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News, Progress and Round-up for May 2016

Yeah, the usual look at the sales and WiP and stuff.

But first! MILESTONES IN REVIEWS

The US Amazon site logged it’s 200th review! On 31st May, Hao-Ying Feng logged a 5 star review after a binge re-read of the series. Thank you! And thank you to each and every one of you who reviews on Amazon, Goodreads or by messaging me. All hugely welcome and important for me.

AND while I’m talking reviews, 95% of the SoH reviews are 4 or 5 star. That I wouldn’t have predicted when I started.

Almost at the same time, Angel Stakes hit 50 reviews in the 6 weeks since launch, and the percentage of 4 & 5 star has remained the same.

What are the next milestones? I guess 250 for SoH or 750 for the series on US Amazon (currently 604). On the series total, I will ‘cheat’ once Winter’s Kiss is written, because then it and The Biting Cold will be part of the series. 🙂

And then 1,000 for both US and UK Amazon added together (currently 711), or 350 on Goodreads (currently 303).

WRITING PROGRESS

Winter’s Kiss is more than half way done. As I mentioned in posts on Facebook, this sequel isn’t the same length as The Biting Cold (20k words). TBC was written to a specification on length for an anthology, and WK is just to link the story in with Bite Back, so I have more leeway.

I’ve given a couple of teasers on Facebook, linked by mentions of jazz (Amanda loves jazz). In case you didn’t see them there, here they are again:

“Morning found us just a few miles east of Marquette. The sun inched above the horizon, flooding the car’s rear window with hazy gold, etching the edges of the long, low buildings, and throwing our shadow out in front, where the road unwound like an old jazz song in a smoky club.”

and later…

“I switched switches on the music center. Little LEDs started to glow, and I pulled out LPs at random until the words jazz and soul songs caught my eye. A collection of instrumentals based on old songs. The list had some of my favorites, spanning the years.

I put the LP on the turntable. It was lucky it was one of those that loaded the arm automatically, because my hands were shaking.

I closed my eyes and waited; part of the drama and romance that I loved about LPs was that moment at the beginning.

A quiet hiss and crackle, full of anticipation, then the music started. A few falling notes were tossed out from a sax, as a ticking drum marked the beat. The piano picked up a couple of the notes, tossed them back. The saxophone held one note, almost too long, and then just let it drop and tumble and flow into the bittersweet melody of Ain’t No Sunshine.”

What else have I been doing?

The print books are a mess. Cool Hand and Angel Stakes not yet available, the sizes have changed, the covers don’t match. What I thought would be a simple overhaul turned into a nightmare. And to help out, CreateSpace (Amazon’s Print-on-Demand company) have changed their specifications. Everything is a PDF now. Not such a problem for the body of the book, but I have no graphics programs that save as PDF. I ended up loading the image into Word and using that to save. Which of course leads to warnings that my resolution is low. Grrr.

Adding to the frustrations, I use Word for writing, and Word’s print book formatting functions are flakey.

Anyway. I have submitted Cool Hand and Angel Stakes to CreateSpace and they now enable reviewing online, allowing me to skip the physical book review process. The print books *should* be available in the next week or so.

I apologize for the covers. What I’ve done is simply take the eBook cover, added black for the spine and back page and written on the black. All fine as long as the I’ve allocated *exactly* enough width for the spine.

I will do a rework of the covers and get everything to match in size and style, but it’s not on the critical path.

The print book fiasco means that I haven’t progressed with my other non-writing writing project, which is to create cast lists and summaries of story-so-far for each Bite Back sequel.

SALES

I did a big review last month, so I’m not going to repeat that since the figures haven’t changed dramatically. Instead, I’ll look at the overview and implications.

Averaged out at the moment, I guess I’m selling 600 books a month and that needs to be 1,200.

I’m still selling 70-80 Sleight of Hand a month, and a percentage of those go on to read the entire series. Amazon only knows the exact figures, but the sales stats suggest to me that about 80% of people who pick up SoH now go on to read all of the books in the series. This is as opposed to the figures of readers who picked up SoH back in 2012, which is about 25%. That low percentage is based on the total sales ever of Cool Hand as a percentage of total sales ever of Sleight of Hand, and it does creep up as some people just take their time going through the series.

