Tag Archives: free books

Real life distractions and a bunch of unannounced freebies

I have a translation deadline for 10 am tomorrow, and seeing that I’m a night owl and that’s about the time I get up in the morning (one of the joys of being a freelancer), I had to finish tonight. It’s now off, and I can finally get around to an update.

Given the developments of the last few days, I really will be eating my words and keeping Shadow of Stone in KDP Select for another round. In the last three days, I’ve made nearly as much in borrows on SoS as I made on Yseult in all other venues in the last two months since I took it out of KDP Select. And that’s not counting the additional sales of Yseult in the last few days on Amazon.

While I understand the haters being against Amazon’s dominance of the market, this is a purely self-centered, marketing decision on my part, based on my own sales data.

At the same time, while it might possibly be more lucrative for me to put Yseult back into KDP Select, I won’t. From what I’ve heard and read, the other ebook markets out there need a lot longer to take off, but the reward is more staying power. I haven’t been in the alternate markets long enough to confirm that, but I think it’s worth it to stick around a bit longer to see if it will work.

Just for the fun, and to reward my blog readers, I set up a bunch of spontaneous freebies that I’m not going to announce anywhere else:

Free from March 4-6, The Future, Imperfect: Six Dystopian Short Stories

Free from March 6-7, Beyond the Waters of the World

Free from March 4-6, Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife

Free from March 5-6, In the Middle of Nowhere With Company

And please note my new ebook short story, “The Leaving Sweater,” which is free on Kobo but has yet to be price-matched on Amazon:

The Leaving Sweater

In other news, I finished this revision pass of Chameleon in a Mirror. Since my critique partner doesn’t have time to read it until April, I’d like to still do another fast read-through before I send it along.

Wow, what a week. I think I need a break. 🙂

Luck and skill to everyone!

Eating my words: preliminary results for free promo of Shadow of Stone

I’m running a free promo for Shadow of Stone right now, which I had intended to be the last. At the end of this term in KDP Select, I was going to take the book out and offer it elsewhere.

But now I have a dilemma. I’ve had very little time the last couple of days, and I didn’t do any announcements for the freebie like I usually do. An ad got cancelled at the last moment as a result of the changes Amazon is making to the Amazon Affiliate program, and the book didn’t get picked up by either of the big sites, POI or ENT. It did get picked up by Kindle Tips and Tricks and Top 100 Best Free Kindle Books, which certainly helped.

And what happened? I’ve given away over 2000 copies, almost cracked the top 100 free books, and have sold 25 copies of Yseult since the free run started. That’s almost a third of my sales of the book for the month.

Normally, 2000 copies given away wouldn’t get me anywhere near the top 100 list. So I’m wondering if it has to do with a lot of blogs abandoning ship since Amazon announced the change to Amazon Affiliates. I don’t want to go into that in detail, so if you’re curious, I suggest reading Michael Gallagher’s post on how it is going to effect him and his blog.

But if there are fewer freebies out there, and it’s possible to get better results with a free run, then perhaps it makes sense to stick it out a little longer. I’ll wait and see what the borrows are like after Shadow of Stone goes back to paid, and then I’ll decide. The handful of sales on B&N and Kobo aren’t worth it if borrows for the book pick up again. But it totally depends on what the bounce will be after this free run is over.

In other publishing news, I finally got “The Leaving Sweater” uploaded to Amazon and Draft2Digital, but it’s not yet available. I will let people know when it is.

And I only have another 4 chapters to go on this pass of Chameleon in a Mirror. Almost done! 🙂 Brainstorming of A Wasted Land is coming along as well, just slowing down a bit.

Marketing demands muscle out the writing — yet again. Oh, and Iceland too.

I have two group promos coming up again very soon (I will make the official announcements when the time comes). While I really need another push for my sales, which have been in free fall this month, the organization is taking a huge chunk out of my writing time. I only managed to complete another 1000 words on the Murano novella, which I am now intending to call Island of Glass. I liked “Prison of Glass” a lot, but “Island of Glass” goes better with the pre-made cover I bought.

Besides group promo organization, I also decided to make my little fairy tale collection, Never Ever After, permanently free. To that end, I both made it free on Smashwords and uploaded it to a new aggregating site, Draft2Digital, that promised to be able to get free ebooks available on the iTunes store. And they did! Draft2Digital is still in beta, so if you’re interested in their services, you need to write them to get a beta code, but they are very fast, and very helpful, and I can only recommend them. Check it out: Never Ever After is now available for free for the iPad! If anyone has one of those overpriced toys, please do me the favor any download my mini-collection. The point of perma-free is too get some attention, and that won’t happen without downloads. It’s not free on Amazon yet, btw. First Ama has to notice that it’s free elsewhere and price match. I will probably be asking for some help with that at some point, but not tonight.

