, so that book definitely has legs. If I can get Palace and Degree to that stage, I’ll be the happiest smut writer this side of the Red River.
As if that wasn’t enough, I also had a wee epiphany this morning about the title of Pacifica Rising 2. The working (and probably permanent) title will be Uncertainty Principle, which refers to at least three different situations in the plot. Trust me, it’ll make sense once you read it. I’m finishing up the outlining now, and I’ll write it in April with a goal of a late May release. And yes, I’ll be doing a marathon follow-along here in the vein of 83K or Bust.
In other writing news, I’m thisclose to finishing the expanded shifter short story Shifter Woods: Howl which has now become a novella, bless its furry heart. Look for that to be released next week. Once I finish the companion piece Shifter Woods: Roar, I’ll combine them for a print version.
And while this has nothing to do with me, I was absolutely freaking delighted this morning to read that the lovely and talented Louis Herthum (aka he who inspired me to write Degree) has been signed as a regular cast member for the second season of Westworld. Considering that his character Peter Abernathy is now a walking thumb drive carrying 30 years of R&D on the androids, the writers can do some hella awesome stuff with that — Delos wants him for that R&D info and are willing to kill to get it, other companies want him for the same reason, and the androids want him because he carries the history of their race. Can’t wait!
Degree of Resistance has now been out for a shade over a week, and the bulk of my wonderful ARC readers have left reviews (thank you all, *mwah*). I have requests out to a slew of reviewers, advertising going on at various locations, and I’m in the process of getting my media pack out to various bloggers who are kind enough to host my stuff.
And so far … yeah, the sales are perhaps a touch disappointing. The folks who have read the book so far say it’s hella good (and these people have no reason to blow smoke up my ass. If I’d produced something crappy, they would’ve told me). So what that confirms is that my marketing plan is not optimal and I have to come up with a better method of getting Evie and Ben’s story out in front of readers who love smokin’ cyborg romance.
To that end, the lovely and talented Cecilia Tan (my first editor and now my cherished colleague) was kind enough to spend an hour on Skype with me on Thursday going over various battle plans and ways to promote DoR. Some of them, I must admit, had simply never occurred to me but seem obvious in retrospect (e.g. find ways to write blogs posts that will appeal to girl geek-slanted publications such as The Daily Dot and io9, since a significant proportion of my SFR-loving readers will be found there). Others will require careful use of SEO terms to boost exposure, creative use of graphics, or just plain throwing money at the problem. As I am a poor but honest writer who is still paying off the costs of Wild Wicked Weekend (Tl;dr I had a frigging ball and sold more books than last year) I’m hoping to keep this last method down to a minimum, at least until the end of the month. I still want to try submitting Empress of Storms to BookBub, but I need to save up for that as well, plus I have to wait until I’m past the 90 day limit on sales prices (since it was on sale along with Palace of Scoundrels in December, that should take effect later this month).
So goes the life of a modern hybrid author. Still the best job I’ve ever had, though.
As of an hour ago I finished the Weasel Word edit on Degree of Resistance. I am going to do a final read through this morning (what I refer to as the gloss pass), then compile the file for Amazon and upload. As of tomorrow it’s pretty much locked in place, so all I have to do then generate the ARC copies for my advance readers and focus on advertising, whee! I have to admit I am very pumped about this book — all of my betas have been very positive about it, and one even said it’s the best thing I’ve written to date. I also realized that it’s my seventh full-length novel, which is kinda cool now that I think about it. I Are A Writer!
Getting the ebook locked in also means I can get this place clean before heading down to San Antonio next week for Wild Wicked Weekend. I’ll have print copies of Empress of Storms and Palace of Scoundrels available — I was hoping to have copies of Degree as well, but I don’t think I can get them shipped in time, boo!
By the by, we’re having a release day party on Facebook starting at 7:00 PM CST, and among other things I’ll be giving away a brand-new Amazon Fire HD 8 tablet with 32GB of memory, as well as Amazon and Starbucks GCs and custom jewelry, so make sure you stop by for the festivities.
Which has much less Darren McGavin than A Christmas Story, but bear with me. In the spirit of the year (and because all of us need a bit of a lift right now) I’m putting both Two Thrones books on sale for 99¢ until New Year’s Eve. So if you’re new to the joint kingdoms of Hellas and Ypres, this is the perfect chance to check them out.
An amazing number of things have happened to me professionally in the last two weeks things that have reinforced my decision to switch genres and start writing the stuff I always wanted to write. I am deeply grateful for all of these wonderful opportunities, and I want to thank each and every one of you who read my work because you’re the reason why so many good things are happening right now. You people rock.
- May 8th I signed a contract with Me and the Muse Publishing to have Trickster translated and published in German.
