On Fresh Starts – and Bats

I used to blog more regularly than I have in recent years. A big reason for that has been a lack of time, but suddenly this year, I feel as if I can take a breath. This was such a novelty that I was suspicious of the impression and waited to see if it lasted. It did. 🙂 So, now I want to find my rhythm again or maybe figure out a new one. Writing a post five days a week is still out of the question. I’m going to try for a new blog post every Monday and see how that works out. It’s almost exactly the midpoint of the year – there are 22 more Mondays after this one in 2019 – so my plan is to write a blog post for each of these 23 Mondays.

We’ll start with work stuff first each Monday then something more personal. Today, that’s a fresh start and bats. 🙂

Unicorn Bride, a medieval romance by Claire Delacroix, 2019 new editionWhy does it feel like a good time for a fresh start? Since I went indie in 2012, I’ve been doing several things simultaneously, each of which would be a job in itself. I’ve been pursuing rights reversions, then repackaging and republishing my previously published works in new editions. I sold 45 works to New York publishers between 1992 and 2012, and all of them have reverted to me (with the exception of English Commonwealth rights on two YA books but we’ll ignore that for now). I’ve re-edited, repackaged and republished 38 of them – although one was closer to a complete rewrite. (Writing a completely new story might actually have been faster.) #39 (Unicorn Bride) will be republished in August. That’s 39 books in 6.5 years, or six books per year, which is a good publication schedule in and of itself.

Abyss, #4 of the Prometheus Project of urban fantasy romances by Deborah CookeAt the same time, I’ve finished series that were abandoned by publishers, adding Abyss to the Prometheus Project, three novellas and two books to the Dragonfire Novels, as well as the True Love Brides and the Brides of Inverfyre to the Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie cycle. That’s four novellas, a short novel, six regular length novels and one double-length novel, all new work in existing worlds. Call it 8.5 books in 6.5 years – that’s another 1.3 books per year.

I’ve also been writing and publishing completely new works. The Champions of St. Euphemia is a medieval romance series with a structure I wanted to explore for a long time. I participated in a group project of Regency romances, which was a lot of fun – the Brides of North Barrows are the result of that collaboration. I began a different paranormal romance series featuring dragon shifter princesses from space – the Dragons of Incendium – and, of course, I wrote the Flatiron Five and the spin-off Secret Heart Ink series of contemporary romances. That’s ten full-length novels, eight short ones, two novellas and five short stories. Call it 15 more books – another 2.3 books a year.

Some Like It Hot, book #7 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah CookeThe interesting thing about this summary is that when I was traditionally published, I published two to four books a year and those were all new work. Since going indie, I’ve averaged 3.6 new books per year, plus the republication of another 6.5 per year. I’ve been publisher as well as writer, too, so was responsible for more of the publication process. (All of it!) I haven’t even talked about audiobooks, of which we produced 13 in 2014, or foreign translations, several of which are currently in the works.

In addition, the ebook market was rapidly changing in those first few years, which meant that things had to be done over and over (and over) to accommodate changes, mostly in the format of ebook interiors. Now, the industry and its protocols seem to have settled, my backlist is available, and the various series I wanted to finish are completed. Even the new series I began in indie are coming to their completion.

This is an excellent moment for a fresh start. Where do I go from here? I’ve been thinking about that a lot this year, and have made some decisions, and will talk more about that each Monday with you.

Romancing the Capital 2019This week, I’m off to Romancing the Capital, Eve Langlais’ reader conference in Ottawa, and looking forward to that. I’ve packed all the books and swag etc. and stacked it all in the living room so Mr. Math has a few days to figure out how to get it all into the car. The advantage of driving to a conference is that I can take more; the disadvantage is that it’s easy to take too much. I’m teaching a workshop as well as participating in panel discussions, and there’s a big booksigning on Saturday to wrap up the event. The booksigning is open to the public if you’re in or around Kanata, Ontario. It sounds as if this will be the last RTC – it’s such a lot of work that I’m amazed Eve has done it four times, but I will miss this event, and seeing the readers who regularly attend it.

It is almost August, and the bats are back. (I’ve blogged about this a few times before: Guests in 2009 and If it’s August in 2012. Notice that they’re both August posts.) Actually, this is huge news this year – bats have been in short supply and I haven’t seen any for a few years. There was an epidemic that killed many of them (white nose syndrome) and they’ve been very scarce since 2015 or so. This year, they seem to be making a comeback – or maybe a fresh start of their own. I saw two bats Saturday night when I was watching the fireflies. I was happy to see them flying figure-8’s over the garden. The bats are back! Last night, driving home from my mom’s, we spotted ten – and we were driving – before getting home to find one doing laps over our garden again. Although I don’t want to get up close and personal with bats, they’re good to have around to keep the mosquito population under control. Plus they’re kind of mesmerizing to watch.

