Blog Archives

Enter the Elsewhere Gate on 1 August

The Elsewhere Gate is the story of two students from modern America who are plunged into a strange world with unknown creatures, airships, and money based on magic — a place where almost everyone has magic but few have much money. Here, they are pursued by a covetous moneylender who believes they hold the key that will open new worlds for him to exploit.

This book will be released worldwide 1 August 2018.

You can preorder digital editions for 99¢ from:

Defying Fate – An Epic SFF Free Kindle Promotion

Defying Fate – An Epic SFF Free Kindle Promotion

DefyingFateCoverRev15Amazon will be running a FREE Kindle promotion of Defying Fate starting on Thursday 27 August 2015 and running through Monday 31 August. This exclusive Kindle edition includes two full-length novels, The Warden Threat and its sequel, The Warden War. These books tell the exciting and lighthearted tale of a young, naive prince and his quest to prevent an unnecessary war prompted by claims of a mysterious WMD (Warden of Mystic Defiance). Combining epic fantasy with light science fiction, this is a great story for readers of all speculative fiction genres yearning for something fresh and different.

If you haven’t read these yet, now is your chance. Grab a copy for your Kindle while this promotion lasts. Then, check out D.L. Morrese’s other books. You’ll be glad you did.

Happy Reading!

Originally posted in Defying Fate – An Epic SFF Free Kindle Promotion.

Brane Child will be released on 21 December 2014

TBraneChildDigital10-14his is a story of humanity venturing into the unknown, as it has always done. One step leads to another, but not all are as sturdy as one might hope. Sometimes you just have to put your foot forward and hope for the best.

The Brane Skip Device, which may allow a spaceship to skip between layers of reality, bypass normal space, and avoid the universal speed limit—the speed of light—is unproven. The theory behind it is poorly understood. Lisa Chang, mission commander for its first crewed test, doesn’t trust it. It seems like magic to her, and she doesn’t believe in magic—not even after the ship skips to a fantasy version of Earth, complete with dragons, orcs, and wizards. This, ultimately, is her greatest advantage.

The release date for Brane Child is 21 December 2014 at the astoundingly low price of just 99¢ for digital editions.

The prices of all of my other books in eBook formats are also just 99¢ from now through December. (Due to the cost of production, prices for paper formats are not discounted and remain significantly higher.)

Brane Child is available for preorder here:
Amazon (US) Link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00PIPTRIS
Amazon (UK) Link: www.amazon.co.uk/Brane-Child-Science-Fiction-Counter-Fantasy-ebook/dp/B00PIPTRIS/
Smashwords Link: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/492149

Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes Books, and other online retailers should also be accepting preorders soon. The trade paperback edition of the book is not available for preorder but will be released on or about the same time.

~*~

Questions and Answers about this book:

How does this book relate to your previous books?
In the immortal words of Monty Python, it’s ‘something completely different’. Well, Okay, maybe not completely different. I am still the author and it falls firmly in the same ‘counter-fantasy’ subgenre of science fiction that my other books do, but the setting and characters are new and (I think) original. It is positive science fiction—upbeat, hopeful, and sometimes even a bit funny. There is also a smidgeon of cultural satire. My goal for this book was to combine science, history, philosophy, fantasy, games, and humor into a satisfying story about stories.

A story about stories?
Yes, in part. It is about how readers shape stories as much as writers do. The writer sketches the characters and settings, but the reader completes them. No two readers experience exactly the same story. Brane Child is about how beliefs and expectations shape perspective. It touches on human achievement, quantum physics (specifically M-theory), and the idea that reality is much more complex than it seems. The physics (and metaphysics) are warped a bit (Okay, more than a bit) to fit this particular story, but I believe there is a thought or two in here that some people will find intriguing. I also think it’s a fun story.

~*~

And now for a short video..

