Tuesday, February 11, 2020

FAQ XIV – The Appropriately Numbered One

Another six... okay seven months have passed us by and I promised I’d update this when there’s more news soooooooo....  Updates!

One element of almost semi-famous authordom on social media is questions. I generally like questions and  interacting with folks. But a lot of these questions come up frequently  You could even call them... frequently asked questions. This is less fun and cool. Sad truth is it gets exhausting (and kinda frustrating) to answer the same questions again and again and again.

(And before you panic, person who probably asked a question yesterday, no, I’m not singling you out. You just did it this one time without thinking. You’re good) 

(For now)

Anyway... this is me continuing the somewhat futile practice of scribbling up answers to a dozen of the most common questions I’ve been getting lately. Then when people ask me those questions (again!) I can just say “hey, check out the FAQ pinned at the top of the page!”

Or maybe I won’t say anything, cause at this point... I mean, there’s an FAQ pinned right at the top of the page. And several dozen interviews floating around the web. Plus a bunch of books I wrote. Most of the answers are already out there.

(if your teacher’s making you ask an author a bunch of questions... just give them a link to this)

1) When are we going to see something new?
Seriously? It’s barely been two weeks since Terminus came out. Enjoy it for a minute...

But, yeah, hopefully you’ve all found Terminus and enjoyed it. For those of you who don’t do audiobooks, for whatever reason, I should have at least an ebook version out in six months so... very early August. Possibly late July, if I’m super on the ball, but we’ll see. I think the Dead Moon ebook was a week or three past the end-of-exclusivity date.

I’m also looking at bringing one or two other things to ebook (at least) that have been kinda out of wider circulation for a bit. News on that as they get more solid/ closer.

Past that... we’re  a little bit in the wild west right now. I’ve got a few things I’m working on, but nothing that’s been sold or I can really talk about right now. So the next few months might be a little quiet in that sense. I’ll try to let everyone know about things when I can and well... when  I redo this later in the summer I may have a lot more to say.

2) Wait, no paper version of Dead Moon OR Terminus?
At the moment I’d have to answer that with “no.” There’s a couple of different reasons for it, and most of them involve assorted business things I’d rather not get into at the moment. There’s a chance both books may still become available, but for the moment Dead Moon’s just going to be ebook alongside the audio.  Sorry. And I don’t know for sure about Terminus yet, but it’s looking that way.

3) Okay, can you explain the whole “Threshold” series?
Threshold is the brand name/ umbrella label for the shared universe I kinda-sorta inadvertently kicked off seven years ago with 14.  There are some books that are definitely part of an overall linear story, a “series” if you will, and some that just fall under the umbrella.  Lots of Stephen King books tie into the Dark Tower mythology, but they’re not all part of the Dark Tower series.  Does that make sense?

And, yes, this does make things a bit awkward, because I know in the past the marketing folks reeeeeaally pushed Threshold as a pure, straightforward series (Book One, Book Two, etc), even though I’ve said several times that it isn’t. This may give some people false expectations for what some books will be about, and I apologize if that’s you. I’m doing my best to make the books as great as they can be, and hopefully you won’t be too bothered that maybe you went in thinking this was going to be a fourth season of Trollhunters when it had always been a third season of 3 Below.  Again, if that makes sense.

4) So how does Dead Moon fit into the Threshold series?
As it happens, I wrote a whole book explaining this called Dead Moon.  Also check out #3 up above.

5) Why do you keep doing all these “Audible exclusives” ?
Well, I’ve done two. And there’s a very solid argument to be made that the majority of my fanbase is audiobook listeners. Audible knows this, too, and so when they heard about Dead Moon and Terminus they made me an extremely generous offer for exclusive rights, meaning both of them would be audiobook only for the first six months they’re out. 

Yes, I know this makes some of you grind your teeth. I’m sorry if you’re not an audiobook listener (for whatever reason) and this leaves you out of the loop for a bit. My agent and I talked about it a lot and the pros and cons of doing it. In the end, I really wanted to tell these stories and this was the best way to do it. Again, I’m sorry if this puts you in a bad spot.

