Four Years to a Bestseller

I recently released a box set of my dystopian science fiction saga, The Dead Planet Series, and it reached number one in cyberpunk and was adorned with a shiny, orange, bestseller flag. It was awesome. It was unexpected. And it was four years in the making.

In March of 2013, I published the first book in The Dead Planet Series. I did not set up direct deposit and it took eighteen months for me to receive any royalties. Even when I did, it was less than one-hundred dollars. Never mind the fact that I gave away a few hundred copies and only sold about fifty that first year. This was in the day when Hugh Howey was hitting it big and I was hoping for the same thing to happen to me. It didn’t. I was crushed. But not enough to quit because I am a stubborn ass.

Fast-forward four years and a lot has changed. The quality and quantity of my books have increased dramatically and I think I have a good idea of what to do, even though my execution is often flawed. With that said, something happened that I did not expect. I became a bestseller on Amazon!

I’m not going to lie, I have been included in bestselling anthologies and bestselling, multi-author box sets in the last two years. Seeing the orange flag of destiny is not a new experience for me, but this was the first time that it adorned the cover of a book that only had my name on it. There is something magical about the experience and it is very motivational. Unfortunately, it is also short-lived. Three hours later, I was back to number two in cyberpunk lol.

A lot of my fellow authors asked me how I did it and honestly, I didn’t do much to warrant this kind of success. The truth is, my friends in the genre are my champions. Without name dropping, more than a dozen science fiction authors shared my box set with their newsletter and I shared with mine as well. All I did was ask for help on Facebook and people came running to assist me. Sure, the three-book bundle only being 99 cents is a deal, but those things are scattered all over Amazon. What made the difference was exposure and I am lucky in the fact that people were willing to support me. I’m very thankful to them too, because otherwise I would have sold about one-hundred copies and floated in the ranks at around 35,000. One-hundred copies sold is actually pretty good for a launch without buying a bunch of ads, but you won’t rank that high right out of the shoot.

So, why did I publish the box set? Honestly, it was a last-minute idea preceding a group event in one of the Facebook groups I am a part of. I wanted to do something for the people who attended the event, so I rushed to publish the bundle. In fact, it went live about twenty-minutes before the event started and I had to scramble to get the link ready to share. Also, there was no visible book cover when it went live. It was completely unprofessional during that event, but people didn’t seem to care. The cover was visible about an hour later and it looked like any typical book on Amazon then.

Scrambling last-minute to publish a book was kind of stressful. In fact, I didn’t have a plan for what to do other than send to my mailing list. This prompted me to ask for help on social media and the rest is history. I’m shocked I had such a positive response. It’s three days later and the box set is still in the top ten in cyberpunk and I sold about eighty copies yesterday. My highest sales day ended with one-hundred-ninety-seven books sold, a majority of them being the box set, thought I did have some trickle sales to other books thanks to the exposure I received. All-in-all, it was an amazing and humbling experience.

Is relying on other people to heft you up and carry you to such a lofty goal a good plan for launching your book? NO, but for me it was a happy accident. I doubt I could replicate those results with my next launch, nor would I want to burden the people who helped me by asking for the help again. I owe each of them a favor for getting me to this point, and it is something I hope I can do that makes it worthwhile to them because they deserve it.

So, there you have it, that’s how I became an overnight success in four years by becoming an Amazon bestselling author. This is a little tongue in cheek, but it’s the truth. I thought the series was dead, no pun intended with the title of the series. Instead, I think it found a new life as a box set. Maybe there is a lesson here about that, but as I said before, I think I would have a hard time replicating the experience and the success. Instead, I’m moving on to write the next book, happy at my success and grateful for great friends.

Drew

The future is darker than you think! Grab the bestselling saga, The Complete Dead Planet Series box set today!

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REICH and New Beginings

Sometimes you have to step out into the world with your warts exposed. I published REICH in 2014 as the second book in my career. Coming off of the high of being a first-time author, I rushed to get this book done and out to market, not thinking that I was shooting myself in the foot. The result was a string of harsh criticism and a few blatant attacks on my character (I guess having a book called REICH with a swastika on the cover made me a white supremacist, although I am highly against racism as an actual human being). Needless to say, the high wore off and I became ashamed of my work, eventually pulling the book off Amazon out of embarrassment.

There’s more than one lesson here. First, take your time to get the book edited. Second, you can’t please everyone. Third, bad reviews happen. Fourth, move on. Those lessons were learned the hard way and although I really cringe when I see the star rating on the book, I know I deserved some of that harsh criticism, though, maybe not the racist accusations, but surely the criticism about editing and formatting.

Why am I telling you this? It’s simple; I ran through REICH with a more critical eye and fixed more than 230 grammatical errors. That’s a lot for a book of about twenty-thousand words. Additionally, I don’t want to be ashamed of my work. Though it was written four years ago, it is one of the many steps I had to take to become the writer I am today. If you liked The Alorian Wars, then this book was part of my journey to tell that story. If you enjoyed Darkest Beyond, then the same is true. REICH isn’t going to win any literary awards, but it is a part of my author journey, and one I should be proud of. This is a new beginning for this book and one that I hope is better received than the first time around.

