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