Books... BOOKS

What's Next

What's Next Cover Image

John R York

March 13, 2023

Feeling Weird

I’m feeling kind of weird these days. Since publishing my last book, Trouble in Choctaw County, I’ve completed three more novels. There’s still more work to be done, but the stories are written. So, I’ve been wondering to myself what kind of story should I tackle next?

I’d like to do more science fiction. I love writing in that genre because you can really invent things, stretch the imagination, define weird characters — and I just love science fiction. The next novel to be published, hopefully sometime this year, is a time travel story called The Five Watches: An Accident of Time. Time travel is considered a branch of the science fiction or fantasy genre, and it was fun to write, but it’s not like Mind Meld or The Eighth Day. I’ve toyed with the idea of writing a third book in that series, but I’ve not really been able to successfully tap into the sci fi market yet, so another sequel would probably be a financial disappointment.

I’m thinking about writing an action adventure, a Indiana Jones-ish kind of tale, but the truth is, nothing is really jumping out at me in my half-dreams. That’s where the stories come from — my dreams.

Something did pop into my brain last night though, but I’m embarrassed to admit it. I’m thinking, maybe I should write a Romance Novel. (Insert many LOLs) You see, that’s the genre that really sells books. I mean those things sell by the millions. People can’t write them fast enough. By people, I mean women — female authors.

I was perusing a book distribution website yesterday and happened to land on the “Recommended Books” page. The recommendations were all romance novels, with book covers featuring scantily dressed (some naked), ridiculously attractive, young bodies gleaming with the sweat of passion. Most of the books I saw were selling for 99 cents. I'm telling you, it’s a whole other world of literature.

So, I’m thinking about trying to cobble together a science fiction-adventure-romance novel. Can it be done? I don’t know, but I’m feeling weird about it. I decided to read a bestseller romance novel (you know, like for research), called It Ends With Us, by Coleen Hoover. She’s sold about a gajillian books already. I don’t know if I could bring myself to write some of those sex scenes though. Is it getting warm in here???

UPDATE - I finished It Ends With Us. I'm pretty sure I can't write a novel like that. There's a lot of graphic sex, which surprised me, and it's all love and drama, love and drama, love and drama, then breakup and an unexpected pregnancy - then a teenaged love rekindled. I'm pretty sure you have to be woman to write that kind of stuff. So, I'm going to take another look at one of my new manuscripts, Retribution. I think I can bend that story into a dark romance of sorts. I'll have to pass it by my friend, Elaine, to see if it passes muster.

Writing for a Living

I say “Writing for a Living” tongue in cheek. I’ve been writing “professionally” for seven years, and I love it. It’s a great outlet for my desire to do something creative and it forces me to use my mind. I reviewed my records yesterday (preparing for doing my tax return) and added up the numbers which collectively sum up my writing in quantifiable business terms. It was a bit humbling.

In 2017, after a year of selling my first book, Wolf’s Tale, primarily at book signings, I tallied up my costs and revenues to provide my accountant with the necessary tax information he required. I was somewhat dismayed and embarrassed to discover that I had been losing $1.09 per sale. Well, I made a few adjustments to my business model and managed to get into the black the following year.

In order to recover the cost of publishing a book, which includes, at a minimum, editing, printing, formatting, cover design, and shipping, an author has to sell several hundred books. It typically requires from 8 to 12 months of my time to write, proof, and edit a finished manuscript ready for beginning the publishing process. If I self-publish, I might collect around $2.50 per printed book, $4.00 for an ebook, depending on the book’s price. For a book that is published by a publisher, I might collect $1.09 per paperback. But there are marketing costs that need to be amortized and deducted from the sales revenue.

It's now clear to me that being an author is like being a winemaker/winery owner, or a musician, or an artist. Unless you become famous and sell thousand or millions of books, bottles of wine, chart-hitting songs, paintings, you’re doing it for the love of doing it, and I’m happy with that.

But — buy a book!

The Picture

I should explain the picture accompanying this month’s blog. After I wrote Mind Meld, my brother Alan and I took a road trip (we were both recently retired at the time). We stopped in Roswell because it seemed like the logical place to go if you had just published a sci fi book featuring aliens. In the picture, I’m standing outside a shop that sold everything related to aliens and Area 51. In fact, just about everything in the town had something to do with aliens, including the Dunkin Donut shop.

You might notice that the alien I'm standing next to is holding my novel Mind Meld

Everybody - enjoy life. And read a book!