I haven’t blogged in a while. I’ve been too busy, really, and using what writing time I have to focus on…well, writing. It’s been a struggle this year. Lackluster book sales and a busy schedule have combined to reduce my output and put a bit of a heavy weight on my shoulders. Add in a sinus infection and crappy Michigan weather and I’ve got lots of excuses, but no real justification.
Meanwhile, I’ve stumbled across a new idea. Not for a story, but for a character. The last time this happened I struggled and finally ended up finding a home for the new character. She ended up starting up a series in my Dark Earth setting and, over the span of the last five years, has been responsible for bringing in a little of sales and happy readers. Here’s the funny part – those books would have done a lot better if they had a woman’s name on them instead of mine.
Waving my finger at the way in which we pick books to read aside, I’m still pretty darn happy with how Katalina Wimple and The Lost Girls turned out. I still love the character and what she’s been through and accomplished. It’s because of her that my new idea is gaining more and more traction in my head.
So who is this character? I don’t know yet. I do know it’s a she. I also know she’s in a sci-fi setting because she’s been in some pretty rough stuff and only survived because of very advanced medicine. Probably injuries comparable to something Darth Vader-esque. Except she’s not nearly as whiny and obnoxious as the shmuck that was Annakin Skywalker.
So where does she go? Vitalis? Dark Universe? Something new? I’m not entirely sure, to be honest, but I’m leaning towards Dark Universe. Not what I had intended for book three in that series, but I might introduce her there. Set the stage, so to speak, so that she can start things up after book three is over and I’ve told the major story arc I had planned for Aden and the crew of the Uma.
Or maybe another idea will come along and I’ll do something else with her. It’s hard to know, honestly, but I do know I really like her and she’s here to stay. My wife’s books aren’t doing as well as they did last year and she’d disappointed by that enough that she’s slowing down. That means, hopefully, I can focus more on my stuff. For lovers of Dawn Michelle don’t worry, she’s not giving up and going away, just slowing down and thinking things through.
On that note, book three of The Lost Pack is due out soon, perhaps by Monday. Book 4 is close behind, maybe another week or two. Books five and beyond are coming too, she hasn’t gotten to them yet though. I’m pushing to help her get them out, the sooner we do the sooner I can turn back to Dark Universe and Voidhawk, in particular. I really want to start my next Voidhawk book, but I’m also dying to continue the Dark Universe setting. Decisions, decisions…
Just got this from my partner and friend, J.E. Taylor. After checking it out I was only too happy to pass it along. Sounds like a great deal to me and there’s some top notch authors involved (to be fair, probably all of them, but I can’t honestly say I’ve read every author in this collection so I won’t pretend I have). Anyhow, enough babbling – on to the news!
21 stories for only 99¢
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Sale ends August 31st, 2015
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The party is on June 29 but the giveaways have already begun.
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There’s an amazing woman in the world that deserves some recognition. Not only is she a kick-ass mother and wife, but she puts out some slightly twisted and sometimes downright juicy books too! Case in point, after a hectic week we lost track of release day of the second book in her Tooth and Nayelle series. I’m here to cross-promote it and hopefully drive a little more attention her way. She does shine in the spotlight, after all…
Tooth and Nayelle is a paranormal romance / thriller serial. In total it will be five parts, each of them novelette length and priced at $.99. Or, for readers that are in Kindle Unlimited, it’s free! Yes, when she’s done she will release the entire series as a bundle (which will not be in KU), but the stories aren’t done yet.
That’s nice – but what’s it about and why should you care? Well, the story is about a young woman that has been hunted since childhood. She watched her family torn apart by a pack of very special wolves. She saw things that were impossible, and when she tried to tell people, they condemned her for it. That sort of support system can leave a person not only haunted and damaged, but doubting her own sanity.
The bad news is, they’ve come back, proving that she isn’t crazy. Just in time to tear away the only thing she has left in her life, her friends and the young man that she dared to dream might be the one guy that helps her feel like a person again. Someone that matters.
If you’re interested in a fun and thrilling ride, go and check it out! Both parts 1 and 2 are available, and while they are short reads, they are a lot of fun.
