Where to Buy E-books

You can easily buy E-books through your E-reader’s built-in store, right? So why would you go anywhere else?

Maybe you are looking for a different selection. Maybe you are looking for a better search interface. Maybe you love your device but don’t like “belonging” to a corporation. If you are reading this, you probably have a lot of better reasons. Bottom line; you want to buy E-books somewhere besides the storefront built into your E-reader. So where do you go?

There are three options I recommend checking out:

Smashwords – They have literally hundreds of thousands of titles to choose from and a decent filtering system to help you narrow down your browsing range. Their website is a little clunky, with a kind of “Libertarian” feel, but they offer outstanding support and excellent how-to guides to get your books from them onto your E-reader. And they provide their titles in practically any format you could ever want, giving you access to all formats the first time you buy. They also source E-books to libraries, enabling those who love libraries to still find use for their E-readers.

EBooks.com – They have a slightly more sophisticated presentation than Smashwords and offer a more typical search/filtering interface. They seem to have a higher focus on providing readers access to what they want (as opposed to Smashwords “if you want something we probably have it” approach) and carry best sellers and recommend reading lists. They support most popular E-readers and have an App which you can use for your phone.

DriveThruFiction – DTF is a distributor like Smashwords, so they feel more like a warehouse than a cozy book cafe.Their selection of books seems to be predominately sourced from independent publishers, so you won’t see as many NYT Bestseller’s here. On the other hand you’re more likely to discover an excellent though obscure book, start a trend, and propel it to Bestseller status. The filtering and search options are fairly comprehensive, but not as sleekly styled as Ebooks.com’s. Their titles appear to be mostly offered in .PDF format, which has the benefit of being fairly universal, but the disadvantage of not being specific to any particularly dedicated E-readers. They have a fairly comprehensive help page, but I have never contacted them directly.

Any of these three online retailers will give you a wide selection of E-books offering just as many titles, if not more, as are available on your E-reader linked retailer. Take a few minutes to explore them and enjoy the ambiance of independence.

Why You Should Give Independent Authors A Chance

The rise of e-books (and the flurry of devices for reading them, such as Kindles, Nooks, Ipads, Kobo‘s, etc to infinity) has led to a surge of independence in the ranks of professional writers. These Independent (informally: Indie) writers have caused a huge uproar within the writing and publishing community, but what it means for readers is that there are now literally thousands more books out there for them to read. Sounds great, right? But, I hear you all asking, are there actually more books out there worth reading?

I think that is a definite yes. For readers, indie writers are a good thing.

What exactly is an indie writer, though? Contrary to popular belief, they are not all wild-bearded hermits, living their lives in seclusion. Mostly they are regular folks (or regularly irregular folks) like you and me who happen to have a talent for telling entertaining stories and are not able to convince marketers that their work will entertain a significant portion of the population. So they decide to publish it without the support of a large firm behind them. Sounds a bit like corporate rebels, right?

But can a book without a big publishing house behind it be more than a poorly edited stock plot, with generic characters? If profesional editors won’t take it then can it really be any good?
Eh, I would say, maybe. Then I would ask how many books you’ve browsed through in Barnes and Noble (insert your favorite bookstore) and thought “Maybe I should be a writer, I mean, if this crap sells it can’t be that hard!”. Or something far more pithy and humorous. You get the idea.

So how do you as a reader know if an indie author is worth your hard earned cash?

Honestly, it is the same way you tell if any book is worth your money. Is the cover made with attention and care or is it a lot of fuzzy, splotchy, poorly knitted together photos and color gradients? Is the description well written? Does it describe a book you would like to read? Does the author have a website or any type of public presence? Is there a print copy of the book available? The answers to these questions will give you an idea if an author is serious about their writing and has a fair chance of providing entertaining fiction or not.

A great many indie authors are excellent writers who are tired of playing by corporate rules that limit or utterly block their chances at reaching their audience. Like in every crowd, you have your cons and Sally-come-easy’s, but readers should not be discouraged by those people, just as you shouldn’t let the probable presence of pick-pockets keep you away from fairs and theme parks. Most indie authors work just as hard as their traditionally published counterparts to ensure their books are properly edited and formatted and fully prepared to entertain you.

Why buy E-Books?

You pay for them but you don’t actually own them.

They don’t have the book feel and smell in your hands.

Anyone can publish an E-book, so there are lot’s of worthless books to sort through.

