Category Archives: ebook marketing

Science Fiction Series: Brandon Sanderson’s Bands of Mourning

photoI always do a happy dance at the start of spring. Warmer weather and longer days are near at hand, and summer lies not far away, full of promise.

Along the lines of marketing: Last week, I placed two ads. One was with Choosy Bookworm and the other with Free Kindle Ebooks. I selected the enhanced Choosy program for $70 and kicked in the $25 Free Kindle on the following day. Oddly enough, the Free Kindle program did better. Unfortunately, if you’re not marketing in some fashion, sales drop off. In this program I came out ahead, although downloads were less than before and I didn’t get as much follow-on buying of the rest of the series as in past campaigns.

Still, I’m happy with results but need to plan for next month.

A quick interesting science note from Kurtzweiler’s newsletter. The link is long, but it appears a new fabric has been developed that cleans itself through exposure to light. Wow! That could be revolutionary. As someone who does a lot of laundry, this was intriguing. Check out the details.

http://www.kurzweilai.net/nano-enhanced-textiles-clean-themselves-with-light?utm_source=KurzweilAI+Weekly+Newsletter&utm_campaign=0eaf0340c9-UA-946742-1&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_147a5a48c1-0eaf0340c9-281983297

Bands of MourningThis week I was excited to review Bands of Mourning by Brandon Sanderson. Sanderson is a science fiction writer at the forefront of the genre. (see past blogs) He completed Robert Jordan’s bestselling series The Wheel of Time, after Jordan’s death and has several other series in his own name. He is best known for his Mistborn trilogy, which if you haven’t read yet, you should read first. The Bands of Mourning is the third in a series that takes place in the same world, but jumps ahead to the nineteenth century. Hence, there’s a Steampunk flavor along with the Western theme. You also have a highly thought out system of magic that uses metallurgy. Waxillium Ladrian is a Twinborn. He has both Feruchemical and Allomantic abilities. Burn some metal, then fly through the air sounds like fun, but he fights against evil and constantly puts himself in harm’s way where he relies on burning certain metals that activate his “magic” in order to save himself.

But basically, the story is a quest…a quest for the Bands of Mourning, which is a metalmind and gives the finder immense power. It is said to be hidden by the supposedly dead Lord Ruler in a hidden mysterious castle-like structure off in the cold northern mountains. So, we get a bit of Indiana Jones in the storyline too. Of course, our companions find the place booby-trapped.

Nothing is ever easy or works out as expected.

A Dangerous Talent for Time HQ (1)I love a good quest and used that plot line in my second book, A Dangerous Talent for Time. In my story, the characters search for the answer to a riddle to save them from attacking northern barbarians intent on conquering their kingdom.

Also, Bands of Mourning, explains why Wax left Teris to become a lawman and develops his relationship further with new wife, Steris. I needed to understand why he might marry her and why the relationship worked…or didn’t. I also liked getting motivation for his choice of being a lawman in the Roughs.

Of course, I loved reading more about Wayne, Wax’s quirky sidekick. Sanderson does a great job with battering dialog and a buddy relationship.

Bands of Mourning has everything. It starts off a bit Steampunk, turns Western, goes into a quest and ends up magical.

Sanderson writes for action and adventure, yet develops interesting characters. I look forward to the next and last book in this part of the series.

Shadows of SelfMistbornOther books by Sanderson you might want to check out:ElantrisWords of Radiance

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Filed under alloy magic, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, fantasy, fantasy series, Marketing and selling novels, Mistborn series, science fiction series

An Author’s Outrage

IMG_0193Outrage.

Several Linked-in discussion groups and bloggers are outraged at Amazon for requiring the table of contents be located at the front of all their books.

Holy Mackerel, where else would you put it? The table of contents purpose is to give the reader an overview of the contents of a book.

Hummmm…turns out scammers are putting the table of contents at the back to get a large page count so they will be paid by Kindle at a per page rate through the Kindle reading platform.

Blog rantings and ravings at big bad Amazon are appearing.

What?

It costs nothing to fix if you are self-published, and if you aren’t, you shouldn’t care because you aren’t getting paid–your publisher is. Put it at the front where it belongs or just skip it.

Sounds like the same kind of people who complained when Amazon took down paid and associated reviews that plumped up the ratings. Authors were swapping reviews with each other under promises of five stars whether they read the books or not.

Screams and yells erupted when reviews were pulled. And yes, a large number of honest reviews got axed. Me included. The honest, paying once again because of scammers. Gee thanks.

Save us from those who are trying to scam everyone nowadays. It’s pervasive. I’m tired of receiving annoying phone calls from someone with an Indian accent claiming they are from “windows” and I need to fix the virus in my computer right now…and if I just open my computer, he will help me.

