That’s a loaded question.
In 1994 Tom Clancy published a book titled Debt of Honor. The plot involved the rise of a shadow government in Japan that was intent on returning it to its pre-WWII empire. I’ll skip the first several hundred pages and tell you that the book ends with a 747, one flown by a radicalized Japanese pilot, crashing into the Capitol building and killing almost every member of the United States government’s leadership. The book was a best seller.
A few years later terrorists flew planes into the World Trade Center, killing over 3,000 people and sparking two wars that would kill hundreds of thousands more.
In 2018 I published Rebirth, the final book of my Twelve Shepherds saga. It ended with a mob of angry citizens storming the Capitol building and killing several members of the country’s leadership.
Two years later that happened for real. Several people died. Thousands are in prison. Three years later, as I write this, we are still dealing with the people who caused it and the fallout of their actions.
I’m not saying that the two situations have any direct correlation. Nor am I saying I have the audience or influence of Tom Clancy. Both books are works of fiction. Neither were written to radicalize anyone or start any form of armed rebellion or government change. I don’t feel that I, or the stories that I write, have that kind of effect on people.
But it only takes one.
I’ve started multiple stories since Jan 6th, 2021. None of them made it to the finish line. I’ve become a bit gun-shy with my words. I’ve dabbled in other genres, ghosted a few stories for other people, and compiled a large folder of story outlines. Most of them will never see the light of day. Obviously, there was a disconnect somewhere, and I didn’t know how to overcome it.
I needed a break. So I looked for something to do until this gun-shyness went away.
One of the things an indie author needs to do is tend to the business side of producing and selling books. To accomplish that I list my books on over 57 different sales platforms. I advertise them on a dozen others. There’s also the website to maintain, social media to keep up with, reader correspondence to take care of, and the occasional conference to attend. In between all this, we somehow find time to crank out the words.
Since I wasn’t writing I looked for some non-writing thing to do. I keep a folder of miscellaneous ideas so I pulled it out and thumbed through it. There’s an idea for a better stop-stick for the police to use. Another for improving the way we plumb houses. A third for a pan that cooks bacon perfectly every time.
And then I found a napkin with the idea for a reporting service outlined on it. Several actually. I read them twice and decided to see if I could make it a reality.
That was in 2021. Over the next few years, I found a business partner, recruited a team of developers, and produced a minimally viable product. We called it ScribeCount.
What it does is simple. It saves me, and a slew of other indie authors, a ton of time.
57 sales platforms is a lot. If you were to ask me “How many books did you sell yesterday?” I would have to visit each of those platforms, download a spreadsheet, upload it into an Excel pivot table, crunch the numbers, and then produce an answer. By the time I’m done doing that, the number is already antiquated.
ScribeCount automats that process. Then it makes lots of pretty graphs and charts that show me what I need to know. Then it lets me filter that data so I can see everything all at once, or drill down to a single book on a single platform in a single country. Once we had that done we turned to ads. We now track them as well and display that information in the same dashboard. It’s something I’ve wanted since I started this adventure back in 2009.
It’s been a welcome distraction, one that I’ve needed.
BUT….I’m still a writer.
Just because I was ignoring the voice in my head doesn’t mean she shut up. Quite the opposite.
ScribeCount is to the point that it no longer dominates my every waking moment. As a result, the voice has gotten louder. I’ve been “staring out the window” (as my wife puts it) more and more these days. There’s a pad of paper on the nightstand and another in the car. Ideas form. They get expanded on. Plots follow and characters are being born. New ones to go with the old ones.
Jan 6 is being dealt with, and it’s not my fault. It’s time to move on.
I’m currently wrapping up a four-book post-apoc series. It’s written in the first person and unlike anything I’ve done before. I’m enjoying writing it and will probably be sad when it’s over.
But once it is I have plans for Jack, and Dayton, and Larry, and Sydney, and a slew of new characters. Outlines are done. Chapters are stacking up. The front page of the paper is feeding the muse again and this time the output is good. I’m averaging 2,000 words a day and steadily increasing. I found a new cover artist. I rebuilt the website. (What do you think of it?”) I’m looking into making an AI version of my own voice for Audiobooks.
What I’m saying is…I’m a writer again.
So brace yourself. Books are coming.