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Posts Tagged ‘epublishing’

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.

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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.

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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. 🙂 )

 

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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.

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My page reads (on books borrowed through Kindle Unlimited) were definitely down for the month of February. Not just in absolute terms, but also in relation to sales. I can’t tell, at this point, whether that was due to the one-day free promotions that I ran on several of my books. Or to a reported glitch Amazon introduced with its page flip feature. Or both.

Page reads have rebounded somewhat in March, but not to where I think they should be.

Therefore:

  1. No new promotions for this month, at least.
  2. And I will be doing revisions on several of my books–some of which I’d intended to do anyway–and attempting one possible fix to the problem. Including figuring out some new software.

Sometimes, being an indie author is all about experimenting to see what works–and, occasionally, what doesn’t.

First up for revisions, THE SHAMAN’S CURSE.

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I didn’t have the map done when I published the first book in the series. I’ve been meaning to go back and put it in, anyway.

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So, the critique for “Become:Brothers” has come back already. That’s an advantage of it being a novella–doesn’t take nearly as long to read through and comment on. The verdict is good. It works as a story, though, of course, there are things that need to be changed or added to make it work even better.

I’ll be getting started on that soon.

But now it’s time to start thinking about cover art. I had a demo all worked up, but, the more I think about it, the less I think that the images convey the correct genre. So, I’m going to have to go back to the drawing board on that one. Plus, I need to make the cover as nearly consistent with the cover I’ve already done for BECOME as possible.

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But the main thing is that it looks like this will work as a story. I’m always a little nervous about that with anything shorter than a full novel. Perversely, novels seem to be easier for me to pull off than shorter fiction.

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Okay, so in my last post, I promised to continue this subject with my future plans now that I’ve tested this one-day-free promotion strategy. Here goes.

First, since the last time I checked on Friday (you can seriously drive yourself crazy checking these things too often), all but one of the books I’ve tried this on are still at least a little higher in the Amazon rankings than they were before I started. Even the one that needed a complete revision of its metadata and blurb, DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.

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But, my page reads still have not recovered. However, I’m still not convinced that the drop in page reads had anything to do with the promotions.

So, future plans for this promotion:

  1. Because of my catalog, discussed at length here, I’ve decided that a weekly promotion is probably not the best idea. I simply don’t have enough stand-alone or first-in-series full-length books to make that worthwhile at this point. So, I’m probably going to try this monthly rather than weekly. And yes, I skipped the first of this month. I’ve already promoted all but one of those books. They need to rest a bit before I give them a second (or, in the case of DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING, third) run.
  2. I’ll probably only promote one book at a time, not two, for the same reason as above.
  3. I also need to experiment a little on the best day of the week to run the promotion. I’ve only done Saturdays so far and it’s possible that not as many people are actually looking for new books to read on that day, especially as we move into spring and summer. Other things to do and all that. I may use that one book that I hadn’t promoted in this way yet–because it was ineligible for the promotion until the end of last month–for one of these experiments in the next week or two. That’s THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, first of the DUAL MAGIC series.

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However, I will also be watching those page reads. And if they stay where they have been the last couple of weeks, I might just decide to pull at least some of these books out of Kindle Select and go back to wide distribution. If I do that, then they’ll no longer be eligible for this kind of free promotion.

 

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