Posted by Sabine on June 14, 2013
Just a quick update to let you all know that I did a guest post on A Fantasy Author’s Journey to Self-Publication on Richard Stephenson’s Blog. It might interest those who are thinking about self-publishing or considering entering their book in KDP select program.
My seld-published fantasy novel The Demon Mages is up on Amazon. You can take a look here. If you downloaded The Demon Mages during its free KDP promotion, please leave a review after you read it. It will help me reach new readers. Also, you can subscribe to my email to get updates on new books.
Posted by Sabine on June 11, 2013
The KDP select 2 day free promo was a huge success. A big thank you to all those bloggers, readers and reviewers who helped push The Demon Mages to the top 3rd position on Amazon USA fantasy free reads list and to the top 20 free reads on Amazon fantasy UK list. I got an overwhelming number of downloads in France and Germany as well. You can read my older posts here and here to get a background on the 2 day free promotion.
I am going to do a post on the bloggers who helped me so watch this space for more. Right now I just want to talk about The Demon Mages current standing after the promo.
The aftermath of KDP select
After KDP select free promo, to my immense amazement, the rankings on The Demon Mages dropped back to the levels before the promotion. From what little I understand, Amazon seems to have stopped the bounce back effect the books used to enjoy after a free period. However, two days later, I find I am selling more books than before the KDP select promotion. And I have even got my first review (and it’s a five star. Yipee!) And yet, the sales are in no way comparable to the free downloads the book received. Still, I got a huge benefit from the KDP select free promotion.
And that was, the book was downloaded by more than a thousand readers, and I am hoping some of them will leave a review (hopefully, a good one) after they read it. It was also added on the goodreads shelves by many readers after the promotion. For a new writer, the most important thing is the need to gain visibility. And although KDP select is no longer providing a bounce in rankings and hence sales after a promotion, it does help a writer gain need readers who will (hopefully) like the book and spread the word about it.
So if you are thinking about doing a promotion on KDP select, don’t expect a great number of sales or increase in rankings afterwards. But yes, you can give the book a boost by putting it in the hands of readers who will help you grow.
So if you were one of those people who downloaded The Demon Mages, please leave a review on Amazon or Goodreads to help me reach new readers. You can also subscribe to my newsletter to get word about the next book in the series The Power of Three.
Posted by Sabine on June 9, 2013
So the euphoria of The Demon Mages two day free promotion with KDP select has not faded. Yipee! (Excuse me as I jump with joy). Currently The Demon Mages is in the midst of its second day of free downloads. And it is No.3 on the Amazon USA sword and sorcery free list and No. 4 on the Amazon USA fantasy free list. It has also finally broken through the france free list in epic fantasy category also. The total number of downloads is more than a thousand. I think that once the book touched 250 downloads, the amazon alagorithms kicked in and pushed it up the ranking.
Amazon USA: 190 free overall, No 3 in free sword and sorcery and No. 4 in free epic fantasy list.
Amazon UK: 568 free overall, No. 12 in free epic fantasy.
Amazon France: 2596 free over all, and No 14 in free epic fantasy.
Amazon Germnay: 528 free over all, and No. 11 in free epic fantasy.
Of course it remains to be seen what happens when the book is no longer free on 10th June and reverts back to its original price of 2.99 dollars. I will keep you all posted. More on this later.
If you are a fantasy fan, and have not downloads your copy, please do so now. And for those who have downloaded the book, thank you for your support.
Posted by Sabine on June 8, 2013
Wow! Wanted to share my high with you. Within one day of making free The Demon Mages, Book 1 of The Power of Three trilogy, on Amazon, it has become No.29 on the Epic fantasy free list. This is the first time any story of mine, free or otherwise, has made it to the top bestsellers list. I have to thank my bloggers, reviewers and free listing sites for this. A big thanks. (I will give a list of all those who supported my free 2 day promo later. Watch this space for more.)
This is what Amazon UK page for The Demon Mages looks like right now. (Thanks for bearing with me as I share this)
If you have not grabbed your copy of The Demon Mages, please do so by on Amazon USA and Amazon UK.
It is No. 29 in epic fantasy free on Amazon USA and No. 26 on sword and sorcery free list.
And also, without any promo (except for a two day free promotion of KDP select) it has also risen to No. 30 in Germany.
Thanks to everyone who made this possible.
Posted by Sabine on June 8, 2013
A reminder that The Demon Mages, Book 1 of The Power of Three trilogy, is going to be available for a free download today on Kindle. It is only going to be be free on 8th and 9th June, 2013. You can grab a copy for your kindle from Amazon. Prime members can, of course, borrow it for free any time.
