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).
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.”
“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.
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?
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.
Okay. The first half went to my editor, Lauren Sweet, and came back with a sort of B+. She liked most of the major scenes, the general setup and she thought the twists were cool. There are three scenes she really didn’t like and I’m going to have to make them rock before I pass the first half to the wider readership of beta reader reaction.
While Lauren’s been doing that, I’ve been working on the second half. I have five major scenes which are done, five that are pretty much done and the remainder are in better than skeleton form. There are some thoughts I’ve had about another little twist or two and I have a character who leaped out onto the page while I wasn’t concentrating—do I keep her?
All in all, the whole book should be in final draft form during November, and the first half will have been mostly copy-edited. With that situation, I am reasonably sure that Cool Hand will be published by Christmas. It’ll be closer to Sleight of Hand in size than the others. I’m estimating 120k words.
I did promise myself last year that I wouldn’t be working with Lauren right up until the morning she got on her flight for her vacation. I hope I keep to that.
The book does wrap up some long running loose ends and set some new ones scampering off… 🙂
The Biting Cold
I also committed to doing a short story for an Urban Fantasy anthology to be released at Christmas. My story is called The Biting Cold. This is in its final draft and with Lauren (who likes it). I’m just waiting for a detailed report before sharing it with my co-authors.
What’s the deal on the anthology? There are six of us:
Jennifer Bock (JT Bock)
We are each writing a short story to be included. The anthology will be published in time for Christmas and is (very loosely) Christmas themed. The only way you get to read the anthology is to send any one of us an email request, and we’ll send the ebook back to you.
Of course we then have your email, and of course we will not abuse it, or sell it to others or market it in any way like that. We will send you an email alert when any of us has a release. 🙂
I wouldn’t have joined this group if I didn’t believe all of us are worthwhile indie writers with the sort of books I think you’d all enjoy. I highly recommend them and I know many of you are already fans of theirs.
What’s my short story about?
Detroit in winter.
A city in the grip of decay.
A legal system struggling to deliver justice.
An amnesiac woman who is dying.
Psychiatrist Dr. Amanda Lloyd is focused on living long enough to give her expert testimony in court and put a vicious criminal away. The defense are fighting for a postponement she can’t allow, and questioning her memory problems in an effort to discredit her.
She can’t spare the time for the patient who claims to be a vampire.
Unless what he offers her is exactly what she needs…
And it’s as close as I’m ever going to get to PNR! Lol.
The lines are open folks.
Hidden Trump in German
This is due out this month! I will post separately about this.
Sleight of Hand in audio
This is also due out this month! Also, another post to cover this.
I’ve got the main image for the cover of Cool Hand. I just need to pick a background that depicts (little spoiler) New Mexico.
My daughter and son are going to rework all the covers for Bite Back. Expect something very different next year.
Sales are okay…
The only ‘marketing’ I’ve done is to keep Die verborgene Hand down at 0.99 Euros to try and make the release of book 2 that much more of a splash.
My Seville trip post. I know, I know, I’ve been so busy. However… the fanatic watchers have now published a slew of photographs, and since I was there, some of them are of me! I will put this together with an anecdote or two when I next take a bit of a writing break and I’ll post it here.
Those writing breaks… Yeah, guys, I’m like everyone else; I have to do tax returns and challenge crazy insurance quotes and all the other drek that comes along. The rest of the time, every day, I get somewhere between 1k and 4k words down into the book.
Recommendations for reading: Another post. Christmas time (ish). I hope.
Bian’s Tale. Looks like I’ll pick it up next year now. I have read some more out-of-print books with fascinating detail about Saigon in that time, but the main thing I’ll be working on when I get back to it is getting that story sharper.
Stay tuned…next week I’m going to put up the first quarter of Bian’s Tale, but I want to do something a bit different this week and I’m looking to get responses from you.
Today is about changing your book cover. I plan to do this for the Bite Back series, and so I’m interested to see what happens when others do it. From previous posts, you’ll remember I showed the new cover for Debra Dunbar’s first book in her Imp series, and she was pleased with the increased response that generated. I think her new covers are better, and the cover for No Man’s Land, which I recommended a couple of posts back, gets the werewolf part of the book across well. (Very few covers get ‘vampire’ across well, IMHO, but tell me if you think differently).
Now Susan Illene has decided to change her covers. Here’s her reasoning, and the new cover for Darkness Haunts.
Many of you will remember the original Darkness Haunts cover that I have been using for over a year now. It was my first book and I was quite proud of it at the time I published it, but I also knew it wasn’t quite the right look for Melena. Sometimes you just have to settle for what you can get (stock photos) and I couldn’t afford a professional photo shoot at the time. My cover artist did a great job with it, though, and it drew in plenty of readers so I can’t complain.
But it was time for change.
After the awesome experience with the photo shoot for Chained by Darkness, I decided I had to redo Darkness Haunts. It just couldn’t stay the same anymore. I am very pleased with how it turned out and hope you all will be too! So here it is:
So, folks, what do you think about the new kick-ass image?
Do you think this will attract a different audience? Will readers have a different expectation? If you’ve read the book, do you feel this captures Melena better?
Do you think changing the covers produces an increased response regardless?
I’ll be very interested in your comments, and my next post is going to ask for your opinion on a book I think most of you won’t have read, rather than my reviewing it, or making a recommendation on it.
I know from comments on the site that a fair few of you follow Debra Dunbar’s Imp series, and this post is just a short one in case you haven’t spotted ‘No Man’s Land’, her latest.
It’s set in the Imp world, but focuses on an outcast vampire and mysterious werewolf.
I got it on the Kindle and put it in with the rest to be parceled out a chapter or two at a time. That was a couple of days ago. 🙂
Anyway, it’s a great opener, with damnable, evil vampires who scheme and plot and betray at the drop of a hat, snappy werewolves who can’t see beyond their own snarling snouts, and the ever present threat of the angels. And then a little ray of light…
I’ll do a proper review when I can. In the meantime, leap across to Amazon and buy. You don’t need to have read the Imp series to enjoy.