I wrote The Biting Cold as a stand-alone short story back in 2014, but the characters were popular enough to persuade me I needed to write a sequel and merge the story into the main Bite Back thread. So… Winter’s Kiss, a novella, in the newly branded Bite Back: Outsiders series, is up on Amazon now.
In less good news, I managed to mess up my mailing procedures this morning and sent the emails out in batches with all the email addresses visible. My sincere apologies to all affected.
Apologies for the silence on the blog this last six weeks.
Winter’s Kiss takes the story started in The Biting Cold and weaves it into the Bite Back series. The timeline for them to join up is the end of Angel Stakes. Both The Biting Cold and Winter’s Kiss are short stories (20k and 30k words respectively). Since they are a separate story, but part of Bite Back, and since Amazon really likes series to have names, I’ve decided to all this mini-series Bite Back: Diazoun. The word diazoun is Athanate. It’s the term used for Athanate Houses who isolate themselves from Athanate society.
There may be a third short story in this series.
When? Well, Winter’s Kiss is under the editor’s red pen as I type this. Sooooon.
The original cover image I wanted for Winter’s Kiss was too dark, and I wanted to keep to black letters, so I took the opportunity to rework the two book covers side by side. Please feed back your thoughts!
As ever, toward the end of writing a book, other things get pushed aside. Not everything can be treated like that!
The main beta panelists have received about 70% of the book. My sister, who is always first stop, has received about 75%. Lauren Sweet, my editor has received 70% + a reasonably full synopsis to the end. I have written more than 90% of the book.
Providing the book in chunks to the beta panel has been a very positive experience for me, and the feedback has been good. Each chunk has been reasonably self-contained and tended to end on cliff-hangers. Each chunk was only the new chapters, so there’s been no requirement for the beta readers to re-read from the start each time. And that methodology, I was starting to suspect last month, had obscured a problem with the book regarding the overall structure.
Lauren agreed after reading through the 70% and the synopsis to the end, although we came to the same sort of conclusion from different angles. Mainly, that the book doesn’t get going on the main plot early enough or strongly enough.
That probably sounds worse than it is. Certainly, I had a panic when I realized it. However, after a long Skype with Lauren, what it seems to come down to is about half a dozen extra scenes, an expansion of three existing scenes, a dash more relationship, a reworking of a sub-plot and … gosh, that sounds bad as well. What it really comes down to is I intend to have the book to Lauren needing only copy-editing work by the end of November.
So…prediction…Angel Stakes will be published in December.
Wild Card audiobook
Julia Motyka is hard at work at her studio in New York. I’ve heard the opening chapter, and we’ve had a long and hilarious Skype conversation where she nailed all the voices and accents required in the longest book of the series so far. Julia is amazingly versatile – have a look back through on the Bite Back Facebook page and listen to the Hidden Trump sample I posted. She gets the fussy Judicator Remy (think Hercule Poirot) alongside the slightly other-worldly, slightly Greek sound of Diana and the snarky, Mid-Western sound of Amber.
Anyway, Wild Card in audio will also be published in December.
Wild Card in German / auf Deutsch
Also due soon, very possibly at the same time as Angel Stakes and the audiobook. The name in German is Entfesselter Wandel, which sort-of translates as an ‘unbridled change’. Kinky! I just couldn’t find a title that had the flavor of Wild Card without using the word ‘Joker’.
Und so, dieses Buch wird im Dezember veröffentlicht werden. (Ich hoffe).
I know, I know, I’m due to rework the covers, going back to the old format with new photos. Unfortunately, for technical reasons, the last photo session with Maria didn’t produce what I needed. I obviously need to arrange another for Angel Stakes anyway.
I’ll keep you posted.
Most of you on this page and on Facebook have already provided me reviews, and I’d like to take the opportunity to thank you. I read every single one (even the negatives), and almost always take something valuable from them.
If there are friends you know who’ve read the books but haven’t reviewed, I would appreciate you giving them a nudge. I mean that whether they liked them or not. Amazon’s rankings of authors is based on not only sales and reviews but how recent those reviews are, and my new reviews have slowed down quite a bit.
To be completely clear; I’m not asking for 4 or 5 stars or positive reviews, I’m genuinely wanting to know what people thought of the books, including what might have made them better.
Also, this isn’t just about Amazon. Goodreads is a great book-reading community (even if it has some strange nooks and crannies!) and many people look to their reviews and recommendations.