Right.

Not to mention the “IRS” calls, the bogus credit card offers, the email attacks… need I go on?

Now we have scammers stuffing junk, copied material from anywhere, putting on a cover and title and publishing it in order to reap the profits from KNF. And they are reaping large profits out of a set amount that is divided up by other authors. In other words, if the amount is, say fourteen million, that pie is divided out among the Kindle Unlimited qualifying authors who get less per page if the count is big. One blog did a screen shot of over thirty thousand in royalties for one month by a fifteen year old kid.

And authors are yelling at Amazon?

Bottom line is, dear authors, most likely you wouldn’t have a book published if it weren’t for Amazon, or have you forgotten what publishing was like ten years ago?

It’s a shame our free society gets punished by charlatans out to weasel a buck from the unsuspecting public who, in turn, point to the self publishers and accuse them of putting out shoddy books. It gives self-publishers a bad rap.

Then when Amazon tries to fix the problem, authors set up a hue and cry.

Is any one else getting tired of these scammers and ripoff artists? Or tired of ungrateful authors who don’t have a publisher grabbing out a large chunk of their royalties because they can now publish free through CreateSpace? Remember editors turning down tons of good manuscripts because of the flood of submissions they encountered every month in their inbox, never accepting do-agains.

Unfortunately, Amazon is the target because they have revolutionized the publishing industry by providing an alternative and cheap way to publish.

No longer do new writers have to jump through hoops of query letters, finding agents, and a system where only a small percentage of eager writers get to make it through a very subjective process.

All I have to say, as an author with nine books and counting, is thank you, Amazon.Bands of Mourning

I appreciate you trying to fix the problems that deceptive people create so that readers (me) can get a true picture of what they’re buying, and authors (me) receive a fair portion of the Kindle kitty.

See the books at right? Real stories. Most near four hundred pages with honest reviews. Unfortunately, not enough….but I didn’t pay for a one.

Once again, thank you Amazon, for making them possible and providing a way a modest income author can fulfill her dream.

And next week when I catch my breath, I hope to review Brandon Sanderson’s new book, The Bands of Mourning. Stay tuned.

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Filed under Amazon publishing, blog information, Book reviews, ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, Self-publishing

Do You have a Yen for Some Hard Science Fiction?

Image 1Hard science fiction…so hard that it’s like knocking your head against granite. L. E. Modesitt, Jr. in his latest novel, Solar Express presents a compelling plot against the background of a developing war among the Sinese Federation, Noram (U.S. Military), and India. Much like the fear that drove the development of the atom bomb, fear of another country getting control through space drives these three power superpowers to secretly start weaponizing space.

And then an alien object is sighted headed in system towards our sun.

The problem becomes that Modesitt wants to get each detail completely accurate and properly measured. The main character, Chris Tavoian, low orbit shuttle pilot, is promoted to major and sent out on a covert mission to investigate the alien artifact, conveniently categorized as an asteroid to keep secret it’s alien nature. Each minute is painstakingly recorded, each angle of the artifact explored while under the time pressure of an approaching Sinese spaceship.Solar Express

Meanwhile, back on the moon, his love interest, Alayna Wong-Grant who discovered the alien object, and doesn’t understand why no one has mentioned it in the media, is investigating the mechanism of multi-fractal mini-granulations found in the sun.

See what I mean? More science with big words.

A thrilling plot, rife with politics, told through memos and emails between moon-bound Alayna and alien-probing Chris. Theirs is a relationship developed through correspondence, much like our online dating and email nowadays.

I wanted to really like this, especially since Modesitte is a favorite author, but I struggled through it. However, if you have been yearning for hard science among the slim pickings of good science fiction offerings of late, and an interesting plot, this may be a good read for you. Modesitt explains the rational for his novel.  http://www.lemodesittjr.com/2015/11/17/another-reason-for-pseudonyms/

My marketing has slowed because I have been catching up on my writing. My life as an author is like being on a seesaw. Personal life, writing or marketing? It’s hard to balance all three. I needed more time for writing, but needed to put a plan in place for marketing, at least for this month. Sales declined while my attention was on the wedding.

Caught in Time, my first in a series, will again be available for free Thursday, March 11 through Sunday March 13 through the KDP Select program. I decided to shortened the time to only three days to leave room for another campaign later. If I don’t promote, sales tail off.

I chose Free Kindle Books and Tips because I have not used them before as an ad venue, and also Choosy Bookworm. These are two new sites that I’m trying out, and I’ll let you know if they’re productive. I have to also balance the cost of promotion against possible sales.

I love writing this blog, but Facebook and Twitter are not my thing. My life is quiet because I like it that way. I get my excitement in my stories. Never mind SnapChat, and that other thing. I am verbal, but not able to think up witty things on social media.

