The tale of a launch week πŸš€

This is one of my world-famous emails, originally send Friday, 16 November 2018. You can get on the list here.


But first…

…we need to acknowledge the passing of a titan. Today:

  1. The late, great Stan Lee.
  2. A tiny bit of author biz, and
  3. Chromed: Upgrade’s launch week.

Let’s dig in.


Marvel has the best characters.

I reckon that’s all down to Stan Lee.

I’ve read comics for while, but not forever. I noped out in my early years – I didn’t really understand things like Commando or Archie, and when I found ‘superhero’ comics, they were full of muscle-bound weirdos and not-empowered women. I didn’t get the magic.

Then a friend told me about Ronin. This changed my whole world. How he explained it: ‘comics’ were for kids and ‘graphic novels’ were the real deal. Fast forward a number of years, and I read X-Men through to Thor, Iron Man through to Spider-Man. I picked up Elfquest, Elektra, Black Widow, and Saga. I was hooked less by art and more by style, and the beautiful, wonderful heroes on the pages.

Stan Lee passed away this week, aged 95. A good innings, as we say, but a better legacy. Stan’s characters were always real people, with impossible powers, in unbelievable situations. His movie legacy is some of the best out there, with well-tested values.

When I wrote Night’s Champion, it was with the idea of a Stan Lee superhero character. An alcoholic, who is also a werewolf, struggling to do what he thinks is right despite the curse he carries and the burden of the world. I wouldn’t have been able to make Valentine Everard without seeing Stan Lee’s workings in the margin.

I never met the guy, but will miss him. Thanks for everything, Stan.


You really like author business stuff!

I don’t think I’ve got so many replies as when I’ve been disclosing the inner workings of the writing empire. I don’t want to deluge too much of that in this email, but if you want see how deep the rabbit hole goes, you might like my take on the interesting science of free books driving piracy.

Many authors would not agree with my take, but I reckoned it’d be interesting to share my experiences on what giving away books does to the rest of your series catalogue.


The (re)launch of a title

Upgrade released in 2014, to less fanfare than I hoped.

I’ve spent the last 3 months re-mastering the original and minting the much-needed sequel. I want as many people to see the bittersweet world I created, share Mason and Carter’s journey, and feel Sadie Freeman’s righteous anger at the faceless elite who steer our lives.

To ensure this happened, I’ve invested a boatload in getting the word out. Facebook ads, newsletters, you name it, I’m doing it. The total ticket price spent for launch week is about USD$450 (and will probably be closer to $600, depending on Facebook, by Sunday’s sunset). What did this expense get me?

  • 125 sales @ $0.99, netting me $37.13.
  • 3,200 pagereads in Kindle Unlimited, or about $12.80.

This isn’t great, but it’s not the end of the world. It’s far better than the original did! Also, the real magic kicks in when Amazon algos learn about the book. When those 125 readers leave reviews (and the early reviews are pretty stellar), more people will find the book, and so on. Writing is a long-tail game.

As an experiment, I put pre-orders up for the 2nd book in the series but in stealth mode. Amazon’s storefront’s been a bit wild and woolly these last few weeks so the books didn’t appear as a series until today, but it’s still doing better than any other book 2 I’ve stealth-released. This tells me enough people already finished book 1, and liked it, to dig out book 2 despite the storefront being a mire of terror and pain.

Side note: my editor said, “I think this is your best series so far.” She’s paid to be critical, so this means a huge amount to me.

“Launch week” extends until end of Sunday. If you are interested in getting Chromed: Upgrade and the dark middle chapter Chromed: Rogue for 99c apiece, you’ve got about 3 days left. I’d love you to check ’em out and tell me what you think.

Chromed: Upgrade hit the top 100 in Amazon yesterday in a surprising category. Can you guess what it is?

Thanks again, Stan.

R

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