Year 5 of My 5-10 Year Overnight Success Plan

by | Jun 1, 2018 | Checking in | 11 comments

Well, one of the hallmarks of my annual plan update seems to be posting it later and later every year. This year I’ve somehow made it to June with a combination of being busy/forgetful/procrastinating. In part, that’s a good thing because I’ve reached a point in my writing career where not writing feels like it costs me money.

It’s getting harder and harder to keep track of, but as of typing this sentence, I have 35 books published (30 solo and 5 with a collaborator). I have another 5 written and in various stages of editing and pre-order. 4 of those are with the same collaborator, Matt Larkin. There’s a continuous stream coming, and I’ve got a plan in place to keep up with the pace of writing required.

The real milestones of the past year have been wrapping up the main Black Ocean series* and publishing the entire Robot Geneticists series (my secret project heading into 2017). Both provided a great sense of closure and completeness in a business that generally lacks in both.

*(I clarified “main” because more Black Ocean is right around the corner)

So, how did I do on my 2017 goals?

  • Publish 4 more Black Ocean Missions
  • Publish Shadowblood Heir (and maybe sequels, if it’s well-received)
  • Release my new project into the wild

Well, I published those 4 Black Ocean missions (Mission Inadvisable, Moral and Orbital Decay, Planet Hustlers, and Eternity or Bust). So, checkmark there.

I also released Shadowblood Heir. OK, in fairness my wife performed a commando raid and extracted it from my Dropbox like a Ghost Recon op and ushered it into the world, but the net result was the same. No planned sequels yet, since it was an odd duck in my catalog and I’m still not quite sure what to do with it. Still, a checkmark.

My “new project” was the aforementioned Robot Geneticists series. If you haven’t heard of it and miss Golden Age sci-fi where big ideas were the byword of the day and talking robots seemed like a good idea, this will be your cup of tea. I think when most people write post-apocalyptic fiction, they set it rather soon after the so-called apocalypse. They also tend to pull their punches with what qualifies as apocalyptic. You want an apocalypse? Wipe out biological life on Earth. You want an ambitious project? Be the robot who decides to re-engineer what was lost.

Anyhoo, moving along, I should probably mention that audiobooks are the best things ever. It doesn’t hurt that I’ve had Mikael Naramore making my oft-inane ramblings sound like Broadway poetry. But either way, audiobooks have been good to me of late. It’s been the revelatory event of the past year, that well-produced, well-marketed audiobooks can make as much (or more) than the ebooks they’re based on. The initial costs of production can be punishing, but it’s been worth it to hear the results (and see them in my ACX dashboard).

I won’t go so far as to say, “I’ve made it; I am an overnight success.” Frankly, I’m betting a good half the people reading this are still a little fuzzy on just who the hell I am. On the other side of the coin, I’m actually a financially-contributing member of the household and no longer quietly wondering whether moonlighting as an engineer was viable. I am now convinced that it would be actively detrimental to my income to return to the cubicle workforce.

Since I’ve still got work to do, here are my 2018 goals (and since I’m writing this update so late in the year, I’ve got a good handle on where I’m headed):

  • Publish 4 books in my collaborative series Black Ocean: Astral Prime
  • Publish 4-8 books in my solo series Black Ocean: Mercy for Hire
  • Re-release Twinborn Chronicles: Awakening on audio with a new narrator
  • Look for a film/TV rights agent for Black Ocean

Going backward up that list, I’d had the whole agent thing on my radar back in 2016. But then, it was for going hybrid, launching my misfit Shadowblood series to the trad-pub market and building my audience sideways. Now, I’m seriously considering that Black Ocean might be approaching the critical mass to garner interest from screen-based entertainment outlets.

That’s my home run swing for overnight success. Getting the series optioned would be a nice income boost, but the true success would be an on-screen adaptation (I lean toward streaming-service television, but I won’t be picky; I just think that’s the best fit for the style of storytelling).

On to the Twinborn Chronicles. The audiobook narrators for the first and second series don’t match. That’s bugged me. It’s bugged readers. The second series is clearly the more professionally produced of the two. So I’ve reclaimed the rights to Twinborn Chronicles: Awakening with the hope of taking another crack at a superstar production. Combining Awakening with War of 3 Worlds, there’s over 100 hours of epic fantasy audio at a cost of two Audible credits, which is utterly insane. I’m hoping reader-listeners feel the same way once the new recordings come out.