Sharing results is helpful, so I’m offering a link to an interesting article on what makes people buy self-published books. Lots of pretty graphs and hard data by a favorite blogger of mine from the Emerald Isle.

http://tarasparlingwrites.com/2014/07/31/what-makes-people-buy-self-published-books/

For you fantasy fans, I must say that I’m enjoying the Magicians series on the SyFy channel even more than the books.

Isn’t that a switch? Check it out and my review blog on the book.

My Powell’s book group meets tonight and we’re discussing John Scalzi’s Redshirts. I’m ranting and raving about the editing. TOR is his publisher and promotes him extensively, so you’d think it would be better edited. I tried to find a science fiction ebook from a promotion, but the one I read was so poorly edited, I stopped completely and would not recommend it; the other was forty pages long and not worth recommending either at that length.

More on this in my next blog as I’m trying to finish Redshirts. Add finishing reading my books for my review blog to that wobbly seesaw.

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Filed under aliens, Aliens in Science Fiction, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, first contact, Hard science fiction, Hugo winners, magic, Marketing and selling novels, Political Science Fiction, science fiction, Science fiction thriller

Weddings: Real life and Fantasy Fiction

IMG_9518When you are writing as an author, often outside life events interrupt a somewhat disciplined schedule. Thankfully this time, the event was a happy one–the marriage of my only daughter.2016-02-06 16.56.48

And what a wonderful wedding it was…filled with longtime friends, treasured family, whirlwind activities, last minute panics, and satisfying solutions. Laughter, dancing, tasty food and toasts filled a church steeped with her new family’s tradition. The church’s hall where we celebrated bore her new husband’s name.

So writing and marketing fell by the wayside. A blog went overdue and edits ran late.
The world didn’t collapse

My latest marketing experiment was to see if discounting my first book in the series, Caught in Time, would be more profitable than offering it free. I used the Amazon Countdown to retain the 70% royalty and listed it on Bargainbooksy. I had previously listed it on Freebooksy to surprising success, and had heard the free path returned more. (Mark Coker blog)

He was right. Although I got paid with a discount, last year the free download generated three times more full retail sales through the sales of follow-on books in the series. This time I had very few follow-on sales from other books in the series.

What does this mean?

There could be many answers. One is that Caught in Time has been offered free several times and interested buyers already have it. Maybe I need to vary the ad site.

Or, January isn’t the hot month for ebook sales I thought it was. Too much getting back into the routine for extracurricular reading. Then, maybe with no outside marketing, people weren’t as aware. With all the wedding plans, I did no Facebook, Twitter, phone chats or any other spread the news stuff, other than a mention on this blog. I was distracted.

Who knows? I’d be interested in your experience as an author as to what has worked best for you, and what fell flat. Maybe we can share a little.

photo1.jpgMeanwhile, I’m commencing my writing and am writing about a spaceship’s encounter with a black hole. Nova is on my Tivo watch list and has been invaluable in helping learn the physics involved. Our understanding of the universe has expanded greatly over the last few decades, and Nova and the Discovery Channel have done a superb job of passing along that knowledge to the public.Jeweled Fire

Last week, I was excited to read the latest book by an old favorite author…Sharon Shinn. She has a series called Elemental Blessings and deals with a place where “Primes” have power over certain elements: water, air, fire, and earth.

Jeweled Fire is the story of tempestuous and fiery Corrine, one of the four princesses of Welce, who thought to be queen. Unfortunately, circumstances change for that path, and to carve out a royal life, she stows away with her bodyguard, Foley, onto a ship bound for the country of Malinqua. There she plans to make a play to marry one of the Empress’s four nephews, maybe rule as a queen.

But her training and expertise in navigating a royal court don’t prepare her enough for the intrigue and danger she finds there. Each nephew has a serious flaw, and soon she finds that she isn’t the only princess hoping to win a crown. Three other young royal women arrive at court, vying for a kingly hand in marriage, only to find themselves hostages rather than guests.

Corrine encounters more than she anticipated, and it is only with the loyal protection of Foley and her new friends that she can hope to survive the deadly game that she must play.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it? More for the female romance reader than the serious hard core science geek, but if you fit that mold…enjoy.

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, fantasy series, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Self-publishing, space ship

Time to Read: Bone Clocks

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Interesting science news:

Currently I’m writing about space travel. It’s a story called Worlds too Far and has been a blast to write. I had the convoy of ships stop at an asteroid field for water and minerals…then I saw this great article on space.com.

