Tag Archives: Catherine Asaro

Ad Survey for Self Publishers

Happy Autumn!

As my blog readers know, I often talk about marketing. I do this not because I’m any marketing guru, but because I like to share information in the hopes it will help other authors out there. I occasionally use ad sites. When I don’t, sales slump, and when I do, sales do better…depending on the effectiveness of the site.

That’s why over the last two years, I have participated in Jason B. Ladd’s survey on results authors have found for various ad sites. Before I was buying blind on whether they were effective or not. Even though his samples are small, they do shed light on some of the sites and their effectiveness.

Of course, genre plays a role. Robin Reads appears to favor the romance writer whereas Book Barbarian is limited to science fiction and fantasy only. Bookbub is the clear winner for garnering most downloads and sales, but very expensive and practically impossible to get accepted unless you have a million five star reviews. Also, I notice lots of famous author’s backlists show up there, most likely supported by traditional publishers. Amy Tam has listed and Isaac Asimov, Gordon Dickson and others listed recently. I’m not in that league … yet.

So, Jason and helpers took all the results of ads sent in by self publishing authors and compiled the results to see if the promotions are worthwhile. He asked the question : Is spending money on ad sites worth it? Here’s a good look at how the ads broke down by genre and what you can expect to pay and what you can expect to receive in downloads and sales.

Here’s the link : http://www.jasonbladd.com/run-book-promotion-numbers-say-yes/

In addition, he has published a book on how to get reviews called Book Review Bonzai. I need reviews, but when I read the method, it looked like a lot of difficult work. It involves using software programs that scrapes the internet for reviewers, putting information on a spread sheet to keep track, and batch e-mailing them to ask for a review. It works, but sounded very time-consuming.

Besides, I’m a reviewer who likes to choose what I review rather than be hounded into writing one. Nonetheless, this may just be what you are searching for to pump up your reviews. Having a good number of reviews is important as often certain advertisers require a minimum number before accepting your novel. This could be the very tool you have been looking for to increase your reviews.

This week for my science fiction suggestion, I’m returning to a favorite author.

Catherine Asaro has just released the next in her Skolian Saga called The Bronze Skies. This is a stand alone in the story of Major Bhaajan who comes from the Under City of the City of Cries. She calls it book eight in the Skolian Empire series but it follows the more recent Undercity title published last year.

The story:

Born into the slums below the City of Cries on the planet Raylicon, the orphan Bhaajan broke free of her crushing poverty and joined the military. There she rose in rank to become a military officer with the Imperial Space Command. Now she is retired and offers her service as a private investigator. Undercity tells the story of her first investigation, which I reviewed last year.

The Bronze Skies continues her story, as she takes on solving an odd murder witnessed by the Ruby Pharoah.

The House of Majda rules the City of Cries and Cries rules the planet Raylicon. Three formidable sisters hold power in the house of Majda. The oldest, Vaj Majda, serves as the General in the Pharaoh’s Army which makes her joint Commander of the Imperial Space Command. The youngest, Colonel Lavinda Majda, is a high Commander in the military, and the third, Corejida Majda  runs the finances of the empire.

The Ruby Pharaoh, Dyhianna Selei (Skolia), is descended from the Ruby Empire, a far-flung civilization that at one time stretched across the stars. It collapsed, and now an elected Assembly rules. Dyhianna, as the Ruby Pharaoh, controls and monitors the interstellar meshes that tie humanity together. The meshes even extend into a different universe, Kyle space. You couldn’t visit the Kyle but you could transform your thoughts there if you were a trained operator with proper enhancements. This enables instant communication light years across interstellar civilization. The Ruby Pharaoh has to have a certain genetic lineage to give her this ability.

The murderer is Jagernaut Daltona Calaj who walks into the financial office at Selei City on the planet of Parthonia and shoots the aide Tavan Ganz. Jagernauts are thought to be unable to murder like that.

Major Bhaajan gets involved when the Ruby Pharoah claims to have witnessed the murder and suggests the AI node implanted in the jugernaut’s spine may have been corrupted. And now, the murderer, Calaj, is on Rayliccon and suspected of hiding out in the Under City—Bhaajan’s old stomping grounds where very few upper level humans can survive.

The Under City is a place of scavengers, of a hidden people who never see the sun and live a brutal existence. For ages, they have been ignored by the upper class citizens of Cries who live on the surface, and only recently recognized. Because she was born there and lived a brutal childhood there, Bhaajan knows the lingo, the culture, and the people. The crime boss of an illegal brothel and gambling house is her lover. So she is uniquely qualified to track down the illusive culprit who is said to be hiding there. Her search into the underground and where the trail leads makes the story more than a simple murder.

I found the story appealing on various levels. Bhaajan is an interesting character with conflicting emotions concerning her background and current status in a highly stratified society. This is an involved universe, so be prepared for clumps of background information to be dumped into the story to keep you up-to-date.