Defying Fate – Free Kindle Promotion 1 to 5 January 2014

DF Cover13-10Amazon will be running a free promotion for Defying Fate starting New Years Day. This exclusive Kindle edition includes the award-winning novel The Warden Threat and the sequel, The Warden War. They tell the exciting and often humorous tale of a young, naive prince and his quest to prevent an unnecessary war prompted by exaggerated claims of a mysterious WMD (Warden of Mystic Defiance).

I hope you’ll give it a try. If you enjoy the book, I invite you to let the rest of world know. I also would not object to you checking out my other books. Actually, I’d quite appreciate it.

This e-book is available in Kindle format (translated from the original Westgrovian into American English) in the following countries. Click the one that suits you best and enjoy the journey.

(Note: Kindle free promotions start at approximately 12:00 AM Pacific Standard Time on the specified start date. They end at approximately 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time on the specified end date. Depending on system latencies, these times may be off by a few minutes to several hours.)

Defying Fate – Free Kindle Promotion 2 to 3 November 2013

DF Cover13-10Amazon will be running a free promotion for Defying Fate, this weekend (2 & 3 November 2013). This exclusive Kindle edition includes the award-winning novel The Warden Threat and the sequel, The Warden War. They tell the exciting and often humorous tale of a young, naive prince and his quest to prevent an unnecessary war prompted by exaggerated claims of a mysterious WMD (Warden of Mystic Defiance).

This combined Kindle edition is currently rated five stars on Amazon.

I hope you’ll give it a try. If you enjoy the book, I invite you to let the rest of world know. I also would not object to you checking out my other books. Actually, I’d quite appreciate it.

This e-book is available in Kindle format (translated from the original Westgrovian into American English) in the following countries. Click the one that suits you best and enjoy the journey.

(Note: Kindle free promotions start at approximately 12:00 AM Pacific Standard Time on the specified start date. They end at approximately 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time on the specified end date. Depending on system latencies, these times may be off by a few minutes to several hours.)

Defying Fate – Free Kindle Promotion 30 April to 4 May 2013

DF Cover5To celebrate the release of my fourth book (Disturbing Clockwork), I’m giving away digital copies of my first two books (but only for five days and only for Kindle).

Defying Fate includes the novels, The Warden Threat and The Warden War.  They tell the exciting and often humorous tale of young, naive Prince Donald and his quest to prevent an unnecessary war prompted by exaggerated claims of the threat posed by the mysterious WMD (Warden of Mystic Defiance). This a character driven science fiction tale in a fantasy-like setting — a parody of epic fantasy with a bit of cultural satire and a lot of fun for readers of all genres who may be looking for something fresh and different.

This combined Kindle edition is currently rated five stars on Amazon.

I hope you’ll give it a try. If you enjoy the book, I invite you to let the rest of world know. I also would not object to you checking out my other books. Actually, I’d quite appreciate it.

(Note: Kindle free promotions start at approximately 12:00 AM Pacific Standard Time on the specified start date. They end at approximately 11:59 PM Pacific Standard Time on the specified end date. Depending on system latencies, these times may be off by a few minutes to several hours.)

The Release of Disturbing Clockwork

ClockworkEbook13-3My latest book is now available, at least in digital formats. The trade paperback edition will be out soon.

This humorous and exciting story sees the return of several characters from my previous books, plus a few endearing additions. My Warden stories (Defying Fate) were about Prince Donald and his quest to prevent an unnecessary war prompted by exaggerated claims of a WMD (Warden of Mystic Defiance). Disturbing Clockwork focuses on one of his companions, the messenger Trixie.

The prince, now in charge of the Westgrove Center for Scientific Advancement, asks her to deliver a personal invention to a brilliant natural philosopher (Benkin) living in distant city. When she arrives, she finds he has mysteriously disappeared. His friends in town do not know where he has gone, and they are concerned. He often disappears, but never without telling them where he is going. This time, he didn’t, and they suspect foul play. They also don’t know about his discovery of incredibly powerful and versatile clockwork automatons that he found buried under some rocks on a small, uninhabited island. Trixie’s old nemesis, Snyde, however, does, and he sees them as a means for regaining the kind of power and position she and her friends helped deny him the year before.

