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Posts Tagged ‘short stories’

After spinning my wheels on this for over a week, I finally wrote that new chapter yesterday, in two sittings (only broken up because I had to make and eat dinner).

So, progress is finally being made again on BECOME: TO CATCH THE LIGHTNING.

becomeblue

I’ve also roughed in the idea of another new chapter a little farther down the road, keeping a certain fraternal relationship just a little stirred up.

Now, I need to proceed with the read-through of what I’d already written. And try to force myself to remember that it’s still only a first draft. It’s much too early to start serious revisions. Even though I have a strong suspicion that I’m going to want to cut a lot out of the next two chapters, which I think are slowing the story down. That’s a decision for after I’ve typed “The End”, not before.

Hopefully, now that I’ve got some significant time off, I can make good progress on at least getting the first draft finally done.

Meanwhile, I think I’ve got everything ready to finish getting the boxed set of the first three books of the Dual Magics Series and the short story “Modgud Gold” up for wide distribution when they’re free of Kindle Unlimited next week.

Dual Magics 1-3 Boxed Set

I put WAR OF MAGIC up on Pronoun yesterday.

warmagicprintcover

Then I need to plan a promotion for this series. With a little bit of luck, the audio book of THE SHAMAN’S CURSE will be available at the same time. It’s still pending review on ACX.

TSC Audio

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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,

warmagicprintcover

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.

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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For an indie author, the reality is that you’re never working on just one task. There are always other things that need attention, too. And I’m not just talking about real life things like walking the dog, doing the laundry, or fixing dinner.

One of those tasks is marketing the books that are already out. I likely don’t spend nearly enough time on this. I’m not very good at it and writing new stories is so much more fun. Therefore, this month, along with working on the prequel to BECOME and on improving my time management, I’ve been trying something suggested by a fellow writer.

For the last two weeks, I’ve checked on the Amazon ranking of my books, picked the two lowest (with certain caveats) and made them free for a day. The only promotion I do is to create a tweet and post it in a couple of my Facebook groups for retweets. It costs nothing–at least nothing out of pocket and only a little time to put the tweet together.

Each time, I’ve given away about 250 books. Some of those might be new readers who wouldn’t have tried one of my books otherwise. Some might even leave a review. But the main goal is to inch those books up in the rankings to make them more visible on Amazon.

Over the two weeks, I’ve learned a few things:

First, I’m going to have to revise that schedule. Maybe only do one book a week and possibly skip a week now and then. This is because my catalog currently consists of:

  1. Three stand-alone novels. (THE BARD’S GIFT, FIRE AND EARTH, and DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING)
  2. Two series. (Chimeria (currently BLOOD WILL TELL and BLOOD IS THICKER) and DUAL MAGICS (THE SHAMAN’S CURSE, THE VOICE OF PROPHECY, BEYOND THE PROPHECY, and WAR OF MAGIC).
  3. Three boxed sets (BY SWORD, TALE, OR MAGIC; CHIMERIA , DUAL MAGICS )
  4. And a handful of shorter works. (“Heart of Oak”, “The Music Box”, “Becoming Lioness”, “Wyreth’s Flame”, and “Modgud Gold”)

I’ve already done a one-day promotion for each of the stand-alones and for BLOOD WILL TELL. THE SHAMAN’S CURSE isn’t eligible until March because I ran a Kindle Countdown deal for it already this period and you can’t do both within the 90-day enrollment period.

I have deep concerns about the utility of running this kind of free promotion for subsequent books in a series or the shorter fiction. And I’m not willing to give away the boxed sets. I might do a one-day discount on them, though.

But the other, perhaps more interesting, thing that I learned is that it mostly worked–with one glaring exception. Three of the four books I’ve tried so far have gone up in the rankings and, while they have slipped back a little over time, they have not gone back to their previous ranking yet.

The fourth book actually ranks lower now than it did before the promotion. That book is DAUGHTER OF THE DISGRACED KING.

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And now I have to figure out why. I have some ideas I’m working on. More on that next time.

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