Apologies from Cathy: I managed to cut off a HUGE chunk of Frank's post when I set it up, so here it is again...in its entirety.
Please find the FULL POST (with Frank's critical LESSONS) below. Cathy (blushing)
In March 2022, I left the coveted
position of being a panelist at Criminal Minds. This was part of a
larger strategy to carve out more time for new writing. For instance, I
resigned from several other groups and even put my podcast on indefinite
As part of my
departure, I made a bold announcement: in 2022, I planned to publish 11
novels, 7 novellas, four short stories, an
anthology of short crime fiction, edit the anthology
series A Grifter's Song, and put out five box sets.
So, how'd I do? And,
more interestingly, did I learn anything along the way?
Let's start with the
scorecard (I'm counting scheduled November/December releases, btw).
I managed to release eight. One was a re-issue, and one was a planned novella
that grew to a short novel. For those keeping track, the eight were:
- The Trade Off (major revision, incorporating it into River
- All the Pieces Fall (SpoCompton #3)
- The Ride-Along (Charlie-316 #5)
- All That This Life Requires (Jack MacCrae #2)
- A Baker's Divorce (as Frank Scalise)
- The Worst Kind of Truth (River City #11)
- Live and Die This Way (SpoCompton #4)
- Double Shifting (Sam the Hockey Player #3, as Frank Scalise)
So, eight isn't eleven,
but it is still a pretty good number. I pushed the remaining titles into 2023
and 2024. For instance, my first 2023 release will be on February 14 (Hope
Dies Last, a Stefan Kopriva Mystery #4).
All right, how about
those seven novellas? Wellllll.... I did mention one became a
novel, right? I'm hoping for extra credit there, because I published only two.
One was the re-issue of Hallmarks of the Job (a Stanley Melvin
PI Story — check out the awesome cover by Zach McCain!), and the other was my
literary release A Village of Strangers (as Frank Scalise).
So, two. What about
the others? I pushed all of them into 2023. They include two more Stanley
Melvin PI Stories, a hockey story, a family generational saga (in short form),
and the final episode of A Grifter's Song. My guess? They'll all
get done in 2023, unless I push one of the of the Stanleys into 2024.
short stories? I
actually had five published in 2022. They were:
- "The Last Cop" (To Serve, Protect, and
- "The Escape of Jimmy the Saint" (Backroad
Bobby and His Friends)
- "Finding Hiawatha" (A Word Before Dying)
- "A Hazy Shade of Winter" (Paranoia Blues:
Crime Fiction Inspired by the Music of Paul Simon)
- "One Fine Day" (The Tattered Blue Line:
Short Stories of Contemporary Policing)
The last story,
"One Fine Day" was part of an anthology that I also edited
and published. Anyone who has ever edited an anthology would surely
agree there's gotta be some bonus points there, no?
Grifter's Song, a novella serial anthology series that I created and edit, did
in fact feature seven new stories in 2022 (for season four). I did not write
any of them, but I edited all seven. It was a great lineup, too — David
Housewright, Gabriel Valjan, Trey R. Barker, Vincent Zandri, Kat Richardson,
Paul Garth, and Hilary Davidson. These talented authors put together some
incredible episodes. You should give them a read!
Box sets are a bit easier, as they are merely a
formatting and publishing venture — the writing work is already finished. I
projected that I'd release five. And I released... drum roll, please... three.
This was simply a result
of not finishing some of the novels or novellas mentioned above. I group the
sets in threes, so until I complete the entry in the series that is number
three (or six, nine, etc.), I can't put out the box set. These will come when
the corresponding titles are finished.
official scorecard reads:
- 8/11 novels
- 2/7 novellas
- 5/4 stories
- 7/7 edited episodes of A
- 3/5 box sets
- Also, 1/1 anthologies edited
- Oh, along the way, I managed to
get eleven of my audiobooks transferred from Audible exclusive to wide
distribution and produce three new ones.
Now, for the important
part... did I learn anything?
Boy, did I.
One positive thing I
discovered was that working at the pace doesn't mean sacrificing quality. One
of my novellas and one of my stories won conference awards in 2022. The
majority of the titles released are above four stars on Amazon. Those few that
are below are still in the high three-star range, and only have a few reviews
(which skews the ratings).
More importantly, I am
proud of the work I published. I know I gave every title my best.
But that wasn't the biggest
lesson. You see, from March to November, I ran myself ragged. I'm talking
standing over myself with a whip, driving myself onward. I wrote in the morning
hours. In the afternoon and evening, I edited, marketed, formatted and
published, and did all the administrative work that comes with being an
What happened? Well, you
saw the scorecard above, so that's one thing. But something else happened along
I got tired.
Yeah, most of you
reading this could have probably told me that was going to happen. And I
should've predicted it, too. But sometimes I'm still twenty at heart and
overestimate what this fifty-four year-old body can do.
Being tired isn't the
only thing that happened, though. Something else did, too.
Well, not nothing.
But for all the work I did (and I left out the fact that I had multiple major
marketing efforts throughout the past two years), the needle didn't really move
this year. At least, not comparatively speaking. The first year of being fully independent
resulted in a big jump, but in 2022, my sales plateaued. That's in spite of the
additional titles and the sustained marketing.
And a combination of
frustration and weariness led me to recalibrate.
Why? Simple—after eight
months of hard driving (and seeing sales remain static), I could sense the joy
of writing being sapped away. I was too focused on the business, and losing the
wonder that comes with this crazy thing we do.
I did not want that to
So what does that recalibration
look like? It's simple. I decided to ratchet back on my release schedule
and just enjoy each new story or book as I worked on it. Revel in the joy of
creation rather than fretting about whether I was going to make my self-imposed
deadline. And stop worrying about what other people's sales might look like,
I learned the timeless
lesson that many smarter people before me have learned -- that art is joyous
and beautiful, and the business of art sucks.
So, my recalibration is
to focus more on the art. I won't abandon the business--that would be more of a
heel-turn than a recalibration--but I'm going to put the whip away and just
write. I'm going to give myself more lead time on releases so that things
aren't as high-pressured. And you know what? I'm going to take some days off
here and there.
Of course, I learned
some other things, too. Marketing lessons. Reality checks. Things like that.
But that's for another post, if ever. Today, let me leave you with the biggest
thought in my writing world right now.
It's okay to be
prolific. It's okay to write a lot, and publish a lot. But only if you enjoy
I feel like that guy who
decided to run a marathon and tried to sprint the first mile. As I write this,
I'm at the end of that exhausting mile. I'm not quitting. But now that I've
found a more sustainable pace, I can get back to the marathon.
And enjoy it.
If you're still reading
this, thanks for coming along for this part of the journey. I hope to see you
further on up the road... where I won't be so out of breath.