Tag Archives: Indie publishing

Black Holes as Gentle Portals?

At last!

Pop the cork and pour the champagne. The last book in the Terran Trilogy is published.

Weight of Gravity.  By me.

Now I just how to figure out the marketing and letting my readers know about it. Spread the word.

A lot of advisors urge authors to begin marketing months in advance, but it worked out better that no firm date was set and no program was in place. That would have been embarrassing because the Beta readers delayed, my cover artist had life setbacks, and the holiday interrupted my work. Then the editing began.

And now, the final publishing date has been made all the sweeter.  YEA.

In this final Terran version, Elise lands on the planet Alysia, but her start there is a struggle. Terrans and Alysians clash. The Alysians abduct several female invaders to sell into a slave ring, and Richard Steele is called upon to find them and get them back … two from the harem of Khalib Allfyre.

I love a desert adventure.

But that is the least of his problems. Time-traveling daughter Tempest shows up from the future to warn him of a probable attack from hostile aliens. He scrambles to once again set up a defense for Alysia.

This time, the ships are identified as part of the Fleet of the Fallen, the ships that attacked both Elise’s fleet and Braden Steele’s ships. Definitely hostile, they are searching to take over Alysia and make it their own.

I love this story and there’s a lot of action and character interaction in it.

But I do want to stand on my soapbox and rant a bit. Because when you have a blog, you can … judiciously.

When an author writes science fiction, he or she deals a lot in imagination mixed with science. Some of that science, such as wormholes, faster than light travel, and other stuff is accepted in the science fiction circles while not fully proven in the real realm.

One thing I hear constantly repeated in the many documentaries I view is the scientists saying that what they found was not what they expected. I’m amazed at how new discoveries are radically changing our knowledge and vision of the universe since my days of studying astronomy in high school.

Even worse, my father earnestly said that we would never leave the Earth because we didn’t have enough power to get the velocity to escape Earth’s gravity.

Well … that proved to be false. Ask a few astronauts,

And, our knowledge continues to expand as we send out more and more probes and craft such as the Voyager 1 and now Voyager 2, which just left our solar system for interstellar space.

We’re finally getting out there for a better look, but the going is slow due to the vast distances we have to travel. Until we see up close, then, we can’t know for certain what a black hole is or how it reacts. In fact, not many years ago, they were considered merely theoretical, and non-existent by some.

Now we accept them, and in fact, scientists are saying there is one at the center of most solar systems. They also add that there are several types of black holes, each with different behaviors. After reading the following report, I decided to include a black hole in my first book, A World Too Far, because, it was just too juicy an item to leave out of a spacefaring story. Because this genre is called science fiction, I wove the known science and my imagination together to serve the story.

Ask Ray Bradbury if that can work.

But a few readers protested the scene.

What I want to say is that we know very little about black holes, even now. In fact in the following link, Gauray Khanna, Professor of Physics at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth and his Ph.D. student Caroline Mallary built a computer model in 2016 that captured the essential physical effects on a spacecraft, or any large object, falling into a large rotating black hole like Sagittarius A. Professors Khanna and Lior Burko have been investigating the physics of black holes for over two decades, so they are not novices to the subject.

What Mallary discovered was that “under all conditions an object falling into a rotating black hole would not experience infinitely large effects upon passage through the hole’s so-called inner horizon singularity.”
Not only that, … “under the right circumstances, these effects may be negligibly small, allowing for a rather comfortable passage through the singularity.”

In the film, Interstellar, Cooper (Matthew McConaughey’s character) survived his fall into a supermassive rotating black hole.

No one blinked. No one ranted. The response was…science fiction… how interesting.

At least as far as I’m aware.

So, believe it or not, I do a lot of research for my stories, and then add in imagination that serves the story. In fact, for Weight of Gravity, I used an actual transcript from a shuttle launch at NASA to try to get the dialogue right.

Okay, I’m going to step down. But I want to point out that there is a lot we still have to learn about our universe and possible other universes out there, and no one has all the answers yet.

But isn’t it fun to speculate?

Here’s the link for the whole story:https://theconversation.com/rotating-black-holes-may-serve-as-gentle-portals-for-hyperspace-travel-107062

Spring is on its way. Unfortunately, this weekend, so is possible snow.

