Archive for October, 2013

The Wasteland Chronicles passed its 5,000th sale yesterday. [Note: writing “th” after 5,000 doesn’t seem like it should be a thing. I guess it is, though.]

How do I feel about that? In a word: flabbergasted. Absolutely flabbergasted. I’d always dreamed of being read by this many people, but now that it has actually happened it seems completely friggin‘ unreal. Like something that would happen to someone who’s not Kyle West, because I can’t ever remember anything this crazy good happening to me.

I’m glad I took the chance back in December and published Apolcaypse and never gave up. And I’m glad for the readers who took a chance on me. I know the majority of my readers found the first book for free, but you still invested the time to give this crazy Kyle West guy you’ve never heard of a chance.

Apocalypse barely sold 50 copies in its first month (and sometimes sold much less in following months). Most of my reviews came from family and friends. I had no idea what the heck I was doing and I made A LOT of mistakes.

But I kept writing. I kept learning. I didn’t give up. I started waking up at 5 in the morning every single day, and sometimes even earlier, to write, before leaving for my warehouse job where I’d often work for 10+ hours a day. I wrote in the evenings and gulped black coffee like it was the elixir of life. I immersed myself into my world and story and cut out the TV and everything that distracted me from writing. I read really good books by my favorite authors and got inspired. In short, I had nothing going on in my life except succeeding at this, whatever the cost, win or lose.

I scoured the Internet,  researching for hours, following successful writers’ blogs and soaking up knowledge on Kindle Boards. I implemented any new strategy I found, and did my best to make it work. 9 times out of 10, I failed. But every time I succeeded, I remembered what worked, and kept going. I kept writing. My craft improved. Every time I finished a book, I got a little faster, a little better. The stories started becoming more fleshed out, the characters more real.

I released Origins in April, and things picked up the teensiest bit. Instead of selling 50 books a month, I started selling 100 or so.

When Evolution came out last August, it was my biggest month to date with about 225 sales. I was over the moon.

Then came September…1,244.

Then October…2,794 (so far).

Did S*** just get real!?

It’s so amazing. I can’t believe this story I wrote has been read so many people all around the world. And Amazon and self-publishing allowed me to do it. If anyone can write a good story, commission good cover art and editing, then there’s a chance their story could take off like The Wasteland Chronicles did. Really. Self-publishing might be “mocked” by people who don’t really know what they’re talking about, but I think the numbers speak for themselves. If you do everything right, then there’s a chance your story could be read, too.

If you’re a new author, go the self-publishing route. Do everything right. Make your book professional, because the minute you hit publish to Kindle, you are a professional. You have a better chance of getting discovered by self-publishing than spending months – perhaps years – querying agents, who in turn go to editors, who then will most likely give you a bad deal – and in all that time it takes for your book to be accepted by agent to the time your book is actually published (probably two years later), you could have been selling your book (and any other books you’d written in that time) on Amazon and making more than whatever advance they would have offered you.

Some of my success is luck, but I’ve also worked really, really hard. I’ve poured hours every single day into doing this. No joke. Because that’s what it takes to succeed in writing.

I’ve had great success so far, but my goals are changing. I want this to stay sustainable. I want this to be my full-time job. And I finally feel like, after months of working out this formula like a mad scientist, I’ve figured out exactly what it takes:

Hard work. Not giving up. Writing every single day. Pushing myself every minute past the pain. Writing new books, making the stories better, making myself fly higher than I ever dreamed possible.

I want to be the very best I can be. I’m not there, yet. Not by a long shot. I still feel like I have so much potential. So much I’m still learning.

The biggest joy for me is just hearing from people that they liked it. It’s crazy awesome that people are reading something I’ve written. And liking it. It’s unreal. After writing crappy stories and crappy books since the age of eighteen or so, I’ve finally found something that works. I’ve found a story to tell, one that people actually care about.

It’s really, really amazing.

I know I would have never gotten this far from without self-publishing. Had I submitted to an agent, I most likely would have been rejected (and perhaps even dejected). Even if accepted (alright, I’ll stop rhyming), I would have been offered a paltry advance of $3,500ish dollars and would have signed away my rights for years. Maybe I would have gotten luckier with a better deal, but that’s doubtful.

Just the fact that this story has taken off and made that advance back and more gives me so much hope and confidence to make stories out of all these crazy ideas I have.

Even if everything dries up tomorrow, I will always have this to look back on. I will never stop writing, because it’s who I am. I never expected crazy success doing this. I expected a lot of hard work and a marathon. I’m only on mile four right now, and I’m doing good. I just have to keep it up.

This was long-winded, but if you want to succeed at anything…you have to bleed for it. You have to want it more than anything and work your ass off to get it. I think that’s the most important thing I’ve learned with this writing business. I believed in myself and believed in this enough to get here, to log all the hours, sometimes in complete darkness.