The Demon Mages on USA amazon
The Demon Mages on UK amazon
Posted by Sabine on June 7, 2013
Just a quick post to let you know that I was interviewed by Graham Storrs on his blog. You can read it here. And also, a reminder that The Demon Mages, Book 1 of The Power of Three trilogy, is going to be available for a free download on 8th and 9th June, 2013. You can grab a copy for your kindle from Amazon. Prime members can, of course, borrow it for free any time.
The Demon Mages on USA amazon
The Demon Mages on UK amazon
Posted by Sabine on June 4, 2013
Bringing you yet another author interview – this time with a sci-fi thriller author, Graham Storrs. His novel Timesplash was re-released by Momentum, a digital imprint of Pan Macmillion Australia.
Here goes a candid chat with Graham.
Q. Tell us a bit about your science fiction thriller novel Timesplash?
For nearly a decade, jumping back in time wasn’t taken seriously by mainstream science. In fact, it started out as something underground, edgy and cool. The ultimate extreme sport. Then Sniper took it all too far and people started dying. Scarred by their experiences in the time travelling party scene, Jay and Sandra are thrown together in what becomes the biggest manhunt in history: the search for Sniper, Sandra’s ex-boyfriend and a would-be mass murderer.
The novel is set in the near future and it is a fast-paced techno-thriller. I’ve tried to fill it with great characters, a sprinkling of romance, and a high-adrenaline story – all the things I like in a book. I’ve also created what jaded readers of time travel stories might be a bit sceptical about – a new and intriguing take on time travel. In the end, though, Timesplash is a very human tale about finding bravery through fear, and never giving up.
Q. What inspires you to write science fiction?
I love ideas, I love science and technology, and I love thinking about how they will affect us. I suspect most science fiction starts with the writer saying, “Wouldn’t it be cool if…?” Then they start thinking about what that would mean for ordinary people caught up in whatever big change they see coming. I read a lot of popular science books and magazines and try to keep up with current developments across dozens of fields. The wonder and excitement I feel as we peel away the layers to reveal the underlying truths about the world, definitely fires my imagination and keeps me constantly inspired.
Q. Do you plan to release more sci-fic thrillers with the same characters? Or is each of your stories a stand-alone novel?
You know, I wrote Timesplash as a stand-alone novel. As soon as it was first published, readers started asking when they could buy the sequel and my story was always that there was no sequel planned. Then this deal with Pan Macmillan came up and they too asked me for a sequel. So I sat down with a pencil and paper for nearly a week, brainstorming and sketching ideas, drawing mind maps and exploring possibilities and, to my amazement, I found a great idea for a second book. I truly hope I wouldn’t have said yes to the publisher if I hadn’t found a really good premise for book 2 but, fortunately, I don’t have to worry about that.
I wrote the second Timesplash book across the end of 2012 and the beginning of 2013 – I’ve only just finished the editing process with the publisher, even though it is due for release on July 1. It is called True Path and, like all good sequels, takes everything to the next level.
Q. You first self-published Timesplash, and later chose to publish it with Pan Macmillion’s digital imprint Momentum. What was the reason for this switch?
I’ve never really wanted to self-publish. I don’t like the mechanics of book production and the hard slog of marketing a book. I’d much rather someone else did that. I published Timesplash with a New York small press in 2010 and it was a dismal failure. I was pretty upset about it and swore off all small publishers, got myself an agent, and targetted only the big-name publishers. Meanwhile, I got my rights to Timesplash back and self-published it because, well, I thought it had had its chance at the big time yet I didn’t want to leave it on my hard disk never to be read again. So I put it out there and was astonished that it started selling. In fact, it sold very well indeed. So well, that my agent started using the sales numbers to impress publishers. When Momentum read the book, they just loved it and we had a deal signed within weeks.
Q. How was your self-publishing experience?
I don’t think I’m temperamentally suited to selling – and that’s what self-publishing comes down to. Writing the book is the enjoyable part (even editing it can be fun, I’ve discovered, with the right editor), production (getting the layout right for the various self-publishing platforms and getting a cover design, etc.) is a pain in the neck but it doesn’t take too long. Then you get the book up on Amazon and the other retail sites and the real misery starts – selling, and more selling, and then more selling.
It’s true that, even if you’re commercially published these days, you have to do some of your own selling, but at least it’s not all on your own shoulders, at least someone else is sharing the burden.
