Astra’s Adventure Continues.

Villains Inc., Episode Three is finally out–a week behind my self-imposed deadline, but well worth the final days put in on it. So now we’re in the home stretch as I pound away at my draft for Episode Four: Endgame, which should be out mid-December.

The entire novel will also become available in December, just on time for Christmas, and then it’s on to my third Wearing the Cape story, Bite Me: Big Easy Nights, a story about Artemis that takes place between WtC and VI. After that I’m going to take a break from Hope’s world by finishing up Worst Contact, a sci-fi space adventure. Those two projects may well keep me busy through 2012, but I’d like to fit in one more Wearing the Cape story as well–a story currently nothing more than an exciting thumbnail sketch.

So, three-quarters of the way through my second Hope/Astra story, it seems like a good time to pause and consider how it’s going. The good part, and this is definitely a bonus for me, is the episodic format. From a writer’s perspective, the inability to go back and “re-plot” as later scenes have suggested changes has led to some moments of frustration–but the push the tightened release-schedule has given my writing has forced me to work through several bad moments of writer’s block. I am not yet as disciplined a writer as I need to be, so the “publish or perish” pacing has helped tremendously.

On the other hand, the Amazon pricing problem remains; since Amazon only pays a 35% royalty on any title costing less than $2.99, episodic publication requires the reader to pay nearly twice as much for me, the author, to earn the same royalty returns on the book. Add to this the fact that, unless Villains Inc. takes a huge dive in popularity, in December I will hold six of the Top Ten positions in the Superhero category, pushing other deserving titles down the list. This seems a little much for what is really only two books.

So I have decided that once the complete Villains Inc. novel is published I am going to take down Episodes 2-4 (probably not till mid-January, to give everyone who wants to the chance to purchase the last episodes). This will leave only Wearing the Cape and Villains Inc. up, plus VI:1 up as a $.99 teaser. Alternatively, I may leave Episodes 2-4 up but remove them from their categories.

So enough about plans; now that I’m nearly done I’d love to hear some feedback. Have readers enjoyed the episodic format? Has it been able to keep up the action/tension and keep readers interested in what is happening to Hope? Overall, how is Villains Inc. going so far, and how does it compare to Wearing the Cape? I put up this blog largely so that I could update readers and hear their thoughts here, and I would love to hear from you. The favorable and insightful Amazon reviews many of you have put up for Wearing the Cape are even more appreciated (thank you, thank you, thank you). I hope to have an appendix at the end of Episode Four and in the novel, giving more details about Hope’s world, but any questions you have now you can certainly ask here.

Now onward! Best of luck to everybody as the year winds to its end. I will try and post more often as time permits, but now let us finish what was begun.

-M.G. Harmon

12 thoughts on “Astra’s Adventure Continues.

  1. Sounds like the experiment has a big success so far, Marion and the sales numbers will continue to grow.

    I do question the value of taking down existing titles. I fear any reduction in exposure can only disadvantage you.

    The trend in reading is most definitely towards shorter stories that can be devoured easily, and for new buyers yet to discover Artemis and Wassername the 99c intro short episode is always going to be a winner.

    None of our current WIPs are suited to this episodic approach, but if they were we’d be getting as many out there as possible. However many top places you hold will be due to your books being more popular than the others at that particular time.

    To get the attention of the big players in other media so as to make this series the huge succcess I’ve always sadi it would be, you need that kind of exposure. Word will soon get about. Stan Lee will be knocking at your door in due course!

    BTW our new ebook store goes live soon, aimed at the far east markets, and hopefully will bring you to the attention of the graphioc art sector that way. They’ll be a lot keener to invest of they can see you are continuing to build the brand in the West.

  2. Personally, I dislike buying books in episodic format, only because it means I know I’ll have to wait for the future parts. However, I love that you made these stories available sooner by publishing them this way.

    The thing with Amazon’s pricing model is ridiculous. It seems to me that Amazon should either take a flat price per book or take a flat percentage, no matter what the sale price is.

    My only concern with selling part 1 at 99c is that there’s no option to get a discount on the full novel that way; it sure would be nice if Amazon let you do promotional bundles (so buyers of part 1 would get 99c off of the full book.)

    Perhaps you should look at publishing a free teaser, something shorter than Part 1, but something longer than a first chapter. Of course, even the standard free preview was enough to get me sucked in to Wearing The Cape.

    I love this series, Marion, and I hope you write more. This is very much how I see superheroes working in the real world, and Hope is a character that it’s easy to get hooked on. However you do it: a book at a time or a piece at a time, please bring us more. 🙂

    1. Thank you! And there will be more stories in the Post-Event universe. Bite Me: Big Easy Nights is Artemis’ story (between WtC and VI), and it will be out next year. The stories have been a kick to write.

      1. Please don’t be offended. I just blasted through the whole 1 3/4 books and loved them. Definitely want more.

        As for the distribution model, if Amazon has set up a system that means one of your books can take the top five slots of the popular book listing that is their problem. I’m not worried about paying a few dollars extra for a serialised novel, if the choice is there for people to by it for a few dollars less at the end so what!? I got the chapters almost as they were done, it’s almost like watching an author at work. Only less stalky. Nice work on the wearing the cape series so far. I think the detractors in the comments on Amazon need to remember its a YA book.

        Sorry for the novella.

  3. Not at all. I’m glad you’ve enjoyed it thus far; now we just have to see if I stick the landing. The episodic release format has been an interesting experiment, has had it’s pros and cons, and I may do it again. Bite Me: Big Easy Nights will be published the old fashioned way, however. And oddly, Wearing the Cape isn’t listed as a YA category–I really should change the Amazon page to label it more explicitly. But keep in mind that one man’s Greatest Book Ever is another man’s insomnia cure; I’ve never gotten some titles everyone raves about, and I have a few Must Reads of my own that people can’t understand. So I’m glad that so many seem to enjoy reading the adventures of Astra, and thank you for sharing your enjoyment.

    1. Yes, but only by one week–it will still be out (along with the full novel) before New Years. Sorry; I really want to “stick the landing” on this one, and final editorial revisions have taken longer than I expected.

      1. Oh, thanks so much for the quick reply. I’m fanatical in the way I read due to the fact that read exceeding fast. I read Wearing the Cape and the first 3 episodes last night but when I went to look for the 4th I couldn’t find it anywhere. I love the way the characters grab you and you instantly want to know them. They are excellent reads

  4. Mr. Harmon,

    Loved “Wearing the Cape” and I’m loving “Villains Inc.” Also, I like the publishing of episodes. Usually, I tend to be impatient when I am in the zone, but years of reading comic books has me conditioned to this style.

    I know this sounds petty, but I wasn’t sure I would like reading from a woman’s point of view. It’s a little more personal looking through the character’s eyes than in comics. Luckily (for me!), I am enjoying the story and the realistic take of the dangers and other changes in the life of a superhero.

    Thanks for the great stories!!

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