All these reasons and more lead many readers to prefer hard copy books to the electronic medium. So what is the big deal then? Why are E-books all over the place?

E-books come with the advantages of immediate access, easy storage, and (usually) a lower price. I suspect that I’m not the only one who dreams of obtaining another bookshelf and then spends the money on more books and adds them to the stack in the corner. Or the only one who has been disappointed with the number of books that fit in carry-on luggage. I’ll bet that I’m not the only one who wants to read that new release, but doesn’t want to drive to the store or wait on the mailman. And lastly I’ll bet that the price concept is not one that I need to elaborate on.

That is not to say that I only buy E-books. I have my favorite authors, whose books I will continue buying in hard copy form until they no longer make them. There are also books that are simply works of art, and I want them displayed on my shelves because their appearance is pleasing to me. Finally, after a twelve hour shift with a bright computer screen staring me in the eye the last thing I want is for my book to treat me the same way! (Though the E-ink screens go a long way towards remedying that).

I use my E-reader for a specific strategy, very similar to how I formerly used libraries: to search for new series and new authors who I might otherwise never encounter. That way I can sample a book without leaving the house and risking my life on the roads (your mileage, pun definitely intended, may vary. I’ve been in two accidents in four months, and neither were my fault.) I can try out an author who is new to me without having to dispose of the corpse of their book afterwards if I didn’t like it. And if I find a book that I know I will want to read again, then it goes on the Christmas/Birthday list. I can do all of that and save money! It is awesome.

I feel a few skeptical looks. It can’t be that much money, right? Well, let us assume that you don’t buy a delicious coffee drink and a snack to sip/munch as you browse your books. And let us assume that the bookstore is not next to (insert whatever store you like) where you have been meaning to go and since you are already there you might as well hit the bookstore anyway. We can assume these things because you and I are awesome humans who never do such impulsive things, right

What about gas? I have to drive fifteen minutes to get to the closest bookstore. Then fifteen minutes back: that’s thirty minutes of driving time, 12 miles, all city, so I get crappy mileage. And if you like, add in twenty minutes of yoga to relax after driving through traffic. Or a beer or two, your choice. (For the record, beer is more expensive and less healthy. Guess which one I favor. If you’re thinking anything with a “y,” you’re wrong.)

All of that totals to $15.10 ($10 worth of time, $2.10 worth of gas, and $3 worth of beer) additional cost of the books you bought. Not that much money, right? Depends on how often you go to the bookstore, how many books you buy, and how often they have the book you want. And please note, that total reflects my car, my situation, my beer choices, and what my employer thinks my time is worth. Depending on your situation, it may be a lot less or a lot more. If I went to the bookstore once a week, at best I’m looking at $60 a month. That is awfully close to what I pay for water, and it used to be what I paid for my phone. Anyone who follows a budget can carry it out further and say $720 a year. That’s a decent amount of money, especially when you look at the price of E-readers. Think about it.

Note: Please do not take this as me telling you that you must buy an E-reader because you need to save money and my way is the only way. All I am trying to say is that it is worth considering. For some people, E-readers are not the right way. Others may find them useful. At the end of the day, most of us read because we find it relaxing and entertaining, and I do not believe that anyone must relax and be entertained in a certain way. But I do believe that people should consider the facts, especially when they are trying to maintain their standard of living in the current economic climate.

Plotting and Making Trouble

Plotting

 

I’ve been awful busy, what with life, work, and coming to the end of this current fantasy novel. But I found time to throw this together and once I get the printer working, I’m gonna put it on my corkboard.

Comments or questions? Apply below 🙂

Sales Statistics from 2013

Cha-Ching!!! – Pulled from crochetconcupiscience.com

Last March I posted the sales numbers from the second year of my self-publishing adventure. Now I’m continuing the tradition, if a few months early.

Please keep in mind the following about my numbers:

  • My titles are categorized as follows: Short Stories (24); Novellas (7); Novels (1); and Collections (1).
  • No promotion this year at all.
  • This covers from January 2013 – December 2013.
  • Still searching for a link between blog traffic and sales.
  • I began 2013 with 19 titles published on Amazon, Pubit, and distributed through Smashwords. My goal was to increase my titles published (units for sale) to 32.