So the experience was very mixed. I like all the control I have as a self-publisher (I’m still self-publishing short stories and collections) and, for a control freak, it’s hard to hand that off to a publisher – especially when your whole career as a writer depends on it! And the success was fantastic. Watching the stats from Amazon (obsessively watching, I should say) and seeing 400 books a day being bought is a wonderful feeling. Yet, in the end, I would much rather live without all that stress. I want to write, I don’t want to be a publisher or a marketer.
Q. What is your writing process? Do you do an outline first?
First comes the idea, the premise for the book. I work hard on making sure the idea is right, that it is strong enough to carry a whole, book-length story, that it is saying something I feel is important or worth people’s time and energy to engage with, and that it is going to support the involvement and development of strong, active characters as they work through their individual stories. I have ideas all the time, but ideas good enough to spend six months or a year exploring in detail as I write a novel are much more rare.
Then I do outlines, I do character biographies, I do some detailed world-building, work out histories (often future histories!) and I think a lot! It’s not the detailed kind of outlining that you see in some writing texts, or that a tool like Scrivener is there to support. It might only amount to a few pages of text in the end. Its main purpose is to get me started in the right direction and to convince me that there is enough material for a good book.
Then I start writing and all kinds of magic happens, new ideas start weaving their way through the Big Idea, characters take on depth and interest I hadn’t expected, and the plot elements start to become more elaborate and densely interconnected. I have no idea how this happens or how I could get all this richness on paper without actually writing the book, but I’ve written enough books now to feel confident that the magic will happen and that I can trust it.
Even so, I have a great many books I’ve begun like this and still, usually at the twenty-thousand-word mark, have set aside because they weren’t going well, or weren’t maintaining my interest.
Q. Who is your favorite author?
I don’t have one. There are loads of writers I admire and plenty I know I will enjoy whatever they’ve written, but there isn’t anyone I could point to and say, “She or he is my favourite.” In science fiction there are writers like Ursula K. le Guinn, Ray Bradbury, Greg Egan, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Isaac Asimov, John Wyndham, J. G. Ballard, James Blish, Brian Aldiss, Sherri Tepper, Alastair Reynolds, Kurt Vonnegut, C.J. Cherryh, and many others. Outside of sci-fi are Daphne du Maurier, Aldous Huxley, Michael Frayn, Graham Greene, Margaret Atwood, Anton Chekov, William Shakespeare, J.D. Salinger, Robert Goddard, Edna O’Brien, and stacks more.
Q. Any advice for new writers?
No, I haven’t. All new writers are different, start from different places, are going different places, and are working in different fields in different ways in different media. I can’t imagine any advice that would be useful to such a heterogeneous group. People tell writers to persist and to perfect their craft and so on, but that’s like telling a pole vaulter to keep vaulting and to use a long pole – so obvious, it’s useless.
The only thing I might say to a budding writer who wants to be published – or to anybody, wanting to succeed at anything involving selling products to large numbers of people – is that it’s harder to succeed if you do it alone. Writers don’t always get this. They think writing is a solitary pastime. Well, it is, but publishing is not. Publishing is a vastly collaborative effort that not only depends on teams of people working together but on wide networks of affiliated people talking to one another, meeting at conventions, mentioning things that help each other along, and generally supporting and encouraging one another. I’m introverted to the point of being troglodytic, but I have to admit that any success I’ve had is directly traceable to the efforts I’ve made to socialise with fellow writing professionals.
And, with that in mind, I’m always happy to hear from new people.
Readers, chat to me on Twitter, or visit my blog. If you’d like to hear more about Timesplash and its sequel, visit my author page on the publisher’s website, or my Amazon author’s page.
Sabine’s Note: Thank you Graham for the interview. Timesplash is available on Amazon, Kobo, iTunes and other retailers at a special, discounted for a limited time. Grab your copy now.
Sabine’s Reminder and Shameless Self-Promotion: The Demon Mages, my epic fantasy novel, will be available for free on Amazon on the 8th and 9th June, 2013. So remember to download your free book.
Posted by Sabine on May 30, 2013
The Demon Mages, book 1 in The Power of Three Trilogy went live on Amazon yesterday.
Here is a short blurb of the book:
King Vindha is threatening the fabric of earth’s magic by offering the bodies of dead mages to the demons, creating powerful and gruesome demon mages. These fearsome immortal mages have the ability to withstand any magical assault. His army is on the move to conquer the mainland, and none have the power to resist his advance.
