Sedona O'Hala Series:

Executive Dirt

Dragons of Wendal Series:

DragonKin

Moon Shadow Series:

Ghost Shadow

Now Available:

Soul of the Desert

Project E-books

Amazing Artist Assnezana, Short Stories and Translations

I’ve always wanted to have at least one of my works translated into Spanish. Never mind the why of it, but it’s part of my heritage and I always felt it was necessary. I had plans for how I’d get here, but sometimes dreams take longer than you plan and don’t come together quite the way you expect.

At any rate, I’ve been working with a translator on a fantasy short story called “Snitched, Snatched.” Getting it right in English was hard enough, now Gustavo Bondoni must tackle trying to get it perfect in Spanish. Luckily he is skilled as a story teller, and I’m counting on that skill to come through in “Snitched, Snatched.” He has his own short story collection out (in English) on Kindle: Tenth Orbit and Other Faraway Places (20 stories.)

All of this leads to needing a cover that reflects the story, captures its essence and has a magic of its own. Enter Assnezana and her fantastic artistic talent.

You can find more about her here: Assnezana and see more of her work on Jaguarwoman.com and also on Dreamstime/assnezana .

She has some awesome artwork; more magical settings like the one in the cover, some aquatic settings and some fabulous garden settings. Check them out!

As for the story, look for it on Kindle in about a week if things go smoothly, two if they don’t! I’ll post more about the release date as it gets closer.

E-Readers

Obviously, what with two three books out on Kindle and other formats, I’ve been spending a lot of time learning about the availability, pros/cons of the different readers and so on. I’ve been pretty surprised at how many formats there are and also how many places are selling ebooks. I knew it was a growing industry, but didn’t realize there was a kind of undercover cult following.

At any rate, there are actually some pretty good reader applications for the PC (or laptop in my case.) I didn’t think downloading a reader application was really necessary or helpful for reading online, until I downloaded them and tried them. All three of these readers are free downloads. My favorite is mobipocket.

Mobipocket also sells ebooks. To get the reader, click on the software tab and then download whichever application you need. In my case, I downloaded the PC application. It’s a spiffy little app, with nice buttons, easy to use interface–and the best part–when it loads a book, it has a nice DARK font. (So far as I know, you can change font sizes with all the apps, but with the defaults on mobipocket I didn’t need to.) The format is a nice, book-shaped one. I’ve read a couple of books using the mobipocket software and found it easy to use (just using the page down or page up; you can jump ahead or back using the scroll at the bottom.) I like that the scroll bar tells you how far you are along in the book (page numbers are meaningless because you can change the fonts to a larger or smaller one.)

Another neat feature that sold me on e-readers–it keeps my “place” in a book when I’m reading. Even if I close the application, when I go back in and open that book–bam, takes me right to where I left off. This is an excellent feature.

Next up, I tried the Stanza reader. This is the one known for use with the iPhone and iPod, but they have a desktop version as well (tabs along the top of the link.) This reader presents a narrower “book,” probably because it is optimized for small devices. The default font isn’t as dark. The formatting (which is often due to the conversion software) isn’t always as “neat.” But the Stanza was easy to use. It loads fast and presents an easy to use “book.” No issues, but not quite as “pretty” as mobipocket. Instead of a “library” of books you’ve loaded, you just open a file like you would with a normal application.


Adobe Digital Editions
, like most Adobe products, seemed more complicated than it needed to be. This is the one application that had trouble with my converted files. It locked up opening the EPUB files–I have no idea why. I had to strip out formatting, reload the files and keep my fingers crossed. Obviously something in the original file (probably old HTML code) was causing some sort of problem. There was no way to troubleshoot the issue. Once I stripped formatting, and reconverted, the file loaded.

It was nicely readable. The interface was confusing to me, but I eventually figured out how to create my “library” and open the books to read. The Digital Edition automatically downloaded the covers (mobipocket and stanza did not.) This was perhaps the standout feature for Digital Editions because the cover, more often than just a title, reminds you of what the book is about, or at least gives you a clue as to why you downloaded the book.

For now, I’ll probably use the mobipocket reader. Most of the readers read multiple formats. This is helpful since not all ebooks come in the same format. Of course, if there is DRM on the book, it’s possible that none of the apps will work. Some books with DRM end up tied to a specific reader. At the moment, I’ve solved that by only buying non-DRM books. This limits my reading selection somewhat, but it isn’t as though I’ve run out of books to read.

