Sunday, December 23, 2012

Blood & Steam: NOW!

Well, I'm posting early this week (and right in the middle of the holiday weekend) because Amazon has simply become too efficient. The process of publishing an e-book once took days, but my latest novel went live in mere hours.

You can find the e-book here:

And the paperback here:

I've held the price down to $3.99 once again on the e-book (it seems to be a comfortable price range), and as always the paperback is $9.99. As always, your likes, tags, and reviews are enormously helpful. 

Also, the Goodreads giveaway (link above) is winding down, but there will be more giveaways coming soon.

In other related news: I recently blogged about several sci-fi shorts I had just published. I've also found the time to come up with new covers for two of my novels, Karma Crossed and The Tinkerer's Daughter. Here's a peek:

The Tinkerer's Daughter didn't have a terrible cover but I thought I could squeeze more out of it. I'm pleased with the result. The new cover is also available on the paperback, but isn't showing up in the Amazon lists yet. It should be visible in a few days. Tinkerer's Daughter is available here:
Karma's cover wasn't quite there either, so this is the latest incarnation. Sadly, the gorgeous girls are gone, but Jonah and his muscle car are looking sharper than ever, IMHO. Karma Crossed is available here:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Happy Holidays!

This will be my last post before the big holiday, so I'm going to cover several things at once. First and foremost, the important business: 


Second: I have ONE paper-bound ARC of Blood & Steam left to give away. I will give it to the first person who emails me the correct answer to the following question (this should be easy, since I posed the very same question here just a few weeks ago. Be sure to put the word "contest" or something similar in the subject line so your email doesn't go to spam): 

Q: What is the name of Breeze's father in The Tinkerer's Daughter? Once again, this is not Tinker. I'm asking for the name of her true, blood-father.

Should be an easy enough question. Shoot me an email and get yourself a free signed paperback!

Last, and this one is just for a chuckle: Those of you who've read Tinker's War will appreciate the irony of this review posted at Goodreads this week:

"...I skipped ahead to see if it was going to lead where I thought it might, and I was right... She gets herself preggo and turns into a farmer and stay-at-farm mommy. Another book that started out great and then ran out of steam."

/Sigh. Sometimes I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Is this person sincere? Is this a genuine reviewer or another of the sock-puppets we've heard so much about lately? Will potential readers actually believe this review? I hope not! Her frank admission that she didn't actually read the book might give the wary readers a clue LOL. Obviously, I can only roll my eyes and chuckle.

Anyway, for a few more laughs you can read the whole thing here:

That's it for this time. Once again I want to wish you all a warm, safe holiday with friends, great food, and much laughter. Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Kindle Select: Experiences, Conclusions

It has been almost one year since I first signed up with Kindle Select. For those readers who are unfamiliar with Select, let me summarize it briefly: 

With Kindle Select, offers various perks to authors in exchange for exclusivity. Those perks include the ability to give books away for free on certain days (for the purpose of increased exposure) and inclusion of titles into Amazon's Kindle lending library (borrows for which we get paid). That's the short version. 

Like most authors who signed up for Select, I did it with a great deal of apprehension. After all, it's bad to put your eggs all in one basket, or so I've always been told. Granting Amazon exclusivity was a painful choice to make, but frankly it was the competition that forced me into the decision. 

In the past, my titles have been available everywhere. Smashwords, Kobo, Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc. But like most authors, it didn't take me long to realize that Amazon was the only retailer who was actually selling my titles. Smashwords required me to use their "meatgrinder" software that devastates e-book formatting in order to make it compatible with all of the various e-reader platforms. I fought with that program from day one, and I don't care to think about how many months of my life I wasted trying to reformat those books over and over so that they would come out looking halfway professional on a dozen different platforms.

Other retailers have offered simpler, kinder interfaces, but they refuse to sell my books. In fact, they mostly seem to do the exact opposite. They put Indie authors on the equivalent of a back shelf in a basement of used, returned titles. In other words, people who want to find my books can't even find them, much less the casual reader who otherwise may have found them by accident. 

