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Posts Tagged ‘research’

Did the World Just Change?

February 12, 2014 Leave a comment

Hugh Howey, breakout indie author of Wool and other stories, may have just set the world on fire. The publishing world, that is. Not by making gobs of money (which he has), but by extrapolating data from the Internet and exposing the deep dark secrets of the publishing industry.

I’ll post the link below, but first I want to say a few things. It’s more than just interesting, it’s eye opening. It’s jaw dropping. It’s amazing and redeeming. And it’s very, very flawed.

Hugh had a super-secret programmer that build up a program to compile a massive amount of data was pulled together by crawling through Amazon’s bestseller lists with a computer program. They then asked the data questions and it answered, breaking out earnings and volume of units sold. Author incomes were calculated and market share was determined. Not only by author, but also by publisher and publishing type (e.g. indie, small press, traditional, amazon, etc.).

The results? Fascinating. And did I mention flawed? It exposes that more books were sold as ebooks than print books. It shows that more money was made via ebooks than print books. It also definitely indicates that indie authors make more than traditional publishing authors do (overall, there are outliers that vary). Or at least it shows all those things if only the top 7000 bestselling titles are analyzed.

That’s the flaw. At the time of this snapshot of data (Jan 28 – 29), I had no books inside the top 7000 bestselling books on Amazon. I have some that are close, and I have a few that are in the top 10 bestselling subgenre lists, but from my understanding these books were not included. Aw, poor me, right? Not really. (EDIT: I discovered that the list of books involved were selected specifically from genre lists (mystery, romance, scifi/fantasy), and in many instances the books may have an overall ranking up to 100,000 on Amazon’s grand chart. In short, that means I have no freaking idea which books are where since book titles and author names were excluded from the raw data report provided to the masses. Very, very frustrating.)

That 7,000 books work out to roughly 3,000 writers. On a whim I decided to check a book I co-wrote and saw that the low sale rate it’s enduring right now (1 sale every 2 – 4 days) has it ranked around 450,000. As high as that is that’s nothing, I’ve seen some books that are ranked well over a million. That means there are well over a million books out there. Possibly 2, 3, 4, or 5+ million books available on Amazon when factoring in ebook, print, and audiobooks. And how many writers? I have no idea, but if we take the same ratio (7 : 3) and assume a modest 3 million books, that means there are over 1.2 million writers.

So this study grabbed the top 7000 books and 3000 writers. That’s .23%, we’re talking a quarter of 1%. So how many other writers like me are in the mid lists and making money that is impressive, yet not cool enough to hit the overall bestseller lists? Maybe I’m not number 800 after all, maybe I’m number 8,000. Or maybe I have no idea whatsoever, given the lack of definitive data. The data is awesome for a sweeping view from orbit, but useless for pinpointing where we are individually.

Hugh responded to my critique though – they are running a new list going out to the top 50,000 bestselling books. That will include several of mine, but not all. In the first study I wasn’t reported at all. In this new study I’ll be underreported. But hey, at least 50,000 is approximately 1.66% of the books available…

What will really be undeniable will be when all the books are processed – or at least a decent sampling is taken. You can’t sample a population by trimming the top 1% (or less). That skews the results and makes everybody think that writing is the golden road to riches.

So far the findings show that 3,000 writers make 10k or more a year on writing. That’s less than 1% of the writers out there. Pretty dismal odds for anyone that wants to get into writing. My complaints about the lack of specificity aren’t designed out of a competition with other writers, rather a means of evaluating myself and my progress. Or maybe when I reach the point where I’m paying all my bills with my royalties I won’t care anymore. After all, I’m not a writer to do better than anybody else, I’m a writer because I love writing.

Here’s the link to the page. Yesterday it was up and down due to traffic. Hopefully today (or whenever this is read) it’s able to withstand the load of people checking it out: http://authorearnings.com

The part about changing the world? Well all this flies in the face of what the traditional publishing industry has been saying for years. Does this mean they lied to us? Well, um, yes. The years of anecdotal evidence have given way to real evidence now, and it’s only going to get better as more numbers are crunched. Or worse, if you’ve been grandstanding about how great traditional publishing is.

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Where’s the Science in Fiction

December 19, 2013 Leave a comment

A couple of months back I wrote a back called Vitalis: Genesis. It takes place few hundred years in the future (give or take), and presents readers with a thriller / horror / scifi glimpse into the life of researchers on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. About the same time a movie was released called The Europa Report.

