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Posts Tagged ‘Learning’

Phase 1 is nearly complete. I’ve even had my first non-Amazon sale since 2014. Just a few more minor tasks.

I need to compile the .epub file for BLOOD IS THICKER and upload that to Draft2Digital.

BitPurple

From there, it’s a simple matter to prepare the boxed set, CHIMERIA OMNIBUS.

ChimeriaBox

I also need to do one bit of cleanup on THE VOICE OF PROPHECY.

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For some reason I still haven’t figured out, the table of contents in the .epub I uploaded to Pronoun got altered. Their version includes an “untitled” line which seems to correspond to a blank Heading 3. (I use Heading 3 for my revision notes as I work through my manuscript. I delete them as I go. Evidently, in this case, the text was deleted but the style remained.)

Nevertheless, that line is not in my toc, partly because my toc deliberately only goes to level 2. The mystery is how it ended up in Pronoun’s .epub when it is not in the one I uploaded. Hopefully, I’ll hear back from them about that in the next few days. In the meantime, there’s no reason not to fix it. It’s just compiling one more .epub.

That’s all the books that can go wide for the next couple of weeks, at least. So, after that, I can work on preparing the others as time allows and, finally, get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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I have an idea for a new chapter I need to get to work on.

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Well, I published BLOOD WILL TELL widely yesterday,

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so I now have books distributed through both Pronoun and Draft2Digital. No sales on either, yet, but that’s not entirely unexpected. I’ll probably have to run a promotion or two later in the month to get these noticed.

Here are my first impressions:

  1. I prefer Draft2Digital’s interface. Pronoun’s interface is much glitzier, but it feels like it’s trying to lead a novice through this process. As I’m not a self-publishing novice, that’s a little irritating. It’s also not as flexible as either Amazon or Draft2Digital. For example, Pronoun insists that you use all seven keywords. Also all prices will end in .99. (Though Pronoun will allow you to set the book free, which Amazon won’t.) And, for Pronoun, if you want to (or need to) opt out of Amazon, you’ll have to supply the Amazon link to prove your book is already published there.
  2. Pronoun does offer an Author Page, which is very useful, especially since you can’t include a link to your Amazon author page for books that will be distributed through other vendors. And, in setting up this Author Page, you can list other books, currently only published on Amazon (through universal links).
  3. Pronoun tries to be very helpful, though it falls a little flat. When you enter a keyword, Pronoun makes suggestions. As far as I can tell, they’re harvesting similar terms that have been used and trying to suggest the most popular. I can get that from Kindle Samurai, if I choose. And, anyway, the suggestions for my genre were not actually good fits and all seemed to be directed toward specific books–that were not my book.
  4. Also, under the heading of trying to be helpful, I was bombarded with emails from Pronoun–twice before I figured out how to turn it off (I hope)–suggesting that many of my books (all of the Dual Magics series, individually, plus Fire and Earth) could be in Amazon’s top 100 in the Arthurian category. The only problem with that is that none of them have anything at all to do with King Arthur. Not even remotely.
  5. Both Pronoun and Draft2Digital will put out new release emails, which is very helpful.

So, now it’s just hunker down and wait through a pay cycle or two to see how things work out. I’ll go ahead and publish the other book in the Chimeria series, BLOOD IS THICKER,

 

BitPurple

through Draft2Digital. And explore some of their more advanced options that I haven’t had a chance to look at yet.

And I’ll prepare the rest of the Dual Magics series to go up on Pronoun when they’re clear from Kindle Unlimited. Then, in July, I’ll be able to tackle the rest of my novel-length works and make a decision about the shorter works.

And maybe, just maybe, get back to work on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

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Okay, so far I’ve only tried Pronoun and there’s not much to report there other than I’ve gotten the process down to where it goes a lot smoother, now.

I started with BECOME: BROTHERS.

Brothers

And went on to the first three books in my DUAL MAGICS series.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

Though I haven’t yet put the boxed set up on Pronoun, because the short story, “Modgud Gold” is included in the set and it doesn’t come out of Kindle Select/Kindle Unlimited until the 27th. The fourth book in the series, WAR OF MAGIC,

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also can’t go wide until the 23rd, for the same reason. Though I can prepare those files so they’ll be ready to go with little fuss. I’ve barely started that process.

Now, of those, only BECOME: BROTHERS and THE SHAMAN’S CURSE are available anywhere but Amazon, yet. It takes a few days for them to show up on the other retailers. And then I’ll have to rescan the universal links so that they point to all the retailers where the books are available. That takes about a minute, so not a big deal.

Also, I haven’t yet sold any through Pronoun, but that’s not entirely unexpected. It’s going to take time–and probably a bit of promotion–to get discovered on those other sites.

Meanwhile, I’m finishing up my refurbish of BLOOD WILL TELL

Become3

with the intention of trying it and the sequel on Draft2Digital. Ultimately, the only way to know which I prefer is to try both, at least through a pay cycle or two. After the initial set-up, switching from one to the other, if that’s what I decide to do, ought not to be too difficult.

My other books are tied up until mid July, because of Kindle Unlimited. So, I’ll have time to work on prepping those. And I haven’t made a final decision about what I’m going to do with the other short works.

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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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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.

ChimeriaBox

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

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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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First, results on the project to disable page flip are confusing. It seemed to be helping at first, but lately . . .

Page reads flatline

I have never had three straight days of zero page reads before. I’ll give it a bit more time, but I may have to rethink some strategies. If the only way I can have my books available through Kindle Unlimited is to let people read them without any reimbursement to me (currently Amazon pays between $0.0045 and $0.005 per “page”) then I may have to opt out and take my books back to wide distribution. It wouldn’t be my first choice, but it may be necessary.

Even if that’s what happens, I won’t count the experiment a failure. Firstly, if that’s the way things are, then I need to know that to make good decisions. Secondly, I think going through all my published books occasionally is a good thing. I may have to do it annually or at least biannually, if only to keep the links to my other books up to date. (I know there are simpler ways to do this that I may have to investigate further, too.)

At any rate, if I hadn’t been doing that, I probably would never have taken a second look at the covers for the Chimeria Series or for some of my shorter works. (“Wyreth’s Flame” is probably due for a new cover, too. And I may try to do a little something more with THE MUSIC BOX, to give it more of a fantasy feel.)

As far as covers go, after some struggles, I think I’ve got the one for BLOOD IS THICKER:

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The cover for BLOOD WILL TELL still needs a little work, though.

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Looking at the covers in a smaller size (like the thumbnails on Amazon), it’s clear that there are dragons on the new cover for BLOOD IS THICKER. But much less clear on the new cover for BLOOD WILL TELL, because the gold dragon doesn’t show up as well against the moon. I need to work on that.

And, of course, I also need to work on both the revisions and the cover for BECOME:BROTHERS. I’ve stopped temporarily at a place where my critique partner asked me to go deeper into the main character’s feelings about something. She’s right. After all, the character is modeled after Hercules to considerable extent. In order to work, in order for readers to care about him, I need to show his vulnerabilities as well as his strengths. I just need to think a bit on the best way to show that. It’d be easy to just go deeper into his head–and I will do that, too–but I think I also need a scene to actually show it first. And that’s what I have to think about a little bit.

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