Worldcon 77: The Sunday
I actually still have the event app on my phone so I can even REMEMBER what I was doing on these days.
Sunday I had an interesting panel, “Fantasies of Irish emigration,” about why so much fantasy–especially urban fantasy–seems to get written ABOUT Ireland without much of it being set IN Ireland. I called out RF Long as somebody who’s written UF both in and about Ireland, and I think there were a couple others I could think of, but it was a really fun panel (and my friend Deirdre was on it with me!) and I thought we did pretty well for the Sunday of a 5 day con. :)
I spent a lot of the day chasing Ursula Vernon around so she could sign a couple of books for, and become Pokefriends with, Young Indiana, and he was COMPLETELY THRILLED by that. (I love Ursula and Kevin so much. They’re honestly terrific people.) I also had a meeting with Laura Anne, in which we talked about some Very Interesting Business Ideas which would have been Very Interesting ANYWAY, but were especially so because the quite specific and exact topic that she wanted to broach with me had also come up in *another* conversation over the weekend, suggesting that it’s a thing ripening for the happening.
AT SOME POINT during the weekend–it might have been Friday? IDK anymore? I came out of a panel and my friend Kris called, “OMG, it’s CE Murphy, famous author!” and then we went to lunch together, which was really honestly wonderful. I know Kris kind of through a mutual friend of ours (who, sadly, got sick on like day 2 of the con and mostly wasn’t there :( ) and sitting down for lunch was really kind of the first time I’ve ever *really* gotten to talk to her in real life for more than a minute or two, and I enjoyed that so very immensely. Also *laughs*
So the first time I met her in real life–and six other people–was when I went to San Diego Comic Con in like 2008. I was staying with them, and I got into the hotel at midnight, and they said “here, you’re sleeping in this bed,” and so I got into bed with a strange man I’d never met and went to sleep. And this came up at lunch, and Kris said that had been her arranging sleeping, er, arrangements, and that about two years after the fact she thought “oh god that might have been a really awful traumatizing thing to do to somebody and I may have made a HUGE MISTAKE with that,” and that periodically the thought arises and kind of sends her into a cold sweat, whereas I’ve spent the last decade thinking it was really funny. Like, I can totally see where for some people that might have been VERY UNCOMFORTABLE, but I really truly just figured this was a safe space among friends and it didn’t bother me at all, and it’s a very funny way to tell a story. So I reassured her on that topic and relieved her of a worry that’s been occasionally haunting her for many years now, and that was altogether funny and great too. :) Anyway, I’m really sad I didn’t get to see more of our mutual friend, but it was *so* lovely to hang out with Kris.
(And then after that I was heading back to the convention centre and that was when I first saw Kevin and Ursula; I was walking past the tram and a deep male American voice bellowed, “Catie!” and so I got to hang out with them for a few minutes before we all parted ways. The whole con was like that. :))
ANYWAY back to the Sunday
I was on the Tribute to Anne McCaffrey panel, which was…I mean, of all the panels I was on at the convention, that was the one we really could have used a 4 hour window for. But we had people in tears (including some of the panelists), so clearly we did our job (tbf, people came in primed for tears). One of the questions was about experiencing fandom in relation to Anne’s works, and I said, “Well, I grew up in Alaska, so fandom just wasn’t a thing. It’s too big, too far apart, and too sparsely populated. But when I was about 12, she came to Fairbanks, Alaska, which was about 500 miles north of where *I* lived, and it was this agonizing period of time where I knew ANNE MCCAFFREY was AS CLOSE TO ME AS SHE WAS EVER GOING TO BE, and I COULDN’T GET THERE!” and everyone obligingly went “awww!”
But I did eventually meet her, so it all turned out okay and had a happy ending. :)
(Another question was ‘How were you introduced to Anne’s works?’ and my answer was “I stole a copy of DRAGONSONG from my cousin _and never gave it back_,” which also got a lot of appreciation. ♥ :))
Sunday night I stole my friend Juliet away from the con entirely and we went to one of Ted’s and my favourite restaurants in Dublin, The Cedar Tree, which is a Lebanese place with SO MUCH food and all of it is SO GOOD, and we just talked business and personal stuff and everything for about two hours straight. Except for the bit where the 3 people at the table next to us leaned over and said “Do you mind if we ask what you ordered, because it looks SO GOOD!” and we told them and also assured them that what we had ordered, although it claims to be for 2, would certainly be enough for all three of them. We were right, too. :) Like, I hadn’t eaten since about 11:30 that morning and we went to dinner at half six and I was perishing of the hunger and still unable to make a significant dent in the actual entree, after the SIXTEEN TAPAS PLATES OF APPETIZERS. (Honestly, Cedar Tree is brilliant.) Anyway, it was really nice to get away from the con a little bit to have a long chat with Juliet, and I think it was probably good for both of us emotionally to be able to let down our hair a little.