Mr. Math always says “Eat up” when he sees the bats, because the mosquitoes adore him. Back when there were more bats, if we went for a walk in the evening, they’d follow him, because there was always a buffet for them in his vicinity. Of course, if he goes out to sit and watch the bats, he’ll see a lot – they swoop around him for the same reason.

I’m happy the bats are back (but they can stay outside). It’s a week for fresh starts. Have you made a fresh start lately?

Plans for 2019

A new year is always an excellent opportunity to review. I took some time off in December because I felt due for a break. During that time, I thought about what was working for me—in terms of writing, publishing, and life in general—and what wasn’t working so well. From that, I made a plan for the new year. Some things are new and some are changing.

Bad Case of Loving You, book #6 in the Flatiron Five series of contemporary romances by Deborah Cooke• My main goal for 2019 is to add time into my publication schedule. This will reduce my stress. 🙂 Once upon a time, when I was traditionally published, my books had to be delivered to the publisher one year in advance of publication. The editorial process consumed the next eight months or so, then the book was formatted, packaged and ready to go by 90 days before publication. Paper editions were printed and shipped, and digital editions were uploaded to the portals. Although I’ll never have that prolonged of an editorial process again, my goal is to have each book uploaded 90 days before publication. It will probably take me most of this year to catch up and achieve that. This will be pretty much invisible to you, but it’s a huge change for me.

Right now, my only pre-order is for Bad Case of Loving You, which is coming out in March. Job #1 is to get that book file ready and uploaded.

• I’ll also be closing my online store. I’ve had the store for four (maybe five) years. When I opened it, there were few options for authors to sell their work directly, but gradually other services have added functionality. I don’t need a second storefront because my websites are essentially storefronts. You’ll still be able to buy directly from me, but the new buy links will look like this one, on the Champions of St. Euphemia Boxed Set page – the prices will be in US dollars, the transaction will be managed by Paypal, and the ebooks will continue to be delivered by BookFunnel.

Simply Irresistible, a contemporary romance by Deborah Cooke and first in the Flatiron Five series.• I’ll be running fewer free and 99-cent price promotions
Scheduling and managing promotions is a job in itself, and the tail or halo (the sales that result from people buying the other linked books) from those promotions is much shorter than it used to be. I think this is because the ebook market is maturing. Those specials were great for people who had just bought their first e-reader, but have become a less reliable way of ensuring discoverability. Right now, Simply Irresistible is free so is The Beauty Bride. That may change. I have my sights set on creating more front-list instead of marketing back-list.

Here Be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion by Deborah Cooke• I’ll be doing MORE writing (YAY!)
This market skews in favor of frequent publication. I want to focus more on writing and publishing new content in 2019. (2018 was the year of republishing Dragonfire; 2017 was the year of republishing the Bride Quest.) I’m excited about adding to my existing story worlds and creating some new ones.

• I’ll be offering exclusive discounts to newsletter subscribers
I’ve had good luck with this mechanism in the past so it’s a strategy to keep. These sales will be promoted to my newsletter subscribers instead of to the world at large. If you haven’t subscribed to one of my lists, you might want to do that. I only send newsletters when I have a sale or a new release to announce. I’d also like to make some new content available exclusively to subscribers this year, too, and you’ll find out about that in my newsletters. My newsletters are:

Dragons & Angels for my paranormal romances
Knights and Rogues for my historical romances
Heroes & Bad Boys for my contemporary romances

If you don’t like to subscribe to newsletters, you could also follow my blogs:

DeborahCooke.com/blog is mostly about my contemporary romances
DragonfireNovels.com/blog is for my Dragonfire series
DragonsofIncendium.com/blog is for that PNR series
Delacroix.net/blog is for my historical romances

Wyvern's Wizard, book 11 of the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeYou can also follow me at Amazon and BookBub to receive new release announcements from those portals. Be aware that Amazon doesn’t always send new release announcements on (or even that close to) the publication date. Sometimes they don’t send them at all. Also, BookBub now offers a new release announcement that authors have to pay for, so I’m not sure if their free version will be retired.

follow Deborah Cooke at Amazon
follow Claire Delacroix at Amazon
follow Deborah Cooke at BookBub
follow Claire Delacroix at BookBub

• I’ll be creating more free guided tours
These are newsletter automations that take subscribers through the works set in one of my fictional realms. Each week, subscribers get a newsletter featuring the next book set in that world, along with a peek behind the scenes and some notes about my research. There are special offers in these tours, too. I like these tours as they’re fun ways to integrate my research and Pinterest boards, then share that with you.

