Looking at numbers, part 1

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Actually, this conversation happened on Twitter Thursday night, but here you go:

Of course I meant “on Reddit” and “big traffic” but by that point I’d had more than two beers.

Last I looked, there was a fifth, complimentary comment on that thread (which I’m not linking to, because I’m not trying to drive readers there).

Re: sales, Amazon has continued to sell about the same, but B&N sales have dropped off sharply since that first day. And this conversation is all about ebooks. Print sales don’t come into it.

Bad Book Marketing Ideas

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Cracked has an article on outrageous stunts people have pulled to get their books out in the world, and it’s way way worse than the endless streams of promo tweets most people adopt.

Weirdest of all are the people who think public stunts will get them a publisher. That shit is just sad.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to crash a motorized hang glider into the Space Needle, then shoot myself.

The Way Into Chaos post

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My new book, first in a new trilogy, is on sale now. Let me start with a blurb.

“It’s Epic Fantasy that reads like a Thriller” — Kat Richardson

Here’s the description from the back cover:

The city of Peradain is the heart of an empire built with steel, spears, and a monopoly on magic… until, in a single day, it falls, overthrown by a swarm of supernatural creatures of incredible power and ferocity. Neither soldier nor spell caster can stand against them.

The empire’s armies are crushed, its people scattered, its king and queen killed. Freed for the first time in generations, city-states scramble to seize neighboring territories and capture imperial spell casters. But as the creatures spread across the land, these formerly conquered peoples discover they are not prepared to face the enemy that destroyed an empire.

Can the last Peradaini prince, pursued by the beasts that killed his parents, cross battle-torn lands to retrieve a spell that might—just might—turn the battle against this new enemy?

Several free chapters start here. Go forth and sample.

And here’s the cover itself:

Cover of The Way Into Chaos

Art by Chris McGrath. Design by Brad Foltz

God, I love that cover. (Chris sells prints at very reasonable rates.) Spoiler: the art on the inside is gorgeous, too.

Let’s have some backstory. When I announced that poor sales numbers meant I was not going to be writing any more Twenty Palaces novels, I kept telling readers “I hope you like my next series just as much.”

Well, no pressure on me, but the next series is here. Anyone who’s been following this blog knows it was written as part of a homeschool project with my son. I tried to find traditional publication for this book and the two sequels, and when that failed, I turned it into a successful Kickstarter.

Hold on, let me just post this to see if I’m tired of looking at it yet.

Nope. Not yet.

It has a map by Priscilla Spencer, illustrations by Claudia Cangini, and the paperback was designed by a professional (who uses the pseud “thebarbarienne” online).

Anyway, the original working title for this trilogy was Epic Fantasy With No Dull Parts, which everyone thought was funny but few understood was mostly aspirational. Most epic fantasy has a slack, touristy feel to it, and I wanted to try for something different.

But I like to think this is more than just a thriller. It’s also about empire, and how it feels to live in one, and how you come to identify with it even if you hate it.

It’s also about being invaded. In fact, one of the NY publishers who turned the book down explicitly complained about this: a portal fantasy where the enemy is magically transported to a new land? Apparently, that’s Doing It Wrong. Portal fantasies are supposed to be about protagonists invading other places, not being invaded.

Please read the sample chapters. If you like the books, please tell your friends.

| Amazon (print & ebook) | Apple iBooks (ebook) | Barnes & Noble (print & ebook) | Books-a-Million (print) | CreateSpace (print) | IndieBound (print) | Kobo (ebook) | Smashwords (ebook) |

Packaging for Kickstarter Fulfillment (with pix)

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After being six months past the “there’s-no-way-these-books-will-take-longer-than-this” deadline, I finally ordered the trade paperbacks for my new trilogy, The Great Way. The expected delivery date from UPS was last night, and I rescheduled a bunch of work so I would be ready when the boxes of books arrived (16 of them) and could slip them into the already-addressed and sorted envelopes.

Then, on Tuesday morning, I double-checked the UPS tracking numbers and realized the books had been bumped a day, to Wednesday. Sure, the boxes had arrived in Seattle before 3 am on Tuesday morning, but apparently UPS needed 30 hours to get them on a truck.

Do I need to say I was disappointed and angry? I griped about it on Twitter, and a UPS help account encouraged me to email their customer service department with the tracking numbers and other details to confirm that they were actually sitting in a warehouse down in south Seattle.

The customer service rep confirmed it. My books, which had been delivered to Seattle the night before, still had not been unloaded and sorted. I’d have to wait for them to be delivered the next day.

Three hours later, sixteen boxes of books arrived.

My son, to my great surprise, believed me when I said I needed his help. He got off his computer (not a small deal) so he could slip bookmarks into books so I could turn to the title page quickly and seal envelopes. When my wife got home at 9pm after a long day of physical work, she cheered to see us working together, then chipped in.

