Category Archives: Indie authors

Amazon’s New List

Amazon continues to stretch out and find ways to encourage readers. And I’m usually all for that. So, I was interested in their new venture.

This past week Amazon has started to compile a weekly best seller and best read list to rival the well-known New York Times Best Seller List. The Times leaves out Indie publishers since they do not appear in bookstores. How The Times decides who gets what spot isn’t sure, but Indies are never included and, yet, are now read by an increasingly large segment of the population. For years, The Times has been the sought after benchmark of success for writers of both fiction and non fiction, but self-publishers don’t make the list.

If you want to know what are the top selling books at Amazon in different publishing categories, Amazon has published a wide variety of lists according to genre that are updated almost hourly.

Last Friday, I ran my Freebooksy add campaign for Past the Event Horizon and made number #1 in the Kindle Store>Kindle eBooks>science fiction >space exploration and #1 in Kindle Store>Kindle eBooks>First Contact on March 15. That rating soon changed as sales go up and down all the time like a turbulent sea. Still, it felt good. Anyone looking for a science fiction in either category might have given me a try, and indeed, sales followed for a number of my other books.

Okay, so now Amazon offers a weekly list of the top twenty books sold and books read across all genres. Only Amazon has the algorithms to determine what books are actually read. As an author, I can follow what books my readers are reading and when.

Here’s the link to the chart: https://www.amazon.com/charts

As a reader, this is interesting, but as a midlist writer I have a few problems with it.

First, I noted the large number of big publishing houses, and almost all of them have an agent attached. Then, there is the Bookbub phenomena. An author must sell a lot and have a lot of reviews to be accepted, but once accepted the author gets an even bigger bump in reviews and sales by being accepted for promotion. You know the story. A writer has to get to a point where doors open, and until they reach that tipping point, sales are a struggle… Each author has to decide how much time, effort, and money they want to spend, and what goal is acceptable for them.

Worldwide fame or merely getting published?

I think I won’t need sunglasses to hide behind any time soon.

This week I have returned to science fiction and my list that I put out at the beginning of the year with Last Year by Robert Charles Wilson (Hugo winning novel Spin).

I picked this book because it had a time travel theme, and I read and liked Spin by the same author. Wilson plays with the idea of multiple dimensions. In the near future, technology is created that can open a gate onto the past. That past is similar, but not exactly like our past. Inhabitants of the past provide almost a theme park of times-gone-by to those who visit from the future. But as the future influences the past, the past changes, and eventually, the gate closes.

A passageway has been open into the 19th century in Ohio for a decade now, and both sides of the gate know it will soon close. This is the last year the gate will be open.

On September 1, Jesse Collumm saves General Grant’s life as the general visits the future side of the gate. Jesse is from the 19th century but has been hired as a guard in the small city that had grown up around the gate. Working crowd control, he notices an illegal gun and dives to save Ulysses’ life. This brings him to the attention of the higher-ups who run the gate. Jesse is delegated to an attractive woman for various assignments. Unfortunately, he falls in love with her and decides to do anything to follow her through time back to her future.

This was an interesting novel, but not riveting. However, I was intrigued with the time concepts. How would we react if we could visit the past and see how it really was? Would the history books and actual events match? What might happen to influence our future? How big or little need that influence be?

I write about time travel, and it was interesting to see another author’s handling of the subject. If you are intrigued by time travel, you might enjoy this one.

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Filed under Alternate Universe Stories, Amazon publishing, Best selling author, ebook marketing, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, New York Times Best Sellers, Portal fiction, science fiction

A Self-Publisher Markets

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I’m accumulating lots of lovely ebooks in my library. I used to spend a lot of effort tracking down good science fiction or fantasy by asking friends, researching award lists, or cruising libraries. Now, due to various ad sites, I find lots of interesting ebooks. I stash them away, expecting to read them some day, and often I get around to them. I’m not alone in this behavior. I select them because I sincerely plan to read them.

Many of the books are from new authors who I have never heard of before or who are not on some award list. It’s like dating. You need to find interesting guys to date, but they don’t just show up on your front steps if they have no idea that you exist. You have to get out there where the guys are, but a bar is not the best place to find a good date, much less a life partner. So these various ad sites set certain standards such as requiring at least a 4.0 star review rating or a given amount of reviews. They curate the book for you by genre so you can hone right in on what you like, but still make it easy enough that a shy new book can qualify and be accepted to the dance.

