From Failure to Rebirth

The launch of a new series is scary. When I first published in 2013 I had one book I intended to write into a series, but the problem was that I had no plan and no other books ready to go. I decided to try my hand at writing short stories in the hopes to get more of a footprint on Amazon, but really all I did was spin my wheels and delay writing full-length novels. Needless to say, the short stories did not sell very well, and only having one book in a series is difficult to promote to readers who tend to binge read a series. My sales were very poor during the first year and a half. In fact, I remember entire months passing with zero sales in my KDP dashboard. I thought about giving up a few times, but I’m thankful that I didn’t.

You see, enduring those “failures’ taught me something about persistence and planning. Did I plan to fail? No, but I did fail to plan and it’s almost the same thing. The first thing I did rolling into 2015 was plan the rest of The Dead Planet Series books. It was only two, but I was so far removed from the first book that I had to figure out where to go with them. It was hard and I dealt with a lot of the same issues as I did in 2013; a lack of motivation to stick to the series and a lack of motivation in general. I was in denial that my lackluster sales weren’t affecting me in a negative way. Did I write the books? Yes, eventually, but I did not publish them right away. Instead, they sat on my computer while I toyed with other things. I was back to hiding from my plan and failing all along the way.

So what changed?

I went on deployment in November 2015. Working twelve hours a day is draining and I pretty much gave up on writing. I’m sure that’s not very inspirational to you if you are on the fence about giving up, but I was there and ready to throw in the towel. I had a lifeline, though. I was commissioned to do a couple of short stories for upcoming anthologies and that kept me involved in writing for a bit. The other thing was discovering something I loved again. Reading!

I remember playing with my phone in Croatia, struggling to find a Wi-Fi connection that worked. Eventually I did find one and I also found a link talking about a show called The Expanse. It was science fiction and the first episode was free on iTunes. I immediately went to download it, but guess what? The Wi-Fi was spotty and it took me close to three hours of sitting in a bar (as the non-drinker of the group) to get the show downloaded to my iPhone. The good news is it eventually worked and I had something to watch when the ship pulled out the next day. That show triggered a response. I looked it up on Google and discovered it was based on a book series by James S. A. Corey. I immediately sent my wife an email asking her to send me the books. She did and I devoured the entire series, five books at the time, over the next couple of months. I didn’t focus on writing, but I was reading like a madman and downloading other episodes of the show each time I was in port. I was addicted, I was obsessed, and then I was inspired.

In May of 2016, with two months left of deployment, I began writing a new series of books called The Alorian Wars. This time, though, I had a plan. The Alorian Wars will be a multi-book space opera series and I already published the first three books. Between October and December the first three books in the series were released and I am no longer a NYT Worst-Selling author. The series has sold hundreds of copies already and is still growing. I finally did what I sat out to do and published books people wanted to read and I did it with a plan to succeed. It’s January 2017 and the third book, Mutiny Rising is doing very well. People are excited and I’m excited. There’s no better inspiration than that. And the best part is that the books are selling when I launch them at full price. I’m not wallowing in the 99 cent release darkness anymore. I may never be famous like Hugh Howey or Stephen King, but I don’t need to be in order to be successful. I’m doing it now and it’s only getting better every day. And it seems I have a shitty Wi-Fi connection in Croatia to thank for leading me to a nugget of inspiration that sparked an intergalactic war in my mind. I’ll take it and be proud of it. In the meantime I have more books to write. Thanks for reading.

If you like space opera then check out my series The Alorian Wars.




I am an active duty Navy veteran and self published science fiction author. I grew up in Mississippi and joined the navy at seventeen. I now live in Virginia with my wife and two daughters.

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One comment on “From Failure to Rebirth
  1. Hi Drew,

    Well, I’ve been sitting in material condition zebra for months now and am just about ready to call for abandon ship. What’s left of the crew is mustered at battle stations while a bravo fire has pretty much consumed engineering. The deck guns are all blown to hell and I don’t have any shells left anyway. Didn’t hit a damn thing, either. Some ships just lose the fight. And, although I was an airdale during my time in the Navy, I prefer to see my writer self now as a DD captain who hasn’t shaved for a few days. Black shoes are just shinier.

    Yeah, I’m ready to give up. I don’t lie when I say that over the past three years and four books later, I have never spent so much time working so hard for virtually no return. (150 bucks or so – and no fan base.)

    Then I read this post. Funny thing, my next book, if I wrote one, would be something I started writing while on station in the Persian Gulf during Westpac 92. Yep, I am an old Trusty Shellback who was messing around with writing back when the only way to contact anybody while at sea was to head to the radio shack and get them to find a ham radio operator to forward coms via Western Union.

    Anyway, your post. It’s kind of like a light signal from a CA just ahead that has brought damage under control and is still sailing. Looking through the binocular telescope, I can see holes in her hull – but they’re patched. Smoke is still boiling off the deck, but there are sailors manning the 4-inch and spraying them down with AFFF. Then, a missile is flies off the deck. Somewhere in the darkness, a bogie scatters across the other side of the clouds with a short glowing burst that looks like a flash of lightning scurrying through the clouds.

    She’s still fighting.

    Looking around the bridge, I see the helmsman is holding the wheel, but we can’t even make turns so he’s steering a boat that is adrift. I look at the guns, now shattered. I think of calling down to engineering on the sound-powered phone, but they can’t tell me anything different than what they’ve already said: the engines are done. The propeller shaft is bent anyway. And the propeller itself is lying on the bottom of the ocean somewhere.

    I hold the 1-MC in my hand. I know what I have to say. What’s left of my crew deserves to survive and I have nothing left for them.

    But I can’t say the words. All I can do is stare at the signal flashing from the CA: Can you still fight?

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