Amazon news that might actually be true

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New reports suggest that Amazon is considering launching an Oyster-like “Kindle Unlimited” service that would allow readers, for $9.99 a month, unlimited access to hundreds of thousands of titles.

The really exciting thing about this for Amazon fans is that it appears that they’ll include audiobooks, too. That’s pretty cool.

This is something I’d be very interested in, depending on the contract terms. A Kindle Unlimited program would be a great way to introduce readers to my work; the real issue is how often those readers would venture outside the program for their books.

Great books for cheap (Humble Bundle)

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There are a bunch of (DRM-free, multi-format) sf/f ebooks available right now (for maybe another week) through the latest Humble Bundle. What’s more, as per other Humble Bundles in the past, more books will be added as the timer counts down.

This “bundle” benefits the SFWA medical emergency fund and First Book, a program that puts new books in schools full of underprivileged kids, because god forbid we should ever fund education properly.

Check it out. Even if you are only interested in half the books, you’d be getting a good deal and helping worthy causes.

Randomness for 7/12

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1) The best one-star review ever.

2) Ingmar Bergman’s THE FLASH. Video. #lol

3) 25 Pictures Of Lesbian Sex According To Stock Photography #15, wtf?

4) A film from 1943 or 1944 with a British major demonstrating knife-fighting techniques. Dubbed into Greek but subtitled in English. Video.

5) Books with almost identical covers.

6) Baking projects that didn’t turn out like their photos.

7) Top ten pictures of pie eaters.

Shannara makes the jump to (M)TV

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I’m not first with the news, but MTV has finally, after holding the rights for… well, a long time, given the greenlight to a ten episode season of the Sword of Shannara TV series.

It’s an interesting counterpoint to GOT, which is the project that everyone is going to compare it to, and why not? Martin’s success on the small screen made a path for Brooks’s work to follow, just as Tolkien did for the novels.

John Favreau was originally announced as the director of the pilot, but he’s apparently stepped back into an Executive Producer role. Now it’s going to be the guy who did the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, I guess? The writer/producers (who are much more important in TV than the directors) are Miles Millar and Al Gough, the guys behind SMALLVILLE.

Also, the show’s not going to be based on THE SWORD OF SHANNARA (because Peter Jackson already made that movie, maybe?) but on second book THE ELFSTONES OF SHANNARA. Obviously, there’s an epic quest and an important magic item, but unlike LOTR, they aren’t trying to destroy something toxic. They’re trying to retrieve something good.

Which is part of the reason so many LOTR imitators felt so thin, but nevermind. Who are they going to cast as not-Aragorn? What about not-Gandalf? And I’m sure they’re not going to stick with not-Gandalf’s name, Allanon.

By the way, Mr. Brooks is local to me (Deadline calls him “the second-biggest-selling living fantasy book writer, after Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling”) and I’ve heard him interviewed on the local PBS station. He explained that it’s not pronounced “Shah-NAR-ah”. It’s actually “SHAN-uh-ruh”. That’s straight from the man’s mouth.

Still, it’s the book that launched Del Rey, my former publisher, and it was the first fantasy novel to hit the NYTimes trade bestseller list.

I’m not going to be watching it, though. I read the first book in junior high, when the buzz around it was huge. My friends loved it, but I didn’t–I don’t even remember why–I didn’t read the rest. ELFSTONES… might be original and compelling light fantasy, but I’ll never know.

Then again, I don’t watch GAME OF THRONES, either, because I don’t have cable and don’t torrent things. What’s more, I can’t exactly bring home the DVDs when my kid is always underfoot. Maybe I’ll borrow them from the library when he’s old enough to watch creepy incest with his fath–when he moves out.

One thing I’m curious about: how explicit will they be with the post-apocalyptic setting? Will there be a crumbled Seattle Space Needle? Old transformer stations? “Wands of Sniping” (I just made that up) and who knows what else? In my opinion, the more like THUNDARR, the better.

But seriously, I hope it’s super-successful (I have an epic fantasy of my own coming soonish).

