2019 is my first year as a full-time author, so I thought it’d be fun to do a year in review.

Let’s start with the simplest – what we released last year!

E-Books Released

Jan 1 – World Unbound (System Apocalypse 6)

Jan 31, The Adventurers Bond (AoB Book 5)

April 2 – A Thousand Li: the First Step (Thousand Li 1)

May 23 – The System Apocalypse Issue 1 (SA Comics)

June 1 – Stars Awoken (System Apocalypse 6)

Aug 1 – A Thousand Li: the First Stop (Thousand Li 2)

Sept 1 – The Forest’s Silence (AoB Book 6)

Oct 1 – The System Apocalypse Books 1-3 ( System Apocalypse Collection)

Nov 1 – The System Apocalypse Anthology Vol 1 (System Apocalypse Anthology)

Nov 6 –  Die System-Apokalypse Band 1 (SA Comic Translation – German)

Nov 6 –  Système Apocalypse Le Tome 1 (SA Comic Translation – French)

Nov 15 – The System Apocalypse Issue 2 (SA Comics)

Dec 1 – Rebel Star (System Apocalypse 8)

Dec 15 –  Sistema: Apokalipsis tom 1  (SA Comic Translation – Russian)

Oh… and somewhere in there, the Russian translation for Life in the North released too. 🙂 Around August or so?

It’s not as big as it seems. Of those, there are 7 novels written by me, 1 anthology and then the comic issues (2), the translations (3) and the book collection (1). So, really, while it looks insane… it’s not? Sort of.

Audiobook Releases

Jan 30 – A Squire’s Wish (Hidden Wishes 2)  

March 20 – The Adventurer’s Bond (AoB 5)  

March 29 – Coast on Fire (SA Book 5)  

June 12 – A Thousand Li: The First Step (Thousand Li 1)

Aug 29 – The Forest’s Silence (AoB 6) 

Nov 26 – A Thousand Li:  The First Stop (Thousand Li 2)  

Dec 18 – World Unbound (SA Book 6)  

Paperbacks

Paperbacks for all the big books were released. One thing I’m doing is updating the design for all the books to make them slightly easier to read in ebook & paperback format. Right now, I’m also uploading a bunch of books for expanded distribution to libraries and bookstores and creating hardcover and large print editions.

Non-Book Release News

Obviously, the biggest thing was the fact that I went full-time. Around February or so? I got ride of the majority of my other business and have been surviving off writing income. And yes, I’m doing well enough that it’s possible. 🙂

I also started focusing on the Patreon more, trying to keep this updated. As I’ve learnt more from people like Dakota and others, I’m going to be trying to make the Patreon a little better. But it continues to be a struggle to keep consistent patrons. Switching between series that are liked or not makes a difference in people here, which I understand. It’s not something I can solve as yet, so we’ll have to see.

In August, I started going to conventions. It started with the 20books convention in Edinburgh where I learnt a lot and more importantly, got motivated to start taking care of the business side more.  That was reinforced when I did the 20books Vegas conference again, while Dragoncon was fun and a great way to meet a bunch of the other LitRPG authors. Overall, I’m happy with the conventions I did and it helped push me to start looking at aspects of this business that I hadn’t wanted to do so because, well, I was burnt out of running a business from my previous venture.

What that really meant was me taking a more active role testing out advertising. I’ve mostly focused on Facebook, though I need to up my game on pushing my other series other than System Apocalypse. And figuring out Amazon Advertising. It’s slow going, but I think it’s working. 🙂

On a non-fun topic… my tendinitis has flared up somewhat. I’ve been managing it with pain meds, contrast baths, physio and now, switching to dictation. Hopefully, all that will make it die down and balance out. I’ll be seeing an acupuncturist and my phsio to keep it up, but it is a concern.

Now that we’ve tackled that, let’s talk about each of the series

System Apocalypse

I released 3 books (2 of which were written in 2019) this year for the System Apocalypse. We’re nearing the end of the third arc for the series, the Galactic arc. I’ve been laying the groundwork for how the System affects the world, how it created what it has to some extent. All for the final, ending arc in books 10-12. 

