Category Archives: science fiction

Publishing Trends for 2019

Happy New Year!

Christmas horn

I’m always amazed at how quickly time flies. I remember a song about the year 2020 and thinking that it was so far in the future as to be a science fiction dream with flying cars and colonies on the moon.

And now we’re a year away.

Usually about this time a number of known people in the business blog predictions for the coming year. I’m looking for what Mark Coker of Smashwords will have to say. But at the moment, I found a few predictions on Anne Allen’s blog by Laurie McLean that offers up some good debate. I’ll give her headlines and offer my comments. Feel free to agree or disagree in the comment section. I welcome your opinion.
https://annerallen.com/2018/12/2019-publishing-predictions-laurie-mclean/

1. Diversity continues its dominance. With the advent of self-publishing, stories featuring diverse characters of color, creed, gender bias, and expression no longer must succumb to the whims of the publishing gatekeepers. It’s a free-for-all out there and the market has seen a deluge of books of all kinds. My personal opinion is that this is a double-edged sword that leaves the reader either bewildered or delighted to at least find books in certain niche genres or be completely overwhelmed by choice. I feel more and more ways will be found to curate the outpouring of supply. My blog is an example of that in the science fiction field.

2. The resurgence of Indie book stores. Actually to me, this feels like a bit of wishful thinking. I attend Powell’s Bookstore once a month for the interaction and ideas from local science fiction enthusiasts. If it weren’t for the delightful friendships and book ideas, I wouldn’t make the trip across town. The local library is just around the corner and their books are free.
Even better is to settle in a comfy easy chair and e-read from a wide selection tucked into my personal curated library.

3. The rise of smart phones as e-readers. Seriously. Who can read on that form factor unless you read five words to a page. Erm… maybe I’m giving away my age here, and the millennials eyesight is better. Also, men carry phones rather than tablets because they fit more easily in pockets and can be used for important phone calls like letting the wife know he’s on the way home.. But have you noticed the increase in the iphone form factor? Getting bigger.

4. Audio and podcasts are more popular than ever. Well, duh. People with long commutes multi task and, with self driving on the horizon, listening to a good novel has appeal. The self-driving car is coming. I have a Tesla, and it’s awesome. Not the least is that the next generation is more visual, thanks to the effects of television, iPhones, and gaming.

5. Nonfiction will be king a while longer. All I have to say here is people seem to like to read the dirt. With the recent elections, politics will get even worse and anyone looking to make money may write an expose and call it a book… truthful or not. Sir Truthfulness has packed his bags and left town for the year. The biggest selling books this past year were of this ilk, and it’ll probably get worse in 2019. Whatever happened to learning stuff? Ummm, Utube?

6. We’re in love with RomCom. Laurie makes this sound like a new thing. Women have always sneaked romantic bodice-rippers into underwear drawers while men hid Playboy under the mattress. Now it’s the internet. With Indie publishing, tons of erotica and romantic offerings have come out into the open, unfortunately creating scammers in the genre in 2018.

Laurie points out negative trends that might be possible for 2019.

Stock market declines may pinch spending. So if the market continues to collapse, eventually the consumer will cut back on superfluous items such as paperbacks or e-books. Ah, maybe. There’s a lot of noise in the market right now, but as an ex-stockbroker, the economy still looks good on the consumer side. So many variables out there are bouncing around. Trade wars, interest rates, Europe and China’s economy, not to mention the occasional Black Swan Event. And if things do decline, well, good escape fiction is a place to go for very little expense. Say, some exciting science fiction…or is that shameless promoting?

Probably.

People are spending less time reading books. Got any hard data here? However, with a political election heating up, Netflix and Amazon streaming video offering better and better content, and people spending more time on the internet, I might be convinced of it.

It’s an ecosystem, support it all. Well, choice is nice. I don’t skip around on different devices as much as Laurie suggests, but my daughter might. Once I start a book, I usual stay there, but, my daughter moves at twice the speed of sound, multi taking as she goes. One thing is certain. The way the newer generations read is changing and diversifying.

Mostly for the best.
So Happy 2019.

Next blog suggests some science fiction reading I plan for 2019. . what was your favorite read for 2018, and what are you looking forward to reading for 2019?