Right now, there’s a virtual tour available for Ravensmuir and Kinfairlie medieval romances. I’ll be adding new ones in 2019 for the Champions of St. Euphemia, the Sayerne medieval romances Rogues & Angels and the Dragonfire Novels. You can sign up for any (or all! LOL) of these now: the Ravensmuir one will start right away and the others will launch when I have them compiled. Your email will just be saved until then.

Phew! That’s my plan for 2019!

Under the Mistletoe, a contemporary Christmas romance and #4 in the Secret Heart Ink series by Deborah CookeWhere do we stand right now?
I didn’t stop working completely in December, but I certainly wrote less. This means that Chynna’s story, Under the Mistletoe, wasn’t written and published in December. On the other hand, I felt more like revising than writing, so I’ve been updating One Knight’s Return to prepare it for publication. It’ll be out in April and there will be pre-order links soon.

Right now, I’m working on the Dragonfire companion, Here Be Dragons, which will be published as soon as it’s done, and Theo’s book, Bad Case of Loving You, which will be published in March. I expect to fit Chynna’s book in there, too. (The timeline entangles with Theo’s book, so that isn’t as crazy a plan as it might seem.)

One Knight's Return, book #2 of the Sayerne series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixAfter that, well, I have a bunch of ideas. 🙂 I’ll be at a bit of a crossroads as many series will be finished up. The Dragons of Incendium series is enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, and the rest of the series will be published there, too. Wyvern’s Wizard is next in that series, which is Peri and Nero’s book. I expect the next few books in that series to entangle a bit as the sisters set out on their quests. DragonFate is high on my list, but again, I want it all written before I launch the first book. There will be more Coxwell books – I think Annette is next – and more medievals – I’d like to publish the third Rogues & Angels book this year as well as The Stolen Bride, the third Brides of Inverfyre book.

I’m excited to dive into 2019. Do you have plans for 2019?

Happy 2017!

Happy New Year to you! I hope you had a wonderful holiday break and are entering the new year with lots of good energy. We’ve had some sunshine here, which is just about the best option in a snowy January.

Wyvern's Warrior, #3 in the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah CookeDo you make resolutions for the new year? I was interviewed about this a few weeks ago, and have to admit that I do. I always have writing plans—for example, this year, I’ll publish Wyvern’s Warrior and the next Incendium short story, I’ll finish up and publish The Crusader’s Vow, and I’ll write Addicted to Love and publish it, too. I’ll also finish editing the Rose Legacy and publish those stories in new editions this year. I’m excited to be working on so many new series this year and exploring new worlds.

The schedule gets a bit squishy after the middle of the year, not because I don’t have ideas of what to do next, but because I like to leave a little space for surprises and synchronicity. Last year, the Haunting of Castle Keyvnor was one of those projects that slipped onto my schedule in the spring. I like to remain open to opportunities like that. Oh, I’ll need to publish Something Wicked This Way Comes in its own edition in April, too.

The Crusader's Vow by Claire Delacroix, book #4 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances.I’m always striving to be better organized. In December, I actually sorted out my knitting yarn stash and (sit down for this) am passing some of it along to other knitters and their needles. Since I’ve started to sew again, I’ve realized what a chaotic mess my sewing supplies are in. I sorted out the material last fall, but will have to get into the notions this winter, too. I have an idea that I’ll finish more projects than I start, and maybe finish up a lot of the ones in progress, but am not too hard core about that. Part of what happens with wool and fabric for me is just creative play. I don’t want to put too many rules on that adventure and risk spoiling the fun. I’m going to look for workshops this winter and maybe learn some new fibre tricks. 🙂

Addicted to Love, a contemporary romance by Deborah CookeMy big challenge for 2017 is to better manage my time. I have this perennial fantasy of becoming more efficient, and oddly enough, there’s always room for improvement. My big time sink is social media—it’s so easy to hop onto Facebook to make one post and get lost for an hour or two. I need to stay on top of that, and that will likely mean that you see less of me there. I want to get more exercise, so have been pretty strict about taking my daily walk with the New Girl. We walk about 4 km together each day, regardless of the weather, and she walks fast. I’d like to start swimming again—I stopped when we moved out of the city because there wasn’t a pool I liked nearby. I’ve found one I really like (saline, not chlorine!!) but it’s about a 30-minute drive away. For some reason, lap swimming is always scheduled at meal times, so I need to figure out how to make that work. I might end up going to yoga instead. This year, I did do a better job of getting out to the garden on a regular basis in the summertime—the weeds still won, but it wasn’t a landslide victory last year. This year, they’d better look out!

