Tag Archives: amazon

FIERCE Novel Bundle available NOW!

Over a million words from sixteen best-selling Fantasy authors, including the legendary Mercedes Lackey…

…for 99 cents.

I know. It’s crazy. Insane. Bonkers, even. But the Fierce box set is available now, and for a limited time at this fantastic price!

FIERCE, Sixteen Authors Of Fantasy

Already grabbed your copy? Want to help an author (or sixteen) out? If you’ve reviewed Bound in the past and have a minute to copy and paste your review onto the Amazon page for Fierce, it will be a big help for the set. You don’t have to have read the rest of the stories, though I hope you will enjoy them–I know I can’t wait to dive in! Reviews help the set’s visibility on Amazon, and will help with advertising through other venues.

This is a pretty please with a cherry on top. ūüôā

BIG thanks to everyone who pre-ordered!

Here are the details, in case anyone missed them when I first announced the set:

WORKS INCLUDED:

Mercedes Lackey – Moving Targets
Stuck watching over four Herald trainees on circuit, Elyn is at her wits’ end–and that’s before a town asks for help with a ghostly infestation.

Michael G. Manning – The Blacksmith’s Son
A journey to discover the secrets of his past reveals a magical heritage and embroils Mordecai in a deadly battle for the future of mankind.

K.F. Breene – Chosen
Prophecy has foretold that when war threatens the world, the Chosen will appear to help the Shadow Warriors reclaim their stolen freedom and lead them out of the Land of Mist.

Morgan Rice – A Quest of Heroes
Thorgin, an outsider and a dreamer, fights to become a warrior in an epic quest that finds him at the center of a maelstrom of royal plots and counterplots that threaten him and everyone he loves.

Michael James Ploof – Whill of Agora
When Whill learns the truth of his lineage, he sets out to face his father’s murderer, but what he learns along the way will change his life–and the realm–forever.

Daniel Arenson – Requiem’s Song
Weredragons, men call them. Monsters. Cursed ones. People who can turn into beastly reptiles. Together they will forge a nation.

Kate Sparkes – Bound
When a young woman accidentally saves the life of an enemy Sorcerer, she finds herself drawn into a world of magic that’s more beautiful, more seductive, and more dangerous than she ever imagined.

David Adams – The Pariahs
Two sellswords–a half-elf and a half-orc–find their war over before it even begins. But trouble is stirring on the home front, conflict which threatens more than just their lives.

Amy Raby – The Fire Seer
Taya must use her fire visions to investigate a series of murders, but the Coalition of Mages has partnered her with her old nemesis, the man who used to bully her when they were young.

C. Greenwood – Magic of Thieves
In a province where magic is forbidden, young Ilan, born with the powerful gift of her ancestors, has only one hope for survival–concealment.

David Dalglish – The Weight of Blood
When half-bloods Harruq and Qurrah Tun pledged their lives to a death prophet, they only sought escape from their squalid beginnings. Instead, they become his greatest disciples, charged with leading his army of undead.

K.J. Colt – Bear Heart
In the savage lands of Ruxdor, young Klawdia must fight the champions of four rival clans to defend her future as the first female chieftain.

Shae Ford – Poison
A bandit girl is taken from her home and thrust into a complex world of lords and ladies, where she learns that she must kill to survive.

Endi Webb – The Maskmaker’s Apprentice
Masks of legend. Masks of power. Those who dare to wear them trifle with the old powers and risk ruin and mayhem. But a young apprentice maskmaker cannot contain his curiosity, and accidentally unleashes a deadly terror upon an unsuspecting world.

Michael Wallace – The Dark Citadel
A slave boy and a young queen lead an alliance of spies, servants, and merchants to stave off the encroaching armies of a dark wizard.

Terah Edun – Blades of Magic
As an unstoppable war breaks out, a young girl enlists in the military to unravel the secrets surrounding her father’s execution.

Links:

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Kobo

Google Play

iBooks

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Trusting My Instincts (And Where They Took Me This Year)

Some people choose a word at the beginning of the year to be their theme, keep their goals on-track, and direct their work. I think that’s a fantastic idea. I might even try it for 2015.

Again.

See, I have a hard time remembering my word, which makes it somewhat ineffective. But one thing I can do right now is look back at 2014 and spot the One Thing. The lesson I learned. The progress in my personal character arc that this section of my story pulled out of me.

2014 was the year I learned to trust my instincts.

(This is going to be a writing/publishing/sales post. You’re excused if this topic bores you. No hard feelings. We’ll talk about future projects next time, which should be more exciting for most of us. WHEE, FUN!)

