Tag Archives: Amazon

Bring on the Night published – a New Short Story and Sequel to Chivalry

Bring on the Night Front Cover copyIf you have read and enjoyed my short story Chivalry, then hopefully you’ll be pleased to hear that there is now a sequel available: Bring on the Night.

Bring on the Night tells the story of what happened after the events of Chivalry – what happened to Jake and to the boy, all set against the backdrop of the Hundred Years War and with a dash of horror and paranormal fantasy thrown in.

You can get the story in eBook format here:

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Smashwords | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

You can also read a brief extract and the blurb for the story at the page for it on in this site. Go here to check that out now!

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Get The Return of the Free – for Free!

The Return of the Free CoverThe Return of the Free is the first installment in an epic fantasy series – and is currently available as a free eBook from the usual suspects.

To get your copy visit:

Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Smashwords | Kobo | iBooks

Out of the steppe came a lone rider. A man of destiny whose prowess would change the world of the Bachyan nomads forever. He was not an enemy come to destroy the Bachyan, but a prodigal son returned to lead them to victory over those who would enslave them.

Taken by Nukush slavers when still a very young man, Jenraey has to learn fast to adapt to the civilisation of his new masters. He finds the ways of the Nukush strange – they worship no gods, but use a magic called science to power their weapons and drive their armies to conquest. Torn between his curiosity in the ways of this great Empire and his desire to return to his own, Jenraey knows that his people can only survive the onslaught of Nukush armies if they can change too.

The time of destiny is at hand and only a leader of legendary powers can prevail.

Will Jenraey be that man?

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Through a Distant Mirror Darkly Now Published

Through a Distant Mirror Darkly

hrough a Distant Mirror Darkly Front CoverMy latest short story collection has now been published. Through a Distant Mirror Darkly is now available in all eBook formats and as a printed edition. The collection is dedicated to short stories with a medieval theme – some of them are straight historical fiction, while others contain an element of fantasy and the supernatural.

Buy print and eBook at: Amazon.com | Amazon.co.uk

Buy eBook at: Smashwords | Kobo | Nook | iBooks

Here’s a bit more about the contents of the collection:

In “Stand and Fight” Richard Hope must overcome treachery to defend the castle of Montmal from the French. Jake, an English archer in “Chivalry” must choose between his comrades and the path of honour. In “Bird Talk” a young priest discovers the woman he loves may also be a necromancer. Frederick II, the “Stupor Mundi”, the wonder of the world, is haunted by the ghost of his dead chancellor. And in “Bisclavret” a French noblewoman discovers there is more under the skin of her English husband than she could imagine.


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How Sustainable is the $0.99 ebook Price Point

inflation (Photo credit: SalFalko)

In terms of eBooks the $0.99 price point is still very common – its taken some criticism over the last few years, but by and large a lot of self-published and public domain classics still retain the $0.99 price point. I don’t use it for pricing my novel length titles, but I do have some short stories at that price.

But how long will it last? Surely with the effects of inflation we won’t always have the $0.99 price? The retailers will realize the costs associated with selling titles at this price are unsustainable at some point. When will that be?

I thought it would be interesting to see how much the revenue for indie/self-published publishers has declined at the $0.99 price point over the last few years and what might happen in the future.

I’m not economics expert, so if my maths is awry then let me know. I used a US Inflation Calculator to do the sums.

Let’s say you started publishing titles in 2010 at $0.99. If you are publishing via Amazon you get 35% of that back in royalties, which is $0.35/sale according to the reports I get from Amazon.

That $0.35 is now worth in reality $0.33, 6.8% less than it was worth in 2010. That’s quite a dramatic difference! Customers are paying effectively the equivalent of $0.99 – assuming of course their disposable income has increased at the same rate as inflation.

What would happen if inflation was a similar rate for the next 5 years say?

If you go with an inflation rate of 2% a year, then $0.99 in 2018 is worth only $0.89 now, the royalty is $0.32, not too bad perhaps, but still a 10% reduction. If you applied that over all your sales you can see that sticking at a $0.99 is unsustainable.

I think it’s likely that those sticking with the $0.99 will inevitably have to start putting up prices fairly soon. And I suspect there will be more pressure from retailers to decrease the royalties on books below a certain price.