Bhaajan has an implanted, sentient AI that has formed a close bond and they have an ongoing conversation with each other, which I find delightful. Her body has been augmented, making her powerful physically. Her relationship with Jak, who grew up with her, is a sensual one and conflicted, although her one goal is to better the people of Undercity. This society is rich in culture and forms an intriguing storyline in and of itself.

But most interesting is the desert ruins outside of Cries, hinting of a long gone civilization and visitors from the stars that originally colonized the plant, and then mysteriously disappeared. Within these ruins, she discovers powerful AIs who are maintained by a mysterious cult of cloned telepaths…and one rogue AI that awakens from a crashed starship and is out to destroy all humans

At the center, is Dryhianna, whose mind grapples with the artificial intelligence within the mesh and Kyle space, and discovers this hidden and powerful AI that wants to wipe out all humans.

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Science Fiction and Fantasy Picks for 2016

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Dialogue. A great book often has witty dialogue…and Scott Lynch has witty dialogue in spades. His characters’ conversations reveal the bond of friendship that runs deep in spite of outrageous adventures. So, I’m looking forward to his next book, Thorn of Emberlain. This is an author who I have already read and loved.Thorn of Emberlain

Three Body ProblemThe number one reason a reader picks a certain book is usually word of mouth. A member in my Powell’s reading group shook my arm and insisted that I read The Three-Bodied Problem by Cixin Liu. After checking out strong reviews, I added it to my list.

The second reason most reader select a book is because they already like other books by that author. I’ve read and enjoyed  a number of Katherine Asaro other books. Many of her works have won awards, most notably The Quantum Rose, which won the Nebula in 2001. So, when I saw she had a new one out, I put The Veiled Web on my list. She’s good at science fiction romance with a heavy science emphasis since she has a PHD in Physics.

The Veiled WebRookie Privateer I found as a free book that piqued my interest. A lot of my bloggers like military science fiction, so, hey, this one is for you guys. Subject matter is a major reason to select a certain book.Rookie Privateer

They say a cover often sells a book, and in the case of A Child of Our Time, that’s what happened. This was also found on a free book website. I also liked the title and subject matter. However, it only had one review. Knowing how hard reviews are to come by,
I decided to take a chance, go wild and put it on the list. In this case, I have nothing to lose. It’s only 123 pages, however, but part of an ongoing series. I’ll sample this and see if I want to continue with the rest.

So here are the next five:A Child of Our Time

Thorn of Emberlain by Scott Lynch
The Three Bodied Problem Cixin Liu
A Child of Our Time William Bowden
The Veiled Web Katherine Asaro
Rookie Privateer Jamie McFarlane

I know with the arrival of the new year, most readers and authors are organizing their calendar for 2016. To help you with some good advice, I found this website:

https://geediting.com/blog/the-120-best-websites-for-writers-2015/

The 120 best websites for writers. I have used several of these websites to help me in my writing one way or another. Maybe they can help you too.

So that’s the second half of my list of ten for 2016. I hope you have a wonderful year and read many great books.

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Ebook Marketing: Science Fiction

photo Fame is fleeting.

But so sweet in the moment.

Yesterday Caught in Time made #1 in Amazon’s Free Kindle>science fiction>space opera bestseller list.

Oh the glory.

Today…now that my promotion is over, I’m swimming in the deep ocean of paid Kindle eBooks. Sigh. Like I said…fleeting. But wonderful, nonetheless.

However, sales for books in the rest of the series have picked up briskly and I’m hoping readers will explore further the Alysian Universe. Later books are more adult, and I hope the YA flavor of the earlier ones won’t deter readers.

So read on, you all. Select a book from the series, huddle under the covers, and let those cold winds blow outside while you explore another world and keep warm. Undercity

Does the series idea work? I just finished reading Catherine Asaro’s latest novel, Under City and renewed my love for her stories. She is beginning a new detective series with a female protagonist, Major Bhaajan, former military officer with Imperial Space Command, now a hard bitten P.I. She takes on a case that unearths her poverty stricken past and turns up old loves and old enemies. A prince of the royal family has disappeared and her job is to find him. The trail leads downward where she not only has to save the prince, but possibly a whole way of life hidden underground.

Asaro brings deep emotions and romance to science fiction. Once a ballet dancer and also a producer of a jazz album, Asaro carries heavy credentials in the smart department with a M.A. in Physics and a Ph.D. in Chemical Physics from Harvard. This stretch of hard science combined with artistic talent is reflected in her writing. Two time Nebula Award winner, her series in the Skolian Universe is one of my favorites. Lightning Strike

While this new series slides down the social scale, diving underneath the city of Cries to a place where survival is a day by day struggle, several royal members from past books make cameo appearances. The new reader takes scant notice, but for her fans, the chords from past novels are plucked and resonate in memory.The City of Cries Of course, I recommend Under City if you are an Asaro fan.