How about you? Did you make resolutions for 2017? What were they?

This ‘n That

It’s been quiet on the blog this week, because I’ve had a deluge of things that need doing – when they’re things other than writing, we might as well call them this ‘n that. Once upon a time, there were never very many of these things landing on my desk, but now that I’m also my publisher, they seem to be breeding like the bunnies who lurk under my hydrangea bush. There are always more!

What kind of things qualify as this ‘n that?

• This week, there have been covers. Covers are pretty exciting to me, more exciting than most this ‘n that. I have covers for a new medieval trilogy to show you and also more Dragons of Incendium covers. Newsletter subscribers get to see them first, so you might want to subscribe. 🙂

The Crusader's Handfast, #5 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances by Claire Delacroix• Covers mean pre-orders. I’ve been setting up a number of them at various portals – look! There’s The Crusader’s Handfast at Amazon live this morning! – which means a lot of uploading and processing. That means adding new links to the website, too.

• Covers also mean formatting. I’ve been sending book files and cover files and metadata to my formatter, and she’s been sending book files back to me.

• Covers also mean setting up interior files for print books. I used to be a typesetter, so I enjoy this flavor of this ‘n that.

• Covers also mean new swag! Yay! I ordered some new postcards and bookmarks this week, and you’ll be able to see them first in my August newsletter. (I hope they arrive by then.)

• New covers also mean new banners for the site, the newsletter and the Facebook pages. I should update some of the other social media banners, too.

Wyvern's Mate, book #1 of the Dragons of Incendium series of paranormal romances by Deborah Cooke, in audio• Audio! The audio edition of Wyvern’s Mate is available for pre-order for September 13 delivery. I had to think about the short stories and what to do with them. We’re going to keep it simple and record them individually. Nero’s Dream will go into audio production at the same time as Wyvern’s Prince, probably later this month.

• I like to hang charms on bookmarks for special occasions and had no inventory. I caught up on the Flatiron Five bookmarks and the Champions of Saint Euphemia ones, before the new ones arrive.

Spellbound, a Regency romance anthology by Claire Delacroix, Jane Charles and Claudia Dain• Then there have been edits, which technically are writing, but tend to feel like this ‘n that. I’ve finished my edits on Something Wicked This Way Comes, my contribution to the Spellbound anthology. I’ll give you some sneak peeks of that over the next few weeks. (You know what I’m going to say – newsletter subscribers will see more first. You might want to subscribe!)

• We’ve been updating digital book files with new end matter and front matter, as well as fixing some typos. The Jewels of Kinfairlie new editions went out with the new covers. The time travel romances have been updated in their print editions and the digital ones are half-done. (I’ll tell you when the new files are all uploaded.) And we’ve started on The Coxwell Series. The books need their table of contents moved to the front for Amazon now, and the end matter hasn’t been updated for two years. It’s also a good opportunity to change the covers, if I have plans to do that. I’m very happy with the new covers for The Jewels of Kinfairlie: The Prometheus Project will be getting new covers, too.

• I’ve been working on the newsletter, adding bits and pieces as I think of them. My VA Chelle is on vacation for part of this month, so I’m doing most of the newsletter. I’m always sure I’ll forget something! (This is going to be a long newsletter. Have you subscribed yet? LOL.)

• There’s a book sale coming up later this month, which means arranging for price changes to happen in time, and also booking some promotion to spread the news about the sale.

The Crusader's Vow by Claire Delacroix, book #4 in the Champions of Saint Euphemia series of medieval romances.• And then there’s writing. I’m working on Wyvern’s Prince and having a wonderful time with Gemma and her unexpected ally. Next up, I have to finish The Crusader’s Vow. (Back to Scotland for the big finish of the Champions of St. Euphemia. Yay!)

Phew! It’s going to be a busy fall, but a fun one.

• I also made a spreadsheet for myself of all the upcoming releases and updates to current book files. There are a lot of things in the works that I can’t tell you about yet – but the plan takes me through 2019 at this same kind of hectic pace.

Stay tuned. Things are starting to get interesting. 🙂

Going Forward

There have been some more questions about my plans for books from this point out, so I thought I’d review the plans again to keep you all up to date. This includes not just writing plans, but pricing, too.