It was a combination of these issues and the resulting lack of sales that convinced me to give Select a try. Amazon at least, could sell my books. Over the last year they have done just that. I get borrows in Select every month, for which I am paid, and which consistently outnumber the sales I receive from those other outlets. But times have changed, and I recently decided it was time to test the market, especially since I've had a few people asking why they can only get my books at Amazon. Six weeks ago, I pulled two of my titles -one novel and a complimenting short story- from Select and re-posted them to Barnes & Noble. Six weeks later I can conclusively say that nothing has changed at B&N. I sold 3 copies. At the same time, my books at Amazon have sold several hundred.Today, my six-week experiment ended and I'm all-in with Select once again, albeit halfheartedly. I truly believe exclusivity is bad, but what else can I do? I need to sell these books. Which brings me around to the other dark side of Select, the freebies. 

Anyone who shops e-books on Amazon knows that the place is flooded with free books. There are hundreds of new titles every single day. You could literally fill your Kindle and never buy another book. The result? Well, sales have been hurt for many of us, especially those of us who weren't in a highly visible position before the change. For a short time, there was a payoff to free and that was in higher sales following the giveaways. Amazon fixed that a while back, making it so that in order to increase your visibility you have to give away about 20,000 copies in a day. Yeah it's do-able, but it's also kind of silly. Giving books away to tens of thousands of people who are only downloading them for free doesn't seem to result in a sales blowout anymore, and now that the advantage of increased post-sale visibility is pretty much gone, there's really no reason to do it. Cannibalizing future sales with giveaways? That seems the most likely result of a Select giveaway now.

In late winter/ early spring of 2012 after I joined Select, I did a few giveaways and the results were impressive. My titles left the "Free" column and entered the "Paid" column in such a way that people browsing the best seller lists could see them. They went on to sell quite well, and led to sales of my other titles, presumably by happy customers who went on to collect the rest of my library. So for a while, I was doing pretty good. I was selling well over 1,000 books a month, and peaked somewhere around 1,500.

Well, all of that's gone now. My books went up the lists and then came back down. Follow-up giveaways during the summer resulted in a few thousand downloads or less, maybe even just five or six hundred, and ZERO post-giveaway sales. In fact, sales nearly disappeared on the titles I gave away. I was tempted to pull my titles out of Select then and there, but I continued watching the borrows, and in doing so I became convinced that the Select lending library is not only throwing some sales my way, it's also propagating more sales down the line. It seems that some of the people who buy my books like them enough to seek out and buy more. What a novel idea. And strangely enough, I've been able to triple or quadruple my prices (and profits) and still maintain solid sales and measurable growth, month after month. 

My conclusion is obvious, and it probably sounds like something you've heard before: The best way to sell a book is to write a great book. And then the next one, and the next... I don't have tens of thousands of fans just yet, so I have to run my publishing platform like a business. I have to go where the sales are. For now, that means I'm in Select. But I'm NOT giving anything away, I'm selling books, and that is how it should be. Perhaps in the future I'll have enough of a fan base to take my business where I want, and still know I'll have sales. I'm not quite there yet, so I'm playing the cards I've been dealt. If things take off in a big way, I'll still be free to revisit this decision. My exclusivity with Select only lasts three months at a time, but my books are on sale forever.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Three New Titles Now Available!

While I've been hard at work putting the finishing touches on Blood & Steam, I managed to find some time over the last few weeks to publish three short sci-fi stories. You can get the full details in the BOOKS tab above, but here's a summary and a preview of the covers:

 OUT OF TIME is a piece of short (almost flash) fiction based loosely on the premise of H.G. Wells' The Time Machine. My story isn't so much about a time machine, but about the psychological and emotional effects on an old time traveler who has seen and experienced perhaps more than he should have. This one was an experiment for me, so it's a little different.
 THE JUDGE is a story that takes place in a distant future where mankind has conquered interstellar travel, aging, and advanced weaponry... But we just can't seem to get rid of crime.
THE LAST HEIST is a space opera type of story with a protagonist named Ash who might remind you of other well established sci-fi antiheroes like Han Solo or Captain Malcolm Reynolds of Firefly. Perhaps a bit more edgy and modern, but all antiheroes have their quirks.

Ash's ex-partner Zed double-crossed him, stealing his money, his ship, and his girl. Now Zed's back for one last heist, but Ash knows better than to trust him this time...