Stay warm and read a good book. I’ve got a good suggestion. (see above)

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Filed under Cutting Edge Science ideas, first contact, science fiction, science fiction science, science fiction series, time travel

A Way to Expand Your Readers

Sometimes a light bulb goes off in a person’s head, and he or she suddenly understands something they had not been aware of before.

Such was the case with me this morning.

I’ve been writing about Earth humans landing on an alien world where the indigenous species is similar to them, but different enough to cause conflict. So, when I saw the blurb on Lisa Locke’s novel, Between Mountain and Sea: Paradisi Chronicles, free on Freebooksy recently, I went to snatch it up. Turns out, I had already downloaded it. It tells the story of a migration from Earth to an alien planet where the natives are very human in appearance.

That sounded similar to my Terran Trilogy, so I wanted to see how another author handled that theme. I started reading from my Kindle library. The story is very readable, although I figured out the big secret a quarter of the way through.

Mei Lin is a young Chinese girl who is descended from the powerful Yu family that now dominates the Earth colony of New Eden. Due to Earth’s climate change, cyber wars, nuclear proliferation, ten people called the Founders, come together to create the Paradisi Project which has the objective to find a habitable planet and build a fleet to escape Earth for a better place to live.

Many years later, the project succeeds in discovering such a world in the Andromeda Galaxy and sends ten ships with 10,000 people each, mainly from the Yu family, their staff, and loyal supporters. One ship, the S.S.Challenger is left behind as a prototype for more ships to follow.

Mei Lin is a descendent from these originals and was born on New Eden where men dominate the family. She is the only girl of six brothers and, after a botched eye surgery, is sent to recuperate at their estate, Mrnyddamore. The estate is far out in the country close to villages of the planet’s original inhabitants. She forms a bond to these simple people who have hidden psychic abilities.

So the story has a similar flavor to my Terran Trilogy. And… the name Paradisi Project was tickling my memory. Still authors occasionally use the same title as other authors. Since I’ve published my first book, Caught in Time, three other authors have come out with the same title, which doesn’t make me happy. Anyway…

I kept reading.

Mei Lin finds a hidden diary written by a long ago descendant who was one of the First Founders and who built Mynyddamore, the estate where she is recuperating. She writes about her life to a young boy who was supposed to come on the S.S.Challenger and join the colony later, but she hears nothing about the ship. From there on out, the book jumps back and forth between the story of Mabel, her great, great, great grandmother and Mei Lin’s current life.

Of course, there is tension between the indigenous people and the growing colony, along with Mei Lin and her own family. As Mei Lin learns more about the early colony and herself, she is drawn into events and soon becomes embroiled in its conflict.

I liked the story and was intrigued by the author’s telling of a similar theme as mine. Then, I came to the back matter in the book.

That’s when the light bulb went on.

The Paradiso Project is an open source world where authors are invited to write their own stories within that world. Sixteen authors are listed along with their books. I recognized two of them immediately.

I had read Andy McKell’s novel, Faces of Janus and have its sequel, Janus Challenge,  in my library, ready to read. Also, in my library, is Cheri Lasota’s Sideris Gate.

Andy is a frequent commentator on my blog and has several more novels out in the Paradisi Universe. As does Cheri and other authors.

Cheri Lasota is another northwest author who I met personally at a book talk a few years back. When I saw her book in an ad site, I tucked it into my library. Now I plan to be even more diligent in reading these two authors to see how they interpret this universe.

In an explanation about the project, Lisa Locke says that the inspiration for the collaboration came from world renown author Hugh Howey. He opened up his own world of Wool to other authors who have written their stories in that universe and encouraged her to do the same.

If you are writing space opera or building a world, inviting other authors to write in your world may be one way to expand your reader base. Bundling several of these stories into an anthology may be another step to increase awareness of your work and build sales. Fans from one author may be lured over to another author’s work.

Of course, you may want to have some control over the stories and agreement with the other authors so that they are well-written and reflect favorable on your world. But a collaboration could be fun and profitable for all concerned.

As the Indie wave of writers increases, clever authors are looking for new ways to be discovered in order to expand their readers and their sales.

This idea may be a way for you to do just that.