The Crusader's Bride, a medieval romance by Claire DelacroixFirst of all, I’ll be publishing The Champions of St. Euphemia series by Claire Delacroix, beginning with The Crusader’s Bride in June. I had thought these linked stories might be novellas, but no, they’re coming out as books. So, the first one will be $2.99 and the others will be $4.99. I’m thinking the other publication dates will be August, October and December. No pre-orders on books 2 – 4 yet, because I want to be sure before listing the books (and I need to write the cover copy for them, too.) The pre-order for The Crusader’s Bride is up at iBooks and Kobo. It will be listed close to the publication date at Amazon and B&N because I find their interface for pre-orders irritating. All of these books will be available in print editions, too. Print publication will be simultaneous with the digital release, but as we’ve seen, the information will take time to perk out to the portals beyond Amazon. B&N seems to be taking 5 – 7 days, for example.

Here Be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion by Deborah CookeNext up for the dragons will be Here be Dragons: The Dragonfire Companion in November. Again, this will be released simultaneously in print and digital editions. Again, the pre-order is up for iBooks and Kobo, but unless something changes drastically, the pre-order for Amazon and B&N will go up closer to the on sale date.

Some of you have asked about a boxed set of the True Love Brides series, but I have no plans to do this. My boxed sets were always intended as good ways for readers to catch up with my existing series, or for people who had bought my books in mass market to get the digital editions, and not a way to market newer titles. Going forward, titles will be available individually, and the first title in any given series will be discounted. No more boxed sets.

When I participate in multi-author boxed sets (which are for promotion and geared to my finding new readers), you’ll see familiar titles included – in most cases, The Beauty Bride is the book I’ll include because it’s a good place to start reading my Kinfairlie books. I also don’t think I’ll be discounting pre-orders any more. Changing prices on all portals simultaneously is such a hassle (as well as getting them all to turn back at the same time) and I’d rather concentrate on writing more books.

The next dragon shifter series will be DragonFate, which will start with Hot Blooded – there’s an excerpt from this book in the back of Firestorm Forever – which will probably be launched in the new year. The next medieval romance series will be The Brides of Inverfyre, which will also probably launch in the new year. Some of you have asked about a companion volume for Kinfairlie, but I’m going to wait on that until the new Inverfyre series is done, then prepare it for the entire suite of linked books, beginning with The Rogue.

My hope going forward is to publish linked books in fairly rapid succession, so instead of alternating books (one from Claire, one from Deborah), I’m going to alternate series. You’ll see three or four linked books from Claire, ideally published 6 – 8 weeks apart, then three or four linked books from Deborah, on a similar schedule.

This means writing more, which means a streamlining and a simplification of my working day. You’ll also see less of me on social media than has been the case, and less travelling. I’ll be at the Sexy in the City booksigning in June in Toronto, then here writing until Romancing the Capital next May in Ottawa. Once again, I suggest you sign up for my newsletter or follow this blog to ensure that you don’t miss any news. I’d much rather write than do anything else, plus I think writing is what I do best. I’m having fun with this scheme so far, and hope you’ll be glad to have more books faster from me.

Now you know the plan. I just need to make it happen! 🙂

Home Again

Phew! I’m home again, after attending both Book Expo America in New York, and Lori Foster’s RAGT in West Chester Ohio. Although I was home for a few days in between, it feels as if I’ve been gone for ages. The garden has gone *boom* and the laundry has piled up. The best part is that I have lots of new ideas, and a new pair of shoes.

It was wonderful to meet so many of you, live and in person, and to talk about books – as well as a little bit about knitting. I met Eve Langlais, too, who is organizing the Ottawa readers’ conference next April.

Now I’m back at my desk until February with a To Do list to last well past that. Malcolm and Catriona have been impatiently awaiting my attention, and I have the scribbled notes to show for their determination that I get their story right. There are two new Goodreads contests coming up this month – the first one opens tomorrow – as well as the big Midsummer’s Dream Giveaway from fourteen historical romance authors this month. There’s a sale at the end of the month (starting the 25th) and my newsletter will go out on the 15th with more news.

Finally, I have a contemporary romance couple that just won’t leave me alone – I’d wanted them to wait until 2015, but they just might jump line. They’re pretty passionate and quite charming. I might not be able to resist them after Malcolm and Catriona are happily-ever-after. 🙂 Now, there’s work to be done! I hope you’ve all been good while I was away.

