Finally, after an unexpectedly long break after the release of my first novel, Wake of the Phoenix, I am making good progress on the second book of the Artifice of Power saga. Since a lot of self-published authors choose to go rapid release, I want to take the opportunity of having a good visual of my sequel to talk about my process in a way that I hope helps other writers and gives readers some insight into when they can expect more content.
I am not a rapid release author. Primarily, this is because my genre doesn’t lend itself well to rapid release, and I want to explain why that’s true because there’s a lot of tension between some rapid release authors and some other self-publishers. The books in epic fantasy are expected to be long (120k words is on the low end for epic fantasy and at the absolute maximum for most traditionally published books of all genres). As well, there is an assumption of complexity of plot and character interactions that is much more difficult to write in a short period of time.
That’s not to say rapid release authors have simplistic writing, plots, or characters or that all their books are overly short. Plenty of rapid release authors have characters well designed for their stories. They just don’t write epic fantasy. The good rapid release genres are romance (the pillar of this publishing style), urban/contemporary fantasy (which has a much lower world-building requirement), other contemporary books, and a lot of young adult books. Sometimes steampunk works well as rapid release, as well. Plenty of other books have gotten some traction as rapid release (I certainly don’t have an exhaustive list), but these are the ones that tend to thrive. And the one thing they all have in common is they tend to be shorter than epic fantasy by a lot. A 110k word romance novel had better be damned good to survive; the standard is more 70k-90k. Same with YA and most books set in contemporary settings. Go above 100k in those genres and you’re struggling to hold readers. If I go below 100k my readers will be sorely disappointed. Rapid release authors thrive on quick, well-paced books that hit the aspects their readers love. Epic fantasy thrives on a sense of wonder and evolving conflicts, typically mixed with slowly growing stakes.
As a result of these differing expectations, if I were to try to follow a rapid release publishing schedule, my books would suck. As a result, the plan for my publishing plan is this:
- Most of the fiction content here will be compiled into a series of anthologies, to be released between my book releases. This may seem like a bit of double dipping. After all, I’m putting the content here for free and then asking people to buy it also? But that’s not the plan. The content from here will be the foundation of each anthology, but the stories will undergo significant revision and likely expansion from the version released here, and will go through formal editing. I have a typo problem in blog posts and I only have so much time to fix them. As well, I intend to include at least one new, previously unreleased story in each anthology, preferably two or three, depending on existing content.
- Primary books in the Artifice of Power saga will be released approximately every 2 to 2.5 years. While I would love to release more often, at this time I still have a day job and that’s not going away any time soon.
- Several off-shoots of the series are already in planning stages. These plans include the prequel novels to the Aritifice of Power Saga that several reviewers have commented on wanting (I promise this is where this story arc starts; the prequels are already in initial drafting and have an entirely different set of storylines). Another set that is under consideration is a companion series that would cover some of the neglected storylines in areas where the main plot simply doesn’t have a reason to go (Kyli Andriole’s progression through the political landscape, for example). Those books are less likely to begin drafting before the end of the Artifice of Power Saga, given the potential for those storylines to intersect directly with the primary arc.
Tentative Release Plans
Below is a chart which outlines the rough plans I have for my release schedule for the Artifice of Power saga.