Edit: Barnes and Noble also has a free reader for the PC (and Kindle is going to provide one in November or December!) The Barnes and Noble product was not very intuitive–took me a while to figure out how to load a book! But it isn’t bad once you get going. Probably the easiest way to get the B&N reader is to click on an ebook and download a sample. You have to login, but it then gives you the option of downloading the reader. When I downloaded my copy, B&N offered me 5 free classics! I don’t know how long that offer is good.

Edit #2: Kindle now has a reader for the PC. I took a look at it and can’t complain. I want this reader mainly so that I can test my own books–how they look and formatted, etc. BUT so far, Amazon has some awfully good freebies that publishers give away as promotions. In the past, you had to have a Kindle to access the books. Now, I can download them and read them on my PC. Some of these deals are free, some are a low price. Either way, I win!

Posted: September 14, 2009
Filed in Project E-books

iPod Touch

I did a post a while back on the Kindle and trolled around looking for opinions on it. One of the interesting things I came across was people talking about reading on the iPod touch. What surprised me most was how pleased they were overall with the performance and readability.

So today’s post is from guest blogger and good friend, Max, who recently bought an iPod touch and downloaded a couple of books and did some reading. Here’s what he had to say:

I spent most of my flights on the way home reading Sage using the Kindle Reader app for iPHONE/iPOD Touch. Just a little on the flights up.

For the flight back, I’d turned the brightness setting for the screen down to 1/6 in order to help conserve battery life. The default setting of 1/2 brightness really sucks the battery down fast. While reading, I had music playing in the background the entire time. Contrast and readability on the plane was great with this setting – I’d left “auto brightness” enabled so I’m sure it automatically cut the display further once the sunlight disappeared. BlueTooth and WiFi were both turned off.

Battery life under these circumstances was great. According to the iPOD, I’d used around 1/8 of the capacity after about 5 1/2 hours of use.

If the iPOD reader app supports text-to-speach, I’ve not found it yet.

Finding and downloading “Catch An Honest Thief” was a breeze.

The actual “reading” experience was very good overall. Hard to find much fault with it – so far. The one thing that was a bit frustrating was that the reader doesn’t seem to allow for “copy and paste” functionality.

Thanks for the input! I’m hearing that people are sometimes happier with using the iPod touch–more functionality than just reading. I’ve heard from both Kindle users and iPod that emailing is possible (I don’t know if Kindle users versus iPod users are happier with that particular function.) Interesting little devices.

Posted: August 13, 2009
Filed in Project E-books
Tags:, , , ,

Kindle Book Primer

I always intended to get organized and write a post that included tips for publishing on Kindle and other e-readers. I am frequently asked questions about the process and find myself sending out emails answering questions one at a time. Well…someone finally took all my email notes and organized them into a great article!

Nancy Fulda, author of Backlash and Dead Men Don’t Cry has done my work for me. If you are about to publish a Kindle book, have just done so or are thinking about doing so, she has organized a very good article on the subject!

Posted: June 15, 2011
Filed in Project E-books

Project E-books

twentyfivepercentgrannySo I saw…more than a few complaints from Sony reader users that “Kindle exclusive” authors were shutting themselves out of a rather large opportunity. Apparently Sony is fairly popular in Europe and other countries, especially since the Kindle isn’t yet available over there unless you can provide a US credit card and/or address.

The problem for authors and readers is the lack of a cohesive storefront. There are many sites for ebooks (and the formats range from RTF to Sony, to EPUB to .MOBI). Some of these ebook stores require and use DRM, some accept self-published, some do not. If a reader wants to buy a book at any of these stores, she has to create an account. Remember a password. Browse it occasionally to look for new books. The selection on the sites varies from a few thousand to many thousand. Some of the sites have a lot of public domain books (and not enough newer stuff), some have taken more time with making sure that uploaded formats are clean and formatted nicely.

For authors…same thing. Uploading multiple formats, stores all over the internet, accounts to keep track of, rules to keep track of, forums galore…it’s a distribution nightmare. Which ones to choose? All? None? The royalty paid to authors is different on each site. The price rules are different.

But we’re all about experimenting here at BMBooks. Gulp.

I made Sage: Tales from a Magical Kingdom available on Smashwords in those multiple formats I mentioned (PDF, HTML, Javascript, EPUB, MOBI, LRF, and PDB). Why Smashwords? Other authors gave them high marks. A few of those Sony users mentioned them as well. The process was not all that hard, although there were formatting issues to resolve (and some of those were real bears!) Their royalty contract was good, thoroughly explained and–did not require an exclusive. Some sites (I believe Fictionwise is one) requires exclusive listings. I’m not sure if this exclusivity expires after a time or if if it remains so long as the book is listed. Exclusivity is fine for a brief period, but after that–with all these ebook sites–yikes!

