THE BEYOND SAGA

A science fiction book series by Greg Spry
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Beyond Saga Blog

State of the (Star) Union

Posted by author on 10/29/2017 6:49:00 PM

Howdy, folks. It's been some time since I last posted...yeah, I know my posts often begin that way. Here's what's been going in the universe of this author.

Move and Writing Progress

Throughout the past six months or so, moving from Madison to San Diego has absorbed much of my time. Whether I was packing for the move, dealing with getting my duplex ready to rent out, coordinating shipping my stuff to California, driving west, searching for condos, moving into my temporary apartment, moving out of the temporary apartment, finally moving into my new condo, or fixing stuff in the new condo, suffice it to say that the move has kept me busy. And to top it off, I worked over forty hours a week in my day job as a software architect this summer. I tell you. When it rains, it pours. And then add the fact that San Diego offers its fair share of distractions.

Plus, there are so many good shows on right now. Star Trek Discovery is very good, Humans is exceptional, and I waited way to long to get into The Americans. Why is TV is so good right now while movies more or less suck? I know why, but that's a whole other blog post for another time. At any rate, I've struggled to find the time to write or work up the motivation when I do have the time.

I've written somewhere between one and two chapters of Beyond Existence (Beyond Saga Book 4) since late spring. Fear not, though. I'm starting to get back to it. I've got some pretty exciting ideas for how the saga ends. I'm still hammering out some of the unknowns, deciding how to tie up the loose ends presented in the first three books, and figuring out how everything is going to come together. But I'm confident I'll work it all out, and I think readers who have been gracious enough to stick with the series will be very well rewarded. I'm still aiming to publish book 4 before the end of 2018. If I can finish draft 1 sometime in the spring and draft 2 by the early summer, I should still be on track to meet that soft deadline.

I've also been wanting to finish my first installment of Bears in Space, a series of sci-fi comedy short stories. Despite my lack of recent writing, I've been mapping out the story in my head. My conundrum is that working on BiS would take away time from writing on Beyond Existence. I'm torn about whether to work on them at the same time or keep BiS on the shelf until the Beyond Saga is complete. I suppose if ideas are fresh in my head, I need to get them down on electronic paper.

End of a Promotional Era

In other news, I'm disappointed to be ending my quarterly promotions with the marking service I had hired. In short, they would post one of my e-books on a bunch of free sites once every three-ish months, get thousands of people to download the book for free, and then switch the book back to paid at the right time of day, resulting in hundreds of units sold. The service definitely increased my readership. On Amazon, I'm seeing more consistent sales, and people are reading pages of my books every day on Kindle Unlimited. Nevertheless, we weren't seeing the necessary ROI. I could no longer justify spending thousands of dollars to only make hundreds, even though I was building my brand. This is a pretty huge bummer because at first the service seemed like it might finally at least pay for my writing and publising expenses. Now, I have to rethink my entire marketing strategy.

Why didn't my books sell better? There are a few possible reasons. The first is that the marketing service incorrectly executed two of the three promos I paid them to do. So really, we never got a true sense of the sales I could generate. It's frustrating because I'll never know how well I truly could've done with them.

Second, there's the theory that certain biased readers are turned off by the fact that my books have been inspired by Anime. While I've been influenced by Macross/Robotech, Ghost in the Shell, and plenty of Anime and Manga, I've also drawn ideas from Arthur C. Clark, Peter Hamilton, Isaac Asimov, and plenty of other American books, shows, movies, video games, and more. Are people's minds so closed that they think an adult novel with a background slightly left of center can't be as good?

Third, it's been suggested that my books might not sell as well in a Caucasian-dominated market because there are Asian women on the covers. If that's the case, it's truly a sad world in which we live. One would think that, of all people, science fiction fans wouldn't be afflicted by these kinds of biases. I mean, are people really fine reading about strange aliens from distant planets but not about other human ethnicities on this planet? In other words, you're telling me that you can't see yourself in the mag boots of a character if that character looks a little too different? The marketing service suggested that I translate my books into Japanese and focus on sales in Japan. While going global is a great general suggestion, the underlying reasons behind why that suggestion was made are beyond ridiculous. But I guess I have no choice but to deal with reality, which means approaching how I present my work differently.

Here's the funniest thing of all. If I didn't make it readily known that Anime has influenced my writing, and if I didn't put an Asian woman on the cover designed with a hint of the Anime style, no one would be the wiser. There is absolutely nothing in the content of the stories that would tell a reader not familiar with Anime about those influences. No, it's people's preconceptions that color the content after they've seen the cover and learned of my influences.

Thanks for listening to me vent. That's all for now. Look for my next post to come sooner rather than later.