Audio Socks

This past month, I’ve needed to listen to audio editions of my books to “proof” them. Taking a book to audio is a pretty interesting process, and one I hadn’t really thought about until I was already on the adventure. The narrator has to manage so many voices (especially in my books, which I’ve realized have lots of characters!) and keep them distinct from each other. He or she also has to show the emotional journey of the character, and pronounce all the words properly.

It turned out that I needed to follow along with the book on the first review of the audio files, just to make sure that no clauses or phrases were missing. This is a pretty intense process – the audio file for my first book taken to audio, The Rogue, is 13.5 hours long.

For the second listening, however, after the changes were all made and I was just checking the final version, I knit as I listened. I needed plain knitting, as I had to pay attention to the audio, so socks were the obvious choice. I don’t follow a pattern to knit socks anymore, since I’ve made so many pairs. I had some Patons Kroy FX in a yummy purple and blue set aside for new socks for myself, so I cast them on. I knit all but the second toe while “proofing” The Rogue, and here they are:morekroyfxsocks

The Rogue by Claire Delacroix audio editionAnd here’s the audio edition of The Rogue, available now on Audible, Amazon and coming soon to Apple.

Flashback

I’ve been struck lately by how prolific many indie authors are. That, in turn, makes me think about changing expectations from readers and publishers.

Let’s start off with the publication schedule. There are authors who publish works monthly, even biweekly, which is a truly amazing feat. In an ideal universe, the next work in a series would be available to a reader as soon as he or she finished reading the current work. In the past, this meant having the next book available for pre-order, but now it’s often for sale. This rapid publication might be ideal, but there are few authors who can write as fast as readers can read – but many are getting closer.

Once upon a time, it was believed that authors should have a new book published once a year, or at most, once every 8 months. This was believed to be the way to build audience among readers, and was the prevailing wisdom when I sold my first book in 1992. The issue with this is that it’s very hard to make a living in traditional publishing with only one genre fiction release per year. Publishers, though, were convinced that more frequent publication would mean that the author “cannibalized” his or her own sales. (Really. That was the verb of choice.)

In series romance, however, it was possible to have more frequent publication, which was one of the reasons I was glad to sell first to Harlequin. Harlequin and Silhouette authors might get two or even three publication slots per year. I was considered a prolific writer in those days, being capable of writing three to four books a year. And I was the first Harlequin Historical author to be given four slots in one year. That was in 1994 and it was considered to be radical. (I suspect, actually, that they had some issues with empty slots in the publication schedule: my books were delivered early and there, so I got lucky.)

Even then, authors like Nora Roberts were beginning to prove that more frequent publication did not diminish sales. Fans could read faster than authors could write, and having more books available faster meant building sales. It seems so self-evident now, but it required a big change in the thinking at publishing houses for authors to be given more frequent publication slots. Many authors wrote under two names, so that they could have more books published. When I moved to Dell, they scheduled the Bride Quest trilogy at six month intervals, which was considered audacious. It worked. Roughly ten years later, NAL used the same six-month-publication strategy for the initial three Dragonfire books, and it was still considered to be a bold sign of support from the house.

There were authors who had back-to-back release schedules in that era, with each book in a trilogy published in consecutive months. April, May and June, for example. There was mixed thinking about the success of this: one reason for skepticism is that readers often stash print books in their TBR pile, so might not read book #1 before book #2 was available for sale. (This happens in digital, too.) The other issue is that the rapid publication comes at a cost – the books were still produced at a rate of 2 per year, so clustering three together for publication often meant a big gap in the author’s publication schedule both before and after that promotional push. On the other side of the argument, though, some readers won’t buy a trilogy until all three books are available. This is a newer wrinkle, and the result of pubilshers pulling the plug on linked series, and never publishing the completion of the series.

But then there is digital. In the digital market, where indie authors don’t have any publisher to control their release schedule, many are publishing very very quickly. There are two variables at work here—one is how quickly these authors write, but the other influencing variable is that many write shorter works than tend to be published in traditional print publishing. In traditional publishing, the 100,000 word mass market paperback is the standard. In digital, a work can be any size, and actually, pricing skews very well for 25,000 word novellas. Some authors can write novellas at double or triple the rate of writing books, while others take the same amount of time to write a story no matter how long the finished work is.

