I’ve been delaying writing another update on this as I have been keen to see how the launch of The Nowhere Legion progresses on Amazon. Unlike Smashwords, where sheer volume often seems to overwhelm new launches in an indiscriminate way, sales here seem much better in terms of receiving reviews and downloads. This has been a pleasing change. My initial strategy at Smashwords had been to launch each Section of The Nowhere Legion to drive interest and also move that interest over to the plays I have there. This never really happened. Sales were and are sluggish. Interest faded over time despite the launch of the subsequent Sections and no knock-on effect could be seen regarding the plays.
Amazon on the other hand has been much more interesting since I launched the novel about 6 weeks ago. I am seeing a definite split between the UK sales and the USA sales with the former far out-stripping the latter. I have no idea why this is so but another (very successful) Roman fiction author on Amazon has suggested to me that the Late Roman period is just not that familiar for readers in the States and that may be putting them off downloading and reading the novel. I hope this is not true – if it is, then I fear that market may never open up for me and that is shame. I wonder however if it is more to do with reviews? I have so far gained five 5-star reviews in the UK but only one in the States. If perhaps reviews pick up over there, I may see downloads pick up as a result. Time only will tell!
I am also opening up publicity moves today: the first is the publication of The Navigatio – a 10,000 word short-story, again set in the Late Roman period. It will be enroled in the kindle lending program so potential readers can download it for free on certain days. I hope this will allow them to get a feel for both my writing and the themes I am developing here. That may help readers in the States look into The Nowhere Legion. The other move is to now include at the end of that novel the opening Prologue and part of the first Chapter of the work I am currently writing: Hadrianople: The Fall of the Eagles. This is a more ambitious work than The Nowhere Legion and covers the events which led up to the fatal battle of Adrianople in 378 AD in which the emperor Valens fell along with two thirds of the eastern Roman field army. It is a much bigger work and covers a larger geographical area than The Nowhere Legion. I am about 10% into it at the moment and plan to finish it late in 2013. By now including it at the back of The Nowhere Legion, readers will become aware of my next work and will hopefully look forward to it! This will allow them to invest in my writings and help build an audience for when it is published on Amazon. The difference between my writings and much of the other Roman fiction here on Amazon is that the latter are often serialised novels revolving around the same central character. I lack that hook and drive and need to show readers what work is coming up to keep them interested in me, I think!
I have been very happy so far with the response to The Nowhere Legion – and a little taken aback, it must be said! Over the last 2 weeks or so, I have seen about 150 downloads and might expect in about 2 weeks’ time (once the novel is finished) reviews begining to appear – however, one online forum suggested that you should expect 1 review for every 150 downloads so maybe I am being a little optimistic here . . .
Research for Hadrianople proceeds apace. I am deep into Blemmye and Aksum history and culture at the moment and fleshing out the details of Book One of the novel. These events are mired in religous and military conflict and pick up on many of the themes openend up in The Nowhere Legion.
However a particular dillemma is raising its head here: the events in The Nowhere Legion take place in 365 AD whereas Hadrianople covers 378 AD – and part of me as a writer is keen to place some of the characters in the first novel as supporting characters in the second. A sort of weaving together a consistent historical fabric. But I wonder if it will come across as too contrived however? Time will tell!