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One Year Ago, and One Year From Now

One Year Ago

One year ago, on Oct. 18, I published Overload Flux, the first book in my Central Galactic Concordance (CGC) science fiction series. It was a leap into the unknown seas of independent publishing, though plenty of others had gone before me and reported that the water was fine.  I thought the book was pretty good, as did my brave beta reviewers, but the first positive reviews by total strangers were a relief. My journey to get there was exhilarating when the plot blossomed, frustrating when I didn't know how to do what I wanted, and  all-consuming—just ask the resident Mad Scientist, who was convinced I had become enslaved by my computer.

Books by Carol Van NattaAfter that, I wrote and published Minder Rising, the second, standalone book in the series, and Zero Flux, a sequel novella to Overload Flux because fans kept asking. That's another pleasant surprise: I have fans. Astonishingly, there are people who are not related to me, or even in the same state or country, who like my work enough to write and tell me so, or comment on the story, or ask when the next book is coming out. Not many, mind you; my fans are not yet legion. I know it's common for a writer to say they write for themselves, but for me, that's shorthand for “I write what I like to read and want to share with others.” When I hear from a reader, or when someone writes a nice review on Amazon or Goodreads, or just posts something complimentary on Facebook, it's worth all the trouble. Overload Flux even won a SFR Galaxay Award and was a finalist for two others.

Before I published any of them, I decided on the indie publishing route, partly because traditional publishers won't touch science fiction romance, and partly because the larger publishers treat authors badly because, well, it's tradition. I've met numerous authors who are happy with their publishers, and I know some small to mid-sized publishers offer good value for the high percentage they take in royalties. For me, I'd rather be in control of my own destiny, and pay for the failures or reap the rewards for the successes. I can release books on my own schedule, as fast as I can write, not based on the publisher's desire for only one or two long books a year because it fits their business model for a given genre. I can lay low, marketing-wise, until I have enough books out to satisfy demand and build a following over time, not sink to the bottom of the pond and sleep with the fishes because my series isn't the next Hunger Games/Twilight/etc. I can also react to a changing marketplace and take advantage of new opportunities a lot faster—no need to argue with the corporate marketing department about buying an ad in SFR Quarterly when they review my book or whether buying a promo on a new SF-focused email list is a good investment. And I can learn from the successful indies who are generous with their expertise and honest about their experiences, such as Lindsay Buroker, J. A. Konrath, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, and others. 

One Year From Now

Pico's Crush Is Coming in Winter2015So what's next? First out of the gate will be Pico's Crush, book 3 in the CGC series. It's a standalone story with new adventures and characters, plus some returning characters from previous books. My best crystal-ball prognostication says the book will be out in January 2016. After that, I have high-level plot sketches for the next two or three books in the series. I'm learning how to be a better writer with each book, which is as it should be, and my goal is to get good enough to do full justice to the Big Damn Story Arc® in my head. When book 4 comes out in late spring and book 5 in late fall (fingers crossed and appropriate sacrifices made to the author gods), I'll probably do print versions of all my novels. They cost a little more and take a little longer to make back their return on investment, but I'll have something tangible to offer to potential readers beyond business cards and postcards of the ebook covers, lovely though they are.

In 2016, I plan to attend the Northern Colorado Writers Conference in Fort Collins, CO, because it's in my home town, and I always learn something I need to know at the time. I'm likely to attend the *humongous* RT Booklovers Convention, which will be in Las Vegas,  and probably the RomCon Readers/Writers convention in Denver, to connect with other genre authors and fans. 

Audio books microphoneIn my dreams, I'd like to publish audio versions of my books, but because my books use words and phrases from a dozen languages, from Mandarin to Icelandic to Polish, I'll have to work closely with the producer and voice talent to get them right, and there are only so many hours in the day for activities that aren't writing the next book. 

After that? Who knows, maybe I'll start another series, maybe science fiction, fantasy, or steampunk. (Ideas: I gots 'em.) Or maybe I'll write books 6 through 9 in the CGC series, because yes, the Big Damn Story Arc demands them. One thing's for sure: I'll be off the streets and out of the karaoke bars for the next few years.

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If you're a reader who likes my books, thank you for buying, enjoying, and recommending them to your friends. If you've posted reviews of my books on Amazon and/or Goodreads, you get special thanks, because your time and effort help other potential readers find my books, too. Please reward yourself with a kitten video from Simon's Cat.