One other business-slash-writing project was distracting me from new words this week — I compiled the stories for the upcoming collection Story Hunger and sent them to my editor.

Then there was the personal stuff that consumed a lot of time: my father is turning 80 this year, and he wants to get the family together in the summer for a late b-day celebration. Flight prices between Europe and the US have become outrageous at high season, but the cheapest are through Iceland Air. So Chris and I decided to make that into a vacation: we’ll be spending a little under a week in Iceland before we continue on to Seattle. Then of course, once I booked the flight, I immediately started checking into hotels and rental cars, and got lost on Tripadvisor and Expedia …

Wishing everyone a great week!

A bedtime story, courtesy of my granddaughter

I had grandma duties yesterday, so much of what on other days of the week is usually my writing time was taken up with running after an energetic almost-three-year-old. (She will be three next week.) After I picked her up from daycare, she claimed she was tired and said we should take a nap together. I knew pretty well from the outset how that was going to go, but I didn’t mind the opportunity to lie down for a bit either. I’m a notorious night owl, and I’ve been staying up much too late recently.

So into bed we go, do everything the way Mira wants us to, getting sufficient stuffed animals, covering up, etc., and then she informs me, “And now we need a story.” (“Und jetzt brauchen wir eine Geschichte.”)

“Oh,” says Oma (that’s me, in German), “Are you going to tell me a bedtime story?” (Speaking in English — I try to speak as much English with her as possible.)

Ja.” So she settles in, sitting upright next to my head. “Es war einmal …”

Here the story she told me, from memory, translated into English, with a rough approximation of creative grammar.:

“Once upon a time there was a princess. The princess had a horse. She rided to the castle on her horse. It was the castle of the prince.”

Oma: “Was the prince asleep?”

Mira: “No, no, Oma, only the princess sleeps!” [Editorial intrusion: sigh.]

“The princess wanted to visit the prince. They were friends. But then the evil witch comes and turns him into a frog.”

Oma: “Did she kiss him and turn him back into a prince?”

Mira: “Let me tell the story, Oma!

“The princess didn’t want to kiss a frog. But then the evil witch came again and turned the princess into a frog. And then they ran away. When they got away from the witch, they kissed. And then she was a princess again.

“And then they went on vacation.”

And then they went on vacation (Image copyright by blessings, licensed through Shutterstock).
And then they went on vacation (Image copyright by blessings, licensed through Shutterstock).

* * *

My progress on City of Glass has slowed a bit. It has come to my attention that the longest story in my new collection From Earth to Mars has a few typos. It seems that by mistake I didn’t include the edited version that was published in Giganotosaurus; instead, I must have used an earlier version. I read through the collection before publishing, but somehow I didn’t notice the mistake.

Anyway, I am temporarily unpublishing the collection and going through everything one more time. It’s still available, but please don’t buy it until I republish! This is rather embarrassing, and I hope those who already bought the collection will forgive me. Once I have the new version ready, drop me an email, and I’ll send you a copy.

So that’s mostly what I’ve been doing the last couple of days. City of Glass is at just under 11,000 words now, and I’ll get back to it once I have From Earth to Mars uploaded again.

Also, in case you missed it during previous promos, Beyond the Waters of the World is free today and tomorrow. Be my guest, and if you are so inclined, pass the word along. 🙂

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week and making great progress!

Merry Christmas, happy holidays, and another free ebook!

For Christmas, I’m giving away my novel Shadow of Stone. It was featured today on Michael Gallagher’s “Free Kindle Books and Tips” and it’s getting off to a pretty good start. If you miss it today, it will also be free tomorrow.

The holiday giveaways continue tomorrow with my short story collection Dragon Time, which will be free Dec. 26-27.

I got something of a Christmas present myself yesterday, a new review of Yseult on Amazon. It was extremely detailed and well-founded, went into the Arthurian retelling in detail, and it compared my writing to Diana Paxson. What a kick! I absolutely loved The White Raven, which I only read after starting my own version of the legend. I have to admit, I was very relieved that our retellings of Tristan and Iseult were quite different — I could continue writing my book in good conscience. 🙂

Wishing everyone an excellent holiday season!

First sales on Kobo and B&N; and some more free books

As of yesterday, my first books are now live on Kobo:

Yseult: A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur on Kobo

Never Ever After: Three Short Stories on Kobo

And, amazingly enough, I have already made my first sales on both Kobo and B&N. A whopping one book each, but hey — Never Ever After has only sold about a dozen copies total in the last few months on Amazon. Ever since I got the review stating that the writing was like that of a middle-schooler, the sales of that little collection have dried up completely. *shrug* So don’t let anyone tell you a single one star review won’t affect your sales — from this side of the bench, it sure looks like it does.