Mage Zo has bigger problems. Someone has poisoned her brother, king Seve of the island of Iram, and when her twin sister Alicia halts his slow but fateful progress towards death with an ancient binding spell, thereby subjecting herself to the same horrific death, Zo has no choice but to leave for the mainland to procure the flower of rosem, a main ingredient in the antidote for the poison.
Zo has to see a friend die, travel past the ancient guardians of the chasm who attempt to suck the magic out of her and battle the tribe of women akachiams who want to snatch the boy prophet Leo traveling with her. As she fights these odds along with the commander of her home guard Arkon, Zo is unaware that Vindha has sent a demon mage to kill her – and thereby condemn her siblings to an inevitable death.
You can buy it here only on Amazon. It’s the first book in the epic fantasy series, The Power of Three.
Posted by Sabine on May 7, 2013
So here I am, bringing you another interview. Fantasy author Anthony Ryan agreed to answer some questions on his writing and publishing process. Anthony self-published his debut fantasy novel Blood Song and was within months picked up by Berkley for publication. He continues to self-publish his science-fiction/crime novellas, so he is actually one of those successful hybrid authors who are doing a little bit of everything. After reading Blood Song I became a true fan, and eagerly look forward to the second book in his trilogy Raven’s Shadow.
Here is the interview:
Q) I have read Blood Song, the first book in the Raven’s Shadow trilogy, and it’s an amazing fantasy story. But for a new reader, tell us a little bit about the book.
Blood Song is the story of Vaelin Al Sorna, a member of a militant religious order in a fractious realm. The story describes his life from the day he is placed in the order, through successive years of war and intrigue as he uncovers many secrets about both himself and the Faith he serves.
Q) How long have you been writing? And what was your motivation to write Blood Song?
I remember forming the ambition to become a writer at a fairly early age but didn’t start writing in earnest until my early twenties. However, it took quite a while before I wrote anything worthwhile – the 10,000 hour rule holds true for writing as much as anything else. Blood Song was probably most inspired by my continuing fascination with history, although the themes of religious conflict and corrupting use of power were at the forefront of my mind during the aftermath of 9/11 on the ongoing war on terror.
Q) You self-published Blood Song, but it was quickly picked up by Berkley. How was your journey from from self-publication to traditional publication?
It took six and half years to write Blood Song and another year to collect rejection letters from pretty much every literary agent in the UK. Most responses were standard ‘thanks but no thanks’ letters but a few were fairly complimentary, along the lines of ‘we liked this but we’ve got enough fantasy authors at the moment.’ The net result was I had a choice between consigning it to a forgotten corner of my hard drive or self-publishing. I was increasingly aware of the potential offered by e-book self-publishing and the success achieved by a few authors who had secured traditional publishing deals via this route, however my ambition was limited to selling a thousand copies in the first year of release, which I felt would be enough to justify writing the sequel.
Before publishing Blood Song I did a dry run with my first Slab City Blues story. It garnered enough downloads and positive attention to convince me it would be worth continuing. Blood Song was initially published only on Smashwords from August to December 2011 during which time it sold a whopping five copies. However, after publishing it on the Kindle Store in January 2012 things started to change. The sales were not immediately massive but it did sell much better than on Smashwords, rising to a total of 3,500 copies by May which was when Susan Allison, the Chief Editor at Ace Books (the Berkley / Penguin sci-fi fantasy imprint) got in touch. I should stress that, as far as I know, at the time publishers weren’t engaged in any systematic analysis of e-book sales in search of new authors, though I think that may have changed by now. Susan had been made aware of the book by a Penguin sales rep who in turn had been pointed towards it by Lars Townsend, an employee of the Politics and Prose Bookshop in Washington DC then engaged in a personal reading project of self-published books (Lars has written a detailed account on his own blog here). Ace came back fairly quickly after I indicated my openness to an offer and we agreed a three book deal in July 2012, by which time Blood Song had gone on to sell over 20,000 copies.
Q) The biggest advantage of self-publication is the control over pricing, cover, and publication dates. Do you feel at a disadvantage now or are you happy with the way traditional publishing is working for you?
