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Dead Days: Season Two Cover Reveal(s)…

Hi all,

Quick post today. I’m working on a new project and just finished my writing for the week. Pretty tiring one, but who ever said any job was easy, eh? Anyway, I’ve just reached the “difficult 1/3rd” mark of this new project (of which I’ll talk more about in the future) and am just about ready to sleep for the weekend. Wild, eh?!

Anyway, I’ve been teasing Dead Days: Season Two for a long, long time, so I figured it was only fair I shared the covers with you. Not many words being blogged this week, but I think I just about made up for it with that mammoth 5,000+ word one last week, right?!

Here are the covers for Dead Days Season Two. As fans of the series will know, I’m releasing the entire second season as a boxset on day one, which means you’ll be able to binge on every single episode of the new season on launch day. Which is, by the way, just a week or two away now. I don’t like being too specific. In this digital age, I prefer surprising people. :)

However, I’ll also be launching the individual episodes too for anyone who prefers to read them that way. They will of course be $2.99 each, with the Season Two box set launching at $6.99, so it’d be wiser to just grab the box set. But each to their own and all that!

dead days season 2

dead days episode 7

dead days episode 8

dead days episode 9

dead days episode 10

dead days episode 11

Dead Days Episode 12

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There you go! Hope you like them. They carry over the theme of the first season while offering something new completely. They also foreshadow some of the new developments in this second season that I can’t wait to share with you.

Seriously, I’m so excited about Season Two. I’ve just been putting it out to a few of my first readers and the response has been incredible. One reader described it as a “ticking timebomb of a season. And fuck does it explode hard.”

I’ll share a blurb and a full first chapter excerpt with you next week. Then who knows? Perhaps it’ll finally be time to unleash this thing… :) Of course, if you want to be the first to hear about the new season launch, head to this link and sign up: http://ryancaseybooks.com/fanclub. It’s free, it’s spam-free, and it’s a great way of connecting with you and vice-versa.

Remember, if you’ve yet to start Dead Days, the first episode of Season One is completely free. Head over here to download it at any of the top eBook retailers (as well as in paper if you prefer, but not free of course): http://ryancaseybooks.com/books/dead-days.

If you have read Episode One but were holding off buying the full season for some reason or another, that’s currently on sale at $5.99 (down from the $7.99 RRP) at the same link above.

Enjoy, and have a great weekend! I’ll leave you with a selfie of me and the paperback copy of Dead Days: Season One, which is also now available through the link above/at your favourite retailer.

Dead Days selfie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cheers,

Ryan.

How To Make A Living Writing Fiction

Making a living writing fiction is probably up there with desert island caretaker and secretary to a zillionaire as one of the most appealing jobs in the world. People daydream about… well, daydreaming and putting it on paper for a living.

What they don’t realise is it’s entirely within their own hands.

A short bit of context before I go into this guide: I published my first short story in August 2012. My first novel followed in November 2012. Neither of them sold much, not at first.

But right now, on April 1st 2014, I can honestly say I’m making a living writing fiction. And no, that’s not an April Fools!

Okay so this post is a long one so I won’t do too much pre-waffle. But there are a few things I need you to know before blindly following/furiously disputing what I have to say. Firstly, these steps are what worked for me. I’m not saying they’re the one right way to do things–I’m saying they’re the way I did things after much trial and error.

Secondly, I’ve gone for a scattershot approach here. Things might seem in a weird, Memento-esque order. That’s because there’s so much to cover and I’m a fiction writer so I don’t have time to start formatting and editing a blog post into a neat little guide. Bear with me.

Ready? Okay. Here’s how I make a living writing fiction. And how you can too.

1. Write

Write. Well, duh. If you don’t write, you can’t make a living writing fiction, and never will. Not just that, but you don’t deserve to. So write. Obviously.

There are a few elements to this point though. First, let’s talk about the WAY you write. Well, the only right way to write is the BEST WAY FOR YOU.

I’m mostly a pantser. I make things up as I go, but I have a loose outline to keep me on track. Some people outline every beat in advance. Others don’t outline at all. Either is fine as long as it works for you.

Seriously, find your own method and go with it. I learned I hated beat by beat outlines when I actually wrote a book that way and got bored shitless. I ended up binning the whole 80,000 word project. I realised I like a rough outline to guide me, but also the freedom to go off-road from time to time. But I’m glad I wrote this scrapped novel. It was good practice. I learned that style of writing wasn’t for me. So write your way and not the way anybody is telling you to. They’re usually wrong.

Which leads to part two of point one (this post is going to be long…): just write the book you want to read, but more importantly, don’t strive for perfection.

News flash: you’ll never write a perfect novel. And your first or second or tenth book will be FAR from perfect. Perfection is an excuse for writers to not write and instead spend time rewriting and marketing and whatever. Just let that idea go. Now. You can’t write a perfect novel, and you never will.

Got it? Good. You can, however, write the best novel you’re capable of. So write to the best of your abilities. Funny thing will happen if you do that: your abilities will keep on improving.

So write. That’s point one. I can’t stress how important it is. Every day you aren’t writing–even just a hundred words–is a day you’re allowing your craft to go stale. Every day you aren’t writing is a day of potential writing improvement you’ll never, ever get back.

If you want to make a living writing fiction, guys, you’re going to have to write. And you’re going to have to accept that not everything you write will be gold, especially in the early days. If that offends you, walk away before you get too hurt in this tough, tough career.

2. Edit meticulously.

Phew. Shorter point here. It goes without saying that once you finish writing your novel or story, you’re going to want to tidy it up. Editing consists of two stages: self-editing and external editing. You’re going to want both if you’re shooting for a career in fiction.

I’m not going to go into the self-editing details. My only advice is to trust your subconscious. Yes, by all means tidy everything up. But don’t tidy the ‘you’ out of your work.

Think of a first draft as a messy bedroom. You’ve got dirty clothes on the floor, dust on the desk, books all over the place. Editing is cleaning up all the things that shouldn’t be there. It’s reordering and shuffling things around to make the place look fresher. Over-editing, on the other hand, is stripping the posters from the walls, throwing the contents of the bookcase and the family photos into binbags. It’s stripping the room–or the work–of all originality, and it’s something you have to be wary of. I can’t tell you ‘how’. This is a balance you have to work out yourself. Might take a few books, but that’s the nature of the game.

Editing/rewriting does take time. It takes me roughly twice as long as it does to write a first draft. So be aware and willing there too.

A quick word on outside editing: invest wisely. Don’t shell out thousands of dollars on your first book if you know you’re not going to make that money back (if you don’t know yet: you won’t). Look for a reasonably priced editor with good praise and feedback. I’ve worked with four good editors but finally settled on one and he’s fantastic. Again, it might take a few tries. Just be sensible.

And oh–don’t be scared of editors. They don’t know your book better than you, contrary to many myths. They’ll make many great suggestions, but if you disagree with them, disagree. Better than them making your book suck by misinterpreting something. They are human after all.

3. Good cover, good blurb, good sample.

I often consider these three as the holy trinity of selling books. You can do anything–tweet, blog, advertise– but if you fail to get these right, you won’t sell any books.

For a good cover, you’re probably going to want to hire someone.  Like editing, make sure the price makes sense. You’re a business, after all. Look at other genre books for inspiration. Ask yourself the main themes of the book. Again, this might take a few tries, but it’ll be well worth it in the end when you have an amazing, cost-effective cover.

The blurb/product description is even trickier. People get paid thousands to write copy, and yet it’s the stage many authors rush through in the publishing process. Those authors go on to not sell many books, then blame the likes of Amazon, or ‘bad luck’ for their own failings. So read some blurbs from best-selling books. Study them. Break them down and work out what works and what doesn’t. Then use everything you’ve learned to write a blurb of your own.

Samples are pretty self-explanatory: make it easy for a reader to work out whether they love or loathe your book. Yes, I know your gran’s cat’s brother’s fish really wanted you to include that dedication right at the front, but it’s eating words out of the sample, so that fish can quite frankly get screwed.

Don’t create any roadblocks between your reader and your book. Do this by having a good cover, a good blurb and a good sample. Oh, and the best book you can write at the present moment, too.

