Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 9

I can’t believe it’s been nine months since I started self-publishing The Steam and Steel Chronicles! Sales were good this past month, better than they’ve ever been, which is nice. I seem to sell between 145 and 165 books per month without doing much marketing (other than the occasional Facebook, Twitter, or Google+ post), so that’s encouraging. It means the word is out there at least to an extent.

I’m hard at work on books three and four as part of NaNoWriMo (over 7k words into book three already), and hope to release them in January and February. I’ll be doing a tight release schedule like I did with the first two, so you won’t need to wait too long between them. I’ll also be putting together some special editions, and will probably do a contest or two surrounding the launches of the books. I’m even thinking about giving away a Kindle! (It’ll be one of the ones with offers, because while the books are selling well, they’re not selling that well. Of course, if someone wanted to sponsor an iPad giveaway, I’d be more than happy to oblige!) Continue reading

Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 8

So this is a few days late because I’ve been dealing with some family stuff for the past 10 days or so (father in law ended up in the hospital and had to have emergency surgery last week, but he’s coming home today). I’ve also decided that I’m only going to do these posts through the 12-month mark, though I may do occasional sales updates after that. This is partially because I see next year being very, very busy for me, and also because I’m trying to be less obsessed with my sales numbers. Continue reading

There is No They

I currently have a lot of projects going on, and I sometimes get discouraged with the bigger ones (especially the feature film I’m planning to shoot next fall). Mostly this is due to outside pressure, real or imagined, about what I should realistically be spending my time on.

But here’s the thing, I WANT to make a movie. For as long as I’ve wanted to be a writer, I’ve also wanted to make movies. I’m a storyteller, and that transcends medium. I have some stories that work well as novels (or novellas), and I have some that would work better as films. That’s just the nature of my imagination. Continue reading

Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 7

So, here we are at the end of month seven! Not much in the way of promotion this month, other than discounting the second novella in The Steam and Steel Chronicles to $.99 through Labor Day. I’m honestly considering leaving it at that price, though I haven’t made up my mind for sure yet. Continue reading

A Failure of Logic in Legacy Publishing

So I try to keep up with publishing news, if only because what’s happening in the industry has a direct impact on how I sell my books. I need to keep abreast of what’s going on if I want to be successful. That’s true of any business.

One thing that we keep hearing over and over again when publishers try to defend their $12.99, $14.99 and $15.99+ ebook prices is that ebooks are nearly as expensive as hardcover books to produce and sell (because the physical book represents a very small percentage of the total cost), and therefore they need to price ebooks high if they want to remain equally as profitable.

I’m gonna call bullshit on this one.

First of all, I’m not talking about publishers who are selling their ebooks for $9.99. Those are the smart legacy publishers who know they can cash in on the marketing machine they have access to, and the names of their authors, to make more money. It’s good business.

I’m talking about those publishers who sell their ebooks for more than $9.99.

Let’s do the math real quick.

A publisher selling an ebook for $9.99 on Amazon, taking advantage of their 70% royalty option, is going to make $7.00 on each sale.

A publisher selling an ebook for $14.99 on Amazon, is only getting 35% of each sale, making only $5.25 on each sale.

A publisher would have to sell an ebook for $19.99 to make the same profit as a $9.99 ebook. And you’re telling me they’ll sell the same number of copies?

Like I said: bullshit.

Publishers prices ebooks high to protect the market share of print books. Because they know how to market print books. It’s where they have a distinct advantage over indie publishers. They know how to get books into stores, and they know how to tap into readers of paperback and hardcover books.

Ebooks are like the wild west. Indie publishers and authors are on an almost level playing field when it comes to ebooks. And that’s threatening to legacy publishers. Suddenly, instead of having competition coming from a handful of other big publishers who do things the same way they do, they’ve got competition from tends of thousands of little guys who can do pretty much whatever they want in terms of marketing and promotion. Those little guys have no overhead, they have no offices to pay for or employees to pay, and they’re much more agile because of it.

So, the next time you hear some legacy publisher claiming that they’re ebooks are priced at $12+ because their costs are high, call them on it. Call it out for the bullshit story that it is.

Two Books on Sale Through Labor Day

From now through Labor Day (September 5th), I’m offering all of my books for $.99. The prices should be updating on Amazon and Barnes & Noble within the next day or so. For Smashwords, you’ll need to use a coupon code (which is active right now). The code for Hold My Hand is ZW52W and the code for The Great Healion Race is XN97R.

Why am I doing this? Because August is traditionally a very, very slow month for ebook sales. I don’t want to lose momentum this month, so I’m hoping that by running a special like this, I can attract more new readers. After the 5th, they’ll both return to the $2.99 prices in all likelihood (though if my sales go way up, I may keep them at $.99 for awhile).

