My favorite price— free!

ToT_cover_final_webLGTrinity on Tylos is now published exclusively through Kindle Direct, and one of the promotional benefits is that Amazon allows authors to schedule up to five free days. I’ve scheduled October 16-20 as “free” days for Trinity on Tylos. This is not to be confused with Kindle Unlimited borrowing; this download is yours to keep.

So, if you haven’t read my revised science fiction story, this is your chance to read it for free. Of course, Amazon hopes, as do I, that readers will give it a good review. Anyway, I hope you will read it, and pass this notice along to readers of science fiction, space opera, and action/adventure.

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Coolest cover art

I’ve been looking online for information about the new versions of David Weber’s Honor Harrington novels— there’s a video game, comic books, and a forthcoming movie! While the news is interesting, the art files coming from the comic books are seriously cool. I am looking forward to all of it, especially the film version, because Honor is one of my favorite characters of all time.

But, I saw some cover art files from an artist in Europe who is absolutely nailing the image I have of Honor and her universe in my miid. Wonderful, powerful images. Check this out, HH fans!

honor_among_enemies_2_by_genkkis-d5c6lhm honor_harrington___field_of_dishonor_by_genkkis-d72fwyj honor_harrington_war_of_honor2_by_genkkis-d2mtz6ahonor_harrington_flag_in_exile_by_genkkis-d2mty9d

There are more files, as well as some interesting discussion between fans and the author over at Deviant Art.

Honestly, I am simply blown away by the talent and the skillful interpretation of the artist.

Trinity on Tylos in the Kindle Store

ToT_cover_final_webLGAfter six years, Trinity on Tylos is going to be available as a Kindle book, and I’ve priced it at $2.99, the same price as my debut novel, The Gift Horse. For this new version, I went through a copy of the eBook and made every effort to eliminate some of the errors in the original. However, there are no substantial changes, as I was fairly content with it, apart from the proofreading, which was a problem with the original publisher.

The new cover was designed by Dawn Seewer, who did the cover for The Gift Horse. The background depicts the landscape of Tylos IV, with the ships in the sky. The models in the foreground are Venice and Azareel, and I think the artist did a good job. A few of the readers of the original printed novel told me that the cover didn’t really convey the serious nature of the novel, so I hope that this new cover touches the bases.

For those who haven’t read it, here is the original synopsis that I used when shopping the manuscript:

What sacrifices must an officer make to save her shipmates from certain doom? Venice Dylenski, the young security chief of the colonizing ship, Excalibur, is faced with this dilemma after her captain makes a critical error in judgement in an encounter with an alien with superior fire power and a hidden agenda.

Trinity on Tylos begins as Venice experiences an embarrassing moment on a survey mission, one which rules out yet another planet as a hospitable home for their colony. While continuing its search, the Excalibur encounters the Archeons, an alien race characterized by gray-blue skin and a facility for language. The interchange results in Venice and a crewmate, Alathea Duke, being taken captive by the mysterious Archeon captain, Azareel. In short order, he informs them that they will play a critical role in revitalizing his dying race, that of surrogate mothers to genetically engineered Archeon offspring.

Venice, reluctant “to be the next Archeon soccer mom,” strives to escape, but her companion seems all too willing to cooperate with their captor. Thus the stage is set for multiple conflicts between human and Archeon, human and human, and humanoids verses the hostile environment of their new planetary home in the Tylos star system.

Trinity on Tylos has the elements of a good space opera: complex characters faced with myriad problems to solve, set in a future where man may have escaped the bounds of his solar system, but not the bonds of human emotions.

 

 

Going, going, almost gone

TrinitycoversmThe Whiskey Creek Press version of Trinity on Tylos is about to become a bit of a collector’s item. When it was first published, I was mostly pleased, although the final edits were rushed and far too many mistakes made it into the print copy. The paperback was not of the best quality, either. The ebook, at least the one I got from the now defunct Fictionwise, was far worse. What few royalty reports I received indicated low sales, and even lower royalties. At one point, I was getting seventeen cents per ebook sale, and a typical quarterly check was about five bucks.