See, independent publishing is a wonderful thing, or at least it can be under the right circumstances. But it is a business as much as it is a creative endeavour, and it requires a LOT of decision-making.

And me? I suck at decisions.

Publishing

I find it hard to believe how much happened this year. As of early 2014 I was firmly prepared to get Bound out to the world by publishing it myself. I had considered the options and decided not to seek out an agent and publishing contract for this project. I’d booked an editor, paid my deposit, and was… actually, I was still tearing my hair out over the decision. I knew I had the right editor, I’d picked an amazing cover designer, and I felt confident that I had a solid story even if I knew it still needed work.

But¬†I had¬†doubts. I read success stories, but I read more about people who were excited to be earning coffee money from their books. This is not to say that that’s not an achievement. Reaching even one reader and giving them a story they fall in love with is the goal. To change one person, to have an impact on her… it’s mind-blowing. It’s why I do this.

But when you’re paying several thousand dollars for production costs and want to maintain the same standards on book two, you want to make that back ASAP. And there are no guarantees. None. Amazing books do poorly¬†and crap rises to the top as often as it goes the other way.

And on top of that, there are the well-meaning friends who have gone ahead with publishing their work who tell you, “Yeah, have fun with your book getting ignored. You can’t do it without an agent and a publisher. Trust me.”

It can become¬†difficult to have confidence in your plans, you know? But my instincts told me this was the way to go (emphasis on me–this is not for everyone). My gut¬†said I could do it myself, but I couldn’t go it alone. I couldn’t do my own editing and cover design. But I was starting a business, and those things were the expenses I’d have to handle if I wanted it to have a chance at success. I made the decision, and it felt right.

And yet I still hesitated.

For a real example of how uncertain I was, look no further than the fact that I didn’t officially announce Bound’s upcoming release until after I got edits back and realized that though the manuscript bled red from every page, I could handle the changes.

It’s like not really committing to a relationship until you’re walking down the aisle.

But I digress.

 

The Other Stuff

It wasn’t all about the method of publication, though that was absolutely the biggest decision I had to trust my gut on¬†in 2014.

There were the decisions I had to make about which developmental suggestions to take from my editor. All were good suggestions; not all fit my vision for the story and the direction I wanted to take the series. I stuck to my guns on one huge aspect of the love story, the end of the book, and… actually, I took almost every other suggestion, including re-working the back-story for the entire world.

And it worked. It’s not a perfect book (I don’t believe such a thing exists), but it’s the one I wanted to write.

There was the cover art, and on this I had to trust someone else’s¬†experience and instincts. I wanted something symbolic, but nothing we came up with¬†had the impact a book needs to sell. We talked about a cover with a character on it–an idea I instinctively balked at, but that turned into a cover that has gained a lot of attention from readers. Ravven knows book covers. I don’t. Even when I wasn’t 100% sure on the finished product, I trusted the part of me that said¬†to trust her.

And it worked.

There was the question of going with Amazon’s KDP Select and gaining extra promo opportunities, or distributing more widely. That’s its own post, and we’ve talked about it before. I stayed out of Select, and have only occasionally and temporarily regretted that decision. Have I missed some opportunities to promote? Yes. Has Amazon punished me for it? Absolutely not. I sell over 90% of my books there. They’ve been amazing.

So yeah, that seems to be working for me. Whew!

I had to decide whether to heavily promote Bound when it was my only book, or put that time and energy into working on the next one. I chose the latter.

No regrets there.

There were lovely e-mails from people at companies I won’t name here asking about audio rights or publication opportunities. I accepted one offer and regretfully declined discussion on another that I’d have jumped at a year ago, but that didn’t fit my plan for this series at this time.

That was a tough one. I do hope to work with those people on another project some day. But I followed my instincts again, and I feel good about my decision.

There was the pricing issue. There’s some¬†pressure to release a first novel at 99 cents to try to get more impulse purchases, or to make it free just on the off chance that people might read it if it’s in their Kindles. I struggled with this for a long time. I had invested a lot into this book, both in time and money. I had an eye-catching cover, a blurb that I thought worked, and a sample that I trusted to draw readers in. My gut told me to let¬†those things to do their job and let the sales come as they may.

There’s nothing wrong with 99 cent sales, or 99 cent releases, or perma-free first books in series. You have to do what works for you, and I’ll do occasional sales in the future. But I knew that three bucks was a hell of a deal for this book. Heck, $4.99 is a bargain. Amazon says I should price it higher, but I don’t.**

I’m doing what feels right for me when it comes to¬†pricing, price changes, and sales. I’m not dropping the price just to chase Amazon ranking. I’m gathering honest review. I’m trying to really connect with people through social media instead of spamming.