4. Publish the book. Then write another.

I can’t believe this is actually a step in the whole ‘make a living writing fiction’ thing, but enough people struggle with it to warrant it. Yes, you need to publish your book if you want to even have a shot at selling. If you’re afraid of being judged, then deal with that in your own way. Because you will be judged by everyone. You will be loathed by someone. ACCEPT THAT. Then publish.

I’m talking here about independent publishing. If you have some sort of issue with that route, then good luck to you. I can’t offer any advice about traditional publishing because I don’t have much experience there. Keep practicing and keep your fingers crossed for that lucky break, I guess.

See the second part of this point? That’s a biggie. Most people when they finish writing a book hit social media and start promoting the thing. I’ll go on to promotion later, but for now, just get on with the next book. Pat yourself on the back and treat yourself to a nice meal for finishing–whatever it is you or your family/friends do when you’re celebrating. Then write the next one. And the next. You’ll improve as a fiction writer this way. You won’t improve by blocking out three months to promote. Simple.

5. Write your own favourite book.

I’m jumping around here I realise. But just trust your gut. Don’t write what’s popular because it’s popular, or what you think is selling because you want to start selling instantly. Write the book you’d want to read. Trust there’s other weirdos out there who are into the same crazy shite as you.

6. Focus on building a solid backlist. 

This, again, ties in with the whole “write and keep on writing” thing. Focus on producing a quality backlist of titles.

Some people turn their noses up at the idea of writing a lot of books. There’s a belief that the more books a person releases, the less quality those books contain. This isn’t true. The reason people are getting more books out nowadays is because of the freedom of independent publishing. Writers can write two, or three, or four, or five books a year, and they can get them out there to the reader without having to wait around for a publisher to give them the all clear. Back before indie publishing? Writers wrote two, or three, or four, or five books a year. But they didn’t have the freedom to release them on their own schedule. So that’s the only difference here — freedom.

We’re indies, so we’re free to write and publish to our own schedules. Practice writing, practice getting better, and build a quality backlist. You’ll be amazed at how much you improve along the way, and how much readers notice your improvement, too.

Also, the truth is, it’s easier to write five okay sellers than one bestseller. It’s how mid-list writers have been surviving and thriving for centuries. Just because Dan Brown only puts one book out every half a decade doesn’t mean that’s the only right way to do things. It’s a damn fortunate way to be able to do things, but hey. Nature of the game.

7. Write in a series.

It’s no secret that series books sell better than standalones. I’ve found this out through experience. My  first two books were standalones and they sell fewer than the rest of my books (despite loads more reviews, blog tours, positive buzz, bigger launches, more expensive covers… etc). My Brian McDone books and my Dead Days series sell better than anything else I have on sale. That’s because readers like series. Always have, always will.

However, don’t make a book a series just because. Let every project reach its natural length. I know this seems to go against what I just said, but take my book Killing Freedom, for example. I initially envisaged it as a series—and may one day revisit it—but I figured the story works better as a standalone. So I put it out as a standalone and went on to the next project, which did just so happen to be a series.

So stay true. Stay honest. If a book feels like a series book, good news for you—readers love series in all genres. But if not, then that’s fine, too. Just make sure you take note of the next point, which might just be especially important to you…

8. Create a loss leader. 

Okay, we’re talking real business here. Loss leaders are an ancient business “secret” and yet they work so effectively in all mediums. Think about the supermarkets. That discount bread you notice when you enter? That’s a loss leader. Free samples of aftershave in a magazine? Discounted first issues of magazines? Loss leader, loss leader.

In eBooks, a loss leader is a way of getting readers to try out your work with as little resistance as possible. Currently, the best and most effective loss leader is free.

Now I know, I know—free is scary. But just think about this example: I give away episode one of my Dead Days series completely free to readers. They can then go on to buy the entire series if they enjoy it, or just the individual episodes (more on pricing and value perception later). Through creating a loss leader, despite losing a sale, I gain a reader. And nine times out of ten, if a reader enjoys a first book, they go on to buy the rest, so it isn’t a sale lost at all. It’s multiple sales gained.

Now, free might not work in future. The business practices of this post will still apply, though. Just give away your entry product—and yes, books are products, accept it—for as low a price as you can. If it’s 99c, do that. If it’s $4.99, do that. Just create a resistance free way for readers to try out your series and, in my experience, you’ll gain readers.

9. Make the reader pay for the next book.
This is the important part of the loss leader step. The whole idea behind loss leaders is that you make the reader pay for the next book. So if it’s a series, this will be the second book, or a whole season boxset.

But what about standalones, I hear you call? Well, there are a few ways to go about this, but you have to be careful. A good way to create a loss leader to a standalone novel is to create a short story prequel to the standalone and make that free/whatever loss leader price. Be careful, like I say. Don’t force a prequel if there isn’t one. But even an accompanying story, or a history of the book’s world. I’m sure you’ll be able to come up with something inventive enough. Create a prequel/accompaniment, LET READERS KNOW that it is a prequel/accompaniment, and when they get to the end, let them decide whether they want to continue exploring your world.

Sub-point: Back matter MATTERS. When your books end, you should have full-page where you ask yourself, as a writer, “Where do I want my reader to go next?” For loss leaders, this is the next book, or the boxset. For standalones, this is your mailing list (more on this later). This is how a loss leader works or fails. Make sure you don’t skimp on this.

Another sub-point: Boxsets are particularly useful at attracting readers. I price all my individual episodes of Dead Days at $2.99, but the full season boxset is $7.99. Really drill home that 45% saving to your readers. It creates value.

10. Don’t waste your time marketing.

This is a controversial viewpoint. Again—sorry. This is how I do things, and how things work for me. Do things your way and the way you’re comfortable with.

Personally, I don’t think much marketing is worth the time or effort. Even this blog post is killing me to write because it’s words of fiction that I could—and probably should—be writing. But y’know, helpful chap and all that…

Focus on the writing. Do not start taking breaks and promoting your one book. Well, you can—but don’t stop writing to do so. And remember, all promotion that you do in the future will be much more effective when your series is complete, or you have a few books out.

Think about it. What’s the point of a discount of an author’s book, or a DVD? It’s to get you to buy another book/DVD. So if you’ve only got one book to sell and you’re discounting and promoting that, then you’re a bit stuck, right? Sure, you could be boosting your mailing list (again, will discuss later), but is it really worth the time it’s eating into your writing schedule?

For me, marketing is creating a loss leader and engaging with readers. That’s my method. It works for me.

Focus on the writing. Focus on improving as a writer. Sales will come if you follow these steps. I promise.

A word on paid advertising—I’ve run several. I had a couple of BookBub ads of my debut standalone, and various other effective ones like Pixel of Ink, Kindle Books and Tips, and Freebooksy. An ad can be effective, especially when you’ve got a complete series (which I didn’t at the time, but it did admittedly make me a bit of extra cash). But ALWAYS research before you buy a paid advertising spot. Check how many active Facebook/Twitter followers an ad site has. Check KBoards for reviews. And always remember before shelling cash out: can you make the money from the ad back? If so, good. If not, then move on to the next ad.

Or just get back to the writing and advertise later.

11. Create a fucking mailing list.

Excuse the f-bomb, but this step is THAT important. Create a fucking mailing list. I’ve mentioned it before, and I’ll mention it again. A mailing list is the single most important marketing tool in your repertoire. If you don’t have a mailing list, every reader who enjoys your book is a missed opportunity for a long-term fan. They’ll slip through your fingers like rice through… fingers. Screw metaphors, I’m way out of creative mode right now.

Seriously, though. Readers read so many books nowadays, what with the price and instant availability of ebooks. So sure, they might enjoy a book of yours, but if you can’t find a way to connect with them and keep them informed of new releases, they’ll forget about you. Sorry, but it’s true.

So find a way to remind them. And that way is the mailing list. The go-to guide on the mailing list is from SM Reine over at Kboards, so check that out. But basically—set up a Mailchimp account, put a link to it in the back of all your books, and then use it to keep in touch with readers.

