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Posts Tagged ‘revisions’

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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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.

Become3

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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BECOME: BROTHERS finally has a cover:

Brothers

Ta da!

Also, that new scene I was working on has been finished. (I teared up a little when writing it, so at least I think it’s good.) My critique partner was so right about needing that scene.

Now, it’s on to:

  1. Tthe blurb, which I’ve started.
  2. Finish the revisions.
  3. I might need to write one other new scene.
  4. Polishing edit
  5. And publish!

Then, I can get back to BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

Also, I’ve finished going through the spring refresh of my novels and boxed sets. There’s a handful of short stories and one novella still to go, but I can take those at my leisure. Though two of them may need some remedial work on the covers, too.

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Well, I re-enabled page flip on my DUAL MAGICS series.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

Page reads are still zero. Wide distribution is starting to look more and more likely for me. Getting everything out of Kindle Select to allow that to happen may be a bit tricky. I need to look at the term end dates and make a schedule.

Meanwhile, in better news, I think I’ve finally got a good demo for the cover of BECOME: BROTHERS. One step closer. Also, I’ve started that scene I decided I needed to show the main character’s vulnerability. By started, I mean I’ve written one sentence, but I do have a pretty clear idea of how the scene needs to go. I’ve just been busy with other things.

And I’m also working on getting the new covers up for the Chimeria series.

ChimeriaBox

That involves changing them for the paperbacks, too.

So, yeah, busy. But mostly in a good way.

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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:

BitPurple

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

Become3

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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So, the last few days have been spent on that formatting issue that’s supposed to help with that page-flip glitch. And not much else. Sometimes, things just work the first time you try. More often, they don’t. Especially when they involve learning a couple a new software applications.

Despite a couple of online sets of instructions, it wasn’t nearly as straightforward as depicted–and it hadn’t looked that simple to start with. But . . . a former boss once observed that, with me, he needed to watch where he aimed. Because once I get my teeth into a task, I will rarely quit until I’ve succeeded. And, finally, last night, I did.

THE SHAMAN’S CURSE has been reformatted, though there’s one (relatively small) thing I may still need to go back and fix.

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The upside, aside from hopefully fixing that glitch, is that the formatting of the ebook should actually be improved.

So, one down, sixteen to go (counting boxed sets and short fiction). But, from here, it should be easier. I hope. I just . . . don’t really feel motivated to start on that list again today. Maybe a day of rest from that battle is warranted.

Meanwhile, I’m going to also get back to revisions on BECOME: BROTHERS. As well as working on cover art for it. Oh, and a blurb. (Just like writing queries–not my favorite part of this process, but necessary. Without a good blurb, the whole page-flip battle will be useless.)

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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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