Everything is about long-term strategy, and so far, it’s working.

 

The results of trusting my instincts

How well is it working?

Ugh. I hate to talk about it, but I do find it helpful when other authors share results, so here goes.

Thanks to a combination of factors***, Bound stayed in the top 10 of several sub-category Best Seller lists all summer, and sat at #1 on two of them for quite a while. It’s still in two top 50’s, and in the top 100 of a third six months after release.

Fullscreen capture 2014-07-20 84034 AM.bmp

^Back in June. Aah, memories!

 

At its best day, it was in the top 500 overall on Amazon.com. At its lowest, it’s hovered around 10,000. I expect this to keep dropping, and that’s fine. Really. Juuuust fine.

*anxiety explosion*

As of the six month mark (Christmas Eve), it had sold over 15,000 copies in e-book.

It’s not NYT Bestseller stuff by any stretch, but not at all bad for a debut from an unknown indie author with no massive social media following, no industry connections, no money for promotion, no offering the book for free (except as advance review copies) and thus far no 99 cent sales.

I put the number here simply to add another entry to the “Yeah, this is possible” column. You hear a lot about how “the wild west land of indie publishing opportunity is over,” but it’s still possible for readers to discover your book. There is hope. Always.

Have I made mistakes and missed opportunities? Absolutely. And I will continue to make them, and miss them. But I will also continue to read as much as I can on the industry, on what people are doing that works, and what doesn’t. I find that my instincts only work if I feed them with information.

That’s why I’m posting this for you to read. I don’t care to talk about money. I hesitated to even post sales numbers. But it’s time for me to give back to the author community that has supported me, and as I’m not comfortable offering advice, I’ll share experience. I hope my experiences will help feed your instincts.

This isn’t a road map, though.

There’s no one right way to do this, and I mistrust anyone who says there is. For me, the key is being informed, staying flexible, making decisions I’m comfortable with, never taking advantage of others for my own gain, being grateful for everything, and above all maintaining my commitment to producing quality work.

Your mileage may, of course, vary.

You know what? I’m calling my word for next year. It’s going to be Flexibility.

There’s an 80% chance that this is the same word I chose last year, but that’s fine. It’s working. It means learning, it means shaking off the negative and steering for the positive. It means trying new things that might not work out, but that I also might learn from.

Next post, we’ll set some goals and talk about upcoming releases. YAY!

 

So tell me: What did you learn this year, either in your personal or professional life? Anything that might help the rest of us out?

 

**Mostly because I almost never pay more than $5 for an e-book myself, unless it’s a box set, something that I’m desperate to have, or occasionally to support author friends. I like e-books, but their limitations mean I won’t¬†pay paperback prices for them. $5 for something I’m only licensing for personal use seems reasonable to me.^

^That said, never say never. As the industry changes, so will my opinions and tactics. This is a faintly-drawn line in the sand, not a stone wall. Flexibility!

***We can talk about this in another post, if anyone cares to. I have theories. But this post is already way too long.

 


ROW80 Update- Falling off the Cliff Edition

Not literally. It’s just my first book‘s last few days of eligibility for Hot New Release lists on Amazon.com. My poor baby is going to feel the sting of being replaced by newer and younger books.

Le sigh.

But what the hell, right? It’s been an awesome run. I didn’t expect to see it on this list. Or here.

Fullscreen capture 2014-07-20 84034 AM.bmp

Or here. I am keeping this screenshot FOREVER.

Maybe its spot in a couple of sub-category best-seller lists will keep it afloat for a while. I actually have no idea how that usually works out, long-term. I’m torn between sharing EVERYTHING here in the interest of getting potentially helpful information out there for other writers, and just staying all shut-up because someone’s going to come along and say, “PFFT. IT’S JUST A COUPLE OF SUB-CATEGORIES, GET A LIFE, ROOKIE.”

It’s major for me. These little victories don’t take away the crippling self-doubt that most writers seem to struggle with, but they’re really nice.

Thanks again to everyone who’s read, reviewed, shared the book with friends, and offered support and encouragement in the past month. I hope I’ll see you all at the next release party. ūüôā

Okay, update.

Goals were here, and right now mainly focus on getting Torn whipped into shape for readers and then my editor. Good news: I’m 1/3 of the way through. Bad news: Subtracting family vacation time (I’m going to go nuts if I can’t work, I swear), that leaves about 4 weeks to get through the other 70K+ words, which includes two new scenes and full re-writes of others, plus heavy revisions.