First week self-pub book sales: the numbers

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It’s been one week since I released the ebook of Bad Little Girls Die Horrible Deaths And Other Tales Of Dark Fantasy (aka BLGDHDAOT oh, forget it) and I thought it might be interesting if I shared sales numbers. If you aren’t a regular reader of the blog and just like sales numbers, there’s more detail here, consider picking up a copy. It’s only three bucks.

First, we have the Kickstarter backers. There are 1166 people who pledged at $12 or above and who should have already gone to the download page and snagged a copy of this book. According to Google Analytics, there have been 1665 page views of the download page, and only 729 730 unique views (good job, late visitor). IF YOU BACKED THE KICKSTARTER AT $12 OR MORE BUT HAVE NOT RECEIVED THE DL LINK, CONTACT ME THROUGH MY KICKSTARTER ACCOUNT. You deserve to have your first book. Come and get it.

On a side note, releasing BAD LITTLE GIRLS… prompted eight unique views to the page where backers could get a copy of Twenty Palaces.

But what about readers who wanted the book but couldn’t/didn’t back the Kickstarter? Well, as you’d expect, Amazon generates the most sales. For this first week, there were 41 total sales: 16 on that first day, low numbers over the holiday weekend, then another 13 on Monday, when I posted an updated announcement post and a reader linked to the book on reddit/urbanfantasy. Later that day:

Broke 100 in Dark Fantasy

Hey, I’ll take any excuse to celebrate.

Using Barnes & Noble’s Nook Press, I’ve sold six copies. In Smashwords: three copies. Apple iBooks: one copy.

Of course, it took several days for me to get my book on Smashwords and iBooks. Those went on sale much later than the others, Smashwords because their formatting requirements are so complicated and iBooks because they take a long time to approve the books for their store. In fact, iBooks just made Bad Little Girls available yesterday, so that’s only one day’s numbers. If you’re an Apple partisan with an iPhone or iPad, you could swing over to iBooks yourself and bump their numbers. (Any benefit to me would of course be incidental.)

Other sales channels like Kobo, Oyster, Scribd, etc will be fulfilled through Smashwords’s distribution channel, and that hasn’t happened yet. Still, from experience I know those sales channels will be pretty thin.

Anyway, as expected, Amazon is readers’ preferred choice when it comes to buying and reading ebooks. I know short fiction collections don’t generally move a lot of copies, but I’d hoped the numbers would be higher. I received quite a few tweets and emails from people who had missed the Kickstarter and wanted to make sure they could get the books, especially the Twenty Palaces story BAD LITTLE GIRLS…. How to reach those people, though? I hesitate to send out a newsletter because I anticipate sending one in August for The Great Way. Few things will make people drop a newsletter faster than feeling that they’re getting too many emails. I’m planning to combine those newsletter announcements into one.

On top of that, there’s… what? Ads on reddit/r/Fantasy? I’m told reddit is one of the few places that ads will work. Maybe I could add comments to the five-star reviews on the other 20P novels, letting readers know there’s a new story? (Nah. Bad idea.) I’m planning to organize a blog tour for The Great Way, so I can’t do an extra one here.

In short, I wanted BAD LITTLE GIRLS… in my backlist when The Great Way came out, but I don’t want to do so much promo for it that people are sick of hearing from me when my trilogy comes out.

Fingers crossed.

My First Short Fiction Collection (20 Palaces-related)

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I announced this last week, but I think I did a really terrible job of it. Let me try again:

One of the stretch goals for the Kickstarter I ran last fall was a short fiction collection that would include a new Twenty Palaces short story. We hit that goal and the book has been delivered to Kickstarter backers.

It’s also on sale as an ebook right now for only $2.99. Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Smashwords | More to come

The book is DRM-free on every site. If you buy the .mobi file format from Smashwords, you can put the book on your Kindle without worrying that Amazon will take it away from you. In other words, you’ll actually own it. (Just back it up elsewhere.)

Some details:

  • The Twenty Palaces story is called “The Home Made Mask” and it’s actually a novelette, being about 10K words.
  • Four of the stories are reprints that have been published elsewhere. Their rights have reverted, so I’m self-publishing them for the first time.
  • Two are stories that I previously sold on Amazon for 99 cents each.
  • Five have never been made available before, including “The Home Made Mask.” (It was important to me that people who had bought those short singles not feel ripped off when buying the collection).

