Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Alternate Door; A recommendation

Having joined Kindle Unlimited, my first download (free; I’m also on the free one-month trial) was Bruce Bretthauer’s new novel:

I started reading it in the early evening and it kept me up long past my usual bedtime. I finished it today and wrote the first review; you can find that on Amazon.

I rated the book 5 star; I thought the plotting was excellent, as was the character development. As is customary, Bruce’s character is female.

The book has a lot going for it; it’s science fiction, with a whiff of alternate-dimensions/time travel, a soft-pedaled romance, a mystery with overtones of police procedural; and with all these elements, Bruce makes it work.

Highly recommended.


Kindle Unlimited; an update

Having recommended this service, I decided I should give it a try. Toe hesitantly in the water, I signed up for the one-month free trial.
Yep; you can try it free for a month.

My first download was Bruce Bretthauer’s new book, The Alternate Door. I’ve admired Bruce’s past work, posted his guest commentary on this blog, and copy-edited a different book he’s recently written.

I’ll probably even download one of my own books; it gives me a way to check what the reader sees in the final version that Amazon publishes. While I convert my Word documents, before submitting them, to  Amazon’s MOBI format, that doesn’t mean that what you see is what I uploaded. Since there’s no charge (but presumably Amazon would have decided not to pay me for downloading my own book; otherwise authors are going to make a bit more than Amazon intends!), I can at least see what that final version looks like.

Plus explore the works of authors I’ve been curious about, but haven’t bought until now. That’s the beauty of this system; it’s free, at least for now, after you pay the subscription fee.

I doubt it will continue for long as it’s currently set up. I was once a subscriber to a music system based on the same idea, eMusic. At first, subscribers could download anything in their library. Then the price went up, doubled if I recall correctly, and you could only download a set number of tracks each month. Still, I stayed with the service. I could find enough music that I was at least curious enough to listen to once, although as before I dumped a lot of files that sounded good until I downloaded them.

Heh…I downloaded Taylor Swift’s first album; and promptly dumped it. It sounded lousy. She looks good but can’t sing, or couldn’t back then.

But then eMusic added another wrinkle: you were limited based on the cost of the album. A high-cost album meant you had to pay extra or you could only download a part of the album…and some albums didn’t allow partial downloads, particularly if you wanted one top-forty song and didn’t care about the rest. That option was quickly blocked.

But it was good in the beginning. I hope that is true for Amazon’s KU. I’ll soon know how it works, so you can expect future updates based on my experience.


This program is new, and if you’re a reader, it’s a heck of a good deal.

Consider: for just under $10 a month, a bit less than $120 a year, you can read as many books as you want.

It’s like moving the public library into your home, but without the need to store all those books.

So how many books does it take to ‘break even’?

If you read only one bestseller in a month, you’re ahead. Ebook versions of many new books run $15 or so; I paid that for Jim Butcher’s new Dresden Files novel. If you like the Longmire TV program, you can buy Craig Johnson’s books; he’s the author, and each book runs about $10, mas o menos. (Note that I don’t know if either author’s books are listed and available through this service, but one would hope they would be. I didn’t check. But it appears to be an extension of the Kindle Lending Library system. A few of my books have already been ‘borrowed’ through this service.)  Such works as the Lord of the Rings books and the complete Harry Potter series ARE available; I simply didn’t browse all the titles or authors.

Or you could try all those new authors; people like me. Both the Darwin’s World books cost slightly more than $10 and the next book (hopefully finished before the end of the year) will cost about the same. Meantime, the two books in the Wizards trilogy cost that much, and the next book (due about the end of this month or the middle of August) will be introduced at the same price.

Cost: we’re debating whether to extend our newspaper subscription. That costs about $200 a month. I recently canceled a magazine subscription, The Economist; that one cost half again as much as KU, and for only one magazine each week.

So how about writers? It’s a wonderful thing for writers, according to what I’ve read. If you read at least 10% of a book, the writer gets paid. Amazon’s software keeps track of what you’ve ordered and how much you’ve read; it’s useful to sync the book over several devices. I usually read on my iPad, sometimes read on my desktop computer, occasionally read using my old Kindle; but whichever device I use, I don’t need to search for where I left off reading; the device does that for me. It also updates my list of new purchases, so I can download a book when I order it, regardless of which platform I’m using.

Something else; once you’ve paid for the service, all those books are essentially free for you. No additional charge. Try as many as you want, read only the ones that appeal to you (just like the library!)m and when you find an author whose work you admire, read all his books. I’ve done that…and paid a lot more than $10.