The Idea Fairy

I was very happy to have a visit last week from the Idea Fairy. She stopped in – as she often does – just when I was on the verge of sleep. She whispered two sentences in my ear, and my eyes flew open. I knew who was responsible for them and liked their potential a lot. I debated the merit of getting out of bed to write them down, but decided instead to be lazy and repeat them in my mind as many times as possible until I feel asleep. In the morning, I remembered them perfectly. I also put a notepad on the nightstand. If the Idea Fairy is going to be stopping by, I want to be ready.

There are many kinds of story ideas, so it shouldn’t be surprising that they turn up in many different ways. Some evolve over time, as the result of rumination or research. Some are sparked by something else, as in “that movie/book/whatever would have been more interesting if…”. And yet others pop into the imagination, wholly formed. I think that cohesiveness is what makes this last group of ideas so interesting—and the fact that they just appear makes them very welcome. I call these gifts from the Idea Fairy. There’s still work to be done, of course – structuring the story and fleshing it out, never mind the messy business of writing it down – but I’m always excited when the Idea Fairy stops by.

The Idea Fairy is fickle. She is capricious. She is easily distracted. I suspect that when she’s absent, it’s because she’s found a more sparkly place to play. I doubt that she stops casting ideas into the universe. Maybe she has to spread herself thin, to visit all the creative souls in the universe in succession. Sometimes her ideas don’t come fully to fruition, although that might be more a function of human frailty than any inherent weakness.

I have been hoping for a visit from the Idea Fairy for a while. I’ve been leaving out shiny things in my office, the kinds of things she likes. Sentences and phrases, snippets of thoughts and tantalizing hints of conflicts. I’ve been writing longhand and taking courses (both favourite choices of the Idea Fairy) hoping to lure her out of hiding. Why? Well, I have two long-running series that will be completed next year (don’t worry – even the Idea Fairy doesn’t get to jump the queue!) and I’ve been wondering what I’ll write next. Finishing up linked series is a great thing, but I’m used to thinking several years in advance. And until she stopped by – just a fleeting brush of those wings and a whisper in my thoughts – I wasn’t sure what my next project would be.

Now I know. 🙂 So, now it’s down to the mucky business of making the notion left by the Idea Fairy into books. Yes, it’s another linked series, and I’m pretty excited about it. First there’s Thorolf’s book, then the next two medievals, then Sloane’s book. Only THEN will the new glimmer from the Idea Fairy get its due.

It’s perfect timing on her part (and I expect she must have been busy last week) as it’s National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWrMo) this month. This is the month when writers everywhere settle in to write more than usual. Maybe I’ll even be able to steal a few minutes here and there to toy with that new idea. 🙂

Do you believe in the Idea Fairy? Where do you think ideas come from?

To Do Lists

Every time I go to a conference, I come home with a To Do list. This has always been the case, but my lists have become longer with conferences in the past year or so. RWA Atlanta was no different – and I still have list items from BEA in May and even Novelists’ Ink last October. I’m halfway wondering if I should stay home for a year, just to catch up on my To Do lists!

The reality isn’t that I’m inefficient. We’re in a strange market in which everything is changing very quickly – and those who are nimble and take advantage of new opportunities quickly see the biggest results. Also, being indie-published means everything is my own responsibility. While I have a team (a beta reader, an editor, a cover designer, a formatter, etc.) everything stops at my desk. This is the challenge of indie-publishing – being completely in charge and fully responsible – which not every writer welcomes. There is something enticing about the idea of having someone else (like the publisher) do all of the nitty gritty while the writer just writes: the problem is that, in my experience, it doesn’t work out that way very much of the time. As I said many times at RWA this year, my publishers over the past 20 years – by offloading jobs to me – have done an excellent job of training me to publish my own books.

So, what’s on my updated list this time? RWA for me was about opportunity and networking. There are a lot of interesting ideas and possibilities out there, so many that I’ll have to pick and choose. (Sadly, my days still have only 24 hours. Boo.) Kim Killion had a fabulous idea for Thorolf’s cover which I’m hoping works out well. It would be a whole new adventure for me, which is exciting. I’ll let you know more about that when/if the details come together.

Overall, though, my plan for the next year is to write, and all the other stuff will have to fit around the perimeter of that. I’m ready to finish up my existing series and dive into a new project (and there are lost of candidates in my office.) There are two more paranormal romances  to finish the Dragonfire series (Thorolf and Sloane) and two more medievals (Malcolm and Elizabeth) to finish The True Love Brides series. I suspect Drake and Ross will get novellas of their own to conclude both series. (In an ideal universe, they will be Christmas 2014 novellas.) I’ll spend the next year researching other story ideas and developing them, maybe even launching something new soon.

These are exciting times. Stay tuned!

Update!