How often should you send an email out to your readers? That’s open to debate, and there’s multiple ways of getting this working. Personally, I send out one every couple of weeks or so. I release a lot of books, so I don’t want every email to be an advert for a book. Instead, I do things like cover reveals, reader polls, stuff like that. Nothing spammy. All very conversational. And I always reply if a reader gets back to me. Always.

Side note—Create a Facebook and a Twitter page. You don’t have to use them much, but Facebook is a good accompaniment to a mailing list for things like cover reveals and excerpts, and Twitter is a good way to connect with fans. Don’t let it suck all the time out of your writing, and just have fun with it. In the early days, I used to schedule tweets and things like that, but that really didn’t work for me. Whenever sending out an email, Facebook or tweet, remember to ask yourself the following: as a reader/social media consumer, would I want to read this? Usually, this is all you need to ask to know whether you’re on the right track.

Don’t spam. Just connect.

12. Have a website.

Just a basic WordPress site should do, as long as it looks professional and has links to all of your books. I pay a few pounds a month to go self-hosted, but it’s really up to you.

Also, blog if you want to. Excerpts, cover reveals, progress reports and the like are all good for long-term readers and fans.

Oh, and quit stat-watching if possible. The people who want to find your blog will find it eventually. So be patient, as hard as that may be. :)

13. Don’t stress about reviews.

Again, another controversial one. I don’t personally pay much attention to gathering reviews. Some authors do, and that’s fine. It works, and that’s great, and another wonderful way of going about it.

However, in my experience, reviews don’t generally affect sales significantly enough.

Case study: my most downloaded free book currently has a two-star average at Amazon UK. Sure, it grates a little to see it with that average, but it does in truth only have three reviews, and one of them looks like it’s been written about another product completely. Factor in the fact that free books generally get reviewed more harshly. Oh, and factor in that it’s a short story too. Yeah, review nightmare right there.

But alas, for some weird reason, it’s the most downloaded book of mine. So I just run with it and trust that some of those people who enjoy it and go onto the next one are out there spreading the word in their own ways.

Readers are intelligent. They can sniff out an intentionally malicious review a mile away, so don’t worry about those. If they like the sample, they’ll read the book. Just get your head down and move on.

14. Be willing to obsess.

People ask me how many hours I work a day. I tell them it would probably be better to ask me how many hours I’m awake a day, because technically, my brain is always working.

When I’m not writing, I’m reading up on business news, or learning craft, or sending out an email to readers, or writing fucking mammoth blog posts like this. I can’t help it. I’m completely obsessed with writing. And that’s okay. I take breaks (more on that in a minute) and stay healthy, so obsessing is fine.

Plus, just think about it. I’m obsessing about my job. I actually love my job so much that I can’t stop thinking about it. How many people can say that about their jobs?

So it’s okay to be obsessed. Copy/paste this section for anyone who throws obsession at you like some kind of snarky accusation.

15. Stay healthy.

I just had to take a break from writing this post because, well. It’s long. Longer than any other blog I’ve done. And my back was hurting, so… PING. Just about time for the “stay healthy” section!

Although it’s okay to obsess, it’s also important to stay healthy. It’s so easy to just stay inside and eat the contents of your fridge while writing yourself into a coma, but it’s also important to know when to take a break. I had a nasty cold at the end of last week. I really wanted to carry on writing, but my head was just throbbing and I couldn’t stop coughing and sneezing. So I took a few days off and just lay on the sofa watching True Detective. It really helped. I came back to the writing fresh and excited again.

Go for walks, too. I really recommend this. Even if it’s just a twenty-minute walk down the road, I’d advise doing this every day. It keeps you healthy, and it keeps you happy. It also gets my creative juices running, so hopefully does the same for you. But yeah—getting out of the house is good. Which ties in to the next point…

16. Stay social.

Writing is wonderful as a career. But it’s also easy to get isolated and depressed. I speak from experience—I’ve had my down days and I’ve had my up days. Life’s life, and all that.

It’s really crucial to stay social and stay in touch with the outside world. People in regular jobs go out into the outside world every day and come home to escape. Writers, we sink even further into ourselves for our day job. So it’s a good idea to plan some social time a few times a week.

I have a few ways of handling this which, like everything, has taken a few attempts to get right. I go out to write in the library or a café a couple of times a week. It gets me around people, and gets the brain into social mode even while writing. At weekends, I see my friends at the pub or go to watch a football match or something. I say “yes” when social opportunities arrive in evenings and weekends because I’ve spent a day alone and I know it’s good for me to get out.

It’s also a good idea to stay social because people are the best subjects for fiction. Seriously, you can learn loads from just sitting on a bus and listening to people speak. So if you really, really hate going to the pub and things like that, just take a bus journey and listen to the people around you. Maybe one or two of them will be lucky enough to end up characters in your future works, right?

17. Don’t be afraid to say no.

That said, don’t be afraid to say no when you have to. I just had to say no to a friend earlier about an appointment for tomorrow afternoon because I’ve got a lot of catching up on writing to do after being ill  last week. I felt awful about it, but I had to do it, because writing is a job and it should be treated that way.

Yes, writing is fun, but it’s a job. So set yourself a schedule and turn up when you’re supposed to. Don’t slack off. If you’re considering taking a day off, Kristine Rusch has a great concept called the “inner boss” that is well worth reading about. Basically, picture the nastiest boss you’ve ever had and ask them whether you can have a day off. If they say no, then you’re probably looking for an excuse to procrastinate.

18. Always think long-term.

Long-term thinking is the key to success. I’ve seen so many writers start up with big plans to launch books with expensive marketing campaigns and lengthy blog tours only to… well. Still only have one book out. And no more blogs for a months. And no sign of progress. It’s sad, but it’s what happens with short-term thinking.

Pricing is crucial to long-term thinking. Price right and in line with other works in your genre. Sure, 99c might sell you more copies in the short run, but will it make you as much money? Or would $2.99 be better in terms of earnings? Study your genre and choose a price point for yourself.

This isn’t easy, I realise. I’m always obsessing about pricing. My best advice would be to pick a pricing method at the start of the year based on your projected output and try your best to stick to it. Generally, I price novels at $4.99, serial episodes at $2.99, and serial boxsets at $5.99-$7.99. This is based on my projected output and all ties in with how my loss leaders work. So study that and work out your own method. There’s no one size fits all way here. Sorry.

19. Keep learning.

The biggest mistake a writer can make besides stopping writing altogether is thinking they know it all.

I take lectures and craft workshops to this day. I’m currently taking a six-week character voice workshop with Dean Wesley Smith at WMG Publishing. I’m learning a lot about craft and incorporating what I learn into my new work. I’m also being humbled at how little I did actually know about certain elements of craft, but also excited about incorporating new techniques going forward.

You’re not perfect. I’m not perfect. JK Rowling isn’t perfect. Tolkein, King, Shakespeare—they weren’t perfect. Nobody is. But we can improve. We can embrace new lessons as we walk through life. And we can incorporate every new trick and craft method we learn. How fun is that?

20. Stay aware of business developments and movements.

Again, this is all part of the “be obsessed” point. You’re a writer/publisher, so stay aware of business developments in your industry. I do this by reading blogs like The Passive Voice, as well as keeping up to date with discussions on KBoards.

So stay tuned in. Stay aware. Things change quickly in publishing, and you don’t want to be left behind while the wiser 1% have already moved on.

21. Sell your books everywhere.

Controversial, again. I used to believe in KDP Select, and stand by my initial proclamations that it used to be a great way of getting sales started. Now, my method is different. It’s okay if you use Select. That’s your method. But this here is mine.

I sell my books everywhere I can. I sell at Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Google Play, Apple, Smashwords, in paper. I’d sell in audio if I could in the UK. I treat my book, once I’ve finished the creative part, as copyright property, and I sell that copyright in as many forms as I can. I create multiple revenue streams. For me, it works. Five sales of one book at Amazon might not look a lot for a month. But add up the five everywhere else… yeah. It adds up.

Oh, and also, I know it’s such a cliché, but you really don’t know what you could be missing out on until you put your books out there. I don’t sell loads at Nook, Kobo or Apple, and was reluctant to put my books in Google Play. Now, it’s my second biggest revenue stream just behind Amazon. I dared, and the dare paid off. So don’t be afraid. Try, or don’t try and never know.