Publishing Schedule

It is tedious to list the paltry numbers for twelve months in a row, so here is the summary (I needed 12 titles):

  • In October and December I did not publish any titles. Period. So (-2) to my goal.
  • In September I went nuts and published seven titles. However, this was partially due to a cheatcoughcough EXPERIMENT where I split an odd length story into six episodes. Still (+7).
  • All other months I met my goal and published one title. So (+8).
  • If you follow my screwy numbering system (hey, I’m a writer not a mathematician!) you will realize by the end of 2012 I had published 13 titles, 1 more than planned for. That means I had 32 titles published and for sale in December 2013.

Sales

I totaled 44 sales across all titles for 2013. Not at all the number I was hoping and actually a decrease from 2012. But thanks to playing around with my pricing a bit, I made more this year ($42 vs $33. I know. Big bucks here!). The chart below tracks my sales across the year.

2013 Sales Chart

As you can see, sales peaked in February and September. I changed the chart a little from last year, breaking things down by distributor and its fairly apparent that KDP dominated. Smashwords did about half and B&N barely played at all. What isn’t shown on this chart is that my best seller (a short story) accounted for 12, or ~25%, of my sales. This title has consistently outsold all my others ever since I published it. The only review I’m aware of is a 1-star. Puzzling, I know.

Changes from 2011 to 2012

Covers: Again, my covers have become better. I still sub-contract some of them to my darling wife (she’s gotten really busy with work, so less and less time for cover art). I spent a lot of time in bookstores staring at traditionally published covers. It felt kind of weird but seems to have helped.

Exception to No-promotion: I participated in Smashwords July sale again. Basically, I made all my titles free on Smashwords for the whole month of July. Last year I had a tremendous (paid) sales spike in July. Not the same performance this time around.

Note: February sales peaked again. But this year the second spike was September and not June. Again, I have nothing really to indicate why. But apparently February is a good month for my readers.

Conclusions:

Unlike last year, this year I feel that as I publish more titles, my sales did not increase. I did not notice any great correlation between the amount of titles published and spikes in sales. The exception is September, but as the February spike was larger and I only published one title (vs. seven in September) I don’t find that to be coincidental.

I’m continuing to improve cover quality and blurb quality. I still stay away from putting money into advertising. I think with a series of novels up, ads might pay off, but not for all these stand alone shorts. The novel that I published in May 2013 sold three copies, which surprised me. Statistics-wise, only two other titles outsold that, and one was my bestseller. So with more novels up, I am hopeful that I will prove more attractive to my readers.

Looking Forward:

I was able to finish a full length novel in 2013. This year I plan to try to do two. I also plan on doing 10 short stories in a pulp-ish style that will hopefully take hold. I’m putting them on Wattpad for free as initial releases and then publishing them through the normal channels (once published, I will pull either the entire story, or at least half, from Wattpad.) I continue practicing on writing more active blurbs to pitch a better sell, and I’m further developing my cover art. I’m continuing writing and practicing my story craft as well.

My goals this year are going to be tricky to meet, because I’m going to take a two-three month break from writing to focus on studying for a test at the day job. Not thrilled, but it needs to be done.

Lastly, I’m trying to avoid obsessing over writing perfect stories, to focus on Heinlen’s rules. So far (3.75 short stories this month) it seems to be working. And guess what, it’s a lot of fun!

New Year Resolutions: Writer’s Workout

Flab.

It’s a four letter word (literally!) that is the bane of every man and woman who works from a chair. Eating ‘better’, taking the stairs, these actions can only counteract so many hours of inactive sitting and no more. The only true cure (or so the ‘Y’ tells me) is exercise.

Every year thousands, probably millions of people resolve to workout. And every year thousands (probably millions) are reminded why they stopped working out, or never bothered to in the first place.

It’s hard. It leaves you sore. It takes weeks to get into the routine and see any kind of positive change. It is the last thing any normal person wants to do after working all day (bravo to the superheroes of today who ENJOY working out. Bravo, I say, bravo!)

It gets worse. You look at the price of a gym membership. You see the price of running shoes. The hourly rate of personal trainers (which can be enough to make you seriously rethink certain life choices).

Married men look at bank statements and wonder why an article of clothing intended to get grungy costs $50 a pop.

And then, if you overcome all that, you are faced with the worst workout demon of all. The great and mighty Time-suck (Dah-dah-daaaah!).

Many of us have many things we WANT to do in our off hours and most of those things do not play well with working out. Every writer working a day job will know exactly what I mean.