Also, in this new world of digital books and online book portals, frequent publication is one very good way to build sales and visibility. So, these very prolific authors are becoming terrific success stories, because they’re listening to readers and publishing new works very frequently. I do find it rather funny to be considered a slow-poke now, with my 3-to-4-books-a-year writing speed, after being called prolific (and maybe even TOO prolific LOL) for so long, but there’s the reality of the new market.

How does this reality change my future plans? Well, I’m still working that out. It’s possible that I will write more novellas and shorter works in the year ahead, and structure new projects to be linked novellas instead of linked books. It’s possible that I’ll just carry on with linked full-length books and have four releases per year. (I do like how big and chewy a 100K book can be.) It’s likely that I’ll mix it up. :-) But the change in the marketplace certainly bears some consideration.

How about you? Have your reading habits changed? Do you like to read books by a single author in succession, or do you prefer to alternate between favourites? Do you think you read more than before? Faster than before?

The Frost Maiden’s Kiss

The Frost Maiden's Kiss, a medieval romance and third book in the True Love Brides series by Claire DelacroixThe Frost Maiden’s Kiss, a medieval romance and book #3 in my True Love Brides Series, is available today!

The incredible thing I realized last week was that Malcolm and Catriona’s story is my 50th full length book published. Wow. I guess I’ve been doing this for a while. :-)

Without further ado, then, here are the deets:

She enchanted him with a kiss—but winning her love would demand all he possessed.

After eight years abroad, Malcolm returns to Scotland with a fortune, a companion even more hardened than he and a determination to restore his inherited holding. But when that companion falls into peril, Malcolm seizes the chance to repay an old debt, trading his own soul for that of his doomed comrade. Knowing his days are limited and determined to leave a legacy of merit, Malcolm rebuilds Ravensmuir with all haste, though he fears he will never have an heir.

A night of violence has left Catriona with no home and no faith in the honor of men. She expects little good from a visit to her lady’s brother, Laird of Ravensmuir, a known mercenary. But the handsome laird challenges her expectations with his courtesy, his allure—and his unexpected proposal. Knowing it is her sole chance to ensure her child’s future, Catriona dares to accept Malcolm’s hand. She soon realizes that this warrior fights a battle of his own and that she holds the key to his salvation. Little does she realize her past is in hot pursuit, seeking to destroy all she holds dear—including the laird who has thawed the frost of her reluctant heart.

Buy at Amazon Buy at All Romance eBooksBuy at iBooks kobo Buy at Createspace Buy at B&N

You can read an excerpt on the book page, right here.

The Renegade’s Heart at #1!

The Renegade's Heart, book #1 of the True Love Brides Series of Scottish medieval romances, by Claire DelacroixThis weekend, my medieval romance The Renegade’s Heart has been #1 in medieval romance and #2 in Scottish romance on Amazon! This is pretty exciting stuff. Thanks to all of you who picked up a copy of Murdoch and Isabella’s book this weekend!

And if you haven’t gotten a copy yet, it’s still 99 cents at Amazon, B&N, iBooks and Kobo. Links and an excerpt are right here.

Queens of Medieval Romance

I’ve been invited to participate in a new Facebook group, which those of you who read medieval romance will enjoy. The Queens of Medieval Romance page was created by Kathryn Le Veque, and will highlight twelve of us who write in the niche. Kathryn has big plans for events, interviews and contests, so don’t miss out on the fun.

You can like the new page, right here.

Colourspun Skye

A few years ago, I saw a men’s vest pattern in a Rowan Magazine and really liked it. I didn’t rush out to order the yarn, and by the time I thought I might knit it, two of the colours required for the pattern had been discontinued. I figured that vest wasn’t meant to be. But a little while ago, I noticed that there were a few balls of those very same discontinued colours available at an online store. I ordered them up, and because I really like this yarn, I cast on the vest despite having so many other projects on my needles.

Here’s the completed back:Skye vest by Martin Storey in Rowan Colourspun, knit by Deborah CookeThe pattern is called Skye and it was designed by Brandon Mably. I seem to knit a lot of Brandon Mably designs for Mr. Math. The yarn is called Colourspun, and it’s a very soft yarn. It’s the same yarn used in my Icicle Mitts. The discontinued colours are the red and the brown – all of the colours have long variegations, so it looks as if there are more than four colours used. (Red, brown, green, then beige for the grid.) They also shade into each other at some points, which I like a lot. I think it’s going to be pretty warm, giving that the beige wool is carried across the back of each square. (You can see that at the top, where it’s curled back a bit.) Mr. Math likes it a lot, though, so I’m sure he’ll wear it.

What do you think?