I can do this. I just hope my dear husband finds it in his heart to accept my frequent absences when I disappear to my office*. I also hope I can figure out how to not be distracted by social media, etc., which is my writing Kryptonite.¬†The distraction, I mean, not social media specifically. If I didn’t have that, it would be something else. I don’t have ADD, but I definitely have CFF (Can’t F%$*ing Focus… not the Canadian Fencing Federation).

Once I get working, I’m fine for a good 20 minutes or so. It’s just settling into it that’s hard. That, and the kids hanging off of me, the Barbie doll chatting in my ear about how she’s¬†the Salt Queen now, the rest of the “Are you done yet? Now? How about now?”

I feel like this is the main benefit of an office job. And I still don’t particularly want to work with a publisher, but I think¬†my deadlines might carry more weight with people if I could say they came from somewhere other than me and the promise I made to readers. It’s a little frustrating.

Anyway. I’m pretty well on schedule, and that’s the important thing.

For anyone who doesn’t know, ROW80 is a writing challenge that lets you set your own flexible goals for each round. More information here. And if you’d like to check out some other people’s posts, click here! Join in any time at your own blog space if you feel so inclined.

In other news, I’m considering dropping out of this challenge. I’m not sure these posts are anything but boring for you guys, and they take time away from actual writing (my perfectionist tendencies and paranoia about how much to say about things have made this post take an hour and a half to write). Maybe I’ll just leave Sundays open for something fun and keep Wednesdays strictly WIPpetish. We’ll see.

Now. Back to work.

Wait, no. The kids are up. Later…

*It’s easy enough to find me. Down to basement, hang a left past the litter box ghetto. It’s the spot with the desk and the dragons and the crazy person.


ROW80 Update: Party Closet Edition

We went on a family adventure to Fogo Island yesterday. I’ll have more pictures and stuff tomorrow, but for now I just have to share one thing.

I found the party closet.

IMG_5887

Tell me that doesn’t sound like a good time right there. It’s on the ferry between Farewell and Change Islands/Fogo. If this is everything you’ve ever wanted out of life, YOU’RE WELCOME.

(And guys? It’s not flame-resistant apparel. It’s a FIREMAN’S OUTFIT.)

Anyway.

Things are going well with my little schedule plan. Sort of. I’m doing really well with the whole “get up early” part.¬†It’s just the “get right to work” thing that’s making me stumble.

I keep getting distracted by the “checking sales and rankings” thing and the “should I be doing some kind of promotion” thing and the “I wonder what my friends are up to on Facebook OMG THAT’S SO WACKY” thing.

I’ll get there. I will.

I’m making progress on Torn, and it’s SO much more epic than the last draft was. I kind of dropped the ball on a romance sub-plot in drafts one and two, and that’s really blossoming now. I’ve figured out a few things that smooth out rough patches in the plot, I’m taking characters to places they’re not too happy about, and I’ve got a whole lot of surprises for anyone who loved Bound.

I’m so excited!

Speaking of Bound, the book in the #1 position had the decency to run out of time for new release eligibility*, so Bound is (at the time of this posting) the¬†#1 Hot New Release in Amazon’s YA Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery category! It’s on the charts in a few others, but that’s my big, happy excitement for the day. I also woke up to a beautifully written review, so that was WICKED GOOD.

Mini-goals for this week: Finish up this one character’s scenes, move on to Aren’s (which should be my biggest challenge, because DUDE. Ugh. I love him, but this is a tough¬†story to balance in terms of not letting him get too emo). Contact a few book reviewers if I can get my nerve up. Get on that blog post for tomorrow. Maybe do a few more promo pics, though I’m not sure how much good they actually do. Finish reading last week’s WIPpet Wednesday posts. Read other blogs.

But the priority is writing.

And also housework.

Ick.

 

*I’m pretty sure it was out-selling my book by 10 to 1, so this really was the only way I was going to get there.


ROW80 Update: I Like Big Books and I Cannot Lie Edition

 

 

 

 

 

*pulls spider webs out of hair*

Please pardon my appearance. I’m in the depths of uploading a book to various thingies, and I’m afraid I haven’t had time to clean up.

*shakes off rat that’s gnawing on boot*

It’s been an interesting day, but it looks like things are working out. Yes, I broke down and paid someone to format for me. I know, time investment, yadda yadda. But the truth is that the book looks better than I ever could have managed on my own with my current skill set, and considering the troubleshooting my guy had to do today, I think my sanity is worth what I paid.

Actually, it was kind of amusing. I’m Canadian and he’s a Brit, so the e-mail replies read like a merry-go-round of apologies and thank-yous.

