Science fiction author and spiritualist Timothy Ellis published the first five books of his The Hunter Legacy series in a rapid-fire launch over a five-month period in 2015, and went from a virtual unknown to a Top 20 Author in Science Fiction on Amazon with very little promotion. This week I talk to Timothy about his successful debut into fiction writing, karma, and cats in the 27th century.
Timothy started out in the corporate world, eventually quitting in 2000, to run his own giftware store. That unfortunately came to an end with the events of 9/11. Four months later, with tourism suffering in his city, he was forced to close his doors, triggering a breakdown.
The breakdown led Timothy to explore why this had happened to him, which led him to feng shui, which led him to Buddhism, which led him to karma, and then back again to Western Spiritualism, leading him to do healing work for others. At the beginning of 2015, after doing a lot of work on his own karma, he went on a healing retreat in Brazil.
Timothy returned home with a “clean mind,” and suddenly, 20 years of story ideas and scenes came pouring out, and so he began to write. A huge X3 fan (indeed, he has written and compiled a 900-plus-page guide for X3 fans), his stories were inspired by years of play experience and campaigns. He combined his love of space opera, intense spirituality, and love for cats to create a sprawling universe. It took him 14 months to write and publish the first book in the series, but it only took him 4-5 weeks to write and release each subsequent book. The first book in the series, Hero at Large, was published in April. By September, Timothy had published the fifth book, Hail the Hero, and found himself ranked as a Top 20 Amazon Author in the Science Fiction category.
Third Book’s the Charm
Timothy’s sales began to take off with the release of the third book in the series, Send in the Hero. He began documenting the rise of his series on an extensive KBoards thread, tracking his sales and releases in detail. While he has done limited promotion on his Facebook page and email list, most of his growth has been organic. He attributes this to the promotional emails that Amazon sent on his behalf to both his followers and people who purchased books similar to his. That, and the incredible read-through rates for the series, which has been between 84%-94%. Timothy also notes that the third book is when the series really took off narrative-wise, paying off the first two books with lots of action and excitement.
Interestingly, Timothy has no permafree titles and has done no price reductions. His first book is priced at $2.99, with the subsequent titles listed at $3.99. He is currently exclusive with Amazon, and so his books are available through Kindle Unlimited.
The Next Big Thing:
As one might imagine, Timothy’s production schedule has been intense in order to get out the five books in such short order. After the release of Book 5, he says he had to take a little break even though fans are clamoring for Book 6. With the vastness of the universe he’s created, he notes happily that there is no shortage for ideas, and he is considering starting up another story line in the universe as he continues forward.
As Timothy puts it, “If I had any idea that writing space combat was as much fun as playing it, I would have done it a long time ago.”
- Get three titles in a series out before you start marketing them. This is likely tired advice to indie authors and publishers who have been around for a while, but it still holds true. Writers with several books have more credibility and trust with readers, especially in series. Plus, it’s easier to market three books than it is to market one. Readers need a place to go after the first book, and they want to know there are more great books to look forward to.
- Publish frequently. Indies are familiar with the 30-, 60-, and 90-day cliff…after which Amazon’s friendly algos will drop you into invisibility unless you’re selling well or you have a new title out. And keep in mind, you will get better and faster with each book written. Timothy notes that each subsequent draft he did went faster and took less editing: “The cleaner you write the first draft, the faster you can edit. If you’re writing a messy first draft, it’s going to take a lot longer to edit.”
- Write with joy. Timothy says he wrote because he couldn’t stop writing. He had been carrying around all these ideas for 20 years, and when he finally did start writing it down, he put in the things that he loved like X3 and spiritualism and cats. “This is cats in the 27th century in space,” he says. How fun is that?
Timothy had a very unique and spiritual journey that led him to writing his bestselling series. What started your own pursuit into publishing as an indie author?
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