Sunday, January 27, 2019

2019: Let's launch a pen name

Every year I sit down and make some goals for this whole publishing thing. Each year they involve some level of increased production and better marketing. This year's no different. I have some pretty aggressive publishing goals, and I have some marketing goals that will keep me busy. But the biggest thing that's going to change in 2019 is that not everything written by me is going to have my name on it, because I'm launching a pen name. 

There are a couple reasons for this. Part of it comes down to marketing. I have built the Jarrett Rush brand around near-future, on-Earth speculative fiction. The sci-fi I write under my real name isn't happening millennia from now. It doesn't have space ships or alien overlords. I write monster stories under my own name. I write zombie stories under my own name. The people who red those stories don't necessarily read this new stuff I'm writing. This stuff is all spaceships and blasters. It's fun, and I love it. But promoting it to the people who read the stuff I write as Jarrett isn't going to drive sales and could confuse the book store algorithms that help sell books for you. So, to avoid that unhelpful cross pollination of audiences, I'm going to publish this new stuff under a new name.

Second reason: I started this publishing journey eight years ago this coming September. It's been fun, but it hasn't been profitable. I make a few bucks a month from my stories, but I'm not by any reasonable measure successful with it. But, I think I could be. The problem has been that I've sort of done everything wrong. When I started years ago, there weren't a lot of best practices. It was still a little bit the wild west, and I missed all of the tricks then that people did to make their books successful. And they really were tricks, most of them. They were exploiting loop holes in the algorithms that Amazon and other stores quickly closed.

From that, some best practices emerged, those things that didn't exploit any funny way that books rankings or promotions were handled. These were just solid ways to run a business. None of them are overly genius, but I haven't ever implemented them fully. I feel like, and this is going to sound fairly cocky, that if I did those things, I could be successful doing that. And launching a pen name is a chance for me to test that. Things like writing in clearly defined markets (RIP, cyberpunk), establishing a newsletter early, launching books quickly, running ads properly. All of this is stuff I see other authors doing and finding.

I haven't decided whether or not to keep the name secret. Right now, I'm leaning that way, just for the sake of purity. The whole cross pollination thing I mentioned earlier. My plans for him (There's your one hint, the pen name is still male) are pretty aggressive. I want to write five serial novellas, three short stories that introduce the world, and one standalone story. That's nine pieces of fiction for this new name. 

It's kind of exciting for me personally. Like most writers, I have a lot of half started things on my hard drives. I didn't know where some of it was going. They were just stories that came to me, and I ran with them. Going back now, I see how they easily fit into the plans I have for this name. So, I'm not starting those none pieces from scratch. I actually have the first novella finished and am a good way into the second right now. I've also got a start on one of the stand alone shorts. It's kind of like God knew what he was doing when He gave me those stories when he did.

That doesn't mean I'm ignoring the series I've started under my Jarrett Rush name. I am planning on finishing the Rubble & Ruin series this year. There's one more book planned to wrap up that story. I also have more Jackson Cane stories planned. I think I can get those stories to start moving with a finished series and some smart advertising. And those stories are pretty short. I can write them quickly. 

I also want to write that third New Eden book to wrap up the main series. 

So, that's it. We'll say happy birthday to a new pen name in 2019. You'll also see me more here and on social media a bit more, specifically Facebook. I've got some ideas there too. I'm excited about this year, I think it has the potential to be a good one.