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Filed under Amazon publishing, Future of Publishing, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Publishing Trends, science fiction, science fiction series, Self-publishing

Exciting Time Dimension Scifi Series

Kris Rusch’s recent blog has hit a nerve. She addresses the problem of author burnout. According to her, a number of authors after going hot and hard at writing and marketing are finding that they need a break. I’m in that category right now. I’ve been publishing for over eight years and writing far longer than that. Eleven books comprise my two series with an additional anthology and novella. I’m very proud of the stories, and as a prolific science fiction reader, feel they are of a quality to match any of the good writers of science fiction out there.

However, I’m finding that, with the completion of my Terran Trilogy, I’m floundering for ideas for a new series. A few have suggested I follow the path of the Fallen and tell their story while others expressed interest in what motivated the fleet to leave Earth. I would be interested in any comments you might have either along those lines or for new suggestions.

Meanwhile, the clamor for new artwork from me increases. My daughter has bought a new home and her walls are too bare. She wants a vineyard painting to accompany the wine fridge we gave them last Christmas. A few in-law have commented that they would like one of my pieces, and I have some ideas in mind for them. I’m rekindling the excitement I used to have for painting.

Kris warns against getting a waning enthusiasm in writing and suggests ways to combat it. Luckily, our income doesn’t depend on my writing. So, that pressure isn’t there. I used to be able to promote my work visa social media and adds such as Freebooksy etc, but lately the return doesn’t justify the expense. Besides, I’m not a big social media person, either, and I’m growing less and less enthusiastic due to what I encounter in many of the blogs or comments. My ebook library is brimming with interesting books that I grabbed for free or at a good price from the free or discounted book sites. I’ll never get them all read. But it’s great to have choices when you are looking for something to read. Other readers may be in the same situation and not loading up as much as they used to.

In addition, I’m noticing Christmas on the horizon which brings with it a deluge of birthdays, including mine. I’m expecting this to be one of the best Christmases in a while, and want to fully participate in the joy of the season. (Barring the vitriol of those who prefer to tear apart our country rather than offer solutions) I’m aware of the amazing country I live in and am grateful for the life I have been given. (a bit of a Thanksgiving message there).

Nevertheless, I’m excited about this last book in the Terran Trilogy called the Weight of Gravity. It may be one of the best yet. I’m currently working with professional designer Toni Boudreault to craft an exciting cover. The publication date had been pushed back due to various events outside of my control, but then both  G. Martin and P. Rothfuss have more than eclipsed my mere few weeks delay by years for their works without much suffering. Still, this last work will be published in 2018, and that’s a hard deadline.

After reading Kris’s blogs about her writing path, I decided to plunge into her Diving series. I scooped a novella from one of her promotions and realized that the series didn’t have anything to do with the ocean, but rather her female protagonist was after salvaging old spaceships for historical value. Well now, that sounded interesting.

The first in the series, Diving Into the Wreck, introduces the lead character who goes by the name of Boss. She searches for old abandoned spaceships, interested in their historical value. What she finds is a five-thousand-year-old derelict called a Dignity ship with dangerous, malfunctioning jump technology. Several divers in her crew die. The lost technology bends time and space, moving ships through dimensional space so they can travel huge distances in a short period of time.

This powerful technology is just what the Empire is searching for in order to tip the balance of power in its favor. Not wanting that outcome, Boss and her team go off the grid and try to work under the radar. The discovery leads them to the Room of Lost Souls where as a child, Boss watched her mother disintegrate and crumble with old age under the influence of the ancient technology.

But even though she was in the same room, Boss stayed unaffected. The experience scarred her, but now a client wants her to return and solve the mystery of that haunted and hidden place. However, the more they discover, the more dangerous she realizes the tech is.

Okay, so the story was way more intriguing than I expected. I liked the time jump idea and the lost technology from an Earth five thousand years ago and light years away in distance. The story was well-written with no grammar or plot problems except the tantalizing mystery of what they called a Dignity ship and its connection to the Room of Lost Souls.