If you were wondering what happened to the thoroughly evil Snyde, or if Trixie and Prince Donald ever got together, this book provides the answers.

Digital editions of this new novel are currently available on Amazon for Kindle and at Smashwords for all other devices. The paperback should be out on the first of May.

A Book and Its Cover

As you may know, my first two novels, The Warden Threat and The Warden War, are offered together in one volume exclusively for Kindle under the title Defying Fate. Recently, a reader submitted the following unsolicited review, which was titled “Good characters, good story.”

 This somewhat quirky, somewhat light sci-fi/fantasy story was just what I was looking for. The characters were interesting and believable, and it made for a really fun, well-written, well-edited book. Have to say that I just hate the cover and if I had seen it before buying the book I probably wouldn’t have gotten it. I could so picture our hero doing his ‘resurrection dance’. There were some loose ends that I would enjoy seeing tied up and I hope there is another book to follow.

 She liked the book enough to give it five stars, but she hated this cover.

DF Cover4 (comp)

I have to admit that I was not entirely pleased with it, myself, but I didn’t hate it. But if it is so bad it is deterring people from downloading and enjoying this book, it must go! I spent a fair amount of time this morning coming up with something different. This was the result.

 DF Cover5

My concern with this one is that it may appear too… dramatic. The book is fun. There is a good, exciting story, too, of course, but what sets it apart is the lighthearted tone throughout the story. I’m just not sure how to convey this in the cover. I suppose this is also a problem for other authors who mix genres.

There is a simple convention for some story genres. If the book is romance, put a young, shirtless guy in a dramatic pose of the cover. If it’s epic fantasy, include a sword. Space opera — a spaceship…. But a lighthearted science fiction story in a fantasy-like setting? There’s no standard for that, so you have to wing it. The closest well-known books to mine might be something like The Princess Bride or the later Discworld novels, but neither of these have a science fiction element.

This revised cover reuses part of the background I bought from a professional cover designer for the cover of The Warden Threat (which I decided not to use because it made it look like an angst-filled romance novel). I hope it will meet with approval, or at least not scare away readers.

(As for the loose ends, yes, those are tied up in the next book, Disturbing Clockwork, which will be available any day now.)

Amy’s Pendant is now Available

Pendant e-book Cover 13-2A day late, but the paperback edition of my latest published book is now available on Amazon.

Amy’s Pendant is set in the same world as my ‘Warden’ novels but features a 14-year-old protagonist. I hesitate to call it YA because I did not ‘dumb down’ the vocabulary or simplify the ideas in the book for children. There is no sex, violence, or extremely vulgar language, but it is more of a YA for MA type of book, suitable, I think, for readers 14 and older.

Her father’s inventions aren’t selling, her mother has just lost her job, and there is chance Amy and her parents may soon find themselves homeless. When her aunt suggests that the mysterious pendant Amy received from her cousin for her fourteenth birthday might be a magical treasure finder, she is more determined than ever to solve the puzzle it represents. At first, her efforts lead nowhere, and then they lead to disaster when she becomes trapped inside an underground alien labyrinth populated with strange robots, android animals, and a central intelligence that does not want her to leave.

 

You can get your very own copy at these fine online retailers:
Paperback ($8.99) CreateSpace / Amazon.com
eBook ($1.75) Amazon.com (Kindle) / Smashwords (all eBook formats)

(It is also available from other Amazon sites worldwide.)

Why Indie is good for Fiction

BookstoreThe traditional publishing business is, above all else, a business. Like every business, its primary purpose is to make money for its owners and investors. It does this by selling books.

In the past, a large publisher’s most profitable strategy was to publish a relatively small number of different books with wide appeal, those for which they believed there was a large market. The large volume offset the cost of editing, cover design, printing, and promotion. This made perfectly good business sense. There were a few predefined genres, and books that fit the currently popular trends in each of those were what ended up being published and displayed on the limited shelf space in bookstores. This model worked well for the publishing business, but it didn’t provide much variety for readers.