Tooth and Nayelle – Part One:
Tooth and Nayelle – Part Two:
Yesterday the bundle, A Kiss of Christmas Magic, was listed on the NY Times bestseller list at spot #11. It pegged #31 on the USA Today bestseller list. For those that follow this blog, my newsletter, or website / Facebook page, you might remember the second longest story in that bundle is by Dawn Michelle. Dawn Michelle happens to be the name my wife and I write under (and it’s also her name, if you want to get technical). So, in a roundabout way, that means after five years of being a professional writer, I’m finally a NY Times bestselling author. Queue up the confetti, sirens, parade, and line of celebratory cocktails.
Then I checked my daily sales this morning. On the same day I sold 19 books and Dawn Michelle sold 4. How’s that for taking the wind out of my sails? Or sales…whichever spelling you prefer (see what I did there?)
I have to say that, hands down, the group of writers I worked with where fun, amazing, and professional. Well, a few times we might not have been professional, but it was in a fun and energizing sort of way. The point is, every one of them deserves it, and every one of them is a damn fine writer on their own merits.
What the process also told me is that being a great writer isn’t nearly enough. I always believed that if you write a good book, and write enough of them, the volume and quality of work will speak for itself. The readers and sales will come. Life will be good. After nearly writing 70 books and receiving a lot of outstanding reviews and praise, I’m here to say that enough isn’t enough.
To hit the list we needed the combined might of a whole lot of fan bases, first and foremost. Some of the authors have dedicated fans in numbers that left me staggering. I learned a LOT in the process, including the sheer masses of paranormal romance readers that are out there. I mean…wow! There’s a lot.
But that wasn’t enough, we needed more. That more came in the form of literally thousands of dollars spent in advertising. I can’t begin to grasp where all of it went, but there was a lot of ads out there getting the word out. That was a huge contributer. It bumped us up to our peak of #15 on the Amazon bestselling chart (all paid books).
So this is me being happy and also warning fledgling writers out there. Sure, there will always be exceptions to the rule that skyrocket to the top for no reason other than right time, right place, right luck. The over 99.9999% of us have to bust our asses. It’s a business and there’s no such thing as fair play. Write your asses off and understand it doesn’t end there. There’s a lot more to it than that. And if you’re like me without a budget for such extras, that means figuring it out and finding the time to do it yourself.
Good luck my friends – now that I’ve hit the NY Times list my plans are… write another book.
I was stricken by some inspiration last night to do some data mining. It happens every now and then, I’m a numbers and stats junkie. Hey, admitting I have a problem is the first step to overcoming it, right?
So anyhow, I focused on my 3rd quarter Smashwords results. I’ve been experimenting with Kindle Unlimited on Amazon and trying to figure out the best way to reach the most people. Sales have taken an epic leap into a giant brown and smelly sinkhole, so every person reached is bigger than ever.
What I found was very interesting, to say the least. Over the July – September period, I made roughly $800 on iTunes. Whether that’s good or bad is irrelevant for this discussion. Why? Because Dawn Michelle, my wife, made $80 on iTunes in the same period. My theory behind that is iTunes customers prefer science fiction and fantasy over paranormal romance.
The next significant sales figures came from Barnes and Noble. For Jason Halstead (that’s me, in case you’re just joining), I had $0 sales at B&N via Smashwords. Not surprising, almost all of my B&N titles go directly through B&N. They work out to approximately $10 – $30 a month in royalties. Nothing to get excited about. Dawn Michelle, on the other hand, rocked well over $400 on B&N sales for that 3 month period!
There’s really only one conclusion I can draw from this data – Nook readers like smut! Okay, maybe that’s too rough. They like romance. Paranormal romance. With some spice. In other words…furry porn. (sorry, I couldn’t resist).
So what does this mean for me? Well, I’ve moved some of my titles over to strictly being on Amazon and taking part in KDP Select / KU to allow borrowing. It’s saved my bacon so far this month too. I haven’t seen sales this low in 3 years and I don’t know what the hell is going on, but KU borrows are making up for the lackluster sales by averaging 5 – 10 borrows a day. My wife’s books, on the other hand, have done better by being available on multiple venues (especially those naughty nook owners – god bless you folks!), so we’re going to make sure her new series stays as available as possible.
