Ch-ch-ch-ch-Changes: A Writing Update

It's been awhile since I posted anything on my writing projects so I thought I'd give a quick update.

As many of you know, I've been working on a novel, code named Chronos, that I was hoping to have done and off to the editor before the end of the year.

That didn't happen.

The main reason was that my day job had become unbearably stressful. I was so busy and caught up in the pressure surrounding my job that I couldn't write, be a halfway decent father to my kids, or the kind of husband that Marathon Girl deserves. As a result, I made a decision to start looking for a new job and put all of my free time into that endeavor. The good news is that about six weeks or so into my search I ended up with several job offers and was able to start a new one right after Christmas.

Once the stress of the old job was gone, I tried to get back into writing Chronos and found that I had been away from writing so long that I had a hard time getting back into it. So for kicks and giggles, I decided to start a small project to help me get back in the writing groove.

It worked.

Over the holidays I ended up writing the first draft of a Christmas-themed novella. My goal is to finish that book by the end of January and then return to writing Chronos. Though I don't have a date when Chronos will be done, I think it won't take long to get it back to the editor.

As for the Christmas-themed novella, it will be available in time for the holidays later this year. I never thought I'd write a Christmas book before but am happy with the way the story evolved. I hope that those who read it will find it do be unlike any other Christmas book they've read before.

Stay tuned for more details.

Where's Abel?

I'll be participating in the first annual Indie Author Hub Writing & Publishing Conference tomorrow (June 7) a the Courtyard Marriott Hotel in Provo Utah. About the conference:

That's right, it's conference time! Not just any conference, but a conference targeted toward all aspects of indie publishing. This year, our self-published keynote speaker is NYT bestselling author of A Different Blue, Amy Harmon. We will also have 21 breakout classes in three tracks: writing, book creation, and marketing/business. We are so excited to have many experienced and successful self-published authors and other professionals who have agreed to share their time with us.

You can find more information about the conference here.

Mormon Writers Ask for Manuscripts to be Treated on Quality of Work not Content of Biography

For the record, happily I signed the following statement:

Mormon Writers Ask for Manuscripts to be Treated on Quality of Work not Content of Biography

In response to recent events and attention in local and national media, we authors, who are also members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, feel the need to express our disagreement and disappointment with Cedar Fort in their dealings with David Powers King and Michael Jensen in regards to the manuscript, Woven. We appreciate that Cedar Fort has returned the rights to the work in question and want to note that there are many wonderful people working at Cedar Fort–staff members and authors–who strive to carry out their duties with professionalism and courtesy. Nevertheless we wish to offer our support to our fellow authors and feel compelled to speak out.

As writers, many of whom have published with Cedar Fort, we believe everyone should be treated fairly and with respect, regardless of political or religious affiliation, age, gender, or sexual orientation. We believe that degrading attacks are inappropriate in any business or personal relationship. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormons), we understand our church to teach respect and encourage civility–even when we have differences of opinion.

While publishers have the right to choose what they will and will not publish, we believe books should be accepted or rejected upon the merits of their content, quality, and commercial viability, not on any other factor. If a publisher isn’t comfortable with an author’s personal choices, those concerns should be discussed clearly and respectfully upon signing a contract–not hours before the book goes to press.

We believe that all publishers should be clear and professional in their submission requirements, treat others with dignity and respect, and give all authors the right to be judged on the quality of their work, not the content of their biography.

You can find a full list of authors who have signed the statement here.

There's a story about this in the Salt Lake Tribune here.

The Non-Fiction Ebook Revolution

As a writer it’s been interesting to watch the publishing industry upheaval since my first book was traditionally published in 2007. Gone are the days of physically mailing query letters to agents or small publishers and waiting weeks or months for a response—if you got one at all. Instead you can now email queries and wait weeks or months for a response—if you even get one. J

But the biggest change to the publishing world has been the proliferation of ebooks. Ebooks, which only applied to a small niche audience in the pre-Kindle days, have gone mainstream. They’ve changed the way people read and access books and empowered writers to cut out the middleman and sell their book directly to readers. All of these are positive changes in an industry that, until recently, was partying like it was 1899.

