Back to writing about books! Any fellow writers out there know that book sales have crapped the bed across the board. Anybody who says they aren’t is lying – or they’d better have evidence to back it up they’re willing to present. In spite of that, a fellow fantasy author and a hell of a guy named Michael Mathias just recently sold his one millionth book. That, I think is one hell of a milestone. A milestone I hope one day to reach, although at the rate things are going that might take a lot longer than I expected.
Amidst congratulating him on his success he admitted that book sales were down for him too, but KU was keeping him going. KU (Kindle Unlimited), which I’ve blogged about in the past, is a system where people pay $9.95 a month and get access to pretty much any book in the KU catalog at no additional cost. I think there’s a tie in to Amazon Prime Members too, but I forget exactly what it is.
My past blogs have discussed how I’ve been shying away from KU after trying it out here and there. The price per word paid to authors keeps going down and I felt I made more by going abroad with my books. You see, to be in KU a book has to be exclusive to Amazon (in digital format). I ran my tests and did my research and it seemed to me I could make 30% – 50% of my net royalties off of non-Amazon retailers if I could get my books out to said retailers, whereas leaving them exclusive to Amazon did not earn me enough extra money to offset the loss on other sales channels.
After talking to Mike, it occurred to me that I might need to look at things again.
About the same time I got an email from Smashwords. Smashwords distributes books enrolled to them to other sales outlets (iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, etc.). I used to put all my books through them as well as Amazon direct. Then Draft2Digital came along and I tried them out – much easier, faster, and a far better system. I highly recommend and praise D2D. Smashwords… not so much. Especially after I received an email from them letting me know that several of my books that had been in their premium catalog and doing just fine for years were suddenly no longer eligible because the covers weren’t sized properly.
What. The. ****.
Those two unrelated events came together and made me decide to try another experiment. My fantasy trilogy, Blades of Leander, had once been incredible popular. They were stories in a knights, wizards, and dragons kind of setting. Typical fantasy fare with my spin on things that put the characters first. Anyhow, they did awesome a couple of years ago but then they dropped off the charts. Dropped off as in now they are practically non-existent on said charts. When it comes to non-Amazon outlets, they were completely non-existent.
Well, Child of Fate, Victim of Fate, and Silver Dragon are now exclusive to Amazon and available to KU members at no cost! Not only that, but Child of Fate is free as of this morning and tomorrow to anyone on Amazon that wants to grab it.
I’m switching more things over too in the near future, so keep checking to see what comes up on special next!
Crazy concept but let’s face it, you’re already reading about it so you must be curious. Dragons are already magical creatures, but this is space we’re talking about. No air to breathe or beat their wings against. No scantily clad maidens to feast on. No knights riding around on horses trying to turn them into a giant dragon-ka-bob.
I bring it up because it factors heavily into my recent release, Voidhawk – Broken Shards. But fans of the Voidhawk series will gobble it up readily enough. It’s fans of my Blades of Leander and Order of the Dragon series books that I want to be aware of it. So what better way than to talk about dragons, since the characters in those books spend a lot of time hunting and dealing with dragons that are trying to make their lives difficult (or just eat them).
To be fair, Alto, Garrick, Patrina, Kar, and all the rest have only a little bit more than a cameo role in the book. Important, but they only show up in the final quarter of the book. It’s a very eventful part of the story – then again, the entire book is filled with action and fun. But for people who really love what’s happening in the world of Kroth, it drops some serious hints about things to come. The big one worth mentioning is The Order of the Dragon is still around. They’ve had to change and reinvent themselves, and acquire some surprising new allies and assets. So surprising long time readers won’t believe it until they see it (and then they still might not!).
Spacegoing dragons brings another thought to mind too. A race of people that travel from world to world on the backs of dragons. Definitely a part of the Voidhawk setting and maybe even part of the next book. We’ll have to wait and see.
It took us a lot longer than we first expected. Oh sure, we realized it was possible, but there couldn’t really be that much of a story to tell about Crystal and her troubled life when she stumbled onto the affairs of a pack of werewolves. Turns out there was a lot of story – and even more that has yet to be told. But we (Dawn Michelle and I, acting as her ever faithful advisor and scribe) wrapped it up in six parts of a paranormal serial romance. And the sixth part of the Claimed by the Beast is finally out!
The story doesn’t really end there though. Or maybe it does… the problem is, I started asking her about some of the other characters and, combined with our vacation Mackinaw City in Michigan, a new story began to take form. It was something different for both us, a historical paranormal romance. It was rough at first, trying to slip fantasy into the history of the world as it really happened, but we think we’ve found a way.
So after a late night brain storming session I’ve mapped out how to break out the ideas and breathe life into them. What remains will be a single prequel book called Taken by the Beast. The elders of the pack Crystal encountered have their own tragic stories that deserve to be told, and readers deserve to know them.
So, Dawn Michelle fans, don’t worry that this is the end of Claimed by the Beast, there will be more to come, hopefully as soon as September.
Until then, here’s the cover and links to part 6 of Claimed by the Beast. Or if you want to start at the beginning, you can find it here: (Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smaswhords – all of them free!).
