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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.

becomeblue

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.

becomeblue

(See how those covers go together. 🙂 )

 

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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.

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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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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Wow, I got busy today and almost forgot to blog.

In my defense, I was (mostly) busy. Seems I opened a can of worms when I started updating all of my already-published books. Not that it didn’t need to be done. But, while I’m making the insides prettier and more, well, up-to-date, it seems silly to leave subpar covers on some of the older books and stories.

What happened was that I worked my way down to the Chimeria series. And, yeah, something needs to be done there. Starting with the first book in the series, BLOOD WILL TELL.

Blood Will Tell Cover

Not my worst cover ever. But not exactly stellar, either. In my defense, this was one of my earliest covers.

This is the unfinished version of the new one.

Become3

Unfinished because I’m not sure that I’ve got the right font, yet. Also, I may still move the dragon around a little. I like him better against the blue background than against the moon.

Then, I need to move on to the sequel, BLOOD IS THICKER.

Blood Is Thicker Cover

I have no defense to offer for that one. I’m amazed anyone ever bought that one.

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