Category Archives: Amazon

Hot off the Virtual Press!

If you’re a reader of my blog, you’ll recall that my advice to authors and would-be authors is to sit down at the keyboard and write. Write every day. If you’re not writing, work on the plot. If you ever intend to write as a professional, you can’t wait for the ‘muse’ to strike.
I take my own advice. We’re approaching the end of July, and I published my 11th novel, NEO: Near Earth Objects, yesterday (on Amazon).
So what does this have to do with ‘write every day’? It’s the third novel this year. I published The Ship last December. Since then, I’ve published the second book of the series, NFI: New Frontiers, Inc in March, The Return, the fourth book in the Darwin’s World series in mid-May, and NEO yesterday. I’ve got four months to go…and I’ve already got two new projects waiting on my desktop.
Take a look at NEO; I think it’s my best book ever. It’s $3.99 to buy, free to borrow if you have a Kindle Unlimited account. I hope you like it.


Blogs, Writing, Publishing, and Rebellion

I subscribe to a blog called Mad Genius Club. Most of the time I find suggestions I can use, because it’s written by professional writers/authors. I suspect others enjoy it because they also write, or intend to someday. This morning, the post was there but the author explained why, and ended with “The floor is yours.”
Where a bunch of writers could see it? BIG mistake! 😀
So I wrote the following:
Ooooh! The floor is mine? Let the rebellion begin here!
I got an email from a writer this morning. He got through the slush pile but never managed to get his book published, so he left Baen (I’m taking him at his word). Now he’s getting ready to publish independently, and he’s too hesitant. Several editors. Beta readers. But importantly, not published.
So what would happen to me if I tried, say, Baen? Or worse, one of Hachette’s companies?
Slush pile, for four months. Discussions. Get an agent, son. You have to have an agent. More time gone.
The agent will then make a deal. He won’t tell the publishing company, “No. That’s not good enough. I’ll take the book somewhere else.” He won’t get paid if he does that, so he’ll accept an offer on my behalf. I’ll sign, and then the publishing company will own my blood, sweat, tears, and probably snot.
For, shall we say, not a fortune? No indeed. “Son, you’re a new writer. We’re taking a chance on you, you know. We could lose money!”
The important thing is that I would almost be guaranteed to lose money.
There are a few errors in the publisher’s assumption. I’m NOT a new writer. There’s no need for me to send my manuscript to the slush pile. No need for an agent. No need to smile and bob my head, “Yes, massa.”
Because I do it all myself. I write. I proofread, do the final editing too. I format. I assemble the document, prepare it by adding front material and end material. I write the blurb. I buy a cover from a professional. I publish it on Amazon, choose the 70% option (the other is for suckers; I was, for a while), price my book where I think it will sell, choose Select, and let that book fly. I wait until I have reviews, then advertise via ENT or BookSends. I’ve tried others, they aren’t reliable; FWIW, BookBub hasn’t seen fit to take my money.
Having done those things, repeatedly, I’ve reached ‘midlister’ status. Or I think I have. I don’t depend on income from writing, but if I had to I could live very comfortably on what I’m earning now.
It took me two years to reach this status.
Had I chosen to go traditional, I might have one, maybe two books in print by now. And how much money would I have earned from a publisher?
Less than I’ve made this year alone. Actual figures (horrors!): Amazon currently owes me about $17k dollars, and May isn’t over yet. That’s the sum total of what they’ll pay me at the end of May, end of June, and less than they’ll pay at the end of July because my books will continue to sell through May.
I doubt I’ll ever be nominated for a Hugo. Tsk.

Writing, blogging, and other Fun Stuff

I’ve been neglecting this blog lately. I have an excuse, I suppose; I really am a full-time professional writer, which takes up most of my time. I also coach new writers, a freebie pay-it-forward exercise. When I have some free time, I play music.

To update: since the Ship (published December 2015), I’ve published the second book in that series, NFI: New Frontiers, Inc (March 2016) and The Return (May 15th, 2016). That qualifies as full-time in anyone’s book! Plus all those Facebook posts…

But I’ll try to make a real effort to keep this more up-to-date. Meantime, I write at least weekly in my Facebook Author’s Page (

My latest book is The Return, the fourth in the Darwin’s World Series. I think you’ll like it. It went live last night.

Controversy, updated

That ‘controversial book’, the Ship, sold well enough to take on a life of its own. The sales continue, although not at the same pace as last month. But it was enough for me to put aside my other book, half finished at that point, and finish writing the sequel to The Ship. This one is called NFI: New Frontiers, Inc. The main characters are still there, most of them, but the company itself plays a large part in the story.
What happens when a company becomes so successful that even nations perceive it to be a threat? When massive transfers of wealth upset the status quo?
That’s the backdrop for the story. Meanwhile, the characters behave like people as best I could write them, they have human emotions, human failings, good guys aren’t exclusively good, bad guys aren’t always bad, triumph and tragedy happen in no discernible order, much as happens in real life. And since the book is ‘hard science’ fiction, there will be a lot of science (most of it as real as I could make it) and engineering.