First of all, I hate when that happens. I released my book, Wanted, years ago and it turns out a movie popped up around the same time with the same name. Grr. Even further back I wrote some fantasy novels that featured a dual-wielding dark elf and a big and burly barbarian that used a magical hammer. I was just a guy throwing words on paper with no clue what I was doing, but shortly after R.A. Salvatore released The Crystal Shard unto the world and people loved the crap out of it and propelled him into bestseller status. Seriously. WTF?

To be fair, I really enjoyed Mr. Salvatore’s books too. For a while. I got tired of them and really annoyed with the essay he began each chapter or section with in his Homeland series. But that’s just my opinion, it in no way means his writing is anything less than top shelf, nor does it mean anybody else should turn their nose up at his books.

The point is obvious: get to the dinner table early or you’re left with scraps.

But that’s not what this post is about. This post is about the science in science fiction – or lack thereof. I did watch The Europa Report (after publishing my book) and I’ll be the first one to say it sucked me in and kept my attention. It was a little odd, but it worked, from a storytelling point of view. From a reality check perspective it was more or less about as wrong as wrong can get.

Europa, my friends, is frozen on the surface. Scientists theorize that there may be a liquid ocean beneath the surface, but that would be hundreds of kilometers down. In the movie the ice is only inches thick in some places. A minor flaw and it’s understandable how they might fudge things a bit since the characters were supposed to drill through the ice.

Atmosphere, gravity, and temperature. Europa has all of these. Not a lot (roughly 1/13th of Earth’s gravity and atmosphere, which mostly comprised of oxygen escaping the ice). Temperature is considerably warmer than absolute zero the movie mentions – although still cold enough to insure death by exposure would probably happen inside of ten minutes if not sooner.

So water, oxygen, and a temp above absolute zero thanks to tidal heating from friction and the gravity of Jupiter. What more do we need for life? Well, we just don’t know. That’s why they made the movie, to search for life and offer a possible explanation. My book, Vitalis: Genesis, starts on a similar premise but the life that they find comes from elsewhere. And when it arrives it changes things in a big and scary way.

So is Vitalis: Genesis any more likely than the Europa Report? Probably not even though I feel I did a better job of laying down the base layer of science to support it. But then I go all futuristic sci-fi on things and introduce concepts and technologies we haven’t discovered yet. As a writer of science fiction and fantasy that’s my job. To propose possibilities and to entertain. And you, my faithful readers? Your job is sit back and enjoy. Maybe even to wonder a little (or a lot). Entertainment mixed with something to make you think? That, to me, sounds like a damn good time.

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Mean, Green, Planet Eating Machine

October 16, 2013 Leave a comment

To be fair it’s not a planet I’m talking about, it’s actually a moon. And the moon doesn’t get eaten, but it does get transformed, revitalized, and recreated. Huh? WTF am I talking about? And where can you get whatever it is I’m obviously smoking?

I’m talking about Europa! One of Jupiter’s moons. That’s the setting for my brand new release, Vitalis: Genesis. Genesis is the 4th novel in my Vitalis series. Don’t worry, this one doesn’t have any alien impregnations or slimy creatures chewing through the bowels of unsuspecting people. It’s much, much worse.

Sure, Vitalis: Genesis is a science fiction book. That means cool special effects, robots, and some funky alien, uh, stuff. But it’s got so much more too! Like all my Vitalis books, you don’t need to be a rocket scientist or even a card carrying member of the nerd club to enjoy it. It’s loaded to the gills with action, drama, love, loss, and a depth of human interaction and emotions.

If that doesn’t make you want to check it out I’m not sure what will. Hmm, there’s boobies in the book too, does that help? What about cookies? Can I offer cookies? Oh wait, that’s a blog post for another day… Aw heck, give it a shot anyhow, I have yet to hear from anybody who hasn’t liked this one!

 

Vitalis: Genesis, book 4 in the Vitalis series by Jason Halstead

 

Research Station Europa is a small outpost of humanity exploring the possibilities of life on Europa. Dr. Winters and his team expected their discoveries of life to come from beneath the planet’s icy crust, not from the abandoned Vitalian crystals caught in the Jovian moon’s gravity well.

The researchers are soon faced with a new problem to solve: can they survive the alien infestation that is bringing the moon alive around them?

