KDP Select, Amazon, and the Value of Free

It seems like ever since Amazon launched this KDP ‘Select’ thing, where you can add your books to a ‘lending library’ for Prime members and make your book free – for up to 5 days! – that this is now the only way in which they believe in free.

My novelette The Corpse King has been free at all other outlets since I released it, but Amazon still wants $0.99 for it. Why? I have no idea. No matter how many ‘lower price’ notices they receive, it seems they are no longer price-matching to free.

Look – if I didn’t want my damn book to be given away, then why would I be doing it? Amazon.com is a distribution platform. My short story Dutiful Daughter was downloaded thousands of times after I made it free. That means thousands of people had the opportunity to read that story, simply by virtue of the fact that it was available for free on the largest e-book distribution platform known to man.

Do you know what that’s called?


It’s freakin’ marketing, people! As an indie author, very few people are going to take a chance on spending money – even the impulse-buy $0.99 – unless they know for certain that they’re going to like the work! Instead of buying ads, because my pocket change is sparse, I want to spend the money that I would otherwise make selling that novelette on showing people that yes, I really can write and tell an engaging story!

There’s a reason I chose The Corpse King as the free one: it’s most representative of what I want the stories of Eisengoth to be like: dark swords & sorcery where the characters understand the bleakness of the world they live in, and still rise above that to make the best and most heroic choice available.

I realize that Amazon is not going to change their ways, but I think more people should understand that free does not mean free. If I choose to write a story and then offer it to the world for the low, low price of $0.00, I am doing it for a reason. This is why, despite the fact that its reach is limited, Smashwords is the superior distribution platform for ebooks. Unlike Amazon, they have an understanding about what it means to be an independent author, with no marketing machine and no massive funding behind you.

The only way to gain traction as an author is word-of-mouth. Someone must like your work well enough to recommend it to their friends. Some people still find their books randomly browsing in a bookstore, but those days are waning, and it’s not an option for the indies.

Here’s the thing: nobody’s going to recommend your work if nobody reads it to begin with. FREE is one way to unbalance that equation, and get people reading your work, even if no one’s ever heard of you.

Sadly, I cannot host downloads directly from this blog. In the future I plan to be hosting my blog on my own website, but as of now this is merely a wordpress.com special. So if you’d like to sample my work, Smashwords is the place to do it.

I hope you enjoy The Corpse King. If you do, check out Elegy at Amazon or Smashwords.

If not, come on back here, tell me why it sucks and what I can do to improve it!


Sorcerer’s Code Launch

\Sorcerer's CodeGood news, everyone!

Sorcerer’s Code is now available at the Amazon Kindle Store and at Smashwords!

I’m really proud of this particular work, and despite the cliche, I truly hope that you all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

And now, in the words of Krusty the Klown:

Have a Merry Christmas, a Happy Hanukkah, a Kwaazy Kwanzaa, a Tip-top Tet! …and a solemn and dignified Ramadan.

Sorcerer’s Code Update & Pricing

After an unexpected delay, Sorcerer’s Code is now nearing completion. The almost-final revisions have been done, and now it needs a last coat of polish before formatting and making it available.

I’ve thought long and hard about the price point at which I’m offering my books, and I’ve decided to move myself more in line with the rest of independent author community. Therefore, when Sorcerer’s Code goes live (target date 12/19/2011) I will be changing the price of Elegy to $2.99 (novel-length) and Sorcerer’s Code will be $0.99 (novelette). The Corpse King will remain free, and hopefully will actually become so on Amazon in the near future, since I once again told them about the ‘free’ price at BN.com.

Going forward, I will offer short stories (< 10k words) for free, novelettes (10-25k words) at $0.99, novellas (25k-50k words) at $1.99 and full novels (> 50k words) at $2.99. This puts me right there with the best the indie community has to offer, and I think it will be the right place for me as well. Guess we’ll see, since this whole thing is sort of an experiment anyway.

So, there are two major things to take away from this announcement. One: if you’re looking for more Eisengoth stories, there’s another Tale of Eisengoth coming very soon! Two: if you’re interested in Elegy but haven’t picked it up yet, you may want to do so before the price clicks up to the new level.

I think you’ll all really like Sorcerer’s Code. It’s a little different than the other two in tone, but it’s a lot of fun and explores a new part of the world of Eisengoth.


Arbiter Codex 2 Update

So, of course, having decided to put Book 2 on the back burner until after NaNo, I was struck with inspiration last night and wrote a 2500-word prologue to a new version of this sequel. I believe the idea is forming for the correct story, which will be a worthy follow-up to Elegy.

Raise the stakes, make it more dangerous, but don’t forget the tight, claustrophobic vision that makes Swords & Sorcery what it is and what made Elegy so much fun to write in the first place.

Swords & Sorcery is a strange genre, and since I’ve spent so much of my life writing epic fantasy, I tend to trend that way when I’m not thinking about it. My brain automatically starts thinking about huge, world-shaking plots – but that’s not really what S&S is about. S&S is personal, gritty and dark. It’s about people trying to overcome bad things that happen to themselves and to the people around them.