So I dove (heh, heh) into the next book of the series called City of Ruins. At this point, years have passed. Boss has a salvage company with four ships and several crew. After finding the first Dignity ship with ancient stealth tech, she is quietly searching for more. A lead to a planet with mysterious holes that erupt without reason suggests ancient tech may be at work.

But the planet’s government is hesitant to let her explore too widely, saying that those who enter the caverns created by the holes are found dead by unknown forces. This information only fuels her interest, and she assembles a crew to investigate the underground caverns. She selects within her crew four others who are immune to the ancient tech’s effect because she senses its nearness.

A parallel story runs through the book of Captain “Coop” Cooper. He is one of many ships in the fleet defending Earth five thousand years in the past. During a vicious battle, he tries to jump away just as his ship is hit. The result traps him and his crew in foldspace where they may linger forever if they can’t figure a way out.

Far in the future, carefully exploring a cavern where several deaths occurred, Boss eventually discovers an enormous cavern where she senses the ancient tech she has been searching for. While investigating the area, someone activates the machinery and it pulls Coop’s trapped ship out of foldspace into what Boss comes to realize is a secret landing bay.

Wary at first, but relieved at landing in a repair bay, the crew of the Ivoire notices the arrival of strangers into the room and the odd timeworn condition of the bay. Several attempts at communication result in success wherein Boss shocks the Fleet’s crew with the information that they have traveled five thousand years into their future.

The third in this series is Boneyards. Captain “Coop” Cooper and crew are desperate to find a way back to their fleet and their old life. Boss wants to find stealth tech to combat the Empire. The Empire, meanwhile, is frantically trying to develop stealth tech on its own but doesn’t realize what it is and is making deadly mistakes. This book features “Squishy,” one of Boss’s crew members who worked for the Empire on stealth tech in her past and killed many people in the process.

The book jumps back and forth in her past and in Coop’s story. Squishy wants to find the tech and destroy it to absolve her sins while Coop is frantic to return to his time period and the fleet. Boss suggests they investigate old landing sites that were being constructed in the Fleet’s early days in order to find the tech to repair his Dignity ship.

Coop has to decide whether to help Boss attack the Empire or risk losing his way back with Squishy’s plan to destroy it.

So, the series was so much more exciting than I thought it would be. The characters are well drawn, the action interesting, and the plot of ancient stealth technology and time jumping was really cool. I plan to read more.

You should do a little investigating on your own with this one.

Kris’s blog: click on link

 

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Filed under Alien worlds, Alternate Reality in Literature, Alternate Universe Stories, Best selling author, Experiences in writing, Indie Science Fiction Authors, Publishing Trends, science fiction, Science Fiction book review, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, time travel

Seven Concepts for Writing Aliens in Science Fiction

 

A quick reminder that the Perseid Meteroid Showers are raining down on us. This year should be more impressive due to a diminished moon. But if you’re in a smoky environment because of fires, or the night is cloudy, then visibility could be poor. Check your weather.

Best of luck in viewing an amazing event from Earth.

                                      Aliens in science fiction  

The best place to find extreme characters or divergent world views is in science fiction because when writing, or reading best selling science fiction, usually there are aliens. As a writer, this can get tricky. For if your aliens are really different, i.e. alien, then most likely, your readers won’t understand or relate to them. This does not usually make for a good story. Your readers need to get engaged and identify with the characters in your book.

That is the reason I went with the Earth colony idea and threw in variances caused by a different environment. I wanted to write about characters that my readers could relate to.

Most of my characters are humanoid because it’s hard to love a slime worm or rancid igrot. Still in Past the Event Horizon just as they rediscover the alien signal, the crew on The Seeker discuss what might be out there in space, and what the aliens sending the signal might look like:

Here’s an excerpt from the book:

Idly Joel said, “What do you think they look like?”

Everyone paused.

“Surely someone has a bet?” commented Braden.

“I’ve got money on blobs that float,” answered Glaze. “They live in the ether and inhale methane.”

“Blobs?” Icabar snorted. “That’s ridiculous. You need dexterous digits to build a stargate.” He grinned and flexed his hand. “I’ll take your bet, and I’ll take your money.”

“It’s not a big bet.” Glaze shrugged.