But hold fast, oh brave and hardy souls, I am developing a solution!

A few months ago I saw an add for Tony Horton’s (of P90X fame) latest workout scheme. The major selling point is that it is a ten minute workout for busy people. Based on the theory that if less is more than a lot less should be a lot more, I developed my own plan, based on my top criteria: Cheap, quick exercise.

A few disclaimers. I am not a doctor, nor a personal trainer. Do not attempt this and then get mad at me if you hurt yourself. Especially don’t attempt this if recovering from Yoga injuries (I did. It sucked. A lot.) That said, on to the workout.

Take the following steps:
1) Find a bar that you can use for pullups.
2) Loosen up with your favorite stretches. I like touch-toes, windmills, and the hold-your-arm-across-your-chest ones.
3) Drop and do 10 pushups (of 15, or 20, or whatever is a reasonable number for you. Emphasis quality, not quantity).
4) On your feet and do 10 squats. Go slow. This is not a race. (or see the note on the pushups. Same concept applies.) *
5) Jump up to your pullup bar and do a reasonable number. If you can’t do one, pullup as high as you can, hold for a two count, and lower slowly. Do this as many times as you can. **
6) Drop lightly (heh heh heh) to the floor and enter the plank position. Hold for 60 seconds (or until you feel like an earthquake is rolling through the neighborhood). Use a timer or count slowly (heh heh heh).
7) Pat yourself on the back and go get some water. Do it every day for a week. Then do it the next week and try and increase your efforts by 50% (i.e. You did 10 pushups, do 15 next week. You did 20 squats, do 30 next week.)

Doesn’t seem to bad right? A warning. You will probably not get ripped on this workout. This is not a ‘beach body’ exercise routine.

BUT when I timed myself, it took all of three minutes. It cost me $0. And it had my heart racing. So if that sounds like what you need, give it a try. To my mind, a huge bonus is that it is adjustable to your physical abilities and it’s a daily workout, so it’s easy to learn.

*When doing squats, be sure to follow proper form and keep your knees behind your toes. You will have to lean forward (keep your back straight) to maintain your balance as you go lower.

** I like pullups/chinups. There are many forms. Wide grip is pushed because it is hard. Narrow grip (palms away) is a little easier. Narrow grips (palms facing to) is usually even easier. I have been trying them lately with my palms facing in to the bar, so that when I look straight ahead, I look down the length of the bar. When I pullup, I have to pull to the side to avoid cracking my head. I alternate the sides with each rep. If you Google mountain climber pullups, you should see what I’m talking about.

Good luck.

A New Year of Story Resolutions

Happy New Year and all that jazz, folks!

Last year ended on a bit of a crazy note for me and I fell behind on posting here. I had to choose between writing fiction or blogging (Yes, occasionally there is a difference), and I chose writing.

However, I do have several projects lined up to come out this year that I’m excited for (and you should be too. I’ll tell you why in a minute.) I also have some shiny new goals to trade in for the tarnished ones of yesteryear. And I have some plans and thoughts for this blog that I wanted to share so no avid readers are caught off guard (I know you’re out there!)

So much to talk about, right? Ok, I digress…

Blog Changes:

I’m planning on changing this into more of a narcissistic “hello, I had two pieces of bacon for breakfast” type place. No seriously, I am. It is all part of my evil plot to dominate the world!

However, to ease that whole scheme past you, I’m going to distract you all with the exciting places I go, and all the exciting things I do. Such as my upcoming business trip to the Caribbean… and people say my day job is boring!

Other changes I’m considering are consistent flash fiction posts, and possibly rants and roasts. That former are more likely than the latter…

New Goals:

Last year I had a few simple goals set for myself:

  • Increase my published stories to 32 titles. (100% completed! Yay!)
  • Publish 6 core content blog posts. (I wrote/posted 5)
  • Publish 1 Short Story Collection. (Completely missed this one. Laziness mostly. The stories are written.)

Publish 2 children’s stories with illustrations. (Written, not published.)

While it might not look like this, I count last year as a tremendous success. As a writer, I wrote and finished a lot of stories (including a full length novel) and I learned a ton of stuff.

Like I shouldn’t really write children’s stories. I’m clueless when it comes to those. Children appropriate stories I can manage, sometimes, but the Man in the Yellow Hat I am not.