What does this mean? Very approximately, I believe that if I had ten Bite Back books now, my monthly sales would be 1,200. The problem is that writing that next 5 will take me 5 years, and in the meantime SoH would slide.

What am I going to do about it? Write realted or unrelated shorter stories that I believe may bring in readers who wouldn’t otherwise have picked up Sleight of Hand, but who like the shorter stories enough to try the series.

I’d like to try out writing novels in two parts – a short story of around 10k words which tells a story but ends on a cliffhanger, and leads straight into a novella of around 50k words. This is close to the way The Biting Cold turned out. TBC was actually 20k words and Winter’s Kiss will be about 40k, and TBC didn’t end on a cliffhanger, but you get my drift.

I have a couple of ideas kicking around in my head – one in the Bite Back world but set in Canada and sharing none of the cast, another a SciFi novella and completely different. Oh, and one set in the 17th century Caribbean that popped up in a conversation with Debra Dunbar (that one might be related to Bite Back).

This does NOT mean that I’m less committed to Bite Back, but I think I can do these things and still get one Bite Back novel out every year. We’ll see.

Other projects – German

German translations have stopped at the moment. I need to get another translator, but I have to say that I need to re-examine the income to see if the cost is justified. I think I’d prefer to hand over to a German publishing company who do this as a business. I need to talk to people.

Other projects – Audio

Julia Motyka is unavailable until September, but assures me she’ll be back in the studio with Angel Stakes then. Audio sales are reasonable (as far as I know) – SoH 1,578, HT 668, WC 504, CH 273. Are there any writers out there with audiobooks who would be okay to share their sales with me?

Anything else

I asked people on the Facebook site what music Amber listens to. What a wonderful response, and a huge playlist to sort through! Great fun. Thank you all.

I’m planning a trip to America this year. My bio says I’m frequently in the Rockies and I haven’t been. At the end of August & beginning of September, I’ll be with my daughter in New York. After that, I hope to work my way down the Rockies from somewhere around Bozeman, Montana to Albuquerque, New Mexico, taking in Denver, Cheyenne and the loneliest road in the States. I hope to end up returning to UK via Boston and maybe catching some fall colors. This is a research and writing trip, not a book signing journey, but I’ll be happy to sign books, meet readers and attend conventions. If there’s interest, I’ll publish an itinerary closer to the time.

 

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Angel Stakes launch feedback

Well, things go right and things go not-so-well.

Angel Stakes has pulled in 45 reviews (just on the US Amazon website) in just 5 weeks after launch. That’s more than any other book of mine in that time. Those reviews are almost all positive. That means we’re both doing something right. I’m writing what you enjoy reading, and I’ve communicated well enough with my readers that a lot of you have bought Angel Stakes in that short period (and reviewed it). There are also 19 reviews on Goodreads and 10 on the UK Amazon website, as well as some great book reviewer websites.

Thank you!

Got That Right Image

Sorry this image is a bit blurry. Other point to note: Sleight of Hand is at 197 reviews on the US Amazon site. 200 reviews is one of my milestones. Soon. Soon. 🙂

What’s not going so well?

Angel Stakes started off in the first week outselling everything, but has now slid right down the chart.

Book 5 weeks

It’s not massively behind the other sequels, apart from Hidden Trump. I’m still getting “I didn’t realize it was out” messages, so I’m going to have to work on publicity for the next one!

There’s not a great deal more to say at the moment. I’ll do a full sales & marketing at the end of the month, along with progress reports etc., but 5 weeks from launch happens to be the comparative data set that I still maintain.

 

 

April 2016 roundup

Lots to talk about as I’ve been quiet recently.

What’s happened

I released the Angel Stakes ebook and the Cool Hand audio. Yay!

Angel Stakes had the biggest first week of all my books so far, both in sales and reviews. Angel Stakes (890) beat Cool Hand for sales by about 40, and generated a massive 40 reviews in that first week alone.

Thank you for the reviews. Just on Amazon.com today, there are already 35 reviews, with only 1 negative. On Amazon.co.uk there are 8, and on Goodreads there are 17.

Thank you also for the feedback on the Facebook page and by email. All good, all welcome.