And then, once more, I came home and failed to go to bed at a sensible hour, but still, I slept. :)
Worldcon 77: The Friday
I remember what I did on Thursday for lunch! I had lunch with an editor!
A couple years ago, at Worldcon 75, I got to go to the Hugo Loser’s Party, and I was going around taking pictures of the winners in their silly hats. A Tor editor who was following the party on Twitter asked if I could get a picture of her colleague who’d won, so I went and found the winner, asked if I could take and post her picture, and within about 10 minutes of the request, had done so. Beth said “It’s almost as good as being there!”, and we’ve been friends on FB & Twitter the past couple years. So I felt like getting to have lunch with her at Dublin 2019 was the whole thing coming full circle, which genuinely delighted me. We had a wonderful chat, and I’m so happy to have met her.
Friday morning we had the Word War Meetup, which was an ABSOLUTELY AMAZING THING FOR ME! Ten years ago I started this war room to get a book done, and I hoped it would last 6 months, and we had our TENTH ANNIVERSARY PARTY at Worldcon!!! Like whaaaaaat! So that was pretty amazing, and we had a dozen warriors there at the peak, and…yeah. That was great. :)
My Friday morning panel was “Which comic was your manual?”, on which I saw Paul Cornell for the first time in YEARS, which was wonderful. It was being moderated by an Irish friend, Paul Carroll, and the other person on it was (*wheezes*) Sana Takeda, the Hugo-award-winning artist for Marjorie Liu’s MONSTRESS, which is a lovely dark monster story with the most gorgeous art possible. And Sana turns out to be THE. MOST. LOVELY. PERSON. EVER., so I was quite star-struck, honestly. :) We had a great time on the panel (the short answer for me, for the main question, is “Elfquest”, if you’re interested), and I was really happy to be there.
I think I was perishing after that and snuck off–yes, I did. Snuck off for lunch on my own, and saw Aliette and Michelle at lunch but didn’t join them, as they were near the end of the meal as I was sitting down. I have some regrets about that, ’cause I basically never saw either of them again! I snuck back to hand out some fudge, and–oh, Friday was when I met David Coe, in an exchange that went like this:
Me, recognizing him at a bellow: DAVID COE!!!
David: Catie Murphy!!!
Me: I have to go!
David: I get that a lot.
I *did* have to leave–it was my turn to bring Indy home from his morning at the con–but I’ve known David for, IDK, 10? 15? years, and we’d never met in real life before, so that was very funny and fun and terrific even if I heartlessly abandoned him ten seconds after meeting him the first time. :)
Early Friday evening was my book signing, and honestly, I went up there and there was a line and I thought “Oh, I wonder who that’s for!”
It was for me. O.O
(Ted, who had come up the other way, saw the line, and thought, “Oh, I wonder who that’s for! OMG! It’s for Catie!” #laughs)
It was great fun! There were quite a few people, and I chatted with most of them briefly, and some of them, upon learning there were books down in the dealer’s room, went away and came back again with more or new things for me to sign, BUT THE FUNNIEST BIT!!!
I’d signed for two or three people, and then I looked up and FAITH HUNTER was standing there! She had been HIDING from me (and she’s pretty small, so she could!). As with David, I’ve known Faith for a very long time but never actually met her, and apparently she’d been actually hiding behind people so I couldn’t possibly see her as I approached the table and sat down, and then she’d STAYED hiding behind them as the line moved forward, and I had genuinely never even gotten a glimpse of her until suddenly THERE SHE WAS!!!! So we shrieked and hugged and laughed and it was WONDERFUL!!! I love my friends! They’re so silly and splendid!!!
