Happy New Year!

31 Dec

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Actually, I tell a lie (but it’s a nice quote and I wanted to steal it.) In many ways, this year has been a very good one for me.

Principally, my son was born on 23rd December, 2014. Eric is a very healthy baby with an extremely good pair of lungs. He likes being cuddled by his mother and father, but really – really – dislikes being changed or washed. After some hesitation, I think I managed to master the trick of changing him as fast as possible.

This was somewhat marred by Aisha having a fever on the 26th and having to go back into hospital for a few days. She’s now back in the house, feeling weak but getting better. We still don’t know what caused the infection, however.

Being a father is both wonderful and terrible. Eric is a lovely child, yet he seems so fragile. I hold him gingerly, because I’m scared of hurting him; I hold him firmly, because I’m scared of dropping him. I’m almost neurotic about dangerous stuff in the house; I’m currently planning to hammer the bookcases into the walls, just to be sure he can’t pull them down on his head. Is this normal?

We spent the first five months of 2014 in Manchester, then went back to Malaysia for two months before finally getting the visa. I won’t go into details, because this message would then become a rant, but suffice it to say that getting the visa for someone who could actually make a valued contribution to the country was an extremely difficult task. It might not be so bad if it wasn’t far too clear that the UKBA is a joke. Frankly, the system seems designed to take as much money off the would-be immigrant as possible, rather than defending the country or even ensuring that immigration is limited to people who can be expected to behave in a civilised manner. (For example, you need to have a TB certificate. Sounds reasonable … except the clinic they approved to do the test charges huge rates, by Malay standards.)

The writing has been going reasonably well, as you know. Ark Royal surprised me by doing fantastically well on Amazon, so I wound up writing three sequels; The Nelson Touch, The Trafalgar Gambit and Warspite. I’m planning to write the next two Warspite books – A Savage War of Peace and A Small Colonial War – over the next year, followed by another trilogy provisionally entitled Vanguard.

Schooled In Magic has also been doing well; I’ve got two more books in the pipeline … and, as you know, several more books planned. I would love to write these books exclusively, but I need to vary myself. <grin>. Bookworm III will be out in February, I hope, along with The School of Hard Knocks (SIM V).

I’m currently fiddling with my choices for the next few projects. Ideally, I plan to write either Never Surrender (TEC 10) or Coup D’état (stand-alone) next, probably in late January or early February. After that, I need to finish the Decline and Fall of The Galactic Empire at some point, along with another Schooled In Magic or Royal Sorceress book.

Warspite will be coming out in audio soon enough, along with the next couple of books in The Empire’s Corps series. I’m exploring options for bringing out audio versions of the Schooled In Magic books too, just to see what will happen. CreateSpace sales have been low, unsurprisingly; I cannot set the prices any lower without eliminating my profits completely. (I get one dollar on the books.) POD doesn’t have the economies of scale that the traditional publishers enjoy. I still pray for a book published by a mainstream house – I would like a mass market paperback with my name on it.

That said, I’m nervous about some of the recent changes in the book industry. While I can’t say the dispute between Amazon and Hachette did anything for me, one way or the other, I do have a feeling that Kindle Unlimited and the EU’s VAT changes will have serious effects on Indie writers such as myself. (The VAT changes will bite into my income, while smaller presses and single-person businesses are likely to go under. This will naturally REDUCE the EU’s tax base, which is really freaking stupid.) Kindle Unlimited, in many ways, has had a similar effect on my income. Instead of a 70% share of the profits, I get a smaller fraction of the monthly pot.

This isn’t the only problem. In order to run promotional efforts, I need to have my stuff in KU … which obviously weakens my long-term profits. In effect, I am taking a hit for exposure, which may or may not pay off. I don’t think it’s worth it, so I am exploring additional platforms for my books.

This has happened, at least in part, because of the sheer volume of items on KU, many of which are tiny compared to a full-length book. (With a single exception, all of my kindle books are full novels.) I think that the number of participants has been driving down the proceeds for everyone, while the relatively low price of KU membership devalues the non-KU books. Amazon will, I suspect, take steps to fix this problem, but it will almost certainly require them to either cancel KU or do a much better job of filtering inclusions.

Until then, if you like a book by an author, buy it directly and leave a good review <grin>.