If you like alternative history then REICH may very well be the story for you. It has politics. It has action. It has a lot of screwed up people doing screwed up things. Hopefully, you like what I’ve done with the place and can be thankful we don’t live in a world like the one depicted in this story. Do you want to take the journey to a place where history is a lie and that lie may very well lead to the destruction of our world? If so, then follow me…

 

 

 

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Author Promotion Swap #1

Sometimes I like to do big cross promotions with my friends. The more books they come up with, the larger my emails have become. In an effort to limit the size of those newsletters, I have decided to just post my friends’ books to my website so you can view them here. I hope you find their work exciting and enjoyable. Happy reading!

 

 

 

 

 

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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.

http://smartur.it/AlorianWars

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30 Minute Author Interview 

I was recently the guest on Preston Leigh’s podcast. He asks me some questions about writing and my books. If you’re interested in checking it out, then Listen Here

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The End of The Dead Planet Series

Last night I hit publish on the third and final book in The Dead Planet Series. It all started in 2012; I turned thirty years old and was reflecting on my accomplishments so far. I had several life goals achieved by that point, an amazing wife, two kids cooler than I ever was as a kid, a good paying job, a nice house, and all the stuff that I was expecting to have at that age. But there were some things I wanted to do that I never had the chance to accomplish, or was never successful at. One of those things was writing a book.

I remember doing research, I watched YouTube videos about authors, and once I had my head wrapped around what I thought I needed to do, I began writing a fantasy book called “Woe is the Fallen”. I wrote it longhand on a legal pad and then typed it into my computer. It was difficult and not fun in the least. I stopped working on it and decided to give up, but after making that decision, my YouTube kept suggesting other videos to watch. Each of them was interviews with writers or videos about writing in general. It was through these suggested videos that I discovered National Novel Writing Month. I decided, after reading up on NaNoWriMo, that I would give writing one more shot, but this time I would write science fiction instead. The result was “Exodus: Book One of The Dead Planet Series”.

Writing that book changed everything for me. It proved to me that I could write a book. It showed me that goals could be achieved. It taught me that I loved the creative process and that I could endure writing and publishing even if it meant I was not getting paid for it. In fact, it was more than a year before I received royalties, and it has been four years in the making for my most successful month in publishing ever. When I launched Broken Worlds at the end of September I was afraid it would flop, but I’ve sold almost one-thousand copies and I’ve earned over $500 from my writing in a single month. It’s not enough to live off of, but it is more than I was making before. I think releasing the final book in The Dead Planet Series is coming at the best time in my author career, at the true beginning of a financially successful career in publishing.

I’m excited about this release, but I’m more excited about the future and the stories I have yet to tell. As we enter November 2016 I am preparing to take part in NaNoWriMo by writing the third book in The Alorian Wars. I am fixing my previous mistakes and I refuse to take four years to publish a full series ever again. The rest of this year, and the next, will be devoted to writing my new space opera series “The Alorian Wars”. If you have followed me on my journey with The Dead Planet Series, then I hope you will stay the course with me for The Alorian Wars. The best is yet to come!

You can find The Dead Planet Series, as well as my other books here.

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Why I love Being an Indie Author #PoweredByIndie

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I have a lot to be thankful for as an indie author. Many Indies will tell you the reason they chose to self-publish is because they wanted to avoid the slush pile of traditional publishing, to move to the head of the line and see their books being sold to readers who love them. It makes sense, but fewer Indies will tell you how much work goes into finding those readers who love your books. There is a give and take when it comes to self-publishing in order to have “all” the power you give up having the “team” that most of the big publishers provide to assist with launching your book. Of course, there are variables in every situation, but for the most part authors publishing with a traditional publisher will give up some rights in order to have mentorship and knowledge when it comes to successfully publishing their book. In the indie world you have to seek that mentorship and knowledge out.

The road to self-publishing is full of horror stories of how an indie author gave their rights away to a vanity press, or how they published their books and had zero sales despite how amazing their book is. I have my own story regarding both situations, but I don’t want to look back and cry over spilled milk. The best thing to come from negative situations is the education you receive that you can use to do better the next time. Poor sales can hurt your heart. Losing your rights to a one-sided contract can crush your soul. But neither of those things should define your success and declare you a failure.

As an indie you have all the power, even if you don’t see it yet. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. You can relaunch yourself which is incredibly difficult for a traditionally published author who is burdened by “shelf-life”. My success was hard coming, but I eventually found it by being part of the indie community. I published and failed for almost four years before I released Broken Worlds: Book One of The Alorian Wars, which launched into the top 1,000 books on Amazon. That launch was one-hundred percent indie powered. In fact, I had little effect on my book’s success. The indie community of authors I have become friends with over the years refused to let me launch another book into the deep pond of no return. The indie community surrounded me and lifted me up, using their resources, mentorship, and knowledge to get me book seen by hundreds of readers. This is something that makes four years of getting it wrong completely worth it. I take nothing for granted and I love my friends who rallied behind me.

Like I said, as an indie you have all the power, but the power isn’t a singular person. It is the community of amazing authors who forged their own way and turn around to give a helping hand. It is the team mindset that most Indies carry with them that gives the lucrative teams behind traditional publishing a run for their money. That is the torch I carry for the indie author community and I hope that light shines brighter and hotter with each year we define our own successes. I want to thank my family of indie authors for the inspiration, motivation, and perspiration you put behind your craft and use to lift up others like you. I wouldn’t trade this amazing community for anything.

bwshadow

For fans of military science fiction and space opera. The Alorian Wars is here! http://smarturl.it/BrokenWorlds
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Read the first book in The Alorian Wars today!

The future is darker than you think! Grab the Complete Dead Planet Series box set today!