It’s hot and humid here this week, but the construction frustrations of last winter are paying off – the new air conditioning is truly wonderful. Usually in hot weather, I get nothing done, but this week, I’m zipping along. Yay!

So, I thought I’d update you on the status of various projects.

The Highlander's Curse by NYT Bestselling author Claire Delacroix, #2 in her True Love Brides series of medieval romances.

I’m doing the final final FINAL read through of The Highlander’s Curse. It’ll go to the formatter tonight or tomorrow, so I should have it back Wednesday to upload it to various portals. It’ll go live most quickly at Smashwords and All Romance eBooks (in EPUB and MOBI at both portals) but should be available from Amazon on Thursday. (Fingers crossed.) B&N and KOBO should post it Thursday or Friday, and I hear Apple is taking about a week to process and post new book files – count on seeing it in the iTunes store by the end of next week.

My monthly newsletter will go out Thursday or Friday, depending when the Amazon link is live.

Kiss of Destiny, #3 of the Dragon Legion novellas in the Dragonfire series of paranormal romances, by Deborah Cooke

Next, I’ll write the last couple of scenes in Thad and Aura’s story, Kiss of Destiny. That’s #3 in the Dragon Legion novellas, which together are Dragonfire #9. I’ll send it off to my editor by the end of this week, and she’ll do her thing while I’m at RWA National in Atlanta next week. I’ll publish the digital novella when I return (i.e. two weeks from now), and it’ll appear on the various portals with the same kind of speed as mentioned for THC above.

The Dragon Legion Collection by Deborah Cooke

Once Kiss of Destiny is done, I’ll format the Dragon Legion Collection and publish it, initially in the trade paperback print edition. It’ll be available from Createspace and Amazon early in August (maybe very early in August) then will perk out to be listed on other portals. The timing on that distribution is hard to predict.

Abyss, an urban fantasy romance by Claire Delacroix

In August, I’ll be heading back to the Republic. I’ll be finalizing files for Fallen, Guardian and Rebel, plus doing edits for Abyss. The goal is to publish the books in order, with Abyss going on sale at the end of October.

Phew! After that, it’s Thorolf’s turn and I’ll dig in to his story. After Thorolf comes Malcolm, then Sloane, then Elizabeth.

That’s where we’re at. Now you know – and now I’m getting back to work. Stay cool, everyone!

Convergence

One of the things I’ve noticed lately is how much indie publishing is becoming similar to traditional publishing. You all know that I usually write in two subgenres, alternating between series. This helps me to see an ongoing series with a fresh perspective each time I come back to it. In an ideal universe, I’d write one book from idea to publication, then work on the next one.

It worked that way when I was unpublished. Ever since selling my first book in 1992, the process has been entirely different.

In traditional publishing, there are many people involved in the process of bringing a work to publication, and a lot of consensus needs to be built. That means stopping and starting, stopping and starting, stopping and starting. This was never my favorite part of the model, but it was how it was. For example, I would first talk to my editor about ideas for how to continue an established series. We would usually decide that we liked one or two particular ideas best (fortunately, I’ve been in agreement most of the time with my editors as to which ideas should be pursued next.) When we had agreed, I would write up a proposal. This could be a synopsis, but usually I wrote the first scene of the book, or even the first chapter. That gave me a better sense of the characters before writing the synopsis. I’d send that off to her and wait to hear back. The wait could be anywhere from two weeks to six months. If everyone in house agreed upon the idea, then she’d offer a contract, and we’d agree on a delivery date for the book manuscript. Sometimes this was right away and sometimes not. Sometimes I had other things to finish first.

Eventually, I’d get to sit down and write the book. With any luck, I’d be able to write it from start to finish, but invariably other things would pop up. The cover conference would always be held before the book was written, and quite often the cover copy would be written before the book was written. In a good editorial relationship, the author and editor discuss each at the appropriate time. When the book was finally done, I’d send it off to my editor. There would then be another wait which was never less than 60 days and could be a lot longer. If my editor had revisions or changes, we’d talk about that and I’d usually have to do them quickly. The book would leave my life again, for another 60 to 90 days while it was edited and copy edited. It would return to my desk for review, which usually had to be done immediately. Back it would go (off my desk!) for another 60 to 90 days while it was typeset, and finally, I’d get the page proofs to review before it was published. By this time, I’d be working with publicity and talking to reviewers and bloggers, setting up the promotion for the book’s on sale date.

If everything went very well (and the book was on the schedule) the elapsed time from my delivering the book manuscript to my editor and it being available for sale was usually 9 to 12 months. I’d be done with the page proofs about 90 days before publication.

