What does one work on next? Everything, and all at once, apparently.

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It’s been too long since my last post and so much has happened since then I am at a loss as to what to cover, first.

I’ll default to the writing.

Now That We’re Alone is still selling well and exceeding my expectations. The number of reviews on Amazon (currently at 18) have been steadily increasing, too, which is a nice surprise since it took my novella, Necrosaurus Rex, the better part of two years to get as many reviews as Now That We’re Alone has gotten in four months. Hopefully, that number keeps going up, even if it is at a snail’s pace.

And I still have some marketing to do for the book, some of which will happen before the end of 2017, while some of it will be happening in the first/second quarter of 2018. My idea was always to market (as aggressively as an indie can) the book over the span of its first year in release. Word-of-mouth reviews have helped, as well as some really positive reviews from Kirkus, This Is Horror, and most recently, HorrorTalk.

Shane D. Keene reviewed the book for HorrorTalk and had this to say:

With Now That We’re Alone, author Nicholas Day has wormed his way into my heart like an insidious blood infection, becoming, within the space of just a few stories, one of my five-star short story authors and, if he stays true to form in the future, will likely end up being one of my favorites of all time. The stories here are brilliant, thoughtful, emotional, and often disturbing and outright terrifying in the true existential sense of the word. If you haven’t read his work yet, this collection is definitely where you want to start. I’m fairly certain your response, bizarro fan or not will be much the same as mine. Day is a true artist, a wordsmith working at the level of some of the best in the business, and one who deserves much recognition and adulation, and I hope to see much, much more from him in the future.”

That pull-quote is not only the nicest thing anyone has written about my work, but it is also terrifying to me when I sit down to work on new projects. Everything I write from here on out has to be better than anything I’ve written before. It’s a challenge I look forward to, certainly, but I’m not going to lie and say that it isn’t daunting to consider. Especially because I am a terrible judge of my own material. And I mean that.

Terrible.

But, since that review was published, I’ve gotten two more encouraging responses from two different publishers about new stories. No contracts . . . yet. But I’m feeling positive, even hopeful, which is a nice change of pace for me.

And I do what I always do in these instances: write more material.

I should amend that, actually, as that is certainly not what I always did in the past. Used to be, I’d write a story and then not work on anything again for months at a time. Hell, years, even.

Lately, however, I have been trying something new and it seems to be working for me.

I just never stop.

As soon as a story is done, I start thinking about the next piece. Sure, I’ll give myself a day to come up with notes, maybe read some short stories or–gasp–even a whole book. But within a day or two at the most, I am back to typing away at “The New Thing” and I find that this is truly for the best. At least, for me it is. YMMV

Getting back to the “marketing” I spoke of above. It seems to me that whatever the next standalone manuscript may be, it is imperative to market well before the book is released. With Necrosaurus Rex, well, that novella came out of nowhere. The book may as well have emerged from a poof of smoke and then jumped out a window. It got a wee bit of attention but it was over and done with pretty quickly. Like a mugging.

I was a bit more on the ball with Now That We’re Alone. The Kirkus review (“Often horrific, relentlessly stark, and truly unforgettable.”) came out right about the same time as the book was released, and I think that helped push some early sales. I had also been actively posting about the book on Facebook leading up to the release, so there were people aware that it was actually happening. Still, if I am being honest with myself, the marketing should have begun months (if not a whole year) in advance of its release.

I guess a part of the problem with that is in the speed with which things seem to happen in the indie community. The book is contracted and then the delivery is fast. Previously, I’ve been apprehensive about posting works in progress, as I tend to do an awful lot of editing and revising, so what I may post may actually not exist by the time the finished and contracted work comes to light.

But I don’t know if that even matters. My gut says it doesn’t and I tend to listen to that thing.

And all of the above, to say nothing of the fact that I co-own a company that produces books, novellas, and videogames.

Heckpoint, which I wrote about previously, was officially released on the Steam platform in Early Access on October 31st.

Click here to see the game’s homepage.

Heckpoint has been a massive undertaking and to see it finally come to light is, well, rather astonishing. What I am quickly learning, however, is that a lot of the same marketing rules apply to videogames as they do book publication. And so, we are in a collective, mad scramble to give as much life to this project as possible for a team of creators that are financially strapped. We simply cannot afford a big marketing push. Yet…

The gaming community is much more receptive, it seems, to word-of-mouth press than the book community. The game, even in its early stages, is being well-received by players and sales are exceeding my expectations, especially as we had no marketing leading up to release. There has even been a YouTube review, which is a first for all of us involved.

Between Now That We’re Alone and Heckpoint, this is the first year where I can actually say–with a straight face–that I have . . . fans.

That’s delightful, but it goes back to that feeling I got from Shane’s review at HorrorTalk: it is really nice and it is also really terrifying. Fans come with expectations.

It’s like Mitch Hedburg said: “Y’know, you can’t please all the people all the time… and last night, all those people were at my show.”

That’s no lie.

And so, I end this entry with an eye to the future…

1. We know what the next videogame is and we are working on demo material. It looks great.

2. I’m about to finish my third short story in almost as many weeks. And, boy howdy, is it dark. Even for me, I think this one is pretty bleak.

3. On the wall above my laptop there are four pieces of scratch paper taped side by side, and each piece lists the working title and word count for my next projects: Kaiju, Baby @ 30K; At the End of the Day I Burst Into Flames @ 25-30K; The Memorialist @ 90K; Basilisk @ 60K

As of today, Kaiju, Baby has about 15K down, At the End of The Day I Burst Into Flames is at 20K, The Memorialist is at 60K, and Basilisk is at 16K.

I’ll post more about those projects in future entries. For now, I’ll sign off with a bit from my as-of-yet unfinished short story.

***

“The four boys watched the rabbit wriggle under the fence and the rattle of chain link caught the attention of Mark’s golden retriever. Both animals acknowledged each other by standing as still as rocks, like two fellows at opposite ends of a tight rope, destined to meet somewhere in the middle. And like the circus act, nobody watched to see the parties make it to safety, but waited in angst to see which of them would die trying to make it to the other end.”

–from “Who Am I . . . I Have Always Been”

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