- May 15th held three important career milestones for me:1) For the first time in my writing career I cracked the five figure mark in writing income.
2) I cracked the five figure mark for yearly writing income.
3) I made five figures (oh, screw it — $10,000) on one title. And yes, it was Empress of Storms.
- May 16th I signed a contract with Juno Publishing to have Empress of Storms translated and published in French.
- May 18th I signed a contract with photographer Javier Cortina to use a photograph of Colby Keller from Javier’s The Legend of St. George photo shoot as the cover for my fantasy historical M/M romance The Chevalier, coming out in August.
On the verge of turning 50, I feel like my life and career are truly on track, and I’m very excited to see what the next few years bring.
As of yesterday, Empress of Storms earned approximately $6,092 in royalties for Q1 of 2016. Not only is this a career high for quarterly royalties, it’s also a career high for any individual title from me, and has paid for Wild Wicked Weekend, my upcoming appearance at RT 2016 (plus my awesome steampunk mermaid costume), and part of our new furnace. As Carl the Groundskeeper from Caddyshack would say, I’ve got that going for me.
Even better, the sales don’t seem to be slacking off any time soon, so hopefully this trend will continue because we still need to fix the foundation and put in new flooring and windows (right now the house is echoing with rapid fire knocks as the roofers tear off our old shingles and put on new ones in advance of the storm we’re supposed to get tomorrow. Thank Cthulhu for homeowner’s insurance, that’s all I have to say). In the meantime, I’m hard at work on Palace of Scoundrels, and since cover artist Jay Aheer has now been signed exclusively to Evernight Publishing I’m going to take a crack at doing the cover myself. I showed the draft cover to L.D. Blakeley a couple of days ago and her response was, “LOVE!” so I think I’m on the right track. Once I’ve got everything ready for edits and loading into various sales outlet I’ll do a cover reveal, promise.
Of course, if you want to see the cover earlier you can always sign up for my mailing list. It’s super low traffic, and subscribers get first crack at covers, sneak peeks, and swag giveaways.
In other news, I’m about a third of the way done with my RT costume, and I picked up eye makeup, press-on nails, and false eyelashes last night to complete the look. I also popped for blue contacts — they’re not super obvious, but look nice enough. It was fascinating to see myself with blue eyes (my real eye color is brown), because the resemblance to my blue-eyed blond brother became much more marked. Now if I can just finish the chemise, bustle skirt, and crown by April 9th, I should be ready to roll.
Sorry about the extended radio silence. I was in the Chicagos for the second half of January hanging out with Younger Nephew while his mom and dad went on a very well-deserved vacation, and then while I was there YN gave me a rather juicy cold that knocked me on my ass once I got home.
That being said, the enforced downtime in bed meant that I have binge-watched a goodly chunk of Downton Abbey, Series 1-3 (damn you, my good sister, for introducing me to this between-the-wars quicksand). And may I say that I would give a pretty for a lady’s maid right now? Someone who could brush my hair, fasten my shoes, lay out my clothing and run my bath for me, especially when I feel like I’ve been hit by a car, would be absolutely lovely. Granted, I’d also have to work on getting her martyr of a husband out of jail, but I feel that would be an acceptable compromise.
That being said, I have risen from my sickbed and am now clean, coiffed, and dressed so I feel it’s time to get back to work and continue to craft the cleverly saucy erotic romances that I am known for (do you know how HARD it is to stop talking like that? Crikey…). As February has begun I’ve started outlining the sequel to Empress of Storms (working title still to be determined, and suggestions are being accepted), with the idea of publishing it at the end of March. I’m also finishing (yes, still) Behind the Iron Cross (ironically DA may wind up informing a lot of the editing), and I had a whopper of a plot development while I was in Chicago that will require me to scrap the first chapters of Cross Current. That being said, this new plot point is kinda amazing and gives the main character some real issues to overcome while he figures out what he’s doing at Olympic Cove.
Back to Empress of Storms, I’ve crunched the numbers for its first quarter and I’m very pleased to announce that it has become my bestselling title for any given quarter. From November 7, 2015 to January 31, 2016 I sold 745 copies through assorted online retailers, and made $1525.38. After deducting promotion and production costs my net income for Empress was $1227.82. Not too shabby for the first book as Nicola M. Cameron in a subgenre I’ve never written in before, hey? Moreover, it confirms my determination to continue as a hybrid author because that is obviously where the money can be made, and while I love entertaining you all I do kinda need to help Ramón keep a roof over our heads and kibble in the cats’ bellies. The nice thing is that the upward selling trend is continuing, so hopefully I can ride that for the next two months while I get out the sequel.