The Renegade's Heart, first in the True Love Brides series of medieval romances by Claire DelacroixYou can imagine that with so many stops and starts – and many things popping up to be done immediately – it’s challenging for a writer to schedule his or her time. Working on two projects simultaneously can make for a nice balance, although as schedules became tighter, that was harder to manage. When I went indie, I was hoping for that ideal again, of working on a book from start to finish, then just having a bit of back and forth with editors and formatters immediately before publication.

The reality is that there is a great deal of stopping and starting, even in indie publishing. To be fair, I had more than many indie authors because I had so much backlist to package, edit, format and republish. This is all good, but has been pretty time consuming. I’ve re-published 16 novels and 4 boxed sets since the beginning of 2012, in addition to The Renegade’s Heart and two Dragon Legion novellas. I tend to look at those two novellas and one book and think I’ve been slacking off, but those 20 other titles can’t be left out of the equation. I wrote most of Ember’s Kiss in 2012, too. Abyss, an urban fantasy romance by Claire Delacroix

The reversion of the Prometheus Project trilogy early this year put the release of Tupperman’s book on hold, but I was looking forward to getting those four books out into the world this fall and being (phew) caught up. I thought my stops were done, and I’d be able to juggle fewer projects at a time.

Now I don’t think that will happen. The strange thing is that those stops and starts are beginning to more clearly echo the pattern of traditional publishing. The pattern is so strong that I wonder whether there will soon be any difference at all. Everything takes longer than I expect, and seems to be taking longer with each go-round. Contractors are busier, which means they can’t always jump on a project immediately. I have to allow more time for each phase. I probably should leave 90 days for the editing process, for example, which is a whole lot like the timeline in traditional publishing for that phase.

I shouldKiss of Destiny, a Dragon Legion Novella by Deborah Cooke leave 90 days between completion of the book and publication, in order to effectively promote it and make advance reading copies available to reviewers. A year ago, those opportunities didn’t exist, but now indie authors can sign up for Netgalley, for example, as well as other vehicles used by traditional publishing houses. 90 days to promo a completed book before it goes on sale is the same timeline as traditional publishing. Formatting remains quicker, but that too is becoming slower as formatters become busier and develop a queue. As the timeline extends, it starts to look more like the timeline in traditional publishing.

And as a result of that, the stopping and starting is multiplying, too. This week, for example, I am working on Kiss of Destiny, the third novella in the Dragon Legion trilogy of paranormal romance novellas and part of Dragonfire. The Highlander’s Curse is on my editor’s desk.

The Highlander's Curse by NYT Bestselling author Claire Delacroix, #2 in her True Love Brides series of medieval romances.(I’m hoping to hear back from her around the end of the month. There will invariably be some questions, suggestions and changes, then I’ll get it to the formatter as quickly as possible. I really hope it will be published before I go to RWA National in July.)

I realized I needed to write the teaser for The Frost Maiden’s Kiss, so it could go in the back of The Highlander’s Curse, so I did that – and got all excited about Malcolm’s story, just in time to set it aside. Similarly, I’m working on the excerpt for Serpent’s Kiss, which is Thorolf’s story and Dragonfire #10, because it will go in the back of Kiss of Destiny. I’ll get all excited about that story, just in time to set it aside and go through Abyss one more time before it goes to my editor.

The HighlanThe Dragon Legion Collection by Deborah Cookeder’s Curse and The Dragon Legion Collection will need to be set up for their print editions ASAP in July, then Fallen, Rebel and Guardian need to be edited, proofed, and formatted for digital and print. I’ll be hearing back from my editor on Abyss, and probably have some changes to make there, as well. I need to do art fact sheets soon for The Frost Maiden’s Kiss and Serpent’s Kiss and send them off, to get a place in my cover artist’s line, too—especially as I want to buy exclusive images and she may need to shoot them. Finally, I have to decide if I’m going to do the 90 day review cycle before publication for either of these books, to add that time into the schedule. Meanwhile, there’s all the usual promotion stuff and conference preparation to manage for the books that are out there. This is exactly the same kind of stopping and starting I’ve been doing in traditional publishing for twenty years. (Just writing this list makes me realize why I’m sleeping so well!)

So, maybe, at the end of October after these seven titles are published, I’ll be able to sit down and write Thorolf’s story from start to finish. Maybe the ideal writing life scenario will happen. Either way, I’m not going to give you publication dates again until the book is at the formatter. Just as in traditional publishing, Murphy’s Law loves a book deadline, and you can only be sure when the book will be done when it is.