|Book||Placement in story||Tentative release plans|
|Tales of the Laisian Empire, Volume 1||All content occurs before the beginning of Wake of the Phoenix, book 1 in the Artifice of Power saga||Tentatively planned for late 2022|
|Artifice of Power saga, Book 2||Direct sequel to Wake of the Phoenix||Tentatively planned for late 2023/early 2024|
|Tales of the Laisian Empire, Volume 2||All content occurs between the end of Wake of the Phoenix and the beginning of Artifice of Power saga, Book 2||Tentatively planned for late 2024|
|Artifice of Power saga, Book 3||Direct sequel to Artifice of Power saga, Book 2||Release not yet planned|
|Tales of the Laisian Empire, Volume 3||All content occurs between the end of Artifice of Power saga, Book 2 and the beginning of Artifice of Power saga, Book 3||Release not yet planned|
|Artifice of Power saga, Book 4||Direct sequel to Artifice of Power saga, Book 3||Release not yet planned|
|Tales of the Laisian Empire, Volume 4||All content occurs between the end of Artifice of Power saga, Book 3 and the beginning of Artifice of Power saga, Book 4||Release not yet planned|
|Artifice of Power saga, Book 5||Direct sequel to Artifice of Power saga, Book 4||Release not yet planned|
|Tales of the Laisian Empire, Volume 5||All content occurs between the end of Artifice of Power saga, Book 4 and the beginning of Artifice of Power saga, Book 5||Release not yet planned|
|Artifice of Power saga, Book 6||Direct sequel to Artifice of Power saga, Book 5||Release not yet planned|
Anyone who browses this blog for any length of time will undoubtedly realize that I call myself a “pure pantser” or “an extreme discovery writer” and I have even said things like “the more I know about what’s coming, the more difficult it is for me to write the book. This is all true. I typically sit down at my computer for a new book with nothing more than a character concept and a place where that person is standing. Typically not even a name. As a result, the fact that I already know the above rough outline of the series—I even have titles for each of those books, though I won’t release them until I’m sure they won’t change—is a sign of the life this story has in my imagination. It’s also a bit terrifying to me, since I know that makes it a bit harder to get the books started. It took me almost eight months to get the second book working right. The good news is…it’s working now! Below I’ll discuss a quick overview of the status of book 2. Please note that, since I am a discovery writer, some of this “progress” may sound a little crazy (I.e., “how did you write a book without knowing THAT?”). That’s just the nature of being a discovery writer. Even our sequels are pulled out of thin air.
Artifice of Power, Book 2 Progress
I’m very excited to share the progress on book 2 of the Artifice of Power saga. It’s shaping up to be a very fun book with a lot of implications I didn’t quite predict. Currently I’m 20k words into the draft. That’s not a lot of content, but I don’t write linearly. What that means is, so far, I have the likely events of two, maybe even three or four major shifts in the narrative. I have content for the rough arc of the characters, and I know that at least two new side characters from Wake of the Phoenix are getting POV chapters in the sequel. That last bit undoubtedly means the book will be longer than Wake of the Phoenix, which is not entirely unexpected. However, because of the plot moments I already know, it should also have a bit of a faster pace. That means more plot will happen in the length, not less. The element that most excites me, though, is that several moments in Wake of the Phoenix that otherwise had no follow-up have already influenced the events of book 2. While I obviously knew some elements needed to move forward in book 2, I’m very excited at how elements that I had wished I could pursue further have woven into the narrative of the second book, several of which I didn’t expect to come back.
How do these unexpected tie-ins happen? Well, I’ve talked a bit in the past about discovery writing flowing from the natural and logical consequences of events that already happened. At least, that’s how it works for me and every other discovery writer I’ve spoken to about their process. But don’t take that as gospel—I only know a few true discovery writers (as opposed to architect writers who think they should do more discovery writing). But in terms of my sequel, here’s an example from Wake of the Phoenix that illustrates the concept (I’ll keep this mostly spoiler-free, but I’m a strong believer that if spoilers ruin the book I did a bad job writing it).
What’s happening in the sequel is basically the same as Saylina having tea with Prillani in Wake of the Phoenix. Originally that scene didn’t exist. Readers of the book will likely wonder how the book could have worked without it (the book didn’t work, thus the addition). But that scene, which is actually critical to the progress of the book, came from the logical reactions Saylina would have to the scene where Arkaen pushes her out the door to talk to Prillani in private. Saylina has every reason to be confused and concerned over Arkaen’s actions, so she follows her character and investigates on her own. The result is Prillani is pulled into a completely different arc than she would have had if she hadn’t been invited to tea with Saylina. The entire course of the book would have changed.
Similar things have happened in book 2. Events from Wake of the Phoenix which didn’t have a logical follow-up in that book still have consequences for the other characters involved. Following those characters to their logical reactions, they have re-collided with the primary storyline in new and very, very interesting ways. I can’t wait to get this draft done so I can start recruiting beta readers.