22. Read.

We’re writers. If we don’t consume the media form we are involved in, how can we ever hope to create a good story?

Read for pleasure. How I do it is if I enjoy a book, I go back and I work out why I enjoyed it. Was it the character’s voice or attitude? Did I like the twists? The structure? The prose? I go back and I figure out.

Same for books I don’t enjoy. I don’t spend as much time on these, but I do ask myself why I didn’t totally connect with them. Usually, it’s down to character, story or pacing. So it makes me realise how important these elements are to keep working on.

Don’t deconstruct for deconstruction’s sake. We’re trained as students to tear books apart before we even enjoy them. But don’t do this, if possible. Instead, deconstruct because something worked. Enjoy first, ask why you enjoyed it later.

Also, watching TV shows and films does count as reading. It’s the consumption of story, and we’re storytellers, so it 100% counts. That’s my excuse for watching The Walking Dead finale at 8am yesterday, anyway.

23. Stick to your guns.

Like I said before, with all this information and all the things being said—sales figures, reviews, amount of books—it’s easy to get discouraged from writing. But you have to accept that writing is a tough job. It’s fun, but it’s tough.

Fact: we all have bad days. Just write about them instead of wallowing in them. I’ve written some of my best scenes when I’ve been in a grumpy mood.

24. Grow a backbone.

Directly relates to the last point. Writing truth #85437857834: People will upset you. Sometimes, those people will be close to you. It’s hard for 9-5 office people to accept that somebody else sits around at home and makes stuff up sometimes. And often, those people don’t realise that we’re working hard, just like them, even if it is from the comfort of our homes. You might notice friends making snarky comments, or family members rolling their eyes when you tell them you’re going to write. Sound familiar?

How do you deal with this? Simple. Deal with it. Then turn them into a character. And give them a rough time in your next book. :P

25. HAVE FUN! 

Yes! Final point! And this is my favourite of all. Not just because I’m absolutely delighted to reach the end of this mammoth post, but because it’s so true. WRITING IS FUN!

If writing is not fun, then what the fuck are you doing? Go get another job. You get to sit alone in a comfy chair and a warm room and make shit up (in the wonderful words of Dean Wesley Smith). You get to consciously dream, and people PAY you to do it. What isn’t fun about that?!?!?!

*
Okay. I’m done. I’m burnt out, and I’ve got a football/soccer match to watch later. This post in a nutshell…

Write the best book you can—the book you’d want to read—preferably in a series.

Make it as easy as possible for readers to try out that first book.

Get those readers to buy your next books.

Make a living writing fiction.

Enjoy yourselves.

Ryan.

PS: If you enjoyed this post, consider checking out one of my free books or something. They’re all over there on the right. Cheers.

Release Schedule 2014

Hi all,

I’ve had a lot of people asking me when such-and-such-a-book is coming out, or whether this-book-or-that-book is getting a sequel some time soon. I thought the best way to answer all these questions–and keep myself on track–would be to publish a release schedule right here as a blog post.

I’ve also created a page that you’ll be able to access at the top of the website under that shiny new “Coming Soon!” icon. That one right up there ^^^ On that page, I’ll copy and paste over this list, updating it whenever something changes in my schedule. Which it will. That’s just the way I am!

Anyway, here’s a full list of my fiction set to launch in 2014, with a few notes first:

- The release dates are estimates. And they’re the closest estimates I can give. If you ask me when a book that is listed here is going to launch, I can only tell you what I’ve shared here because that’s all I know. And even that could be slightly off. Like I said–I’ll keep this list updated throughout the year via the “Coming Soon!” page, but appreciate that these are just estimates and targets, and the best estimates/targets possible. So bookmark that page and keep checking back for the latest.

- If you don’t see a particular book/project here, then that’s probably because it isn’t scheduled for 2014 launch. Feel free to send me an email if there’s a project you really want to see this year, but I can only commit to scheduling it in for 2015–and only then if I can come up with a good enough idea!

- If you see a project here I haven’t spoken about yet, that’s for a reason. I’ll get to it–promise!

As of writing, it’s March 24th and two of my 2014 books are out. But I’ll share the whole list here so you can keep track. Here goes…

 

2014 Release Schedule:

1. Buried Slaughter: Brian McDone #2 - (Released February 9th 2014)

2. The Hunger: The Turnstone Saga #1 - (Released March 18th 2014)

3. Dead Days: Season 2 - April

4. Sinkers: Season 1 – May

5. The Turnstone Saga #2 - June/July

6. Brian McDone #3 – August

7. Dead Days: Season 3 - September

8. Sinkers: Season 2 - October

9. The Turnstone Saga #3 – November

10. TBD - December

 

Want to be notified as soon as a new book is available?

Click here to find out how.

New Release: The Hunger — New Sci-Fi/Horror Now Available!

the hungerHi all,

A good bit of news for you. The Hunger, my latest full length novel, is now available to purchase for KindleNookKoboiBooks and Google Play!

As I’ve mentioned in the past, The Hunger is a sci-fi/horror book, and my longest full-length novel to date at 100,000 words. It’s the first in a planned series, which will gradually release over 2014 and 2015. Fans of Dead Days, as well as my other stuff, are going to love it.

Here’s the blurb in case you missed it:

Jonny Ainsthwaite is dying.

At twenty-three years old, he should have a full life ahead of him.

Instead, he has HIV, and his immune system is growing weaker by the day.

But hidden away in a gigantic pharmaceutical lab, Sarah Appleton has discovered something big. Something that will change humanity forever. Something that will see her name etched into the history books. Something that will save lives around the world for decades and centuries to come. In principle.

What she doesn’t realise is that she has created the end of the world.

But she’s about to find out.

Everyone is about to find out.

And when they do, there is no resisting The Hunger…

Defying genre conventions, The Hunger is the first part of an epic trilogy chronicling the downfall of humanity. A unique twist on the zombie apocalypse and vampire formula, Ryan Casey transports readers to a world of misguided greed and dreams turned to nightmares. Drawing comparisons to The Passage and the works of Stephen King, The Hunger is a suspense horror that will leave the reader’s stomach suitably nourished, but churning for more…

Of course, if you were subscribed to my newsletter, you’d have got wind of The Hunger’s release waaaay back last Thursday. You’d have also got a discount too. So if you want to be the first to hear about my upcoming projects, saving some money and getting all sorts of opportunities to get involved, I’d strongly encourage you to sign up over at the following page: http://ryancaseybooks.com/fanclub.

If you enjoy The Hunger, it’d be really cool if you left a review for it at Amazon. Or failing that, if you enjoy it, just tell a friend about it. Word of mouth goes a long way!

Okay — that’s just about all from me today. Just wanted to let you in on this book launch. I’m actually hard at work on the Dead Days Season Two rewrites at the moments. Season Two is a lot of fun. There’s a whole different mood and atmosphere about it that just builds and builds then… BOOM. But yeah. More on that over the next few weeks. Full launch this April.

I’ll be back later this week with my full updated release calendar for 2014 so you can keep up to date.

Cheers, and enjoy,

Ryan.

The Hunger is available now for KindleNookKoboiBooks and Google Play. Paperback coming soon.

The Hunger — New Sci-Fi/Horror Cover Reveal

Hi all,

Just a quick update this week because it’s been a busy one and, quite frankly, I’m not sure how many words I have in me before I start spouting gibberish! I know, I know — I do that enough anyway.

Right, so I thought I’d share with you the cover to my new science fiction/horror book, The Hunger. I spoke about The Hunger the other week, but in case you missed it or for some reason you don’t want to look back, here’s what the book is about.

Jonny Ainsthwaite is dying.

At twenty-three years old, he should have a full life ahead of him.

Instead, he has HIV, and his immune system is growing weaker by the day.

But hidden away in a gigantic pharmaceutical lab, Sarah Appleton has discovered something big. Something that will change humanity forever. Something that will see her name etched into the history books. Something that will save lives around the world for decades and centuries to come. In principle.

What she doesn’t realise is that she has created the end of the world.

But she’s about to find out.

Everyone is about to find out.