So the signing went really well, and we had a great time, and post-signing I had dinner plans with Ted and my friend Kate Larking and Glynn Stewart and Jack who is married to Glynn but may have a different surname, IDR, and also ‘my’ Kate, Irish Kate, so between the 3 of us (I’m largely called Cate in Ireland), there weren’t many names to remember but it wasn’t necessarily easy to tell who you were talking to. :) It was a *very* interesting dinner in business terms and just a straight-up lot of fun in general. I was really pleased to meet Glynn and Jack, both of whom I’ve talked with online, and feel like I’ve made some new friends there. ♥
And then, in what became a weekend theme, I just, like, y’know. Went home and after a while went to sleep. :)
an avalanche of ducks
I’ve had this to-do list for…ever. Forever. Very little of it is the fun kind of to-do, which for me is YAY WRITE A WHOLE NEW BOOK YAY THIS IS MY FAVOURITE PART. It’s all the other stuff. It’s edits and copyedits and guilting over unwritten short stories
(I was going to really try to focus on writing…I was going to say ‘good’, but I write good enough short stories. But twisty, deep ones, perhaps. I want to add that to my skill set. So I was going to try focusing on learning how to write those. And then I realized I’ve got so much else actually *due* that it would be moronic to try to add that to my plate. It’s probably mostly a reaction to admiring people who win Hugos or sell short stories independently, anyway, and sort of vaguely wishing I was Like Them, and I usually get over that. Even if I really would like to be able to write more independent, clever, intelligent short stories. I’ll stop being parenthetical now and try to get back to the point.)
and all the little details of self publishing that I haven’t, for one reason or another, managed to hand off to Ted, and anyway, I usually have a Thinks To Do list but this has been my Nibbled To Death By Ducks list, and I’m about two years behind on all of it. Which is a lot of catching up to do.
But I am THIS CLOSE to being caught up/done with TWO projects, and it’s starting to be a Big Psychological Relief.
I’m finalized-cover-art away from launching BEWITCHING BENEDICT, my adorkable magic-free Regency romance, and I’m copy-edits-and-book-layout away from delivering REDEEMER to my insanely patient backers, toward whom I feel so much guilt I want to cry every time I think about it. Those projects are almost done, and, just…*weeps* It’ll be such a relief to have those out.
And although the To Do list just…keeps…going…on…after that, I’m…I’m trying not to think that far ahead, honestly. I’m trying to just keep one project at a time in mind. If I think about it all I despair. Right now I just gotta get through Nibbled To Death.
September’s Nibbled To Death project is writing KISS OF ANGELS, which absolutely has to be done in September so I can get it into a general release launch in December (Patreon supporters will get it the instant it’s finished). I’m trying pretty desperately here to get myself into a quarterly release schedule, BUT I CANNOT THINK ABOUT THAT RIGHT NOW IT WILL LEAD TO DESPAIR
But once KISS OF ANGELS and three or four short stories are done, I’m…done, I think, with Nibbled To Death By Ducks. And that will be so. nice. *weeps*
2016 in under the wire
A couple days ago my writer friend Tim Pratt said he couldn’t do his year-end round-up of what he’d written yet because he might still get that last short story finished. I was working on a comic script and felt similarly.
I managed to get the script done, in fact, just now. It’s for my artist nephew whose birthday is tomorrow, and I genuinely don’t know if he’ll draw it, but I promised him I’d write him something and now I have, so mission accomplished.
I got a huge amount of work done in 2016, but not a great deal of writing, and while that’s splitting hairs it’s also a source of frustration, because I really only feel like I’ve gotten things done if I’ve WRITTEN a lot.
I did finish the REDEEMER manuscript, and got it through its first round of revisions. Second round will be starting…well, tomorrow, if I’m very good.
I wrote an attack novella, RAVEN HEART, which is a shapeshifting billionaire romance and was great, great fun to write.
I wrote five Old Races short stories (completing the Year of Miracles short story collection and one Walker Papers short story.
I *drew* a web comic that makes me laugh, and which went out to my Patreon crew this month and will go out to the world in general in January or February.
I didn’t read very much, although at 28 books I managed to do better than my 15 book nadir of 2010.
I hope next year will be better.
The Numbers Game
I gotta get “Easy Pickings” onto Smashwords. We’re at about 1200 sales via Amazon now, and a couple hundred on BN, plus around 500 (maybe more) from our combined websites, so we’re doing not too badly, I’d say. But I should get it on to that last platform and, er, well, see if it’s *worth* it.