Personally, my moods have been swinging rapidly from up to down. Objectively, I know I am in a good position; subjectively, I’ve been having moments of deep depression for no apparent reason. Having a child may help with that, as I may have been fretting over every last problem (such as the baby stopping kicking for a while) or it may make things worse. I guess I will just have to wait and see.

I have been invited to RAVENCON and EASTERCON, but I don’t think I will be able to make it to RAVENCON (it depends on Eric’s moods). I may be travelling to the USA for WORLDCON, but I can’t promise anything yet. Watch my blog for details.

Anyway, it’s back to taking care of the baby. I wish you all a very happy new year <grin>

Chris, Aisha and Eric

21 Responses to “Happy New Year!”

  1. Jack Hudler December 31, 2014 at 6:20 pm #

    Yep it’s that DAD gene kicking in. Do not worry, everything you’re thinking and feeling is perfectly normal (was for me twice, though not so much the second time).
    Don’t hurry with the bookshelves just yet, you’ve plenty of time for stuff like that. I suggest screws just because they’re easier and it gives you the excuse to add a cordless drill to your kit, if it’s not already.


  2. Col G December 31, 2014 at 6:49 pm #

    I still remember sticking my finger under my first daughters nose to make sure she was still breathing! Your fears and concerns are perfectly normal!

    I felt like the military hospital where my daughter was born was negligent in even allowing us to leave with her. No user manual and I knew we were not ready!

    Agree with Jack that the bookshelf can wait.

    Being a Dad is as good as it gets. Enjoy!

    • Jack Hudler December 31, 2014 at 7:00 pm #

      LOL Dennis! I remember feeling the same way.
      For weeks after the baby came home, we kept expecting the baby police to burst in and seize our baby and revoke our parentage privileges.

      • Jack Hudler December 31, 2014 at 7:01 pm #

        LOL Col G I meant!

  3. Dennis The Menace December 31, 2014 at 6:53 pm #

    Yeah, I never signed up for KU as a consumer. I always pay for my books. This is because I was originally concerned that books might be taken off the KU subscription and then get removed from my Kindle. Secondary was the fact that most books I buy weren’t available on KU and so far that remains true, too.

    Last, I suspected it as a scam the benefited Amazon and not really anyone else, much like their grocery box thing that I had signed up for by quickly unsigned up for.

    Still, the concept of KU as they BS market it is a valid one. Too bad they just didn’t do that.

  4. Paul (Drak Bibliophile) Howard December 31, 2014 at 7:16 pm #

    Hey! I want you to finish the Democracy series. [Smile]

    Glad to hear that Aisha is better.

    Oh, just remember that when Eric’s a toddler “silence isn’t golden”. [Grin]

  5. Tommy December 31, 2014 at 7:27 pm #

    Have a great new year Chris, your fears as a Dad are normal chap. As all the above i felt exactly the same after bringing my little girl home. It gets easier just remember to take advantage of any help being offered, it’s amazing how grateful you feel for someone delivering a hotpot for tea so you don’t have to worry about cooking for a day.

    Again kudos on Warspite, brilliant novel mate.

  6. Walt.Dunn December 31, 2014 at 7:38 pm #

    I know whereof you’re thinking. The safety planning can be phased along the next year or so. Have a happy New Year’s Celebration with Aisha and remember you’ve both earned a rest after all the stress this year. Many informed counselors pick moving and having a baby atop the pile…
    Of course writing never stresses anyone! I appreciate all the work you’ve done to keep us fed with good stories.

  7. Paul December 31, 2014 at 10:00 pm #

    I purchased Amazon Prime, for access to the prime video library and prime deals on shipping. That being said, I was introduced to your writing, my first being the Ark Royal novel, through Amazon Prime. Since, then I have purchased many more of your books. I would be interested to know how many new readers you gained through KU.

  8. Caleb Wachter January 1, 2015 at 1:46 am #

    Glad to hear Aisha is better. That would be very much un-fun 😦 As to the neuroses, yeah, that’s pretty normal. I remember waking up in the middle of the night and watching my daughter to make sure she was still breathing, when there was absolutely no reason to think she wouldn’t be.

    Being a dad will cut into your productivity and ‘alone time,’ as well as invade your previously safe/off-llimits spaces. But don’t worry about it; it will all be for the better.

