At the begnning of last month (September) I uploaded the finalized version of the novel I had been working on since the launch of this site in spring 2020. There was a kind of funny symmetry to the timing. I could officially round up and say that I had been working toward it for a year and a half, which somehow sounds significant. Not to mention, the book’s inciting incident occurs at that very time of year, so it was appropriate. But the truth is, I had gotten enough book written, and it made enough sense, and I was tired of not having published it. In late August I worked furiously to get those last chapters into ship shape so that the novel’s resolution would be suitable, even if, to a picky writer like myself, it could never be perfect… despite the fact that, plus or minus a few details, it was exactly the ending I had envisioned 17 months earlier.
Officially, I am not done with the book. In the afterword I promise an eventual expanded version, the Author’s Edition. I’m absolutely self-absorbed enough to make this a reality, at some point not far down the road, but I’m happy to have set the world of Julie Kouriakis aside for a while, even as I continue to check its daily sales with great interest.
When I finally do release KM:AE, I will be sure to spend a lot of time reflecting on the writing process, including noting, with amusement, that at one point early on I was making such great pace that I thought I might be done a year sooner than I was.
I am immensely proud of the accomplishment that KRISTI’S MOM represents, in three ways: the work and dedication it took to write my first ever full-length novel (no matter how long it took,) the craft required to create what I think is a very good story, and the marketing ability that enabled me to secure a volume of sales that would encourage me to try something like this again.
It was not a coincidence that the month before I released KRISTI’S MOM, I published the shorter, sexier I CHANGED SEXES WITH MY WIFE. That story was intended to be proof of concept for my prospects as an Amazon Kindle author in a way that the earlier, even shorter and far more cerebral STEVEN: A LOVE STORY wouldn’t be. In a way I’m more proud of I CHANGED than I am of KM because it is likewise a well-told story that I am happy with — perhaps even happier, owing to its brevity and lesser need for constant adjustment — and that also, perhaps more than KM, offers what I think readers want (conventional sex albeit in an unconventional way.) KRISTI’S MOM is a romantic fairy tale where sex hovers obscurely overhead, partly because it represents a coming of age and coming into womanhood for our character. I CHANGED is a relationship fable where sex is front and centre and real and raunchy and maybe even sometimes sad. I think it offers more surface delights to readers while also not being short on facets I pride myself on as a writer.
I know not everyone needs or wants sex in their TG stories but I also know that there is more in favour of it than against. I noted the sales of the less-expensive, sexually adventurous I CHANGED and moderated my expectations for the sales performance of its bigger, longer, more bashful sibling. I thought its ceiling may be 50% of what the previous story did in a month.
Without talking numbers, KRISTI’S MOM ended up reaching a level of unit sales nearly on par with I CHANGED, which is heartening. It shows people were buying what I was selling and that it’s likely they’ll come back for more. The reviews may be meagre, but the few of them I’ve received appreciate the work very much for what it is.
Which brings me to my question… what’s next for Liam Slade?
It’s not a question I’ve had to ask myself, since until now I always had this story in development, along with numerous other shorter works as I please. I have plenty of short fiction ideas I’d love to get to, of course, and I still need to cap off Sophomore Year, but my primary focus is on riding the success of KRISTI’S MOM and following it up. Breaking through that barrier at last is a refreshing feeling and I need to let it ride.
To start with, I have no particular desire to set myself another giant (by my standards) novel that will take 17 months to produce. I did it once and it took my endurance to the limit and I don’t intend to find that energy again, although if I find an idea I can marry myself to, who knows.
My intention is to find a middle-ground. I CHANGED took only a few weeks of dedicated writing to produce so it would please me if I could bring you a solid work of 25-40,000 words every few months until I run dry.
And then the question becomes… what do I write? It shouldn’t surprise you that I have stacks of ideas for projects of varying lengths that I am excited about to different degrees, and I thought following up KRISTI’S MOM would be as simple as picking one. But something happened.
When you look at my writing on Amazon, the site’s algorithm naturally brings you work in a similar vein. Some of these are works done in earnest, some are cheap premises where cardboard characters fall ass-backwards into bimbofication. Some of them are half the length of even I CHANGED SEXES WITH MY WIFE but have 60 reviews (which make it seem like its sales would dwarf mine by orders of magnitude) many of which admitting the thing isn’t very good, but *** for effort. I don’t have the highest opinion of these works all the time but there’s something to be said for a piece of writing that gives you dessert without making you eat your veggies first, or ever.
There is a part of me that would love to tap into that energy. My goal has mostly been to take this material and, through my interest in themes, tropes and characters, elevate it — but why not meet them halfway by writing something dumb, cheap and sexy? Would I not be fulfilled? Or would I have too hard a time turning my brain off, and lose all of my potential audiences? After all, I really like my veggies, and the people who actually do read my work seem to, too.
As I was casting about looking for my next move, an idea occurred to me, a new one that could provide the best of all worlds. It’s still in development, so it may be a long, long time before I talk about this project (codenamed Opportunity) if ever, but it’s the first thing I’ve been this excited about writing for months, which is always a good sign.
If KRISTI’S MOM had failed to meet its target, I may have walked away, knowing I tried and found the limit. Instead I know there is still horizon out there for me to chase.
Thank you so much for being with me on this journey– I hope you enjoy where I’ve brought you so far, and that like me you look forward to what comes next.
Until then, be kind