Also turns out that oxygen has been found within a comet. There’s more out there in space than man can imagine…. except for we science fiction types.

http://www.space.com/30582-asteroid-mining-water-propulsion.html?li_source=LI&li_medium=more-from-space14-space-future-spaceflight

In the marketing information section:

This month I’m back to marketing. I will be trying out the Amazon Countdown for Caught in Time January 22 thru 29 and combining with Booksends on January 22 @ 99 cents and Bargain Booksy @ 99 cents on the 23rd. With Countdown, the price goes up every two days so get in early for the best price. I like that doing it this way encourages readers to act immediately rather than put off a purchase. Caught in Time is my first book, although often I’ve said that with time travel you can read any of the the first three and be fine. Each book in the series has a stand alone story. I’ve tried to model Lois McMasters Bujold’s concept of a series having a timeline with each book complete in itself.

November’s marketing strategy turned out well using Booksends for Cosmic Entanglement and carried over into December where I was too busy to do much marketing. Now’s a new year and I want to keep momentum going.

Figuring out marketing is difficult. Personal signings require a large local fan base and craft shows aren’t always successful. Having said that, one of the authors in my writing group sold 70 books at a local book fair over the holiday. So, you never know. The word got out.

Bone Clock D. MitchellBook Review:

This week I’ll report on one of my 2016 selections. A lot of people have read this to mixed reviews. It is different– Urban Fantasy with a background of paranormal.

Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Voice. Sometimes a story has a character with a distinctive voice brought on by unique dialogue and particular behaviors.

Bone Clocks tells a story unlike any I’ve read in speculative fiction. Actually, it’s four sections told from different viewpoints that intersect each other, going from 1950 to the far future.

The start is the strongest part of the book, as fifteen-year-old Holly Sykes has a row with her mother and hies off to live with her boyfriend only to discover him in bed with her best friend. A fifteen year old, torn by betrayal, doesn’t stop to consider the dangers and struggle in store for a homeless and penniless young girl as she runs off aimlessly and grief-stricken.

But Holly is no ordinary girl. She hears “radio voices” and, as a young girl, was visited frequently in the night in her bedroom by a strange and ghostly woman who would have conversations with her. Something is going on behind the curtain, but Mitchell is shy about revealing all too soon.

We skip to Hughe’s part in the story. Hugh Lamb is the opposite of Holly. A rich kid at university with low morals and a clever mind, Hugh manipulates his friends, eventually causing one to suicide. In the end of the second section, he briefly meets up with Holly but selects to follow strange, shady beings who promise immortality and awesome power. We leave the dangerous Hugh tripping off with his new companions. The timeline then continues with Ed, a wartime journalist and Crispin, an embittered author, past his prime.

Eventually two factions reveal themselves in the background. One powerful and immortal faction fights for the survival of humankind; the other immortal aliens, are trying to consume humans. The ending is a bit of a let down and confusing for me.

However, the strange and powerful immortals in the background fighting for power while only certain human with psychic powers are aware was interesting.

Still, if you are looking for a different slant to a speculative novel, you might enjoy the Bone Clocks.

Some readers did; some didn’t.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, Alternate Universes, Best selling science fiction, book fairs, Comets and asteroids, ebook marketing, hard science, Lois McMasters Bujold, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, science fiction science, science fiction series, Self-publishing, Space opera, time travel, Uncategorized, Urban Fantasy

Holiday Magic

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Christmas hornHappy Holidays

Holiday parties and holiday shopping are making it hard to wedge in any leisure reading.

In addition, checking over a final proof for Time’s Equation also kept me busy.
Beta readers got delayed by new jobs or new babies.
Meanwhile, there is a stampede to get a slot for holiday book advertising, but I decided to pass. I don’t think people have the time now to download ebooks. Maybe after Christmas when they are trying to fill up shiny new iPads or tablets.

What is your best month for sales? Tara Sparling, data hound extraordinaire, recently wrote a blog about this exact subject and highlighted May and December. Nick Rooney also added the following advice:

“Mood and market reception are really important. Certain books work better at various times of the year.

  • January – April: Romance, Self-help, Business books, Cookery
  • May – August: Adventure, Fantasy, Travel
  • Sept – Nov: Academic, Horror, Paranormal
  • Dec – Jan: Children, Cookery, Illustrated, Quiz, Dictionaries and quirky fun books.”

It’s a general guide. There are no hard and fast rules. Try and tie your book into an event or occasion when you want to promote it.

Christmas appears to be a great time for hardback books that make nice gifts. January and February appear great for ebooks when the weather invites an indoor snuggle with hot chocolate and a good read. Some of my best sales have been February and then May as people fill their Kindle libraries to prepare for summer vacation reading.

