Lessons learned from my latest SF trilogy

Those of you interested in the art, craft and science of writing may find my latest article at Mad Genius Club interesting.  It’s titled “Lessons learned from a trilogy, Part 2: the impact on sales of rapid releases, and other factors“, and is the second in a two-part series analyzing what I’ve learned from launching my “Cochrane’s Company” trilogy at four-week intervals.  (The first article, published a month ago, may be found here, if you missed it.)

When reading the article (and its predecessor), note the comments from other readers at Mad Genius Club.  Many of them are also authors, or serious fans of the genres in which we all write.  That whole blog is a collective exercise in learning to write better books.  We all try to keep each other informed of what we’re doing, how we’re doing it, and what results we’re obtaining.  It’s like an ongoing master class in writing.  Recommended reading, if you’re interested in the subject.



  1. While the idea of 'minimum viable product' is interesting, I think it's important that these books have your name on them. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks – as long as the books sell – but I think it matters to you that you produce something you can be proud of.

    Print books came in a spectrum not only of types but of quality. SF came in pulp as well as the 'grand masters'. The same is true of ebooks, but they're so new that it's harder for people to sort them out in a similar fashion. I think there's room along the entire quality spectrum for authors to make a living, but you need to differentiate and explain where you choose to stand, in terms of quality as well as genre. Charge more for that quality, but justify it. People have put up with GRR Martin's nonsense for years so he can produce "quality" books – despite his early SF being far better than his most recent, idiotically complex, fantasy. (I find it amazing that the man is spending two decades and probably 10,000 pages to teach the same lessons he did in his 200 page novella Sandkings.)

    The same can be said for the westerns. Explain that the market is smaller, more time and research are needed, and therefore you have to charge more. I make a point of buying all your books, and I'll pay $10 for the next Ames Archives novel. People who want to read a new, quality western won't hesitate.

    One last thought. If you spend all your time working with a single genre because it's what the forecasts think will bring the best returns, I suspect you'll end up bored and seeking a change – and that will show in the writing. Think of the westerns, or whatever experiment you try next, as a way of piquing your interest, letting you travel for your job, and keeping your mind flexible.

  2. A few swags…

    1. Audio books may be an unexpected Huge revenue source. Larry C makes a lot of money off them.

    2. Westerns – translate them to German?

    3. Westerns may be more of a paper market, and may be different than your regular market. Perhaps more physical stores or tourist traps?

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