Patriot Shield: Blades of Grass Book 4 has not been without its turmoil, and neither has the speed with which the self-published world is moving!
The book was getting long; I’d already thought of trimming a plot out to keep it under a 100K words as it were. Then I discovered I had no choice. A major oversight on my part about some research led me to realize I’d been writing something factually impossible. What I thought was a major unused underground railway (for the insurgents to hide and move about in), was in fact an old streetcar system. It has a few tunnels and underground maintenance sheds, but nothing like an arterial network under the entire city of Los Angeles.
At worst, this well over 10K words I’ve trimmed out will become bonus material on my website. But I might be able to salvage it for some other city in a future book. Time will tell… It was frustrating for about half-a-day; then I moved on. But one thing it did was move my mid-point plot beat. It now hits at what is shaping up to be about 40% into the book. But there is a ton of action from that point on. Some of it is old school “boots on the ground running.” Some of it a patriot mission of subterfuge. And some of it is high-tech future-warfare type gear. Regardless, I’m not quite done, but I do have a solid plan to finish the last quarter, which I’m trying to do within two weeks.
As to the industry itself, well… I blame it for being part of my delays in writing this past year. Crappy excuses and procrastination aside, the last year came to a point in my life where I had to decide whether or not to keep pursuing this “side gig.” Writing books is the easier half of the author journey, by far. The advent of AI has impacted this game (selling, trying to make a living…) in multiples ways. Anyone who does not make the time to learn the ever-evolving systems will get left behind. Let’s use running ads as an example.
I had to start succeeding at ads—or I had to hang it up and just go back to a full-time job I hate. I’d spent years trying to learn to make good Amazon ads. (They’re labor intensive to find good keywords/targets, and they have a difficult time moving and then scaling.) So, I fled to Meta ads by taking a new course. I’ve enjoyed learning it, but let me tell you—you cannot take your foot of the pedal at all. Meta’s AI is evolving the game too quickly: how it finds people to serve your ads to, how it picks which elements of your ads to display, how it charges your budget.
Then there’s creating the ad elements. Slapping together a cover over a background in Canva is a technique of dinosaurs, now. Whether GPT or MidJourney, an author who hasn’t learned to make good genre-related graphics by now is behind. Big time. Not to mention using the AI systems to help improve your hooks and ad copy. It all sucks the time right out of the week: learning how to build the elements; learning how to build the ads on Meta; monitoring them and making new ones to try very regularly; making sure the Amazon two-month pay-lag doesn’t cause a massive budget issue with your available funds…
I sense good things for this year. I’m writing most days, again. I’m on pace for my first profitable quarter in years. I have audiobooks coming out. I have Patriot Shield coming out around end of March. I’ll be able to repay some business loans (or at least get started.)
Thanks for bearing with me, friends. Peace out!