It’s been a little while, but I wanted to write a quick update for everyone about the upcoming release of NYXIA UNLEASHED. This book required a lot of work. I’ve written before about the process for this one, and how I had to rewrite about 85% of the book. Thankfully, with the help of my editor, writing friends, and family I was able to take the story in the right direction. I’m honestly so proud of this story and of the final book in the series. I can’t wait for our journey with Emmett to continue on July 17th.

The Goodreads page is currently full of amazing positive reviews for the book, but my favorite words come from recent #1 NY Times Bestselling author of Children of Blood and Bone, Tomi Adeyemi. This is what she had to say about NYXIA UNLEASHED: “A thrilling space adventure with an incredibly diverse cast. I couldn’t put this sequel down!”

A few quick details about launch week and the book for local folks:

  • I have an event at the Cary Barnes and Noble on Tuesday, July 17th: Event Info Here
  • I have a ticketed event at Quail Ridge on Saturday, July 21st: Event Info Here
  • I’ll be in conversation with NY Times bestselling author Nic Stone in Charlotte, NC on Wednesday, July 18th: Event Info Here
  • I also have events at three other bookstores in North Carolina! I’ll be at Main Street Books (Davidson, NC) on July 19th, Barnes and Noble Mayfaire (Wilmington) on July 22nd, Bookmarks NC on July 23rd. I’d love to see you out at any of those locations!
  • I’m visiting Lufkin Road Middle, East Cary Middle, Holly Grove Middle, Salem Middle, and Pine Hollow Middle. If you have a student at these schools, please know we’re offering a special deal ONLY during launch week for students. They can get book one and book two for just $20. Ask librarians and teachers for more information!
  • Book two will be available in e-format, audiobook, and hard cover.
  • Nyxia‘s paperback is about to be available! It will be on sale in June.
  • A little bird also tells me Nyxia will have an e-sale in July. It will be available for just $2.99
  • Book three is scheduled to release next spring. Considering where we are in edits, I’d highly suspect that we’ll finish out the series just a year and a half after it launched!

As always, I would really appreciate your support during launch week. That first week is just such a big deal for me and my publisher. It sets the tone to the rest of the world on expectations for the book and how well received it will be, etc. So if you’re in a position to do so, I’d definitely encourage you to either pre-order NYXIA UNLEASHED or buy it some time during that first week. It really helps so much.

I’m so excited to continue this journey with you! Thanks again to everyone who has read the first book and fallen in love with these characters. Onward and upwards!

Portrait - Emmett - Blog


An Unofficial Guide to YA Amazon Rankings

Let’s be honest. Whether you’re a debut author or a seasoned veteran, there’s always a slight fixation on the numbers. One of the few places that you can glean understanding is from the Amazon Rankings system. Is it perfect? Definitely not. Does it account for success in Indie stores? Nope. Might it be a bad barometer for someone whose book Barnes and Noble decided to back in a huge way? Or Target? Of course it might.

But here’s the thing. Amazon Rankings are a tool. I’ve always felt like we should use the tools we have to gain better understanding of the industry we’re in. I’m going to run through some concepts that I’ve noticed as I’ve watched the Amazon Rankings, and hopefully they’ll help out newer authors who are trying to make heads or tails of what’s happening:

8. Last but not least… Leave this if it isn’t useful. Honestly, if this stresses you out. Don’t look at it. Don’t worry about it. Write your books. Enjoy not looking at any of this. I am a very strategic person. I’m a numbers junkie. I 100% love to know how things work, and where I stand within the larger system. It’s just how my brain functions. So I want to know how all of this operates, and what the numbers mean. You might not. As with ANY writing/publishing advice, I’d encourage you to take what’s useful, and leave what’s not.

(***I moved this up to number one so that people who don’t really want to ruin their headspace on these issues can just avoid this blog post like the plague***)

1. Ranges- This is not full proof, but I have figured out a few ranges that exist on Amazon. If your book is in the 2,500-5,000 range for a week: you could expect anywhere from 500-750 book sales on Bookscan. 5,000-15,000 range would be closer to 250 that week. 20,000-30,000 is going to land you somewhere in the 100 range. I think anything beyond 50,000 should give you an indicator of 50 or less sales that week. Of course, this depends on your other activities. If I’m visiting a school or attending a festival, I might see these fluctuate accordingly.