One of the reasons I like science fiction is that I like to wonder what the future might bring. If you’re like me…then this article on Kurtzweil’s predictions for the next twenty-five years might pique your interest. It’s my nod to you hard science guys who have been so patient lately while I’ve dallied in fantasy. http://www.inquisitr.com/1805304/ray-kurzweil-predicts-some-fantastic-things-coming-in-the-next-25-years/

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Science Fiction Marketing and a few Sequels

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Before reviewing two sequels, I want to mention two new marketing programs I have recently experienced.

The first came about when Catherine Asaro showed up to follow me on Twitter. Wow! Me!

Her series of the Skolian Universe is one of my favorites. (Received a Nebula for A Quantum Rose ) and I dream….dream of having my Alysian series do anywhere near as well as hers. So I was excited when she popped up in my e-mail and wanted to tweet me.

Turns out she was putting out the word for an innovative Kickstarter Program for an audible book, Aurora in Four Voices. The goal was $4500 and by the time I tweaked to what she was doing, she had exceeded that goal reaching $5595 with 121 backers and promising to write a new novella for the series if she got to $9000 by the deadline…and it looks like that might happen.Aurora in Four Voices

The idea of funding books, and other projects, with Kickstarter is getting a lot of notice resulting in notable success stories. Most likely you need to be as famous as Asaro or have a compelling story to tell to achieve your goal, but it’s gaining enough traction to keep an eye on and think about.

The other new marketing program I want to mention is Amazon’s Countdown Deal. I found the five days free with KDP Select extremely successful, so I decided to try the CountDown also, as an experiment.

Often five days, especially over a weekend, isn’t enough time for some busy readers to act on a special. However, if you missed my KDP Select deal, (and many didn’t) here is another opportunity to get Caught in Time at a discount. Starting July 6 at .99 the price escalates every three days for twelve days and then the price resumes at the normal retail rate of $3.99…still a bargain, and you have twelve days to act…although time is already running out. Tap on the cover at the right, open the window to Amazon to get the current status, get a great price and enjoy a fun adventure through time to a medieval past.

I am currently #84 out of the hundreds of time travel books and moving up. *smile*

For all the commotion and negative comments currently going around about Amazon, if you are an author and want to sell books, Amazon does it far better than any other venue. They also strive to come up with ways to help market your book if you are an author, or help you find what you want to read if you’re a reader.

I am both, and grateful.

It’s unfortunate that success often makes you a target. I don’t remember the big publishers having such tender hearts over fledgling authors back in their day. If they deigned to respond at all, they called the tune and made the authors dance through their narrow publishing gate. Now they’re trying to characterize Amazon as the greedy guy? And…The big chain stores that squeezed out the mom and pop bookstores are suddenly calling Amazon a bully? How memories fade.

Deep breath.

Leviathan WakesWhen I suggest a series, I usually start with the first book of the series in my review. If I really like the series, often I continue on with other books in that series. This week, I want to briefly mention a few. Sometimes it’s worthwhile to know whether to start a series or not.

The first comment is from the Expanse Series. See my opinion on Leviathan Wakes in my June 9th blog. James S. A. Corey’s (pen name of Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck) third book. Abaddon’s Gate, continues this saga. It didn’t disappoint.

The story continues as the proto molecule escapes Venus and hurtles out to Uranus where it creates a self assembling ring or gate. James Holden and crew join ships from Mars, Earth and the Outer Belt to investigate the strange structure. Neither one wants the other to get an advantage over them in the exploration of space, so all parties show up. Drawn through the structure at high speeds, all ships suddenly come to a deadly halt and are forced into a slow crawl with many suffering damaged crew, cargo, ship and passengers. On the other side of the ring only empty dark space is visible.Abaddon's Gate

Without going into too much detail, so as not to spoil the story, a new character is introduced who wants to kill Jim Holden. So intrigue and drama continue in this third of the series. How will Holden survive and dodge an assassin’s obsession? What message does the proto molecule alien deliver to Holden through the now dead Detective Miller? What political intrigue results as ships jockey to survive and conquer each other?

The bottom line…Did I like it? Yes. And if you liked the first two, you will also like this one.

There is also a fourth coming up…Cibola Burns. Hatchette has priced the Kindle at $12.99 and hardback at $25.Cibola Burn

Envision me ranting on a worn-out soapbox.

Another third book in a fantasy series with the same results is the Republic of Thieves by hot author Scott Lynch.

Republic of thievesThe Republic of Thieves picks up from the dramatic conclusion of Red Seas Under Red Skies and starts with Locke Lamora dying. After exhausting every avenue and every local physician, stalwart companion Jean convinces Locke to enter into a pact with the Bondsmagi to save his life.

In return for purging Locke’s body of the sorcerer’s poison, Jean and Locke agree to orchestrate a winning ticket for the Deep Roots party in Karthain, Capitol of the sorcerers. Unbeknownst, but not for long, the opposite party, The Black Iris, will be run by Sabatha, Locke’s up to now mysterious love, briefly mentioned in the two previous books, Two stories of their relationship alternate throughout this book. Once again, all three are up to their eyeballs in chicanery, manipulation, a Shakespearean style play and all around laugh out loud bantering dialog.

Again…a great read.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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