(part 6 is not available anywhere else yet)
And as for Jason Halstead… in a day or two I’ll be posting about my latest release, Voidhawk – Broken Shards. It’s fantasy like you can’t begin to imagine and brings back all your favorite characters and then some!
This year started out pretty good for me. December of 2013 and January and February of 2014 were very solid. Comfortable sales numbers that made me feel great about how 2014 was going to go. Then March started to slack off and it didn’t get any better in April or May. I became almost desperate and tried some new books that broke away from my usual routine to try some new stuff. New stuff that I really enjoyed writing, even though it didn’t take off.
Then my wife stepped up and said why don’t you do something different? That’s what people are reading, and that’s the kind of books I like to read. Why not…
And so I did. With her ideas, support, and feedback along the way, we put together a paranormal serial romance called Claimed by the Beast. It’s done great so far and, honestly, saved us from some rather embarrassing financial shortcomings. It could do a lot better still, but neither of us is complaining in the least about what success we’ve had.
But I missed my books. I missed pure fantasy and science fiction. I missed my characters. So after we finished the last bit of Claimed by the Beast, I went straight into my next project, my seventh Voidhawk book (Voidhawk – Broken Shards). I’d been talking about what I wanted to do for a while and finally I had the chance. But I had to be quick. I was out of circulation for a couple of months now and my wonderful readers were probably beginning to wonder. I went from publishing at least one novel a month to nothing for over 2 months? Had I died?
So Broken Shards had to be written fast. I started it on June 19th and finished the rough draft on July 19th. Not my best, but it’s also 95,000 words (give or take a handful). It’s in my editors hands and cover art has been moving along nicely. But that’s just numbers and stats, it doesn’t share why it’s such a great idea.
Broken Shards returned the crew of the Voidhawk (a fantasy vessel that sails through the void between worlds using the solar wind to power it). I’d forgotten how much fun they are. Diverse, exciting, flawed, and mighty. The thing is, there’s always something bigger and badder, and they have a talent at finding it. This time around their only hope to stop what’s happening takes them to a very special place. A world called Kroth.
Kroth not only has the means of helping them put an end to their troubles, but it has some special people that can help along the way. People my long time fantasy readers will know and love. Alto, Patrina, Garrick, Karthor, Mordrim, Kar, and Namitus. It’s a little rocky, putting two very strong and opinionated groups together, but when the fate of their very realm is at stake they either have to get along or find a new reality to live in.
As much fun as all of that was, I shocked myself with the ending. I know, the thought of me leaving myself shaking with excitement is kind of weird, but the end wrote itself and just turned out to be absolutely amazing. Granted, I may biased and kind of close to the topic, but even so the way it worked out felt like poetry. The good kind, where the words makes sense and you’re not wondering if you’re supposed to like it because people who think they are sophisticated tell you to.
And what’s next? Well my month off writing Broken Shards saw Dawn Michelle dreaming up all sorts of thing for us to collaborate on next. So we’re working on a prequel to Claimed by the Beast. Taken by the Beast is the name and it’s going to be a historical paranormal romance. It will also flesh out a couple of the characters in Claimed by the Beast that deserve to have their backstory told and understood. And yes, it will contain a lot of what made Claimed by the Beast so fun, meaning some flaring passions and a lot of action and excitement.
Fans of Dawn Michelle, be on the lookout for Claimed by the Beast – Part Six coming out around August 1st. Fans of Jason Halstead and the Voidhawk series (and Blades of Leander) watch for Voidhawk – Broken Shards a week or so after. Then Taken by the Beast will be next and when that’s done, we’ll have to see what’s next. So far we like the concept of me writing a novel and giving my wife chance to come up with what’s next and then working on it together, so alternating books might be the way things go for a while. Whatever the case, I know I’ve got another Vitalis book burning in the back of my head and with the way Broken Shards ended, I’m dying to write the next book in that series too! I guess the one thing I can guarantee is that there won’t be a shortage of great books to read.
Regular readers may remember a post I made some time ago regarding the devil being in my icebox. Well, just like before, this post does not mean my refrigerator is possessed or misbehaving. It’s a book! The Devil’s Icebox, sequel to Dark Earth, is now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, and loads of other places like Sony, Kobo, Diesel, and others in the very near future. It was a lot of fun to write and it sets the stage for two more books in this series. I don’t have timing on those books, but knowing me I’ll probably have at least the first available before 2012 is over.
The Devil’s Icebox was slated for release on May 1st. Everything came together great on this, from writing the story to having two consummate professionals helping with the editing and cover art. So why not get it out a little bit earlier – I’ve had a lot of feedback wanting an immediate sequel for Dark Earth.
Devil’s Icebox blurb:
Lord Baxter’s portal between Earth and Dark Earth beckons. Eager to seek the promises of the otherworld’s powers, Cassiopeia has been sent by her Lord to ensure his realm rivals the mightiest of nations.
She shares a history with the protector assigned to her, a history filled with familiarity and contempt. Setting the past aside and sharing the present offers forbidden opportunities, as well as a new world filled with opportunity and unimaginable surprises. Her quest remains the only constant, and the one thing she yearns most to be rid of.
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.