Free Story Experiment Results

My new short story, “Charred Wheat,” was available as a free download for five days recently. I did this to gain a bit more exposure and hopefully get a few sales of my first book, Unity Alpha. So, how did it go?

While it’s obviously a bit early to draw any real conclusions, I do think it was worth doing. I had over 300 downloads of the story over the five day period, and at one point, it was #39 on the top 100 free book list in the Science Fiction category. That was really cool, and I wish I had taken a screenshot of the page to save and share here.

As far as sales, I did sell two copies of Unity Alpha during the promotion period. Not a huge bump in sales, but every little bit helps, and there are now over 300 people who have at least downloaded something written by me. Who knows, maybe more of them will like what they read and take a chance on my book. Also, I think I’ve actually sold a couple of copies of “Charred Wheat” since the promotion ended (I’m not positive because I don’t remember the exact number of downloads I ended up with in each market).

So, will I do this again with other stories or books? Probably. If I do, though, I think I won’t use all 5 allotted promotion days in one shot; I’ll probably spread them out in one or two day increments. I did notice that the rate of downloads dropped significantly after the first two days, so keeping it free for five consecutive days most likely wasn’t worthwhile.


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Free Short Story – Limited Time

Just a quick entry to note that I put my recently published short story, “Charred Wheat,” on promotion at Amazon. Through the end of the day on Monday, January 23rd, you can get the story free of charge from any of the Amazon Kindle stores. Go to this page for the links.

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New Short Story Available

Cover for "Charred Wheat" short story

Cover for "Charred Wheat" short story

So, back in August, in between finishing the first draft of Unity Alpha and starting on revisions, I took time out to write a short story, called “Charred Wheat.” I wanted to keep writing, but wanted to do something different, just to clear my head. I came up with something I liked, and even submitted it to a couple of science fiction magazines. It didn’t sell, which didn’t really surprise me. The major magazines get tons of submissions and are very picky about what they buy.

Recently, Amazon intoduced of the “KDP Select” program, which allows Amazon Prime members to borrow Kindle books for free, and pays authors based on the number of times their books are borrowed. This intrigued me, but one of the requirements was that any title enrolled in that program had to be exclusive to Amazon. I didn’t want to take Unity Alpha out of the other sales channels, even though most of the (admittedly few) sales I’ve had have been on Kindle. So, I decided to format my short story for the Kindle and make it available as part of KDP Select.

Now, I’m not giving this story away for free; I’m charging $0.99 for it. However, if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, you can borrow it for free. I doubt I’ll get much, if any, money for this, since I believe it has to be borrowed quite a few times before it qualifies for any kind of payout. But, I’m using this more as promotion for Unity Alpha. I figure if I can even get a few people to borrow my short story, then get interested in my book, I might get some sales that way. To further that, the short story includes the prologue and the first two chapters of Unity Alpha at the end of the document.

You can find links to purchase “Charred Wheat” on this page, or in the menu on the left or at the top of the page.


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A Request For Reviews

This post is for all of you who have read my book, Unity Alpha, but have not yet left a review for it somewhere. Reviews are important, especially for self-published authors. A lot of people won’t even consider a book if there are no reviews yet. So, if you have read my book, and if you enjoyed it, would you please consider taking a few minutes and writing a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, or wherever else you may have bought it? It’s OK to leave a review in more than one of those places if you feel like it.

You can find links to all the places you can buy the book, and thus leave reviews, here.

Thanks for your time, and thanks for reading my book.


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Update on Next Book(s)

I’ve been pretty quiet lately, and if you’ve even been to the blog, you may have noticed that the progress bar hasn’t moved at all for quite some time. I wish I could say that I was just too busy writing to update the site, but unfortunately, I’ve been slacking off. I got a nasty cold, which halted my progress for a few days, and after that, I just haven’t been able to get back into the swing.

However, during that time of not-writing, I did some thinking and came up with a new strategy for the next book. I had already split the book into three parts, which mostly stood alone, so I decided to take that split a bit further and actually create three separate books. This does a couple of things: First, I think the books will hold up better. I wasn’t totally happy with how I had plotted the book as a whole; each part already felt somewhat separate. And even though there was an overall arc that tied them together, I’m not sure it was good enough for a single book. Now, each book will have its own major plot point, and the third one will tie them all together in a better fashion (I hope).

Second, it will let me get three books out in a shorter time, which should help my sales somewhat. Everything I’ve read about self-publishing indicates that having multiple titles really helps. Now instead of having two books out by next year sometime, I should have four. That’s assuming I can my focus back and get all three books done in a reasonable amount of time.

Speaking of timing, my original goal for the book had been to get a first draft done by the end of the year. This is looking less likely, even with the shorter goal of “only” 75,000 words for the first book. I’m just not getting as much time to work on this as I had hoped to. I’m still going to try, though; it would be a good goal to reach.

Anyway, I’ve also updated the progress bar in the left column of the blog to show progress on all three books, and on the trilogy as a whole. I will try to keep it up to date as I make progress over the coming months. I’ll also try to update this blog more often, since I’ve been slacking in that area as well.