Before I agreed my deal with Ace I had a day job, now I’m a full time writer. I’m not saying that wouldn’t have happened if I’d continued to self-publish but it certainly made the decision to make the leap an easier one. So far the main advantages have been the advance on royalties, increased visibility, access to the editing expertise at Ace which has resulted in an improved version of Blood Song (available in hardback from 4th July), professionally produced covers, and most importantly of all, foreign rights sales: so far the Raven’s Shadow trilogy has been sold to eleven countries. There has also been interest from film & TV production companies although no options have been sold as yet. I fully appreciate that all of this is achievable by self-published authors without the benefit of a traditional publisher’s expertise, however, as a complete newcomer to the business, I’d really rather leave it to the experts and concentrate on the writing. Also, whilst self-publishing is continuing to progress and lose much of its previous stigma, there is a lingering reluctance amongst readers to take a chance on independently published titles. My sales ranking on Amazon UK has increased dramatically since my UK publisher (Orbit) took over the e-book in April 2013, despite a price increase.
Q) You are continuing to self-publish Slab City Blues novellas. Tell us about them.
Slab City Blues is an outlet for my love of crime fiction and sci-fi. They’re basically noir-ish, hard-boiled detective stories set in a less than pleasant future where humanity is beginning to colonise the solar system. The stories are all told in first-person from the point of view of a war veteran detective who lives on an orbiting slum known as The Slab, complete with gene-spliced vampires, werewolves and warring crime syndicates. There have been four novellas so far but I intend to finish the series with a novel-length story tentatively entitled An Aria for Ragnarok (you read it here first).
Q) You have released free audio versions of Slab city Blues. How has the readers’ response been? Is there a big market for audio books?
The first two stories are available as audio downloads on my blog, but the third, A Hymn to Gods Long Dead, was distributed via Podiobooks which allows access to iTunes and the other principal audio download sites. So far total downloads amount to 14,000. All Podiobooks content is distributed for free but they also enable readers to make donations direct to the author. The money received so far isn’t huge but I think the real benefit of putting out a free audiobook is in the publicity and potential to garner a following, plus it’s just something I enjoy doing. I’ll be putting out an audio version of the fourth story, The Ballad of Bad Jack, if ever I find the time to record it.
Q) Now that you are full time author, what is your work routine?
I’m pleased to report that I’m writing more on a daily basis and am much less tired in doing so now I don’t have to write on the train to work, at my desk at lunchtime, on the train home… etc. My routine varies as life often gets in the way, but I usually spend an hour in the morning dealing with emails before writing until midday. I try to get out of the house for a walk on most days during which I’ll listen to audiobooks (currently making my way through the works of Fritz Lieber which are a complete joy). In the afternoon I’ll spend three or more hours writing. When working on a first draft my daily output varies between 2000-3000 words a day (I work on a 2000 word a day minimum and usually manage to surpass it), though I try to have a day off once a week.
Q) What is your advice for aspiring/new writers?
The obvious advice has become something of a cliché: write as often as you can and read a lot. However, like most clichés, it’s true. So, apart from the obvious I’d say it’s important to concentrate on the craft of writing, by which I mean the mechanics of putting a coherent sentence together. There’s no point telling a great story if no one can understand what you’re trying to say. Also, it’s important to learn how to finish. I wasted a lot of time in my twenties starting stories or novels that never got finished. Some writers hate the whole idea of planning but I find it a vital element in actually producing work that gets finished.
In terms of self-publishing I would strongly advise new writers to learn from my mistakes. Any success I’ve had has been achieved in spite of not having my manuscript professionally proof read or commissioning a professional cover, both of which are the bare minimum new writers should do before publication.
Sabine’s note: If you love epic/high fantasy novels, I would urge you to buy his book. It’s absolutely fantastic. I did leave a review of it on goodreads which you can check. The book has high reviewer ratings and is selling extremely well. If you like reading or writing fantasy, you can also checked the interview of fantasy author Martin F. Hengst, author of The Last SwordMage.
Posted by Sabine on May 1, 2013
I self-published Serpentine Love ( a free romance/fantasy story) in September 2012, but it still has not appeared in apple iBookstore. I emailed smashwords, and got a prompt reply that the book contains a link of another one of my books that leads to Amazon and hence, it was refused by iBookstore. I just need to remove the link and republish the book. I have yet to do it as I have been busy editing another book. However, two things that I have learnt, and wish to pass on: one; smashwords is extremely author friendly and responds efficiently to queries, two; don’t put any links that lead to Amazon when uploading a book to smashwords.
Do you have any publishing tips you would like to share in this blog? Leave it in the comments, or contact me and I will post it here along with your name and a link to your blog. Also, I have started a new Manuscript Critique Service (first two pages free). If you are interested, take a look here. It’s for new writers of fantasy, romance and paranormal stories.