“My money’s on a hive mind and insect-like creatures.” Icabar looked up. “The leader has a big brain and lots of worker bees.”

Solanje shook her head. “Insects stay small on Alysia because they can’t support a heavy exoskeleton under our gravity. No, I think maybe something with tentacles and eyes that shoot out on stalks. Something tall and skinny that survives in a light gravity.”

Glaze twirled around. “Tessa thinks they’re living plants with wavy fronds that walk on stalk legs.”

“Geesh, she would think something like that,” commented Icabar. “Just like a botanist.”

“Maybe they’re all hairy with ugly sharp teeth and red eyes,” offered Bashar.

“Putting money on that?” Icabar gave a grin.

Bashar smirked and shook his head.

“What about ghosts?” Joel blurted out. “Ghosts that glow in the dark.”

“I think bird creatures with wings,” Solanje chime in, flapping her arms.

“Yes, wings,” mumbled Joel.

Braden pursed his lips and thought. “They need digit-like hands so they can manipulate materials and build stuff. The need eyes to see and sensory equipment…feet and legs to walk with.”

The crew realized that they were parameters and rules that would dictate what an alien might look like, or how it might act.

Over the ages, science fiction stories have depicted many kinds of aliens.

Here are seven concepts to think about when writing aliens and my comments:

1. Aliens should be alien. This sounds pretty straight forward, but be careful with it. The problem is that it’s like trying to visualize the fifth dimension. One dimension…easy, two dimensions…easy, three dimensions– also easy. I live with them every day. The fourth dimension, dealing with time, I kinda get, but go past that and my mind starts to turn to jelly, trying to understand what other dimensions might look like. Same with an alien. If it’s truly alien, then how can I understand it or even try to write about it? Would my readers even care whether it lives or dies if they can’t understand it or empathize with it. So, maybe, somewhat alien? (Great title for a book… oh, one of mine.)

2. Aliens have their own history and story. What fun to construct a culture and history for an alien race. Going wild here.

3. Aliens that are naturally telepathic won’t grasp the concept of language. I have a few telepaths in my stories. In my most recent book, The Weight of Gravity, (coming out in September 2018) I have a very fun chapter where two characters can read minds at an Alysian Ball. What humans think to themselves in a crowd of others makes for hilarious writing. I have a language for the nontelepaths in the society because if your characters are all telepaths and don’t need language, then how on God’s green Earth are you going to write a book? Ummmm. No words.

4. Aliens that can’t hold a tool, won’t invent space ships. Love this one. So if your alien is a blob, or chittering insect, better have flexible mandibles if they are going to go far…like outer space.

5. If aliens have a different body chemistry (and alien means that they do) then they aren’t going to eat human food. And a corollary to that is that humans won’t be able to eat the alien food. Makes sense, but I bent the rules a little here. So if you have your characters land on an alien planet, they’d better be well supplied or they could starve. Still, playing around with humans reacting to alien food can be a lot of fun in a story.

6. If they don’t look human, then they most likely have a different definition of beauty. Silky filaments probably turn on the Jovian worm lord, but for you, me, and our reader…ugh. Maybe the males on Cassiopeia don’t appreciate the fine curves of Marilyn Monroe. Heh! Finally. I don’t mind competing with the three-eyed felix from Raegon … unless the judge is the three-eyed male felix.

7. Aliens should conform to their world’s environment. A tall skinny plant form would not grow successfully on a heavy gravity planet. Thus, if your alien is aquatic, his world would be dominated by water, or if his world is dry, his culture and physical form would reflect that. Remember Dune, and how that environment affected the natives there? How the spice affected them?

So here are seven concepts to consider when inventing aliens and an alien world. Maybe aliens aren’t visiting us because their worlds are too different, and our environment would kill them. Think of War of the Worlds. A very clever book.

So, writing about aliens provides rich fodder for your science fiction story as long as you keep a few concepts in mind.

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Aliens in Science Fiction, science fiction

Science Fiction Time Travel: A novel and a Series

Time travel is a popular theme in science fiction. It’s one I use throughout my main series, The Alysian Universe, and some in the second series, the Terran Trilogy.