2. How do I know I’m in bestseller range? Again, this is for young adult books, not for MG (which rely more on library sales) and not for adult (which has a much higher threshold to hit the list). After watching this for a long time, I think you have to go sub 1000 in Amazon’s rankings to hit the list. Again, this is not a flawless indication. Someone who’s backed by Indie bookstores in a really big way? They might have a weaker ranking and still hit the list if they’re moving a ton of copies through other mediums. It’s also dependent on the week. There are weeks in the year where you need to sell 2,500 books to hit the list. There are other weeks where you can slip on the list with 1,200. It just depends on what else is coming out.

This week, Tomi Adeyemi’s CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE actually hit #1 amongst all books on Amazon. It sat in the top ten all week. She will absolutely hit #1 on the YA list. I’d actually guess she’s moving anywhere from 20,000 to 40,000 copies this week. That’s significant, because week to week, I think the top book might be selling 5,000-10,000. If you haven’t read her book yet? What the heck are you waiting for? It’s brilliant.

RESTORE ME by Tahereh Mafi has been in the top 500 all week too. I’d guess it crashes the YA list at #4 or #5 (behind Tomi, Angie Thomas, and John Green). There are two other books that I’ve been watching. One has been in the top 1500 pretty much the whole time. Another has stayed around the 2,000 mark. Either one could sneak onto the list at the 9 or 10 spot, but it’s a really competitive week, so it’s possible neither does. We shall see!

3. When is the best time to check these rankings? So I’ve seen days where my sales ranking fluctuates wildly. I’m not sure if Amazon has written about how these work, but some days I’ll see my ranking start the day at 18,000… before falling all the way to 72,000. But when I check the numbers the next morning, that “day” of sales is listed as 28,000. Again, I’m not fully certain, but it feels like you can see the “average” ranking of your book across that day when you look at it the next morning.

4. What’s the deal with these obscure categories? This book is the number one book in “Mysteries about Farmers”… What?! Our debut group has debated this pretty hotly. It’s assumed that the publisher can make some requests regarding which sub categories a book can be listed under. We all have noticed that the little orange tag that says #1 Bestseller in… that obscure category is a positive thing. It seems publishers and authors want that status because it does offer a slight “hey look at me” to anyone surfing around Amazon.

5. Is there such a thing as a Twitter bump? Your favorite author just shouted a debut author on Twitter. What the what!? You have to go check them out! Except Twitter’s not great about getting people to follow links, and it’s not guaranteed to move more books. I followed someone’s numbers after a shoutout by John Green. Dude has some 5 million followers. Has to increase sales right?! Not quite. The Amazon numbers fluctuated slightly, and were lower the next day. Note: It might, however, be more impactful at the indie level. If a bunch of librarians and booksellers follow John Green, they might be inclined to take his advice and write that book title down, so they can check it out at a later point. ALSO, there’s a slight difference between a quick shout out and continual backing. I have noticed that a big named author who talks up a book for months? That can have a serious impact.

6. TV Bump! – Obviously we can’t control being on TV, but that is clearly the biggest impact in sales jumps on Amazon. I’ve seen massive boosts to authors who appear on mainstream television shows for interviews. I think this might be a “duh” point, but it has clear-cut traction that Twitter shoutouts just don’t demonstrate.

7. Remember that the NY Times List is… bizarre. If you don’t already know, there are weeks when someone clearly outsells someone else, but the rankings don’t fully line up with the Bookscan numbers. This is, in part, because Bookscan isn’t fully accurate. It usually reports around 70% of sales for a week. So there’s room for error, and room for a book to be significantly boosted by a book tour, or Indie attention, or whatever. But there’s also some mystery behind how the NY Times makes it selections, and in that mysterious space there’s room for all of what I’ve said here to basically not matter. Sometimes the list shakes out in a way that seems to defy the numbers. It happens.