In the second week, however, Angel Stakes (1,442) has fallen behind both Hidden Trump, which sold 2,078 in the same period, and Cool Hand, which sold 1,498.

Cumulative Sales

Sales is the usual number, cumulative since I started in 2012. I’ve included a column for ‘Pages Read’ – this is the measurement you get when a book is included in the Kindle Unlimited program, but I’ve only tracked this for the last 6 months. Amazon pay on a basis of fractions of a cent for each page read, so the actual effect on my income has been small. For example, those 14,000 pages of The Biting Cold have been worth about $70 to me over the last 6 months.

…                                         Sales                  Pages Read

Raw Deal                            20,637              9k
Sleight of Hand
English                           22,682              128k
audio                              1,504
German ebook              1,571                  106k
Hidden Trump
English                           16,412                91k
audio                               602
German ebook              873                     118k
Wild Card
English                           7,784                  113k
audio                              426
German ebook             529
Cool Hand
English                          4,382
audio                             70
Angel Stakes                     1,532
The Biting Cold                785                       14k

(Sorry about the table. Having trouble getting tables into WordPress)

In summary? I have wonderful, wonderful readers – just look at the reviews. But I don’t have enough of them.

As I’ve said before, my real concern is the drop off between Hidden Trump and Wild Card, and the further drop between Wild Card and Cool Hand. Both are around 50%, which is extremely disappointing, especially given the reviews and ratings, which show no hint of a problem of that magnitude.

What I expected, when I published Sleight of Hand and Hidden Trump back in 2013, was that I’d lose the highest percentage of readers between SoH and HT. The series isn’t for everyone, and SoH gives a reasonable idea of what’s to come. That’s not what has happened.

One positive for the series from the launch of Angel Stakes is the boost it caused in sales of previous books in the series. And, although it’s difficult to make generalizations on the data, it looks as if people who come in with SoH because they saw the reviews for Angel Stakes don’t drop out after SoH or HT – the boost goes through the whole series.

I guess the question the numbers pose is this: am I losing readers because they (1) don’t like the story, (2) don’t like it enough to check for the next release, (3) never see information about the next release and just forget over time, (4) don’t want to invest in a story till it’s complete.

I’m not sure I can do much about (1) or (2). The story is relatively dark for Urban Fantasy, and it’s more complex than most. It deals with real trauma. It’s in a definite minority with the viewpoint on sexual issues. The ‘magic’ is constrained at the moment. All in all, I understand it may not be what people are looking for when they pick an UF title (but would still expect them to leave after SoH, not 2 or 3 books in).

I’m not sure I can do much about (4) either, except grind my teeth. I’m a reader too, I know it’s hard waiting a year for the next episode, but I can’t write this kind of story quickly. I don’t think anyone can. I’m not going to stop writing till the end, but if this was a traditionally published series, the publisher would pull the plug.

Maybe I can do something about (3).

And that leads to Marketing…

Marketing

What have I done?

I moved the prices down on SoH, and tried the same thing on HT. I’ve moved them back up again, and it really doesn’t seem to make much difference. I know other indies have stuck at the $2.99 as the ‘sweet point’, and that Amazon suggests $4.99 is the sweet point.
Susan Illene has stuck with me on $3.99. Debra Dunbar varies her prices up to $4.99. Skye Knizley sticks at $2.99. Connie Suttle varies up to $4.99.
And some of the indies who are acknowledged big hitters… J. R. Rain varies, but tends to $4.99. Lindsay Buroker’s prices all seem to be over $5.

Readers have posted on the website suggesting that a long, complex book is worth a higher price. I don’t know. In the end, a book is worth what enough people will pay for it.

I may put the series up to $4.99.

On other marketing attempts, I put the first three of the series in Kindle Unlimited, where readers enrolled in the Amazon program can read for free, and I get paid on the ‘number of pages read’. That’s in quotes because it has emerged that Amazon is just making it up. Anyway, SoH in English is earning about $100 a month on the KU program. Again, all good, but not setting the world on fire.

I also changed the covers again. It’s difficult to tell whether this had any effect, because I did it at the same time as Angel Stakes was launched. I’m still not happy, but maybe I never will be!

