Tag Archives: free ebook

“Yseult, Part I: Two Women” now finally free on Amazon

As I mentioned a while back, in September I embarked on an experiment: splitting my almost 200,000 word monster book Yseult into episodes and making the first one free.

The problem was, Amazon wasn’t cooperating. The book was free on iTunes, B&N, Google Play, you name it — but no matter how many times I clicked on “tell us about a lower price” and how many people I asked to tattle on me, the price refused to budge, sitting there stubbornly at 99c. I published the first two episodes within days of each other, but when I had so much trouble making the first book free, I didn’t bother putting together the last two.

Yesterday, I finally got fed up at how long it was taking for Amazon to price match, and I wrote them directly.

And lo and behold, it worked!

I don’t know if it is also free in other countries or only in the US (my experience has been that it takes much longer for other Amazon stores to catch up). But at least if you’re in the US, and you have not yet read my (first) doorstopper, you can now get Part I for free. Here the details:

Yseult, Part I

Yseult, Part I: Two Women

Yseult the Wise and Yseult the Fair, mother and daughter, are members of the proud race of the Feadh Ree, the Old Race in Eriu. New ways and a new religion are coming to their land, and despite all their magic, they may be powerless to stop it.

“Yseult: Two Women” is the first of four parts from the bestselling historical fantasy novel “Yseult: A Tale of love in the Age of King Arthur,” a retelling of the tragic love story of Tristan and Yseult. Yseult is a princess of Ireland, a land on the fringes of Europe, a land that had never been conquered by Rome. What would her life have been like in that pagan land before the advent of Christianity?

This book is a re-imagining of Yseult’s youth, never part of the legends — until now.

BTW, even if you already have read the complete novel, you’ll be doing me a favor if you download anyway. It will help the book rank higher. 🙂

Almost All the Way Home From the Stars #6 in Australia

In the middle of all the turmoil, I got a little consolation prize today:

That’s right, Almost All the Way Home From the Stars is #6 in Free Kindle Books in Australia. This is not a genre list, it’s free books overall. This is what it looks like at the time of this writing:

Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #6 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Space Opera
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Dystopian

I don’t generally sell much in Australia, so this is great news. With any luck, it will result in one of my books being more visible there for a while. I’ve had a couple of sales of my other books in Australia this week too. Since Amazon opened its AU store, I’ve sold a *total* of 5 books down under, so I can really use a little visibility. Cross your fingers for me. 🙂

FREE though Friday – story collection with Jay Lake, Almost All the Way Home From the Stars

Almost all the way home from the stars

From now through Friday, you can get Almost all the Way Home From the Stars, a collection of seven science fiction stories that I wrote with my friend Jay Lake, who passed away in June after years battling cancer.

The description:

Near future dystopia, colonies in space, galactic empires: this collection has it all! “Almost All the Way Home From the Stars” is a collection of seven science fiction short stories by award winning writers Jay Lake and Ruth Nestvold. The settings range from galactic empires on distant worlds, to a dystopia in the near future warped by fundamentalism, to an alternate US where slavery was never abolished. Here a sampling:

“Rivers of Eden”: In a world transformed by a virus affecting faith, one lone scientist wants to set loose a cure for fanaticism.

“The Big Ice”: On Hutchinson’s World, Vega and Mox are trying to unravel the mystery of the Big Ice — until the family responsibilities Vega has been trying to escape come back to haunt her.

“The Canadian Who Came Almost All the Way Home From the Stars”: An NSA agent is assigned to look after a Canadian scientist whose husband has left Earth to visit the stars — and the strange dimple in the lake that she is watching, waiting for his return.

Five of the stories have been previously published elsewhere, in various online and print markets, including Gardner Dozois’ Year’s Best Science Fiction. Two stories are new with this collection.

If you get a chance to download and read, I hope you enjoy the stories!

Many words, a story sale, and then off to France!

The word production has been going quite well since I decided to do Nano again. Last week, I got 13,000 words written, and so far this week it’s another 5400. Doing word sprints has been helping a LOT (thank you, sprint pals!) No writing so far today, though — I’ve been packing and setting up my little netbook for the trip. Tomorrow I fly to Paris for the next Villa Diodati workshop. We won’t actually be in Paris, though. This is where we’ll be:

Three days and four night of writing talk and good food and critiquing great fiction (which I finally have to make a bit more progress on! I’ve been concentrating too much on word production lately.)

I also have some good news: I sold another short story the traditional way, with payment on publication, to the online zine Abyss and Apex. It’s another one of my Alaska stories in the Tales From Far Beyond North series, “Degrees of Separation.”

