Over the past few months, I’ve taken a long hard look at my writing and publishing. I’ve been making plans for that and for what I can reasonably offer my fans in a way that both honors them and is also realistic with my own abilities. I'd like to share a list of opportunities I want to address or overcome that have been brought to me. Maybe you’ll find something in the list that relates to how you feel or what you've been hoping for.
Fans of my Dragon School and other dragon series have felt left behind by my forays into longer books and romantic fantasy. I understand this. Phoenix Heart is my way of trying to let you know that I still want to write this kind of fantasy and offer it to you. I know that Phoenix Heart is about phoenixes and some of you are dragon, dragon, dragon people. Would you be willing to give these a try anyway? I think you’ll find a lot of the heartwarming companion adventure that was in Dragon School. I’m writing them to be good for any age group over twelve and with barely any romance so people can enjoy these as a counterpoint to the romantic fantasy. It’s my way to say thank you to you for sticking with me. The prequel novelette is already available on my patreon to all levels of patron. I hope to start publishing this series by late May.
Some of you have mentioned that you don’t want to buy books at Amazon but you still want to read my books. For you, I have a new solution. You can get my new releases for a limited time before they release through the reader and superfan levels of subscription on my patreon before they release on Amazon. That way, I’m not breaking Amazon’s rules, but you still get the books. If you’ve signed up for the patreon, keep an eye out for notifications and the site will let you know when I put up a new post with a link. I’ve carefully thought through pricing to try to offer this to you in a way that will both save you money but that I can reasonably offer to a lot of people without losing so much income that it becomes unmanageable. I hope I struck the right balance! I'll be honest - my author friends have all told me this is far too low of an ask, but I'm trying to view it from a reader's perspective and make you an offer that's just too good to resist.
Social Media – guys, I’m going to be straight with you. At the end of 2019, I was burned out. I’d written too many dragon books too quickly and I could hardly think never mind do anything else. For some authors that means they stop writing. For me, it meant I didn’t have the energy for social media. Following on the heels of that came the pandemic and since then, I’ve had my kids at home all the time except for a few brief months of in-school learning. They’re back to homeschool right now during my city’s third lockdown and unlikely to be going anywhere anytime soon. All that to say that realistically, I just won’t be on social media as much. I can’t maintain a Discord anymore. You know that if you’re part of it. You know I haven’t been there in a while. This is me officially confirming it. I’m stretched too thin and I won’t stop writing books, so something has to give and it’s going to be that – social media. I hope you can forgive me for that. I will promise to keep writing you great books and getting better and better at telling stories, but I can’t promise to have the energy for online interaction, too. I do intend to keep up with patreon comments and messages, though, so if you are looking for a more personal touch, that’s where to get it.
Too many emails. Some of you have been here for a while. You’ve been getting emails from me every week and your inbox is cluttered. You want updates but you want them when you’re ready to get them. For you, I’ve added the $1.50 patreon level that gives you access to my behind the scenes news and free short stories all the time (actually, I uploaded a brand new prequel to the new Phoenix Heart series that is available on the patreon right now) but you only need to log in and look at them when you feel like it. No more weekly emails. I know that I really like to control what communications I receive and when. I hope this helps you with that, too! (For the rest of you, I will still be writing this newsletter, this is just the option I'm offering people who want the benefits of it without something in their inbox.)
Audiobooks – I want these to be more available to you all. In the past year I shifted how I produce my audiobooks and my next books will be released on more retailers than just Audible. What does that mean for you? It means I can offer another kind of value – an audiobook patreon. For $10 a month an audiobook listener on patreon gets my newly released audiobooks as they become available (and before they hit retailers). I plan to get all five books of Empire of War & Wings recorded this year and also a stand-alone novella. These will all be offered to these audiobook patreon fans. I thought through to try and find a price point that should save you money in the long run while also bringing in enough to keep up my production (producing a full audiobook costs me $2000 each). I hope I settled on the right one!
Rapid releases – I’m slowing these down a little – not the writing but the releasing. I have four projects on the go this year – three series and a stand-alone book. They will be taking turns with releases which means it will take a bit longer for a full series to complete. This is my way of keeping things fresh and avoiding burn-out and I hope it will also bring you in with me on both the joy and agony of the slow process of creation. I think my newer slower releases will be all the more delightful with the added anticipation. To that end, when I start releasing my Phoenix Heart novellas, I plan to release them in a rapid batch of five as a “season” and then wait a few months before the next “season” releases. I also want to get Heart of Shadows and a second book in Bluebeard's Secret out this year. These slower releases should keep these books fresh and exciting and we can all enjoy the wait together!
Patreon. Umm have you noticed a theme here? Yes, I’ve been trying to use this as a way to solve a lot of the pain points people have been having in one single place so that instead of being stretched thin, I can concentrate on just one thing. I got this idea when my friend Melissa told me that my current favorite author had a patreon and I went to go and look at what she was up to and see if I could support her. Seeing what she was doing inspired me to try to find similar solutions for my fans. I hope you find it helpful!
I am utterly committed to quality and improving my work. I think I’ve seen improvements in my ability to tell stories over the past year and my commitment to you is that I will never give less than my best in telling a story. I’ll never hold back. I’ll never stop growing. I spend a lot of my time thinking about the books I’m writing. I ask myself how I can tell you a story you haven’t quite heard before. How can I make the characters alive and memorable? Can I take you somewhere you haven’t been before? Can I make you laugh at the same time? I think I have a solid voice – a Sarah story sounds like a Sarah story. I’m going to keep giving you that – only more and better. I have some great people on my team who push me to do better. I’m going to keep listening to them and keep creating the most unique, beautiful fantasy stories that I can. That’s my promise.
Thanks for reading this long and very real chat. If you want to comment on any part of it or ask me questions, please feel free to email me back. I try to answer all my emails as soon as I can.