Am I stretching the metaphor too much? You get the idea.

So to meet the readers who are compatible, I’m offering one of my books again via FreeBooksy, but this time
Past the Event Horizon is the book at the dance. There are 90,000 science fiction readers subscribed through Freebooksy, and Past the Event Horizon will be there waving “Hello” on Friday May 12th. However, not to be shy, I have also scheduled the book free through the KDP Select Platform starting TODAY and extending through Monday.

Past the Event Horizon is a thrill ride through space as the twelve person crew of the spaceship The Seeker follows an alien signal through a star gate onto an alien world. What they find and how it changes them makes for an exciting story.

It’s rare that I offer this one free, so grab it while you can.

Accod of HonorThis month I’m highlighting a few ad site books starting with Accord of Honor by Kevin McLaughlin. It’s been over three years since I noticed Kevin on the Linked-In chat boards. He offered expert advice to an ignorant author who was desperate to learn all she could. I appreciated his willingness to share information for free on self-publishing. So, when I saw his book Accord of Honor, and it was an interesting space opera, I snapped it up.

Accord of Honor is a fast-paced space military adventure. The Lunar Accord has banned all individuals or nations from arming space ships for war. But Ex-Admiral Nicholas Stein knows the peace will not last, and in secret, he exiles himself on Mars to build ships with on board weapons that could result in treason and execution if he were discovered.

Then, outof nowhere, armed ships appear, attacking vulnerable space freighters and kidnapping their crews. Soon they threaten a helpless Earth and call for its surrender. Only Admiral Stein and his son, Thomas, with their weaponized ships stand in the pirates’ way.

Accord of Honor carries political overtones similar to the Expanse Series with friction occurring between Mars, Earth and space.

It is the first book in the Accord Series followed by Accord of Mars and the recently published Accord of Valor.

While the women are out for Mothers’ Day, relax with two new space adventure series at great prices. Or… If she’s a science fiction enthusiast like me, sneak a few new books onto her ereader and watch her smile.

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Filed under ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Mars, military science fiction, Political Science Fiction, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Self-publishing, space ship

The Excitement of Self Publishing

Someone once said that the only constant is change itself. Who says? I’m not sure, but it’s true.

Over time my writing group has changed and evolved. We each bring or have brought our own special writing strengths to the table, and everyone has been better for the interaction. Sadly, four of our writers over the years we have been together have gone on because of new jobs, a new husband, new baby or new residence. Others have filled in the vacancies, adding fresh ideas to the writing process.

Our most recent escapee, er, graduate, is D. Wallace Peach. She has shed the constrictions of her publisher to turn to self-publishing. Recognizing the help given by her publisher when she was new and learning, she has embraced self-publishing and revamped her series with exciting new covers, combing through her books, fixing any errors, and generally re-editing everything.

The results are exciting and gives everything a fresh new look.

But then she continued on with a whole new series: The Rose Shield, and Catling’s Bane is the first book.

This is not your usual fantasy or science fiction series but a strange blend of both, which deals with mind control in an exotic world. Oh, here. Let me have her tell you in her own words:

“In the tiers of Ellegeance, the elite Influencers’ Guild holds the power to manipulate emotions. Love and fear, pain and pleasure, healing and death mark the extremes of their sway, but it’s the subtle blends that hook their victims’ hearts. They hide behind oaths of loyalty and rule the world.

A child born in the grim warrens beneath the city, Catling rues the rose birthmark encircling her eye. Yet, it grants her the ability to disrupt the influencers’ sway. Established methods of civil control disintegrate before her. She’s a weapon desired by those who reign and those who rebel.

To the Influencer’s Guild, she’s an aberration, a threat. They order her death and thus the betrayals begin. One woman protects and trains her, plotting to use her shield to further imperial goals. No longer a helpless child, Catling has other plans. As chaos shakes the foundations of order and rule, will she become the realm’s savior? Or its executioner?

The Rose Shield Tetralogy – a blend of science fiction and fantasy.

Welcome to a world of three moons, a sentient landscape, rivers of light, and tier cities that rise from the swamps like otherworld flowers. A planet of waterdragons, where humans are the aliens living among three-fingered natives with spotted skin. Where a half-blood converses with the fog and the goddess plans her final reckoning.