For a while, I’ve had Time Salvager by Wesley Chu on my to-read list. Now that the rains have finally come to quench our Oregon fires, and Irma has blown away, I made time to read it.

The story: The far future is heavily polluted and Earth is dying. Humanity has fled to the stars to survive. Convicted criminal James Griffen-Mars is a Chronman, one of Chronocom’s more elite time traveler who ventures into the past to retrieve valuable items for various reasons. Retrieving a precious painting out of Hitler’s stolen stash for a wealthy client or bringing forward needed resources of food and energy is a dangerous job and takes a toll on all those trained to travel. Often, those in the cadre break down, either mentally or physically.

Close to burn-out, James takes one last lucrative job to retrieve a device off an oceanic rig that would halt the encroaching bloom of microscopic algae beginning to choke Earth’s waters. The job is risky since the past records an explosion, which destroyed the whole installation, killing everyone. Desperately needing the money for his retirement, James and his handler, Smitt, accept the job.

Upon arriving in the past, the clean air and clear waters provide a strong contrast to the ruined future James now inhabits. While attempting the snatch, James meets a sassy scientist, Elise Kim, with whom he forms an attachment. When the destruction event begins, for the first time in his career, James finds he can’t leave her behind to die and breaks the first law of time travel by bringing her forward with him to the future. The penalty is trial and death.

So, they run.

This makes both of them fugitives in a dystopian world.

However, Elise believes she can recreate the machine and save Earth’s current environment. Unfortunately, the mega corporation, Valta, had backed the venture and now wants James and Elise dead or captured due to their knowledge of the project. Their grip is strong on the present, and they do not want things changed.

This is the first book of currently two and is not a strand-alone. The other, Time Siege, continues the story.

I found this book to be one of fast-paced action, containing the usual big corporation against the-two-fugitive-lovers theme. I expected a more complete ending, but I might have to read the second novel to get the resolution I want. However, for time travel enthusiasts, it’s a good read and I recommend it.

Time Salvagers resonates with a current Netflix original series called Travelers, which I am currently watching. It has the same storyline of a polluted Earth with time travelers that invade the past to save the future. This series, however, is more complex and character driven. Travelers from the future take over bodies in the past as they are about to die. At the point of death, the original personality leaves, and the new future consciousness gains control. In this case, there are five travelers who are the main characters. Others show up throughout the story, but play minor roles. One traveler is an old man who finds himself in a teenage boy’s body. At first, the experience of a young,, healthy body is exhilarating, but then an abusive father and a strict high school system, complete with a circle of bullying football friends and bitch girlfriend, create difficulties. Another in the group of time travelers is a numbers genius who finds himself in an addict’s body. Able to make lucrative racing bets brings in wealth that soon feeds the addiction. He fights to stay coherent during missions and struggles with his new life. Another future traveler lands in the body of a black girl with a new baby and abusive husband, who is also a cop. Trying to juggle a young child, avoid a jealous, abusive husband, and complete dangerous missions soon becomes near impossible. Each of the travelers has to deal with difficult issues in their new lives while responding to orders from a shadowy Director that can come at any moment. A series of dangerous missions form each episode, each one leading up to the final mission which aims at saving Earth ‘s destruction…and then the aftermath.

For these travelers, returning to the future whatever it has become, is not an option. They will have to adapt to their new personalities and their new lives—and that may be the hardest mission of all.

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Filed under science fiction, time travel

A “Cool” Science Fiction, Cyberpunk Read.

 

 

 

This week I have two exciting blogs to share. One compares 100k authors ($5000 per month) to Emerging Authors. ($500 per month) to see what makes them different. This is a study done by Ferol who is COO of Written Media, parent company to Freebooksy, Bargain Booksy and other ad sites. The survey covers responses from 38,000 authors. The findings are interesting. Here are eight takeaways from the survey.

1. The longer an author has been writing, the more money they tend to make. So if you’re struggling with just a book or two, have patience. Persistence is key. Keep writing.

2. Publishing Indie is a viable way to success. Of those in the 100K, 72% were Indie and 28% were hybrid. Although authors in the survey were more Indie authors than purely traditionally published authors (5%), none of the traditionally published authors were in the 100K pool. Realize that authors like James Patterson didn’t take the survey, so it’s skewed a bit to Indie authors. Those in the hybrid group had 28% in the 100K versus 17% in the Emerging Authors group.

