Thoughts on the eve of launch day

Tomorrow is the official launch day for Deadly Enterprise, book #2 in my Mike Stoneman thriller series. It seems like a good time to reflect on the process and the finished product. The headline is — I’m still enjoying the process, and I’m pleased with the result to date.

Writing a novel is a twisting road with lots of hills. Sometimes you’re cruising down hill, and sometimes things slow to a crawl. It took me 10 years to finish A Legacy of One, and I’m still really proud of that book, which nobody will read unless I get really famous. Maybe after I’m dead it will be studied in college English classes. Then, when I decided to have run and write a crime thriller, it took two years to finish Righteous Assassin. So, a little more efficient. That book was published in October of 2018. Deadly Enterprise is now out about 13 months later, so I’m getting faster.

But, as I’m learning more about book marketing and the publishing cycle, I now wish that I had slowed down a bit and left myself more time to get more pre-publication reviews, to polish the text via the comments from my beta readers, and to have my marketing ready to roll on launch date. There are some websites and publications that will accept a pre-publication manuscript for reviews, but need as much as 4 months of lead time, so I missed the deadlines for those sites. I also find that there are a few minor text revisions that I’m going to end up doing as a post-publication update, that I would have preferred to get done before I ordered my author copies of the book and before the launch day buyers get the book. It’s not the end of the world that early buyers will get a book with a few minor blemishes, but I want to be perfect. Next time, I will try to give myself more lead time between the “end” of the main writing process, and the publication date.

As for the finished product, I started out thinking that book #2 was not as good a plot as book #1, which was very original and unique. I still think book #1 is unique, but the more I get feedback from readers and read the new book more times, the more I like book #2. The biggest point here is that I have the chance to really develop the characters, their relationships, and their back stories in this book. Aside from the plot, the interactions between the characters, the creation of a new players in the ensemble for future books (Sophie, the records department maven, and Rachel Robinson, Jason’s new love interest), and the continued relationship between Mike and Michelle, all represent substantial advancement of the larger story arc and bode well for the long-term viability of the series.

There are elements of the plot for Deadly Enterprise that may be a little bit of a stretch of what is “realistic,” even within the confines of a work of fiction, but in the end everything is plausible enough to keep the reader flowing along with the story rather than scratching their head. I’m ultimately happy with the book. Some readers will think it’s better than book #1, and some will think it’s not as good. It cuts out some of the graphic violence of the first book, which will please some readers who were a little squeamish. I thought that the violence of the killer in Righteous Assassin was correct and necessary for that character. In book #2, there is no such need for it, and so it’s not there. I’ll try to let the story and the characters dictate that in the future. Book #2 is definitely more character-driven and less action-driven. One is not necessarily better or worse — just different.

Can I do better? Yes. I’m working on the outline and some text for book #3, which will be very condensed in time and will take place immediately after the end of book #2 in terms of the time line. The next book will be tighter, will have more opportunity for character development, and should also have some interesting action. There will be three murders, and several suspects. I’m looking forward to beginning in earnest the writing process for book #3. But, before I can do that, I need to spend time with the marketing efforts for book #2, which will suck up time and energy, but which is a very necessary part of the process.

I’m still enjoying the writing. I’m not hating the marketing work. I’m looking forward to the upcoming books, so for now, I’m satisfied. I’d love it if I could sell enough books to make money on the effort — but that will come with time. I hope.

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