And when they do, there is no resisting The Hunger…

Defying genre conventions, The Hunger is the first part of an epic trilogy chronicling the downfall of humanity. A unique twist on the zombie apocalypse and vampire formula, Ryan Casey transports readers to a world of misguided greed and dreams turned to nightmares. For fans of The Passage and the works of Stephen King, The Hunger is a suspense horror that will leave the reader’s stomach suitably nourished, but churning for more…

Okay, okay, enough of all these words. You want to see the cover? Okay. Well, here it is, designed by the fantastic Cormar Covers (who also did the McDone series):

20140314-162620.jpg

Like it? I hope so! If not, then tough because I love it. Haha.

The Hunger will be available for all eReaders some time later this month. It’ll make its way into paperback eventually, which is something I need to do for Buried Slaughter and all of Dead Days too. I will get those paperbacks done, I promise.

Eventually.

If you want to be notified as soon as The Hunger is available, potentially getting a cheeky discount or two, sign up for my newsletter here: http://ryancaseybooks.com/fanclub. No spam, all good stuff!

Speaking of Dead Days, I’ve been busy working on Season Two this week. I’m really happy with where this serial is going. It’s a natural advancement of the plot of Season One, and breaks whole new ground for the series in places. There’s exciting new character developments, nail biting tension, and a whole load of new moral dilemmas that characterise the series.

And lots of zombies. Naturally.

Seriously though, I’m delighted with it. There’s a great load of exploration of some of the more “background” characters of Season One. Pedro OWNS an episode. Claudia and Chloë are fantastic. And the way it all ends… there’s a brooding foreshadowing throughout the whole season. When it blows up, it really does blow up. You’re in for a treat.

Once I finish Dead Days S2, I’ve got a bit of freedom to take a week or two off and decide my next project. McDone 3 or The Hunger 2 is likely, but I’ve got something else I want to explore too. Something very exciting!

Have a great weekend, and I hope you enjoy the cover.

Ryan.

4 Crazy As Shit Things That Almost Happened In My Books

Being a writer is a lot of fun. That goes without saying, right? Creating new worlds, complex characters, awesome plot twists. Yeah, it’s all fantastic fun and something I love doing.

However, despite being considered somewhat “prolific,” there are always ideas that get left behind. Whether it’s down to a change in direction, the critical voice reigning supreme over the creative voice, or a simple coming to senses, ideas within existing projects aren’t always carried out as intended.

I’m a half-plotter, half-pantser. I like to have a rough idea where I’m going with the story, but I do not like to have every scene mapped out in advance. For me, that takes ninety percent of the fun out of writing. But having a steady framework keeps me on track. Find what works for you. Every writer writes differently.

Anyway, I thought it would be pretty cool to talk about a few times when I’ve had ideas that didn’t end up materialising in my books for some reason or another. More specifically, four crazy as shit ideas. Might as well go all out on this, right?

Anyway, with no further ado, here are four crazy as shit things that almost happened in my books. Brace yourselves — they might change your opinion about one book or another.

WARNING: It goes without saying that these “almost happened’s” contain spoilers. I will try to keep spoilers to a minimum, but if you have not already read one of the books mentioned, you’d be best skipping over it and having a look when you’ve read. Think of it as a “deleted scene” or “bonus content” on a DVD. Nobody would watch that before they watched the film, right?

1. Killing Freedom 2 was supposed to have happened

Okay, I realise this isn’t such a bat shit crazy idea. Killing Freedom ended pretty explosively but ambiguously, after all. Jared’s fate is in question. Loose ends, although tied up, are still left dangling like threads. A Killing Freedom sequel seemed like a natural conclusion, right?

Well, yeah. Kind of. In fact, I wrote an entire Killing Freedom sequel. It’s here on my hard drive somewhere, all 82,849 words of it. The premise was simple: Jared is in prison. He survived the conclusion of Killing Freedom, but joining him in prison are a bunch of Raymond’s old goons that he ended up bringing down with him. Not to mention the fact that he’s trying to keep his crazy temper under control as these goons provoke and provoke and provoke until eventually… he snaps.

I liked the first section of this book. The prison scenes are great, and I’ll definitely revisit them one way or another some day. The rest of the book however… Hmm. I wasn’t really satisfied with it. It goes off on too many tangents. Jared meets Dwight — the guy who was up against Raymond — and Dwight hires him to learn about some group of revolutionaries who are threatening to down the government. Only Faith is working for these revolutionaries now. And Dwight proves a false villain and dies about half way through…

But yeah. No more spoilers in case I ever do release this thing, but rest assured it’ll be in a much different form that I’m more confident in. Like I say, the start is really cool. The end is great, too — there’s a fantastic arm-chopping scene to rival the eyelid snip of book one. But the middle… Yeah. Too contrived. Not my best effort.

So yes. Proof right there that while I may be prolific, I’m not afraid to toss a draft away if it isn’t up to my personal standards. Maybe a few people could learn from this, too.

2. What We Saw was supposed to have a flash-forward element running through the book

This is one of the cooler elements of writing that I kind of wish I’d kept. Basically, the end of What We Saw (SPOILER ALERT, AS WARNED!) was kind of a flash to the future for a brief chapter. A tying up of loose ends. Some people liked this — seeing what Liam and Adam were up to however many years in the future was cool. Others, not so much. Not enough explanation of why they hadn’t seen each other for so long. Not enough explanation of why Liam hadn’t “got the girl” after all.

Basically, the epilogue is a leftover of a “flash-forward” technique I originally incorporated through the book. Around the part where Liam and Adam first see Donald with Emily in the den, the book was supposed to take a disorienting cut to a future Liam, depressed out of his mind, addicted to painkillers, and struggling to deal with certain past memories.

This flash-forward was supposed to go on alongside the main story. Future Liam and Adam were supposed to meet, head to a funeral home, where Liam believed Emily was, only to find her working there under a new identity. Liam finds Emily, forgives himself for his believed past failings (which were also explained in the flash-forwards), and the epilogue was to cut in there.

Anyway, this flash-forward got scrapped in edits. My editor and I agreed that it would be best to focus on the main plot rather than this “tacked-on” subplot. Probably the right decision in all honesty — “kill your darlings,” and all that — but maybe one day in many, many years, these flash-forwards from What We Saw will surface. Highly unlikely — I’m more for looking forward — but a nice idea in principle, and a nice way to treat those who are already fans of the book. For those who haven’t read, the story as it is now is definitely the best, least self-indulgent experience possible.

3. Riley was going to get bitten in Dead Days

This is a more recent one, actually. Very recent in fact, but perhaps my craziest “SHOULD I SHOULD I?!?!” moment yet. Riley, the protagonist of my zombie serial, Dead Days, was almost bitten by a zombie in Episode Seven.

This was more a flash of inspiration than anything. A momentary glimpse of “maybe if I do that…”. And really, it was a nice, disorienting idea. Only it just wasn’t feasible. I kind of wanted Riley to get bitten, have his leg chopped off, then get fitted with a prosthetic. This had many problems. Firstly, it’s way too similar to a certain plot in The Walking Dead. Also, Riley just isn’t anywhere near being able to get a prosthetic leg, and even if he did, it’d take far too long for him to comfortably use it. The protagonist would be as good as dead, in other words.

So yeah. A nice idea, but Riley’s alive and well. For now…

4. Buried Slaughter almost contained real witchcraft

This isn’t one of my better ideas. Buried Slaughter, the latest Brian McDone crime mystery, very nearly took a turn for the supernatural.

Now I love the supernatural, don’t get me wrong. I touch on supernatural themes in loads of my work. But to introduce the supernatural in the second book of the McDone series, I felt it was jumping the shark a little (or a lot), so to speak.

I read a crime book by an author who I’d rather not name that contained a supernatural twist at the end, and as well as it was handled — kept as ambiguous as possible to keep the reader curious — it still came off a little iffy to me, especially considering the rest of the book had been a gritty crime mystery rooted very much in reality. I didn’t want this for McDone. That’s not the way I want to go.

Not yet, anyway.