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Updates on Unity Alpha

A couple of weeks ago, I uploaded Unity Alpha to Smashwords to get a few more sales channels going. One of the big ones they deal with is Apple iBooks. Apple doesn’t want to deal with individual authors, so you have to go through a third-party distributor to get your book on sale there. Yesterday, the links went live, so you can now buy my book for you iPad, iPhone or iPod Touch in six different countries. Go to my Unity Alpha page for all the links.

Another thing I thought it would be fun to do was to create a book trailer. I messed around with Windows Live Movie Maker and came up with a basic trailer which superimposes the text from the back-cover blurb over a starfield animation. I also created a spacey music track in GarageBand on my Mac and used that as the soundtrack. I think it turned out pretty cool, if I do say so myself. You can see it here.


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Next Book Title and Progress Bar

Now that I’ve begun working seriously on my next book, I decided to reveal my title (at least, the working title). I’m calling it Unity Strike Force. It will still be set on Unity, the generation ship from Unity Alpha, but it will follow the character of Marshall Mabrey, who was introduced in Unity Alpha as Miyuki’s ex-boyfriend, as he is recruited into the elite special ops team called Unity Strike Force.

Also, I’ve added a progress bar in the left column on the blog. I’ll try to keep this up to date as much as possible. I’m basing the percentage on my goal of 120,000 words. I’m hoping seeing the bar move will give me the motivation I need to keep working on this book and hopefully meet or exceed the word count goal.


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Unity Alpha is Out!

I’m pleased to announce that my debut novel, Unity Alpha, is now officially released! (Actually, it’s been up for sale since last Thursday, but I was waiting until I had links to more of the places it would be for sale before writing this post).

You can click on the cover of the book just to the right of this text (or here, if for some reason you can’t see the cover) to find out more about it and where you can buy it. Also, if you buy it based on reading this post, would you please comment here and let me know that? I’m curious to see if anyone I don’t know is actually reading this blog.

If you’ve read any of my other posts, you may know that I’ve also been in the early stages of working on my next book. I have much more ambitious plans for that one. It will be set on the ship Unity that features in Unity Alpha, but will focus on some different characters (though some of the characters from Unity Alpha do show up in this one). I’ll have more about that book in the future; for now, please go check out Unity Alpha, and tell any friends of yours you think might be interested. Thanks!


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First Book Proof Review

I received the proof copy of my first book in the mail yesterday. It was pretty exciting to see something I’d written in a bound paperback book form. I had expected my review of the proof to be mainly looking for typos and checking the formatting. I had hoped I might not even need to order another proof. However, once I started looking at it, I realized it’s going to need some major fixes.

First, when I set up the header, I hadn’t noticed that I had dropped the text quite so far. There’s a pretty large gap between the page header and the actual text on the. I found the cause of this; I had used a table in the header to get things laid out the way I wanted, and had neglected to set the height of the rows. That was simple enough; however, it had a ripple effect which caused the page count to drop by several pages. To fix this, I had to adjust the spacing. (Doing a new page count would also mean redoing the cover, which I want to avoid if possible).

The next thing I noticed (or rather, my wife noticed) was that the indenting of paragraphs was a bit bigger than most books. Fortunately, that was an easy fix, though it also affected the page count and left on chapter ending with a single blank line at the top of the page. I’m leaving that for now, though, since it may change as I fix other problems.

I’m only a few chapters into the read of this proof, but I’ve already found several typos and a few places where I just want to change some wording. My wife is also going through the book, and she is also finding things. I still think formatting the book for printing and getting a proof was valuable. Sometimes seeing the words in the final format helps to highlight errors.

Anyway, this means it will likely be the last week of September before I can get this book for sale. Whatever changes I make the to text have to be done in two places now: the print version and the ebook version. Plus, I’ll have to order another proof copy. This takes a few days; I ordered this one early Monday morning and got it Thursday. That’s quick, but it does add some delay.

Assuming everything goes relatively smoothly, I’m guessing I may get the book for sale on September 27th or 28th (just in time for my birthday!). Then I’ll be able to start my next book in earnest.


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Next Book Progress

In my last post, I mentioned I had started planning my next book. Since then, I’ve written over 6,000 words of outline and general notes about the book. I think that’s a pretty good start. I have the parts mapped out (it will have 3 parts, each covering a different aspect of the story, but all linked together) as well as fairly detailed descriptions of each chapter (I currently have 35 chapters outlined).

One thing I learned from my first book is that I need more details in my outline. My first outline had pretty generic descriptions for some chapters, and when I got around to writing them, they suffered, both in quality and in length. I think that’s one reason I came in way short on that book. This time, I may have gone too far the other direction; if anything, I put too many details in the outline. However, I think it will be a good thing. I have a much better overall view of this book than I did of the first book before I started writing it.

Now, I’m going to let this outline sit for a couple of days before I jump in and start writing it. I’m currently reading a draft of my wife’s second book, so that has to take priority over anything else; she needs to get it done. Then, my proof copy of my first book should be getting here soon, and I want to go over that one more time to try to catch any last typos.

Once I’ve got that done, and have uploaded the ebook files and made everything available for sale, then I will start writing my next book in earnest. I have no idea how long this one will take, but I think it would be great if I could get through a first draft by the end of the year. That’s pretty ambitious, since I’m aiming for almost twice as many words in this book, and there are some things I will need to research more thoroughly, but I think it may just be possible. I do have a couple more week-long vacations between now and then that I can use to get some serious work done.

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