Shadows of SelfMy book for this blog is Brandon Sanderson’s Shadows of Self that continues years later in the Mistborn Series. I must admit I’m enjoying the action and the intriguing system of magic that uses metals. January 26 the next in the series, Bands of Mourning, will be coming out. Unfortunately, because it is a very popular series, TOR has decided to charge $14.99 for a Kindle edition. Why? Most likely because they can. Old line publishers are pushing up ebook prices, but as both an author and reader, I’m conflicted about the practice. As an author, I would like to make more money by charging more, but as a reader, I spend a lot already on books. Reminds me of the drug company pricing.

What the market can bear.Bands of Mourning

In Shadows of Self, Waxillium Ladrian is a Twinborn, able to use both Allomancy and Feruchemy, the dominant magical modes on Scradrial. He uses various metals as both weapons and protection. An example of this is the ability to fly through the air by shooting out steel to propel himself. His eccentric sidekick, Wayne, and a young constable, Marais, sister to his fiancee, help Wax untangle the conspiracy that threatens their city.

They chase a nonhuman kandran named Bleeder that can assume the shape of any animal or person it digests. Normally aides of the God Harmony, kandran act like angels, but this one has gone mad and is on a murder spree. High Lord and lawman combined, Wax pursues the paranormal enemy, uncovering corruption and rebellion within his city.

Because, Shadows of Self is set in a turn of the century time period, it has a steampunk flavor along with an intriguing magic system.

Brandon writes well. He has a worthwhile writing lecture series on uTube that is taped at Brigham Young University. 

http://brandonsanderson.com/writing-advice/

Exciting action, interesting characters, unique magic, and clear writing all add up to a book that I recommend. Good news is that it’s available at your local library if you’re willing to wait.

Image 4Happy Holidays to you and yours and may 2016 be the best ever year.Image

 

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, ebook marketing, fantasy, fantasy series, Hugo winners, Marketing and selling novels, Mistborn series, science fiction, science fiction series, Self-publishing, Steampunk, Urban Fantasy, YA science ficiton

Glad Tidings for Self Publishers

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I write about human clones, so I keep an eye out for news on cloning advancements. Here is a startling article I found on news.yahoo.com.

Boyalife in China is setting up an extensive animal cloning factory in partnership with Sooam from South Korea to be located in Tiajin, China where it will to clone cows, dogs, racehorses and other animals.

Okay…is this step one? How soon will human cloning follow, and what will be the guidelines? Scientist there have already indicated that they can clone humans but are holding back because of politics and public sentiment.clones

I just published on Amazon my eighth book, Time’s Equation in ebook and I’m waiting for the proof of the paperback. Now I’m staring marketing in the eye and can’t hide out with the excuse that I’m under a publishing deadline. Marketing my favorite exercise…not.bk8_cover_print

To inspire myself and confirm that I’m on the right path, I am reproducing (with additional comments) an article I saw on wiseinkblog.com.

Read and rejoice all indie authors.

Self-published books accounted for 31% of all e-book sales in the Kindle Store in 2014. Indie books account for 31% of e-books.

However,
40% of all e-book revenue is going to indie authors. In other words, indies are raking in more money, which means that their sales figures are higher than many of their traditional counterparts. Comment: We can receive 70% of retail revenues for eBooks over $2.99. And self publishers can set their price for both ebook and paperback, balancing marketability and margin profit.

Which brings us to …
Indie books represent 25% of books on Amazon’s e-book bestseller list. Readers aren’t nearly as prejudiced against indie books as they were even a few years ago, and their buying practices suggest it! Comment: Looks like self publishing is becoming more and more “acceptable.” Maybe the story is more important than who publishes it. Maybe Indie authors are being more careful about how it is written.

And in addition…
You can safely dismiss the 50 Shades effect. Only 1.2% of self-published books sales are for erotica titles, which proves that you can indie publish successfully without writing a sex book. Comment: Thank goodness as porn is not in my writing comfort zone.

But best yet…
In Smashwords’ 2014 survey, they found that pricing your e-book at $.99 won’t make you rich. In fact, $2.99-3.99 is the sweet spot for a bestseller, and earn more in sales than books priced higher. Comment: I read Mark Coker’s excellent article on self publishing and have priced all my eBooks at $3.99. However, I see a movement by traditional publishing to raise the bar, and in fact a large number of popular authors published traditionally are ebook pricing at $10 and up.

Think you can only release shorts and novellas on e-book? Think again. The bestselling books in e-book are usually over 100,000 words. Maybe because they’re easier to hold? Comment: I usually shoot for 100,000 words, although read my previous blog that discusses a trend towards shorter novels that get bundled later on.

And increasingly…
According to Bowker, 458,000 books were indie pubbed in 2013 in the US. That’s up 437% from 2008! The self-publishing ranks are growing, and with increasing number comes more exciting and innovative strategies to publish your perfect book. Comment: I own my own ISBN and list on Bowker.

