Strange Days

hulk think…or, possibly, strange careers. Like writing. I realized the other day that while I’ve been writing like a madman for at least twelve months, the three books I’ve been working on won’t be seen by readers for at least another twelve months.

Any fan who’s not visiting my blog to check up on my activities will likely assume I’ve given it up or am out of ideas. And yet I’ve written two books in the last year and am nearly through with a third. After it gets a polish I’ll start work on the next one, which will mean I’ll have been working on four separate books over the course of a year. Not too shabby, really, when it took me a year and a half to write The Bones of the Old Ones. Remember that one? No? It got a starred review from Publisher’s Weekly and made the Best of 2012 Barnes and Noble fantasy releases list, and had heaps of good reviews, I swear. Alas, it doesn’t seem like anyone apart from the reviewers and some loyal fans ever picked it up, at least judging from the small number of Amazon reviews. Sniff.

bones from EnglandWith such a long time since I’ve had anything on the shelves, I’ve been scratching my head. How do I remind readers I’m still alive out here and working away? I don’t know that there are THAT many people out there waiting breathlessly for the next novel by Howard Andrew Jones, so I suppose I’ll just hope that when my newest works finally launch they’ll soar.

And while I’m under this publishing delay, I’ll keep writing more and get up a stockpile of stuff so that delays become less likely. If nothing else, over the last few years I’ve figured out a lot more about how books are written (or at least how I need to write them) and how to write them swiftly. I’d like to think I’ve learned how to write better books as well, but I suppose time will tell.

One other thing I’ve figured out is that while it’s okay to sniffle a little now and then, self-pity doesn’t get you much. I wrote a book I loved that didn’t sell as well as I wanted. Okay, well, I’ll just write another, better one. Fall down ten times, get up eleven, and all that. Or as Hannibal of Carthage said, “I shall find a way, or make one.”

There’s luck involved in this business, sure, and talent, but I believe perseverance and stubbornness has a whole lot to do with succeeding in it. And I’ve got a lot of the latter two qualities, maybe because I’ve been striving most of my life to get here and its too late to turn back. Or maybe because I have lots of stories I want to tell.

10 Comments on “Strange Days

  1. It *is* the strangest thing to be writing and writing with nothing appearing on the shelves till a year or more from now – and it’s also as frustrating as all hell to be busy with no one able to see!

    Your point that your productivity is on the up and up spoke to me a great deal – I’m noticing myself these days I’m churning out the word count more quickly each time I approach a project. Four books in a year is *amazing*, though – I can’t imagine how you must juggle!

    Looking forward to seeing the new works, Howard. Can’t wait to see what you’ve been up to! 🙂

  2. Well, don’t be TOO amazed. I was finishing one book at the start of the year and I’ll be starting another by the end. I wrote two in the middle. But I certainly did NOT write four books in twelve months. Maybe I should rephrase that a little so it’s absolutely clear…

    Glad to hear your own word count is up. The world needs more work by Sarah Newton.

  3. I’m certainly eagerly awaiting the next thing with you’re name on the cover. There’s nobody out there writing s&s adventure as fun and vibrant as yours. All those stories you’ve got to tell-I hope the world gets every one of ’em.

  4. I hadn’t seen that link — pretty fascinating stuff. Thanks for sharing.

    I HAVE been thinking of some kind of e-release or Kickstarter, but I’m not ready yet. I have to deliver what I’m working on now, and then the next book, but I have been wondering if that’s the way to do the third Dabir and Asim. Now that article has me wondering if that’s the way to do SEVERAL Dabir and Asim novels. I’d have to be faster at writing them, though. I know I’ve gotten faster at writing, but writing Dabir and Asim is a slightly different animal.

    I’ll give it some serious thought…

  5. I’m not an author or in the industry, I am a potential reader. It does sound from your description of your time that you are a prolific writer. It does not sound on the other hand that you push your work. Where is the description of how many book signings you’ve set up, of the conventions you’ve attended, of you working with the brick & mortar stores to make sure your books are faced on the shelves. When I go to a book store like Barnes & Noble there are HUNDREDS of fantasy/sci-fi/historical fiction books for me to browse through. Which ones do I look for? I look for familiar authors and for books that catch my eye. Books that are just put on the shelf, spine out only don’t catch my eye. Your publisher paid some one to paint cover art make sure potential readers can see it. If you are relying solely on Amazon to sell your books for you, I hope you are a millionaire while waiting for that to happen. Today, I’m going to swing by Barnes & noble to see how your book is sitting on the shelf or if it is even there at all. If it’s there or not I’ll let you know. Either way, you know what you have to do. Push, push, push.
    Sincerely, Earl Leslie Morris

    p.s. I was forwarded this blog by a writer friend of mine Clint Lee Werner. I give him hell as well. I’m one of his biggest fans (scary isn’t it).

    • Thanks, Earl!

      You’ll find my most recent, Stalking the Beast, on the shelves, and possibly its sister title, Plague of Shadows. But you won’t find The Desert of Souls or The Bones of the Old Ones. Books have a short shelf life these days, and they’ll last only a few months if there’s no real demand.

      As for promotion… I lost count of the number of podcasts, interviews, and blog tours I went on for BONES, not to mention three convention appearances. Unless you reach critical mass with your writing, though, those appearances are a sysiphian boulder war. With little to promote this year I’m only at one convention. With more to promote next year, I’ll be at more.

      P.S. I’m a big Clint Werner fan myself.

      • Good for you then. Your current blog does not reflect well on past effort. I looked for your books but couldn’t find your name on the shelves. Make your publisher push them! ^_^
        May just be that one store.

  6. Through the course of my career, I’ve noticed a persistent clustering or bunching effect. Either nothing much is coming out, or a lot of the things I’ve done are hitting all at once.

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