When the book came out, in 2006, I sought out speaking engagements, author-guest slots at science fiction conventions, and I did quite a bit of internet promotional activity, hoping to help Trinity find an audience, and to do my part to help sell the book for WCP. By 2007, I realized that the sales were not going be as good as my self-published debut novel, so I spent far less time promoting it. But, WCP continued to be a disappointment, too. Just to get Amazon to list it, WCP required that I purchase two copies at full price; then, initially, the title was misspelled on Amazon’s website. Eventually, the print book was listed correctly, and I did have a couple of very good reviews on Amazon, as well as several from other sources. When Amazon’s Kindle format began to take on increasing importance, WCP indicated that eventually all of their titles would be available for the Kindle. While Trinity on Tylos was available for the Nook, it was never converted to Kindle format. My original contract was for two years, but I did not ask for my rights back, in part because I hoped WCP would eventually pay me more royalties, and that they would support the book. And, to be honest, I was very busy with my adjunct instructor job, as well as being mom to teenagers, so I didn’t push either promotion or accountability from WCP.

After years and years of zero communications regarding sales, I can only conclude that either there were no sales or WCP kept all of the royalties. I will never know which. I’ve maintained a website, with promotional materials, links to vendors, and so forth, at my expense, and I finally came to the conclusion that WCP was never going to pay me anything ever again. Anyway, I did ask to have my rights back at the end of last year, via email, and there was no response. I asked again recently, via snail mail, and while I still have not heard a word from WCP, I noticed today that Trinity on Tylos is no longer listed for sale by Whiskey Creek Press nor by Barnes and Noble. Amazon still has it for sale, but they list the one lonely copy, and I do remember that I paid for it in 2006. I’ll bet it is quite shopworn by now!

Fellow WCP authors are in a bit of an uproar, because WCP has been sold to a New York firm, Start Media. Some of those other authors have suggested that I self-publish it, as they are doing with their own books, and I have talked with Booklocker about doing the formatting and cover. Since I don’t have a clean copy of the manuscript, I’ll be doing some editing before doing anything else.

In the meantime, Whiskey Creek Press is going, going, soon to be gone. Various interent sites have chronicled the demise of this small press, and much of the dirt is recorded here. For whatever reasons, I’m sad, which is illogical, because the publisher hasn’t been paying me or even bothering to respond to email. And there is little solace in knowing that I am not the only author that they deemed not worth a simple email.

All Books— $4

News stories about publisher prices come and go; the latest has the U.S. attorney general going after Apple’s iBooks prices. Let me key that in again… Apple’s iBooks prices. Not the New York big six; not Amazon. While I do believe that book prices are as artificial as aspartame, I don’t really believe that Apple is the culprit in price fixing. The attorney general is just doing some election year grandstanding.

As I have stated in previous blog posts, the 800 pound gorilla in book sales in the U.S. is Amazon. Even when Amazon begins charging sales taxes, and that will happen because our government’s spending is out of control; Amazon will still have the lion’s share of new book sales, due to its ubiquitous internet presence and its killer Kindle app. But, increasingly, Amazon is the best way to sell used books, and that is the reason all books will eventually be around four bucks.

I’ve been selling off my home library for a few months now, but I still have the bulk of it, because I have not found a way to compete with the “power sellers” who offer thousands of used books for a penny, plus Amazon’s $3.99 shipping. Thus, virtually any used book is available for a mere $4.

Having moved recently, I packed many, many boxes of books, and I usually check the price for anything that I don’t want to own forever. Most of them are only a penny on Amazon. I can’t make any money on that sale. Here is how the math works for me:

Book price .01

Shipping fees to me 3.99

Commission(s) to Amazon -$1.00 (transaction fee) and -.80 (minimum commission)

Postage to customer -$3.15 (for a book weighing between 1 and 2 pounds).

Thus, I lose $.95 per book, or more if I use packaging that I purchased, if the book sells at the going rate of $4.00. Heavier books will result in a greater loss, because Amazon’s shipping fees do not adjust for heavier items.

So, most of my books either end up parked on a shelf or in the “yard sale” pile. And, I do know that most of those won’t sell at a yard sale, either, so they’ll end up being donated to charity. Therefore, the owner of a used book must either want to keep it, or be ready to toss it.

Tis sad, but all physical books will become used books. So, if you don’t like the publisher’s price, just wait. Eventually, most any book will be available for four bucks.