Best news yet…
It’s a good time to be a woman. Indie bestsellers are twice as likely to be written by a woman than traditionally published bestsellers (67% versus 39%). Comment: Yeah! Since I am one, this was good to hear. Science fiction used to be male dominated, but new female authors are getting noticed.

(See me jumping up and down)

This week I’m reading two polar opposite books. Golden Son by Pierce Brown and Solar Express by L. E. Modesitte, Jr.

Golden SonGolden Son is part of a trilogy consisting of Red Rising, Golden Son and Morning Star.
A universe where color dictates the social hierarchy of humans. Darrow is a red, his father a low class miner under the thumb of the golds. After Darrow’s beloved wife is hanged by Golds, he vows vengeance and using high tech and body carvers is transformed into a gold where he hopes to infiltrate and destroy them from within. Then, he gets to know Golds from the inside; their conflicts, their deceptions and their humanity. Darrow becomes “Reaper” a feared battle warrior who kills thousands, but not without remorse or guilt as he tries to change a society spread out among worlds.Red Rising

While the reviews were overwhelmingly positive, I personally found the story a bit overly dramatic. Darrow is on a mission to disrupt a rigid and inequitable social structure and provides some exciting battle sequences, but the angst and internal drama was a bit much for me.

The constructed world, however, with Roman names and culture that contrasted with high tech weaponry and biology was very interesting.

Solar ExpressDue to the holidays, I have not completed Solar Express, but L. E. Modesitte is one of my favorite authors. So far, it is dry and a bit slow, but that is Modesitte at the beginning of many of his stories. The idea of discovering what at first appears to be a comet, but turns into an alien artifact that changes the sun, is fascinating. So I’m sticking with it for now. Stay tuned.

While husband and in-laws have recently chopped and brought home the living room tree (I’m in Oregon where there are tree farms ten minutes away from me), decorated the house, enjoyed a large Thanksgiving dinner with new relations (daughter’s newly engaged), published my eighth book, Time’s Equation, I haven’t finished reading Solar Express and will report on it next week.

As people immerse themselves in the holidays, reading may taper off, but hopefully buying picks up, although November was a good month for my sales. How about you?

After all, a good book makes an excellent gift at a good price for anyone to enjoy. And the sheer variety of great titles makes it easy to personalize for that special person.

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Filed under alien life forms, aliens, Aliens in Science Fiction, Alternate Universes, artificial nature, Best selling science fiction, Clones, Clones in science, Comets, ebook marketing, first contact, gene modification, genetic manipulation, hard science, Hard science fiction, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Marketing and selling novels, military science fiction, Political Science Fiction, science fiction, Science Fiction Anthology, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Science fiction world building, science news, Self-publishing

Book Trailers

IMG_9503Trailers

No, not the kind you live in…the kind that keep popping up on a blog, Facebook or Utube.

We’re not anything if we’re not a media generation.
And the media is currently appearing all over mobile devices.

Recently two writers in my group put together their own trailers to promote their books.

Ted Blasche’s The Rust Bucket Chronicles has a trailer link in his e-mail signature.

https://youtu.be/npcdiizMgTw
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Using Animoto, Clayton Callahan whipped together this trailer for an anthology, Five Elements, in which I’d contributed a fun story called, “Peace Treaty.” (See right panel) He posted the trailer on Facebook. I’ve noticed this year a lot of short videos are being posted on my Facebook.

https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=rJhFZCjUDeE

Then I was on TOR’s blog. TOR has been using trailers for a while to announce new shows and new books. I recently saw they had a trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes series I have been waiting for, so I eagerly tapped on the link. Are you eagerly waiting also?

http://www.tor.com/2015/10/08/new-sherlock-christmas-special-trailer-bbc-one/

So trailers are easy to make (Clayton did so), cheap, and popular on several platforms. Add interest to your blog, Facebook, e-mail, or Twitter. Send a trailer out to enthusiastic fans.
It’s another arrow in your marketing quiver.