It’s hard to say which of these sites will garner a lot of market share. I was pleased to read that Smashwords signed a distribution agreement with Barnes and Noble. Right now B&N doesn’t seem to have much of a reputation for ebooks at all. So it could be slow going and an uphill battle.

If anyone has a Sony reader and has an opinion or likes/dislikes, where you shop for books–I’m all ears. Or eyeballs in this case!

Posted: August 31, 2009
Filed in Project E-books
Tags:, , , ,

Sage – Anthology

sage_halfSage: Tales from a Magical Kingdom – Now available for download to your Kindle, iPhone or iPod-touch via Amazon.

Amazon UK
(It’s available at all the Amazon country retailer stores, including Germany, Spain, Italy and France).
Barnes and Noble
Kobobooks

If you have an e-reader that supports ePUB, I will be uploading the ePub files for sale from my own website soon. In the meantime, try here:

Smashwords

Sword and Sorcery meets Agatha Christie. Three novellas introduce the Kingdom of Sage and those who protect its boundaries.
Sometimes it takes a more experienced hand to save an entire Kingdom.

The first of these stories, Toil, Trouble and Rot, was published in Coyote Wild Magazine; the other two are all new, original stories. In Dungeons and Decay find out just how far a mother will go when her child is in danger–and how much magic it takes to keep him safe. In Call to Arms, its a family affair; every hand is needed when a ghost invades the kingdom demanding old wrongs be righted.


The Numbers

sage80 I’ve been waiting to write this post for at least a month. 🙂 When I started out publishing on the Kindle, one of my goals was to sell well enough to publish a second book. That didn’t take me long. Sage: Tales from a Magical Kingdom is a set of novellas–and short stories don’t sell as well as novels, but from the get-go, I was pleased with sales.

From research, I used these two statistics to set my goals:

1. Self-published authors rarely sell more than 75 copies and most of those copies are to friends and relatives.
2. Small publishers sell 20 to 30 copies of each title per month.

Given those two points, I figured selling 10 to 20 copies of Sage per month was a good goal. I’ve only published a few pieces in online zines, so my name is completely unknown. Since I was selling into the Kindle market, I didn’t have to worry that relatives or friends would be buying significant copies–no one I knew had a Kindle!

Sage made the 10 copies per month pretty easily and hit twenty plus–in fact, it averages twenty copies per month. It took me less than six months to reach 75 copies. So from that standpoint, I think we could say I reached the bottom tier of self-publishing pretty easily.

Sage will never be a blockbuster, nor will it generate significant income–it’s priced at $1.00. What it does do is generate interest and serve as a cheap way for readers to sample my writing style. It did well enough that I decided to publish a novel, Catch an Honest Thief.

thief80 My goals for Thief were to sell 20 to 30 copies a month or get close enough to figure out if the market was receptive to my work.

Thief had a rocky start. It made the twenty and then sagged for a couple of months. The reviews and feedback on both Thief and Sage were good, however. By November 2009, I still didn’t know whether the model made sense. Sage was meeting expectations, reviews were meeting expectations but sales were under expectations with Thief.

execlunchmart_5percentI decided to go ahead with Executive Lunch. My goals were the same as for Thief: twenty to thirty sales per month. If sales for either of them didn’t get there, Lunch would probably have been my last Kindle edition. (Keep in mind that while all of this was going on, I did have a completely different series subbed to regular publishers.) I’m a big believer in attacking from different angles to reach my goals.

Executive Lunch was what I will term my Kindle “break-out” novel. It averages over 100 copies per month. It helps sales of the other two books as well, pushing them into the 20 per month since it went live. Some of its success is probably due to the good reviews on the other two, plus some good early reviews for Lunch. Some of the success is probably due to the fact that it came out in November, very near the big Christmas shopping season.

I used the success of Lunch to tweak the book description of Thief and also to improve the cover.

The bottom line: My goal was to sell 500 minimum within 18 months to declare any kind of success. With Executive Lunch, I reached that number today, after four months. My audience has been kind–maybe because I don’t charge much for my novels, maybe just because they are kind people. At any rate, the second in the Executive series will be out this year. My goals are a little higher now that I have some numbers. Realizing the whole thing could fall apart due to the economy or fate or alien zombies, I’m hoping to sell a thousand copies of Executive Lunch by the end of this year–and five hundred of Executive Retention, which I expect out in July, priced at $2.99.

It’s been a lot of fun, a lot of work, but I’m enjoying myself. Watch the blog–I’ll be having a cover contest to choose the covers for my next two books!

Posted: March 11, 2010
Filed in Project E-books