*

SPOILERS OVER! Annnnnd exhale…

Hope you had fun reading over some of these “nearly-happened’s.” It would be nice to hear your thoughts on one or two of them in the comments, as always. I figured this would be a good little treat for fans of my fiction, showing just how open and untethered the creative process can be.

Right. Time to shoot. The sun is shining here, it’s getting quite warm (well, ten degrees celsius)… Spring is here at last.

I think.

Next week, I’ve got a cover reveal for The Hunger for you all.

Until then, have a great weekend!

Ryan.

Ryan Casey Fiction Update: Zombies, Sort-Of-Zombies and Other Shenanigans

Website Banner Nov 2013Hi all,

First off, apologies for the slight delay in getting this blog post to you. I realise it’s been a couple of weeks since I last posted, which is crazy in Ryan Casey terms! But anyway, please rest assured that the sole reason this post is a little delayed is because of how hard I’ve been working on my writing.

So what better way to make up for last week’s blogging no-show than an insight into what I’ve been up to?

At the end of last week, I wrapped up the rewrites of a project I’ve been working on for longer than this website has been on the internet. It’s called The Hunger, and it’s a 100,000 word science-fiction horror novel (the longest novel I’ve ever written), and the first in a series that I’m calling The Turnstone Saga.

What’s The Hunger about? Well, I can tell you right now what it’s about. In fact, I can even give you a little bit of a blurb. How’s that for a treat? Here you go:

Jonny Ainsthwaite is dying.

At twenty-three years old, he should have a full life ahead of him.

Instead, he has HIV, and his immune system is growing weaker by the day.

But hidden away in a gigantic pharmaceutical lab, Sarah Appleton has discovered something big. Something that will change humanity forever. Something that will see her name etched into the history books. Something that will save lives around the world for decades and centuries to come. In principle.

What she doesn’t realise is that she has created the end of the world.

But she’s about to find out.

Everyone is about to find out.

And when they do, there is no resisting The Hunger…

Defying genre conventions, The Hunger is the first part of an epic trilogy chronicling the downfall of humanity. A unique twist on the zombie apocalypse and vampire formula, Ryan Casey transports readers to a world of misguided greed and dreams turned to nightmares. For fans of The Passage and the works of Stephen King, The Hunger is a suspense horror that will leave the reader’s stomach suitably nourished, but churning for more…

*

Hope that sounds intriguing to you!

I do have a cover for The Hunger, however I’m going to hold that back for another week or two just because… well. Because I can. ;) However, I can confirm that The Hunger will be available in March of this year for all ereaders and eventually paperback. It marks my fifth full length novel too, which is something of a milestone.

Anyway, I’m just waiting to get that back from my editor so I can work on a few more rewrites before firing it off to a proofreader and doing the same again, so I’m confident in targeting March for a release date. To be notified as soon as it is available, head over here (as always): http://ryancaseybooks.com/fanclub

Dead Days Season Two

Okay, so filling the role of the “zombies” part of the blog title, I think it’s about time we talked about Dead Days Season Two, right?

First off, I polled my mailing list readers (sign up at the fan club link above) and asked them whether they’d rather Dead Days Season Two was released as a.) a box set with all six episodes all on day one, or b.) individual weekly episodes culminating in a box set after the six weeks are up (like Season One). So think of it as a Netflix model vs. a cable television model.

I polled readers about this because, well, my readers are the people who enjoy my work, so I wanted to know what they thought. But also, I had a feeling that we well and truly live in a binge consumption era, what with the likes of Netflix, Spotify, etc. And I kind of wanted to see proof that I was right about that.

Anyway, here’s the results of the poll:

dead days netflix or weekly

So, yeah. Of the sixty-ish readers who answered, 85% of readers opted for the Netflix route, 15% went for the weekly serial route. Cheers, guys. Given me a whole load of hard work to do now. :P

Anyhow, what all these stats boil down to is this: Dead Days Season Two will all launch as one big box set, with all episodes available to read on the launch day this April.

I’ll also put out the individual episodes for those who prefer to dip in and out, but as always, the best value option will be the full series. Again, if you want to be notified as soon as it is available, here’s where you go: http://ryancaseybooks.com/fanclub.

Oh, so you want to know what Dead Days Season Two is all about do you? Well, I can confirm that production is well and truly underway on the series. It has a definite end point that I’ve been working towards; one that is teased right at the start of Episode 7 (Season 2, Episode 1). And y’know, I don’t want to sound all biased, but I seriously think that Season Two is better than Season One. The premiere episode of Season 2, which is all drafted and rewritten and ready to go to an editor, was just amazing to write in places. If you enjoyed Season One… fuck. This episode. I think it’s my favourite of the entire series.

But we’ll see!

With Season One, I explored the theme of “how far would we go to protect ourselves?” This question caused a whole load of exciting and tense moments in the first series, which I won’t spoil in case you haven’t read it. Season Two, while continuing this theme, has another primary focus. It’s a focus that is deep, dark, and sometimes harrowing. It’s pure moral horror. And I think it really, really works in a zombie apocalypse scenario.

It’s not all doom and gloom, though. In fact, there’s a ray of light that shines all the way through Dead Days Season Two. There’s a definite end goal. Whether/how the characters get there, though… well, you’ll just have to wait until April to find out.

Remember, if you haven’t started Dead Days, you can grab the first episode absolutely free for any device you want. It’s available in paperback too for about $5, I think. All info here: http://ryancaseybooks.com/books/dead-days

Right, I’d better get back to work. It’s currently 3.20pm on a very sunny Thursday afternoon in England. Starting to get a sense that spring is arriving (at long last). I truly dislike winter, so just looking out and seeing the sun shining is enough to motivate me for a day.

Oh, and we have a couple of cute rabbits in the garden at the moment. They’re wild rabbits, but they seem to have really taken to our place. Here they are:

rabbits

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Have a great day.

Ryan Casey.

KDP Select: Is Exclusivity Still Worth It In 2014?

kdp select exclusivityTo KDP Select or not to KDP Select? That is still, even right here in 2014, one of the biggest publishing questions new writers have when launching their books. Is three months of exclusivity in exchange for a few free days and countdown promotions worth it? Or should I distribute to the other stores and try my luck, sacrificing visibility — the buzzword of the moment — in the process?

In 2012 and 2013, I was clear on my stance on KDP Select. I believed it to be a great tool for beginner writers and established writers alike. I enrolled everything in KDP Select right up until The Disappearing, which was around my sixth published work, I believe. Through KDP Select, I not only got reviews, but I topped the Amazon charts when I linked up a BookBub promotion, subsequently resulting in my first thousand dollar month of earnings. For me, at that point in time, KDP Select seemed like a no-brainer.

However, I was wrong. All wrong.

Now I’ve no regrets about my time in KDP Select. I was a beginner writer, after all, and one thing beginner writers want more than anything is short-term success. KDP Select gave me that. It gave me a temporary boost up the Amazon charts. It gave me the ego-stroke of seeing my book being downloaded en masse for free by tens of thousands of people. It saw me make good money whenever I ran a free promo together with a BookBub ad.

If I were to go back in time, the one thing I would tell my beginner writer self is to think long term. Because sure, my standalone debut novel was getting a load of downloads, and sure, all the promotion seemed to be paying off. But the problem came when I stopped promoting — when I didn’t have the cash for a Bookbub ad, or got rejected by another ad site — and the book sank into the 100,000-300,000 rankings. I was screwed, I thought. Self-publishing wasn’t worth it. There was no “get rich quick” tactic.

And then it clicked. No, there wasn’t a “get rich quick” tactic. There was no self-publishing lottery ticket. What there was, however, was the opportunity to produce quality new fiction, to put it for sale everywhere, and to keep focusing on the next book rather than looking back at that one standalone novel.

Quick fast-forward to February 2014. In total, I have twenty-one titles for sale. Now bear in mind one of those is a six-part serial book, which is also available as a complete book and as two separate parts. So that accounts for nine of the twenty-one. And another book I have out is a trilogy boxset. Oh, and my three short stories count here too. All of my books are for sale at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

Even better, all of them are selling at Barnes & Noble, Google Play, iBooks and Kobo.