When I was a kid, I read mostly space operas and sword and sorcery epic fantasies. That’s what the stores sold, and for speculative fiction, that was about all they sold because that is all the traditional publishers were publishing, which they did because they sold…

These books were often very much alike. If you tore out the title page, there is a good chance you would not be able to guess who wrote the story. They were as generic as fast food hamburgers and for the same reason—mass appeal, low cost, predictable content, and reasonable quality.

It seems that traditional publishers are still working to this model, and if you really want to read a new post-apocalyptic, dystopian, paranormal, vampire romance with demons, zombies and a teenage wizard, they’ll have one for you.* They’ll probably have dozens, in fact. That kind of stuff sells. They know this because they’ve already sold a bunch much like them. This doesn’t mean any of these books are good, nor does it mean all of them are bad, but it does mean that readers who want something completely different are going to have a hard time finding it.

Fortunately, the constraints of limited shelf space and mass appeal no longer apply, although I don’t think traditional publishers know this. Many authors and readers may not, either. Things are changing, though, and the change is good.

Online retailers do not need to be concerned about shelf space. This allows them to follow a different model. They can offer a wide variety of items to suit different needs and tastes rather than focusing on a relatively small number of currently popular items. Amazon may have been one of the first to adapt this idea to books, and they quickly came to dominate the book market because of it.

Then they went a step further by creating the Kindle, which made them the leader in digital books as well. They further expanded their eBook selection by encouraging writers to bypass traditional publishers and sell their books directly to readers (who had Kindles). I’m sure this wasn’t out of some altruistic concern or even due to some sense of duty to rescue the art of fiction from the doldrums. They are a business after all, and the primary business of business is, as we know, to make money, and I suspect Amazon is making a respectable profit from digital book sales. I have no idea how many eBook titles they now have available, but I imagine it’s a lot. They probably don’t sell many copies of most of these, but a few here and a few there can add a very large pile of nickels and dimes to their bottom line.

I did not realize how truly limited my book selection had been until I received a Kindle as a gift two years ago. In the years BK (Before Kindle), I got books from the library, brick and mortar bookstores, and online, but all of those books were published on paper through the gateway of a traditional publisher. I had no idea what I was missing. In the years AK (After Kindle), I have found many books that were fresh, different, that defied genre and convention, and, because of this, they were great reads. But they didn’t come from traditional publishers, which are still working to the old model of formulaic fiction for mass audiences. Many of the most enjoyable books I read last year came from small, independent publishers or were self-published by the authors.

The rise of indie publishing makes more books available to readers. But quantity is not what makes indie revolutionary. If all it did was increase the number of new vampire romances or zombie apocalypse stories released each year from a hundred to ten thousand, it would hardly be important. The greatest contribution of indie publishing is that it makes many different kinds of stories available to readers.

For a publishing business, the purpose of producing books is to make money. For many (but not all) indie writers, the purpose is simply because they have a need to create and share stories that are not like those coming out of the big publishing houses. Sure, indie writers would love to make piles of money, but few expect to, and I don’t think it’s why most of them write, especially those who are consciously not following the mass-market book trends. What this means for fiction readers is greater variety, more books, lower prices, and a better chance of finding a book that is fresh and wonderfully different.

I used to read about twenty new books a year. Now I read about seventy or eighty. The main reason for the increase is that I can now find more books that appeal to me. And, if this wasn’t enough, ‘indie’ eBooks tend to be much cheaper than their traditionally published counterparts. Many indie books are free. Not all of them are good of course, but not all the books published by traditional publishers are, either.