9. Things not covered here: Kindle sales. I haven’t followed these closely. The one thing I’d say about Kindle sales… A high ranking CAN indicate successful crossover. If a book is constantly in the top 20,000 or so, that means a lot of adults are reading it. That’s something to note as you weigh who is reading your book and who isn’t. I also haven’t mentioned Penguin Random House’s author portal. Apparently other houses don’t have something like this, but we get a specific, day by day update of sales. I think it’s delayed by a week or so as the numbers report, but it’s kind of amazing that we get such an insightful look at our numbers. I always compare those to my BookScan numbers to figure out how my book is really doing. 


Anyways. I hope this was super helpful. Let me know if you have questions! Also, if you learned something from this article, consider making my Amazon numbers jump and buying Nyxia, my debut novel. Thanks for reading!

Writing a Trilogy

It’s been a while, but I just finished my first draft of book three in the Nyxia Triad and I thought it’d be cool to shed some light on the time and energy that went into all three books. I think sometimes it’s hard to figure out exactly how many hours, and how much effort goes into such an undertaking. And it totally differs depending on the author and that particular trilogy, but here is how things shook out for me:

Book one: Nyxia

First Draft: Wrote it in exactly two months. 90,000 words

Revisions: One to polish the initial draft for submission. One with my agent’s advice. One big editorial revision with my editor. A second edit with a particular editorial focus. An edit to incorporate feedback from sensitivity readers. First pass pages. Second pass pages. Nervous, debut author pass pages. That’s 8 revisions. The longest of those revisions (the big editorial one) took me 14 days. The shortest (second pass pages) took a day. I’d guess that I logged about 2 months of writing time on these revisions.

Percentage of Changed Material: My very non-scientific guess is that I changed about 30% of this novel. There was a lot of shuffling. Good and solid pieces that I simply had to fit in other sections. But at least 1/3 of the novel changed (about 30,000 words)

Most Difficult Moment/Experience: Learning how to yield to an editor. I was very headstrong at the start of this series, and I’d definitely say that I reacted stubbornly to a handful of very necessary edits. It all turned out well, but that was my hardest lesson.

Nyxia - Official Cover

Book Two: Nyxia Unleashed

First Draft: Wrote this one in three months. 90,000 words.

Revisions: Standard polish revision on my own. One to incorporate feedback from beta and sensitivity readers. Huge editorial revision. My editor really disliked the central conflict in the story. Rewrote almost the entire story. Editorial revision with minor notes. First pass pages. Second pass pages. That’s 7 total revisions for the book. All in all, I’d guess that I spent about 4 months on the edits. It was basically like rewriting the entire story after all.

Percentage of Changed Material: I’m not kidding when I say my editor really didn’t think the first draft worked. I reworked about 90% of the novel. I’d say that I produced 80,000 new words for the revised manuscript I sent her eventually. We both loved that version, so it worked out, but that didn’t make the first swing-and-a-miss any easier.

Most Difficult Moment/Experience: Learning not to take editorial feedback personally. My editor really leveled me with that first response. And she wasn’t wrong. The story didn’t work, at least not as well as I thought it did. Better was out there for me. We got to redirect the story and now the final product is so much better. There was still about a three day stretch where I questioned my writing ability.

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Book Three: Nyxia ______________

First Draft: Wrote this over 6 months, but I also began writing it in the same month that I had my first child. This January I’ve written about 42,000 of the 90,000 words.

Revisions: Standard Polish. ???

Percentage of Changed Material: Please be less than book two.

Most Difficult Moment/Experience: So far? I’d say the weight and burden of finishing. This is not the end of a book. It’s the end of a story. The end of every character arc. I usually have no problem leaping into a story, but I’ll admit that I hesitated on this one. The task felt quite insurmountable. We’ll see if this holds up as my most difficult moment!

I hope that sheds some light on the process for other writers, and for those interested in how publishing works. There is never any promise or idea that what we do is easy. Rather, I find that it’s challenging and taxing work. Like projects in any other professions, there are different problems that crop up, and certainly different aspects that change from project to project. I’m pretty thrilled to step back and say, “I finished this.”

And every single one of you can say, “Well… according to this blog post… you’re not quite done.” Slag that. Thanks for reading!