Follow Catling’s journey as she grows from childhood into the deadly force that shapes the future. She is the realm’s shield, an influencer, assassin, healer, mother, and avenger. And all she wants is to go home.

The books of The Rose Shield Tetralogy:
Catling’s Bane
Oathbreakers’ Guild
Farlanders’ Law
Kari’s Reckoning”

The whole series has been released at once so there’s no waiting around one book at a time. (As George R.R. Martin has us doing)

Recently she talked about how important the first chapter was and had a lot of good points for writers at any level. Check out her blog at:

https://mythsofthemirror.com/2017/03/07/28237/

Yes, change is the constant. We are all changing, growing, reaching out for new experiences and hopefully becoming better for it. I wish Diana the best of luck and lots of sales in her new adventure.

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, fantasy series, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Science fiction world building, Self-publishing, Writing Tips and Lectures

Ten Steps to Select a Publisher

As an Indie author, I chose Amazon’s Createspace for paperbacks and its Kindle Digital Platform for my ebook distribution. Two reasons dictated this choice : initial cost is free, and I maintain total control of my work. To insure this control, I provide my own ISBN. This means I do all the work unless I contact out work such as designing the cover and editing. I have professionals do that. So, there are costs, but those costs I control.

Marketing is another cost. This cost is a balance between the cost of the program and the revenue it most likely will generate in book sales. Again, I have control, and in January, I spent nothing on marketing and banked the revenue, but paid the price in reduced book sales for that month. Since Amazon pays on a three month lag, March revenue will be down. I knew that and budgeted for it.

However, many new writers, for one reason or another, need the help of a publisher. They are lost as to how to get an editor, how to format, how to find a cover designer, and all the things that have to be done to become a successful author. Perhaps, they have a day job or run a household with active kids. They turn to a wide list of publishers and stare at rows of smiling shark’s teeth. A whole industry of “milk the author” has evolved. It’s an author beware publishing world. However, within that mix are good guys who honestly want to help the bewildered writer. How to find the needle in a haystack?

Why am I blathering on about this? Because I know several writers searching for guidance, and I recently stumbled across Jane Friedman article on what to look at when deciding on a publisher. Her blogs are invaluable and you must check them out.

https://janefriedman.com/10-questions-epublishing/

As you will notice, this blog is dated November 2014, but was recently updated. The information is still valuable. It doesn’t cover all the names of publishers currently out there, but it’s a guide for the questions you need to ask. For example: Just being able to control the price of your book is important, particularly if you want to advertise. An overpriced book with no exposure to readers is a lonely book indeed, even if well written. A bad cover often turns away an interested buyer. Make no mistake, with the advent of easy publishing, the book market is flooded and cleverly marketed books are the ones to gain the overwhelmed reader’s purse. Even so, the market is challenging. These ten suggestions may save  you a lot of money and heartache.

I am now working on the last quarter of the second book in the Terran Trilogy called Somewhat Alien. Once again, I want to suggest Larry Brooks and his storyfix blog. He has several books with his ideas, one called Story Engineering. He provides a framework for writing a story while still letting your characters surprise you.

… And they are surprising me with their actions. Right now the immigration of aliens into our country is a hot topic, and this story is exactly about aliens trying to immigrate onto an inhabited planet. I just have to check the headlines for great story ideas.

This week my book selection is Traitor’s Blade by Sebastien De Castell. This book was recommended by Peter from Powell’s Bookstore at Cedars Crossing. Peter is an expert in science fiction and fantasy, and this book delighted me.

If you like Mark Lawrence (The Red Queen’s War ) or Joe Abercrombie, (The First Law Trilogy), Traitor’s Blade will suit. It has a bit of swashbuckle in it.

Falcio is the first Cantor of the Greatcoats, once the elite corps of 144 men and women, who traveled throughout the kingdom, dispensing the king’s justice. That is, until King Paelis ordered them to stand aside, and his head found is way onto a pike atop his castle, put there by conquering feudal lords intent on expanding their land and power.

Now jeered at and called “tattercoats,” Cantor and his small band must follow secret instructions given by the king in order to unite the ragged remnants of the once proud Greatcoats. If they fail in their mission, their kingdom will be destroyed.