I have come to view traditional publishers as something akin to fast food chain restaurants. They offer items with wide appeal and consistent quality. I’ve found that some traditional publishers of speculative fiction tend to do this better than others do, but their variety remains limited and the difference between them is like that between Burger King and McDonalds. Indie publishers are more along the lines of local mom and pop diners. Some are good and some are not, but a few offer great things you cannot find anywhere else.

This is a good time for fiction writers. They can write stories they believe in and offer them directly to readers. It is a good time for readers whose tastes do not match those of the crowd. It is still difficult to find great books that match our individual tastes, but, because of the rise of indie publishing, those books are far more likely to be out there. What is now desperately needed is a way to sort through the many thousands of indie books available to find those that we’ll absolutely love. Variety is great, but it can be overwhelming.

 

*This is a slight exaggeration. Most popular books won’t have all of these elements. There is only so much, um, ‘stuff’ that will fit in any one bucket.

 Related Posts:

Book Review – On Basilisk Station by David Weber

OnBasiliskStationTitle: On Basilisk Station
Author: David Weber
Publisher: Baen
First Published: 1993
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

I’ve picked up several free e-books from Amazon since I first got my Kindle two years ago. This was one. Most of the others were ‘indie’ or self-published and most were surprisingly well written and enjoyable. This was neither.

When I saw this on the list of Amazon freebies, I grabbed it because I know the series has something of a following. Scanning down the reviews that have been posted, I saw many have raved about this book. I can only wonder why. Perhaps the Kindle version I got was an unpolished draft. It certainly read like one.

This is a pulp sci-fi military space opera, and although these can be fun, this particular book has few redeeming qualities. There is a large cast of cardboard characters and enough techno-babble to choke a Vulcan, but, with a judicious amount of skimming, I found the story engaging enough for me to finish reading (almost). I couldn’t take any more by the end and skimmed the last few pages.

The poor writing style was obvious from the start. The prose is amateurish. The first ten to fifteen percent of the book is primarily backstory and exposition. If this were a self-published book, I would have stopped reading and concluded that the writer needed to develop his skills a bit more. But this book has a traditional publisher (Baen), and it has fans. I kept reading, thinking it must get better as it goes on.

It didn’t.

I almost gave up again half way in because the setting and characters were beginning to strain my ability suspend disbelief. Perhaps the most implausible aspect was that Honor Harrington (the unbelievingly self-disciplined lead character) increasingly appears to be just about the only truly competent commanding officer in the Royal Manticoran (space) Navy. If this were a work of comedy or satire, this would be fine, but it’s not. We’re supposed to accept that this is plausible. Even under an archaic form of monarchy (more on this later), where commissions are handed out based on family as often as they are on achievement, I have trouble accepting that any military organization could accept, or operate with, such a high amount of incompetence. (There is also a dysfunctional political system operating largely behind the scenes, which is, sadly, plausible, although I also doubt such a system can endure long without getting its act together.)

About eighty percent in, I considered tossing it aside again. In the middle of a chase scene, in which Honor’s ship is pursuing a much larger and more heavily armed enemy ship (for which she has no real plan how to defeat), the narrative devolves into a long exposition on the history of the faster than light technology they use. If there is ever a time for something like this, a chase scene is not it.

The battle scenes, especially the naval battles, are competently drawn, although a bit graphically for my taste. The wholesale slaughter of Bronze Age aliens (by the ‘good’ guys) with little remorse or reflection gave me one of those WTF moments. The ‘glory of war’ aspect of these scenes predominates. The ‘tragedy of war’ aspect is largely limited to instances when the ‘good guys’ lose or take casualties. The concept of war, the ethical considerations, and alternatives to it are largely ignored. That kind of underlying message became clearer as the book progressed. If there is a theme to this story, it is something along the lines of ‘duty above all else,’ ‘violence is always a first and best response,’ ‘war is inevitable,’ or ‘might makes right.’

