Trevor H. Cooley Author of the Bowl of Souls Series.

July Update and Big News for This Author

So it’s nearing the end of July and something big happened this week.

After 14 years working my full time job, I put in my notice. Starting August 20 I will be a full time writer.

It is an exciting and, at the same time, extremely terrifying decision, but it is one I have been toying with for a while. After the third book came out, we hit a benchmark where my wife was able to quit her day job. I was thrilled with being the lone breadwinner.  At the time, I was riding high on book fumes and sales were going strong.

I then proceeded with the goal of both working and writing full time. In the past I had written the books at more of a leisurely pace, but I had high goals. When I put out Book one in may of 2012 I already had book two written and well over half of book three. I was conservative in my promises to readers, saying simply that book four would come out in 2013. But  I thought I’d have book four in January or February and book five in June.  I didn’t realize just how taxing my goals were going to be.

Book four was a monster. I had so many cool scenes and revelations that I had been waiting for years to write, but dividing my days between work and  family and writing made parts of it a slow process. Hilt’s Pride wasn’t giving the series the boost I was hoping for and the sales numbers began losing steam. January was a major slowdown and fear of being unable to pay bills lit a fire under me. Most of the book was finished in February and March as my wife and I made sacrifices. She did everything else, (cooking, cleaning, shuffling kids off to whatever activities) while I toiled away in my office from the moment I left work until the moment I went to sleep.

I finished the book on March 29th, we did our final editing passes, and it was out on April 7. I had my fingers crossed, hoping that my readers hadn’t forgotten about me and to my relief, it worked. The book did well, hitting the Amazon rankings higher than the other books had. It’s presence in the top 50 in epic fantasy helped drag the rest of the books back into the light. Finally I could take a deep breath. I took a week off and got ready to head into the writing of book five with the same fervor I had in February and March.

Again, I underestimated the pressures I was under. It was a lot harder getting back into the rhythm of things than I expected. April – October are the busiest months for my day job. I often would finish working so mentally drained that the prospect of sitting at my desk for another 8 hours was overwhelming. As a result, things were moving slower than I had hoped.

All of these months stressing and watching the numbers had taught me something, though. There is a rhythm and flow to the world of independent publishing on Kindle. Amazon will push your book when it first comes out for maybe a month or two, but they will only promote you heavily if you are in the top rankings. As soon as that two month honeymoon is over, you are pretty much on your own. Most independent authors don’t have the reach or financial wherewithal to promote themselves, so inevitably sales fade and once you are out of the top rankings your only source of promotion is word of mouth. I noticed something else. A  few independent authors with . . . let’s say ‘messy’ editing practices that would usually lead to poorer sales were still able to stay in the top ranks because they put out new books quite often, thereby always being in that promotion cycle and never falling out of the public eye.

I started wondering what I could do as a full time writer. Could I write enough during the day, that I could  put out books in a more timely manner? Could I take that six or seven month writing time filled with stress and angst and narrow it down to a four month book release schedule, still keeping all my editing processes in place, and still spend time with my kids and wife so I don’t die of a stress-induced heart attack at the tender age of 37? It was a scary notion.

When I first brought it up, I said it in kind of a joking manner, but my wife knows me too well. Her face went white and I half expected her hair to fall right out of her head as if my words were laced with radiation. Her reaction convinced me that I was thinking crazy. All that was important was getting the next book out this year. Sales would slow down as expected, but at least we would have the comfort of knowing that no matter what, I still had that steady paycheck, even if it just barely paid the bills. I could wait. I was still confident that I could go full time some day.

Then my wife surprised me a couple days later by bringing it up again. What if I were to quit my job right away? At that moment both of our faces went white. It had been suggested aloud and not by me. We both backed out of the room with hearts racing. Could it work? My calculations began in earnest. I could have the book finished by late September or October, maybe even put out the next one in December or January. We agonized over the idea. We prayed. We talked to friends, some of whom thought we were crazy. What about insurance? What about Christmas? What if your writing suffers? But others were supportive or even excited by the idea.

Finally the decision was made. Here we are.

It won’t be easy. It will require a lot of sacrifices. I’m betting on myself and my writing ability. I’m betting on the characters and world that I have built up through my novels. Most of all, I am betting that my readers will continue to buy my books and spread the word. I’m hoping this gamble pays off.

So Mother of the Moonrat will hopefully be finished by October.

After that I need to decide what to do next. Should I finish writing my contemporary fantasy novel tentatively titled, Tallow Jones, Wizard Detective about a wizard from the world of The Bowl of Souls that ends up in our world? Should I finish another book titled Tarah Woodblade, a stand alone Bowl of Souls novel about a new group of characters? What do you think, dear reader?