System Apocalypse book 9 (Star’s Asunder) will be written after I’m done with my current project (First War); so expect it to release mid-year 2020 or potentially Q3 (see release schedule for more info below).

I continue to debate if I should write book 5.5 (John’s time in the Forbidden Zone) during a break between one of these books or wait until the entire story is done. We’ll see.

We also tried a few new things for the universe.

The first was the comics. That was fun to work on, though they continue to be a huge loss leader. We (continue) to struggle with the print side too, which is why book 2 has no print file yet. The formatting requirements is driving me (and the artist) nuts, but we’ll figure it out, I promise. 

I’m committed to finishing Life in the North which is another 3 issues. Issue 3 is already done and up for pre-order and we’ll have I believe 2 more issues to do. After that, well, check below for future plans. 🙂 

The second attempt at expanding the universe was the System Apocalypse Anthology. This was a fun project, but I’ve discussed it in a blog post before. Suffice to say, I’m still debating if I’ll produce Volume 2. Audiobook is coming for the series, we’re just waiting for the last narrator.

Lastly, the System Apocalypse audiobooks continue to lag behind due to Nick’s schedule. We do have book 7 on the schedule soon, so we’ll have caught up faster. And I think, it might even be close to completely caught up by book 8 soon after with book 9 audiobook lagging not too far behind the ebook. 

A Thousand Li

My attempt at a cultivation series has garnered generally good responses. It’s amazing (to me) at the quality of the writing in book of A Thousand Li compared to my earlier books. I think, partly because I have a clearer idea of the series and the world, it’s done quite well. I learnt a lot writing it and the other series, so I’m happy to see it doing as well as it has.

I managed to release 2 books in the series and I’m currently working on book 3 – The First War. I’m super excited by it and I’m at around 20k words, so about 1/5 of the way there. Approximate release date I’m shooting for is April.

For the audiobooks, I took a chance as is my usual wont to try something new. I signed a deal with Tantor who have been producing my audiobooks. Overall, I’m happy with the audiobooks and the work they’ve done and they are contracted to do one more book (the First War). 

Future plans for the series mostly consist of writing more of it. 🙂 While it might be fun to make a comic… well, it’s just expensive and is a loss leader. So I’ll probably just write the series for a bit before I play around with anything else.

Hidden Wishes

What? Why am I mentioning my urban fantasy Gamelit? It’s probably the least popular of my series, but it was fun writing it. I started with an idea but not a clear grasp of the world, and normally that fleshes out a little while writing. This time around, it just never clicked as hard as I wished it to. Still, I learnt a lot of lessons writing the series and with book 3 (A Jinn’s Wish) done (and in editing), the final book of the series releases on Feb 1, 2019. 

I’ll be adding a pre-order very soon once I confirm it’s good to go. I just have to finish the editing. 🙂

There won’t be any future releases for the series in the near future. Book 3 ends the first arc of the story and world I do not foresee me returning anytime soon. Maybe in a year or two. Certainly not 2020.

Adventures on Brad

I released two books, which would normally ‘finish’ an arc (like the earlier Karlak arc of books 1-3); but Daniel and co. decided they didn’t want to listen to me and decided to go an expedition. Whether book 5 was just boring or there’s waning interest in Daniel or the lack of closure was an issue, book 6 released to a very tepid response.   It’s release didn’t push up sales of previous books by much either. On a commercial basis, book 6 was pretty much a failure. It covered cost of production, which is better than most other authors can say but if each book I released was this, I’d have to back to a day job. 

So. I’m debating what to do about this series. The only advantage the AoB series has it’s short and a perfect ‘in-between’ series to write while waiting for editing to get back to me. I can slot it in, hammer out the book in 2-4 weeks while the edits / proofreading/etc from A Thousand Li / SA/ etc get done. 

And that’s it for the existing series. 

