Project Updates for August 2020

Header with a typewriter and journal: Monthly Writing Updates

Greetings, my word nerds. It’s time for my monthly project update! These posts help me stay on track with my goals and for those following along they show a realistic view of the work of an independent author.

Novels

Power Play – Woot! I love this story. One of my beta readers called it “Jessica’s Empire Strikes Back,” and that made me smile because that’s how it feels to me too. This weekend I’ll do one more round of proofreading and then the manuscript is off to P for formatting and error checking so we can upload it to the stores. The ebook will be out by September 12th with the paperback following shortly after. This will be a wide release, so you can pick it up from any of the major book retailers.

Ellie Tappet #4 – I’m 60% of the way done with the first draft and I’m finalizing the title, cover, and book description.

The Happiest Place – I published my little “love at the end of the world” short story. If you’re craving something wistful and sad you can pick up The Happiest Place for a buck. P put together a really nice design for the EPUB; it has drop caps and pictures and I think it looks fabulous.

Business Projects

Pen Name Contemplations: Don’t get too excited, because it’s a ways off, but I’m planning out a space opera series. I mention it now because it brings up a business question: should I write multiple genres under one name? The current indie author wisdom says that you should use a different pen name for each genre, primarily because the eCommerce algorithms get weird and start recommending Genre A to readers of Genre B if all your writing is under a single name.

But after reading through all the pros and cons of pen names I’m leaning against the pen name thing. Here’s my thinking:

  • I think readers are smart enough to look at the book cover for a space opera and see that it’s not a cozy mystery, even if they are recommended “the wrong” book by an algorithm.
  • I plan to write for as long as I’m alive and the notion of juggling multiple identities over a period of decades sounds awful.
  • Call me stubborn, but I resent the notion of reshaping my authorial identity (even in a superficial way) to suit a damn sales algorithm.
  • There are other ways to handle the problem of “offering the wrong book to the wrong person.” For example, if you signed up for my newsletter at the back of a mystery novel, I can see that and send you mostly mysteries. Vice versa if you come to me via another genre.

In this era of Kindle and keywords we multi-genre authors live in terror of the moment when the Zon sidles up to a Cozy Mystery reader and says “Hey! We saw you liked COZY NOVEL so how about this horror story with some light cannibalism?” The reader, being a nice person, may click buy. And after they see what’s inside the “wrong book” they might just scream and vomit simultaneously, and hate you forever. Oops!

Could that happen? I suppose it’s possible. Still, I don’t want to pretend to be 2-3 different people in order to avoid upsetting someone who downloads the wrong book. Besides, even within mystery and suspense the tone of my stories can vary considerably. There are depictions of violence in Power Play that I’d never put in a cozy mystery. It seems that at a certain point, by doing the pen name thing you could end up splitting yourself into a stupid number of identities if you write a variety of stories. And deep down, beneath all the analysis of pros and cons, I’d rather just be me. Maybe I’d feel differently if I were writing… oh, I don’t know, children’s fiction and dinosaur erotica.

Mercifully, neither of those genres are in my future. 😉

Website Tweaks: I brought back “category sort” on my front page. You can click a genre, category, or series name and sort the book list to bring up just the books you want. I also added bookstore buttons in my header, but it’s not a perfect feature, as some bookstores don’t have specific author pages, so the links take you to a “Cheri Baker” search page. I’m lookin’ at you, Kobo!

Newsletter Planning: I have a lot of plans for my newsletter and the hard part will be finding time to execute them. Short term, I’m going to write a “welcome series” so new subscribers get a few nice messages from me when they sign up. Longer term I have some ideas for free fiction I’d like to include as bonuses, but then I need to find time to write that free fiction, and I look at my release schedule and say HAHAHAHAAA.

Baby steps! I don’t need to do everything at once.

Non-Work Stuff

Exercise: We’ve slacked off on our jogging this month because it’s been as hot as balls by Seattle standards. May autumn come quickly! Starbucks busted out the pumpkin spice in August, which is frankly bizarre, but I’m here for it anyway because it’s 2020, dang it, and I think we should take whatever small joys come our way.

Reading Books: I picked up a fat stack of paperbacks from Lamplighter Books and I’m making my way through them. Oh, and our awesome library just opened up for curbside pickup, and I have an actual physical book waiting for me today! I haven’t been able to get physical books from the library since March, so I’m stoked.

Anyway, that’s what’s new with me. I hope your projects are going well! Keep washing those paws, and I’ll let you know when my new book links are up.