Seven Manuscripts and Other Hassles

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At this moment, I have seven completed manuscripts on my desk. One short story, six novels, and a non-fiction book. All of them need to be edited.

While it’s a good problem to have, it does mean I won’t be writing new fiction for a while.

But that’s all right. I’ll be using the downtime to prepare for the next phase in my writing career. Major changes are afoot.

Singularity Sunrise

This year, I will crowdfund and publish a post-cyberpunk espionage series titled Singularity Sunrise. With one short story and five novels, I can’t say I will finish the series by the end of the year, but I’ll certainly try to get at least half of the stories out.

Singularity Sunrise follows the adventures of James Morgan, a psychic commando turned private security specialist. In a rapidly-changing world where technology is altering the very definition of ‘human’, Morgan rejects all but the barest minimum of technology.

His latest assignment: to protect and guide an artificial general intelligence, the first of its kind in the world–and the first sapient AI in existence. A sapient AI that is supremely intelligent and utterly inhuman.

An AI that could just be a god from a machine.

This series explores the concept of the Technological Singularity, a hypothesized point where extreme technological growth leads to unimaginable changes to human civilisation. In the series, the world stands at the brink of the Singularity; all it needs is a nudge.

But nobody said the Singularity is a good thing.

Some groups fear the coming Singularity. They will lash out at those who dare to create thinking machines. Others want to dictate the fate of the humanity. In the shadows, an AGI race is on, a race more shadowy than the race to the nuclear bomb, with far greater consequences.

The Singularity is coming. The sun is rising on a new age in humanity. But will it be a new Eden, or hell on Earth? Or will it simply be a sterile wonderland for cold machines?

It is my most ambitious project yet. But it needs a lot of prep work, and a lot of edits. Given my limited time, I’d rather finish editing the entire series before starting the next. I expect it to take at least another month, maybe even longer.

Confessions of A Keyboard Monkey

This isn’t to say I won’t be publishing anything, mind. The seventh manuscript, a nonfiction book, will be published first. Titled Confessions of a Keyboard Monkey, it is easily the craziest thing I’ve written yet.

One part autobiography, one part meditation, it is a collection of life lessons I’ve learned after a decade stuck in dead-end jobs. From my experiences I have unearthed and extrapolated a number of principles to live by, principles that echo the timeless wisdom of the ages.

Referencing Buddhism and neuroscience, psychology and the Dao, money management and pop culture, it is the most eclectic and esoteric book I’ve written in my life. I don’t know how it will be received, only that it demanded to be written. And now that it is written, the only logical step forward is to prepare it for publication.

Will it break out? Will it flop? I don’t know. I only know that there is nothing on the market quite like it. For good or ill, it is the kind of book only I can write.

It is the manuscript I am focusing on at the present. Expect it to come very soon.

Writing to Market

I want 2020 to be my best writing year yet. To do this, I need to write to market. I need to give readers what they want.

Wuxia/xianxia is a hot trend in Amazon right now, and there are no signs of it slowing down. Cyberpunk may be the next trend, with a flurry of cyberpunk games and other media to be released this year, especially Cyberpunk 2077.

I know I can write wuxia–but it will be wuxia unlike anything on the market. I don’t know if cyberpunk gamers and movie-goers will read novels, but on Amazon the genre is stuffed with everything but cyberpunk. It could be primed for a friendly re-conquest. I can write either wuxia or cyberpunk, but I can’t do both at once.

Over the past week, I ran a poll on my newsletter and social media accounts, gathering information on readers wanted. The results were… interesting.

Babylon Red, the sequel to Babylon Blues, received the lowest score, with just 16% of the votes. This took me by surprise; I’d expected more interest in a sequel to a recently-published book.

The Long Winter was also another surprising entry. It’s a post-apocalyptic military wuxia series crossed with cosmic horror. The kind of weird tale that went out of style in the 1940s. But it scored a respectable 24% of the vote–and attracted the most engagement.

Illusion City was pet project for me. It’s a cyberpunk crime series, set in the floating city of New Singapore. With 28% of the vote, it took second place.

Swordbreaker, a cyberpunk cultivation series, was the winner, but not by much. It tied with Illusion City in two separate polls, with very different audiences. In the end, the tiebreaker votes came from a third poll. Altogether, Swordbreaker won 32% of the vote.

None of these concepts won a clear majority.

On the other hand, both Illusion City and Swordbreaker have strong cyberpunk themes. And they also feature martial arts prominently.

Does that mean I should do both, one after the other? Now that might be an interesting thought. Right now, though, the setting and story arc of Illusion City is more developed than Swordbreaker.

The bottleneck here is funding the publication of these books. Steemit and other blockchain-based blogging platforms don’t pay out as much cryptocurrency as I like. Traditional crowdfunding may be viable, but it doesn’t lend itself to a rapid release schedule needed to maintain visibility on Amazon unless I can fund multiple books at once. Patronage models like Patreon and BuyMeACoffee is an intriguing idea, but I need to draw more traffic to this blog first. There is always the publisher option, of course, but finding reliable small presses with marketing machines is going to be tricky.

This is something I need explore in the coming weeks. Should I do a run-off poll to decide between Illusion City and Swordbreaker? What about funding methods? What do you think?

Other Nonfiction and Services

I’ve been a writer for 18 years, and a professional (i.e. a paid one) for the past 6 years. With my Hugo and Dragon Award nominations, I think I’m ready to give back to the community.

It’s time to start coaching.

Over the coming months, I’ll be introducing author services, focused on helping writers grow their talents and craft. I will also work on a series of writing guides, aimed at writers who want to create pulp-style writing. This would also be paired with a writing course.

I will release more information about this later in the year, but expect coaching to come very soon.

Other Changes

With so many changes afoot, this website has to change too. You might have seen some of them already. I’ll be reorganizing and redesigning this site, optimising it for my writing goals.

I will also be exploring direct sales options on this website. Putting it simply, Amazon isn’t the best publishing method for me. It doesn’t do Electronic Funds Transfers to Singapore, so it issues royalty cheques instead. It could take up to three months before the cheques are mailed and processed. Further, the IRS takes 30% of my royalties, Amazon takes another 30%, and my bank charges a currency conversion fee.

While I’ve made a fair bit of royalties from Amazon, all these bites add up. I’d rather not suffer them if I have to. The alternative, therefore, is direct sales and Smashwords. I am researching options, advantages and disadvantages, and will integrate them over the coming weeks.

As you can see, there’s going to be a lot of work ahead. A lot of non-writing work at that. It’s going to be challenging, and it will take time away from writing.

But it’s also necessary preparatory work for the future. If I do this right, this will be the year my writing career takes off.

While waiting for my next book, you can check out my previous book DUNGEON SAMURAI here!

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Seven Manuscripts and Other Hassles
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