Sales and News!

News Item #1An Unproven Concept is now on sale.  It will also be promoted by Free Kindle Books and Tips (a promotion website that comes highly recommended).

Got Books Free Kindle Books Image

 

 

Please go to their FB page and give the promotion post a like to increase its FB reach.

News Item #2:  Acts of War and Collisions of the Damned will shortly both be available for circulation with the Mid-Continent Public Library system in Kansas City, Missouri.  This should also make them available for inter-library loans elsewhere in the United States.

News Items #3:  On 31 January, I successfully defended my dissertation.  Barring a few minor edits and rework of the conclusion, the long twilight struggle against academics is now over.  Not quite a “Tearing down the Berlin Wall…” moment, but it’s definitely up there!

News on Reviews

Recent news about Amazon reviews here.

My quick thoughts:

Jeff Bezos and the gang are not playing around.  This is a strong action taken against click farms and other gimmicks that have had Amazon’s review / marketing features in the news for all the wrong reasons.  It was starting to appear to some indie authors as if Amazon did not care so much about review veracity as long as the money was flowing in for sales.  This would seem to indicate Amazon cares a great deal about protecting the integrity of its brand.

Getting reviews just got harder.  If you have books in Kindle Unlimited, this probably means that getting borrower reviews may be more difficult.  I know of at least one regular indie reviewer who is on a fixed income (hence why he does KU).  It sounds like this is $50 total lifetime, but still–it’s just another barrier to having, say, people who borrow a book from the library give an author good buzz.

Grudge Killers.  While I’ve yet to annoy someone enough that they thought it was worthwhile to create 20 different accounts to one star me, I know of several authors who have.  Amazon had previously had a “We have neither the time nor the energy to get involved…”-view of this.  However, I think in part this is due to several prominent figures getting just avalanched by fake accounts when they publish a memoir.  Regardless of the reasons for the beef, this should make it harder for crap like this to happen.

Overall I think it is a plus.  We’ll see how it turns out.

 

 

Some Publishing World News

There have been several developments in the indie publishing world as of late:

 

First, Draft 2 Digital is making a major effort to establish themselves as a major distributor competing with Amazon’s behemoth.  A few weeks ago, there was the announcement of a new audiobook service that, unlike Audible, does not have a sliding royalty scale based on exclusivity.  As someone who sells at cons, you best believe that caught my attention as I could theoretically get CDs pressed to sell at the booth and still have my books distributed on Audible, Itunes, etc..  No, I haven’t looked into it yet as I’ve been a mite busy, but I’ll probably get around to it soon.

The second step that Draft2Digital took was to link up with Overdrive.  If you don’t know what Overdrive is, a short synopsis is here.  The Passive Voice gives his opinion here, and a couple of folks chime in their opinions via comments.  I’ve already clicked my 2 books through Draft2Digital onto Overdrive–I’ll let you know if there’s a big difference in my sales.

These changes are big news for those who are considering “going wide” and eschewing KDP’s exclusive agreement.  Why would someone do this, given that KULL will pay you for page lends?  Well, perhaps because there’s been a rush of articles on how KULL’s pot (which is fixed) is being scammed, clickfarmed, and otherwise cheated in a way that hurts honest authors.  This blog, in particular, got widespread attention among indie authors and content sites.  Although I think there are completely legitimate ways that an author can bottle lightning and suddenly have a whole bunch of page views, I can see the author’s larger point that this looks suspicious as hell.

In any case, Amazon has announced that they are revamping the way borrowed pages are counted.  If you’re in the KDP program, you should probably check your book’s pages and monitor to see if the new platform changes your page counts.  Hopefully, this makes scamming the system far less lucrative, and also allows honest authors to have higher payments.

Planet Comic Con

Just got through with Planet Comic Con.  Good show, lots of new and old fans.  If you’re just checking in from a panel or having grabbed my business card, feel free to poke around.  The tags below should let you find things fairly easily with regards to writing, promoting, and other thing of interest to independent authors.  Happy reading!

Long and Short Reviews Guest Blog

Continuing the Blog Tour crossposting, here is the guest blog I did over at Long and Short Reviews.  A lot of this should already be known to long-time readers of the blog, but I figured I’d share for those of you just coming by during and after Planet Comic Con.

Five Down and Glory

I’d like to thank the folks at Long and Short Reviews for letting me come in to guest blog.  By way of introduction, I’m an award-winning author of both non-fiction and fiction.  Since starting off in December 2012 with my short story “Ride of the Late Rain,” I have sold over 15,000 books and reached the top of Amazon’s alternative history genre list twice with my novels Acts of War and Collisions of the Damned.  I was asked to share some advice for new authors.  As a fan and author regarding aerial combat, I decided if five kills is good enough to be an ace, five things I’ve learned should be just about right to list out.  So, with apologies to Stephen Gurney, here in no particular order are five things I’ve learned being an indie:

There is no substitute for time in chair—Almost everything else you do can be farmed out.  However, unless you’ve got a team of ghost writers, the only person who can actually write the story is you.  Be ruthless about carving out your time, as it’s amazing how suddenly everything else in your life will try to be a priority.  If you’re not working on the next project in some form, you’re going to find yourself behind rather quickly.

Do not “own goal” yourself—In soccer, an “own goal” is where a team accidentally puts the ball past their own goalie.  While there are several places this applies, I’ll cover the two most common to writers.  First, it is often tempting, especially on the internet, to let the communications flow before the brain engages.  Remember that you are now a brand, and once you’ve let that salvo fly it’s gone forever.  A good friend of mind has a saying: “You do not have to attend every argument you’re invited to.”  This goes double when your brand is at stake.  To quote Seether, “Words are weapons…”, and we writers tend to traffic in rhetorical fissionable materials.  Don’t let the momentary joy of going Nagasaki lead to months of regret from the fallout.

