Do You Have Angst?: September 2013

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I Love Sequels!

I totally nerd-out when I find out one of my favorite books or movies is going to reproduce into a series, but not everyone feels the same. Recently Angry Nerd on Wired ranted about Pixar being a sell-out because of producing more sequels than new content.  While I do want to see new stories as much as anyone, I don't completely agree.

Whether writing, reading, or watching, I invest myself in characters. The best books I've read leave me feeling like I'm going to miss old friends when they are done. I care about the characters and want to know what happens next in their lives. The first story is often about character origins, world building and rule making. It's important, but when done well always leaves me wanting for more. A good sequel can provide the meat and potatoes to that origin story. Superman II - The Dark Knight - X2 X-Men United - are all great examples of films that were better than the first. Sometimes sequels can fix what was broken. Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and The Wolverine both come to mind as films that outshine their predecessors. I didn't hate Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and I didn't love X-Men Origins: Wolverine - but the sequels blew them away.

Do they ever need to end? Recently, Kevin Feige of Marvel Comics has stated that Iron Man movies will continue to be a thing.  "I believe there will be a fourth Iron Man film and a fifth and a sixth and a 10th and a 20th." While that may seem like a large number, since 1966 there have been 8 batman films. There are now 23 James Bond films to date and Skyfall is considered one of the best (a successful sequel title according to angry nerd). I believe it heavily depends on quality, a willing audience, or both. David Eddings Belgariad and Mallorean series comprised 10 books that included the same main characters, and I loved all of them. While I haven't read them in years, it looks like Piers Anthony is now up to 38 Xanth books!

I get antsy with my writing, excited to share more Angst but at the same time I really look forward to wrapping it up so I can tackle other stories. I have no intent to stop until this series is done, or rush through to finish it - but there this other idea I have for Angst that I may need to tackle one day. I think would be a lot of fun if everyone hasn't suffered burnout by then.

New stories versus sequels, which do you prefer? As for Pixar, they have my permission to stop what they are doing and get busy with Incredibles 2!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

I think I made a mistake

I've got 8,000 Twitter followers now and it's easy to lose people in the mob. I follow those with similar interests, they follow me back, and some of them even try Angst. I actually try to pick out people from the automated messages, try to make friends, but I've lost some along the way. Since each follower is important to me, I try to know who they are. It's not easy. I attempt to participate in Twitter conversations, or comment on tweets, but honestly, I'm bad at it. Or, I'm too careful, you can't see facial expressions in a tweet, or an instant message, or a text message - and I'd hate for anyone to take what I say the wrong way. Maybe that's cowardice, but I've learned that 1000 compliments can be lost in one off remark.

For the most part, I don't base characters on people. Those who know me will poke fun at that and all I can say is write what you know. I do a lot of 'head-nods' to friends. "A mane of hair", "A reader", and "foot stomp" all come from something or someone even if those characters aren't truly based on the individual. I only do this when it works, and as a way to show my appreciation. Most of the time it works really well, and Rose is a great example of that.

I may have made a mistake with another character. I get caught up in my own clever sometimes and in the storm lost one of my long-time Twitter followers. I received a tweet after the first book asking if their name could be included in the sequel. 

I thought the idea was genius, so much so that I included a handful of Twitter friends’ names in Buried in Angst. The characters weren't based on them, I don't know any of them close enough to do that, but I wanted to thank those that stuck with me through the long gap between Angst and Buried in Angst. I wanted to thank the people that really supported me in spite of not even knowing who I am. I couldn't include everyone, but I tried including a handful, and so I used names.

Several thought it was coincidence, or surreal. I received a few thanks, but one person I lost completely as a follower. Maybe it's because I used the name for a "bad guy", which is not at all what I thought of them. It's also possible they hated the sequel and ran away screaming (trust me, I worried about that for everyone). More than likely, it has nothing to do with me and their life doesn't revolve around my two books. (Which I find hard to believe, who isn't checking every day for news of Drowning in Angst or Angst the Movie?)

If I did, in any way, offend that person - my sincere apologies.