3. “Going Wide” or limiting to KDP Select didn’t make a difference in how much money the authors made.

4. The 100K group spent more than $100 on professional looking book covers. However, none spent over $1000. Looking professional is key but you don’t have to spend a fortune doing it.

5. Also key is spending money for a professional editor. Ninety-six percent of the 100K group spent for professional editing. Half spent at least $250-500 while 20% spent $500 to $1000. Fifty-six percent of Emerging Authors spent up to $50 but realized how important it was to at least have another pair of eyes on their work.

6. As to marketing, in both $100K category and Emerging Authors, the author handles marketing. Even so, the authors that make more money often hire assistants to help with their marketing.

7. Don’t quit your day job. Sixty-six percent of Emerging Market Authors are supported by a day job by either themselves or a spouse. Twenty-eight percent of $100K have the support of a day job.

8. And finally… The more hours writing=more books=more payout. Emerging Authors write 19.8 hours per week while 100K spent 28.5 hours.

These are quick highlights of an interesting survey. For you number geeks who like more details, including graphs and numbers, go to:

https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/2017/06/07/100k-author

Next, check out Sandra Beckwith’s blog. Sandra Beckwith has been in the book business a long time offering advice through blogs and books. Recently at a convention, she realized there are five things she thought authors knew, but apparently they don’t. Here are the five. For explanations on each, check out her blog at :

https://buildbookbuzz.com/5-things-I-thought-you-knew/

1. A traditional book contract isn’t an option for most authors-to-be. Too many believe the myth of write a book, send to a publisher, and become famous. Unless you have a big following or are related to the owner of the publishing house, self publishing is a better option for the new writer.

2. Readers don’t care when your book was published, they just want a good story. This goes against the old ways when a book earned the most money at launch; then a few weeks later was abandoned. Now it isn’t so. I doubled my income in my second year and increased my income in the third year. Books don’t have a shelf life anymore. They can be available for a long time.

3. Even authors with traditional publishers have to promote their books.

4. If your book looks and reads like a traditionally published book, no one will know it’s self-published.

5. People will disappoint you. You thought your mother or mother -in-law or sister would jump for joy at your publishing a book. What you heard was, “I don’t read science fiction.” (true story) Find those readers who love what you write and don’t worry about friends and family…unless they love what you write. Then cherish them. (true story there, too)

Okay, great stuff here to help think through what it is to be a successful author.

On to this week’s book suggestion.

This week I found a fresh fun book in the cyberpunk, mystery, humor style. Think Blade Runner meets Dashiell Hammett with humor. Liquid Cool by Austin Dragon was free on an ad site with a great cover and intriguing title. It starts off slow. The first several chapters have different viewpoint characters.

And then there is an odd murder.

Once the story settles into Cruz’s steady viewpoint, the story takes off. A main feature of the book is the setting. It takes place in the future in a crowded megacity city where it constantly rains. (Portland?) Cruz repairs and builds classic cars, but can barely make ends meet. The society is rigidly structured with well-delineated areas, Uptop being where the richest hang out.

Easy Chair Charlie, one of Cruz’s friends, gets killed and the glib explanation that he started a shootout with police doesn’t ring true with Cruz. Cruz has a bit of ADD and is a germaphobe, which makes him quite the character. He is a bull dog who won’t let go when a puzzle confronts him. He begins to poke around, and soon is asked by his friend Run-Time, who manages a transportation service, to look into who killed Easy Chair Charlie.

Next thing Cruz knows, he’s being called a detective, given an office, and the case is getting more and more complicated. Although his life is threatened numerous times, he’s willing to continue for the thrill of it. Beside, he needs a steady job to impress the snobby parents of his fiancé, China Doll.

The names in the story are a hoot, and there’s quite a bit of humor along with the fast-paced action. Expect twists and turns as Cruz deals with crazy in-laws-to-be, a strong-willed girlfriend, and danger around every wet and slippery turn.