I’m not talking millions. I don’t make very much at iBooks, and make practically nothing at Kobo. But that “not very much” and “practically nothing” do add up when they all go into the pot at the end of the month. Do they add up to as much as I’d be making if I’d just run a massive KDP Select BookBub supported free run? Not quite. Not yet, anyway.

But they add up. Slowly, but surely.

The problem with newer writers — and I include myself in this during 2012 and the first half of 2013 — is that they are looking for the quick route to riches. Problem is, it isn’t so easy anymore. Let’s take KDP Select for example. The effectiveness of the free run has diminished. Unless you can give away over ten-thousand books, you won’t make any real traction. And no, please don’t tell me that those “five extra sales” as a result of your KDP Select free run (where you gave away a hundred copies) was really worth sacrificing enrolment at all the other possible eBook stores for.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Amazon. They are my favourite company, and I have them to thank for 75% of my earnings, and the fantastic, groundbreaking platform they provide. And I still believe that KDP Select could come in use for those who, say, get loads of borrows. And credit to them for launching the Kindle Countdown Deals and offering the 70% on 99c. That could come in handy for some.

Just not me, not at this moment in time.

And in truth, I’m not sure if I was a newer writer if I’d go all in exclusive with KDP Select anymore. Sure, I might make some quick money, but it would only be short-term. It wouldn’t do me any favours in the long run. It wouldn’t see me gaining traction at Barnes & Noble. Or Kobo. Or iBooks. Or Google Play.

You Don’t Know How Well You’re Going To Sell Until You Try.

Ah, Google Play. I really want to talk about that right now actually, because it’s a perfect example of “you don’t know how much success you’re going to have until you try.”

Up until January, I wasn’t in Google Play. I’d heard a few iffy comments on their pricing/discounting policy, and as far as I was aware, it was a small market that just wasn’t worth being in.

That all said, I came across a great Kboards post about how to get books on Google Play and how to price them to account for Google’s discount policy. I won’t go into it here — it’s a great read, and well worth your time if you’re thinking of entering the channel, which you should.

Anyway, I enrolled at Google Play. What the hell, I thought. Might as well give it a shot.

A month later, and Google Play is my second biggest income stream.

By quite a way.

It’s not quite at Amazon levels yet. But it’s way higher than my Barnes & Noble, iBooks and Kobo levels.

All that, and I wasn’t even going to bother enrolling in Google Play.

Why is Google Play working for me? A combination of reasons. Firstly, I have Dead Days Episode One perma-free over there. A lot of people go on to read the full $5.99 season once they’ve finished — a lot more than any other distributor, actually — so that’s a tactic that definitely works there.

And it makes sense. In fact, this is the main theme of my post, actually. Use free where it makes sense to use free.

I’m not against free. Far from it. Like I said, Dead Days Episode One is perma-free everywhere, and the season boxset makes a lot of sales as a result. And that’s just it, right there. Use free when it leads in to something. Never use free just for the sake of using free, or you’ll do nothing but create a few short term pounds & very little else.

So the moral of the story is, you don’t know how you’re going to do until you try. Google Play is a very exciting market. It’s new, there’s a demand for free there, so if you have a few product funnels (free leading to paid products), you’ll have a lot of success there. It reminds me of Amazon in 2010.

Which is a very, very exciting thought.

My Advice for New Writers in 2014

I don’t class myself a new writer anymore even though I’ve only been at this for two years or so. I don’t class myself as a long-term pro, either. I’d say I’m somewhere after the “new writer” stage. The second stage, if you will. A stage where I’ve got a few products out and I’m thinking long-term. I don’t know everything, and I don’t pretend to. But I know a lot more than I did yesterday. And the day before. And the day before that.

Anyway, I know there’s a load of new writers who read this blog looking for help and advice. So here’s my advice to you, right here in 2014.

1.) Work on building a quality backlist of fiction

This is rule number one, two, and three, really. Simply put, forget the idea that publishing is a get-rich-quick activity AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. It is not. And if you believe it is, or start feeling sorry for yourself that your first novel you endlessly promote isn’t selling more than ten copies a month, then you will never succeed as a writer. Sorry, but it’s true.

What you need to do, instead, is work on the next book. Work on the next book and make it so much better than the last. Whether it’s a sequel or a brand new book, or a new genre entirely — it doesn’t really matter at this stage. Just have fun writing, then spend some time battling through those pesky, difficult rewrites, then get a professional editor involved and make your work as good as it can possibly be, then publish.

Then do it again.

And again.

Only when you have a few books out should you consider promotion.

Sorry. You won’t be able to quit your day job straight away.

But eventually, if you continue to create quality books, you will.

2.) Make your books available for sale everywhere

I know, this one will be a really, really tricky one to fight past. I know because I was there not so long back.

You need to ask yourself what you want from your writing career. Do you want to earn money and have fun writing long term? Or are you more interested in short term victories? If the latter, are you really, or are you just really desperate for success that you want it right now?

No problem with the latter. But I’d suggest you reframe your goals if you want to be in the business for the long term. And the long term means distributing everywhere. Fuck — we’re so lucky. We actually have the power to put out books in every major ebook retailer, as well as some of the biggest print retailers too. Why not distribute everywhere? It might only seem like you’re making pennies. But add those pennies up over the year — over five years or ten years instead of once a week or once a month — and you’ll see the picture differently.

Very differently.

3.) Keep learning, or you lose.

This is perhaps the most important of all, and yet I just bet it’s the one you’ll skip if you’re reading this.

All writers must continue to learn. What is learning? Well, partly, it’s reading fiction, absorbing techniques into our subconscious. Or absorbing story, rather — TV shows, films, they all count here.

But also, it’s watching video lectures and taking workshops. It’s reading books from pro writers on craft, character, plot, setting, pacing.

Most of all, it’s putting these techniques into practice.

“But I’ve written a novel, Ryan!” I can hear you saying. “What else do I need to learn?”

Well, if you aren’t careful, your career will come to a halt very soon.

We are writers. Like every creative endeavour, there is always more to learn. Stephen King is still learning. Dean Wesley Smith and Joe Konrath are still learning. The moment we stop learning is the moment our fiction goes stale and the moment our career dies.

We must keep learning. We must keep practicing. If we can do that, thinking long term — ALWAYS thinking long term — we can succeed.

Summary

KDP Select is a great short term tool. I still believe it to this day. However, I’m doubtful of its long term impacts. I think it goes hand in hand with the kind of “get-rich-quick” mentality that sees so many writers struggle in the long run.

Furthermore, the other channels are growing. Google Play is a new market with a real demand for quality ebooks. There’s a magnificent opportunity there right now, while it is still in the process of establishing, to make a name for yourself.

As for B&N, Apple, Kobo — no matter what you read about them, people sell books there. Some people sell more at one than the other. That’s something you’ll have to find out for yourself.

Work on building that backlist. Have fun with your writing. Get your books out everywhere. Get them out in paperback. And keep on learning.

Most importantly of all, remember why you’re here.

You’re here to make a career as a long term writer.

Stop treating your books like lottery tickets and more like products that will continue to sell, continue to grow, over time.

And enjoy yourself.

Buried Slaughter — The Dying Eyes Sequel, Now Available!

buried slaughter

Hi all,

Delighted to finally be able to report that Buried Slaughter, the sequel to 2013′s popular crime thriller/detective mystery Dying Eyes, is finally available on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play (paperback coming soon).

And for one week only, you can save $4 and grab the book for just 99c.

I say “finally” fully aware that yes, Dying Eyes only launched back in November. But both books have been finished a while. Like all twisting, turning mysteries, they took a while to write, so it’s a big deal to finally have both books out there for you to enjoy.

I’ll jump straight to a blurb in a second, but I wanted to let you know right off the bat that if you haven’t read the first book in the Brian McDone crime/mystery series, then now’s the chance: Dying Eyes is also on sale for just 99c for a very limited time only. Grab your copy via the links over here.

Right! Here’s the blurb for Buried Slaughter.

Some secrets are better left undiscovered.

 Two years after the shocking events of the Nicola Watson case, Brian McDone’s life is finally back on track. He’s working in the lower ranks of the police department, but his personal life and mental stability are stronger and more important to him than ever.

