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I'm going to have to raise the price of my books.
CreateSpace, the print-on-demand publisher of my books, announced today that they intend to close their estore. Beginning November 1, they will be redirecting all customer requests to Amazon.com (their parent company).
While they pitch this as being an improvement for authors, giving my customers access to features "currently available on Amazon.com" such as searching, better shopping carts, and potentially free shipping, it's going to cut deeply into my (already minuscule) profits.
Right now, I make about $2.50 more per book sold on CreateSpace over Amazon. (CreateSpace pays 80% after material cost; Amazon pays only 60%.) That's why I've been directing you to buy my books there. Beginning November 1, that profit evaporates.
In response, I will be raising the price of my paperbacks from $12 to $15 each. That won't fully cover the cost that Amazon will be swallowing, but it's a compromise I can live with.
TL;DR: If you want a copy of my latest book, buy it at CreateSpace.com before November 1 and save yourself $3.
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All four of my books are now available in both Kindle and paperback editions. You can find links (and previews) at www.CentralKingdomsChronicles.com.
Thanks for your support.
The September issue of Reader's Digest includes an excerpt from Ben Bratt's book Nabokov's Favorite Word is Mauve. In typical clickbait fashion, the magazine titles its article "Have Bestsellers become Dumber?" There's a maxim in journalism that any question posed in a headline can be answered with the word "no." In this case, the answer is a slightly more complicated "kind of."
The argument Bratt makes is that most bestselling books these days are written on a 6th grade reading level, a significant decline from the 8th grade reading level of most bestsellers half a century ago. Personally, I hesitate to blame this on the "dumbing down" of readers. As a child, I was taught that any writing intended for a mass audience should be written on a 7th grade level. I suspect that modern authors have taken that advice to heart and, in the interest of finding an audience, doubled down. After all, if a 7th grade level reaches the average reader, a 6th grade level casts a wider net.
Of course, reading this made me wonder about my own books. Now that I'm an author myself, where does my personal style fall? To answer that question, I took my first three books and ran them through an online text parser. It gave me an "A" for readability but complained that my words have too many syllables. I didn't realize that was a problem. Perhaps naively, I assumed that words had all the syllables they needed.
Over the course of the three books (255,437 words in 25,235 sentences), I averaged 1.4 syllables per word. That's too high? I like Green Eggs and Ham as much as the next guy, but I also like most of my meals to be slightly more complicated.
Otherwise, what did the text parser tell me about my writing? My books are 37% nouns or pronouns, 21% verbs, 7% adjectives, and 6% adverbs, and they should take about 20 hours to read. That information gives no hint about whether my stories are entertaining, just that humans won't pull out their hair trying to make sense of my grammar. That's better than nothing, I suppose.
Oh, it also told me that my writing averages a 7th grade reading level. Surprise, surprise.
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When I went to the dentist on Thursday, he told me that he bought (and enjoyed) all of my fantasy novels. That's one of the side benefits of being a heavy Coca-Cola drinker who has seen the same dentist at least twice a year for twenty years. I think of it as a kickback.
I haven't sold a lot of books yet. To date, I've made about $70 in sales against ... well, you don't want to know how many hours I spent writing or dollars I've spent advertising. I won't say those details aren't important, but they aren't why I wrote the books.
One of the things I've discovered since releasing the books to the wild is that I'm always embarrassed when someone tells me s/he's read one, whether they claim to have enjoyed it or not. I don't think it's because the books are bad — I happen to think they're pretty good — I just don't enjoy the attention. I don't want to do any signings or readings. I'd prefer for the books to speak for themselves.
But if you've read them and want to tell your friends (or Amazon or Twitter or Facebook or your dental patients) how much you liked them, I'm not going to stand in your way.
If you're a Kindle reader looking for a way to kill some time this Thanksgiving, I've got a present for you.
Until November 26, you can download digital copies of my second and third books for free from Amazon.com.
Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Black Friday, everybody.
Book One, The Wizards of Ranaloy, and Book Two, Prince Thorgils' War, are already available in both formats via Amazon.com and CreateSpace.com. You can find links and preview chapters at CentralKingdomsChronicles.com.
Thank you to all who have supported this project.