 

Vitalis: Genesis on Amazon

Vitalis: Genesis on Amazon UK

Vitalis: Genesis on Barnes and Noble

Vitalis: Genesis on Smashwords

 

Kobo, Sony, iTunes, and other retailers are coming along as fast as they can. Bear with them and keep checking back if that’s where you prefer to shop.

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

Welcoming Change

September 24, 2013 Leave a comment

The title of this might imply that I’m offering some sagely advice on how to adapt and evolve. One might believe I’m offering up a secret to surviving the pitfalls of life, be they romantic, financial, dietary, or otherwise. A person could even go so far as to hope I’m going to reveal the secrets to success beyond their wildest dreams…

Well I’m here to say, “Not a chance!” I’m not peddling smoke and mirrors, my friends. What I’ve got is an update on the latest volume in my Vitalis science fiction series. And yes, it’s all about change.

I’m around halfway through it so far but I spent last night, after writing two chapters, outlining how the rest of the story is going to progress. I was very happy with how it turned out, at least in theory. Being roughly halfway through means I’ve written 25 chapters so far. My outline calls for 17 more. Knowing me the way I know me, that 17 could easily turn into 25 or more. Sounds like a pretty freaking big book, doesn’t it?

It’ll have substance to it, but I’m anticipating a word count in the 60k – 75k range. Nothing too excessively meaty. The chapters typically range from 1100 – 1800 words. A few pages of fast paced fun to keep the story moving, although there are a couple of outliers on both ends of the spectrum.

I will admit this one has given me a little bit of a test. I’m hoping to keep it geared more towards sci-fi thriller and horror and combining the typical fast pacing of my Vitalis series with the need to build up some suspense and mystery (and carnage) has been an exciting challenge for me.

So what’s this one about? Well for those fresh to the setting Vitalis is an amazing world over ten light years from Earth. A thick asteroid cloud has hidden the solar system from Earth until it was accidentally discovered a few years back (think Vitalis time, which is set a few hundred years in the future). Humanity has mastered interstellar travel via technology that allows them to travel through man-made wormholes from one system to the next. These are called jump gates. The problem is that someone has to travel to a new system at relativistic speeds to build one of these jumpgates before they can travel that way.

Blah blah blah, okay, enough backstory. In Provenance, the third Vitalis novel, there was an outbreak of sorts that allowed some native material from Vitalis to escape the planet and solar system. It traveled to the Terran homeland (we know it as Earth) with the intent of bringing Vitalian, ahem, enhancements to the root of the Terran Coalition of Systems. That attempt was met with heavy resistance. Along the way a little something special happened though. Vitalian material was dropped off at Europa, a small moon orbiting Jupiter. Why? Just in case the Earth mission failed.

Genesis follows the lives of the small crew living in a research station on the hostile icy moon of Europa. Deep beneath the surface of the frozen crust a liquid ocean surges with the tides caused by Jupiter. The crust is so thick that the scientists are only now beginning to get close to breaching it for the first time and sampling the salty ocean beneath. Until they lose contact with their mining rigs and sensor arrays.

It quickly becomes obvious this is no mere equipment malfunction. The ice is breaking apart and the temperature’s rising at impossible rates. Water and oxygen are spraying into the thin atmosphere and building pressure – an impossible task given the small size of the moon. Yet the burgeoning atmosphere is saturated with oxygen, not nitrogen, making it hostile to human life.

Life on Vitalis, however, thrives because of its ability to adapt and evolve. As one survivor of an early space ship crash onto Vitalis once said, “If Vitalis can’t kill you it will get inside you and change you. You can’t beat it, you can only join it. If you’re lucky.”

The inhabitants of Research Station Europa are finding that out firsthand.

My plan is to finish Vitalis: Genesis on or around the end of September. Then editing and cover art and all that jazz for a hopeful release near the end of October. A sci-fi thriller just in time for Halloween? I wish I’d planned it that way, but I’ll take luck and circumstance any day!

Stay tuned and if you haven’t had a chance to pick up the other Vitalis books in preparation, what’s stopping you? The first one (Vitalis Omnibus) is only $.99 at Amazon. Then follow it up with Vitalis: Resurrection and Vitalis: Provenance.

Vitalis, parts 1 - 7, by Jason Halstead

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

 

Silence…

If you’ve noticed you can hear a pin drop in here lately it’s because I’ve moved my blog to http://www.booksbyjason.com/wordpress. But don’t fret, the old posts have been moved too! It’s cleaner and a better set up, but it could use a little love. So check it out, sign up there (again, if you signed up here), and I promise to keep sharing my trials and tribulations on my quest to become one of those rare writers that doesn’t need a day job.

