The cover artist for Perishables (the awesome John Ward) recently sent me a message noting he hadn’t heard from me in a while and asking what was up. I realized abruptly that my focus on trying to get through the semester and get the next book through a second revision has completely eaten up my attention and that I’ve had zero to say about the publishing process. Whoops!
Here’s the short version: if I don’t actively market Perishables by talking it up in public and seeking interviews and the like then I sell basically zero copies of the book. I’ve sold half a dozen copies in the last six weeks. That’s pretty lousy performance but on the other hand I haven’t had to lift a finger to make six sales.
The conventional wisdom seems to be that more stories = more sales. The readers who discover people and then advocate for them in their social scenes are the voracious readers who can sit down and finish an entire paperback in a couple of hours. They’re always on the lookout for writers who are new to them and they prefer writers who have lots of stories available because those readers prefer to consume vast quantities of text. As such, I’ve been trying to get the sequel to Perishables ready to go and nailing down exactly what I’m going to publish as part of the aspirationally-titled “Withrow Chronicles”. I think I’m basically done with that now, so here’s the plan.
To be honest, I have no interest in writing an endless series of zombie novels. Zombies are not, themselves, inherently interesting. They’re a weather effect. They are essentially no different from a hurricane and every good zombie movie is in many ways essentially a remake of Key Largo. Instead of going back to the well of zombies I want to build out the supernatural aspects of the world Withrow occupies.
Perishables: already published, it’s the “first” Withrow story (though it’s the fourth that I’ve written) and focuses on relationships between vampires and mortals: the former were obviously aware of the latter and Withrow suspected that at least some of the latter were, on some level, aware of the former. Perishables expands that world to include a third factor – zombies – altering the relationships between at least one vampire and a handful of humans.
Tooth & Nail: currently being revised to turn it into a semi-sequel to Perishables. It was my first NaNoWriMo starring Withrow and it is focused on the relationships between vampires and other vampires in order to help round out that initial dichotomy. It acknowledges that their world does or did include zombies but isn’t about them. It includes a number of mortals and the ways their lives are impacted by vampires. It mostly introduces new characters.
A Mountain Monster on Monster Mountain: initial outline. This is the working title for a short story, possibly a flashback, starring Withrow’s insane cousin. Roderick goes haring off after something in the mountains of Western North Carolina. It might be described as “vampires meet the Mythos”. No new characters but a brief exploration of the inner workings of one who otherwise only rarely gets to be the perspective character.
Deal With The Devil: awaiting revision. It was my second NaNoWriMo starring Withrow and will deal with the tension between vampires and those mortals who want to change things. I hesitate to use the word “superheroes” but if the shoe fits… It will also bring back some characters from previous books.
First Nights: brainstorming stages. This is a trio of short stories, a la Perishables, about the origin of the three vampires most immediate to Withrow’s story: his maker, his cousin and himself. They aren’t necessarily the stories of those characters being turned into vampires but they are the stories of the events that put those characters on their respective paths to the story thus far. It includes almost nothing but existing characters.
These are super-ambitious ideas, I realize, but I have no set timetable for this. I’m hoping to get Tooth & Nail out in the next month and Deal With The Devil by May. I’d like to take print copies of those three to ConCarolinas in June. That’s really, really ambitious, though, and if it doesn’t happen on that timetable then I refuse to beat myself up for it.
As this is an open publication story and I am actively soliciting ideas, I encourage feedback and questions, either in comments or via more direct, personal means such as email. In the meantime, I need an editor. I need someone who can tell me something needs to be changed and I need to work really hard on not taking that personally. However, news flash: professional editors are hella expensive. For what is essentially a hobby, I cannot justify that kind of expense.