I started alone at 5:30. We sent the boy to bed at midnight. My wife and I didn’t finish until almost two am. This morning, we got up early, called a cab, and transported all the books to the local post office to mail them out.

Pictures behind the cut. Continue reading

News about my upcoming epic fantasy trilogy

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Curious where things stand with my upcoming fantasy trilogy, The Great Way? Well, I just did a Kickstarter update laying out the details. Short version: I received the proofs for the trade paperbacks, approved them, and placed the order for backer copies.

Which means they’re being printed right now.

I’m just waiting for the proofs for the omnibus cover and, assuming that’s all correct, I’ll order those, too.

In other words… SOON.

Bad idea number 3,229: comparing authors’ book sales

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Mary Robinette Kowal (who seems like a nice person but I know so little about her that she could be a Nazi eugenics researcher and I’d have no idea) posted a Debut Author Lesson that includes this:

I just got an email from my editor that Shades of Milk and Honey is going into its 7th printing.

Seventh.

Between all the US editions so far, we’ve netted 23,793 copies. That’s not counting the UK or foreign language editions.

Seven printings, but under 24K copies. For comparison, Child of Fire sold over 29k copies over the same length of time plus six months. Again, that would be lower than Pat “Maybe I’ll help Nathan Fillion buy the rights to FIREFLY” Rothfuss’s new book sells in a week, but more than many other authors might sell.

Also, we’re not talking identical formats. Ms. Kowal’s novel came out in hardback first, and those editions are more lucrative than mass market paperback. And maybe her sales numbers don’t include ebooks (my paper ed. sales numbers are ~17K). She doesn’t say and I’m not going to ask.

Why?

Because as she says, it doesn’t matter. You can’t really compare the sales figures, because they’re in different genres, different formats, with different expectations. There are probably a lot of UF books that would be considered a success at 29K ebook & mmpb sales, but Del Rey really invested in the CoF, the sequels sold significantly worse than the first, and Del Rey had high expectations.

So congratulations to all writers who are succeeding by their own standards, and supportive fistbumps to all those writers who haven’t succeeded but keep trying.

Authors with six-figure incomes

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Twenty years ago, Donald Maass interviewed authors to find out who had six-figure incomes, and what they had in common. What did he discover?

No conventions. Hear that? They don't attend many conventions

Excerpt from ‘The Career Novelist’ by Donald Maass

Download a free copy of the book this is from at this link.

Obviously, none of them listed “Lucky” among the important factors in their success, but we can take that as a given. You can do everything right, but if you’re abandoned by your editor, or your preferred subject matter appeals to a small audience, well, that’s just too sad for you.

But how much of this advice (to the extent that it actually constitutes advice) still holds, twenty years later?

I suspect that writers really do need to be somewhat “plugged in” right now. Writers aren’t going to make a lot of sales by going onto social media and calling for readers, but they can recommend other authors, and those other authors can recommend them in return, if they like. Log-rolling! It’s not actually evil, if you liked the book.

I also wonder what other factors would weigh in here: how quickly do they publish? Are their books largely within a single series? Do they win awards?

Personally, last month I passed the five-year mark on my publishing career, and it hasn’t be great. When the trilogy and the new UF comes out this winter, I’ll have published or self-published ten books.

I’m not looking for six-figures here, but mid-five would be nice. Very very nice, actually. We’ll see.

Time is running out on Dark Fantasy StoryBundle

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Mind if I show some covers?

All 9 StoryBundle Covers

The countdown for the dark fantasy StoryBundle is about to run out. If you want to do a little early Giftmas shopping, now is the time.

Some points:

    Pay $3 or more, get five books.
    Pay $12 or more, get all nine.
    You get to choose how much goes to the author and how much to StoryBundle.
    You get to choose which charity, if any, your purchase will benefit.
    You can buy the books as a substantial but inexpensive gift.

Anyway, I’m trying one last push to sell some books. The more retweets this tweet receives, the more free bundles I’ll give away. If you have a Twitter account, please consider clicking that RT button.

No one is ever going to hire me for my graphic design skills. Yikes.

The last Twitter giveaway got over 70 RTs, so I have hopes this one will do ever better. Thanks for clicking “retweet.” Frankly, I need the money.

Randomness for 9/11

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1) X-men mashed up with The Smiths.

2)
Five Classic Authors Who Hated Their Book Covers (and One Who Got His Ass Kicked as a Result)

3) Scrublands: photographs of people who live off the grid.

4) Rupert Giles plans coursework for an MLS.

5) Everything you need to know about 5th ed D&D.

6) Beautiful animated gifs. h/t @keithcalder

7) “Every year, Americans spend nearly three times as much on candy as they do on public libraries.”

The Way Into Darkness cover art reveal

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The September Kickstarter update just went out, but you don’t have to click through to see the unveiled cover art by Chris McGrath. Why, just look
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here:

Cover art for The Way Into Darkness

There’s a progress update, too, but you’ll have to click through to read it because I don’t want to type all that out again.