Monday, January 25, 2016

Available Now: COMMANDO Operation Archery

December, 1941. Corporal Thomas Lynch and the rest of 3 Commando board a pair of troop ships and set out on the largest Commando raid yet. Their mission: assault the Norwegian island of Vaagso, neutralize the German defenders, and destroy anything supporting the Axis war machine.

Lynch and the other Commandos storm the island and quickly find themselves engaged in brutal house-to-house fighting. Casualties begin to mount, and the fighting spirit of Britain’s finest is severely tested as the ferocious German defense pushes them to the breaking point.

COMMANDO: Operation Archery is the fifth in a series of military action - adventure novels written in the spirit of classic war movies and wartime adventure pulp fiction.

Although it has taken longer than I expected, the fifth book in the COMMANDO series is now live on Amazon in eBook format. I will be working on the print copy over the next few weeks, and it should be available sometime in February. Over the last year or so I've received a lot of very complimentary queries asking when this book will be released, and it's really great knowing I've got a strong fanbase eager for the next volume in this series.

I'll be starting on the draft of the sixth book, Operation Elysium, in the next couple of days. It'll be set in the spring of 1942, pitting Lynch and the lads of 3 Commando against some of the deadliest enemies they've ever faced...

Monday, January 4, 2016

My 2015 Writing in Review

For the past several years now, I've been writing a year-end post about how my various books have performed, and although I haven't published anything in 2015 (more on that later), I wanted to give a rundown of the year's sales, as much for my own analysis as anything else. As always with such things, I provide these numbers not to boast, or to whine, but merely to inform. Some folks out there are doing much worse than I am, while others are doing much better. This is just the way it is, so take the following as provided for information purposes only.

In 2015, I sold roughly 5600 books, about 90% of those in ebook form. This is down about 2,000 sales from last year. A portion of that loss is, without a doubt, due to the new Kindle Unlimited payment method of calculating royalties based on pages read, not on 10%+ "borrows" as before, and in the past, I have been factoring any "borrow" as a sale to keep the bookkeeping simple. Since July of this year, when KU 2.0 went into effect, I've had about 170,000 pages read, which if divided by an average of 200 pages (the shortest of my Commando books, just for the sake of rough calculation), gives me another 835 sales, bringing me to around 6400 books sold. Of course, not everyone who started one of my books finished it, and it is impossible now to track such things.

In terms of what percentage of my sales went to each book, the total is overwhelmingly my Commando series. While last year I sold some 700+ copies of my western, Renegade's Revenge, This year I sold less than a hundred copies, with some modest few hundred pages borrowed. I was actually rather amazed at how RR sold very strongly for months, and then sales dried up almost overnight. While there were months where I'd sell over a hundred copies, now I am shocked if the title sells more than 4-6 copies in a month. Since RR was about 9% of my sales last year, losing it as a sales stream had a significant impact on my numbers this year as compared to last.

As for all my other titles, the numbers are minimal, at best. Killer Instincts sold about 300 copies and had a couple thousand KU pages read, but the bulk of that was due to a very successful promotion in March. San Francisco Slaughter didn't hit a hundred sales, and all of my short stories totaled together don't even break 100 sales for the year. That means the Commando series accounted for more than 90% of all my books sold in 2015.

The good news is, in terms of royalties, I ended the year only about $1,000 under what I made in 2014. Again, I think some of this discrepancy is due to difficulties in calculating sales vs. royalties because of KU 2.0, combined with much softer sales of my shorter works like RR, which paid out less than the longer works. In addition, more of the sales in 2014 were from countdown deals and other discounted sales, while most of the 2015 sales - especially the Commando titles - were at full price, making my average royalty per sale much higher overall.

And now we come to the fact that in 2015, I didn't publish anything. The year in general was frustrating for me, both in terms of my day job (I am firmly burned out there) and in terms of getting past my writer's block and completing Operation Archery, the fifth Commando novel. Archery deals with the Vaagso Raid of December 1941, and there is a lot of very detailed information out there about the events of that raid. I found myself frustrated at many points, often trying to figure out how to weave my fictional characters into the historical timeline in a way that gave them something to do, while not stealing the thunder from historical characters. It was a really good learning experience for me, because it taught me that, while I enjoy writing historical fiction, I am not great at writing about specific historical events. Thankfully, at the end of the year I was able to press on and finish the manuscript, and Archery is now in the editing stage, with a hopeful release in the next week or so for the ebook version.

So, what does 2016 look like? At this point, I dare not speculate, because I had extraordinarily high hopes for 2015, none of which came to fruition. Archery will be published this month, and I am already working on Operation Elysium, the sixth book in the Commando series. Beyond that, I really don't want to make any promises, although I have some ideas for what I want to accomplish. As with 2014, the vast bulk of my success as an author last year was tied to the Commando books, so that is where I need to focus my energy, but as we also saw, that comes with the risk of hitting a wall, and not being able or willing to step around it and carry on with something else. At what point does exploiting success at the expense of diversification mean you burn out on what you love? Let's hope we don't find out any time soon.

As always, please share your thoughts and questions in the comments section.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Available Now: RANGER Operation Axehammer by Dan Eldredge

Click the Cover to View on Amazon!
Fellow author Dan Eldredge has just gone live with a WW2 action-adventure novel written as a companion series to my COMMANDO stories, but featuring US Army Rangers. If you're interested in "Men's Adventure" styled WW2 fiction, take a look.

Eager to take the fight to the Germans, hundreds of young American soldiers volunteer to become Rangers, an elite unit modeled after the famed British Commandos. Chuck Hawkins and Alan Patrick are two such men, ready to accept the challenge and show the world that Americans are ready to fight.

After surviving months of hellish training, Hawkins and Patrick are selected to join a Ranger squad on a covert mission in occupied France. Under orders to avoid contact with the Germans, the plan goes awry when bullets start flying minutes after their landing. Hawkins, Patrick, and the rest of the Rangers are determined to complete their mission, all the while pursued by a ruthless SS officer and his fanatical troops.

RANGER: Operation Axehammer is a military action - adventure novel written in the spirit of classic war movies and wartime pulp adventure fiction.

This edition also includes the World War II short story: Our Turn to Shoot:

In early 1942, while the Imperial Japanese Navy rampaged in the western Pacific and the East Indies, the US Navy was desperately attempting to recover from the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. A raid by US Navy aircraft carriers on the Japanese-held Marshall Islands was a small but important step in showing the world that America was still in the fight.

Ensign Jim Novak is a dive bomber pilot on board USS Enterprise, eager for a chance to take the fight to the enemy. This will be his first mission to strike a blow against the Japanese, but it could also be his last...

Our Turn to Shoot is a short story of approximately 6,300 words.