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Archive for May, 2017

It’s an occupational hazard. We can’t help it. We obsess over things.

I had no sooner pushed the publish button for BECOME: BROTHERS on Pronoun,

Brothers

than I noticed I had gotten a three-star review on it on Amazon. And, of course, that makes me all kinds of nervous about this being the book I’m leading off with in going wide.

Now, this isn’t a rant about that review. It’s a fair review, based on that reader’s experience and expectations of the story. And, to be honest, I knew I was taking a bit of a risk leading off with a novella to start an epic fantasy series. That’s not usual. It’s just what seemed to work best for this story, for two reasons.

  • All my attempts to shoehorn this part of the story into the bigger story line just didn’t work and
  • I really believe that the relationship between this brothers is crucial for the main story–which will involve a certain betrayal of the trust they built in this novella.

Fortunately, there’s something I can do about that.

The Dual Magics series will need very little formatting work before I can upload that to Pronoun, too. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE

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will need very little work before I can upload it, too. Really just change the links from Amazon to universal links and a couple of other quick things and then compile the .epub and .mobi files. In fact, as of tomorrow, the first three books in the Dual Magics series will be out of Kindle Unlimited, so I can proceed with that. Though the rest of the series will have to wait until the end of June. Considering that readers on Amazon had to wait a whole year, one month doesn’t seem like it’d be too long.

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Okay, so it’s time the rubber met the road.

The choices for going wide are:

  • Do it myself everywhere. This unquestionably gives me the most control. It’s also the most work–from having to upload to five major platforms, maintain the same changes on all platforms, and deal with accounting from all five platforms. Add to that that it’s very difficult to impossible to get onto GooglePlay this way at all. And, again, very difficult to upload to Apple iBooks at all without a Mac. So, this one’s a non-starter.
  • Smashwords. This one would be easy. About half my books are already there, where I unpublished them when I decided to give Kindle Unlimited a try. Smashwords would get me in everywhere but GooglePlay with one click, plus a host of smaller retailers and potentially libraries (ebooks). But, you can’t get around the meatgrinder. And I’ve been trying to do more professional formatting for my ebooks, most of which would likely be lost.
  • Pronoun. Pronoun currently only distributes to the five biggest retailers–Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iBooks, GooglePlay, and Kobo (no particular order, except Amazon is still top dog in this market). They can even get better royalties for ebooks priced outside Amazon’s preferred $2.99 – $9.99 price range.
  • Draft2Digital. D2D distributes to all the major markets except GooglePlay and a few of the smaller ones (though not as many as Smashwords). Unlike either Smashwords or Pronoun, they will pay by direct deposit rather than through PayPal. (I had a bad experience with PayPal years ago and I’ve been a little leery of it ever since. I have an account, but it is very deliberately not linked to my bank account. I’d probably have to change that if I start making more than nominal money in those other markets–unless I use D2D, of course.)

In the end, the only real way to tell is probably to give it a try. So, I started yesterday trying to publish BECOME: BROTHERS

Brothers

through Pronoun (because it’ll probably always be priced lower than the level at which Amazon allows 70% royalties–except through Pronoun.) At first, of course, I’d have to publish everywhere but Amazon through Pronoun and eventually switch over there, too.

I still haven’t managed that. A certain amount of reformatting was to be expected. At the very least, I expected to have to remove all links to Amazon. Pronoun wants to supply your title page, copyright page and table of contents themselves. They provide all of six “professional” formats to choose from. None of which really fit epic fantasy and none of them appear to support a two-level table of contents, either. They do, however, allow you to bypass this by uploading your own .epub and .mobi files.

There was an unexpected blip when their processor objected to the file name of the embedded font I used for chapter headings (the same font I used on the cover) because it had spaces in it. With some help from Facebook friends, I got past that. But I have no idea what they are doing–or not doing–with the .mobi file. Only that they don’t acknowledge that I’ve uploaded it–five times–and won’t let me publish without it, even though they won’t be publishing to Amazon through them initially. And, there’s no support until Tuesday, because this is a holiday weekend.

Say what you like about the zon, I don’t care what day it is or what time of day, you can get support from someone. Might not be the most senior person, but there’s someone there. And, once, I had a technical problem with Smashwords on a holiday weekend. I sent an email through the contact form and got an answer from the president of the company, since everyone else was out of the office. So . . . there’s that.

I’m more than a tiny bit frustrated. The next step appears to be to take the next book on the conveyor belt, BLOOD WILL TELL,

Become3

give it that promised brush up, and see what happens with D2D. Then I can fairly make a choice between the two.

At the least, I’ve now got universal links for all my current books. So, I accomplished that much. (By the way, that service, Books2Read, is offered by D2D.)

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I’ve posted before about the complexities added by the order in which individual books can come out of Kindle Unlimited. And boxed sets just add another layer. All the elements of a boxed set have to come out of KU before the boxed set can go wide and the boxed set also has to come out of KU before any of the individual elements can go wide.

As my books begin to come out of their last 90-day enrollment in KU, I have to get serious about planning out a strategy. (To be honest, I’ve been slower than I should be about this. On the other hand, I know I’ve got a couple of months coming up in which I can devote a lot more time to this.)