Second, try to avoid putting yourself in any situation that is going to make people question your integrity, work ethic or, at the furthest extreme, whether you’re even worth the trouble of associating with.  Yes, I have seen the latter, and once an author crosses that particular Rubicon it becomes very hard to get back on the river’s safe side.  There are going to be enough people who will actively work to hinder your progress out of jealousy and spite.  One does not need to help them.

Customers say they don’t judge a book by its cover.  Customers lie.—Yes, there are plenty of people who will tell you in guides, person, or via their blog that people “do not judge a book by its cover.”  In this case, I will use a photo illustration.  Below is the first cover to the Kraken Edition of my sci-fi novel, An Unproven Concept:

 

Kraken Edition Kindle 1.1Unproven Concept

 

Guess what happened when I went to the ballroom cover?  Sales spiked, and stayed spiked for about three months.  I also had customers contact me or tell me in person that they were not so sure about the old cover, but decided to give the book a try once I switched.  I personally thank Jon Holland did a good job on the one featuring the Titanic, but Justin Adams’ work seemed to attract the eye. You can call it shallow, curse at the unfairness of it, and grit your teeth about how Amazon’s thumbnails are ruining writing as we know it.  Fact of the matter is, no matter how good your novel is, covers are the reason that people click on the book.  I did a whole post on covers (and where to find cheap and good ones) over at my home blog.

 

Introversion is not a curse—Most writers, I’ve been told often and archly, are introverts.  I am not one, much to Anita C. Young’s (wife and fellow author) annoyance.  Well, I have some bad news and some good news.  The former is that if you want to be successful, you’re going to have to put yourself out there.  The good news is that social media makes that a lot easier than it used to be if personal interaction drains you.  However, it’s my firm belief that unless you get insanely lucky (and there’s nothing wrong with skipping this paragraph in lieu of rolling the rhetorical D20) at some point you’re going to have to go “hand to hand” with the public.  Things I’ve seen both Anita and other introverted authors do include developing a routine, practice their speech in front of a mirror, figure out their ‘wind down’ plan and, if at a major event, see if there’s a “vendor room” away from the press of people.

 

Network, network, network—The reason that I am such a staunch advocate of getting out there is networking has been so critical to my success.  While you can make your own luck, like a holy relic in a role playing game, networking usually adds modifiers to that roll.  I have heard of more events or received some of the best advice from folks who have been there, done that.  Almost as important, most of my really big opportunities, be it anthologies, events, or guest blogs like this have come through word of mouth.  This isn’t to say that you cannot succeed without “who you know.”  Buuuuuuttt…it is saying that it’s a lot easy to make your “save against anonymity” with a bestselling author in your genre providing tips.  Go to a literary con, join a writer’s guild, or participate in a podcast for starters, then figure out things from there.

 

Well, that’s all I’ve got.  Okay, not really, but that’s all there’s space for here.  Check out my FB page and blog for more tips.

A Bit of A Miscue

So one problem about the blog tour that I exacerbated by doing two books at once is that it’s easy to get the wires crossed if careful.  The Avid Reader was promoting On Seas So Crimson, and I managed to think it was doing An Unproven Concept.  Didn’t catch the mistake until the post was up.  In any case, here’s the interview:

 

1. What inspired you to write An Unproven Concept?

When I sell the book in person, I tell people it’s a mix of Battlestar Galactica, Robotech, and Halo.  These are several of the influences and inspirations for my sci-fi works.  Mainly I also wanted a military sci-fi series without “hero shields,” i.e., true peril for all characters involved.

2. Can you tell us a little bit about the next books in the Vergassy Series or what you have planned for the future?

The next book out will be Though Our Hulls Burn…, which is chronologically a prequel.  One of the criticisms that I got the most from readers in response to An Unproven Concept was that a lot of “big picture” things were referenced by not fully explained.  So going to go back 15 years to 3035 and explain what happened.

3. Can you tell us a little bit about the characters in An Unproven Concept?

Without giving away spoilers, I take a “large cast so I can whack some of them” approach to casting decisions.  I also believe that characters, like real people, should come into a story with a past.  For instance, Mr. Marcus Martin is a former Confederation Marine officer who lost his entire platoon in an incident prior to the start of An Unproven Concept.  This has led to him having mental trauma and feelings of worthlessness that play a role in his decisions as the starliner Titanic’s chief security officer.

4. You know I think we all have a favorite author. Who is your favorite author and why?

My favorite author of all time is Jack McKinney (pseudonym), the author of the Robotech series. The two men who actually wrote under the singular name did an excellent job of taking the rather thin background of the anime series and expanding it into something deeper.

As to actual singular authors versus collaborations—I’m a fan of early Harold Coyle and David Drake.  In both cases, it’s how visceral they make their combat scenes and characters.

5. If you could time-travel would you travel to the future or the past? Where would you like to go and why would you like to visit this particular time period?

I always think this one is a loaded question.  I mean, the last thing someone wants to do is time travel to, say, “Up Then” in the Terminator universe.  With regards to going backwards—well, let’s just say if I show up on an Antebellum Plantation things are not going to end well.

But…if I had a choice where I could just observe without being scene or interacted with?  I’d like to go backwards to the Titanic, as I’ve always been a student of the wreck.  Forward?  I’d go forward 100 years to see if we actually get our flying cars.

6. Do you have any little fuzzy friends? Like a dog or a cat? Or any pets?

Yes.  My wife, fellow author Anita C. Young, and I have five pets.  Our two dogs are a Newfoundland-Labrador mix and a Blue Heeler / Shepherd of some sort.  As to the three cats-we have one senior cat and two kittens.  The kittens were what happened when we went to “pick up an older cat that was familiar with dogs.”  Whoops!