6) Is Ex-Isle the last Ex book?
Not absolutely 100% sure, but for now, yeah, Ex-Tension is going to stay on that back burner.  Sorry.

The truth is, every series has a limited life. Book one always sells the best, not as many people show up for book two, even less show up for book three, and so on. Something may happen to give book one a boost (and all the other books after it) but they’re still all going to be on a near-constant downward slope heading for that red line where things aren’t profitable. None of the Ex-Heroes books ever lost money (thank you all for that), but they were on that slope and when the publisher started looking ahead to book six... that red line was pretty much unavoidable.

7) Have you considered a Kickstarter or a GoFundme?
I have and the answer’s no, sorry. 

I love these books. I had tons of fun writing them. I’m still amazed there are so many fans who feel so passionately about them. But the math is pretty simple—if enough people were willing to pay for another book, the publisher would be willing to put out another book. All the numbers say that’s just not the case. Sure, some of you might be willing to pay twice as much to a Kickstarter for one more book, but I think we can all agree there’s at least as many people (probably more) who wouldn’t pay anything. Again, the math just doesn't work out.

Plus, I already have a pretty good idea what I’m working on into 2021 at this point. Doing a crowdfunded project means I have to schedule things as if it’s going to succeed, which means neglecting a lot of those other projects.

Again, sorry.

8) Do you make more money if I buy one of your books in a certain format?
I know this sounds like an easy question, but there’s about a dozen conditionals to any answer I give.  Figure a huge chunk of each contract is just all the different terms and conditions for when and if and how people get paid.

For example... format matters, sure, but so does where you bought the book.  And when.  And how many people bought it before you. And if it was on sale. And who was actually holding the sale.  And all of this changes in every contract.  What’s true for, say, The Fold may not be true for Paradox Bound.

TL;DR—just buy the format you like.

9) Do you have any plans to attend ########-Con?
As I write this, my con schedule for 2020 includes WonderCon, Denver Pop Culture Con, and SDCC. There still may be one or two getting added to that list over the next few weeks—we’ll all find out together.

If you want to see me at your local con, let them know! Yeah, them, not me. I’m willing to go almost anywhere I’m invited, but... if I’m not invited, there’s just not much I can do.  So, email them, tweet them, post on their Instagram account. Reach out and let your voice be heard.

Also, please keep in mind, most cons finalize their guest list five or six months in advance. If your local con’s in three weeks... the odds are not in our favor. Sorry.

10) When are you going to make a movie/ TV series/ graphic novel/ video game of your books?
Okay, there’s a misunderstanding of how Hollywood works in this sort of question.  When we see a film adaptation or TV series, it means the studio went to the writer, not the other way around.  I have pretty much zero influence on Netflix making a Paradox Bound series or the Hallmark Channel doing a Lycanthrope Robinson Crusoe movie. I mean, if it was just about writers saying “hey, make this into a movie,” wouldn’t most books be adapted by now? Everybody’d be doing it. 

11) Well, is there anything we can do to help?
Buying books is always a good step.  Hollywood likes to see big sales numbers and interest.  If you want to see something—anything—on the air, talk about it a lot on social media. And write reviews. Producers/ directors/ actors all hear about this stuff the same way you do. If #Terminus or #ParadoxBound start trending on Twitter tomorrow, there’ll probably be a film deal within a week.

(easy way to do this?  Don’t buy books from Amazon if you can avoid it. Write reviews there, sure, absolutely, but Amazon gets iffy with sales figures, so they don’t get included in a lot of bestsellers lists. Yeah, a pre-order or purchase from your local bookstore might cost a buck or three more, but it’s a purchase Hollywood’s much more likely to see)

(Plus, now you’re one of those awesome people supporting local businesses. Be awesome)

12) Why don’t you like people talking about your books?
I’m thrilled and amazed people talk about anything I wrote. Seriously. What I can’t stand are people who blurt out spoilers that can ruin these stories for other people. It’s why I avoid those questions in interviews, ignore them on Twitter, and why—where I can—I delete posts that reveal things from a book.