Character and bantering dialog make this a stay-up-late story. His aching loyalty to justice puts Cantor into impossible situations as he struggles to rebuild the Empire and clean out the rot.
The book uses the technique of flashback, returning to the story of the king’s final battle, and then jumps forward to Cantor’s present as he struggles to save his world.

Peter recommended this; I recommend this. Soon, you’ll be recommending it too.

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Filed under Best selling author, fantasy series, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Self-publishing

More than Science Fiction Novels

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Science fiction is not always about books. I was watching Orphan Black, wondering what I would talk about in my next blog and suddenly realized that I was looking at it. While I’m finding it hard to dig out good hard science fiction or space opera novels, there appears to be a blossoming of science fiction on TV and in movies.

20160721_153915I recently attended David Levine’s signing at Powell’s in Beaverton where he read from, and sang about, his debut book Arabella of Mars. Arabella of MarsQuite the entertainer. David is a long time friend from when I used to be in a Portland Author’s lunch group with him. He said that he had a hard science fiction book about Mars that he was shopping around and the traditional publishers didn’t accept it, telling him that science fiction didn’t sell well.

What!

Definitely this was before the best seller The Martian...and, by the way, a well done mMartianovie with a powerhouse actor. (I did a blog on the book)
No wonder it’s hard to find science fiction out there. The gatekeepers have slammed closed the gate. So to keep a writing career, David offered a fun Steampunk novel, and got accepted. Now, however, I fear the Steampunk fad is fading. Still, I recommend Arabella as a fun read…but even David admits the science became fantasy when he had billowing sailing ships plowing the space lanes.

Meanwhile, TV and movies are flourishing. I want to just mention a few you may or may not know about and, in this day and age, with streaming video, you may still be able to access some earlier seasons if you have missed them.

Currently, I am following Kill Joys on the Syfy channel. This is space opera. Think Firefly. They are kickass mercenaries with attitude and shadowy world corporate figure after them. They are hired on for jobs that occasionally are not what they first seem to be. A tough bunch that gets it done across the universe.

Orphan BlackAnother series is Orphan Black on BBC. Clones, clones, and more clones all done by one amazing actress. They are being hunted and have a dreaded disease for which they are desperately trying to find a cure. One line is female, and there is an alternative line of males. A unique series.

The Expanse will be starting season II soon. This is a well done series based on James Corey’s (Abramson and Franck) novels in the Expanse Series. (See several previous blogs on the books) I recommend you read the books first or the TV series can be confusing. Still lots of interesting sets of space stations and star ships.Expanse Collection

Dark Matter is another TV series I’m enjoying. This has a collection of humans on the run from shadowy corporate bad guys. One is a cyborg with mysterious powers, the other an angry mercenary, a young girl with mysterious background, a downloaded holographic with personality…you get the idea. The mystery is who is after them and why.

Let’s not forget the fairly recent movies of Independence Day 2, Enders Game, Hunger Games series, X-men: Civil War, and other super hero movies that are currently very popular.

Okay, I know you have more you want to mention, but that’s a taste.
I want to save room here in order to mention two very important blogs that I’ve recently read.
The first continues  Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s blog on publisher contracts and what to watch out for. Critical information for any author, Indie or traditionally published, and especially, if you are submitting to publishers big or small.

http://kriswrites.com/2016/07/20/business-musings-other-evil-clauses-contractsdealbreakers/

The other is a blog by my friend Mary Rosenblum who works with self-published authors to help them launch and sell their books. It’s a scary account of how one of her clients got wrapped up in the Amazon effort to clean up reviews. In their enthusiasm to get reviews, authors need to be very careful of new rules and oversights by Amazon or they might find themselves out in the cold. Being booted out by Amazon can be a career killer.

http://www.newwritersinterface.com/amazon-bites-author

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On a more upbeat note, I’m now going to pop off to the local Ponzi vineyard for some wine sipping and a plate of cheese and crackers on the deck. My newlywed daughter will provide charming company and insights into Pokemon.

Pokemon2                          Oregon summers are a delight.                  pokemon

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Filed under alien life forms, Alien worlds, Amazon publishing, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, Clones, downloaded personalities, fantasy, gene modification, genetic manipulation, Hunger Games, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Mars, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Space opera, space travel, Transhumanism, Uncategorized

Recommended Science Fiction for 2016

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Happy New Year to all science fiction and fantasy fans.

