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. https://www.amazon.com/NEO-Earth-Objects-Three-Frontiers-ebook/dp/B01J8HUWKS/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1469794091&sr=8-4&keywords=Jack+L+Knapp
For authors, and for readers:
I suspect Amazon just drove a stake into the heart of traditional publishing. Allow me to explain.
If you’re a voracious reader, Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program is the best thing you’ve ever found. Just think, pay a $10/month subscription fee and read as many books as you want! Imagine a library with hundreds of thousands of books waiting to be checked out, and you can select ten of those and keep them as long as you like. As soon as you read the first book, return it and borrow another.
The only fly in the ointment is the selection; not many NYT Bestselling authors put their books in the Select program, so they’re not eligible for borrowing through KU. You do get access to a few bestsellers, but most are books written by Independent authors and publishers.
The drawback for authors is that a borrow through KU or Amazon Prime nets the author only about $1.33, half of what a sale would bring. Until now, a borrow of a 10-page short story earned exactly the same as a borrow of a 300-page novel.
That’s about to change.
Starting next month, Amazon will begin paying authors by the number of pages that a borrower reads. Their example indicated that an author with a 200-page novel that gets borrowed 100 times (using figures that may or may not be true) and read all the way through would earn about $1000.
My books tend to run in the 250-plus page length, and I’ve already had more than 100 borrows this month.
Good for me, not good for the writers of short stories. And it’s a huge source of new cash for authors, which means that you can expect to see lots of NYT Bestselling authors sign up for Select so they can get some of the pie. The hook? If you’re in select, you can’t digitally publish on Apple or B&N or any of the other publishers.
Lots of books from traditional publishers are showing up now as digital editions, but not on Select; they sell for twice to three times what an independent author gets, and they aren’t available for borrowing. But when the borrows begin paying almost as much as a sale, expect to see in influx of bestsellers. Which will bring in more KU subscribers. At the expense of Apple, B&N, Random House, etc.
Some will continue to buy paper-and-ink books, but price trumps almost everything. Prediction? Probably lawsuits, although I can’t see a basis for it. But the lawyers are sharpening their pencils now, because this is going to cost a lot of wealthy publishing houses huge amounts of money. There will be a huge influx of new subscribers to Amazon’s KU program. The subscription price may go up, even double, but it’s still a good deal for the avid reader. One hardback, $25, vs maybe a hundred high-quality books for less. LOTS of books available to read.
But only through Amazon.
RIP, traditional publishing.
A shock yesterday; a fellow writer I admired died the night of June 1st-2nd. He’s the only other author to do a guest essay here. Bruce Bretthauer, you’ll be missed.
I’m up to Ch 5 of The Ship; the first part is harder because it’s slower. Lots of background to fill in. I put in as much action as possible to keep people interested, but it should begin going faster now.
I mulled over Darwin’s World; I’ve had comments that the first part of the book is a bit slow, too survivalish. I’ve gone back and tweaked two chapters to add precursors to major themes that happen later in the book. If you get a notice that the book you bought has been changed, the download is free. It makes the book a better read. I don’t mind going back and improving something to make it a better product.
Published Veil of Time on Amazon, began research for the next book the next day. I’m up to Chapter Three of The Ship, the first in a planned series. This one is hard-science SF, unlike my previous soft-science novels and fantasy novella.
I’ve also got enough information to begin writing the fifth novel in the Wizards Series. This one has a working title of Siberian Wizard and it takes up where Veil of Time left off.
I can’t promote Veil of Time yet; no reviews and Amazon won’t even allow a Countdown Deal until the book has been on their site for a month. So I’m promoting Combat Wizard instead; quite often, a first-in-a-series book leads to sales of other books in that series. With luck, Veil of Time will see some sales and maybe even a few reviews. Meantime, I’ve been posting this in various author sites on Facebook:
Combat Wizard, the first in a series of four Paranormal-ESP novels, is on sale today as part of a promotion. It’s $0.99 to purchase, free with your KU or Prime subscription. http://www.amazon.com/Combat-Wizard-Paranormal-Thriller-Wizards-ebook/dp/B00J2HMUX2/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
I’m at 66 000 words plus of Veil of Time, Ch 24 written, two to three more chapters to go. Final word count will be about 70 000 to 75 000 words. This is approximate, so it will be finished when it’s finished.
Chapter 25 is plotted out, so I only need to write it. Chapters 26 and 27 are roughed in. The book has been very complicated from my point of view; it has to be, so that no complications will niggle at the reader later on, but I think I’ve got it under control. Lots of research, lots of math on my part, arguably the most challenging effort I’ve attempted.
Side note: I’m setting up a Google Books account; ‘ll be listing Darwin’s World and The Trek on Google for use on Android devices. I’m waiting for Google to ‘verify’ my bank account, then the books will be uploaded.
People around the world, including those not served by my other distributors, will soon have access to my books. Depending on how sales go, I may remove other books from Amazon Select and list them on Google Books and other outlets.
Seems like I’ve been doing this forever.
I get up each morning, check my overnight sales and record the information, keep a running tally of how much I’ve made during the month. Check the calendar, look at upcoming promotions, consult my list of promoters and consider trying a new one. Which book should I promote? Most promotions have been failures; I’ve lost money, sometimes $5, sometimes up to $20. Should I try a different one? The two I’ve found that are ‘reliable’ at generating sales are often booked up. I submit a book to be promoted, wait, perhaps put that on the schedule or get refused and start again. Promoting books, the dreary business part of writing and publishing as an Independent, takes a lot of my time and creativity.
Is it important? Yes. Promote, or perish. New books flood in every day, millions of potential readers decide to look for an ebook, and if you want them to find your needle in the publishing haystack, you’ve got to get their attention.
The bad news, it takes time, creativity, and money. The good news, if you do it right, you’ll see success.
So why is this essay about Time? I began writing fiction less than two years ago.
And I’ve been an Independent Publisher for less than a year.
Not bad for someone who turned 75 last month!
The books I’ve promoted have achieved success; only one has failed to find an audience. I liked it, but something appears to be missing.
This month I’ll be promoting the Wizards Trilogy, which needs a name change; I’ve begun working on The Veil of Time, a fourth book in the same category. I still need to do research, but I began the writing yesterday. Paranormal time travel? I don’t know if anyone has explored that idea yet. The trick is to keep the paranormal aspect under tight control while comparing/contrasting the past with present day culture. As with all my books, I’ll let the characters drive the action. They’re ordinary people with extraordinary abilities, just a little bit more than what most of us can do.
So if you’re a reader of ebooks, watch for mine. They’re not expensive now, but during the sales, they’ll drop to $0.99. The promotions will happen in the US and also, for the first time, in foreign markets.
I’m one of many who’ve become disenchanted with the KU program. I read an article this morning, published by the NY Times. It’s excellent. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/12/28/technology/amazon-offers-all-you-can-eat-books-authors-turn-up-noses.html?_r=1
The writer got one thing wrong: Amazon doesn’t pay 70% royalties, at least not for domestic sales. Foreign sales, yes; but few of us have huge international presences.
If, when, Amazon drops their demand for exclusivity, I’ll consider allowing them to include my books in the KU program. I’ll also be interested in how much Amazon pays in royalties; their current amount is worthwhile only for short stories and novelettes/novellas. If you read the article, note that Amazon pays exactly the same rate for a short story of 2500 words that they do for a novel of 125,000 words. The list price of the item means nothing.
It’s a good deal for readers, especially if you’re a reader who goes through several books a month. If you read just five books a month, you’ve more than paid for your subscription. But for authors, it’s profit for Amazon, pittance for writers.