Looking at things by boxed sets:

  • BECOME: BROTHERS was never in KU in the first place.Brothers
  • Both of the books in my ChimeriaChimeria series are already out of KU. But I want to give these a brush-up before taking them wide.ChimeriaBox
  • Most of the Dual Magics series is also out of KU, with the exception of the final book, WAR OF MAGIC, and one short story that is also included in the boxed set.Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set
  • And the three stand-alone YA novels included in the boxed set BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC are tied up until the boxed set clears on mid-July.By Sword Boxed Set

So, that’s likely the order in which I will tackle this. Chimeria first, then Dual Magics, and finally the three YA novels.

Now, it’s down to deciding on a strategy:

  • Back to Smashwords?
  • Try Draft2Digital?
  • Try Pronoun?
  • Try to do everything individually.

Time to dig more deeply into the pros and cons of each of those choices.

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All authors suffer from this disorder to one degree or another. Other people wonder how we get the ideas for our stories. The truth is: When you’re a writer–and actually writing–ideas fall all around you like rain. It’s more an issue of sorting out the good ones.

And, usually, when that happens, we’re able to just jot down the idea, file it away, and keep going. Those ideas aren’t quite ripe yet, anyway. They’re just the seeds of stories. But, then, sometimes–and usually without warning–two or three of those ideas come together. And that’s something else altogether. That’s a story.

And a new story is always more exciting than an old one. It’s a New Shiny Object and we’re all, every one of us, magpies.

That happened to me this week. The story in question is a new sub-genre for me–a fairy tale retelling. Specifically, Cinderella. But with an entirely different motivation for the stepmother. What collided with this germ was the idea of a thriller-ish twist to what happens–or is supposed to happen–at midnight. And the half-ripe idea I already had that this story could fit into the same world as DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING,

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although with different protagonists, and continue the greater arc of the jeopardy facing Far Terra. I always thought that story had the potential for a weird sort of series featuring different protagonists in each book, with the previous heroes turning up as side characters or mentors.

I’ve only just started a new epic fantasy series with BECOME: BROTHERS

Brothers

and I really, really need to keep my head in that story. But, as I mentioned in my last post, I’m having some motivation issues with that. Plus, I need to be working on research for taking my books wide over the next month or two.

And then along comes this New Shiny Object. I’ve jotted down the ideas, but I’m not sure I’m going to be able to beat this one off with a stick.

 

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Right now, I seem to be suffering from a severe lack of motivation concerning my writing. I’m not entirely sure why.

  • It could be the dismal reports from Amazon, lately. If I had any doubt that page flip was eating me alive, this chart put them to rest.Page Reads PercentThat’s page reads as a percent of my royalty income (in the U.S. only). For months the number stayed in a small range. The upward swing corresponds to the release of WAR OF MAGIC.warmagicprintcover Then, after December–when, perhaps, people got new reading devices that were page-flip enabled–page reads from Kindle Unlimited start to drop like a rock. This is why I’m pulling my books out of KU. Yeah, that could have something to do with my motivation.
  • It could be related to the struggle I had finding my way into this story. I still believe in this story, but it’s true that it took me longer and more tries to find a way to tell works–I hope. I tried telling it chronologically, but that just took too long to get to the main story line. I tried using flashbacks, but that was distracting–and still took to long to get to the main story line. I finally settled on starting with the novella to get in the story of the relationship between these two brothers which is going to be important to the rest of the story. But I am still just a little nervous about starting an epic fantasy series with a novella. That doesn’t exactly comport with reader expectations for the genre.
  • Or, it could just be burn out. That happens. The good news is that it’s always temporary. But sometimes we all do need to take a break, even writers.

Or, of course, there’s nothing preventing it from being a combination of all three.

And, ultimately, it doesn’t really matter which it is. What matters is breaking through it. And, one thing I know: the only way to do that is to write.

So, here are my options:

  • Try to power through on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.
  • I have another epic fantasy series on the back burner, currently titled MAGE STORM. It should be a four-book series. I could work on that.
  • Something altogether else, like my Cinderella retelling.

Also, since I’m pulling my books out of Kindle Unlimited, I still need to research exactly how I’m going to go about taking them to a wider distribution.

Then too, because of the complications of the boxed sets, the first books that will be ready to go wide are the Chimeria series.

ChimeriaBox

But I want to run another editing pass through them first. So, there’s that to work on, too.

Now, all it takes is a bit of discipline to get back on track.

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Brothers

Become: Brothers is now live. It’s still only 99 cents for a while longer.

I really need to get off the dime and start doing some more promotion for this one.

I also need to:

  1.  Update the back matter in all my other books. Again.
  2.  Make a definite plan for taking all of my books back to wide distribution in the next couple of months.
  3. As part of the above, give BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER a brush up.
  4. Hopefully review and finally approve the audio files for THE SHAMAN’S CURSE audio book. And start thinking about an audio book for THE VOICE OF PROPHECY.
  5. Oh, and get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

becomeblue

Hmm. Maybe that list is why I’ve been slacking off this last week. Well. There’s a solution to that. Prioritize. I guess that’s the first step.

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Sad One-Year Anniversary

One year ago today, I took my heart dog, Aliza,

Jumping II

to the vet for the very last time. Both Micah and I still miss her.

Digital Camera

Micah

Someday soon, when I can get enough of the yard cleaned up from all the weeds that grew out of last winter’s rain (some of which are nasty foxtails), I’ll start looking for another girl to join our little pack. (At almost thirteen and a half I can pretty well keep Micah out of the weeds. But a younger dog would be more of a challenge. Better to take care of that problem first.) Sometimes, I almost wish I had a smaller yard to take care of.

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