I’ve had several readers asking about plans for continuing the Collapse series, and I’d like to comment on that. The short answer is, “I hope to, some day.” The long answer is, well…longer.

There is indeed more story to tell, a lot more. “The Collapse” was intended to be the first phase of a much longer series covering multiple story arcs. Arc 1, the first three books, was exactly what it is named, the story of The Collapse of the Empire due to the Pestilence attack. That leg ended with Zion Rising, and the next arcs would focus on the long march toward recovery, the reconquering of key worlds, and more battles with the pestilence and other threats.

When I wrote the first three books, I tried to end with a good resolution for Arc 1, but there was no way to totally wrap what was obviously going to be a years or decades long process of retaking worlds from the Pestilence. I felt the best I could do was to leave folks with the understanding that our heroes had a solid foothold and were up to the task before them and close the curtain there. I had high hopes that the series would continue on to the next arc.

Alas, the publisher didn’t feel the sales were up to snuff and wasn’t interested in further works, so they bundled it into box set and put it in the bargain bin. That’s what happens to series that don’t meet expectations. Sad, but that’s a business reality.

My alternative now is to self-publish, and that’s a possibility, but not in the near future. I just don’t have enough time to write and handle the publishing and marketing too. The publishing side is not my best skill, and audiences are quite demanding these days, expecting indie projects to be up to the same standards as pro publishers. It would take a serious investment of time and money to produce a product that wouldn’t be embarrassing.

It’s not out of the question by any means, but it just isn’t in the cards any time soon. I work 60+ hours a week as a game programmer, a gig that I am in no way ready to give up because that’s how I pay my bills. I also have family and community commitments. All of my writing is a spare time labor of love. I make very little money from it, nowhere near enough to write full time. That’s another business reality.

Mind you, there are still more Business Realities at play here, things that make this writing thing hard on all but the biggest-of-name writers. One of them is that many readers don’t buy a series until it’s ‘finished’. I get it, I really do. The truth is that certain unnamed “Big Authors” have in fact burned their audiences, and people are naturally wary.

This has a cost, though. You see, as I note above, by the time that omnibus discounted ‘full series’ shows up, the publisher has already decided whether the series will continue or not. For some well-known and established authors, this is fine. Their books already have an audience, and they will perform well enough to justify continued investment from the publisher. But for small guys like me and many other semi-indie authors, it’s often a death sentence. If you wait for those ‘complete series’ box sets before you buy, then the reality is that the project may have been cancelled before you ever started reading book 1. Publishers exist to make money, and if the individual books don’t perform, they cut their losses and move on, like any other sensible business.

Finally, while most people who did comment were gracious, a few were outright hateful. I literally have multiple reviews right now where someone bashes me personally and tells everyone not to buy anything I ever write because the ending didn’t neatly wrap what should be a decades long war. These people waited until the books were offered at a discount (remember, the publisher has already made a decision by the time those 99 cent volumes come out), paid very little (or perhaps nothing) for the experience, and obviously enjoyed the books to the point they became wildly emotional over the ending not matching their expectations. And they then proceed to excoriate me (who wanted to write more, recall) and do their best to harm any other series I might consider starting. “Gee, I really liked your books, but I am so disappointed that you were not allowed to write any more that I will lash out at YOU and do my best to see that it happens again on anything else you work on.”

Yeah, not the brightest of bulbs, for sure, but they are out there. So, yet another business reality is that some percentage of readers actively try to harm an author, and again, when you have a small readership to begin with, such things hurt more. Stephen King doesn’t care about the few freaks in the margins. Me and other small fry authors, it makes us question why we bother. It surely does nothing to incentivize the cost and time of self-publishing.

So, the long and short of it is that I do intend to write more books in this world, but I can’t promise when it will happen. This has always been pretty much an ars gratia artis sort of thing, only it’s more so, now, without the support of a publisher handling the biz side. I really wish the books had sold better, and I am thrilled that people really liked them, but again, we’re back to business realities: publishers don’t throw good money after bad.

That’s something for artists to do, as they can find time and heart to do it. Frankly, I’m short on both right now. It’s discouraging to put your heart into something, to really have the sense that it’s special, and watch it faceplant on launch, but it’s reality. I thought it was good, and apparently a lot of you did, too, but it just never got any traction.

And it’s absolutely soul-crushing when people who pay little or nothing for what took me months or even years to create, people who obviously enjoy the work enough to get emotional about how it ends, choose to spit in my face and take a swing at me over decisions the publisher made that I didn’t even agree with.

So, yeah….

Mind you, this could all change if I win the lottery or get a call from Hollywood. I’ll get right on things full time when the check clears. We’d all love to be able to create our art and ignore the business of how we actually feed our family, but let’s be honest: I’m not expecting either of those things to happen. I’m a little guy creating in his spare time.

That, friends, is pretty much the Ultimate Business Reality.

TLDR: there will be more to the story, but it will take me a year or so to get the next ‘trilogy’ done and self-publish it, and honestly, I am pretty low on motivation. I work a demanding day job; I have a family who also needs my time; there is no prospect of money in it compared to work as a game programmer; and crappy people bashing me doesn’t exactly fill me with energy to devote to the project.

I’ll let you guys know once I get the draft of book 4 finished. It’s about halfway done now.

This entry was posted on Thursday, June 20th, 2024 at 5:51 am and is filed under Current Projects, Meta-Issues, Real Life, Out of Character, Etc., The Collapse. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

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