How I choose which story comes next
I’ve been talking about how I choose my next project with a lot of different folks. Most recently, I was chatting w/ Roger H. in my Advanced Reader Team about On a Pale Ship. As of right now, what I don’t know is how well this story is going to resonate with readers. And, as it turns out, I don’t find that the least bit upsetting. The story is good, I’m comfortable with that. The fact is, it has a little hair on it, and I knew that going in. The first 10 chapters, while action packed, have very little resolution and we end up following three completely disparate story lines. For a lot of today’s readers, that might turn out to be too much. Don’t get me wrong – that’s not a criticism of readers – it’s just the reality of where we’re at. Reading competes with television, video games, movies, social media and a million other things. As a population, we just don’t have the attention span we used to.
Will On a Pale Ship reach a point of commercial viability? It already has. My investment into a book is mostly time, after that the cost of producing an Audible version is next, followed by cover artwork, followed by editing costs. What does time cost me? It’s purely an opportunity cost. That is – what could I have been doing that was more productive? In fact – as of this moment, early sales have covered all costs. The only concern is that of opportunity.
So, how do I assess lost opportunity? Mostly – I compare a new venture with my other two series on a strictly revenue basis. A book makes most of it’s revenue in the first three months. So ask me in three months where Pale Ship stacks up, I’ll have a near perfect answer.
What’s this have to do with picking the next story to write? A lot, actually. If a story doesn’t work, I’ll move on to the next of the dozen story ideas I have floating around in my head at any given time. Seriously, there are stories knocking on my brain, demanding to be released. There are not enough hours in the day for me to write everything I want. It’s actually a relief when I get a story written and can use the market to help me decide how interesting it is. Believe me, I got the message with Privateer Tales. Overwhelmingly the message from the market on that series is – if I write it, you’ll read it. Okay – I love the Loose Nuts crew, you can count on getting more of those stories. As for ‘On a Pale Ship’. Give me three months and I’ll let you know what you all think of it.
So, what’s next? Privateer Tales – Trilogy of the Bold. That’s right. Instead of Privateer Tales #13, I’m tripling down with Pursuit of the Bold, Fury of the Bold and Judgement of the Bold (13,14 and 15) and calling it a trilogy. The books will be rapid released – one month apart, complete with pre-orders and hopefully audible for at least the first two (we’ll see) right out of the box. Each book will be slightly shorter than my average target, but the payoff will be worth it as we’ll get three instead of one.
After that? Well, you might not know it, but that’s entirely up to you.