2017 in Review—The State of Unusual Things

Before you start, there’s a Christmas Sale on! Colony and Dead Silver both are reduced prices through Christmas! Perfect for last minute gifts!

This year … was rough. I’m not going to lie.

To be fair, that wasn’t the writing’s fault. More it was other circumstances. Like the knee injury I acquired in June (which is still healing) and every thing that it brought with it. Okay, mostly it was the knee injury. Pretty much just that. With the knee injury came medical debts, which brought extra work shifts, and that then led to less writing time, and …

Well, let’s just say it’s not been the best year. Which is kind of a lousy lead-in to a year in review article, but it was bound to happen sometime, right? I mean, no matter what, one of the years writing had to be a rough one.

Anyway, 2017 marks the third year of Unusual Things being up and open. Which means that despite how rough this year was, it’s time for another look back at the year in review to see how I did compared to years prior, and make plans for what’s coming.

You ready? Let’s take a look.

Word Goals:
You know what’s funny? When I sat down to put these totals together, I actually thought that they were going to be lower than last year’s numbers. After all, this year was pretty rough, what with all the extra work shifts and the like piling up. But instead, I’ve got to admit that I’m actually kind of surprised. It’s got nothing on that one year when I almost hit a million words, written, but even so …

Even crazier is when I consider that this was all almost on one project.

Okay, so a bit of a refresher on my numbers before I present them. My daily goal, remember, is 3000-4000 words written, or half of that if I have a part-time work shift (something I had to add this year for obvious reasons). I count both words written for Being a Better Writer posts and fiction, as well as words edited (though that only comes out at 20% of whatever the wordcount I’ve edited, a number reached by the amount of time editing spent versus what I would normally accomplish writing in that time).

This year, with work necessitating extra shifts to make up for my financial situation, I had to drop my monthly goal from 80,000 words a month to almost half that, aiming for 50,000 to 65,000 most months.

That said, even with the extra work shifts, this year was a vast improvement over last year. There’s a reason for that, however. Last year I published two books (Colony and Unusual Events: A “Short” Story Collection). This year, I have published nothing. Well, outside of one fanfic. But this year has been all about the writing. Scarier still, writing for one project, the largest thing I’ve written to date.

More on that in a bit, though. At the moment, here are the to-date totals for writing for 2017! Remember, this is just fiction and blog posts. Nothing else. I’m not counting Facebook or Reddit comments here. This is just work writing.


2017 Total to date, minus editing: 603,838

2017 Total to date, including editing: 620,044


This is … actually more than I expected, to be honest! With all of the extra work shifts I’ve been pulling, I was convinced I wasn’t even going to break half a million this year, but I did! Granted, I still think it’s a little low, as in it could be higher, but in looking back over the last twelve months I’ve got a pretty good explanation for that: This was all on one project.

That might sound counter-intuitive to some of you, but trust me, it makes sense. The longer a book seems to get, the higher that wordcount climbs … the more there is going on, and the more difficult the task of stitching it all together seems to be.

Is that an excuse? No. I still think I could have been a bit better this year. Acclimating to so many extra work shifts took a lot of doing, and it’s only in the last few months that I’ve really found a good balance between the two.

I’d still like to have a year where I hit a million words written. But I have a feeling it’s not going to happen until I’m earning enough that I can write full-time all the time, as opposed to spending half of my day at dead-end part-time job somewhere.

So, did I up my game from last year? I did. Not by much, but I did. So that’s a win!

Books Written and Published:
Oooh. After a jam-packed year last year, with not one but two releases, this year has been relatively silent on this front. No, not even relatively. It’s just been quiet. This year? I have published one thing: A fanfic novella. No big releases. Zilch.

I even had plans to as well. Last year, you may recall, I put the finishing touches on a draft of a title called Shadow of an Empire before publishing Colony. And I estimated that it would be out by this year.

Well, I was wrong. And you know why?

Jungle. That is literally the answer to everything writing from this year. Where was all my writing time spent? Jungle. What have I been working on? Jungle. What kept me from getting started on publishing Shadow of an EmpireJungle!

Look, this isn’t without reason, however. Colony has, to date, been my best-selling, most well-received, and most profitable book ever. To the degree that is has made more than all my other releases put together. That’s right, Colony has made more than all three of my other books combined. And some of those books have several-year leads.