Also, both of my “Looking Through Lace” books are free today, the original novella that was published in Asimov’s many years ago, as well as the continuation of the story, Beyond the Waters of the World. BTWW is only free today, but Looking Through Lace will be free for a few more days. Pick them up if you don’t have them yet and are so inclined!

So some successes there, but I have to admit to an Epic Fail regarding Fast Draft. Until now, I haven’t even come close to the 20 pages a day, nor have I achieved the “magic” that is supposed to come with high productivity. I guess that’s a given, since I never got to the high productivity to start with. Perhaps it was a mistake to try something like that with both a hospital visit scheduled and the holidays (and the attendant stress) coming up. I think some time in the new year I will try a week of fast writing on my own, perhaps trying to implement Rachel Aaron’s method.

Anyway, back to wrapping presents for me. 🙂

Experimenting with Fast Draft — and another free ebook

Since my progress this month during Nanowrimo has been less than stellar, when I heard that Candace Havens was doing her Fast Draft and Revision Hell course again (this time entitled “The Book in a Month Club”), I jumped at the chance. I’ve read about this course on other folks’ blogs before, and I’ve really wanted to give it a shot, but it seemed that every time it was offered, I had conflicts. I have conflicts this time too, but I decided to go for it anyway.

The basic idea is to send the internal editor for a hike and write twenty pages a day. That sounds like quite a challenge, since an exceptional day for me is when I write six pages. I’m a trained literary critic, with a Ph.D. in English Literature, and my internal critic can be a pretty stubborn gal. But this time, I bribed her with a trip to Thailand, which has got to be nicer than Central Europe right now. She’s still dropping me nagging notes on occasion, but until now, the writing is going quite well. The first day, Monday, I wrote six pages, the second day eight, and today I’m shooting for ten. I realize that’s still very far removed from twenty, but anyone who reads this blog on a semi-regular basis knows that I’m all about writers not beating themselves up. There are enough people out there will to do that for us. If we can’t learn to be our own best cheering squad, facing all the rejection and negative feedback is going to be pretty tough.

Anyway, back to Fast Draft. My accepting attitude of my own limitations as a writer (and a human being *g*) doesn’t mean I’m unwilling to take on new challenges, even if they sound absolutely impossible. But I’m also in favor of being realistic about those challenges. If I can get a single twenty page day out of this exercise, I will thrilled. It’s all about learning new habits, after all, and even one 20-page day will be something completely new for me. I did get close once, while I was writing Yseult. It was a showdown scene near the end of the book, full of tension and emotion, and it practically wrote itself. By the end of the day, when I checked my word count, I was amazed to realize that I had produced 18 pages, without even really trying.

It has never happened again. 🙂

So I’m trying to learn how to make it happen a little more often. One of the other gals in the Fast Draft loop pointed us in the direction of a great blog post, “How I Went From Writing 2,000 Words a Day to 10,000 Words a Day.” (That, btw, is twice the wordcount I’m shooting for with Fast Draft! *g*) In that post, Rachel points out that one of the tricks of writing more is Enthusiasm. Duh, right? But how often do we find ourselves working on a scene we think has to be there because we need that transition, or we have to introduce that character, or we read somewhere that our protagonist has to cross the first threshold — and we’re just bored with the whole thing? I don’t know about you, but I know that I’ve ended up during the rewriting phase trashing a lot of those scenes.

The lovely lesson is, if it doesn’t excite you, or you can’t find a way to make it excite you, don’t write it. 🙂

Rachel says a lot more wonderful, wise stuff, and I strongly recommend that everyone head over there and read the post. I may even buy the corresponding ebook, myself.

Also, Shadow of Stone is free today and tomorrow, November 28-29. If you don’t have it yet, and you like historical fantasy, head on over to Amazon and get yourself a copy! I will probably be taking it out of KDP Select after this run. Before Christmas, I need to take some time out from Fast Draft and get a couple of my books up for B&N and Kobo. Not to mention finally formatting them for hard copy, sigh. I love the independence of ebooks, but I’m not a big fan of all the extra work …

Latest free run for Yseult and some thoughts on KDP Select

My sales this month have been pretty pathetic, and that after awesome months in August, September and October. Partly it might be due to the fact that I was gone for over two weeks, plus frazzled before and jetlagged after. My online presence diminished to near-invisibility, and I can’t help but think that played a role in my diminishing sales.