The latest marketing fine-tuning is ‘Tags’. This has a couple of effects.
(1) Tags are used as searchable text in Amazon. So, if I tagged SoH as being about ‘ex-military private investigator’ and someone typed that into the Amazon search field, they’d be offered SoH (among any others tagged the same way).
(2) Tags sometimes link books into best seller lists.

(Here’s a blog talking about the subject: https://ebooksuccess4free.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/7-tips-for-amazon-keywords-and-best-selling-books/)

It’s a subtle business, picking the right tags. I got an easy win by labelling SoH as being about a ‘superhero’. It’s not a widely used tag and that resulted in SoH appearing on the Superhero best selling lists. Visibility on these lists do generate sales. Higher ranking=greater visibility.

At some stage, I would like to do an organized promotion using BookBub, BookGorilla and other newsletters, Goodreads and Amazon. There’s a surprising amount of work involved in these promotions, and they do take away from writing time.

There is a writing task that does promote books – launching new books raises visibility and boosts the back list. But in order to use that I have to write something shorter…

Which leads me to my current project file…

What’s next

Writing & editing:

I have promised for ages to edit my mother’s unpublished murder mystery set in colonial Africa and called So Many Doors. It’s good, really good, but needs editing and a cover. I have gone out and commissioned lovely cover art, and I’m slogging through taking out ellipses and exclamation marks. And a few other bits & pieces. My sister and I should be putting this on Amazon by the end of the month.

I’m drafting up a short story sequel to The Biting Cold, which I’ve tentatively named Winter’s Kiss, and which will weave the story into the Bite Back series. This shouldn’t be long (famous last words), and should be simple (ditto). The only real problem is TBC was really an experiment to write a romance and include a sex scene which was essential and fundamental to the story. (I still got someone commenting that it was gratuitous). The draft I have for Winter’s Kiss at the moment is more like an Amber story with chases and explosions. Amanda does, of course, need another love interest. Or two. It’s just how I introduce that person.

Bian’s Tale 1. Okay. Enough sitting on this. I nearly wrote it a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t quite working. I have some much better ideas now, worthy of the opening chapters. It’s strange I found it much easier to write nine-year-old Bian than fourteen-year-old Bian. For those who haven’t seen them, I’m happy to provide the chapters of nine-year-old Bian as a mobi, ePub or PDF. Email me at the usual contact address.

Bite Back 6. No name yet. Based back in Denver. Full of House Farrell and Adepts and the aftermath of the closing chapters of Angel Stakes. However I promise you to make it simple and short and quick, it will end up complex and long and slow.

Other projects:

I need to resubmit all the books to CreateSpace to provide new print books. This is because I’m late with Cool Hand and I need to do Angel Stakes, and all the covers have changed and the first two books are different sizes and the internal format is different for different books. It’s all a mess and needs putting in order.

My narrator, Julia Motyka will start recording the Angel Stakes audio in September. I need to mark up the text to make sure what I hear comes through.

German translation. I’m undecided. The translations aren’t really paying for themselves.

And I’m looking at some writing-as-marketing projects. These are basically short stories which are also the first chapter(s) of novels, so the short story serves as a teaser for the main novel. I haven’t been able to see how to do this for the main Bite Back story. I have some ideas which may be in the same world, but set elsewhere – one is about a young girl fleeing along the infamous Highway of Tears in Canada, pursued by a terrifying monster.

There’s more. There’s always more, but this post has gone on FAR too long.

End of 2015 round-up

And that was 2015 – gone!

Thank you all – thank you for buying and reading the books, of course, but thank you also for interacting on this blog and on the Facebook pages. It’s not been the easiest of years and you support and feedback has made a tremendous difference.

I took a break over Christmas. Of course, the whole family went and watched Star Wars. Then, as well as the food and presents and walks, I indulged in reading and watching movies at home with the kids. We watched the entire Harry Potter series. My daughter and I are also down to the last two episodes of the last season of Homeland. (As with our tbr piles, we have tbw lists)

Reading… I enjoyed Joe Abercrombie’s Shattered Sea series book 1 and 2. I will go for book 3 when it comes down in price. It’s labelled Young Adult, but it’s not like a lot of the others that have that dreaded YA stamp.