Liars KeyThis week I read Liar’s Key by Mark Lawrence. I’m into several series, and this is second in Mark Lawrence’s Red Queen Series. The first in the series is the Prince of Fools.Prince of Fools

Very much like the book I’m currently writing, Worlds Too Far, it’s in the same universe as a previous series, the Broken Empire, but has totally different characters at another part of the world and is considered a separate series. The Dead King is mentioned several times and the main character, Jalan, comments in a conversation on his cousin, Jorg of Ancrath, as a blood thirsty king. (Prince of Thorns, King of Thorns,)King of Thorns

Liar’s Key is a buddy adventure that continues the story of Jalan, Prince of Red March, a self-centered scoundrel, who only wants to return to the palace and resume his hedonistic lifestyle. He has no desire for kingship or power, but prefers women, wine and leisure rather than his current position of poverty and the cold North. He rationalizes his cowardly deeds, which ironically often end up appearing heroic by happenstance. Preventing him from returning to the palace is his Viking companion and big-hearted Snorri Snaggonson. (yes that’s his name) Snorri has somehow finagled Loki’s key that opens all doors in hopes of opening the door to death and retrieving his family. Jalan has been magically tied to Snorri by a powerful mage, the Silent Sister, his aunt, consequently where Snorri goes, so goes Jalan.

Of course Loki is the trickster god who created the key, so nothing happens in a straight forward way. Many powerful beings covet the key and try all manner of means to possess it.

Prince of thornsI laughed at and loved this adventure. Mark Lawrence wrote Jalan perfectly as the rogue who unwittingly does good, and towards the end actually makes a few sacrifices. Snorri is the perfect foil, full of valor, loyalty and everything heroic who constantly drags the band toward danger and death, putting them in impossible situations. Often in an attempt to bed a woman or run away, Jalan unwittingly saves the day.

Guiding the group through the power of his key, the reader never knows what the trickster god Loki will cause to happen next. That surprise along with the character of Jalan kept me laughing and interested in this fun adventure. Lawrence’s writing is so fluid the reader becomes immersed in the story and the crazy adventures of the foolish Jalan.

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What Ad Sites Should You Market Your Book On?

photoMy horoscope said that I need to change things up in my daily life.

So, I changed my blog background from dark to light.

What do you think?

Radical, I know. But don’t go easy on me. Tell me what you really think.

This morning I did the analytics for my August sales and was pleasantly surprised.

Thank you, wonderful readers. I hope you are enjoying the series.

I’m currently finishing up edits for the eighth book, Time’s Equation and eagerly waiting to see what the cover is going to look like. Late October is my publication target…before the holidays.

So marketing in August: What worked? What didn’t?

Book Gorilla at $50 cost didn’t return a net profit. I was so excited to see how that campaign would turn out…and it didn’t. I posted the discount at $.99 at their suggestion, which means I would have to sell over 144 books to break even. I didn’t.

Timing? Genre? Promotion? Who knows why.

On the other hand, The Midlist at $20 cost, more than made up for it. Go figure.

This month I am using my profits and plowing them back into the business. I will offer Caught in Time, my first book, free through Robin Reads ($15) on September 19 and Freebooksy ($70) on September 21. Freebooksy is a favorite, and when I was setting up my marketing for September, I defaulted to it out of frustration. I saw too many venues with no way of knowing what would work.

What I needed at the time was Cheryl Bradford’s list of ad sites and Nicolas Rossis’s plan of attack…which I now provide for you because both are so awesome. Thank you, Cheryl and Nick.

http://nicholasrossis.me/2015/08/30/bookbub-insights-launch-a-new-book-thats-part-of-a-series/?c=22638#comment-22638

This will save you hours of research and make your marketing much more efficient.

full list of websites where you can advertise your ebook price promotion, courtesy of Cheryl Bradshaw.

You’re welcome.

So with September settled, I cast about for a story to recommend. After reading and discarding several options, I found Dark Space through a Freebooksy special. FREE! And very readable.

And guess what…as of right now…it’s still free. But I don’t know how long that will last. FYI.

Dark SpaceDark Space, book 1 by Jasper Scott, is a military space opera in a series.

Freelancer and ex-convict, Ethan Ortane, is deep in debt, hiding out with the rest of humanity in Dark Space. An alien race, the Synthians, invaded the human galaxy with one goal in mind… to wipe out humans. Now the last remains of humanity hide out in Dark Space behind a stargate guarded by the Valiant, a carrier ship of the Imperial Star System Fleet.Dark Space 2

But Ethan has gotten deep in debt to crime lord Alec Brondi, and his ship, and therefore his means of support, is badly damaged. His only way out is to comply with Bondi’s deal to infiltrate and sabotage the Valiant.

If that isn’t enough to make Ethane follow through with the plan, Brondi kidnaps Ethane’s beautiful crewmember and threatens torture if he doesn’t comply.

Ethane steps into a dead soldier’s persona, infiltrates the Valiant, and finds that things are not what he expected…Dark Space 3

which all makes for an interesting story and start to a fun series.

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Going to the Dark Side

IMG_0180Summer is a wonderful time of the year here in the Northwest. We have cooled off to high seventies in temperature, and other than gardening, I have time to read out on my shady deck under tall pines.