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The Naked Writer #1

Inspired by Dean Wesley Smith’s posts Writing in Public, I thought it would be cool (and possibly motivating for me) to write regular updates on my own daily writing, and general publishing and reading experiences. Really what a blog was about back in the day – an actual diary of what I have done each day and collection of my thoughts.

So here goes on Day 1!

I’m currently finishing off a short story called Time’s Arrow. It’s an alternate history piece set in 1415 at the Battle of Agincourt. I’m planning to send it out to magazines when it’s finished to see if I can get it published in a pro market. If not I’ll self-publish it myself. I have been struggling with it a bit and had quite a long hiatus, but recently I have worked out a way to get back in the groove. One of my main writing problems is finding enough time. Usually the only realistic slot I get is first thing in the morning, but if I am too tired to get up at 6 am I have a problem. Writing in my lunch hour at work is problematic. I don’t feel comfortable sitting and writing fiction in an open plan office. There’s a park nearby, but sometimes difficult to get a bench to sit on and scribble.

The alternative that I came up with last Friday was to just use my iPhone. Specifically I’m using the Pages app and just adding to a Word document on that. Initially I thought this was madness, but it’s actually working quite well. I tend to go quite fast when I’m writing so can quite easily knock off 100 to 150 words or so in 5-10 minutes, which is about the time it takes for Outlook to load in the morning or while I’m waiting for a tea to brew. About 3-5 sessions of that a day and I’m easily at my daily goal of 500 words a day.

So that’s what I did today. 3 sessions and that took me to 562 words. I’m near the end of the story I think – just over 4,000 words so hopefully I will finish it this week – it’s been hanging around far too long!

Other things I have done today include:

Reviewing two submissions for Alt Hist – one got declined, the other went into the Maybe pile

Working out why Alt Hist 2 is listed at the price of $2.99 on Amazon and not $6.99. Turns out I mistakenly put it up on Google Play at $2.99 ages ago. I have now since rectified the mistake, but will probably take a few weeks for Amazon to change.

Followed a few people who followed me on Wattpad and sent them messages.

Posted in a Goodreads forum – Fantasy Fanatics


Started on Feast of Crows. Enjoyed the prologue and the first chapter – both with new characters which was a bit strange to start with. I haven’t read from this series for a while so I was looking forward to being reacquainted with old favourites. That will happen soon, I’m sure.

Aiming to finish reading Sweet Justice (a collection of Judge Dredd short stories) later this evening.

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Tricky to give away eBooks on Amazon – and getting trickier

144/365 - Free Stuff
144/365 – Free Stuff (Photo credit: Loimere)

Sometimes giving stuff away for free can be a good way of getting publicity for something. We see it all around us as a common promotional tool. In the field of publishing its a common ploy – some authors have done well building up a fan base in the past by giving away free content, and free previews of content are a key way for readers to decide if they like something before they buy from an online retailer.

With eBooks, a lot of self-publishers have used Amazon’s Kindle Select programme to promote their books. The strategy being that if you get lots of downloads you’re going to get some reviews and also more “Others also bought/viewed” type related sales after the free promotion has finished. There is evidence out there that this strategy can work, but it seems that it’s getting more difficult.

Amazon only allows you to give 5 days free content for your book over a 3 month period (during which you can’t distribute your eBook with anyone else). In the past you could get a good number of downloads without really having to do anything – I’ve done this in the past and as soon as the free promotion period starts the free downloads start tallying up. However, I tried this with Hell has its Demons recently and hardly anything happened until I started unleashing some pretty serious promotion of my own – blog posts, email campaigns etc. Having read a bit more about this now online it seems that as a bare minimum you have to start using promotional sites like Bookbub and others to get your book out there.

What’s going on? Are Amazon simply trying to hush up free content on their site in order to get people to buy things? Is there such a large micro-market of publicity services available that Amazon feels they don’t need to to it.

In contrast if you want to give away free eBooks you can still do this in fairly good numbers on other retailers and get some stats on how many – such as Barnes & Noble and Sony for instance. I use Smashwords to distribute to these retailers and they provide monthly stats usually. Unfortunately you don’t get starts from Apple’s iBookstore or from Kobo – but your book is still free there as long as you want it to be.

Seems like a lot of things in self-publishing are changing – it’s actually getting harder to promote and get your work out there – and potentially more costly if you need to pay for advertising so that anyone notices. You can’t even give it away unless you pay!