Her new series? It’s paranormal romance again – and the beta readers are saying it’s even better than the Claimed by the Beast series. It picks up after her story in A Kiss of Christmas Magic ($.99 bundle of over 1200 pages written by 20 different authors – it’s available as of today). And it continues the original Claimed by the Beast series by telling Beth’s story after the fur settles. Oh, and this time, instead of shifters, the focus is vampires.
I know, I know, a vampire romance…sigh. But she’s made good on her promise that there will be no sparkling.
Crap, the new series is called Blood Kissed, and the first book (First Kiss) is available for pre-order. Book 2 is called Forever Kiss and is in the editing stages now.
As for me? Book 2 in my Serpent’s War series, I’m shooting to have it out sometime in the Christmas – early January time frame. Even though sales have been abysmal for book 1, it’s a great story and I have to write it. And, hopefully, more people will get into it as time passes.
It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. For those that like to read this, I apologize. I’ve been busy writing and working and writing some more. Getting my fitness regime back on track and trying hard to find a good routine to settle into. My wife and I are land and house hunting too, another poor excuse for why I’ve been lacking.
The good news is: that means we’ve been busy! Dawn Michelle’s six part Claimed paranormal romance was a big hit. The prequel, Taken by the Beast, didn’t fare nearly as well unfortunately, but it’s still moving along. She’s got another story soon to be released in a special super-secret bundle that I can’t talk about, and more stories planned right around the corner.
But before any of that, she’s got something fresh that just hit the shelves this week. Claimed by the Beast, Part One, is available on audible as an audiobook! What could be cooler than that? Well, it’s being read by Jennifer Defilippo, an actress with numerous parts in television, plays, and even commercials (including an AT&T commercial where she stars as an angel that’s fallen to earth).
And I’m here to share some free codes. The only thing we ask is that if you use one, please leave a review afterwards. Here’s a link to the product and here’s a list of free codes. Go wild and enjoy – if you try a code and it doesn’t work, try the next one.
Free promo codes:
We’ve all had a grumpy neighbor or a teacher that seems to have it in for us. A boss that is determined to stop our advancement or get us fired. Or maybe even a crazy ex that likes to take tire irons to car windows and screwdrivers to leather seats. Those people are out there, and in a few cases maybe they require medication. Or maybe there’s another reason. Maybe something happened to them that started a dark and sinister spiral. Is it depression, anger, or an inexplicable need to lash out to control their own hurt?
That’s where my wife’s latest book comes in. She finished Claimed by the Beast and had so many ideas she wasn’t sure what to do with them. She was paralyzed with options. I wasn’t too worried because I was hammering away at my next book (Voidhawk: Broken Shards), while she figured it out. Except she didn’t.
Then we went on vacation to a place rich with history. Not just American history, but French, British, and Native American history too. We took a few tours and read up on a lot of local history. The end result: inspiration! One of Dawn Michelle’s ideas involved exploring a couple of the characters (Adrian and Guntar) from the Claimed by the Beast series and trying to explain how they became the men that they were. With our vacation behind us, she knew what story she needed to tell.
The end result of that was Taken by the Beast, a standalone historical paranormal romance that takes place during the American Revolution. It’s Adrian and Guntar’s story after they left Europe and came to America. To be fair, it centers more around Adrian and his first (and perhaps only) true love that he’s ever had – a Chippewa woman named Metina.
The thing is, they left Europe for a reason. To escape the fear, prejudice, and butchery that hunted their kind. America was the land of freedom and new opportunities. At least it was until the thing they sought to escape followed them.
But that’s enough of me giving away the story. It was a lot of fun to read and help her write and polish, although a bit darker than her earlier works. Then again, maybe that’s why I liked it so much? Whatever the case, I strongly urge you to check it out. It’s available on Amazon only for the next few months while we experiment with Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited and Amazon Lending programs. I sincerely apologize to non-Amazon / Kindle users, but we wanted to try this out. If you’re dying to read it anyhow, feel free to get in touch with Dawn (firstname.lastname@example.org) or myself (email@example.com) and we’ll see what we can do to help out. In the meantime, Dawn will be working on her next project – most likely an exploration of Stephanie, Beth, and Crystal as they come to terms with their new lives.
And now here’s the cover and links on Amazon!
As for Jason Halstead (that’s me, although spoken about in the third person, which is really weird), he’s putting the finishing touches to the end of a Vitalis: Communion and hopes to release it before the end of the month.