 That is until news breaks of a series of brutal, ritualistic murders in the idyllic Lancashire countryside. Seven bodies are found, decapitated, bones stripped of flesh, heads piled on top of one another. The police are clueless. Brian is intrigued. Too intrigued.

 As Brian grows obsessed with the case, he finds himself drawn out of his peaceful life and into the depths of the investigation. More bodies are found in a similar ritualistic fashion. Ancient local folklore of witchcraft and mass murder begins to surface. The case grows more and more curious; more and more dangerous.

 In a race against time, Brian must throw aside his new found happiness and put all he cares about on the line, as he faces a ruthless, cunning and methodical killer.

 The second in the series from bestselling author Ryan Casey, Buried Slaughter is a dark detective mystery with complex characters and a twisting, thrilling plot. If you enjoy Danish TV hits The Killing and The Bridge, you’ll love Buried Slaughter.

And there you have it! Hopefully this sounds intriguing to you. As always, it goes without saying that it’s cram full of my usual traits: complex characters, twisting plot, moral questions. Oh, and a fair bit of swearing and violence, too. If that’s not your cuppa, then neither is this book.

Again, you can purchase Buried Slaughter for 99c (RRP: $4.99) from KindleNookKobo, iBooks and Google Play. It’s great to be able to get this book out in the wild at last, and I can’t wait to continue Brian McDone’s journey even further. Crime/murder mystery stories are so much fun to write, but a lot of hard work, too. More so than the protagonist, you have to get into the mind of your villain, work out how they act/why they act, etcetera. It’s a lot of hard work, but a lot of fun, and I’m really proud of the final product.

Enjoy. More to come in 2014, that’s for sure.

Ryan.

Breaking Bad, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Celebrating The Tragic Antihero

antihero breaking badI’ve finally been binging away on AMC’s Breaking Bad these last few weeks.

Yep, I realise I’m like, years behind. I’ve just been so busy these last couple of years that I’ve been completely out of touch with any television beyond The Walking Dead, so it’s been nice to finally sit down and watch (read: lie in bed and binge) on a load of episodes recently. And y’know, the show has really got me thinking about the role of the tragic antihero in contemporary fiction, and in more wider terms, in society.

Spoiler alert: Walter White does some pretty nasty things. As the show progresses, in the supposed expectations of a “hero”, we should technically stop watching and root for Walter to just, like, die on the spot.

But we don’t. Instead, we want to see just how much further his descent into the dark side can go.

I also recently watched The Wolf of Wall Street at the cinema. A true story about a bloke who exploits the poor to line his own pockets should really be a lesson in morality; a tale where the viewer roots for the police officer rather than the infamous Jordan Belfort.

But we don’t. We want to see Belfort’s rise and fall. We want to experience it in all its drug-laden, booze-soaked anti-glory.

What is it about characters like Walter White and Scorsese’s representation of Jordan Belfort that makes us want to experience their rise and downfall? Well, the answer goes back some time. Way back, to the time of the Greek tragedy.

According to the helpful chaps at Wikipedia, a tragedy is “a form of drama based on human suffering that invokes in its audience an accompanying catharsis or pleasure in the viewing.” I won’t go full on historian or Lit student here (I did that enough during my Lit degree), but think Shakespeare. Think Macbeth, Hamlet, Coriolanus. All of these stories feature a central protagonist with a fatal flaw that ultimately leads to their downfall.

Breaking Bad is a modern tragedy. Some have suggested that it reflects a growing trend of more complex, “true-to-life” characters. I’m not sure. I think that tragedies have been with us our entire lives. Take Scorsese’s Taxi Driver, or Roeg’s Don’t Look Now. Both films feature protagonists with fatal flaws, which ultimately lead to their downfall (with slight modern variations). Both films are forty years old now, suggesting tragedy has been around (and acclaimed) a lot longer than it is credited for.

I write tragedies. I don’t intend to, and I never really considered myself as a “tragedy writer”, but I do. It just happens. Although it isn’t always as clear-cut as “hero has fatal flaw that leads to their downfall”, books like The Watching Trilogy, Killing Freedom, Dead Days — even Dying Eyes — incorporate tragic themes. In The Watching Trilogy, each character is filled with obsession of some sort, which leads to their subsequent downfalls. In Killing Freedom, Jared is addicted to killing, as much as he hates to admit or confront that idea.

Most interesting in this study is Dead Days. Yes, it’s a zombie book, but those who are enjoying the series will tell you that it’s more a human tale than anything else. A tale of human flaws. The protagonist, Riley, leaves people behind. He makes horrible decisions to save his own back. He makes the decisions that we would make, but are too afraid to admit. Sure — he redeems himself later on, but those decisions eat at his sanity right through the series. A tragic, flawed character, who will never be the same, but so utterly, utterly human.

Tragedies do not fit in to the common idea of what a plot arc should look like, not at first glance anyway. Ask most plot experts and they’ll tell you that the contemporary plot goes like this:

Opening > Inciting Incident > Try/Fail Cycle (this part varies) > Climax > Resolution > New Equilibrium.

Now, I don’t disagree with this formula. Most of my works would fall right into this, in fact, as would 99.9% of other work.

However, I do think that it is misinterpreted sometimes.

The resolution, for example, is commonly accepted as the point where the hero conquers the villain, leading to a “happy ever after” of a new equilibrium. This satisfies the reader, and I am not arguing with that.

However, I believe that there are different ways for the resolution and the new equilibrium to be approached in fiction. Take The Wolf of Wall Street again, as it’s such a great example, as well as fresh in my mind. Spoiler warning here, by the way. Jordan Belfort is arrested. There’s no way out — he’s going to jail. That is the climax/resolution phase. The “hero” loses out.

But there he is, in the new equilibrium, playing tennis in prison, paying everybody off, and just being all smug about it.

And there we are, as cinema viewers, even after all Jordan’s debauchery, grinning away and kind of glad he didn’t suffer too rough a time in prison, even though we know he’s in the wrong. We revel in his smugness with him, as viewers.

That right there is a clever, clever twist on the climax to new equilibrium phases. In common terms, The Wolf of Wall Street would have concluded with Jordan Belfort outwitting the police, avoiding prison, and giving up on his illegal activities, opting instead for his family. A “sail into the sunset” ending.

Instead, we get the “hero” losing in the climax, and then going back to his old ways in the new equilibrium. The hero doesn’t change. Just like Hamlet, who dies a revenge-driven man.

Sound familiar? Yep. Both tragedies.

I haven’t reached the end of Breaking Bad yet — I’m about twelve episodes off — but I’d wager a bet that Walter White does not have a sudden dramatic character shift and realise all the wrongs he has done, cheating death and returning to a normal life with his family in the comfort of their home (I hope not, anyway, or I’ll feel cheated). He’s too far over the line to return to normality. I can, however, imagine him going down in a blaze, trying to protect his family. I can imagine him relocating completely for the safety of his family, continuing his meth making empire for himself.

In other words, I can imagine a modern twist on the tragic ending where Walter White loses lots but wins a little.

I might be wrong. I probably am. We’ll chat about that when I reach the finish line.

Another thing — tragedy doesn’t mean miserable. Breaking Bad isn’t miserable. The Wolf of Wall Street is the most fun I’ve had at the cinema for years. It just means that a driven character with a fatal flaw slips further down the spiral. How the surrounding elements are presented depends on the story.

The tragic antihero is as strong in modern fiction and contemporary society as ever before. Take Edward Snowden, Julian Assange — these guys are supposedly the “bad guys”, and yet they get cheered on for their actions. They’ve lost all normal life as they know it forever in pursuit of their goal, but in a way, they’ve won, too. Look all through history and you’ll see similar figures.

I’ll continue to present the tragic antihero in my fiction because I love doing so. Not all the time, but a lot of the time. In fact, I’m working on a new project right now which is a multiple perspective novel that inspired this post.  A bunch of people with fatal flaws in the form of unwavering goals. How dangerous the ramifications are in their cases… you’ll see. More on that in the future.

Have a great weekend. And oh, don’t spoil Breaking Bad for me. I’ll go full-on tragic antihero on you if you do.

Ryan.