  9. Randy January 1, 2015 at 3:08 pm #

    Nice looking kid dude! I decided against KU. It just didn’t seem to fit my needs. If Imlike a book, I’ll buy it. Good luck in the New Year.

  10. Bill Fuller January 2, 2015 at 6:29 pm #

    Congrats on the new son! Glad to hear he is healthy. On KU, I will not support it. I have purchased about 65 books on Kindle this past year (oh-still waiting for the next Empire Corps Novel). The only way to keep good authors writing is to PAY THEM. The whole KU thing is just dumb. Hope Amazon changes it somewhat. Maybe you should have linked the Fall of the Federation novels into the Empire Corps Novels, would have made for a good prequel for the Empire Corps. For that matter, the whole Ark Royal could be a prequel to the Prequel of the Federation series, just my thoughts. Did I mention that the next book out should be the Empire Corps Novel?

  11. Gillian January 3, 2015 at 12:47 am #

    Hello. Congratulations on the baby! Glad to hear your wife is better.

    Regarding Kindle Unlimited, I hadn’t given much thought to signing up for it. I’m already an Amazon Prime member and am just starting to switch more of my voracious book habit to e-books from paper. The model Amazon has chosen doesn’t seem to be profitable for it or the authors for the long run. For what little consolation it is, I’m buying the books individually and looking forward to the next installments of Bookworm, Schooled in Magic, and the Royal Sorceress. Best wishes.

  12. Pat January 5, 2015 at 3:01 pm #

    Congratulations Chris!! I’ve gone thru 3 boys, the worst thing you can do is over-think it or second-guess yourselves.

    Infant Instruction Manual:

    Love it, feed it. burp it, clean it. Repeat as needed. Continue for about 18 years.

  13. Jeffrey Tsai January 5, 2015 at 6:23 pm #

    I thought about Kindle Unlimited since I’m a voracious reader, but I hate the idea of paying $120 (for a year) and not actually owning anything. I wouldn’t want to pay $120 a year for the rest of my life just so I could re-read books that caught my interest many years ago. At any rate, I’ve purchased all of your Bookworm and Schooled In Magic books. I’ve been thinking about checking out the Royal Sorceress stuff but I haven’t gotten around to it as of yet. Unfortunately, your non-fantasy sci-fi series don’t really do it for me, but it is great that you seem to churn out new fantasy releases fairly quickly.

    Do yourself a favor and give your kid some tough love so he’ll sleep in his own crib/bed sooner rather than later. You’ll be tempted one day to let him sleep next to you, but then you’ll find yourself doing it another day, and then another, and then next thing you know your kid will be going on 4 and you’re still doing it (true story here :P)

  14. David P. Graf January 6, 2015 at 4:10 am #

    It’s completely normal to feel like a ton of bricks has hit you on the head after the birth of your child but I’ll let you in on a little secret. Once you have other kids, you will worry far less because you will have had some experience with taking care of a baby. They are tougher than you think. Otherwise, the human race would have died out a long time ago.

    One thing I wish I had known at that time was how important it is to get a break from the child. I hope that there is either family or friends nearby who can give you a night or even a weekend free so that you can have some time alone with just you and your wife. And, do go ahead and work on “child proofing” your home. My two year old grandson could move a store trolley all over the place on his own. It’s better to be prepared sooner than later and it will make you feel better just to do something other than worry.

    • Dan January 12, 2015 at 8:19 am #

      The child-proofing goes vertical in stages based on how mobile the kid is. You’re golden at first, then have to clear everything at coffee table level once they can crawl and stand, then as they get more adept, you just keep working your way up. 🙂 Good times, believe it or not. Congratulations!

      I have just this evening finished listening to Ark Royal (from Audible) and will purchase and download the sequels tomorrow. I really enjoyed listening to your book. Imho, you’ve got Jack Campbell beat. Thank you for putting real people in your novel!

  15. Christopher Booth January 25, 2015 at 12:54 am #

    Since Amazon controls the programs used to read Kindle books, they could install a meter to monitor the time people spend reading books from Kindle Unlimited. Then they could pay authors by the time value of the book, which may be a batter way to rate the value.

  16. C Rauls February 7, 2015 at 4:48 am #

    Simple rule of parenting you treat the first child like a crystal ball and all following children like footballs 🙂

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