Naturally, getting the sequel out  would have a bit of a priority.

But there’s more to it than that. The other thing is that Jungle is massive. The universe built up by Colony was already complicated. Jungle takes that in a new direction that makes for a much more massive and complex tale.

In other words, Colony was 1760 pages, or 345,000 words. No small number. Written while not working a part-time job.

Jungle, by comparison, has three chapters left and is sitting at 432,000 as of today. Yeah, we’re looking at a 2,000 page book here. And there are reasons that it’s this long. Reasons I won’t spoil, but the fact is that Jungle is both longer than Colony and far more complicated.

Again, it’ll make sense when you’re reading it. It’s made for a lot of headaches while writing, but ultimately, I have faith that when it’s in your hands, you’ll understand.

So, what does this mean going forward? Well, while this year was mostly the “written” part of this subheading, next year, 2018, should be a lot more focused on the “published” part of things. Shadow of an Empire will be my next project as soon as Jungle‘s first draft is done. After that, a promised fanfic project will lead into a new experiment, Fireteam Freelance, which will be written during the editing for Jungle and be posted online as a concurrent, episodic tie-in. If I’m lucky, Jungle could see a holiday release next year. No promises, obviously, but it’s a nice goal.

Book Performance:
As far as book sales, go, 2017 has been the best year yet. Mostly thanks to Colony‘s continued success and reception, but a welcome success all the same (especially with the knee injury and all the financial struggle that’s brought upon me). How successful?

Well, I just checked, and book sales in 2017, to my great shock, equal half of my lifetime book sale revenue. That’s right, I made as much in 2017 off of book sales as I have in the last three years prior.

Crud, I started out this post lamenting what a rough year it was, and here I am finding out that my words specifically not blaming the writing were more accurate than I supposed. This year marks a massive pickup over prior years! Something to be especially thankful for at this Christmas season. Had it not been for my sales being so much higher than before over this last year, I have no doubt that things would have been even worse for me financially. So thank you, readers.

Other Areas:
Patreon continues to exist, though I am happy to say I’ve been much better about monthly rewards this year, both in delivering them and making them pretty good. This despite Patreon’s misstep with fees (which has already been rolled back).

X-Com characters have proven pretty popular as well. Last year it was just some fun I was having. Now? It’s a feature. Expect more character packs in the future as new books release!

FINALE:
All right, so at the end of this year, what have I had?

One release (fanfic, novella). One book almost done writing, the longest and most complicated I’ve ever attempted (again, it’ll make sense when you read it). Better sales than ever.

And several books on the horizon for the coming year.

Oh, and of course, a number of weekly Being a Better Writer articles.


 

The end result? I’m giving myself a rating of Pleasantly Surprised. There’s still clear room to grow, but at the same time I clearly did grow from last year.

Here’s to 2018. May it grow as this year did.

But be a little less rough. Please?

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2 thoughts on “2017 in Review—The State of Unusual Things

  1. Man, it sounds like Jungle is going to be massive! There are not many books I’ve read that are over 400k words and I’d like to think of myself as something of a bibliophile. The problem with books of this length is that it can be hard to grab the readers attention and then *keep it* for the entire ride through. Though you did manage that wonderfully in Colony so I’m sure Jungle will be just as good, if not better.

    Also nice to know that there will be more X-com packs. I’m going to need more characters to replace the ones that die. (I’m honestly considering restarting the game after Sky Bolt died very early on)

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, Jungle has become a titan. That’s not saying I don’t plan on trimming it down–with something so long, there’s definitely places I’ll be able to tighten things up, but it’s definitely going to be longer than Colony was.

      Again, it’ll last make sense once you’ve cracked the book open for yourself, but if I say more than that I’m going to spoil a few things I’d rather leave as a surprise. One thing is certain though: readers are going to have a lot to say about it!

      I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the reaction to the character packs myself, though undoubtedly the recent surge in interest was aided by the release of War of the Chosen. That said, the character pack for Shadow of an Empire is already done, though I could see myself adding to it before all is said and done, and a character pack for Jungle and Fireteam Freelance will work well. As much fun as I have putting the characters together, I have no qualms with making more, especially when the fans enjoy them.

      Also, I freaked when I almost lost Barnabas, so I know the feels! That, and Sky doesn’t deserve to die on an alien planet!

      Like

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