Progress on projects

I have the structural edits of the second draft of Angel Stakes from Lauren and I know what I’m going to do. I’ll update as I go, but I haven’t touched it for the last week.

I have written some notes for book 6! 🙂

Audio version of Wild Card

It’s all finished and it’s somewhere in the ACX/Audible system. I’ll expect it when I see it and post my full thoughts then. Julia has done an excellent job.

German version of Wild Card : Fortschritte bei der deutschen Version von Wild Card

Entfesselter Wandel is published and starting to sell slowly (see below).

Sales

Sales is the usual number. I’ve included a column for ‘Pages read’ – this is the measurement you get when a book is included in the Kindle Unlimited program. This column is purely from November and December. Amazon pay on a basis of fractions of a cent for each page read, so the actual effect on my income has been small.

>                                                 Sales                           Pages read

Raw Deal                                  20,545

Sleight of Hand (ebook)         22,346                         24,779

Sleight of Hand (audio)            1,072

Sleight of Hand (German)        1,432                          29,476

Hidden Trump                         16,000

Hidden Trump (audio)                314

Hidden Trump (German)           772                            31,729

Wild Card                                   7,594

Wild Card (German)                  208

Cool Hand                                 3,961

The Biting Cold                          609

As I’ve been remarking for the last year or so, my real concern is the drop off between Hidden Trump and Wild Card, and the further drop between Wild Card and Cool Hand. Both are around 50%, which is extremely disappointing, especially given the reviews and ratings, which show no problems of that size. I guess that I have to proceed on the basis that this is some marketing issue and I hope to try some fixes out during 2016.

Marketing

I haven’t really worked out what my marketing strategy for 2016 is, but on a trial basis, I’m going to move Hidden Trump and Wild Card to Kindle Unlimited. At the same time, I will drop the price of Sleight of Hand to 99c, also for a limited time.

At some stage, I would like to do an organized promotion using BookBub, BookGorilla and other newsletters.

Projects

I haven’t really put much effort into the blog this year, but I do find things to put on the Facebook pages. In 2016, I’d like the blog to have as many posts as the Bite Back Facebook page, and link from the page back to the blog.

I hope you all had a great time over Christmas and I wish all of you a wonderful 2016.

 

Where did August go?

 

Sales

Just ambling along. Nothing exciting to report apart from The Biting Cold, which I’ve handled in Marketing.

Marketing

The Biting Cold was a surprise. The story had already been published in the anthology last Christmas and many (?most) of you have that already. But what the hell. So I cobbled together a cover with Jessica and Joshua, got you guys to vote on it, put a chapter of Sleight of Hand at the end and…

Well, hold on now, do I just sell it like the others, or do I give the Kindle Unlimited (KU) option another go?

Raw Deal has been on KU for a while and it’s been…unexciting.

I put TBC straight into KU and I was impressed by the number of KU readers it got. I can’t tell you how many, but the number of pages read (which is what Amazon pays me on) peaked at 3,500 a day. I think that means about 25 people read it on that day, at the same time as another 40 people bought the book. That happened two weekends running, and there’s a total of 29,000 pages of TBC read in KU in the three weeks since release, just in the USA.

Okay, so that’s not going to deluge the bank account. I’d be surprised if I make much more than $300 in the month. 🙂

But, given it was just a short story, it impressed me enough that I removed SoH from Kobo (Amazon require exclusivity if you go on the KU program).  The two existing German translations, Die Verborgene Hand and Trumpf im Armel, are exclusive to Amazon anyway, so I put them on KU as well. This is a 90 day test.

SoH hasn’t responded. There have only been a couple of readers through KU.

The German readers, however, have rocked. It’s too early to tell how much, but I’ll update you next month.

Other marketing? I’m also on twitter. I’ve no idea what I’m doing there. No one seems to engage much.

New Releases

I am *still* waiting for ACX/Audible to finish ‘preparing’ the Hidden Trump audiobook.

Julia finished narrating around the 10th July. She needed the payment to go through ACX/Audible for guild and tax reasons. We asked ACX how to achieve that, given their website only envisages sending a bank check from an American account. Parochial or what?