Another Bookstore Goes Away

Once again, it is time to say goodbye to a bookstore, and if one of the “big guys” had to go away, I am sorry that it is Borders. Their store in Athens, Georgia, was one of my favorites. The customer service was always good, and the store was in a great location.
As I have noted in previous posts, the new way to read is the ebook. I am actually surprised that it took this long for the ebook to finally fulfill its destiny. Previous readers, including the Rocket eReader, the similar EBookman, and the Palm, were all were capable of displaying a variety of books, but the new generation of reading devices, including the Nook, the Kindle, and the multipurpose iPad have made reading ebooks so convenient that even beautiful stores with good coffee, friendly faces, and ample parking are not going to be enough to keep them in business.
A decade ago, I first learned about the problems with print publishing from long-time literary agent Richard Curtis. As a first-time attendee at the Harriet Austin Writer’s Conference in Athens, I was in a bit of awe as Curtis described the vast number of books which are printed but never sold. Some of these are recycled into pulp after sitting in a warehouse, but many of them go out to stores then come back in as “remainders.” There are other models for selling books, including print-on-demand, but the larger houses do waste a lot of paper and ink.
Bookstores, by and large, do not pay for the books on their shelves, but those volumes are on “loan” from large publishers. When customers buy the books, a part of the money goes to the store, part goes to the publisher, and a wee bit goes to the author. If a customer browses in the store, then buys the book for his eReading device (whichever one) then the publisher gets more money than with print, unless the book price is substantially less. And, depending on the price paid, the author gets a wee bit or a wee bit more. Either way, the physical store gets zip. While I am sure some customers were still buying printed books, and maybe a coffee or a gift, there just were not enough of them to keep the Borders chain afloat. Business people who are writing about the situation mention that Borders, which was selling CDs and DVDs just a few years ago, was slow to realize that video and music were moving to online delivery. Now, books take their place alongside film and music. There will still be some good independent bookstores, I hope, and Barnes and Noble has its Nook and Fictionwise eBookstore, so it may survive the downward trend in print sales. I suspect the next casualty will be Books a Million.
While I will certainly miss Borders, I did not buy much there. I guess that makes me one of the many reasons that it went bankrupt. So, I will be buying the next novel I read for the iPad. Just like the last few that I read.
Coming soon— a review of a SF series by Thomas DePrima.

eReader update

Some years back, I purchased a Palm device as an eBook reader. Oh, I might not have chosen it if the only thing it could do was display books, but it does more than act as a reading device. For half a decade, I have read scores of eBooks and used the Palm for my calendar, quick notes, and as a portable phone/address book. At the time, I thought spending a hundred and fifty bucks was a bit much for it, but in the long run, I have enjoyed cheaper books, being able to read at night, and less junk in my purse. Nowadays, it will die after just a couple of hours of reading, and battery life has always been a problem. In the past few months, the cover has worn out, the charger won’t work so I have to use the USB port to recharge it, and when I pull it out, folks look at it the way folks in the eighties would look at an eight-track tape deck. Like other fans of eBooks, I am looking for a replacement reading device.

 

Being an Apple aficionado, I view the iPhone as a good candidate. Like the Palm, an iPhone would serve multiple purposes. But, that small screen won’t be much better than what I have now, and newer should be markedly better, don’t you think?  No doubt, well-heeled eBook readers who like Apple products will probably opt for the iPad, and that is the most appealing alternative. But, it won’t fit in my purse, and while it is a real computer, it won’t really replace my Macbook, so I can’t see spending the bucks for one of those.

 

Amazon has been perfecting, and dropping the price of the Kindle. The second generation device isn’t as butt-ugly as the first one, but I am not ready to buy one just yet. Amazon’s content is probably better than most, which is a better selling point than the reader itself. If I were a student again, having to read large textbooks, the oversized version would catch my attention, but black and white magazine content is so retro.

 

I considered the eBookman, marketed by Fictionwise, five years ago, and there are a few of those still around. But its successor is the Nook, a WiFi capable dedicated eBook reader sold by Barnes and Noble. The price of this device is currently $149. Since Fictionwise, my favorite eBook vendor, is now a BN.com subsidiary, moving my pre-purchased content should be easier if I decide on the Nook. Barnes and Noble has my sophomore novel, Trinity on Tylos, on sale for under three bucks. That’s a deal, folks! If other small press books are priced similarly, that would put new books into used book price range. Quite frankly, when just purchasing the content, and not the paper and cover, I think that a new eBook really should be less expensive than a new print copy, so plenty of low priced content is absolutely necessary. And, of the eBook readers available now, apart from Apple’s elegant designs, the Nook has the best form factor, too.