Here are the purchase links:

The Great Healion Race

Barnes & NobleKindle/Amazon USKindle/Amazon UKSmashwords

Hold My Hand

Barnes & NobleKindle/Amazon USKindle/Amazon UKSmashwords

Aboard the Unstoppable Aerostat Fenris

Barnes & NobleKindle/Amazon USKindle/Amazon UKSmashwords

(This has always been $.99)

Now, if you buy the books at this price and love them (or even if you hate them) I’d love a review on Amazon, Goodreads, or elsewhere!

No More Times New Roman! Font Combinations for Book Design

I have seen way too many people involved in the indie publishing scene who say, “Don’t get caught up in the whole font thing. Just use Times New Roman. It’ll be fine.” As a designer, I have to say that this borders on infuriating to me. Typography is important. It has a direct impact on how we perceive a written document, and our enjoyment of that document. Times New Roman was originally developed as a newspaper font, specifically to be economical, space-wise. In other words, to fit more content in less space. It then became popular among corporate documents. But optimal readability is not among Times New Roman’s strong points.

If you plan to indie publish in print, then it’s vital that you understand the basics of book design and layout (or that you hire someone who does). The typefaces you choose for your text and headings have a direct effect on the readability of your text (along with your margins, line spacing, and kerning). Bad typography makes your book look less professional, even if you readers don’t directly realize what it is that’s giving them a negative impression of your book.

Below are fourteen combinations, mostly made up of free fonts. Some are  more suited to one type of book or another, and have been noted as such. Others are more universal, and can be used on virtually any kind of manuscript. Continue reading

Hold My Hand is Now Available!

Just an update to let everyone know that Hold My Hand is now available in ebook form on Amazon (including the UK), Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords. The price for right now is $2.99, but I plan on raising that at some point in the future (like early winter) to $4.99. I’ll also be putting out a paperback version sometime this fall. It’s women’s fiction, and completely different from The Steam and Steel Chronicles.

Here’s the blurb for Hold My Hand:

After finding out her husband is having an affair, Leilah flees to the comfort of her grandmother’s house, where she discovers she’s pregnant.

Hopes of reconciliation evaporate when Leilah’s husband accuses her of using the pregnancy to trap him in their failed marriage.

Leilah—jobless, husbandless, and still living with her Gran—reluctantly chooses to have an abortion. When complications arise, it’s Hank, Gran’s good-looking neighbor, who rushes her to the hospital.

It’s the start of a friendship Leilah hadn’t expected, and isn’t sure she’s ready for—especially when her feelings for Hank start pushing the limits of “friendship.”

Out of the blue, her husband reappears. Even though he’s a bastard (in Gran’s opinion, anyway), Leilah isn’t sure she’s ready to just throw everything away.

She struggles to reconcile the life she wanted, with the life that’s been forced on her.

Or maybe it’s the other way around…

You can also find it on Goodreads. If you read it, I’d really appreciate an honest review, either on Goodreads or wherever you purchased it!

Transparency in Indie Publishing, Month 6

Wow, so I’ve been selling my novellas online for six calendar months now! Holy cow!

Sales went up in July, but only just barely. This tells me that I need to get my butt in gear and finish up book 3 and get it out there. Also, I’m starting on it today, as part of Camp NaNoWriMo!

So, without further ado, here are the numbers for this month: Continue reading

Ebook Formatting the Easy Way

So I kind of take the whole DIY indie publishing to the extreme compared to a lot of authors. I do my own editing and proofreading, create my own covers, and format my own books. It helps that I have a background in each of those areas, through various jobs I’ve held over the years (I copyedited for a small publisher and I’ve done some freelance copyediting; I have a background in print design for a national magazine, including cover design; and I’ve done plenty of web design and coding, so hand-coding the HTML files for formatting is easy, if also tedious). Now I realize that  not everyone is going to have the skills (or the desire) to do all of the above on their own. Personally, I enjoy doing it, and until someone complains about a lack of editing or bad formatting or a crappy cover, I’m going to keep doing all of those things myself.

But I’ve been looking for a better way to format my ebooks. While I know how to format and code by hand, it’s still a long, tedious process. It’s not exactly what I’d call “fun”. And the constant tweaking it seemed to require to get the books absolutely perfect was getting time-consuming.

I’m about to publish my first full-length novel (The Steam and Steel Chronicles have all been novellas), and the prospect of having to format an ebook roughly three times longer than the ones I’ve done before wasn’t appealing. I wanted to find a shortcut that would make it easier and faster to create perfectly formatted ebooks.

I think I’ve found the solution, and since it requires very little hand coding or other technical know-how, I decided to write up a tutorial (note: I wrote this tutorial at 1 AM, so if any of it doesn’t make sense, let me know and I’ll try to clarify). While you might not have the skills necessary to proofread your own books or design your own covers, I’m pretty confident that nearly anyone who can format a manuscript in a word processor can format their own ebooks using two simple, free tools. Continue reading