*Hello from Oregon*

enjoy the rain

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Filed under Alien and human bonding, alien life forms, Alien pets in science fiction, Alien worlds, Hugh Howey, Indie Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, science fiction series

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

Authors Behaving Badly

 

Over the years I have been blogging, I have included marketing ideas for my reader/authors. I have heard about the importance of search optimization for algorithms that boost books up the best seller list, and how many authors are putting together boxed sets either with other authors or as a solo collection. Many authors were exchanging reviews to build their best seller presence and qualify for choice promotions. (read Bookbub) I figured there was a secret marketing formula only certain publishers knew, but I would share what worked for me, and what didn’t, because it was a hard game at best.

But recently, an interesting blog came out concerning the marketing machinations of romance writers in an attempt to game the system. Lately there has been an uproar over what is being called Cockygate. Sarah Jeong from the Verge explains the details in her blog and various other questionable marketing strategies employed by a group of romance writers. They skirted the edge of legitimacy using Kindle Unlimited in an attempt to make big bucks.

And make the big bucks they did… at readers’ expense.

Here’s the Link : Sarah Jeong’s article in Verge titled “Bad Romance.”

Does it seem that lately a vomiting of bad behavior has dominated the headlines of the day? Yes, journalists know that exposés make for more readers and, in the past, the news pandered to sensationalism; but recently, I’ve been appalled and exhausted by the constant stream of humans behaving badly. And now, a group of romance writers has given genre authors a bad name.

As Kris Rusch says, we should write our books to tell the story we have to tell, not because a particular story is in vogue or other writers in your genre dictate a certain storyline.

This summer seems to be a round of cleaning up messes: whether it’s Facebook and Twitter taking down bot and fake accounts, or women outing sex offenders, or Amazon cleaning up reviews–and more. I own a Tesla and love it. I am incensed at the flagrant lies being bandied about by short sellers, and maybe oil interests shills, on a company trying to do some good for this world. Besides, the car is a…a…awesome.

Okay. Sounding like a soapbox? Sorry. I get worked up in my advancing age at stupid, self-serving antics.

However, along these lines, and because of bad behavior, we now have to include some statement concerning privacy in our blogs. I’m a bit confused about it. It pertains mostly to the EUROPEAN countries and a new law they have there, but since a lot of my readers come from there, here it goes. The secret here is that I’m not someone who wants or even knows how to sell others’ personal information. I’m daily fighting off unsolicited trick phone calls and email scams of my own that are very clever at deception in order to gain information and steal my identity. They finally arrested some of those IRS callers who threatened to send out the cops if I didn’t give them money for alleged debts owed. (Yikes!)    I need a kitten picture… Thanks.   

Okay, back on track… the statement :

Privacy Policy

The following is an attempt to comply with the currently unclear requirements of the European Union’s GDPR regulation.
This new law became effective on 25th May 2018.
“GDPR” means the Regulation (EU) 2016/679 of the European Parliament and the Council of 27 April 2016 on the protection of natural persons with regard to the Processing of Personal Data and on the free movement of such data and repealing Directive 95/46/EC (General Data Protection Regulation).

1. Data Collection
All signups and subscriptions to my publications including, but not exclusively, blog posts and newsletters are voluntary.
1.1. Blog Posts: subscribers choose to click the “Follow Me” link on my posts.
1.2. Website: subscribers choose to sign up via links in my novels, on social media, on my email footer, or as part of a giveaway or promotion or contest.
I never have and never will use addresses purchased from or shared by any sources other than sharing updates on my work if given permission.

2. Information Collected
1.1. When you choose to sign-up to follow my blog posts at https://www.scifibookreview.com my blog hosting provider collects for me:
Email address.
1.3. When you choose to apply to be a beta reader or advance reviewer my mailing list provider collects for me information used to assess your eligibility such as, but not exclusively:-
Given name and family name.
Email address.
Which of my books you have read or liked best.
Which other books you have been a beta reader for and/or reviewer of.

3. Privacy Guarantee
I never have and never will sell or voluntarily make available to anyone else the details you provide to me.

4. Unsubscribing and Right of Removal
The unsubscription is instant and automatic. You will not hear from me again, except to receive a “Confirmation of Unsubscription” email.
At the foot of every newsletter and blog post notification I send out is an Unsubscribe link.
WordPress users are able to Unsubscribe from my blog posts via https://wordpress.com/following/manage/.
Other subscribers to my blog can Unsubscribe via https://subscribe.wordpress.com/.
If you have any queries or contributions to make, please address them to me at shmccartha@gmail.com.