But that’s the way it always is – the way it should be. It’s always the journey, and never the goal…and the journey is far from over. I think that’s what I love most about this writing thing – there’s always a new goal, a new mountain to climb, a chance to get stronger and grow and become more than I was yesterday.

Thanks for reading.

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Old Writings

Posted: October 20, 2013 in Uncategorized

I went over some of my old writings today – things written sometimes years ago that are still saved on my computer/flash drive. Things I had completely forgotten I had written.

This included about five false starts on a fantasy series I’ve always wanted to write, a very poorly written (yet creepy) horror story, and the beginning of what I’d intended to be a space opera/dystopian series.

A lot of the times, I forget that I had been writing in the interim between when I published Night of the Necromancer (my zombie game book) and The Wasteland Chronicles. For almost two years, between January of 2011 and December of 2012, I hadn’t published anything – but I had been writing (albeit on and off). However, none of these projects were ever finished. It’s easy to start a book, but the hardest part is getting through the middle and to the end.

Yet still, in all of these (besides maybe the horror story), there was a spark – a creative energy flowing throughout just bursting with potential. I especially felt this concerning the space opera/dystopian story. The concept was that of a far-future Earth, where the entire world is covered in buildings. The poor live at the very bottom beneath the shadows of twisting buildings that rise miles high.

The story follows several different characters in alternating points of view. The first is that of an orphaned brother and sister living in the Underdeep, who hold a mysterious item of extreme value for which they are being hunted and for which their parents were killed. The second point of view is from the perspective of a space pirate who is on his way to a prison built beneath the surface of a Jovian moon. The third perspective is that of Auerelia, James’s fiance, who lives on the beautiful planet Nessus, forty light years away from Earth. And mixed in there is James’s old crew, who are stranded on Earth, without their ship, after it crashes into the Underdeep, where the two orphans discover it and its priceless payload.

The stories of all these characters would cross at some point in the first installment of the series. I could probably rework it, take out all the crap, and release the first part of what could be a serial – although I might shy away from the serial format since I think I like writing novels better (and readers like novels better). I like the idea of multiple perspectives, as long as it isn’t overdone. Just three or four characters to focus on (don’t want to get all Games of Throney). Still, it’s currently at 15,000 words, and has a sense of epic-ness about that’s very tempting to go back and work on. I could see each novel being about 100,000 words long.

Still, I probably won’t do anything with it until The Wasteland Chronicles is done, which in itself a full-time thing. Still, I could see myself developing this idea and this universe after I’m done with The Wasteland Chronicles. There’s a promise of building a fascinating world for my characters to run around in, which for me is half of the fun of writing fiction.

For now, though, I’m working on Book 5. Some crazy stuff is brewing there, and I want to see if I can take a good chunk out of it today.

Started a New Story

Posted: October 13, 2013 in Uncategorized

Not sure where to go with The Wasteland Chronicles, but I plan on getting started on the fifth book tomorrow morning, rain or shine, inspiration or lack thereof. Not that the weather matters all that much when it comes to writing, and neither does inspiration. Some of my best stuff I’ve written when I felt completely the epitome of meh.

As much as I love science fiction/post-apocalyptic, fantasy is what started me down the path of writing. It’s the genre I read the most growing up, and all those books might be why I’ve blended so many fantastic elements into The Wasteland Chronicles.

After I’m done with The Wasteland Chronicles, my next big thing will probably be a fantasy series I’ve always, always wanted to write. Tonight, just to kill the time because I was so freaking bored, I started writing the beginning of this epic fantasy story. This wouldn’t be the same story that’s been percolating in my mind ever since I was a kid, but it would sort of be a prequel of that. I actually wrote a novella, Dark Prophecies, last January that would be a prequel of this one I’m currently writing. I never spiffed that one up for publication, and honestly, it would probably need to be rewritten because it’s simply not to my standards. Still, I hope a year from now, that I will be able to write this series that I’ve always, always wanted to do.

Anyway, this particular story. I actually started this one about two years ago, but that manuscript disappeared into the ether, somewhere. I think I accidentally saved over it. In any case, I’m going to attempt writing the same story again, and it will obviously be a lot better because my skills have gotten better.

I won’t let it distract me from getting the next book out on time, but as far as the fifth book, I’ll probably be feeling around in the dark until I find the right storyline. It may take a few thousand words (maybe more than a few thousand) before I figure out where the whole thing is going.

What’s weird about writing books: even though it gets easier to do, in general, it’s always different. I wrote Apocalypse in three spurts: first middle, then end, then beginning. Then, I made them all blend. Then I realized the story wasn’t finished, but decided to get started on another book, Origins. I wrote that one from beginning to end, but had to rewrite the beginning because of major suckage. Still, it was easier than writing Apocalypse – and a bit better, too.