I wrote a controversial book. I didn’t intend it that way, but that’s what happened.
I made a number of choices when writing the book. I chose to include science and engineering, as well as references to math. But no equations, just discussions. The book isn’t space opera, it was never intended to be.
I also chose to omit  descriptions of several scenes. There’s a rape, there’s sex, there’s a sudden disruption in a relationship. None of these are explicitly described; the reader must supply details from his/her imagination.
I also used considerable dialogue. Some felt that slowed down the action.
As a result, reviews are all over the place. One felt I left out a chapter and told me to go back and put it in. I didn’t; that was the way I wrote the book, some things inferred, not explicit. I tried to make it like real life. Real people aren’t omniscient, and often violence happens in boardrooms. Homes are foreclosed on, workers are laid off, healthcare denied, things like that. Disaster happens, and finding out who to blame is often impossible.
After some twenty reviews, all of them honest, those who like more science and less action love the book. Those who want more action, less science, are ambivalent at best. One said the book didn’t hold his interest, so he quit. And gave it a one star rating, despite not having read the book. Go figure. I’ve abandoned hundreds of books, including the Harry Potter series and the Girl with a Dragon Tattoo series. Both were bestsellers, but I didn’t care for them. I didn’t feel it necessary to give them a bad review, however.
To each his own. If you like Science with your Science Fiction, you might like The Ship. If you want blood and mayhem, you’d be better off with The Trek.


I wrote this on the Writers’ Group; you might enjoy it too.
Pressure keeps me going, faster. I’m one of those folks who works best when there’s a deadline, even if it’s a self-imposed one.
Indie publishing doesn’t have to be frightening. I did it, thousands of others did it, you can too.
First, create your manuscript. Revise it.
Find yourself an editor. I was lucky enough to find one who works for free, although he’s extremely selective. I do too, and I’m even more selective than he is; I’m only willing to edit one man. Fortunately, he writes slower than I do, so I have time to write my own books.
One other thing: I’m the best editor I know of. So self-editing works fairly well for me. My ‘editor’ spots typos, awkward words, things like that. I catch the bigger areas, content and so forth. What works for me probably won’t work for you.
Now you’ve got an edited manuscript. You need to clean it up. Got any of those strange little squiggles when you turn on Word’s nonprinting characters? You’ve got to get rid of those.
Got your manuscript edited and cleaned up? You’re getting closer.
IF you’re an artist, as Tina is, you have an advantage. If you can use Photoshop or GIMP, you have an advantage. I don’t use either of those, so I hire someone to create a cover for me. I didn’t start out that way, but that’s how I roll now. She uses PS and buys stock images from places like BigStockPhotos. License to use a photo, $3. Some have photos for less, $2. Beware ‘free’ photos; some are copyrighted. I got written permission from a man who published a photo on Flickr to use his photo, tweaked it, and made my own cover for Hands.
Almost there; now you need to know what it looks like when you send it in to Amazon, Apple, B&N, etc. Trust me, what you see in your .docx manuscript is NOT what you’ll see on your Kindle.
I use a program called Calibre. It’s drag and drop; you drag your MS into the program, there’s a blank ‘book’ icon where you can drag your shiny new cover. Hit ‘convert’. The program will translate your .docx file to MOBI, EBook, Nook, or PDF. Now you can open the file and see what you plan to sell.
Sign up for Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing. If you’re ready, sign up for Smashwords (reportedly difficult to use) or D2D. That last is incredibly easy to use. Load your .docx file, answer the prompts, the program will even generate a table of contents, title page, other end material for you. When prompted, load your .jpg cover. Confirm that you did indeed do all this work all by yourself, that you therefore hold all the rights, tell them where you want to publish (not Amazon; they don’t do Amazon), Apple, B&N, Kobo, PageFoundry, or Scribd. Done.
Take a deep breath. Wow, finished! Uh…not quite.
Your book will appear. Google your own name, or pen name, and wow, there you are! One of 3 million.
Wait for the first book to sell. Keep waiting. Notify your friends and neighbors. Beg. OK, maybe only whine a little. A few books sell. Wait for the reviews.
Write another book. The second is easy, by the third it’s routine. But if you’re an Indie, you’ve got to market.
Expect to spend a bit of money. EReader News Today, ENT, costs $20 for a mailoout, BookSends costs $25. I’ve found both to be worth the money. Increased sales covered the cost and I even made a profit. BookSends advertised (via email) Combat Wizard on the 2nd, it’s sold 109 copies so far. About 75 or 85 of those were discounted, but the others are full price, $2.99. You’ll need to drop your price to something like $0.99 or even free to get featured on an emailer. You usually need reviews too, good ones. But that’s how your book gets sold. BTW, I don’t advise free giveaways. I’ve probably got a thousand free books I’ve never read, still waiting. Maybe one day. But if someone actually pays money, even if it’s only a dollar, there’s a much better chance that they’ll read your book and maybe even review it.
Some books will sell. Some won’t. Talent is as good as anything I’ve written, but somehow it doesn’t sell as well as the other two books int he series, and it has zero reviews so far. Why? No idea. Hands is only $1.99, and it has never sold well. One beta reader called it a masterpiece. It’s funny. But it’s also a novella, a ‘short novel’ or half-novel. Short stories and novellas don’t sell as well as novels do. No idea why. My 2500-word short story, Ants, has sold two copies at $0.99 this month, while my 25 000 word Hands at $1.99 hasn’t sold at all.
Anyway, I have more advice for you if you’re just starting out. Meantime, if you found this useful, go buy a copy of Hands. It’s cheap. And you’ll grin a time or two, giggle, finally guffaw. Yeah.…/dp/B00NVZU9KC/ref=asap_bc…

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