 THE SPARK by David Drake

Have I gotten you stirred up enough? Maybe you just need to find a good book and immerse yourself in another world and escape this for a bit. Now if you want a world of medieval magic with a King Arthur flavor, then try The Spark by David Drake.

Ages ago, the universe was united, but now the world is broken, chopped up into small town enclaves with pockets of wilderness holding evil humans and hostile alien monsters. A leader called Dun Add is trying to bring back civilization through his Champions that travel on roads of reality throughout the world where they dispense law and justice.

In the many wastelands of this world, artifacts leftover from an ancient civilization are found that certain men called makers can fix so they work again. Pal is a young country boy who has the gift, but he dreams of becoming a Champion. He travels to the capital city intent on his bright dream where he meets a very Merlin-like wizard who is a powerful maker. They become friends, yet Pal insists on pursuing his goal of being a Champion for Dun Add and fighting for justice and law.

To be a Champion, one must pass grueling physical tests and wield weapons skillfully. So gear up for some swashbuckling episodes with electronic swords.

For any reader who likes the King Arthur legend with a science fiction twist, I recommend this book.

And escape the irritations of our current reality for an adventure of swashbuckling fantasy combined with a science fiction mystery.

9 Comments

Filed under Alien worlds, Amazon publishing, Best selling author, blog information, Current Lawsuits in Publishing, Marketing and selling novels, Medieval Science Fiction, Science fiction world building

Authors Using Technology: Blessing or Bane?

Technology : Blessing or basin of authors.

There! Right there. I typed bane not basin. My computer decided I meant something else.

I love the ease of Swype where I can glide my fingers effortlessly across the keyboard, but it comes at a price. I often face a battle over how to spell words and even what words I’m writing. I can’t fathom where my computer finds these words. Sometimes, I try to write a very simple word several times, and computer boy wants something else. Yelling and shouting at the keyboard does no good. It’s deaf.

Many times, I have threatened to leave the program. But like a bad boy you can’t give up, the program reactivates, and I come slinking back just for the feel of the glide on my fingers and the ease of typing. And like a bad boy, I have to keep an eye out and constantly check up on what the program is saying for fear of some outrageous word cropping up… Like basin for bane, and then name, and then… until I’m pounding the keyboard in frustration.

Does technology do that to you? Do you bless and curse it all in the same breath? What technology do you use as an author that helps you?

As my writing circle shrinks, I’ve been exploring editing programs. I’m now familiar with Grammarly, Ginger, and Prowritingaid. Autocrit, Hemingway, Slickwriter, and Scrivener are a few others.

Of the three I use, the most value from the program for me comes from Prowritingaid. For forty dollars a year, I bought the premium version. It’s fairly easy to use, but can be overwhelming. It offers a critique summary which tells you your reading level, grammar mistakes, word repetitions, spelling, sentence lengths, punctuation and much more. I feel there is too much, but then I pick and choose what I want to change, and my writing is better for it.

Next I like Ginger. This editing program has a free version that is quite adequate. You import your section, and it tells you grammar errors, punctuation problems and offers a fix. The free version has limited word count of five hundred words at a time, but you can do it  piecemeal. If you have the patience, what Ginger has that the others don’t, is a program that goes sentence by sentence and offers several alternative words and sentence structures. Often, they will suggest a word that makes the meaning sharper. Instead of she walks, they’ll offer she ambles or struts. Sometimes, like my Swype program, they’ll offer a total off-the-wall suggestion. One of the choices might say: The queen rained. You just blink your eyes and move on.

Grammarly is also good and very popular. There, too, you can get a free version. Just be aware that you must put up with the constant sales pitch, and slyly, they won’t tell you all the errors, saying you must upgrade to their thirty dollars a month version to get a full critique. I don’t feel the upgrade is worth it.

Still, the free version does an adequate job, even though it harps on my use of articles for various nouns, or rather my lack of them, and my negligence in adding commas between compound sentences while completely ignoring the lack of punctuation at the end of a sentence.

I never liked Hemingway’s compact and sparse prose. I’m more of a Faulkner writer with his long involved sentences and intricate descriptions. Juicy. So, I didn’t explore the Hemingway editing program.

If you use an editing program or a writing program, which one is it, and what do you like about it? What is your opinion–technology: blessing or bane?

