A Special Release Day Quick-Tip Tuesday


David B. Coe/D.B. JacksonShadow's Blade, by David B. CoeWelcome to a special release-day edition of Quick-Tip Tuesday. Today is the official publication day for Shadow’s Blade, book III of The Case Files of Justis Fearsson (following Spell Blind and His Father’s Eyes). I have a giveaway going on my Facebook page; my publisher, Baen Books, is giving away five copies on Goodreads; I’ve been posting teasers from the book and last week I recorded an interview for the Baen podcast. Pretty standard release time stuff.

I love this book and this series, and would very much like to write more in the Fearsson universe, so if you have not yet started reading the Fearsson books, please consider picking them up and giving them a read. And if you have been reading them (thank you!) and have been waiting with bated breath for this newest volume to drop, now’s a great time to order your copy. We’ll wait. [Cue hold-time music . . .]

Ah, you’re back! Good. Let’s carry on.

My fellow MW contributors and I have celebrated releases here before. At this point, you’re probably all too familiar with the drill. We’ve written of the tension, the fear that this book’s sales won’t meet expectations and will make it that much harder for us to sell the next one. And we’ve written as well of the flip side, the thrill of having a new book out, of seeing our latest title in print form. It never grows old, and I promise you I never, ever take it for granted.

But on release days in particular I am reminded of advice I have offered here before, and since this is Quick-Tip Tuesday . . .

Shadows-Blade-RR-banner-2-1Success is something I have tried to define for myself. I would love to make bestseller lists with every release. I’d love to have starred reviews in every journal. I’d love to see Shadow’s Blade, which I think reflects my best work to date, nominated for a truckload of awards. But those things all lie beyond my control. I’d be lying to you if I said that I don’t take poor sales to heart, and that I don’t take personally each less-than-stellar review. I still get rejections, and I take those personally, too. I know I shouldn’t. I’ve told all of you that you shouldn’t either, because it really is good advice. But this is far easier said than done.

We all have things we want to achieve, and I have been trying recently to catalog them — to compartmentalize them, if you will — in such a way as to cushion the disappointments and highlight the successes. So let’s try it. Let’s think in terms of Goals, Ambitions, and Dreams.

I look at Goals as those things I can control and realistically expect myself to achieve. I have been editing my first series, the LonTobyn Chronicle (Children of Amarid, The Outlanders, Eagle-Sage) for re-release later this year. I have the rights back and I’m basically self-publishing them, although not quite. More on this is the near future, but for today suffice it to say that I’m going through each book in the series and cleaning up the prose, making the books leaner and more readable. My goal is to have all three ready for publication by the end of the summer. I also want to pitch three more Fearsson books to Baen. I’d like to have those contracted by the fall as well. And I have an idea for a Thieftaker novella. I’d like to have it written by the end of they year. Those are goals. They’re fairly lofty, but I think I can get all of them done. And while Baen’s willingness to contract new Fearsson books lies beyond my control, I do think there’s a decent chance it will happen.

Shadows-Blade-RR-banner-1-1Then there are my Ambitions. I’m hoping that the reissue of the LonTobyn books and the re-release over the next year and a half of my Winds of the Forelands and Blood of the Southlands series, will bring me a good number of new readers. I have sales figures in mind for these books — numbers I’d like to reach. I don’t know if I can get there, but I do believe that if I’m smart about publicizing the releases and reaching out to my current readers, I can reach the levels I have in mind. I would also like to see the new Fearsson books build on the numbers we’re seeing so far for the first set. And I’m hoping the new Thieftaker novella will help me build support for a continuation of the Thieftaker franchise in some form. These are ambitions rather than goals, because I have far less control over these things, and far less certainty that I can make them happen. I’m confident, but I’m not sure, the way I am about my goals. If I don’t get all that I want, I’ll be disappointed, but my failure to achieve those things won’t be for lack of effort.

And finally I have my Dreams. The re-release of my backlist brings those books the recognition and commercial success I hoped they would enjoy the first time around. The Fearsson books catch fire and catapult me onto bestseller lists. The groundswell of support for the new Thieftaker renews interest in the first four Thieftaker novels and turns them into big sellers. Clearly, I have almost NO control over these things, and chances are none of them will happen. But I can dream, right? And if even one of them does turn into reality . . . Well, I’ll be really, really pleased.

So I’m going to push myself to achieve my goals. I’ll do everything I can to make my ambitions come to fruition. And I’ll dream a little. Because here’s the thing: Dreams can’t come true if I don’t push myself to be ambitious. And I can’t entertain my ambitions if I don’t put my butt in the chair and meet my goals.

If I define my success only by whether or not my dreams come true, I’m setting myself up for failure. If, on the other hand, I define success by whether or not I meet my goals — whether or not I sit at my keyboard and write the best books and stories and series proposals I’m capable of writing — then success becomes something I can control. Success becomes a matter of personal achievement rather than something founded on a set of impersonal metrics I can’t influence. And I prefer it that way.

Keep writing. Define success on your terms. And, to quote John Hartness, buy my shit.


4 comments to A Special Release Day Quick-Tip Tuesday

  • […] Today is release day for Shadow’s Blade, the third novel in my Case Files of Justis Fearsson series from Baen Books. And it also happens to be Quick-Tip Tuesday over at Magical Words. The result is a special Quick-Tip Release Day post on the ways in which we define success and deal with ambition, dreams, and all the stuff life in the publishing industry throws our way. The post can be found here. […]

  • David. This. This is beautiful. I am happy to see you making goals and looking forward. And I am eagerly waiting for the moment I can stop and read. I am now an ENTIRE FEARSSON BOOK BEHIND! Happy Book Birthday!

  • Razziecat

    Well, you can count my purchase of the new book toward your goal! Happy to help! 😀 Can’t wait to read the new one!! And a Thieftaker novella…ohh, yes, please!

  • Thanks, Faith. You’ll like this one.

    Razz, thanks to you as well. And yeah, I’m looking forward to diving into a new Thieftaker story at some point.