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Next Steps

Busy day, mostly because I had to reschedule things I would normally do tomorrow. But there’s something extra I have to do for work tomorrow. So . . .

The next logical step in planning to remove my books from Kindle Unlimited and go to a wider distribution is figuring out exactly how I’m going to do that.

When my books were available widely before, I mostly used Smashwords for distribution other than at Amazon. There are other options for the same service now, but the main one is still Draft2Digital, just as it was then. There are pros and cons to both services and I have to delve a lot deeper into that before I make my choice.

Of course, the other option is to handle the distribution to fewer, selected markets myself. That means formatting for each different market. Tracking sales and payments in several different places. And, for the Apple iBookstore, which is probably the second biggest market after Amazon, finding a way to deal with an interface that is built to only work with Macs from a PC.

Then, of course, there’s the whole complexity of how to manage and coordinate promotions with so many different markets. There’s no question Kindle Select makes that easier. But it’s just not feasible to stay exclusive with Amazon anymore. Not with page flip intentionally under-counting page reads–and therefore payment to authors. And yes, I’ve seen too much circumstantial evidence to doubt that that’s exactly what’s happening.

So, in addition to trying to move ahead on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING

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it looks like I’ll have a fair amount of research to work through in the next month or so.

In the meantime, I’ve already started taking steps to remove my works from Kindle Select–and therefore from Kindle Unlimited.

This weekend has been more about yard work and some very overdue spring cleaning than it has about getting back up to speed with where I left off on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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Most of that has been due to the fact that two weeks ago we had to cut a very large branch off the Brazilian pepper tree (which shouldn’t even be where it is and wouldn’t be, except for some passing bird). The branch was going to break off and would have basically blocked the path from the house to the car when it did. So, a controlled removal was far preferable. Three trash days later (as of tomorrow, anyway) I will finally be able to say that all of that brush pile has been cleared.

Which will leave me, hopefully, time (and space in the trash cans) to finish clearing up the yard. With all the rain we had in Southern California last winter, it got completely out of control. Just about the time I’d decide to mow, it’d rain again. And the taller the weeds and grasses got, the longer it stayed wet. It’s going to take awhile to get it back under anything like control. As I go, I’m planting out some water wise plants, starting to transform what once was lawn (but not lately, with the drought) into something that makes better sense and will, hopefully, be easier to take care of. It’s a big yard and I hate to mow almost as much as I hate to vacuum.

Also, at some point soon, I’d like to be able to start looking for another dog. It’s been almost a year since I lost Aliza.

My first view of Aliza

The first time I saw Aliza

But I need have a yard a dog could actually run in, first. (Micah, at thirteen and change, doesn’t do all that much running any more. More like trotting.)

Digital Camera

There’ll be paths among the shrubs when they eventually do grow in, which should be more interesting than just running around a blank open space anyway. (Also, some of those weeds are foxtails and they have to go.)

Then, too, I really have to clear a path so that I can carry the ladder around to the side of the house and cut back the bishop’s cap vine that’s also grown out of control because of all the rain. Not only because it really shouldn’t be up against the house like it is for several reasons. I also need to get back there so I can put the screens up in place of the storm windows before it starts getting too hot. (We don’t really have storm window in Southern California. But we do have stupid louvered jalousie windows. I still have three that I haven’t yet been able to get around to replacing. It’s basically impossible to stop a draft with jalousie windows, so what I do have is some pieces of plexiglass in wooden frames that I put up in place of the screens, usually sometime in November. I need to be able to get around there to put the screens up about now.)

I confess, I also spent a fair portion of the weekend, while I was resting and cooling off, goofing off with a computer game. In between, though, I think I have finally come up with a new cover for “Wyreth’s Flame”.

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Though I haven’t done anything yet about uploading it.

But, at least one major task has been accomplished. So, yay for that. And there’ll be time to get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING during the week.

Switching Back

Now that Become: Brothers is up for pre-order,

Brothers

it’s time to switch back to working on the bigger story, BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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It’s not really a complete switch, since this picks up the story of the same characters, just a few years later. But it always takes me a day or two to get my head into the new story, even in the same series.

Right now, I’m reading through what I had already written of this story (about 32,000 words). That will give me a chance to re-familiarize myself with it and to patch any gaps left by removing the problematic flashbacks that are now no longer necessary.

The changed–and changing–relationship between these brothers will continue to be a major part of the ongoing story.

Become: Brothers is now available for pre-order at only $0.99. Release date May 12.

Brothers

Two half-brothers born a day apart.

First born, Gaian is the son of the king and a goddess. His more-than-human strength seems a poor exchange for the support of a flesh-and-blood mother as he struggles to be worthy of Becoming a god himself. Or just struggles to rise above the machinations of the queen.

A single day younger, Benar is the son of the king and queen. Like his mother, he refuses to believe the story of Gaian’s birth. He struggles to fulfill his mother’s wishes by proving himself to be his father’s true heir. But frustration and guile prove to be poor weapons against Gaian’s unnatural strength.

Until a coming-of-age trial forces them either to cooperate—and become brothers in truth—or else one of them may not survive the trial.

Inspired the legend of Hercules.

Now, back to Become: To Catch the Lightning.

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(See how those covers go together. 🙂 )

 

So, one of the first steps in figuring out how to take my work back to wider markets is determining the schedule. And the first step in that is finding out when the various books, short stories, novella, and boxed sets can come out of Kindle Select. It’s the boxed sets that make this a little complicated.

