With Death by Cliché released, our story starts accelerating rapidly. Not because things start taking off, but because of the opposite. Over the next years, not a lot happened.
In that first year, I was high on the hog, as it were. My downloads never completely took off, but they topped off at a respectable 5,000 downloads. I had something to talk about when I did the convention circuit. It gave me a little cred.
See, back around 2003 I was one of the winners in Writers of the Future. I was asked to be guest of honor at the local academic symposium, Life the Universe and Everything. Not for writer’s of the future (although they didn’t tell me that), but for my work in RPGs. I’m a pretty charming guy. I’m fairly reliable and you can put me on any panel. If I don’t know the subject, I’ll keep the audience laughing while the smart people dole out knowledge. I spoke of some of this back in Part 2.
Once I was well-liked at one convention, others in the area started asking me to speak or do panels. I ran workshops. I pressed flesh. But there was an unspoken clock over my head.
About the time I stated, I would hear about people who won Writer’s of the Future and never accomplished anything else. They would hang around the cons until they were quietly written out of the schedules. So I had gone, at that point, 5 years without a major achievement in fiction. RPGs, sure, but nothing in fiction. Part of that was that I had high standards. Part of it was that I was still learning my craft.
So the moderate success of Death by Cliché came as a welcome relief. A little cred, at last. Self-published, yes, but few podcast audiobooks hit those kind of numbers. I wasn’t Scott Siegler, but I’d done a second thing and found it relatively well received.
The next few years I had minor moments that brought me joy. Occasionally, I’d find a new review of the book. At one point I found it referenced a few times on tvtropes.org. The status of the book gave me joy from time to time, but my ability to record a new audiobook had withered away, so there wasn’t much more to do in the area. Also, mentioning it at conventions became less and less relevant as the years went by.
In there sits a long period of time where I didn’t write much, either. I worked on my RPG stuff, but I no longer had a writing group and without a writing group (or some other external deadline) I don’t write.
I eventually started another writer’s group with some local pros, but by then Death by Cliché was old news.
By 2014, I had moved on.
[originally posted at http://www.robertjdefendi.com/main/134]
The column will continue soon...Stay tuned for new installments!