This week I want to suggest reading two of my favorite books : Heavy Time and Hellburner by C. J. Cherryh.

I’m now having fun writing the third novel in my Terran Trilogy called The Weight of Gravity. Previously, I’d become stuck in the middle of the story as often happens to writers. I knew I wanted to write about the conflict between Alysians and Terrans as the Terrans try to settle on Alysia. I wanted to add urgency to the story with the threat of an attack, and that’s when I remembered reading Hellburner.

But I had to start with Heavy Time because Hellburner was hard to find, and also because Hellburner happens earlier and continues the story with the same characters. Rimrunner also takes place in the same universe.

Heavy Time has strong political overtones and tells about the struggles the small independent spaceship miners have against the big company asteroid mining conglomerates. Pilot Paul Dekker is discovered drifting in a tumbling mining spaceship and half dead without memory of what happened. His crew appears to have been murdered, and he is the number one suspect. Paul is half out of his mind and keeps calling out for his lover and crewmate, Cory. With great reluctance, Ben Pollard answers his distress call and brings him in, complaining about the cost and inconvenience. Paul ‘s constant frantic rantings after his missing girlfriend annoys Ben, and he abuses Paul in order to stop it.. Once on station, Paul’s former fellow crewmate, Bird, takes pity on him and is the only person who tries to clear his name, but it doesn’t prove easy.

Hellburner continues Paul’s story.

After testing Paul to see what skills he might have, the military discovers through an incident that he has extraordinary piloting skills. A powerful executive in the Mars Company, Cory’s mother, is out to crucify Paul as she believes he is responsible for her daughter’s death. She tries to bring him off station to Earth to try him for murder.

But the military has a secret warship in development and needs Paul’s skills to pilot their prototype. They offer him refuge from prosecution if he will pilot the ship. However, within the various divisions of the military, conflict develops as to who will control the program, and Paul ends up right in the middle of the fight with several murder attempts aimed at him. Against his will, Ben is pulled in to bring a drugged Paul back to sanity where he uncovers a secret plot within the military.

Fast-paced, the story is typical Cherryh. Told in various first-person viewpoints, it’s solid science fiction with a lot of emotional heat. She keeps you guessing as what is really going on until the very end.

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Filed under award winning scifi, Best selling author, Best selling science fiction, C. J. Cherryh, Classic science fiction, military science fiction, Science fiction thriller, Technology Authors can Use, Writing Critique groups, Writing Tips and Lectures

Ten Indie Publishing Trends You might Want to Know

We are trying to survive the drippy days of a Portland winter, but thank goodness we have no snow like the East Coast. Still it’s hard to keep cheerful spirits when all outside is gloomy and gray.

So here’s a fun piece that I wanted to include in my blog to raise the mood.
It’s a summary of the different social media platforms.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VARIOUS SOCIAL PLATFORMS?

Funny, but true (kinda): • Facebook: I like donuts. • Twitter: I’m eating a donut. • Instagram: Here’s a picture of my donut. • YouTube: Watch me eat a donut. • Vine: Watch me eat a donut for six seconds. • LinkedIn: My skills include donut eating. • Pinterest: Here’s a donut recipe. • Google Plus: I’m a Google employee who eats donuts.

It really clarifies the various functions of the bewildering array of media platforms out there and offers you a smile.

January is the time when seers and prognosticators appear on the publishing scene. Written Word has gathered ten publishing trends they see for 2018. As an author, you may find it helpful to see which direction the business might go. I encourage you to read the blog in its entirety, but I have a few comments to make on it. bit.ly/2DjqULH

Of the ten listed, a few caught my attention. The first is that marketing is getting more expensive with poorer results. Ad sites now talk about “stacking” your book or offering the same book on several ad sites on the same or consecutive days. This can get expensive if your royalty is a few dollars per book or you’re offering the book for free. Just about all ad sites require a discount on your book of some sort, if not free. Add to that the idea that readers are getting more selective in their downloads and picky about price, and author’s margins are squeezed.

However, serious Indies are continuing to build their catalog. Perseverance is key in the writing business. It’s a long game. Here’s what Written Word says to give authors hope :

“Ever year we (Written Word) conduct a survey of authors to identify what high-earning authors are doing to achieve success. In 2017 the number of authors who reported making over $100,000 from writing grew by 70% over 2016. The percentage of authors making between $5,000 and $10,000 per month doubled year over year. Indies who persevere and continue putting out books slowly increase their earnings over time. Is it easy? No. Will it take time? Yes. But there are plenty indie authors who are making money. They will continue to grow their businesses in 2017 and a new batch of high-earning authors will join their ranks.

