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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 digital copy of my fourth book is now available on Kindle for $2.99. Paperbacks will be available soon, probably next week, for $12.
Artimus, Whisper, Ico, Corrin, and Jon are reunited once again to defend the city of Sewert from dark magic. This time around our heroes are joined by Whisper's protege and Artimus' son plus a few more new faces (and perhaps a guest appearance by the World's Greatest Gladiator). If you enjoyed the first three volumes of the Central Kingdoms Chronicles, I think you'll like Specter of the Lich.
And if you enjoyed any of my books, please consider reviewing them on Amazon.com. As much I wish they did, these things don't sell themselves.
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.
My third book is currently out for galley printing. It will be on the market by the first week in November (target release date is Halloween). It's time to start thinking about marketing.
What's the best method? Keyword targeted Internet advertising is always available (Google Ads, Facebook Ads) for CentralKingdomsChronicles.com, but that costs money. I read a lot about networking (establishing a Twitter presence, participating in like-minded communities), but that's never made much of an impact for Boosterrific.com. I'm sure that I should pursue multiple paths, I'm just not sure which are worthwhile.
Obviously, since I wrote a fantasy genre story, it's fantasy genre readers I need to reach. Perhaps I could advertise at local comic book shops. I also plan to give away the Kindle edition of all three books for free over the Thanksgiving/Black Friday holiday. (Readers are more important than profits. Can't have one without the other!)
For the record, I knew going in that book marketing is very, very difficult. So many book, so few readers. For every author I read who has been even moderately successful, the trick seems to have been time: Grind out story after story, book after book until someone takes notice. I'll soon have three. I guess I should get to work on four. Maybe before I get to one hundred, I'll finally make my first buck.
(For the record, as I type this, the first two books have generated exactly $54.41 since release, $49.63 in paperback and $4.78 for Kindle. [Oh, plus Ken bought me a Coke. That counts as profit.] The publisher won't cut me a check until I pass the $100 threshold. Perhaps the release of book three will put me over the top.)
If anyone thinks of anything else I might try, please tell me. In the meantime, if you've read and enjoyed my books, please tell your friends!
Book Three, the final book in the current trilogy, is on pace to be released at the start of November, so read fast!
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I know you're probably sick of hearing about it but:
The digital copy of my first book is now available as a paperback for $12.00 from CreateSpace.com.
The book will also be available through Amazon.com, but I get $4.27 per book sold on CreateSpace, the printer's website, whereas Amazon pays only $1.87 per copy. (And if you're thinking that $12 is a lot to pay for a paperback book, keeping it at that price is the reason I refused to let CreateSpace offer it to Ingram or barnesandnoble.com stores.Those distribution venues want an even bigger cut of the profits, requiring that the book list at $18 before I got paid.)
Now the next step is marketing. Somehow, I've got to get the book into the hands of people who want to read fantasy novels. That's no small task for someone who doesn't care to spend time around other people.