2016 is off to a great start.

First, I want to mention Mark Coker’s annual predictions for the future. Many of his comments are worth reading, especially if you are an Indie Publisher. Just be aware of his bias as he goes on a rant against Amazon, and especially Kindle Unlimited. They are competitors and Amazon is seriously in the lead.

Http:/www.smashwords.com/2016 Book Publishing Industry Predictions: Myriad Opportunities amid a Slow Growth Environment

As an Indie Publisher, I support Amazon, and the Kindle Unlimited program has been very generous to me. I had several books listed on Smashwords and two in their Scribner program…profit? $0. Now in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited almost half my income comes from the program, and new readers are finding my books and buying others in the series. As an author, what would you do? Who is best supporting the fledging author?

If the Kindle Unlimited program becomes unfavorable at any time, all I have to do is opt out. The exclusive requirement in the contract is for just three months with volunteer renewal options.

I find it a great way to expose my books to avid readers while being paid at the same time. At the moment, it’s a great deal for an author like me.

Having said that, Coker has a lot of good comments based on data from his ebook distribution website called Smashwords. Here are a few quotes to munch on:

“Every year readers are spending more hours reading books from indie authors. Reader eyeballs will continue to transition to indie ebooks in 2016….”

“In the 2015 Smashwords Survey we found strong evidence that series with free series starters earn more than series without…”

“Amazon understands, and we at Smashwords agree, that the future of publishing is self-publishing.”

And on that I heartily agree also.

This week I get to pick five books to read for 2016.

Jeweled FireFirst, I chose some old favorites such as Lois Bujold and Sheron Shinn but who have new books out in 2016.

I also wanted to try out a few best seller listed books such as The Bone Clocks and Time Salvager. Books that make such lists often turn out to be good books.Bone Clock D. Mitchell

Finally, I wanted to read a few self published authors who had an interesting looking story, which I found free on an ad website. Deep Crossing was one that was also suggested by Amazon. In this way, I can help promote fellow Indie authors and get a deal to pass along to you too. Since I’m currently writing about space exploration, military science fiction and stories on traveling in space interest me.Deep Crossing

Time SalvagerNext week, after further research, I will add five more with the understanding that the list will be filled in with other selections as the year rolls on and new books get published.

Making a list and putting it out focuses me on thoughtful choices so that I’m not flailing around on what to read. It also gets me excited about reading new science fiction.

Some on the list are not out yet. Bujold’s Gentleman Jole will be published in February. Stephen Lynch The Thorn of Emberlain is promised for Spring of 2016.

Gentlemen Jole and the Red QueenSo is my ninth novel, Worlds Too Far, which will also be published some time in the Spring. My writing group claims it is the best one to date. It stands outside of the series and yet takes place in the same universe.

A fleet of spaceships search desperately for a world to call home, but face insurmountable odds fighting against the dangers of space and the frailty of human nature.

Here are my first few picks:

The Bone Clocks by David Mitchell

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen by Louis Bujold

The Jeweled Fire by Sheron Shinn

Time Salvager by Wesleyan Chu

Deep Crossing by E. R. Mason

I’m now combing the lists of upcoming titles and will select five more to review and report on for you.

Meanwhile, each blog will contain information on marketing, exciting science news, or an occasional author’s rant . Why else blog if there’s not a good discussion/rant, now and then, where I can talk about what it’s like to be an author and find out what other authors are doing?

Some good books look to be headed our way and 2016 could be a great reading year. Enjoy some special ones with me.

Ps: I hope you’re watching  the Expanse Series on the SyFy Channel. Reading the books has helped me understand the plot better, and I really like the sets and special effects.

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Filed under Alien worlds, Aliens in Science Fiction, award winning scifi, Best selling science fiction, fantasy series, Hugo winners, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Lois McMasters Bujold, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction Predictions, science fiction series, science fiction space opera, Self-publishing, Space opera, space ship, space travel, The future of publishing, time travel

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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Filed under ebook marketing, ebook science fiction, Implanting humans, Indie authors, Indie Publishing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Marketing and selling novels, military science fiction, science fiction, science fiction series, Self-publishing, Space opera, space ship, space travel, Transhumanism