Then came Evolution. The first twenty thousand words was about the same. But then, it derailed for about ten thousand words. I tried to make it work, but it just sucked. I cut all those words, and started going in a new direction, and bingo. I finished the rest in about two weeks.

Revelation was the most straight shot of all of them. I wrote it from beginning to end. I almost had a breakdown in the middle, where they all decide to go attack the Reds, but I took it in a very crazy direction because I was starting to get bored with it. I’m glad I did, because that led to one of the biggest twists in the series thus far.

That’s basically my writing style. I’ll just go, and have a vague idea of where things are going. When I start getting bored, BAM. I switch it up, and make it do something crazy and try to make sense of it later. That’s my favorite part of the writing process.

Now, this book – number five – I have no idea. I see where it’s supposed to go, but the direction seems predictable. Boring.

I guess I know what I have to do, huh? Time to surprise myself.

Book 5 Preview

Posted: October 8, 2013 in Uncategorized

I definitely want to get started on Book 5 as soon as I can. I imagine that will start happening soon, as my brain starts thinking of directions the story will go.

For now, though, I’m going to take a little break. A break for me isn’t a break from writing, per se. Instead, I’m going to do something I’ve been meaning to do for a while, now – I’m going to go over Apocalypse again and make it better.

I think the basic story for Apocalypse is good. But I’ve learned a lot over my next three books, and I think I can go back and make it better, what it was meant to be. I don’t know if anything extra will be added, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it ended up a little longer (say, on the order of 5,000-10,000 words longer). Then again, it might end up the same length.

Apocalypse is my first novel. It’s short, but it was meant to be. In fact,  I intended each book of The Wasteland Chronicles to be about the length of Apocalypse. But I think as I’ve gotten better as a writer, my stories have become fuller, resulting in longer books.

I want to take what I’ve learned from the other books and redo Apocalypse. I also want to hire another editor to take a look. Apocalypse was copy edited, but there are still some kinks that can be worked out in that area.

If all goes well, a new and improved version will be online in two to three weeks.

Hopefully, none of this delays the release of Book 5 in December. I already have some ideas for that, too. I’m not committing to any of these ideas, because I may discover that I want to do things differently a little bit down the road.

But my main idea is a novel taking place mostly in Bunker 132. It would be quite a departure from the series, because I’m going to blend more horror elements into it. Not that the rest of the series doesn’t have that, but this one would be even more so.

The novel will basically be the recon team – Alex, Anna, Julian, and Michael – exploring the Bunker and discovering its horrifying past. There will also be back story concerning the Bunker Program, the Dark Decade, and other things that happened in all the years leading up to Ragnarok, including the Chaos Years following impact, up to present day.

I have two titles in mind. Originally, I had planned on writing a short Bunker 132 sequence, and the novel would be mostly about the survival of the Vegas Exodus and their attack on Los Angeles (which is to come). And that may still happen in this novel. Hence, the name Exodus. But I was also playing with the title Darkness, which I feel would better fit the storyline of a novel mostly set in a dark, creepy Bunker – and that title would also be more alluding to the final line of Revelation, which hinted that whatever is found in Bunker 132, it’s more horrifying than Blighters.

So, that’s what I’ve got so far. I really have no answers for what’s to come, other than questions of my own. Whatever happens with Book 5, I’m very excited to get started.

As of 6:57 this morning, according to my Amazon email, Revelation went live on Amazon!

You can find it by clicking here.

As of yet, it is not available on Apple, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I expect them to be online at these retailers shortly. In the interim, you Kindlers can go ahead and get started!

Excitement!

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Wow. Just, wow. I wasn’t expect to write this post until next year (that’s how optimistic I am).

A little over a month ago, I wrote my milestone post for 1,000 sales. It took months of hard work and slogging in the trenches to get to that point, and I was very proud of that achievement. I didn’t even reach 1,000 until August, when I had three books published.

Now, October 3, 2013, I’ve gotten 2,500 total sales on The Wasteland Chronicles. I am stunned speechless by that. I am so glad that readers are finding the books, and it’s so encouraging when they reach out to me to let me know how much they like them. It’s been very crazy, and it just makes me want to work harder and reach higher with these next books.

I hope that’s what I’ve done with Revelation. I’m over halfway done with my final edits, and then it’s to the copy editor. It should be out in a week or so (depends on how fast the copy editor can work through it, as I should be done editing sometime in the next two days).

I face a lot of insecurity as a writer, because I know what I write isn’t perfect/there are still major flaws that come about as a result of my inexperience. I’m getting better as I go along, and I’m just very glad that you guys have come along to explore the world of the Wasteland with me.

All I can say  is, I am very awed and very humbled by everyone who took a chance on Apocalypse and ended up liking the series. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I can’t say that enough. You guys are awesome.