Thank you all for your support, and once again, please spread the word. Tell your friends about these books. Tie them down and read it to them if you have to. I could really use the help.

Trevor H. Cooley

 

28 Thoughts on “July Update and Big News for This Author

  1. Lolly Blumhorst on July 24, 2013 at 6:30 PM said:

    I will support your decision with buying every book you write. I love the series and can’t wait for you to finish it. Your writing is great you will make it. As to what to write next just make it good.

  2. Benjamin on July 24, 2013 at 7:36 PM said:

    It’s nice to hear that you’re making a decision, and are supported in that decision, to concentrate on something that you clearly love. I will continue to push your books on everyone I know and encourage them to support this move as I am a huge fan of your writing and love the world that you are weaving in Bowl of Souls, I think the Tarah Woodblade novel sounds great! I really hope this works out for you and eagerly anticipate your next book/s!!

  3. I am excited for you! Obviously I am thrilled to know that this may expedite (or ensure on on-time) release of book 5 and there’s no way for me to know what all will be included or addressed in the final book – but having said that, I’m hoping that Justan will end up with Jahonate and I believe that his integration into her society and explaining how it works could be a book all by itself. I can only hope that there will be more books or novelas about other characters that expand knowledge about them – perhaps continuing on with Hilt & Beth’s life together. No matter what – just announce what you’re selling and I’ll be one of the first to buy it. Best of luck!

    • This will definitely not be the last book of the series. I have future series planned for Justan and company once this book is finished. All of the things you have mentioned will be addressed. Thanks, Shaun!

  4. Sharon Leevy on July 24, 2013 at 8:42 PM said:

    I am all about taking a risk! Way to go, from one of your biggest fans!! You rock!

  5. Christoph on July 25, 2013 at 1:34 AM said:

    I would love to read more about the already existing chars. However, a new view on your world from a different group of chars sounds also quite good and I will definetely read it as soon as it is available :-)

    The detective story in the realy world seems quite different to your current work and might attract maybe another group of readers… but nevertheless I would give it a try ;-)

    • Thanks, Christoph.
      I’m glad you would be interested to read them. I have seen other writers who were successful with one series write a prologue or side story and have that book tank, so I am cautious, but it will be nice to write another story and have a short break from my main characters before leaping into the next series,

  6. Well its impossible to tell where book 5 will leave off at, but I think you should continue Edge’s story until that’s finished before going on to another protagonist. The other stories you mentioned are sorta interesting, but stand alones won’t bring in as much as the main story. You said as much with Hilt’s Pride. It’s just very hit and miss.

    Besides, that Wizard Detective story is just going to be compared to Harry Dresden no matter what you do. The world crossover idea is good, but the name would just put people off. It would be interesting if you switched it up and told it from the POV of a modern student who finds this “wizard” and learns magic while teaching him about our world imo.

    • Actually, the story is about a widower detective in Atlanta whose teenage son goes missing. Everyone in the department puts it off as a runaway case, but one day a mysterious man shows up claiming to be a long lost relative who wants to help. He has strange methods and an odd tattoo on the palm of one hand . . .

  7. Ken Morris on July 25, 2013 at 6:49 AM said:

    I am a new fan, bought your first book back on May 5th. I loved it so much, I quickly bought the rest of the series, including Hilt’s Pride, and had finished them by May 9th! As many here have already stated, I’m eagerly awaiting your next book and have suggested your books to all my friends.

    I wish you well in this new stage of your career and pray that it becomes even more successful than you hoped. As for which book to start after “Mother of the Moonrat”, I have to say “Tallow Jones, Wizard Detective” sounds very interesting. But who am I kidding, I’ll read whatever you put out :)

  8. Thanks so much Ken!
    It’s a big plunge but I’m excited. I hope you enjoy what’s coming in book five. There’re some huge revelations and big battles.

  9. Bryce on July 26, 2013 at 6:28 AM said:

    You asked what we think so ill be honest. I read a good bit and have noticed some things. One thing I have noticed is that it seems that authors who communicate with their readers have a more loyal and consistent base number of readers. I go to several authors facebook and web pages for various updates on the book or sometimes they just post some funny pictures. That keeps those authors in my mind.

    The other big thing is what you wrote yourself, spitting books out faster. NOW as to which book. I would say that if you are confident you can get at least 2 books done a year then at least one book each of those books should be a BoS related book for as long as you plan to continue the series.