I also realized just how much formatting disgusts me. I can’t imagine it before the ease of computers. Though I do wonder if printing presses managed to slip completely blank pages into their print runs…

This year I have new goals:

  • Write two novels.
  • Write ten short stories using Lester Dent’s Master Plot.
  • Increase my inventory to 48 titles for sale.

A little ambitious, eh? Well, you know what they say about reaching for the stars… pack a parachute, cause when you slip, it’s a long way down.

Seriously though, I have one of the novels in concept phase. The ten Master Plot stories are set in a fantasy world I’ve been building with a few compatriots.

And for you math people out there, the other four titles are either written and waiting in the wings, or waiting in the wings to be written.

Should be easy, right? Hehe…

Things You Should Be Excited For:

New Years Resolutions! Eating less! Drinking less! Working harder!

No? Not your cup of tea?

Well, this is what I’m excited for:

  1. My new novel. To be honest, it’s an eye-roller. However, anyone with a sense of humor and an itch for urban fantasy will probably enjoy it.
  2. I have new cover art for Giant Slayer and the sequel, Troll Bane. And Troll Bane will be released soon, hopefully before the end of the month. If you like monsters, magic, and a little adventure in Gomorrah, you’ll probably enjoy Troll Bane.
  3. I’m collaborating with an awesomely cynical humorist on a steampunkish-piratically-ridiculous-adventure. It’s simply fun. The only sad part is that she’s in France until the summer and doesn’t have much time to work on it, so progress is slow.
  4. A new novella, set in the Gunner Long verse, about a guy who spacewalks to rescue people from dying spaceships. It features a lot of action, a little sex, a bunch of gangsters, and a phone conversation with everyone’s favorite futuristic hard-boiled detective!
  5. Lastly, I’m excited to get another year to spend in the sun (and all that other happy stuff.)

One last thing, before I end this. I’ll be posting my sales figures/analysis for 2013 sometime the end of this month (waiting on Smashwords final reports. Though I suspect they will be less than impactful.)

I’m still hopeful about this whole independent publishing venture. While I’m not getting wealthy on the side, or quitting my day job, I am still doing what I love. And I made enough money this year to buy a nice bottle of hooch.

So, hey, that’s something.

BG

 

New Fantasy Series – Season 1

(1)DarkTowerThe first episode of my new Fantasy Series is available to read for free on Wattpad. Check it out for some fun, sword and sorcery action!

The entire season consists of six episodes in total. They will all be available on Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBooks, and Smashwords.

Aside

I’m still alive!

The last few weeks have been largely taken up with moving and getting accustomed to the new job. But I won’t bore you with all the realistic details 🙂

Good news is I have been able to catch some writing time here and there. I’ve finished up a few things, re-worked one particular project, and am 1/3 – 1/2 way through a novel (humorous urban fantasy). I have two fantasy short stories on deck waiting to be published (look for them later this month), the next issue of the Chronicles of the Holy Isles mostly ready to go, a ‘first season’ of a fantasy story that I will be releasing in six separate episodes, and two or three very short stories that I am considering bundling together.

The other thing I am working on is a newsletter that you could sign up for here. I’m considering making it a quarterly issue with coupons for new releases and maybe a free short story or something. Suggestions and ideas are welcome as this is the first time I’ve tried anything like that and I am somewhat at a loss. Please post as a comment below.

So it is shaping up to be an outstanding Fall season. Now I just need to get my internet connected so I can get cover art done and books uploaded. The Starbucks’ connection works but the coffee… not my cup of tea 🙂

New Fantasy Full Of Tension and Horror

Ever remember, way way back, when monsters were actually scary? And not the “Oh, I’m scared she won’t pick him” type of scary but the “Holy crap, it’s going to eat us all!” kind. Ever miss those monsters?

Yeah, me too.

Which is why I am happy to introduce you to a monster that will raise the hairs on the back of your necks. One of my Beta’s claims he can’t walk at night without glancing over his shoulder anymore. Sound like fun to you too?

Go ahead. Dim the lights, draw the curtains and stoke the fire and pick up a copy of Stalked. It’ll keep you up or your money back!

Stalked

One last thing. If you think you want to read “Stalked”, think is sounds cool, but would prefer a free way to try out a new author, post a comment below. The first five people to comment will receive either a 100% off coupon for Smashwords OR a PDF file of the story, free of any charge.

Thank you all for viewing,
BG