The KS term for THE DUAL MAGICS BOOKS 1 – 3 boxed set ends on May 23, but the set includes:

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

  1. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, term ending May 27
  2. THE VOICE OF PROPHECY, term ending June 1
  3. BEYOND THE PROPHECY, term ending May 29
  4. And, the joker in the deck, the short story “Modgud Gold”, term ending June 27

Apart from that “bonus” short story that I threw in, they’re all nicely grouped. I’ll have to pull the novels out of Kindle Select a month before I can do anything else with them. Not ideal.

On the positive side, WAR OF MAGIC, which isn’t in the boxed set, has a term ending date of June 23, so at least it will fall right in line when I prepare to take these wide.

On the negative side, I can’t do anything productive about these until late June, except start taking them out of Kindle Select.

But BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC is even more interesting.

By Sword Boxed Set

The boxed set KS term ends on April 17, but the contents:

  1. FIRE AND EARTH term ends May 13
  2. THE BARD’S GIFT term ends also May 13
  3. DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING term ends May 6
  4. And the “bonus” short story “Becoming Liones” term ends July 4

Obviously, the thing to do with this one is take the boxed set out of KS last since it’s next term end date would presumably be somewhere around July 17.

Which, at least coincides closely with DUAL MAGICS. Looks like I might be busy for a couple of weeks early this summer.

Then there’s my CHIMERIA series.

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This and the two books included in it, BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER all have term ending dates of May 24. Easy. Except that I really don’t want to lead off with these. They were among the first things I published. I’ve been re-reading them and I seriously think they need a bit of work before taking them out to a wider world–and not just because my craft has improved in the meantime. These–and the handful of other short stories and one novella–will likely go last–which means late August at the earliest.

Well, at least I have plenty of time to research my options.

Meanwhile, I’ve got one more little scene to write and I’ll be ready to publish BECOME: BROTHERS

Brothers

I first started publishing my stories five years ago. I stuck my toe in the water with a short story, “Heart of Oak”.

Heart-of-Oak

Then followed up with my first published novel, BLOOD WILL TELL.

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When I started, I published widely–directly to Amazon and through Smashwords to other marketplaces, including Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and Apple iBookstore. I didn’t have all my eggs in one basket. Three other novels, three other short stories, and one novella followed. I didn’t do very much in the way of promotion and no traditional marketing at all. And mostly, I broke even or maybe did just a little better than that.

And then, in July 2014, two things happened. I published the first book in my epic fantasy series, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

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(By the way, is it bad that I can type the link to that book from memory?) And, within a couple of weeks, Amazon started its Kindle Unlimited program.

Somehow, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE made it onto Amazon’s lists, which really boosted sales. It’s still my most successful book. And I’m still mystified by how that happened, because I still wasn’t doing any real promotion or marketing. But, because of that boost on Amazon, I did notice something else: That first month, I had sold about 8 copies of TSC in all of the markets I reached through Smashwords and about 1500 on Amazon.

And Amazon had this new Kindle Unlimited feature that was only available to us independent authors under certain circumstances–one of which was that we make our books available exclusively through Amazon. Well, that was pretty much a no-brainer.

I withdrew the book from Smashwords and joined Kindle Select. That went so well that I published everything new–four more novels (three in the DUAL MAGICS series and one stand-alone) and a new short story–exclusively through Amazon. Gradually, I withdrew all my other work (except one short story that I’d always intended to leave free) from Smashwords and made them exclusive with Amazon, too. That’s nine novels, four short stories, and one novella.

And I’ve had no complaints about that decision until recently. Over the last month, page reads–the measure by which Amazon pays authors for books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited–have fallen to almost nothing. I don’t have the data to determine why this is. I don’t know if Amazon’s relatively new feature, page flip (for which they purposely don’t count pages) has anything to do with it or if it’s something else. Disabling page flip certainly hasn’t made a difference–though I’m in process of finishing up that project anyway.

Maybe all the Amazon customers who would be interested in my work through Kindle Unlimited have already borrowed it. Though, sales continue at about the level I’d expect six months after my last release.

Either way, it’s time to start exploring my options again. I’ve started looking at the schedule on which I can remove my stories from Kindle Select. This is slightly complicated by the boxed sets. I can’t publish the boxed set or any of the books or stories in the boxed set anywhere else while any of them are still in Kindle Select. However, they all seem to be grouped in the May/June time frame, for some reason, with one outlier in mid April.

As I prepare to publish BECOME: BROTHERS

Brothers

and get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING, hopefully this week but certainly this month, I have a decision to make.

  1. I can publish it exclusively with Amazon, at least temporarily. This ties it up for three months. On the other hand, I haven’t completed–heck, I’ve barely started–my research into the best way to take my books wide again, so I probably wouldn’t be ready to do that immediately anyway.
  2. Or I can publish to Amazon first, without tying the book up in Kindle Select and continue my research into other options.
  3. I don’t see any value on holding off until I’m ready to go wide, so I can cross that option off, at least.

Onward.

One-Day Sale

If you’ve wanted to start my epic fantasy series, today’s your chance. The first book, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE is on sale for $0.99 today only.

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The two kinds of magic have always been separate. Until now.

Meanwhile, I’m proceeding with the edits on BECOME: BROTHERS. I hope to have that one available soon.