Oh, and the moderately fevered bingewatch of Downtown Abbey may have spawned an idea for a dieselpunk M/M series about a great estate that secretly serves as His Majesty’s first line of defense against arcane, supernatural, and paranormal attacks on the Empire, and the wolf shifter who gets sucked into all this after a brief dalliance with a man who turns out to be the estate’s heir. I’ve been describing it as Downton Abbey meets Girl Genius with a heavy dollop of Harry Potter thrown in for flavoring. It’s going to be sexy and dangerous, but with huge lashings of humor as well.
So that’s me settled for the first half of 2016!
Or me, in other words. I love writing, love my books, ADORE my readers to bits, and I’m very glad that my income is going up every year. But it’s still not what I would call a living wage, and so I subsidize my writing income with my other love — making stuff. Usually jewelry, but that also includes knitted and crocheted items, character dolls, and pretty much anything else that comes together on my workbench.
That jewelry that I usually offer on release days and FB parties? The stuff from Belaurient Arts? Yeah, that’s mine, and rather proud of it I am, too. And to ward off any complaints of, “Why are you making jewelry or knitting stuff when you should be writing?” be aware that doing this other stuff is actually part of my writing practice because while I’m beading a necklace or wire wrapping a cabochon or knitting a shawl I’m also telling myself stories to keep myself entertained, which then gets used when I sit at the keyboard.
Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh, yeah — a few days ago a friend of mine sent me a large wodge of jewelry odds and ends from his late mother’s belongings. (I love it when people do that. So far I’ve have three friends say, “I’ve got a buttload of beads and stuff that I’ll never use — you want them?” Why, yes, yes I do, thank you very much.) This particular treasure trove delivered some adorably kitschy items, one graduated bead necklace that I think is jade (it passes most of the surface tests but I’ll need to do a density test for sure), some nice 70’s style vintage earrings, and a bunch of odds and ends that have been tucked away in my racks of jewelry bits for future use. I was really, REALLY happy when I found these silver filigree clip-on earrings. Their rhinestones were long gone, but luckily my favorite rock and gem store have a very nice selection of rhinestones and I was able to reset them with capri blue square stones that look fabulous against the silver.
The other set that I was very pleased with was a pair of horn Celtic knots. They’d been wired with dull goldish beads through the knotholes, but the wire was steel and didn’t go with the warm tones of the horn at all. So I cut those off, drilled four holes in each necklace for gold eye pins (let me take a moment to thank Dremel for their awesome products which make this jewelry designer’s life a lot easier), wired up six 6mm tiger’s eye beads with fancy head pins and gold spacer beads, added those to the eye pins, hung everything on gold French ear wires, et voila — awesome earrings for people who like Celtic or tribal jewelry, natural materials, tiger’s eye, or any combination thereof. These would be perfect for someone who goes to Burning Man, I suspect.
So after putting a bunch of new pretties up at the Etsy site, I was rewarded with two sales of a combined five items, the payment for which goes into my How Nicola Is Going To Pay For RT Fund. And I still have to put a sterling silver and 14K gold tree of life pendant and a really nifty blue and bronze beaded necklace up tomorrow, as well. And then figure out where I’m going to get the stuff I need for a density test. And work on Cross Current, of course.
Speaking of the HNIGTPFRT Fund, Empress of Storms racked up a total of $514 dollars as of this evening, and if the current pattern holds true I may make $1K on it by the end of its first quarter. Not too shabby for a self-pubbed book in a genre I’d never tackled before, eh? Now if I could only sell the movie rights to Peter Jackson…
I’m happy to say that the first week of 2016 has been enjoyable around Casa Cameron. Ramón is still looking for work, which is a bit of a fly in the ointment, but he’s ridiculously talented and I have faith he’ll have a job toot sweet. He’s keeping busy with various electronics stuff in his Fortress of Solitude, and we’ve received shipments of arcane computing gear that have had him grinning in anticipation. I can’t tell if he’s building a quantum computer, a transporter, or a new machine for dispensing kitty kibble, but he’s busy and that’s all that matters.
In personal news, my buds Karl and Colby came to town on Monday and we wound up having beer and hard cider at Whole Foods (we were supposed to have lunch at Tallywackers but it’s closed on Mondays and the WF down the street had a mini bar area in their beer and wine section) with their friend and Colby’s traveling companion Oliver. Two hours of listening to details of Colby and Oliver’s new religion, Karl talking about his plans to make a documentary about women who like gay porn, M/M romance, and the like, and laughing like drains was wonderful.
On the writing front Empress of Storms continues to sell well, I’m back at work on Cross Current and Behind the Iron Cross, and I’m mulling over the plot for an Empress sequel. I have also purchased an absolutely ridiculous amount of yarn and have four projects going in the living room alone. Expect pictures of socks, shawls, and fingerless gloves in the very near future.
And to those fellow Eastern Orthodox folks who celebrate, Merry Christmas!