To learn more about Jason Halstead visit his website to read about him, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

The Evolution of Lucky Number 20

Mord of that damned word play, I’m afraid. “Evolution” is the title of the book I released today. Vitalis part 6, Evolution, is available at Amazon, Smashwords, and in a matter of days Barnes and Noble, Sony, and other retailers. I mentioned the number 20 because Vitalis: Evolution is my 20th published book. Why is it lucky? That’s an easy one – I’m doing something I love and the interest and feedback I’m getting my readers tells me they love it too. How much luckier can I get than that?

Speaking of Vitalis and good things, each book in the series is ranked on multiple bestselling lists on Amazon (with the exception of Evolution, but that was just released so it’s not there yet). The overall ranking for each one is near the top of the overall charts as well. That, to me, is incredible. I can’t begin to thank all the readers out there who have helped propel this series and my other books along the way. I try though. Just ask any of the readers who’ve sent me feedback, even when they’ve got an issue with something.

Just the other day I had a reader send me an email thanking me for coming up with Vitalis and sharing both his thoughts and a few questions. He’d been hesitant to write, fearing it wouldn’t be received or bothered with. I was his first attempt at ever contacting a writer. I replied as soon as I could (the next morning), letting him know that he was important to me and that I appreciated his feedback very much. I answered his questions and shared some fun trivia about Vitalis that isn’t found in the books. He was ecstatic at my quick response. To my fellow writers out there I encourage you to treat your readers with as much respect as I do. After all, without them all the talent in the world doesn’t do us a bit of good.

But enough about me! Back to Vitalis. I should warn the fans of the series there’s a lot going on in book six.  It’s longer than most of the others and there’s a good reason for it, it’s got some amazing things taking place in it.  Amazing and, by the time you finish it you’re going to ask yourself, “Holy ^$#@! Did he really just go there?” Yes I did, and there’s plenty more of that to come in book seven (which I expect to release on June 1st). Until then, here’s the blurb, cover, and links for Vitalis: Evolution!

When a highly adaptive native species merges human DNA with its own, the results are enough to threaten the existence of everything in its path. The small colony of human survivors has to decide how they’ll deal with the newest menace Vitalis has pitted against them.

 Fear turns to terror when the residents of Treetown learn that the new breed isn’t trying to destroy them, it’s stealing them away in the dark of the night and exposing them to horrors so terrifying madness is the only escape.

Evolution, book 6 in the Vitalis series by Jason Halstead

Vitalis – Evolution on Amazon

Vitalis – Evolution on Amazon UK

Vitalis on Smashwords

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.

My Path to Writing Success: Giving

November 26, 2011 2 comments

I’ve promised updates on the marketing experiments I’ve been conducting on myself (cue mad scientist laughter), and I’m now able to give an update. After several weeks of trying to figure out how to make it happen, one of my attempts at getting Wanted to go free on the Kindle succeeded. Not only did it go free, but inside of 24 hours it climbed to the #1 spot on Amazon’s best selling list for science fiction / adventure free books. I didn’t think it was possible, but after a stumble at the #2 spot it managed to beat out The Time Machine, by H.G. Wells and it’s still there, 4 days later.

So that’s great, but how does that help the bottom line if all those books being “sold” bring in $0 revenue? The exposure has caused my other books to sell better, especially Voidhawk. Even better though was the sales of the sequel to Wanted, Ice Princess. I blogged a while ago about the power of the sequel. Well in this case that power is really blowing the roof off! Sure, I’m losing out on revenue from Wanted, but considering the increase in Ice Princes sales, I’m more than making up for it. Ice Princess sales have increased over 20x.

So what’s next? Trying to figure out if I can recreate this miracle for my other books that are in a series. Vitalis, Dark Earth, and Voidhawk. I’ll be sure to share what I learn along the way – and in the meantime go ahead and check out Wanted, it’s free on the Kindle in the US!

Wanted, book 1, by Jason Halstead
Wanted, on Amazon

Wanted on Amazon UK (not free)

Wanted on Barnes and Noble (not free)

Wanted on Smashwords (free)

 

To learn more about Jason Halstead, visit his website to learn about him, his books, sign up for his newsletter, or check out some free samples of his books at http://www.booksbyjason.com.