Black Ocean: Mercy for Hire, is going to be a hell of a lot of fun. I’m only halfway through writing the second one, and it’s already a blast. As my first solo spinoff of the Black Ocean series, it picks up with Esper and Kubu traveling the galaxy helping people. Nominally, Esper is a bounty hunter and mercenary and Kubu is just a tagalong, but it never works out that way. Esper is too goody-goody to take most jobs or to take money on the ones she accepts. It ends up more like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Scooby Do star in Black Ocean: Special Victims Unit.

Tentative tagline: She’s the good thing that happens to bad people.

The other series coming out in the Black Ocean universe is Astral Prime. This is the (slightly) more serious and epic setting with higher stakes and higher drama. Matt Larkin and I co-wrote it, dividing up the character perspectives between us. Those of you who’ve read the original series as far as Mission 14 will remember a certain space station that was left in rough shape by errant magic. This is Cedric The Brown’s attempt at redemption, returning to the station he nearly destroyed and helping pick up the pieces—under an assumed name, of course!

Since this is still a Black Ocean series, no good deed goes unpunished and no plan survives contact with the real world. Events spiral out of control and no one comes out of it unscathed.

Also, look out for some cameo appearances from some old friends.

That’s it for the 2018 plan. I won’t promise more, but I also won’t promise not to add on additional projects and stray notions that pop into my head the rest of the year. You’ll just have to check in again next year. If you don’t see me on Jimmy Kimmel, assume I’m not yet an overnight success!


  1. Judy Robinson

    Oh, hallelujah! I was afraid you weren’t going back to the Black Ocean series!
    I listened to all of the books and loved them all. Mikael Naramore’s narration took a supremely fun series of books to new heights!

    Hurry up and release the new ones! 😀
    And I’m REALLY excited about the prospect of seeing the series brought to tv. Best of luck!

    • J.S. Morin

      As much as I’m sort of a purveyor of ebooks, even I think that the narration makes the series. Mikael Naramore has called dibs on playing Mort in any on-screen adaptation (though I’m not sure how many studios and/or directors honor dibs).

  2. Ben

    Well I started the black ocean series on audio book about a month ago and am about 60 hours in. Really enjoying it! Thank you for the audio book. Don’t think that I would have found you as an author without it.

    • J.S. Morin

      Well, and without this post, I wouldn’t have discovered you as a reader. It’s working out for everybody.

  3. Jerod

    I picked up the audio books about two weeks ago. I wanted to let you know that you created a wonderful universe. Probably the best surprise I have ever read/listened too. I felt kind of sad when I finished the last mission. You made my day when I just read your doing more Black Ocean. Thank You!!

  4. Adam Walko

    I just finished the mobius missions and there is a gigantic gaping hole in my life. I cried somewhere teetering between tears of joy and tears of epic loss. The mobius has been my home away from home for more than a few months and listening to your farewell and Michaels just left me reeling. This was an epic story artfully written and expertly narrated. I don’t think you could have built a conjured a better fit for the audio books. Please make sure he is your go to narrator for Black Ocean cronnicles he makes you fall so far into the story it’s like you are on the couch in the common room popping the top on an earths preferred. Thank you for taking me on that journey and I eagerly await our next mission!

    • Adam Walko

      Also I think Mort is my spirit animal. My wife asked if you knew me and if the character was based on me. I truly hope we get to cross paths again .

      • J.S. Morin

        For the record, Mort was not based on you. He was loosely based on a wizard character of mine from another series (who was also not based on you, just FYI). Frankly, now I’m a little worried that you might set me on fire if we met 😉

  5. Chris carrero

    Just stayed up till 430am to finish the last audio book, and now my 22 month old is making me pay for it by being awake at 6am. Still totally worth it. I can’t wait for more!!! Long live Mort! Mort is Dead!

  6. motosubatsu

    Thank Devra that there’s more Black Ocean!

    As such a big Firefly fanatic that I bought both Firefly and Serenity twice (once on DVD, once on Blu-Ray) a fellow Browncoat pointed me in the direction of the Galaxy Outlaws collection on Audible and I finished it off earlier today. I had to come to the site to see if there were any more BO tales in the works and lo and behold there was the joy of the Astral Prime series! Not only that but the news that Mercy for Hire was in the works!

  7. Brendan

    Just finished the TwinBorn Chronicles: Awakening.

    Absolutely fascinating world!

    Starting the Twinborn Chronicles: War of 3 Worlds Collection. Loving it so far! 🙂
    I hope there is more of this universe in the future! Kyrus and Branus – Julliana -Sorria (Probably miss spelled their names RIP.) Are GREAT characters!


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