  10. Bryce,

    That is a great point. I do my best to stay interactive with readers and I probably post a lot more on Facebook than I do here. This is a place where I do more long form posts, though it’s possible that could change somewhat in the future. This site is all about my writing and the Bowl of Souls Series.

    As far as your second point, I agree completely. I plan to put out three to four books a year if possible and there will always be at least one or two of them that are part of the main Bowl of Souls series. Thank you,

    Trevor

  11. Hey, as an avid fantasy reader, I just wanted to let you know your series has been one of my favorite ever. I love the twists and epic discoveries, and appreciate how much work you must put into this series. I just wanted to say thank you and as to your decision about which book to publish, I definitely would have to say I’d suggest Tirah Woodblade as your next book. Wizard Detective sounds very interesting as well, but I think a lot of people will expect your next book to be along similar line or branching off of the Bowl of Souls series. I f you were to publish Wizard Detective AFTER Tirah Woodblade I think you might get a lot more support for it, since I know personally I would love to read a book like Wizard Detective while waiting for the next book in the Tirah Woodblade series to come out. Thank you so much for writing these books!

    • Dave,

      Thanks so much for the support. I’m glad you like the books. I see your point as to which book to write next. I’m still trying to decide.

      So which character is your favorite? I always find it interesting to see which characters readers identify with,

      Trevor H. Cooley

      • I like both Lenui and Justan, although i’m sure you hear that from all your readers. Lenui I think is great because he’s a real salt of the earth kind of guy, plus, on the fantasy aspect, I’ve always loved the guy who makes the weapons, very cool in my book. I loved Justan’s character because he’s unusual in that he combines two powers that don’t usually go together, might and magic in this case, and his ‘mysterious abilities’, like the ice wraith in his chest, are always what I look forward to finally figuring out when I read the books.

        • Thanks, Dave. Lenny is one of my favorites, too. I hear that from most people. Lenny and Fist seem to be the favorites, followed closely by Jhonate. I do like to hear people say Justan is their favorite since he is the main character.

          Justan has a lot of secrets revealed in book five and I can’t wait for people to read it. The Scralag will be fully explained.

          Trevor

  12. I’ve also noticed what you point out about Amazon’s promotion efforts disappearing after the first few months. Generating sales seems to become a lot harder after that.

    I admire your determination to go full time, and wish you continuing success.

  13. From Germany: I love your BoS series (well, who doesn’t) and am standing in line with all those waiting for no.5. And whichever stories will follow doesn’t really matter. I guess you could make a thrilling fantasy out of the New York phone book.
    Just keep going.
    Incidentally, should you ever happen to come across what some colleagues fear most, i.e. writer’s block, here’s what helped me – I just sat back and said to my characters: OK children, you got yourself in this mess, why don’t you yourselves come up with what you want to do next? And they always did :)
    All the best
    Georg

    • Thanks, Georg!

      I appreciate the support and thanks for taking the time away from writing your books to read mine. I love hearing from a reader in Germany. Please let me know what you think with book five. I’ve been trying to find a way to get my books translated to German. If your novels are ever available in English, let me know.

      • Georg Martin Erny on September 16, 2013 at 4:45 AM said:

        Hi Trevor,
        Book 5 will certainly be the most demanding of the series, what with tying up all threads from no. 1-4. When writing my last one (Sir Snitchbottle – presently only available in German, also via Amazon), I realized towards the end of the approx 650 pages that I really had to go through the whole thing again and again. Luckily we’re in the computer age. The job was time consuming, but not as much as I feared. I guess you have sketched the plot and it’s more or less a matter of getting the details right. What proved helpful was a friend’s advice to speed up the action towards the end, however without giving the reader the feeling that the author was in a hurry to get the book finished.
        Re translation of your books into German: I’m having the same problem the other way round, i.e. finding someone who can transfer old Snitchbottle into English.So far, I haven’t been really successful. Possibly the only way is contacting an agent (which shouldn’t prove too difficult, since we’re both already on the market with our books).

        The biggest agency in Germany is http://www.schlueckagent.com/. They do a lot of business introducing English books into the German market and vice versa.

        • It has definitely been a challenge, especially the battles at the end. This book has been on my mind for ten years, so I have been looking forward to each and every revelation.
          I have a pan in the German market fire that I can’t talk about yet. it may end up being nothing. We’ll see.

          • Georg Martin Erny on September 16, 2013 at 10:46 AM said:

            Quite a few German editors are eager to go for successful books from abroad – and yours are successful. I’m halfway through BoS 4 and I really, really can’t imagine even an editor with an IQ of under 80 letting this series slip away. If I had more time, I’d start translating it just for fun.

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