What this means for you: Successful indie authors see themselves as entrepreneurs who are running a business. And they are. Their product is their books. Successful authors are those that focus on their business and manage the ups and downs. In 2018 be honest with yourself. What are your goals? Are you writing to pursue a passion? Are you writing to supplement your income? Are you building or growing a business? Then align your efforts with your goals to achieve what success means for you.”

The last comment from this blog I want to point out is “Everyone will talk about going direct to reader.” Several efforts and young companies are causing even more disintermediation in the publishing business. Publica.com talks about direct transactions between authors and readers via blockchain and could very well be the next step in publishing. Stay tuned on this idea and check out their website for more information.

I have five more books to put on my 2018 reading list. (The first five are on my previous blog)

In the absence of blockbuster stand-alones this past year, I’ve added several follow-up books in a series to my 2018 reading list. To address a title that is on most science fiction lists and traditionally published, I have chosen Artemis by Andy Weir. The Martian was a smash hit, both movie and book, and now Weir writes an adventure involving the moon. I expect this will be good.

Next, I selected Helios by N.J. Tanger. I read and reported on the first in this series, Chimera, and now I’m ready to read the next. The story trends to YA since the main characters are teenagers.

Summary: A distant planet colony no longer receives supplies or transmissions from Earth, and after several years, they are running low on resources. The colony tries to reactivate the sleeping AI and repair the colony’s ship in order to send it to Earth to find out why they have been abandoned. Five young people are selected to crew the ship. The first book tells that story and the conflict of relationships among the candidates for crew.

Now in Helios, the story continues as an exchange ship breaks through fractal space to arrive on the planet. Celebrations break out, but collapse when all on board are found dead. More than ever, Stephen’s Point Colony wants to send the ship to Earth and find out what has happened.

Sounded interesting. So, I included book two.

Everyone tells me how great Neil Gammon is, but I couldn’t finish reading American Gods, in spite of all its acclaim. Now the Powell’s Reading Group has listed Neverwhere to read. They have assured me that I will like it, so I’m willing to give it a chance.

I loved the Merchant Series by Charles Stross, so when I saw Empire Games continued this interdimensional espionage and political science fiction romp, I put it on my to-read list.

I’ve had the book cover of Remnants of Trust on my desktop ever since reading The Cold Between by Elizabeth Bonesteel as a reminder to read this next in the series. The blurb says, “A young soldier finds herself caught in the crossbar of a deadly conspiracy in space.” Here was my military space thriller, then, and the final selection on my list.

Here’s these last five with the caveat that I add additional interesting books throughout the year as they catch my attention or pop up on my list of books that I think readers will like. I encourage you to try any of them and let me know what you think.

 

 

Artemis Andy Weir
Helios N. J. Tanger
Remnants of Trust Elizabeth Bonesteel
Neverwhere Neil Gammon
Empire Games. Charles Stross

Have a great 2018 reading year.

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A Writer’s Insights and An Assassin’s Fate

With the stress of the holidays, or maybe just the distractions, many authors are finding it hard to stay on track with their writing and marketing. I’m reading blogs that mention burn out. For me, it’s both. I’m thinking of what to get my family for Christmas, and I’m shopping with my daughter at the mall. There are parties and plans that preempt my writing. Meanwhile, I’m losing the momentum of the story.

Hence my blog is late, and my writing even more behind schedule. My editor is yelling at me and my publisher is disgusted with my procrastination.

Oh, wait…

That’s me.

The hardest taskmaster of them all.

To feel better about this author experience, I offer several blogs for writers intent on becoming authors. The first, if you haven’t read it already, is Hugh Howey’s blog on becoming a writer. If you have read it, now’s a good time to re-read it. He offers great insight into the writing process.

1. His first insight is that the only obstacle to writing is you. To become an author you have to start writing. As simple as it sounds, many authors use various excuses to block their goal of completing a novel.

2. You can’t compare your rough draft to books you’ve read. Those have been polished and edited by professional people.

3. There is no special qualification required…to write.

4. The best writers are the best readers.

5. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Keep it in mind, oh impatient one.