New Projects

Yup. There are a few other projects I’m working on. There’s one co-authoring project that I’m super excited about, but until we’re closer to getting done (we’re only 15k or so in)’ I don’t want to discuss much. It is Gamelit but it’s somewhat different from everything I’ve seen thus far. It’s one of those projects that will either do incredibly well or fail miserably.

I’m also (sort of) working on a comedy novel. As many of you know, I don’t write a lot of comedy in my books, but this one is meant to be all the way out there. It’s being done using entirely dictation and the initial bits are… well… going to need a ton of editing. No idea when it’s done, but one advantage of this is I can dictate wherever I am, so I’m adding a few hundred words every week at least. Sometimes a few thousand. No release date, it’ll be done when it’s done. I expect editing will take much, much longer to do.

Short Stories

One thing I’m doing is writing a lot more shorts. Partly for the universe’s I’ve created, some entirely new. They will, eventually, be released at some point, whether as patron only benefits or via magazines or a collection.. 

I’ll probably look into magazine submissions, etc but we’ll have to see. Part of the short story writing is to flex a new writing muscle, partly to slowly work on expanding my audience base, partly ’cause it’s fun.

Foreign Translations

This is an area I’ve looked into (and will be looking into) in more detail in 2020. I’ve got System Apocalypse translated and we’re contracted to get it done up to book 3. We’ll see the results then and if the translator likes it, we’ll do the rest. Overall, I’m happy enough with the results thus far.

One of the reasons I created the comic translations was to ‘test’ out demand for LitRPG in different languages. So expect me to continue doing translations for the comic. Since it’s so ‘short’ and has so few words, paying for translations of the comic is actually quite cheap. My next goal (when I have time) is to get a couple of other translations done and see how they work out.

Overall, I’m probably not going to be doing that many direct translations; but will be curious to see what happens with my various tests.

So… 

Release & Writing Schedule

Next year, since I plan to do a bunch of non-writing things (including some personal bu time consuming activities); I have decided to only push for 4 book releases. There might be more, with the co-authoring projects; but 4 books are the plan. 

So, my writing schedule roughly is:

– First War

– (potentially new series, AoB 7 or nothing – depends on how creatively drained I am)

– Star’s Asunder

–  (potentially new series, AoB 7/8 or nothing – depends on how creatively drained I am) 

– Book 4 of A Thousand Li

– … repeat 

Basically, I’ll be switching between System Apocalypse & A Thousand Li with a potential book in-between. It really does depend on how my brain feels. Each SA or ATL book takes approximately 1 1/2-2 months to write (currently). Then editing adds another 2 months to the schedule.  Much of that editing is done in-between; so I often switch between books in-between.

Theoretically, that means I can put out 6 books a year (give or take a book or two) but that means no time to rest. That also doesn’t count my plan of switching to writing more shorts, which I’m trying to make part of my weekly schedule. So…

I’m planning on 4 books released next year. Rough release schedule would then look like…

Jan 1 – Issue 3 of the System Apocalypse Comic 

Feb 1 – A Jinn’s Wish

April(ish) – The First War

June/July – (? – see above)

Oct/Nov – SA 9 or ATL 4 (or another series. See above)

Keep an eye on the blog / patron for more concrete updates as I get a feel for the new writing.

The Rest of the Future Plans 

So, I ended up discussing a bunch of future plans up there. More short stories, potentially a new series (written by me solely) and some co-authoring projects. Translations for the comic and SA. Paperback, hardcover and large print editions for every single paperback book. 

I’m also planning a Kickstarter for the Graphic Novel (Issues 1-5) to get a physical copy created. That’ll include books 1-5, additional artwork. I’ll be poking at the possibility of getting distribution to comic stores, though I know working with Diamond is a pain.

After that, it’s mostly professional development stuff for me. I have plans to hit about four (five/six?) different conventions, to continue working on both the craft side and the business side of this new career.  All that travel is partly why I’m also looking at reducing the number of new releases.

That and I need to give my hands a break. 🙂

There might be more going on, but I’m hoping to reduce the amount of work a little next year to give myself time to rest. We’ll see.

Questions? Comments?