Which leads into the blog about numbers post I’ve been meaning to do, so lemme hit that real quick:
Readers often ask me where they should buy books from, whether I get the same cut from an audio or e-book as a physical copy, and when they should buy a book, because they are concerned with giving me the best deal, and sometimes with what it might take to push me into bestseller numbers. So I asked my editor about some things, such as:
There is a rumor that best-seller lists don’t count books that are sold early, only the ones that are sold in the official week of release. This is a question of some relevance, because my books are almost always on the shelves two weeks before release date. So: does it matter to the lists?
And the answer is yes and no. Almost everybody has to deal with the same soft release problem that I get (a hard release is like Harry Potter got: you were not gonna get that book before midnight the day it was supposed to come out). The NYT apparently aggregates the numbers/momentum over the first weeks of release, whereas USA Today evidently only counts books sold from the week of release (though if you buy it on the Sunday when it’s supposed to come out on Tuesday, that counts as the release week).
We looked at some of my numbers with some of the Walker Papers and concluded that there are enough early sales that it *could* affect my ability to get onto some lists. So ideally? Really, really ideally? My readers would torture themselves and not buy the book until the actual release day, and then everybody go out at once and buy it immediately. This, however, is asking a lot of readers, and I can’t corral everybody and release them all at once. :)
There is also a rumor that Amazon’s numbers don’t count toward any lists. That one is apparently more true than not, though apparently Amazon falls on and off in usage for the lists depending on how willing they are to release their numbers, which varies.
B&N.com, however, *does* count toward list numbers.
Amazon also *always* ships early unless it’s a hard release date. I don’t know if B&N does, but I gather B&N aggregates the numbers shipped anyway and lists them on release day/week. So–without biting a hand that feeds me–it’s probably of more use (not just me, but to any author you like) for readers to pre-order through B&N.com instead of Amazon*.
Now, all that aside, here’s the other vicious truth: I’d really need literally everybody who buys my books to buy them in the first week/month of release in order to have any hope of making seriously big numbers. I have wonderful, loyal readers who have given me an amazing career and have kept my books on the shelves for a long life, which is hugely, hugely important to continuing to do this for a living, but if I want to level up to the best seller lists**, something has to change.
Possibly what has to change is I have to write something different which catches fire, but that’s very hard to predict. :) In the meantime, though, the best I can probably do is hope to get something going that leads into a big splash for the final book of the Walker Papers.
Because we’re on the downward slope here, guys. There are nine books planned for the series, and the timeline is pretty much hell bent for leather from the start of SPIRIT DANCES all the way through to the end of book 9. It’s probably too late to rack up some kind of magic momentum for RAVEN CALLS, since it’s out in four weeks, but I (we, if I assume you’re in this with me) have two books after that to try to hit it out of the park.
ETA: a reader just asked “How in the world can you not be in the top 10 release week?” and I thought that was a good enough question to lay some numbers down in response. And these are real numbers, not made-up ones.
DEMON HUNTS sold 3400 copies its first month of release, and that was spread over the entire month from the earliest shipping into the first week of Official Release. That particular week/month, GIRL WITH A DRAGON TATTOO was also released in trade, and sold 65,000 copies. Even within a month where there’s are less-anticipated books hitting the shelves, to get into top ten numbers we’re looking at an order of magnitude greater sales than I’ve got. I see around 3000 sales pretty steadily in the first month of release; I’d need thirty thousand. This is why I say if *everybody* who reads the Walker Papers bought them in the first week/month of release we’d see top ten numbers.
If it was possible to aggregate all the DEMON HUNTS sales into one week so all the lists might catch it, I would (theoretically, assuming other sales did not also aggregate) maybe land at around #48 on a long list of 50 for one of the big lists. So, yeah. Orders of magnitude. That’s why I’d love to be able to harness something via this whole social media platform, but I just don’t know how. :)
*This is not a statement intended to make people with Kindles feel bad. If you have a Kindle, for heaven’s sake, buy a Kindle book. I get the *royalties* the same no matter what; this post is just about whether there’s hope for me to reach a bestseller status over the next few years. :)
**And I do. I have always been in this game to–for lack of a better phrase–win it, and my personal definition of “win” is not “beat the other guy” but “get onto the national bestseller lists”. There is nothing wrong with being a mid-list writer and I’ll take it if that’s what I forever land at, but my completely-out-of-my-hands goal is to have that awkward first name “New York Times Bestselling Author” preceding the already-on-the-covers “CE Murphy”. :)