One of the problems stemmed from the high-ish page count of the book, which requires a deeper gutter (space between the spine and the text). Not a big deal once we identified the problem, but it took a few tries to get it. And then this came in the mail this afternoon…

20140611-161037.jpg

button by beanforest (etsy)

 

I thought it was kind of funny. ūüôā

Bottom line is: I have delicious, beautiful, formatted files that I’m sending to ARC readers tonight. Everyone on my list as it stands, that is. Remember that thing where the basement flooded and I lost information on who was helping with the cover reveal? There’s a small chance that a name or two could have been lost from this list, as well. If you signed up and did’t get an e-mail today, just send me a message at kate.sparkes (at) live.ca and we’ll get you fixed up. It’s not personal, I promise!

And yes, I’m getting excited again. The cover art for the paperback nearly blew my mind. If all goes well I should have a copy of the book in my hands¬†next week.

This frustrating, infuriating, beautiful book. I may cry.

If you haven’t added it to Goodreads yet, here’s the link. One ARC reader has rated, and is going to put a review up soon.

I think I should take a screenshot while this rating lasts.

So looking back on my goals for this round of ROW80…

  • editing FINISHED
  • proofreading FINISHED
  • formatting FINISHED
  • send out ARCs FINISHED
  • set up Facebook page (here) FINISHED
  • submit to KDP, D2D READY TO ROLL
  • submit to Createspace FINISHED
  • order proof copy¬†PENDING
  • Revise Book 2 for JuNoWriMo… NOT GOING SO WELL

…but I’m letting myself off the hook as far as word count goes. I’m reading and making notes right now.

Side note: Holy crap, tax stuff is complicated and intimidating and annoying. I still have to call for my EIN and get that off to Amazon. Anyone who knows me knows that this is NOT my idea of a good time. Phone calls make me anxious.

But I have to do it if I don’t want them to withhold 30% of my money.

So I’ll do it.

Tomorrow.

So, how are things in your neck of the woods?

 


K is for Kindle

…and Kobo, because I’ve used both. For the record, I like my Kindle better (this is comparing the Kindle PaperWhite to a fairly basic, nomal-sized Kobo). I like the back-light, I like the screen set-up, and I definitely prefer the store, which has a greater selection and cheaper books.

New toy!

New toy!

No, I’m not a fan of Kindle exclusive content and all of that, but whatever floats your boat.¬† You just go on with your bad selves, author-publisher types.

What I’m going to do here is link to a few books I’ve bought and/or read recently, and invite you all to do the same. Kindle, Kobo, Smashwords, author sites, etc. Link to what you’ve bought, what you’ve recently enjoyed, or your own e-books you’ve got on sale in the comments. Gimme a blurb, gimme a price, gimme your thoughts, gimme a link.

DO MY WORK FOR ME, MINIONS.

The Butterfly Storm (Kate Frost, contemporay romance) <– currently reading

Under the Empyrean Sky (Chuck Wendig, Dystopian YA/Cornpunk)   <Рread, LOVED

Emergence (KL Schwengel, Fantasy)  <Рbeta read, loved, still need to read finished product

Siren’s Secret (Debbie Hurst, Romance avec mermaids)¬† <– just started

Unteachable (Leah Raeder, NA Contemporary Romance) <– have not read

Blackbirds (Chuck Wendig, contemporary cussing) <– have not read

The Crimson League (Victoria Grefer, Fantasy) <– have not read

 

…and there’s the problem. I could list thirty more books, all “have not read.” See, I get these e-mails with free and cheap e-books, and I grab them if they look good.

And then I never find time to read them. I’m looking through my Kindle library and I don’t remember buying half of the books I see there. Don’t remember what they’re about, or why I bought them, so I’m in no rush to open them, read them, or review them*. Not that my paperback shelf is better, thanks to 40% off sales at Walmart and the secondhand book store, but the Kindle definitely provides more temptation and more opportunity to forget what I bought.

How do you all deal with that? Do you set reading goals? Refuse to buy more books until you get the TBR pile down a bit? Or are you happy to let your library grow unchecked, not¬†worrying whether you’ll ever get to reading a book you got for free or paid very little for, just happy in the knowledge that there’s a library there to browse when you want it?

All of this kind of makes me understand how many books there really are out there (as in, 600,000+ published last year alone).

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the DNF (Did Not Finish) ones…

So go ahead. Tell me what you’ve picked up recently, what’s good, what you’re selling, and how you deal with your reading list. Then head over to the A-Z Challenge list and see what someone else is up to!

 

*Come to think of it, I don’t think I’ve read a single book I’ve got for free. Hmm.

 

 

 

 


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