Lately, I have been restless, trying to find a good cutting-edge future science fiction tale. I dove into cyber punk with mixed results in Gibson’s The Peripheral and Charles Stross’s HaltinG StatE. (See previous blog for further comments).

Since I have been advertising my books on different websites, also with mixed results, I decided to download a few free and discounted books from Freebooksy and Sweetfreebooks. In my several marketing campaigns, Freebooksy and more recently the Midlist have given me the best results. The vaunted Fussy Librarian and Book Gorilla have cost me money while delivering poor sales. Having said that, other authors claim good results from them. Once again, various factors of timing, cover, taste, and reader who just wanted a time travel book at that moment, come into play.

Post HumanSo I chose the Post Human Series by David Simpson, Mirrored Time J.D. Faulkner and Star Wanderers by Joe Vasice. Why? The Post Human series had far future humans with transhumanism where humans are using technology and science to evolve past being human. Also, there was a suggestion of inter-dimensional realities that intrigued me. I’ll admit that so far the story is chock full of future science and action. The writing flows well with few grammar or punctuation errors.

The early episodes, however, are short and choppy, skipping over large spans of time. All that I could deal with, and did, until I got snagged on the changing point of views. Rapidly switching point of view with no warning or break is a new writer’s curse, and often the writer isn’t aware of what he’s doing until it’s pointed out to him. In this case, three pov jumps in one paragraph, and I put the book down. I may pick it back up later because of the interesting ideas and technology.Mirrored Times

Sometimes I’m not strong of will and cross over to the dark side. When the temperature hit over ninety last week, I reached for chocolate Haagen Daas to cool off my mouth and make my taste buds dance.

What diet?

At the same time, I reached for a fantasy in the form of Mark Lawrence’s The King of Thorns sitting soKing of Thorns seductively on my reading table. I had read his Prince of Fools and liked it. The reviews said King of Thorns was even better. I would be traveling into the realm of dark fantasy and knew it.

Now, there is also a Prince of Thorns that you should read first, but like chocolate Hagen Daas, I didn’t mind not having another flavor at the moment and confused the earlier book with Prince of Fools.

King of Thorns is a can’t-put-down book. And that’s just what I wanted. The writing is gorgeous with gasping wit, heart-pounding action, and tear-filled emotion. A bit gritty, but bearable.

You continue the life of Jorge Ancrath who at age nine has vowed to avenge his slaughtered mother and brother, and punish his father for not doing so. Now at age eighteen, Prince of thornshe is King of Renar, having taken the land through slaughter and death from his evil uncle. Jorge is not a delicate lad. He’s on a mission to rule the world and doesn’t play by the rules.

The story begins outside his castle where he is surrounded by thousands of the Prince of Arrow’s men. Orrin Oildan, Prince of Arrow, also hungers to be Emperor and sweeps kingdoms into his hand as he marches victoriously across the land until he reaches Jorge’s rough castle. Unlike Jorge, who is beset by sorcerers at every turn and considered mean and ruthless, Orrin is the fair-haired ruler whom everyone calls great and good. Every sorcerer and witch prophesies the triumph of the Prince of Arrows for the Emperor’s throne until Jorge is weary of hearing it. But it doesn’t slow him down a whit.

The book jumps back and forth in time, starting with Jorg’s wedding day, and then returning four years into the past. There he travels with his band of disreputable friends across the land from one wild adventure to another. Adventure and wedding flip back and forth moving closer in time as the book progresses.

Clever, haunted, and powerful, Jorge has the touch of necromancy in his fingers and carries a dangerous box of memories everywhere he goes. Trying to save a young fire Mage, he also learns to play with fire.

There are also hints of science fiction within the fantasy-flavored tale when Jorge refers to “the Builders” who seem to be great men from Earth’s past. He meets a holograph who is a downloaded personality of a past scientist. The holograph tends a forgotten machine deep under Jorge’s maternal uncle’s castle. Along the way, Jorge also accumulates artifacts from the past that become important to his survival.

My only complaint with the story is that in two critical instances, the author uses my own tricky plot twist to escape an almost impossible situation. One I use in Caught in Time when the bandits try to rob and rape Rowyna, and the other in A Dangerous Talent for Time when Brand de Fyre Elitas, like Jorg Ancrath, faces overwhelming odds in a battle.

Not fair!

Mark Lawrence will be remembered for the plot twist over me, I’m sure. Just like, since July 15, another author has come out with the title Caught in Time. The second one came out last year, well after my publication. (Sound of moaning and hair-pulling)

Oh well, I liked it when I wrote it, and I liked it again in Mark Lawrence’s story. In fact, I liked his whole story a lot. It made the chocolate ice cream go down so cool and sweet, as I slipped over to the dark side.

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