Plagiarism and Copyright Theft
You probably know my opinion, and you’ll certainly know my opinion if you have a look at my personal Facebook page or the Bite Back page.
Rant Mode ON
I can’t understand those authors who shrug off copyright theft and simply say “oh, it’s like promotion for me”. It’s a disease. Type the name of any of your favorite authors or books into Google with a tag ‘free’ or something like that, and I’m guaranteeing that within a screen or two, you will find links to download a copy of their books without payment. Some of these downloads are viruses, and frankly, I’m sometimes tempted to start doing that. Some of them you get free downloads in exchange for a monthly fee. In a huge number of cases, these are plain theft, and the author gets nothing.
Strangely, those authors who shrug off this kind of theft get more upset when their books are plagiarized. I have seen books for sale on Amazon, where the only effort the ‘author’ has put in has been to do a search&replace on the names of the principles, and slap a new cover on.
The cost of fighting plagiarism, even if it’s a slam-dunk case? Over $50,000 and the thief simply says “can’t pay” and walks away. Ask for links if you want a specific case.
Rant Mode OFF
I restrict myself to half a day a month to get upset over this, because even working tirelessly 24/7 as an internet masked avenger, I could not stem the tide. I have recently managed to alert an Aussie author to plagiarism and get the thief thrown off Amazon, and I have to take comfort from such small victories.
Once Angel Stakes is published, I have a long-standing commitment to make my late mother’s unpublished book available. It’s a colonial-era murder mystery set in the remotest bush station of Northern Rhodesia, and it’s a cracker. It only requires editing and formatting, so this won’t be a huge effort.
After that, Bian’s Tale book 1 and another short story/novella to weave Biting Cold’s Amanda and Scott into the Bite Back series.
Then Bite Back 6!
Just ambling along. Nothing exciting to report apart from The Biting Cold, which I’ve handled in 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.
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.”
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.
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.
- I’m not good at estimating.
- With a book that has multiple themes, which ‘mid-point’ do I chose?
- 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.
Last December, I released my short story, The Biting Cold, as part of an anthology with Susan, Connie, Debra, JC and Jen. It went very well under both schemes we used. But it’s time to release it on its own. And to do that, I need an ISBN, a cover, the cover copy, and a price/package.
The ISBN I buy in bulk, so I just pull the next one off the list.
The price? Well, Amazon won’t let me put in anything less than 0.99 cents or pennies. I will put this story initially in the Kindle Select listings, so that Amazon Prime members can read it under their Kindle Unlimited contracts and I get paid for the number of pages read. This story was only ever intended to capture marketing information or be a tease to get readers into the Athanate world.
The cover copy I have from the anthology, but I want it shorter and sharper to stand on its own:
What price would you pay?
Dr. Amanda Lloyd, a dying psychiatrist with just days to live, is desperate to give the only testimony that will keep the criminal mastermind of a human trafficking network in jail. She can’t spare time for the handsome, mysterious patient who claims to be a vampire.
Unless what he offers her is exactly what she needs…
And the cover…
I’ve no intention of going out and paying a studio for a cover. So, what does the cover need to depict? “Vampires and romance”.
I don’t want fangs or a bitten neck on the cover, which leaves me with one obvious way of implying vampires (apart from the title itself), and that’s the font. I went looking for letter shapes that looked like knives or fangs, and I found Abaddon. Not perfect, but *free*. To ram the point home, so to speak, we need some blood dripping off a fang – ten minutes with PaintShop Pro.
The romance, well everything is a cliché. Naked male torso, serious abs and pecs. Bodice. Flesh. Kissing or embracing couple. Hands entwined. Red rose. Lipstick imprint. For no other reason than it was abstract, cheap and easy, I took the lips. Mwah.
What would be ‘nice’ for the cover to depict? Detroit, cold, winter, legal setting, a tale with a twist. I wanted to keep the cover simple and abstract, so the cityscape was out, as was the twist. They are respectively too detailed and too complex. The legal setting was interesting – there are lots of visual clues you can use, but I didn’t want to clutter. So I went for cold and winter, at which point, Jessica, Joshua and I came up with our interpretations and the attached are the result.
The covers have been getting votes on Facebook already. In case you haven’t seen it there, please vote here in the comments. Left to right, cover number 1-3. (I’ll be releasing the book on the 8th August).
As promised, the story of Amanda and Scott will continue for at least one more short(ish) book, and then will bind into the main Bite Back series.
I have been looking at names for the next book… maybe Heart of Winter