July update – where’s it at

Writing Schedule

The second section of Angel Stakes will be with the beta readers in the next couple of days.

How much of the book is this? Well, the first section I sent out took the book to one of the standard ‘structural’ points, called the ‘first turning point’. Theoretically, this is 25% of the book. That section happened to be 27k words long. The second section should be up to the second major structural point, called imaginatively the ‘mid-point’. What I’m sending out isn’t quite that far. It’s about 34k words, and there are two major twists to come before the mid-point. So if we say 10k words to get to the mid-point, then half the book will come to approximately 70k, and that means the final book may be as long as Wild Card.

Having said all that, my structural points occur at different places to the ‘average’ book, partly because I’m writing a series and partly because I have multiple threads and each thread has its own structure, which might displace the main book structure slightly.

We’ll see. I know what happens of course, but how many words it takes me to say it, and how long it takes me to write it, are estimations that I’m not good at making.

Hidden Trump audio

What a labyrinth!

It has taken Julia Motyka and I over three weeks to get the Audible / ACX payment details provided to us. When I hired Kimberly to read Sleight of Hand, I paid her directly, which was easy. Because Julia is also an actor and director and needs to channel all payments through her guild, I have to pay her through the ACX approved ‘paymaster’. Easy – “send us a cheque/check” they said. Can’t do that, I’m a UK citizen and don’t have a bank account in the US (and it’s near impossible to acquire one). Surely, we said, surely, there is someone who understands that US narrators might get paid by UK authors? Eventually, there was, and he provided me with bank details for an international bank transfer. To a dead account.

The funds were returned to my bank. My bank called me (and warned me that both their charges for the transfer and the charges from the US bank were taken against my account). I emailed the ACX paymaster, requesting the correct account number and their opinion as to what I should do about the bank charges. They provided the correct number and ignored the comment about charges. I’d probably have accepted a simple apology, but what I actually got back after re-querying it was “I never heard of banks doing this”!

Anyway, the payment has been made, Audible / ACX are doing their checking, whatever that is, and the audiobook should be up soon. I hope.

Sales

Creeping along. Summer sales are pretty skewed anyway, and I’m not sure the Bite Back books are the type you take to the beach.

Anyway, overall, the books are within touching distance of 70,000 total sales, which is great, but as this is the third anniversary of the release of Sleight of Hand, I did have a look at the annual total sales numbers.

Aug 2012-2013 40,000

Aug 2013-2014 60,000

Aug 2014-2015 70,000

Which represents a disheartening slow-down. I know some of the problem is that, especially in this genre, output as measured by books is what keeps you in the rankings, and staying in the rankings is what drives sales. I write longer books, I release them slowly, and inevitably, I slip a little in the rankings.

I had that in mind when I started plotting Bian’s companion series – they seemed, at the plotting stage, to be shorter, so I could write and release them more quickly and the two series would feed each other. Ha! I can’t write short books it seems, and trying to keep the first book of Bian’s Tale short may have been what caused the writing to stutter. I will return to Bian’s Tale, but inevitably that will slow the release of Bite Back books.

There appears to be an opportunity to improve sales when I can devote more time to marketing. To take one example, slightly less than 50% of the people who bought Wild Card have bought Cool Hand. The reviews and ratings for both are good, so I think I can assume that it’s not that the readers don’t like the series or wouldn’t buy Cool Hand. I can only theorize that, due to the delay getting Cool Hand out, other books/series with higher rankings on Amazon have caught their attention.

Back to writing.

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About Mark Henwick

I was born in Africa and left out in the sun too often. An early interest in philosophy and psychology was adequately exorcised by tending bars. And while trying to enroll in a class to read Science Fiction full time, I ended up taking an engineering degree which splendidly qualified me to move into marketing. That in turn spawned a late onset career in creative writing. When not working, I get high by the slightly less conventional means of a small light aircraft. My first book, 'Sleight of Hand' is available on Amazon at http://amzn.to/Sa0D3n

9 responses to “July update – where’s it at”

  1. Dee DenBleyker says :

    Personally, I love longer books and would take the Bite Back series anywhere including the beach. It is that good.

  2. Sarah L says :

    Another vote here for long books and if I ever got a chance to relax on the beach Bite Back would make an excellent companion! I’m never sure what to think of follow up book sales as when I find a series I like, I ensure I never miss out on a new book by liking on Facebook, blog following or newsletter signing but am sure many people don’t do this. I’m a little OCD in my reading habits! I’d never let myself miss an instalment of such an excellent series!

  3. Mark Henwick says :

    Thank you, Dee and Sarah!

  4. Susan Illene says :

    Looks like you’re coming along. Considering the length of your novels, I can understand why they take more time than most. It’s all worth it for the stories you put out!

  5. Krebs says :

    Dear Mark,
    just rereading the series for the… i’m not sure, probably the 5th time or so 😉
    I consider your books as “must buy” cause i love them and it is one of my favourite series.
    Reading is my way to realax after stressful working day and my favorite weekend occupation. So as a person who reads a lot lot lot of books that should count as something.
    Anyhow, there is one thing i recognized:
    Reviews and recommendations of your books can’t be found on most of the bigger fan based internet pages focusing on urban fantasy or fantasy literature in general.
    Maybe it would be possibility to increase the awareness level of your name as a writer and your books by stuff like interviews, beta reading or something like that. I know many people are checking this pages for the next to read books. The genre you are writing is kind of massively overloaded and high quality books (world building, story, writing style, editing) like yours are the needle in the haystack.
    Sorry for the long text, keep up the great work!

    • Mark Henwick says :

      Thanks Krebs!

      It is *fascinating* the number of readers I have who visit this site or Facebook and mention re-reads. I know it feeds unconsciously into my writing, so that every now and then, I’ll smile as I write a scene and think “they won’t see that the first time through”. 🙂 This is great for re-readers, but I wonder if this makes me rather a ‘serious’ writer (despite Dee and Sarah above saying they’d read me on the beach). ‘Beach’ reading I tend to associate with light books which are easy to pick up and put down.

      Anyway, yes, you are right about Bite Back not appearing on the big sites which recommend books. Urban Fantasy doesn’t appear to have megastar reviewers. (I’m thinking of sites like http://www.sfreviews.net/index.html in Science Fiction for instance. If you read SF, then I’d recommend reading his reviews. I’ve only found 2-3 books where he and I disagree hugely. I’ll name one – Jonathan Stange and Mr Norrell.)

      So – who does a similar job for Urban Fantasy? (Anyone reading this, please list any site you use and recommend).

      Thank you again!

      • Krebs says :

        Hi again,
        about the beach reading maybe look at it like that:
        For me, it is a time where you relax and enjoy. You can immerse yourself in a story and can fade out your surroundings. There is not much of the standard distraction you have for example at home. Perfect please to hook your claws in your favourite books, dig deep and savour every moment (sometimes i even take books to the beach like Homer or Dante). For some that time is most precious. Therefore, take it as a huge compliment that your books are considered worth to spend time with on the “beach” :).

        Here are some of the pages i visit more or less regularly (don’t know if that counts as big):
        http://allthingsuf.com/
        http://fantasybookcritic.blogspot.com/ (they are posting lots of interviews and have many followers)
        http://bestfantasybooks.com/
        http://badassbookreviews.com/
        http://www.darkurbanfantasy.com/
        There are surly more, but that are the ones i have in my list. Hope that helpes a bit and i think “Bite Back” is somehow not mentioned at most of them.

        Cheers!

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