We finally got a response on the 27th July, giving us the details of an account to which I could send an electronic transfer. The account details provided to me were wrong!

On the 29th I had to re-send the money. (I’ve requested that the paymaster cover my costs of $80 levied by the banks for sending it to the wrong account. He’s ducking).

Around 5th August, the ACX paymaster ‘posted a check’ to Julia.

On the 17th August, Julia got the check and updated the appropriate status in ACX.

The book status changed: “Now ACX will put the audiobook through a quick final quality control process.”

Quick. Ha!

On the 26th August, the book status changed to “Preparing audiobook for Amazon, Audible and iTunes”.

Where it remains. Sigh.

Wild Card (Entfesselter Wandel) has gone through preliminary translation into German by Peter, and is sitting on Heike’s desk waiting for her to do proofreading and layout. She’s reserved a slot, but not till the end of October.

Writing Progress

The beta readers are about to receive the 3rd section of Angel Stakes, which I originally said took it to the midpoint. Okay, it’s not the midpoint. It’s somewhere between 2/3 and ¾ of the way through the book.

There are reasons for this estimating error on my part.

  1. I’m not good at estimating.
  2. With a book that has multiple themes, which ‘mid-point’ do I chose?
  3. I’m very bad at estimating.

It’s proceeding okay. As I go through editing, I’ll be looking for a few other short non-spoiler sections to release as teasers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July update – where’s it at

Writing Schedule

The second section of Angel Stakes will be with the beta readers in the next couple of days.

How much of the book is this? Well, the first section I sent out took the book to one of the standard ‘structural’ points, called the ‘first turning point’. Theoretically, this is 25% of the book. That section happened to be 27k words long. The second section should be up to the second major structural point, called imaginatively the ‘mid-point’. What I’m sending out isn’t quite that far. It’s about 34k words, and there are two major twists to come before the mid-point. So if we say 10k words to get to the mid-point, then half the book will come to approximately 70k, and that means the final book may be as long as Wild Card.

Having said all that, my structural points occur at different places to the ‘average’ book, partly because I’m writing a series and partly because I have multiple threads and each thread has its own structure, which might displace the main book structure slightly.

We’ll see. I know what happens of course, but how many words it takes me to say it, and how long it takes me to write it, are estimations that I’m not good at making.

Hidden Trump audio

What a labyrinth!

It has taken Julia Motyka and I over three weeks to get the Audible / ACX payment details provided to us. When I hired Kimberly to read Sleight of Hand, I paid her directly, which was easy. Because Julia is also an actor and director and needs to channel all payments through her guild, I have to pay her through the ACX approved ‘paymaster’. Easy – “send us a cheque/check” they said. Can’t do that, I’m a UK citizen and don’t have a bank account in the US (and it’s near impossible to acquire one). Surely, we said, surely, there is someone who understands that US narrators might get paid by UK authors? Eventually, there was, and he provided me with bank details for an international bank transfer. To a dead account.

The funds were returned to my bank. My bank called me (and warned me that both their charges for the transfer and the charges from the US bank were taken against my account). I emailed the ACX paymaster, requesting the correct account number and their opinion as to what I should do about the bank charges. They provided the correct number and ignored the comment about charges. I’d probably have accepted a simple apology, but what I actually got back after re-querying it was “I never heard of banks doing this”!

Anyway, the payment has been made, Audible / ACX are doing their checking, whatever that is, and the audiobook should be up soon. I hope.

Sales

Creeping along. Summer sales are pretty skewed anyway, and I’m not sure the Bite Back books are the type you take to the beach.

Anyway, overall, the books are within touching distance of 70,000 total sales, which is great, but as this is the third anniversary of the release of Sleight of Hand, I did have a look at the annual total sales numbers.

Aug 2012-2013 40,000

Aug 2013-2014 60,000

Aug 2014-2015 70,000

Which represents a disheartening slow-down. I know some of the problem is that, especially in this genre, output as measured by books is what keeps you in the rankings, and staying in the rankings is what drives sales. I write longer books, I release them slowly, and inevitably, I slip a little in the rankings.