I felt the idea was fun and inclusive, but, as my wife will contend, I'm not a mind reader. It's impossible to know how someone will take something, even something they ask for. While, stubbornly, I still think this is a fun idea, I doubt I'll be naming characters after people any time soon (not unless they promise no hate!) Writing takes a lot of my time, all of my brain, much of my soul - and it should all be for fun. The last thing I ever want to do is offend or upset.


The good news is, this was a misunderstanding on my behalf. When Buried in Angst was released, I received a message they had purchased it and were going to read it right away. Months later they hadn't said anything about seeing their name, and it was unique enough they would have noticed. When I noticed that they no longer followed me on Twitter, I feared the worse.

Since writing this blog post, we have emailed and they just haven't had time to read. (Which falls into the category "More than likely, it has nothing to do with me and their life doesn't revolve around my two books." Still hard for me to fathom, lol.) They also mentioned having no issue with being a "bad guy".

That said, I think this is a fun idea but if I were ever to choose to do this in the future, I would ask first.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Angst: Officially a Best Seller!

I do a LOT of marketing for my fantasy novels Angst and Buried in Angst, probably more than I should. I enjoy that side of it, and it makes me feel like I'm doing something when not writing. Lately I've been looking for ways to promote Angst outside of conventions. I love them, but they are expensive and I'm pretty sure I've eaten up all Cristi's vacation days (both away from work, and away from her boyfriend!)

That said, I don't always feel like I've even come close to finding my audience. The cons are great, Twitter and Facebook work well, but nothing has truly pushed Angst over the edge or even near it - everything has been slow and steady. Not a complaint, just admission that I'm still figuring this out.

Over the last month I tried advertising my books on several sites. It's been interesting, and with varying degrees of success. I'm not going to call out the ones that didn't work, because it just as easily could have been my lack of research into the genres they normally promote. The worst had 750,000 Facebook followers and cost me $50; I was sure it would generate crazy sales and was grossly disappointed. Until this weekend, the best was - they were kind enough to include me in their newsletter and I felt it was definitely successful.

Friday, September 9th, Kindle Books and Tips promoted Angst on their site. I had read good things about them on KBoards. I watched sales on Amazon throughout the day like checking score for the longest football game ever. They were slow in the morning and I figured I had just thrown away allowance for a weeks worth of Starbucks. By noon I had broken my daily sales record for Angst and was pretty excited.

If you understand ranking on Amazon, you know a hell of a lot more than most people. Angst typically fluctuates between 60k - 100k. The start of September was slow like I am on a Monday morning and I had started in the 300s! When my daily sales record broke at noon Angst reached 40K then went back to the 300s. I really wanted to call someone and tell them to fix their stuff. How do you go from a 300,000 ranking, to 40,000, back to 300,000. I took this as a sign to stop watching the pot of water; it would boil on its own.

By dinner, everything had corrected itself and Angst ranked high enough that I had to glance at the top 100 books. It's a thing. It's a total pride and ego thing, and I know that so shush, I was curious. Angst and Buried in Angst are categorized under Epic Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery in the Amazon top 100 list. Those found at the bottom of the top 100 in Sword and Sorcery were ranked at about 3,000, and 4,000 in Epic (whomever wants to compete with George RR Martin please raise your hand.) Needless to say, Angst wasn't even close to the top 100 and there was no way it would happen  - which is why I kept checking.

That evening, after watching my daughter's marching band do an amazing first show of the season, I checked the score once again. People kept buying books, and to keep a long story from getting longer by 1am Angst was ranked 99th in Epic Fantasy on Amazon! (It was pretty noisy in my office for a few minutes.)  I was beside myself, posted everywhere, and after calming down went to bed thinking that for a brief moment Angst was a best seller. That's pretty awesome. I eventually woke up Saturday morning and was amazed to find that Angst had reached the mid-80s in the top 100 for both Epic Fantasy and Sword and Sorcery.

It felt good, amazing even, a little taste of what could be. Some days I feel like I work hard for every book sold, and, for a moment, this was like winning the lottery. While sales continued throughout the weekend, they are finally settling back to normal. What a fun ride! The timing of this was perfect: I have a little extra stride to my step and flair to my pen.

With all of this said, I have to shoutout Kindle Books and Tips - be sure to check them out! And to my newest readers, I hope you enjoy my Angst!