Finally, I’m going to be giving away another book next week, Almost all the Way Home From the Stars, a collection of stories I wrote with the late great Jay Lake. So far this year it’s sold a handful of copies, so I pulled it from other venues and put it in KDP Select so that I would be able to at least push it with free runs. Although I published it over a year ago, it still doesn’t have any reviews. Of course, the people who pick up a book during free runs may not be my target audience (I’ve gotten a lot of negative reviews for short story collections that way), but with at most 1 sale a month, even some reviews complaining about the short stories being short would be an improvement. So mark your calendars for Nov. 17 – 21, and grab yourself a copy sometime next week!

Now we come to WIPpet Wednesday! Math is fast and dirty today: 12 sentences for the 12th of the month from Facets of Glass — plus 2 to end the scene. 🙂 The Evil Dowager Princess is planning some nasty stuff involving a glass apple:

The dowager princess lifted the apple of glass up from the table next to the raised chair where she sat and handed it down to the witch. “I was wondering if there were some enchantment you could give to this apple to create the illusion of illness in someone.”
Vanna turned the apple over in her hands. “Create the illusion of illness?” she repeated.
Zilia shrugged. “I am not the wielder of magic, so I do not know what is possible.”
She noticed the precise moment when the witch found the clever wormhole in the glass apple. Her hands stilled, and she gazed at the spot, her forehead creasing in lines of thought. The dowager princess was struck once again by how few wrinkles lined Vanna’s face, given her silver-white hair. It made it very difficult to guess her age.
Vanna looked up form her contemplation of the apple, and her eyes met those of the dowager princess. “I believe I could insert a spell in this apple through the wormhole that might, under the right circumstances, seduce a soul to leave its body and be one with the enchanted apple.”
Zilia found herself — totally against her inclination and training — wanting to clap her hands in glee at the witch’s suggestion.
If it worked, it would be perfect.

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Happy Halloween — and a free Halloween story for the occasion!

Happy Halloween, everyone!

When I first came to Germany, many decades ago, there was no such thing as Halloween. All Hallows, the first of November, is a religious holiday here, and those with regular jobs get the day off. But the evening before All Hallows, the night when the door between the worlds of the living and the dead is open a bit wider than usual — that seems to have it’s roots in the Irish Celtic festival of Samhain. Immigrants brought Halloween to the US, where it eventually became the second biggest money-making holiday after Christmas.

Here in Germany, though, there isn’t much left of the Celts who once dominated most of northern Europe. Halloween is an import on the part of clever marketing folks who wanted to sell costumes left over from Fasching — otherwise known as Mardi Gras or Fat Tuesday. That is still the big dress up and get crazy party here in Germany, at least for adults. But in the last decade or so, Halloween has become a big event for the younger ones.

Halloween in Germany
My favorite witches

To celebrate witches and pumpkins and the cracked-open door between the living and the dead, I would like to offer you my Halloween short story, “Misty and the Magic Pumpkin Knife” free through Nov. 3:

Misty Mankin hated Halloween. She hated ghosts and princesses and black and orange. Especially orange. She hated frozen pumpkin pie, the most common kind in Rolynka, Alaska. She hated witches and masks and what qualified as seasonal office parties near the Arctic Circle. She hated all the interruptions of her evening accompanied by screaming and giggling and variations from innocent to profane on the three words “trick or treat.”
She particularly hated the pumpkin knife — and the fact that it contained the ghost of her mother…

Halloween story

If you don’t have a copy yet, do please be my guest and grab one!

And enjoy all the ghosts and witches out there on the streets. 🙂

Giving “Free” another chance with Chameleon in a Mirror

Some time ago, after a series of very disappointing free runs that hardly seemed to bump the visibility of the respective books at all, I decided to give up on temporary free runs as an advertizing method. Instead, I tried to increase interest using permafree offerings.

Let’s just say that hasn’t gone so well.

I haven’t been doing a lot of marketing for some time, and it has really been showing in my sales figures. Admittedly I didn’t have a lot of time while I was working on the translation, but it has made me quite convinced that if you don’t make any effort to market and find readers, they are not going to find you.

I published Chameleon in a Mirror earlier this year when I was right in the middle of the translation. I didn’t do anything other than announce it on this blog and post a couple of chapters to my Aphra Behn Page. It sold a few copies and then proceeded to sink into oblivion. Even after over half a year, it still doesn’t have enough reviews for me to book any paid advertizing anywhere. So I decided to try out “free” again for a change, in the hopes that a few people will download, read, and review. I updated my list here on this blog of places to notify about a free run, went through it only using the sites that didn’t charge for the announcement, and got back to organizing the cover reveal for Island of Glass.