There’s a drawback, however; Amazon’s been in a legal dispute with a legacy publisher, someone who sells books written on paper. I suspect you’ll hear the howls of dismay, because IMO Amazon just drove the nail in their mass-publishing coffin. I don’t see how they can compete. Sure, people like me still love the feel of a real book; but price and storage requirements put that many ‘real’ books out of reach.

I recommend you try this; get in before the price goes up. And let me know how it works out for you, OK?


I’ve actually been reading lately; I’m sure it’s hampered my writing output, but I’ll get back to the salt mine in a bit.

Meanwhile, I’ve got a few recommendations for you. I’ve reviewed some of these on Amazon, but not all. In every case, I’ll try not to reveal too much about the book here, but I’ll tell you why I recommend them. I’ve personally read them all and usually I’ve gone back and bought other books by the same author.

Jeffrey S. Hepple:This author has several excellent books, each of which stands alone, but together they make up a number of fine series.
The principal characters are involved in some way with America’s wars, from the Revolution through modern combat. The ‘main character’ is a family. Individual characters are featured, then spouses, children, and relatives become the focus in following books; and that main character will at some point not survive. Hepple makes it all work. Military history has been a hobby of mine, and Hepple is extremely knowledgeable regarding history. Much of the work deals not with combat but with the affairs leading up to war and with the aftermath.
This link is to Gone For A Soldier, the first book in Gone for Soldiers; the setting is North America from 1774 through the end of the Revolutionary War.
There are a number of other volumes, all excellent; highly recommended.

Michael R. Hicks: This author writes excellent science fiction, and yes, his books form series. The general plot features a human introduced into an alien culture and how he grows and develops while immersed in this society. In the end, he’s not quite human, not quite alien; but the various books are very entertaining. I just got this one free; you should jump at the opportunity to get your own book while it lasts!
The books are highly recommended.

Not all books gain that ‘highly recommended’ status.
I’ve long been an admirer of Dave Freer, or was while he published through Baen books. But he’s now publishing independently on Amazon and the latest book is Stardogs.
I gave up halfway through. Not only is the writing poor quality (lots of typos, fragmentary sentences, etc) but I found the story to be poorly focused and difficult to follow. 
I wrote Mr. Freer and he answered, so I then sent my comments directly to him as a response. This time he didn’t answer.
Not recommended.

I’ll be making other recommendations in future.

Traditional publishing, etc

A link to this NY Times article popped up on Goodreads:

It’s apparent that the digital age is fraught with something or other, but smooth sailing isn’t in the picture for most writers. It’s still a long, dreary slog before your name becomes known and you have a group of ‘fans’ who are willing to buy your books as soon as you put them out for sale.

I’m not there yet. Like most, I may never achieve that level of reader acceptance. A few do, most of us don’t, many never will.  Even if you work hard to eliminate that last typo, that last subject-verb disagreement, that last bit of triteness, people might simply prefer reading about vampires and werewolves and zombies. And that’s now; next week, it might be something entirely different as public tastes veer into a new direction.

Still, I’ve got a series based on the paranormal (the Wizards series), an action-adventure survival series with a smidgen of science fiction that’s two thirds complete (the Darwin’s World series), and my next series will be a swords/sand/sandals fantasy in the Robert E Howard mold (but different! My lead character is no Conan, he’s a bit of a bumbler); maybe I’ll have enough product to be waiting when the public changes its tastes again!

I hope. But if not, maybe expand Ants to be a novelette or even full-length hard-science-fiction genre novel? Hmmm….


I’ve just scheduled a Kindle Select Countdown Deal for The Trek; it will begin at $0.99 and go up by $1 every day or so until it reaches list price. This will continue for a week.

By the time this is over, it will be almost time to publish the final book in the Wizards Trilogy, Talent. I’m revising the draft version now and it will be ready for publication around the end of this month.

Feeling silly

I accepted the option Amazon offers of choosing a foreign royalty payment that’s the same as what Amazon pays for US sales. There were a number of things on the Kindle Direct site that caused me to choose that option.
I’m now convinced that was wrong and I’ve been giving Amazon more of the money from my sales than I should have. The ‘delivery charges’ turn out to be quite small; even my longest books don’t push into extra delivery charges.
So if you’re an author, I suggest you choose the largest percentage that Amazon offers.

I suspect my mistake has probably cost me at least $100 by now.

Just remember, if you’re an indie publisher? Make every decision yourself, and do the necessary research before you decide.