And not just my stories! You shouldn’t mess up other stories, either. Movies, TV—I’m just saying, if you enjoyed it spoiler-free, why not try to give other people a chance to enjoy it the same way? I still haven’t watched the last season of Game of Thrones or Doctor Who, dammit!

13) Will you read my story and tell me what you think?
Short answer... no. 

Long answer... if I say yes to some folks, in the spirit of fairness I have to say yes to everyone. Now I’m spending all my time reading and doing critiques instead of writing.  I don’t want sound mercenary, but... writing is how I pay my mortgage. So when somebody asks me to read stuff, they’re asking me to give up a few hours of work. Plus, I do have this ranty writing blog sitting, yknow, right here with over a decade of advice and tips.

Also... some folks are lawsuit-crazy, and the bad ones ruin it for everyone else. Somebody shows me a piece of bland, generic fanfic and a few years from now they sue me for stealing "their ideas". Yeah, I know that sounds stupid, but I’ve been subpoenaed and deposed for lawsuits with less behind them than that. It’s why I’m verrrry leery when I get a long message along the lines of “You know what you should really do next with the people from 14...”  Heck, some writers respond with smackdowns or even cease & desist orders when they get sent stuff like this.  

And if you send stuff without asking, I’ll delete it unread, just like spam mail. Sorry.

14) What’s up with yo—wait, foureen? Didn’t you say top twelve?
What are you, the number police?

15) What’s up with your Facebook page?
Ahhhhh, Facebook. Where we’re the consumer and the product. Just like Soylent Green.

Simple truth is, Facebook made it pretty much pointless for me to have a fan page there.  They’ve drastically altered their algorithms over the years so my posts there have gone from 70-85% engagement to barely scraping 10-15% most of the time. Why? Well, so I’d pay to reach people who’ve already said they want to see my posts. Which I wouldn’t do because folks pretty conclusively proved years ago that paying for views on Facebook actually decreases your reach. No, seriously. It does.

And yeah, sure--it’s their site.  They can do whatever they want with it and run it the way they like.  And yeah they absolutely deserve to make money off it.  I’m a progressive, but I still believe in (regulated) capitalism.

But then that brings us to all of Facebook’s little side ventures. Collecting countless amounts of personal data. The spread of misinformation. Social engineering on unwitting subjects... which has led to more than a few deaths. If you think I’m exaggerating, look up articles about how Facebook shaped perceptions or spread propaganda in Myanmar or Sri Lanka. And these aren’t fringe articles—they’re from major news sites. Do you know how many Facebook fact checkers have quit—internationally—because Facebook won’t actually let them check facts? They’re told again and again to let lies and falsehoods stand because of who’s posting them.

So I’ve quit Facebook. Deleted my personal account, which means the fan page is cut loose with no administrator. I think this FAQ will be the last thing I post there.

16) What about Twitter or Instagram?
I’m @PeterClines on both. Fair warning--as some of you may have figured out, I’m progressive and I’m a bit more political on Twitter. Most Saturdays I also drink and live-tweet bad B-movies so...  don’t say you didn’t know what you were getting into. I’ll also say right up front I don’t believe in Twitter high school, where I’m supposed to follow someone just because they followed me. So if that’s your approach, I’ll save you time now...

Instagram is probably the geekiest of  my social medias. How is that possible, you ask?  Well, there’s little toy soldiers, LEGO, classic toys. And cats. Can’t have an Instagram account without cats. Sometimes these things mix.

Yeah, I know Instagram’s also owned by Facebook, but (for the moment) they’re not being quite so reprehensible over there.  So (also for the moment) I’ll still be there.


And I think that should answer about 90% of your questions, yes...?

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