Is self-publishing still a nirvana for the aspiring writer, or a money-making opportunity for the middlemen?

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Amazon Author Central – possible improvements

I use Amazon and other ebook distribution services to self-publish some of my short stories (I am planning
to use a traditional publisher though for novels if what I am writing is good enough), and also for publishing issues of Alt Hist and Fantasy Short Stories.

Amazon has a service called Author Central, which allows you to provide more information about yourself (here’s my humble page), feeds from your blog or twitter profile, and also check on details of your books, their sales rankings and reviews by customers. That’s all quite interesting and sometimes useful, but I do find myself wondering about how readers interact with this information.

I would like to know:

    How many views my Author page gets
    What happens after people view the page?
    How many people see something compelling enough to click through to a title and which titles do they look at
    On a related note, I would love to know number of kindle ebook sample downloads for my titles, or the number of clicks on the search inside feature. Again I’m interested in knowing what sort of engagement there is with my titles.

If you’re an author using Amazon Author Central, what would you like to see added?

Self Publishing Pros and Cons: Distribution

A while ago I did a couple of posts regarding the pros and cons of Self Publishing, with the intention of doing some more posts at some point. Well this is the next one. It’s on distribution and an area that is bugging me quite a lot at the moment and where I think there is quite a big gap in the market to help self published authors.

On the eBook side self publishers have quite a good choice for distribution. They can get their eBooks published via all the main eBook retailers through a variety of means – either going direct with Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble or Apple or using distributors such as Smashwords and Lulu to do part of it for them. It seems that of the retailers only Amazon demands direct engagement from authors and won’t let a distributor take some of the pain of multiple platforms away – but then Amazon don’t want authors distributing their work via other retailers anyway. Going direct to retailers has its benefits, but self published authors have the choice usually of doing that or using a distributor for their work.

On the traditional publishing side it really depends on what arrangements have been made by your publisher. Some publishers have a difficult relationship with Amazon for a whole host of reasons. And I think some others – more small to medium sized – are still only just getting to grips with eBooks. I was surprised to find that some recent Science Fiction books that I was trying to buy recently from well known authors were not available as eBooks. So it’s possible that to go the traditional route may inhibit eBook distribution if the publisher has a tiff with someone like Amazon, or just is slow in getting its systems together – worth taking into account when selecting a publisher.

Print is not dead – still the majority of the market

This is still true and I think a major problem for the self-published author. The one clear advantage of being published by a traditional publisher is that your book will appear in print and will get some sort of decent distribution to bookshops, book wholesalers and to library suppliers. Maybe even into book cataloguers/book clubs and supermarkets if it is a bestseller. Even if the shelf life is short there will be some exposure and book shop customers can place orders for a book through a book shop and have that order fulfilled.

For a self published author to achieve the same level of distribution is difficult. To get the same face time as a publisher sales rep with book shop chain buyers who decide whether to buy copies of a book is impossible.

On the logistical distribution side it seems that the main options for self publisher are to purchase a more expensive package than the standard ones from Lulu or Createspace – you need something like the Extended Distribution from Createspace or to go with Ingrams’ Lightning Source service to even get in the major bibliographic databases, otherwise online sales via Amazon are probably the only means for customers to purchase print.


For some bright spark there has to be an opportunity here. Either a start-up company or one of the book wholesalers perhaps could step in and offer enhanced sales and distribution for the self published author. They could produce a catalogue and actively sell these titles to bookshops. I think they would have to impose some sort of vetting process – the author would have to somehow justify why their book should get attention from the bookseller – previous eBook sales or direct online print sales history could play a major role here I think.

Interesting times and an area that’s still in development for self published authors.

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The Honour of Rome now available from a range of eBook Retailers

I have finally managed to get my short story The Honour of Rome distributed through a wide range of eBook retailers – previously it was just on Amazon. So if you like reading books on the Nook, iPad or any other device – see Smashwords – then you now have no excuse not to read The Honour of Rome!