To my surprise, CIAM took off. Here is where it now stands on Amazon.com:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #325 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > New Adult & College

Then it got picked up by the German version of Pixel of Ink, XTME. And now the book is practically set to break the Top 100 free books overall on Amazon.de. Here the present ranking:

Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #105 Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 – Kostenfrei in Kindle-Shop)

Nr. 1 in Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Fremdsprachige eBooks > Englische eBooks > Belletristik > Populäre Belletristik > Historisch

So if anyone reading this is in Germany, please download a copy! (And everyone else too, of course.) It’s free through October 18. It would be so cool to get into the top 100 here!

Another thing I love about this is that maybe a few more people will also learn about my idol, Aphra Behn. 🙂

Aphra Behn by Peter Lely

Of course, I don’t yet know if this will result in actual sales once the free run is over. Be assured that I will post more next week. My sales on sites other than Amazon are so abysmal, if this works, it might be worth to pull my books elsewhere and put all my eggs back in one basket, as bad as that advice usually is.

ADDENDUM: Chameleon is a Mirror is now #89 on Amazon.de!

A mostly marketing update, and more mirror for #WIPpet Wednesday

With the cover reveal for Island of Glass yesterday, the first free run in almost a year that I’ve organized for one of my books, and a lot of work on the big translation project, I haven’t had much time for actual writing so far this week. What free time I’ve been able to devote to my writing has been taken up with marketing.

But that is going VERY well! I want to thank you all so much who participated in the cover reveal for Island of Glass. The book isn’t even out yet, and it has already cracked a Top 100 list with pre-orders! Here’s where it stands as of this writing:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #38,198 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#50 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Fairy Tales & Folklore

You guys are the greatest! *Hugs* 😀

As to the free book, that’s my Aphra Behn time travel, Chameleon in a Mirror. I tossed that one out on the market earlier this year without a plan. It’s been limping along and still doesn’t even have enough reviews for me to advertize it anywhere. So I decided to try out “free” again for a change, in the hopes that a few people will download, read, and review. More on that decision tomorrow, since it’s free through Saturday, and I have time. Right now I just want to share with you how well it’s doing on its free run:

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #382 Free in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Free in Kindle Store)
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Historical Fiction > Fantasy
#2 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > New Adult & College
#3 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical

Chameleon in a Mirror

So grab yourself a copy while you can! Tell your friends so they can grab a copy too! *g*

On to WIPpet Wednesday. I’m still posting from Facets of Glass, the second book in the Glassmakers trilogy after Island of Glass. It’s getting a bit difficult to do without providing spoilers, so this excerpt is a page or so after the last one I gave you, skipping the bits with a bit too much information. So here are 15 sentences for the 15th day of the month. Princess Zilia has just seen what the magic mirror has to show her:

The dowager princess clenched her hands in the folds of her skirts, controlling her anger with an effort. She hated many things, but she particularly hated betrayal. That combined with potential pecuniary loss to the Empire of Venice made it all the more heinous in her eyes.
“I would like to keep this mirror in my rooms for the time being,” she told the witch.
Vanna pressed her lips together before she spoke. “With all due respect, Princess Zilia, this mirror is my main source of income.”
“And I would not dream of taking it from you without compensation,” she said, although of course she had. “I treasure your services too much. Inform my steward what your projected loss of income will be, and he will see to it that you are paid.”
The witch seemed to choke back a sigh of relief. “Thank you, Your Grace. May I inquire as to what you intend to do with the mirror, as you do not have the magic to ask questions of it yourself?”
“Keep it out of the hands of others, Vanna, no more and no less.”
“Ah, very wise.”
“You are dismissed. The apple please?”

WIPpet Wednesday is the brain child of K. L. Schwengel. If you’d like to participate, post an excerpt from your WIP on your blog, something that relates to the date in some way. Then add your link here — where you can also read the other excerpts.

Starting out as an indie author: Creating a welcome page for your newsletter with free tools

Starting out as an indie author

My goal for today originally had to do with redesigning my blog and adding progress bars, using the wonderful tips I’ve received in the comments here. But before tackling the whole adding-progress-bars / blog-redesign challenge, I wanted to make what I thought would be a simple change, from a tip gleaned on David Gaughran’s blog on building a killer email list.

As a result, I have to share some experiences regarding my own email list before they disappear out of my tired old brain. I thought I would “start” my marketing day off today by adding the incentive of a free ebook to my newsletter signup widget. As soon as I started writing down the steps I would need to complete in order to do so, it began to occur to me that it would take me a bit longer than I originally expected. But even then, I totally underestimated the time involved.

Um, like — hours???

I realize that I have not yet posted about setting up a newsletter in the first place, but this particular aspect of the whole business is a response to immediate experience and fresh in my mind. Which is why I decided to tackle the subject on my blog arse-backwards. 🙂 (Not that I’ve ever done that before …) I promise that when and if I put these posts together as an ebook, I will sort the chronology out to make it more logical.

