A Very Strange March and A Bestselling Series
It's been a very strange March. I remember, way back in the early dawn of 2014, reading about Hugh Howey's success with Wool – he laid it out, blow by blow, moment by moment; his stunned enthusiasm for what was happening to this small novelette he had very nearly not published. I enjoyed reading about it. I learned a lot from it, but I loved to see him doing well – I swam in his child-like glee at his hard work paying off. I hoped one day to enjoy something like that too. To have literally hundreds, if not thousands of readers suddenly want my books over the course of a few days.
I curated and published No Way Home on March 2nd. A little while before that, I decided to run a Bookbub promotion on The Heretic, giving it away free to as many people as I could. Bookbub agreed and scheduled it for March 6th. Now, as I write this on March 16th, the results have been staggering. No Way Home released to excellent reviews and was picked up by hundreds of readers on its launch. We, the authors of the stories therein, were stunned and elated. It continued to top rankings for a little while to come; Amazon marked it out as a Hot New Release in its categories where it still stays. It enjoys the same sort of positioning in genre charts, meaning it is almost as popular as, some of the Future Chronicles anthologies by Samuel Peralta. High praise indeed. It even received the orange #1 Bestseller badge from Amazon UK.
Yet, the greatest surprises were to come. Kicking the US store is far harder than the UK store and, in a way, a gateway to many more readers. I prefer to be read in both of course, but so far I have been largely undiscovered in the US. However, I've given The Heretic away free once before, and I knew to expect thousands of people downloading it. However, what I did not expect was nearly 30,000 people downloading it. What I didn't expect was the huge boost in visibility it gave Defiance, kicking it up to #904 in the Amazon US Kindle Store. Defiance was ranking in the Top Five in its sub-categories, and was selling well. People were seeing it, reading it. This was amazing. I was breathless. I remembered Hugh Howey's excitement with Wool.
Yet the most curious change, and the most unexpected, was a sudden placement in the Top 100 Science Fiction Authors Chart. Imagine that! I watched as I started at #85, and slowly, strangely, crept upwards. Until, eventually, for a whole day, I sat at #44. For a time, I shared pages with Stephen King, Robert A Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Emily St John Mandel, Stephen Baxter, Arthur C. Clarke. You get the picture.
The Heretic came off its free-run and went back to its normal price. Defiance and No Way Home went back to their normal prices. I expected a big drop. Yet people continued to buy. The Heretic suddenly appeared in the Amazon US Kindle Store's charts too. For almost the whole week, in fact, it ranked in the top 10,000 books in the Amazon US Kindle Store. At one point, for most of the day, it was ranking around #3,500. This wasn't a book that had just been released – this was a book that had simply reached more readers and who were loving it. Reviews came in a rate of knots. At the time of writing, it stands at 82 reviews in the US store, and a 4.5 average (47 of them 5 stars, 30 4 stars). Nearly 40 of those have come in the last week.
I am in the middle of writing A Shroud of Night and Tears, so receiving emails from readers, telling me how much they loved the books and asking when the next is coming out is always a huge lift. There is no greater buzz than to know that readers love your books as much as they love those of some of the science-fiction greats. Reviews are social proof, I wrote recently, and I don't read them as much as I used to – I prefer to spend my time writing – but I do read emails send to me and I always respond. So thank you!
This morning, I woke up to find the movement has shifted startlingly upwards in the Amazon UK store. The Heretic has experienced a resurgence in popularity, as has Defiance, and the books are being picked up so much, a week after the promotion, that they are both in the Top Ten in their subcategories. The Heretic is up to #577 in the whole UK Kindle Store. #1 in Space Exploration and #2 in Hard Science Fiction. Yet, the best thing is the orange "#1 Bestseller" badge The Heretic has suddenly acquired. Space Exploration is a much more competitive category than Anthologies, so this is a big deal.
With the success of No Way Home, there will be another anthology, focusing on the theme of crime and punishment. It will have the same speculative fiction focus and feature the same brilliant authors, but with the addition of the excellent Ceinwen Langley. More on that later. We aim to release in August 2015.
Additionally, Tales of Tinfoil is nearly ready. I wait for my story to come back from David Gatewood, but he thinks it's fantastic, so that's good enough for me. That will almost certainly be released next month. The Facebook page for the anthology series is up and running and hilarious. It also includes the cover reveal for the anthology – what a line-up!
Yes, it's amazing to see these results – to see my books on the same list and so popular at the moment. It buoys me because it makes me think that these are great stories that people are enjoying. It's also amazing to be involved in all these projects. It's a huge year for me. It makes me want to continue writing stories, even when the harder days take over and every scene is like wading through treacle. There are good days and bad in writing fiction, every author will tell you that, but you write through the bad ones because this is something you've always wanted – to create stories leaving people breathless with excitement, ripping the pages to get to the next one. I'd have continued writing no matter what, because I love these stories, but it makes it a whole lot easier knowing other people love them too.