You can now buy The Honour of Rome from these retailers:


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Self-publishing Pros and Cons – Revenue

I’m going to split this analysis into two sections and a conclusion. First I will look at the evidence for revenues from Traditional Publishing, and secondly from Self-Publishing. What I am trying to do is find an average figure. Of course if you are J. K. Rowling or one of the new breed of million selling self-published authors, the figures will be much higher. But what I’m trying to achieve is a comparison tool for a newbie writer who doesn’t know which path to choose. Don’t shoot me if you don’t like the answer, I’m just presenting the evidence as I see it!

 The Evidence for Traditional Publishing Revenues

If you Google publisher or novel advances then you get quite a few different bits of evidence. But in summary these are my findings:

The Wall Street Journal claims that $15,000 is a mediocre advance, but also states that advances from Independent Publishers average between $1,000 to $5,000 advance.

About That Book Advance … is an essay in NY Times from 2009 suggests $30,000 as an average advance.

Author Advance Survey by Tobias Buckelll

Tobias Buckell surveyed 108 science fiction and fantasy writers back in 2005. There’s quite a bit of data available, but the main finding that I think is relevant for this post is that the median first novel advance was $5,000. This is probably enough information for this pros and cons comparison. He has done a more recent survey I think, but I can’t see the data from it on his blog – maybe not enough responses yet? But let’s go with his $5,000 figure.

Traditional Publisher Revenues – Conclusion

If we err on the side of caution then perhaps we can take Tobias’s figure of $5,000 per novel as a starting point. We should also remember that advances aren’t the only potential source of money. Hopefully of course one’s novel should outsell it’s advance and bring in further funds. There is also the potential sale of other rights – film/TV and foreign-language publishing rights. Again Tobias Buckell has some useful information on multiple income streams.

But let’s assume that we make as a minimum $5,000 per novel publishing via Traditional means.

Evidence for Self-Publishing Revenues

Despite the number of self-published authors blogging out there and talking about their sales figures, in a way getting an average for this is quite difficult. There are of course the success stories, like Joe Konrath and Amanda Hocking, but I can’t see their revenue stats as anything other than outliers, which is not what we want for this analysis.

So what evidence can we use? Well I decided to take some information from a well-known self-published author who doesn’t have mega-sales. I won’t name him, but he blogs quite a bit and seems to be well-known, so I would say that he would be a good example of a self-published author who has got his marketing right, seems to right popular books and knows what he is doing. But he hasn’t broken out yet to bestseller status. His figures in general seem to indicate sales of about $800/month, but this is across 4 titles. So looking at a whole year, he might be making $9,600. I’m not sure if one title makes up most of these sales, but the figure does seem to be similar to the survey mentioned below in the Guardian for average self-published revenue.

survey posted on the Guardian website states that the average income of self-published authors was $6,375 in 2011. Half of those surveyed made less than $500. It’s interesting that those who were more successful were the ones who got more help – they engaged editorial services etc. So effectively employing the same services that a publisher would provide, but on a freelance basis. It is worth noting that most of these writers will have several titles on sale – the most successful ones planned to release 5 or more titles in the next year. So average revenue/book must be $1,000 I would guess?

Another piece of evidence I found was on Mike Cooper’s blog. This presents Amazon’s own figures that the average book makes less than $500. What’s the average book? Does this includes rafts of Public Domain stuff and short stories. Difficult to say. But it’s a stat so worth including in our evidence.

Self-Publishing Revenues – Conclusion

I think from the evidence I have read for self-published authors its all about volume – if you can churn out a lot of decent quality material then you can make an average of $6-10,000 per year. If you get successful then you could make a lot more.

Self-Publishing Revenues – Pros and Cons – A conclusion of sorts

The problem with statistics is that is difficult to compare between different sets of data. However, I think it is possible to draw some general conclusions from what I have presented above. Here they are:

  1. Traditional Publishing can provide a better per title revenue with advances of around $5,000 vs average per title self-published title revenue of $1,000 (even for successful authors). And remember I am underestimating the traditionally published revenue stream by not taking into account any other sources of revenue other than an advance.
  2. Self-published authors have to produce quite a lot of material – 4-5 books a year – to make what a traditionally published author could get from their first novel advances.
  3. Self-published authors have to invest in editorial services to make their book more marketable. These costs for traditionally published authors will be covered by the publisher.
  4. Self-published authors will find it harder to access sources of other revenue, such as foreign rights.
From this evidence I have to say that the traditionally published route looks more attractive. The problem though is getting your work signed up.
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