This is the reason I’m having to fully re-write what I’ve done so far – the 58,000 words I wrote previously were basically the wrong subgenre.

Whatever this new story is called, I will do my utmost to make it a worthy sequel, and will not call it ‘done’ until it is.


On a side note, Sorcerer’s Code primary revisions are complete and it’s off to its final line edit. I’m having a bit more trouble with the cover for this one – Corpse King’s cover was like a flash of inspiration, but this one’s giving me a harder time. Right now the story itself is almost 14,000 words. For those looking for their next Eisengoth fix, I’m thinking right now that the release will likely be mid-November.

As always, thanks for reading!

Sorcerer’s Code Update

Also, mini-update on Sorcerer’s Code. It will be going through one more round of revisions this week, and then for a final copy edit. Then it will need formatting. Cover is still being worked on. My plan was originally to release in October, but it might get moved to November to make sure that it is as much fun to read as it was to write. This is one of the most fun stories I’ve ever written, and I hope you all will enjoy it once it’s released!

NaNoWriMo 2011

So, NaNo is fast approaching. Do you know what you’ll be writing yet?

For those who don’t know, NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month) is 30 days of insane, crazy, all-out writing that begins at midnight on November 1st and ends as you drag yourself across the finish line 50,000 words later.

There’s only a month left before the frenzy begins, so I hope you know what you’re going to be working on.

What’s that, you say? There’s no way you could ever write 50,000 words in a single month? That’s where you’re wrong, my friend.

See, back in 2005 I thought the exact same thing. The longest thing I’d ever written at that point was about 20,000 words, and man did I ever think that was an accomplishment. My then-girlfriend (now wife) challenged me – she said that she thought I could do it, and that I should give it a a try, because even if I didn’t make it at least I would have gotten something out of it.

As I later found out, most people who really commit to that first year DO make it to the 50,000 word mark. Even later than that, I found out that a good number of people do NOT make it their second year… myself included.

NaNo is the perfect way to silence the inner perfectionist editor that keeps many people from actually writing and finding their story. Would I ever let my 2005 NaNo see the light of day? You bet your arse I wouldn’t. Not in a million years. Still, I learned a LOT from that maddening, frustrating, wonderful, glorious attempt to push myself past my inner limits and accomplish something that I’d never done before.

I still draw on the lessons of past NaNos whenever I work on a writing project. I won in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2009 – unfortunately, due to personal reasons, I wasn’t able to participate last year. My 2008 NaNo, after much rewriting and revision, turned into my first self-published work, which is currently snagging all kinds of great reviews at Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads and LibraryThing.

My writing has matured over the last 6 years (and I mean a lot) but I would never be where I am today, a self-published author making his way in the world and navigating this crazy thing called independent authordom without the challenge and wonder that NaNo provided to me.

If you’ve never done NaNo before, I challenge you this – sign up, get involved and write 50,000 words between 11/1 and 11/30/2011. You might not succeed. You might barely squeak by with a win on the last day as midnight approaches, or you might surprise even yourself and soar past the goal line with wings outspread and arms in the air as the crowds cheer you on. Even if you fail, you will learn something about yourself and your writing, and you will be better for it.

I hope you’ll be there, writing alongside me.

1st vs. 3rd Person POV

Point of view. It’s a pretty important decision when you’ve decided to write something. Both 1st person and 3rd person have their respective advantages and disadvantages, just like anything else, but how do you decide what’s right for the story you’re working on?

For me, it’s something about the feeling of the story. Obviously, there are genre conventions – urban fantasy is probably 90% 1st-person, whereas epic fantasy is probably 90% 3rd-person. I think romance is usually 3rd, and science fiction can go either way depending on the preference of the author and how the story flows, but probably a majority is 3rd-person.

All three of my published works to date are 3rd-person past tense, because that’s what I spend the most time reading and it’s what I’m most comfortable with as a writer. Plus, it works best with the particular feeling of those stories – Elegy and The Corpse King, as tales of the Arbiters, tend to require a certain distance from the characters’ thoughts. They also are more serious characters, and their internal thoughts wouldn’t be nearly as interesting if delivered in 1st-person.

The short story that I’m working on now, called Sorcerer’s Code, is also set in Eisengoth and is a tale of the Arbiters, but I decided to work from a different character’s point of view – in this case, one of the supporting characters from Elegy‘s sequel (currently entitled Prophecy). This particular character is shrewd and dangerous but also somewhat cowardly, and due to the setting I chose for this adventure, it has more of an urban fantasy flair, despite firmly being an Eisengoth story.

One of the beautiful things about self-publishing is the ability to experiment. I don’t know if Sorcerer’s Code will be as well-received as Elegy (4.5 stars on Amazon & Goodreads) and The Corpse King (5 stars so far) have been, but I certainly hope that the people who have come to appreciate my work will enjoy the 1st-person perspective of this particular character, and also a look at the Arbiters from a different angle.

Any other writers out there? How do you decide whether to write in 1st or 3rd person? Do you ever use present tense instead of past? (I haven’t done it yet.) Inquiring minds want to know!