I had that in mind when I started plotting Bian’s companion series – they seemed, at the plotting stage, to be shorter, so I could write and release them more quickly and the two series would feed each other. Ha! I can’t write short books it seems, and trying to keep the first book of Bian’s Tale short may have been what caused the writing to stutter. I will return to Bian’s Tale, but inevitably that will slow the release of Bite Back books.

There appears to be an opportunity to improve sales when I can devote more time to marketing. To take one example, slightly less than 50% of the people who bought Wild Card have bought Cool Hand. The reviews and ratings for both are good, so I think I can assume that it’s not that the readers don’t like the series or wouldn’t buy Cool Hand. I can only theorize that, due to the delay getting Cool Hand out, other books/series with higher rankings on Amazon have caught their attention.

Back to writing.

2015 half year report

And that was the first half of the year! Gone.

Progress on projects:

Angel Stakes
The beta panel (much expanded) has spotted a lot of bits, but everyone seems to be on board for the ride. That was based on the first 27k words. The second section takes the story to the half way point and will be with the panel in 2-3 weeks.
Is that where I want to be? Well, no. I keep having expectations based on approaching writing as an engineering project. That works sometimes and not others.
Taking the second section as an example, I have the core scenes written, and have had for some time. I wrote those at 1,500-2,000 words per day. What’s missing is the glue that binds the scenes together. As a result of what happens at the end of section 1, Amber is landed with a train wreck of urgent and important tasks. (So what’s new 🙂 ). The problem is her instructions are in conflict with her instincts as to how the tasks need to be handled. All of them are priority and different ones have different senior Athanate demanding them. And so on. What has stumped me for the whole of the last week is how to present this task list so the readers understand all the ramifications without a huge conversation/meeting. I do big meetings (end of Hidden Trump for example), but not at the 30% point in a book. It would unbalance the story. What I need, three chapters into section 2, is a physical fight, not a heated discussion. I need to present the list of tasks while Amber’s having a fight!
Anyway, in summary, it’s going reasonably well. Not so well that I’m ready to give publishing date predictions yet.

Audio version of Hidden Trump
A batch of minor edits has gone to Julia Motyka, and I hope to be able to publish in a couple of weeks. I will post up a snippet from Chapter 11 before then. You will enjoy this!

German version of Wild Card : Fortschritte bei der deutschen Version von Wild Card
My copyeditor is unable to complete the final checks and formatting until October, so I think publishing will be in November or December. My apologies, but I want to remain with the same team and process.

Mein Redakteur wird nicht in der Lage, um die letzten Überprüfungen und Formatierung bis Oktober abzuschließen, so dass ich denke Publishing wird im November oder Dezember sein. Es tut mir leid, aber ich möchte mit dem gleichen Team und Verfahren bleiben.

Book covers
Ah! Just no time. Maria came in for a session. My son Joshua took some great photos (see earlier post on Bite Back Facebook), but actually taking that to complete covers with photoshopping the green screen from the background and overlaying onto cover background, then adding titles – too much at the moment.

Sales

Raw Deal 20,400
Sleight of Hand (ebook) 22,100
Sleight of Hand (audio) 728
Sleight of Hand (German) 1,400
Hidden Trump 16,000
Hidden Trump (German) 690
Wild Card 7,200
Cool Hand 3,400

The first four month’s sales for Cool Hand have closely matched Wild Card. My major concern is still the huge drop between Hidden Trump and Wild Card. After its first 19 months, Hidden Trump was at approximately double the level of Wild Card is now at, after the same time.

Raw Deal is in Kindle Unlimited. Just in case you’ve been meditating in the Siberian tundra for the last year or so, this Amazon scheme allows their Prime users to ‘borrow’ and read books for free. The indie authors (not trad published authors) are now paid for these ‘borrows’ on the basis of pages read, as reported back from your Kindle. Obviously, a borrow generates much lower income for the author, but Amazon argue, greater visibility.
You can still buy Raw Deal outright and there’s a 1:4 split in favor of buying.

Marketing

Not really doing anything at the moment outside of maintaining the Facebook page and Athanate website. I do twitter, but I haven’t really got any understanding of how that works in a marketing sense.

I have RD in KU and I’ve kept the price of RD and SoH low.

So, a busy month in prospect, with another section for beta readers and an audio book to launch.