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Filed under Cyberpunk, ebook marketing, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction, Science Fiction Detective Story, Science Fiction Mystery, science fiction series, Self-publishing

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 Science Fiction Author Greets the Holidays

IMG_0165The holidays are upon me.

Christmas horn

I’ll never get everything done.

I say this every year and, somehow, Christmas happens…but right now, I’m overwhelmed and my feet hurt. Once a year, my daughter and I do a Christmas window shopping excursion at the mall complete with a tasty lunch, laughter, and lots of gift suggestions. Everything she tries on, she looks great in. This year her mother-in-law, Nancy, joined us and made it even more festive.

We don’t buy, we just take notes. Then I go back and pick out what I want to give her/them.

Why am I telling you this?

I haven’t been reading, and I have barely been writing. I am finishing up edits and working on marketing in addition to the usual household craziness.

I’m makingChristmas horn excuses for a late blog.

Since I’m writing the next book in the Terran Series provisionally called Somewhat Alien, I’m focused on writing tips. I could go on a rant about all the current rules of writing…especially “show don’t tell.” Critiques concentrate so much on the details of writing that often they miss the forest for the trees.

Luckily, I have an author in my writing group who questions pacing and the overall balance of plot and characters. Sometimes it’s good to back up and get a viewpoint on your overall story.

A recent blog on this that I just read is: https://www.thebookdesigner.com/2016/11/rhythm-and-pacing-of-writing-the-final-flourish/

Read through to remind yourself to back up and look at the overall story as you are writing.

On the marketing front, on Cyber Monday, I offered Someone’s Clone for free on Booksends. I figured lots of people would be checking their e-mails for deals, and there I’d be.

The results were disappointing for all that brilliance of thought, the follow-on sales thin, although follow on results have just begun. I don’t know if this is due to the ad site or mostly how busy everyone is. This book is rarely offered free, so if anyone else has used Booksends, I’d be interested in their results. Not long ago, I mentioned Jason B. Ladd’s website where authors are recording results from various add sites to compare which works best. Of course, the book itself plays an important part in success or failure of the effort.

http://www.jasonbladd.com/indielisters/

However, not to be dissuaded, I’m once again offering my first in a series, Caught in Time on December 19 on Book Barbarian. For the price, it got good results recently. I’m thinking people will be buying new tablets as gifts and will be looking to load exciting stories onto them. Then on December 26, I’ll offer it again. Readers should be done with parties and want a quiet read. I’ve picked Fussy Librarian as my ad booster site then. It has gotten good reviews with a low cost.

I’m not doing book fairs or signings. In the past, they have been expensive and not cost effective. If they have worked for you, tell me how…I’m interested.

tinkers-daughterThis week I’m going to mention a suggestion given to me by another avid science fiction reader. Ted Blasche has written The Rust Bucket Chronicles, a military science fiction with humor and romance along the lines of Lois Bujold. He e-mailed me and suggested I read the Tinkerer’s Daughter by Jamie Sedgwick. When I went looking for an Amazon best seller, there it was.

Breeze is an outcast, born of an elven mother and a human father, who is recalled to a war between elf and human that has been going on for a thousand years. The safest place he could leave her is with a tinker who makes noisy inventions and dangerous machines. Kids at school bully her, and she has to hide her elven ears to protect herself from the townsmen who see her race as the enemy.  Then, she gets an idea that could stop the war and save the planet if it works. If it doesn’t she could be hunted down for treason and killed.

Mixed reviews suggest you consider whether this is your style of story, but my friend gave it two thumbs up, and I plan to read it soon.tinkers-war

If you’re looking for other ideas, there are a number of series that I haven’t had time to follow up on : Chris Rehner, (Catalyst), Bella Forest (The Star King), any Sharon Lee and Steve Miller in the Liaden series, and maybe you might consider my Alysian series. The later books get even better. Or scan through my two years of blogs on great science fiction reads.

Whatever you have time for, I hope your holidays are filled with fun and good company. Laugh, love, visit with friends, and have a good time.Christmas horn

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Filed under Best selling science fiction, book fairs, ebook marketing, fantasy series, Liaden Universe, Marketing and selling novels, military science fiction, Political science fictionLois McMasters Bujold, science fiction, science fiction series