Another thing that’s hurting me (and others) is that free runs are becoming increasingly ineffective for boosting sales. There have been a number of discussion threads about this on the Kindle Boards, but what it comes down to is that with the glut of free ebooks from all the authors in KDP Select, readers aren’t grabbing everything that looks remotely interesting anymore. Add to that a change in algorithms on the part of Amazon, in which books given away free count a lot less towards popularity and bestseller status than they had previously.

Fewer books given away + unfavorable algorithms = limited sales after free run

Take my most recent freebie, for example, my fantasy collection Dragon Time. Short story collections are notoriously hard to sell, but when it was free in February for two days, I gave away over 3,000 books. In the weeks following, I then sold over 100 copies. The last free run it had in October, I only managed to give away about 350 copies. Since then, it’s sold one copy and been borrowed once. With results like that, KDP Select is useless as a marketing tool. As a result, I have decided (once again) to slowly start pulling my books from KDP Select and try getting them up in other stores. The last time I did that, with Yseult in May, it was a disaster. Smashwords took forever to publish it, and when it did, it wasn’t approved for extended distribution. After six weeks and seven whole sales, I took it back down again and returned to KDP Select.

The plan this time is to go directly to B&N and Kobo, the stores that account for most sales outside of Amazon. Those stores also allow the author to upload epub files, which I can generate with Scrivener, rather than the elaborately formatted doc files Smashwords requires.

That said, I’m having a surprisingly good free run with Yseult this time. As I write this, it is at #106 in the free Kindle store, and doing very well in it’s categories:

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Fantasy > Arthurian
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Fantasy > Historical
#5 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Fantasy

And that all without getting picked up by the “biggies” Ereader News Today and Pixel of Ink. But I’ve been featured on a lot of smaller blogs, one of which, XTME, has led me to mark my best showing on Amazon.de to date.

#22 on Amazon.de

I also want to thank all these other wonderful folks for helping me get the word about about Yseult. Perhaps some of it will help sales pick up in the last part of the month:

Kindle Books and Tips
The KindleBoards Blog
Free Ebooks Daily
Kindle Buffet
eReaderiQ
FreebooksHub.com
Daily Free Ebooks
e-Literati (another German site)

The need to do a bit of promotion has sidetracked my Nanowrimo project a bit, my Pendragon prequel. Ygerna is presently at 12,092 words. I know that for a “novel in a month” that’s a pretty poor showing, but I’m not too worried about it. It’s coming along well, and I’m having fun with it — that’s the main thing.

“The Next Big Thing,” upcoming freebies, and hiatus announcement

I was tagged today in a blog hop, “The Next Big Thing”:

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This particular blog hop was started as an opportunity to learn about the work of independent authors, one blog at a time. If you would like the chance to promote your book in this way, please let me know in the comments! I need to tag five other writers next week when it’s my turn (assuming I even get around to posting, but more on that later.) You can see the questions on Renata Barcelos’s blog, the writing buddy who tagged me. Thanks, Renata! 🙂

Anyway, I’m flying to the States on Friday, and for 2 1/2 weeks, I’ll be driving up and down I5 and flying to Atlanta, visiting friends and family who I see far too infrequently. For that reason, I’m putting regular goals, both writing and social media, on hold until I get back, giving myself permission to get Very Little Writing Done during that time. It doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to tell folks I haven’t seen for so long, “Okay, I have to go write now.” So my plan is to just not worry about it and dive into NaNo a couple days late. I will be taking my lovely little eeePC with me, which I will load with my text directory and all my current writing projects, and I will continue to brainstorm Ygerna, the prequel to The Pendragon Chronicles that I want to write during NaNo. But I would much rather be grateful for any writing I manage to do during my visit, than end up kicking myself for not getting any writing done.

I have a number of free promos coming up while I’m gone. Since I might not have a chance to announce them shortly before they happen, I’ll just list them all now. If any of the books sound interesting to you, put them on your calendar!

FREE books in October:

Oct. 22-23: Beyond the Waters of the World (Looking Through Lace, Book 2)

Oct. 23-25: “Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife” (Tales From Far Beyond North)
This promo is part of Halloween Free Horror, which includes 24 books of horror, dark fantasy and Halloween themes.

Oct. 29-30: “Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife” again. I figured the best time to promote a Halloween-themed story is during October, so I might as well use up my free days all at once. 🙂

Oct. 30-Nov. 1: Dragon Time and Other Stories, containing my witch story “To Act the Witch”: Brilliana is a famous actress for the Duke’s Theatre, yes — but she is also a Witch. And it is up to her to save the Age of Magic.
This is in connection with the Witchy Books Halloween Promo. You can access a Listmania list of all the books that will be offered, either free or on sale, here.

That’s it from me for at least a week. Y’all play nice now while I’m gone! *g*