6. Whoever works the hardest will get ahead. In this insight, High mentions that it is easier to work hard if you are passionate about what you do. I find this very true.

7. Competition is complicated. The number of books out there isn’t important. Your book may be the inspiration or escape needed for a particular reader. Don’t let the numbers swamp you.

8. Be helpful and engaged. Authors should help and encourage one other.

9. Know your readers

10. Know your industry. Treat your writing as if it were a business.

These are the highlights of his discussion with important and insightful comments to support them. To read the complete blog, go to:

http://amazonauthorinsights.com/post/165774835635/writing-insights-part-one-becoming-a-writer

Then, I recommend reading his follow-up blogs starting with writing rough drafts. I swear he was a fly on my wall. I do a lot of my writing in my head in the shower, before I fall asleep, or generally while driving. Then, I put words to these scenes I have created. He describes this same process for his writing.

Who knew?

At the moment, I’m at what he calls “the crux.” Noting that it was a normal phase in writing relieved a lot of my current frustration. I eagerly read where he describes how to get out of this impasse. Give me that machete so I can cut my way out.

http://www.hughhowey.com/writing-insights-part-two-the-rough-draft/

There are several more blogs on the writing process that I’ll visit in a later blog.

The second blog I recommend is the Passive Voice. PG (passive guy) writes a lot about how Amazon has changed the industry in this blog and ends up with these statistics on author earnings that I found interesting.

You may, too.

A few facts from Author Earnings (emphasis is PG’s):

http://www.thepassivevoice.com/2017/12/publishings-greatest-challenge-might-surprise-you/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+ThePassiveVoice+%28The+Passive+Voice%2

In 2016, two-thirds of traditionally-published fiction and non-fiction books were sold online.
• About 75% of adult fiction and non-fiction books (including both traditional and indie published) were sold online (77% of fiction, 72% of non-fiction) in 2016.
• In early 2017, Big Five publisher sales on Amazon were 20.8%–or barely one fifth–of all Amazon US consumer ebook purchases.
• As far as the earnings of individual authors who have debuted in the last three years:
◦ 250 Big Five authors are annually earning $25,000 or more from Amazon sales
◦ 200 recent small or medium publisher authors earn $25,000 or more from their Amazon sales annually
◦ Over 1,000 indie authors who debuted in the last 3 years are earning more than $25,000 per year from Amazon sales
• Looking at earnings of debut authors from the past five years, more indie authors are now earning a $50K-or-better living wage from Amazon than all of their Big Five and Small/Medium publisher peers put together.
• Fewer than 115 Big Five-published authors and 45 small- or medium-publisher authors who debuted in the past five years are currently earning $100K/year from Amazon sales. Among indie authors of the same tenure, more than 425 of them are now at a six-figure run rate.
PG suggests that traditional publishing’s greatest challenge is demonstrated by numbers like this.

Lots to think about.

Another reason this blog has been delayed is that I was reading the 800 page tome by Robin Hobbs called Assassin’s Fate. I have been an avid reader of all Hobb’s books, and I am particularly fond of Fitz Chivalry and the Fool.

There are eighty-eight percent five stars out of 755 reviews. So, I’m not alone.

The story: Fitz Chivalry’s daughter, Bee, is kidnapped by the Servants, a secret society that uses dreams of special children to mold the future, often for their own benefit. Fitz Chivalry and the Fool believe Bee is dead, and they embark on a revenge mission to wipe out the whole island where this sect lives to destroy them utterly. The Fool had vowed never to return to where he grew up, was tortured, and finally escaped. But now, he joins his closet friend to wreak vengeance on his earlier persecutors.

Unbeknownst to them, Bee survives and is dragged across the land and sea by her sadistic abductor, who believes she is the chosen one. She brings along a small group from the island who bend to her commands. One minion, when given the spit of the dragon, can control the minds of those around him, except for Bee, who has special talents she hides. She can dream the future also, but she doesn’t reveal this fact to her tormentor. Others bend to her kidnapper’s vicious demands and also bully Bee.

So, yes, there are dragons and ships and magic and many old familiar characters from several of her other books that make a cameo appearance.

Read the earlier books first, write up all your apologies for chores being left undone, appointments missed, late blogs, and then enjoy this fine conclusion to the story of Fitz Chivalry and the Fool.

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