Here’s my original to-do list for the simple task of adding a free ebook to my newsletter signup:

– Make PDF of Never Ever After

– Upload PDF

– Make welcome page for free download

– Set up automated response for Mailchimp

– Edit widget for newsletter signup

And this is how it went:

1) Make PDF of Never Ever After

This proved to be more complicated than anticipated. Scrivener has an option to compile a book as PDF, but when I tested the file, Acrobat wouldn’t open it. So I compiled the collection as a DOC file and made a PDF from that.

Which looked kinda cruddy, without page numbers or table of contents and with single-space tiny font. All things that do not matter in a mobi or epub file — TOC is generated automatically, page numbers are unnecessary, and font is adjustable. (This step would not have been necessary if I already had a PDF for the book for Print on Demand publishing, but I haven’t published any of my short story collections for print yet, except for the one I did with Jay Lake.)

Anyway, it was back to the DOC file to add a TOC and page numbers, and reformat the text. While I was at it, I updated the links in my back matter — which also ended up giving me a lot of grief, which I won’t go into here in detail. Let’s just say, it took me over an hour until I was happy enough with the PDF to upload.

Upload PDF

Make welcome page for free download

These two steps were simple enough. I originally intended to make a hidden page for the download, but since that option wasn’t available via WordPress, I decided to go with password protected. You can read here about how to do that.

Set up automated response for Mailchimp

Another roadblock encountered. I find Mailchimp extremely difficult to navigate, about as counter-intuitive to my way of thinking as things get. But it’s one of the few free options still out there, and I already started my list with them, so I’m committed for the time being. When I first tried to find a way to send automatic response emails, I ended up on the “Automation” page — which is only available to holders of pro accounts.

A comment on this blog post sent me in the right direction. From the “Lists” page, click on the dropdown menu under “Stats” (for some reason). There you will find the link to “Signup forms” — which also include automated response, opt-in, and welcome emails. You can learn more here.


Creating my Mailchimp “Thank you” response email.

Now I have an automated welcome email and a page for the freebie set up. 🙂

Edit widget for newsletter signup

The last step only involved editing the widget for my newsletter (which on my page is a WordPress link) to add the cover of the story collection and change the description to emphasize that something FREE is involved. Part of me still has a problem with all these incentives I have to keep adding here and there, but I am slowly accepting the fact that I am never going to be a bestseller on the basis of my personality and my blog alone, unfortunately (unlike John Locke — right).

Lesson here: Everything takes way longer than you expect.

I would be extremely grateful if anyone so inclined would click on the link, help me test the process, and report your results in the comments below. I promise I won’t be offended when you unsubscribe. 🙂 And even if you don’t, you’re pretty safe from spam from me. Although I set my Mailchimp “campaign” up as a new release newsletter, I haven’t even sent out an announcement of my last book yet, which was months ago. :/ As much as I enjoy being an indie writer after my experience in traditional publishing, I still have a lot of internal blocks regarding marketing that I need to work on. Wish me luck!

Other posts in this series:

Starting out as an indie author: preparing your manuscript for ebook retailers

Starting out as an indie author: Using distributors for getting into online bookstores

Starting out as an indie author: Smashwords, Draft2Digital, and Xinxii (Using distributors, part 2)

Starting out as an indie author: The costs of self-publishing

Starting out as an indie author: Why editing is important — and who can skip the expense after all

Starting out as an indie author: Creating your own covers

“The Leaving Sweater” finally free on Amazon!

After repeated attempts, my short story “The Leaving Sweater” is now finally free on Amazon!

The Leaving Sweater: Tales from far Beyond North

The description:

So you think magic isn’t necessary in order to leave? Think again …

Victoria Askew doesn’t want to leave remote Rolynka, Alaska when she finishes high school; it’s all she’s ever known. At least not until her mother knits her the most beautiful sweater she’s ever seen, a sweater imbued with magic — a leaving sweater…

Even if you’ve already read “The Leaving Sweater” on Strange Horizons, where it was originally published, do please download the ebook! I’m hoping that with a permafree story in the series “Tales From Far Beyond North” I might be able to sell a few more tales in the series, which in turn just might inspire to me to write more about the oddball community in Rolynka, Alaska near the Bering Strait, with its strange forms of everyday magic.

The stories were inspired by a combination of my mother’s background in Nome, Alaska, and my love of the brilliant TV series, Northern Exposure. So I guess the stories are a sort of fanfic, even if several of them have been published in professional publications already. 🙂


Trailer for Tales From Far Beyond North

And if you are so inclined, please tell your friends to download too!