When you read about success stories like Hugh Howey and other writers who have benefited from the ebook revolution, the success stories primarily focus on fiction writers. Rarely do you hear about non-fiction authors or how readers of there are responding to ebook upheaval.

Since I primarily write non-fiction, I’ve noticed that it’s taken a little longer for my readers to embrace ebooks. My audience is primarily female between the ages of 30-60. Some of them are avid readers but most of them probably read only or two books a year. (There’s nothing wrong with that. Most people in the world don’t read more than one books in any given year.) Most of them don’t own Kindles, Nooks, or other e-readers. Yet despite this, my readers are embracing ebooks nearly as much as avid readers. It just took them a few years longer to adopt.

Here’s what I’ve observed: When I turned down a traditional publishing contract in the summer of 2011 to pursue the indie route, I knew my audience well enough to know that that most of my readers still wanted a print copy. So when I released my first relationship guide in August, I made sure a print and ebook version were both available.

It turned out to be a wise move.

From the time the book was released in August 2011 to the end of the year, about 65% of my sales were from physical books—mostly sold through Amazon.  By the time my second indie title came out in April 2012, the number of physical book sales had fallen to 55% of my total sales.

Then, that fall, something changed. September of 2012 I noticed for the first time that ebook sales had overtaken print sales. It wasn’t by a lot. In fact, total ebook copies only sold a total of five more copies then the print versions. I thought it was a fluke.

Turns out it was anything but.

After I looked at each monthly report, the number of ebook sales continued to skyrocket while the number of paper copies sold fell. When I released my latest book back in February, physical book had fallen all the way to 40% of my sales. In May, the last month of sales that are available, physical books only made up 35% of overall sales while ebooks made up 65%--an exact inverse of my sales when I started doing things on my own.

And the trend shows no sign of slowing down.

Keep in mind, the majority of my readers don’t own e-readers. The reason they’re embracing ebooks, at least what I can discern from reader feedback, is that they read them tablets like the iPad or on their smartphones. Technology has finally made it convenient for them to take advantage of the price and convenience of ebooks. In addition, they like the privacy that comes with ebooks. (Who wants to be seen in public reading a relationship guide?)

That means if you haven’t sold your stock in Barnes & Noble, now would be a great time to unload it.

In the future, there will probably always be a (small) demand for print books and I have no plans whatsoever to discontinue making print copies available for my upcoming novel and other non-fiction projects. As long as readers still what to buy them, I’ll keep producing them.

But those who say still a war between ebooks and physical books are deluding themselves. The war between print and ebooks is over. Ebooks have won—big time. All that’s left is mop-up operations.

Books in Progress

For those who have been asking or are curious about my upcoming books, here's the latest: Currently I have four books, two novels and two works of non-fiction, in various stages of development. You can see their progress (draft and word count) below. I'm hoping to have at least one of the non-fiction projects and possibly one of the novels done by the end of the year.  As I haven't settled on titles for any of them yet, they all have code names and a summary which you can find below. I'll be adding these to the sidebar of my website soon. In addition, keep your eyes open for a call for stories for one of the non-fiction projects in the next 30-45 days! White Whale (novel) | Draft 1

A mystery about a young boy's death on a remote Wyoming mountain.

Watcher (novel) | Draft 1

A thriller about a man who's figured out the secret to eternal life.

7 Hearts (non-fiction, relationship) | Draft 2

A relationship book that focuses on the 7 things that matter most in any romantic relationship.

Widower 3 (non-fiction, relationship) | Draft 2

My final book in the Widower series. This one will touch on topics not covered in Dating a Widower or Marrying a Widower that keep coming up in the inbox or discussion boards.