Some of the stories are straight fantasy adventure. Some are much darker, bordering on horror (but aren’t straight horror). Some are humorous. Some are grimdark.

Honestly, I don’t consider short fiction a natural length for me, but I’m proud of the work here. Also, I keep thinking I should offer a free sample in my blog (maybe of the title story). What do you think? I realize comments are off on my main blog but you can drop me a note via Twitter, LiveJournal, Facebook, G+, or whatever.

Cover art for Bad Little Girls Die Horrible Deaths And Other Tales Of Dark Fantasy

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Only $2.99 Amazon | B&N | iBooks | Smashwords | More to come

Hey, pick up a copy, maybe. You’ll like it.

HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! anthology now available.

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Hey, not only do I have a new book of short fiction coming out very very soon (like, when Amazon et al approve the files I already uploaded and start selling it) there’s a new anthology out right now with a new story by me.

Actually, the story I wrote for John Joseph Adams’s HELP FUND MY ROBOT ARMY!!! and Other Improbable Crowdfunding Projects (it’s Amazon-only for the moment).

There are other stories by Seanan McGuire, Tobias Buckell, and a whole helluva lot of other terrific writers. Check it out.

AND! If you’d like to read my story–for freeyou can do that right here. The theme of the anthology is “stories told through the format of a Kickstarter campaign,” and mine is about a plan to summon the Taco God, with a bit of Lovecraftian pastiche, recipe pledge levels, and a religious schism in the comments. It’s fun and short.

It’s also the second story I wrote for the anthology. The first one (rejected for being too dark) is in the collection I announced in the post previous to this one.

Message for all Kickstarter backers and non-backers

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Huh. I expect I could have just said “Message for everyone,” but that doesn’t provide the same context.

Seriously, don’t skim past this post.

The latest KS update went out, and it informed everyone that the first of the backer rewards has been delivered. The short fiction collection, including the TWENTY PALACES novelette “The Home Made Mask,” is available. Everyone who backed at $12 or above should have gotten a message with a download link.

I’m pretty happy with the cover, if I do say so myself.

For people who didn’t back the Kickstarter but still want the story, it should be on sale Any Time Now. I’ve already clicked the “Publish” button on Amazon, B&N, (Update: Hey, available right now!) and iBooks as of 8pm, 7/2. After I finish writing this post and scheduling it for the morning, I’ll be taking a try at fucking Smashwords. We’ll see how that goes.

Anyway… new book! Twenty Palaces fiction with a new pov character. Other stories! Backers who should have gotten a message with a download link! New fiction for sale! Please god buy my work.

Terrible Indie Author Advice

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On 6/22, I blogged about a terrible piece of advice an indie author offered, which was to harass readers who leave negative reviews until they’re deleted. Seriously awful.

Well, the link to the original post now takes you to a 404 page, because the blogger has wisely taken it down. However, on the same day I wrote that post, he offered *new* advice, recommending that authors spam Twitter hashtags with pregenerated tweets scheduled at ten minute intervals to promote their books. When people tell him that’s not cool, he plays a clip from Spinal Tap: (“Lick my love pump”). Classy.

The best marketing advice is this: Write a book that people love so much that they tell all their friends about it. Not attacking reviewers, not highjacking TV show hashtags, not advising other writers to do these things. Write books people want to evangelize for. It’s not a guarantee of success (there’s no such thing), but it’s honestly the best thing you can do.

“Seriously: this is epic fantasy unlike anything I’ve ever read.”

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So, the hunt for blurbs for The Great Way is going pretty well. Author C.E. Murphy has even written a preview review (Hey, I should trademark that) that is really positive and spoiler-free. I could probably grab a couple of nice blurbs out of there. Even nicer is that she wrote this on the day after the last book in her Walker Papers series came out. Seriously, I turn into a narcissistic maniac when my books are released, so I’m incredibly grateful that she took the time.

This also makes me hopeful that these books won’t pass through the market like shit through a goose, and you know what I think about hope.