(UPDATE: Now it’s #6!!)
I haven’t blogged about it yet, but I’ve been working for the past year and a half on a novel. It’s called Marlowe Kana, and the first volume is now available on the website for the book, Kindle, Nook, iBooks and Kobo.
Here’s the cover, which was done by the lovely and talented Meghan Hetrick:
I started posting chapters to the site about a month ago (here’s Chapter 1; you can read all the way to Chapter 8 on the site right now, and Chapter 9 will go live Monday morning), and last week finally got the ebook for Volume 1 into the various digital stores. At some point on Thursday, Amazon finally got around to correcting the price and made it free. Overnight, the book went from #99,000 or so to #51 in Cyberpunk in the Kindle store. As I write this, it is now #8. This blows me away. I did NOT expect this.
I even got my first review — a lovely 5-star note on why this reader likes what he got:
What I’m Up To With This:
The strategy here wasn’t to have a huge launch or make a big splash. I want my books to ALWAYS be free on the web, no matter what the content, size, or format. So, I decided to post a new chapter every Monday from now until the book is complete in 2018. Every single Monday, you can go to my site and get the next chapter in the complete story for free.
I also want to collect the chapters into volumes — five of them, for the first book — and make them available to folks who prefer e-readers and collected formats (and also hopefully make a few bucks on my writing so I can get back to doing that full-time). My strategy is to give away the first volume (Chapters 1-10) for free, and then release the other 4 volumes at $2.99 each. The chapters will still be free every single Monday. Once all 5 volumes are complete, I plan to release the paperback of the full story for the regular book price of $14.99.
I want something for everyone: chapters every single week for those who like keeping up with things as they’re released, smaller volume collections for those who like reading in chunks and binging every month or so, and a full book for those who prefer watching 5 seasons of a show in a weekend.
The plan was to do my work and stay ahead of the curve, releasing things on a regular schedule and letting people who are interested know what’s going on as I do it. I didn’t plan any marketing blitzes or media outreach or review strategies or any of that crap until after the fifth volume is out. I wanted the full book to be complete and in the world before I began the hard work of trying to get attention for it.
But somehow, somewhere, someone beat me to the punch, and the free Volume 1 Ebook got linked somewhere. Amazon doesn’t show you where, so I guess that’ll be a mystery until the search results in Google surface it. But whoever did it: I’m super, super thankful! Thank you for getting some attention for my new novel!
Why I Have All The Feels:
It’s been 10 years since I finished writing my last book (The one I released in 2013, Everyone Deserves To Know What I Think, was a collection of prior writing. Nothing new. Doesn’t count). As a lot of you know, my previous books were all about my life, my adventures, and my friends and loved ones. Well, most of that life is gone now. Some of those loved ones are no longer in my life. I went through some serious growth and a lot of transformation the last few years. So, when I decided to return to writing, the one thing I knew I wouldn’t be doing is the same thing I used to do, because I’m just not that guy anymore.
So, I decided to write fiction. I was once told by a good friend that writing about yourself and journalism are certainly writing, but you don’t really know how hard writing is until you try to invent a world and all the people in it, and make it make sense. And man, was he ever right. This book is HARD. And the embarrassing truth is, I honestly thought when I started that it would be a breeze.
All of my experience the last 15 years has been in spinning yarns about the zany crap I have seen and been a part of. So, it’s easy to go “And then this happened, and then THIS happened, and THEN…” And if questioned, you get to say “Well, that’s just how it happened.” Your only job is to make people feel something about it.
When you write fiction, you still have the job of making people feel… But what they are feeling about? You have to make all of that up. You have to make it whole, interesting, and real. You have to give each and every person a personality, a life, a reality. You have to make them operate with other whole and interesting characters, in situations that you invent that must ALSO be whole, interesting and real. And all of it has to take place in a world you must describe without insulting the reader, but also without leaving them behind.
In fact, my first draft of this book was so viciously ripped apart by my friends who actually know the craft of writing that I deleted it completely and started over, but only after reading every book, watching every video and studying every work I could on the art of writing fiction. And it was an act of love when my friends criticized my work — they didn’t have to be honest, but they were, and I am a better person and writer for it.
It’s been a LOT of hard work simply making this book exist, in a way that isn’t complete crap. So that alone has been a challenge. But the other half of it is that I’m doing something I used to do, but in a different way… Which means the old ways don’t work. The entire world of publishing has changed. I no longer have the connective tissue I used to have on the internet to get things out into the world (and that’s very much on purpose… Who I used to be and the connections I used to have were built on a lot of immaturity, attention-seeking, balderdash and bravado. I never want to be or see that in me again, so I had to walk away from those old places).
Sitting down and writing for days and weeks and months used to be how I made my living. These days, I work full-time again, and my writing is the thing I do on nights and weekends because I must. It feels familiar, because that’s how my career began. Going back to the beginning is tough. It feels so familiar, but it’s all completely different. And there’s nothing more exhausting than standing at the foot of a mountain you once climbed and seeing that its entire face has changed, and knowing you have no idea how to do this thing you used to do all the time is scary.
But here I am, and I’m not quitting. No matter what.
So to see my book unexpectedly get some attention all on its own… and to hear from folks that it doesn’t suck… Well, that’s certainly a recipe for a little tear-shedding. So thank you all very much for sticking with me these years, and for checking out this new thing I’m doing. It means the world to me.
Writing, and a whole lot of it. This book is one of three in the complete story. At the end of it all in 2020, there will be three complete paperbacks, which will also be available as 15 ebook volumes if you prefer. And every single chapter of every single book will be available for free on the Marlowe Kana website (where I am also stretching my wings in web development and playing with CSS animations, 3D transforms, WebVR and other really neat web stuff! If you’re into rich digital experiences, it might be up your alley!). Volume 1 wraps on June 5 when I post Chapter 10. The next Monday, June 12, I’ll start Volume 2 on the site, and the ebook will go live in all the stores shortly after. If you don’t like waiting week after week, you can get it for $2.99 and get ahead of the curve 🙂 The same strategy will apply for volumes 3-5 — as soon as those volumes begin on the website, you can get the ebook and read ahead.
Once volume 5 is finished, the paper novel collecting all the volumes will be available for purchase, and I’ll begin working on Book 2, and then finally Book 3, each following the same strategy: Free on the website chapter-by-chapter, $2.99 for the volumes in the digital stores (volumes 6-10 for Book 2, Volumes 11-15 for Book 3), and paperbacks collecting the volumes for book 2 and book 3 available for $14.99.
I hope you’ll join me for the ride!