But there really are no ‘good guys’ in this story. No one has a clear claim to the moral high ground. Honor is a citizen of the Star Kingdom of Manticore, a hereditary monarchy with privileged, landed gentry, self-serving corporations, a multiparty political system that seems largely inept, and a culture that feels almost medieval. Their rivals are the People’s Republic of Haven, a star nation of military expansionists with a strained, socialist economy. The book provides little more insight than this into their respective cultures, but I doubt I would want to live in either. I saw insufficient reason to favor one side over the other in their squabbles despite Haven’s particularly nasty effort to foment something like the Boxer Rebellion by supplying drugs to the Bronze Age natives of Medusa. I got the impression that the Manticorans would have few ethical qualms about doing something similar if they found it expedient.

The formatting of the eBook was also poorly done. The text was double-spaced throughout, with forced line justification and missing scene breaks.

Maybe I’ve come to expect too much from a free eBook, but almost all of those I’ve seen had something going for them—a good story, interesting characters, a thought provoking theme, or even just proper formatting. This book fails in all regards.

If books were like TV, this one would be on par with Saturday morning cartoons or professional wrestling. I realize that many people enjoy that kind of stuff. That’s fine. Different people like different things. I, however, cannot recommend this, not even as a freebie. There are far better books available for the same cost.

Defying Fate – Free Kindle Promotion 25 to 29 December 2012

Defying Fate, Kindle EditionIt has been a tough year, and I wanted to give everyone something very special for the holidays. Unfortunately, I can’t find a way to bring about world peace. I can’t end crime, hunger, poverty, or disease. I can’t even help you find a job, but I do have a book you might like, and between December 25th and 29th you can have a Kindle edition of it free.

I know, it’s not exactly a gift of infinite value, but it has gotten some very good reviews. I hope you will accept it as my gift to you.

The book is called Defying Fate. It is a fun parody of fantasy adventure epics, which is actually two books in one, The Warden Threat and The Warden War. They are set on a planet much like earth and follow the exploits of Prince Donald of Westgrove as he discovers that the true nature of the threat to his kingdom is not what his father, the king, believes it to be. With the assistance of his cynical guide, a goodhearted bodyguard, a beautiful messenger, and a couple of ancient androids, he tries to prevent three nations from going to war.

Technically science fiction, Defying Fate is a character driven tale in a fantasy-like setting. It pokes some good-natured fun at the serious tone and dependence on magic common to many epic adventure novels, turning all of these common fantasy stereotypes on their collective heads for readers of all genres who may be looking for something fresh and different. Often insightful and frequently funny, this book is a great way to spend some leisure time.

There are no gimmicks and no qualifications. Just go to Amazon on one of these five days and download a copy for your Kindle, then sit back, read, smile, and enjoy the journey.

 Click your country flag between Tuesday 25 December and Saturday 29 December 2012 to get your gift copy.

Defying Fate, U.S. Kindle EditionDefying Fate, U.K. Kindle EditionDefying Fate, Canada Kindle EditionDefying Fate, Germany Kindle EditionDefying Fate, France Kindle EditionDefying Fate, Spain Kindle EditionDefying Fate, Italy Kindle Edition

A Quick Summary of my Self-Publishing Adventure

SelfPubAdv0My brother sent me an email this morning, part of which said, “I have a friend who is interested in publishing poetry (sonets). He is elderly and doesn’t have a lot of cash to try this. How did you go about self publishing:  costs, web sites, etc.”

So this is what I wrote back to him. I figured I’d share it on my blog because it summarizes much of what I’ve discovered so far.

An author can turn to several places now if they want to publish but still keep full rights to what they create. That’s always been one of the biggest problems with traditional agents and publishers, at least for the author. Amazon is probably the biggest and overall best because there are no up front costs and they have a wider distribution than any other single self-publishing outlet, such as Barnes & Noble, Sony, Apple, or Smashwords. (Smashwords, however, I find the friendliest and easiest to use. I just don’t sell much through them. Most of my sales are eBooks for Kindle from Amazon.

Authors can publish their works digitally for Kindle through Kindle Direct Publishing (https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin). This uses your regular Amazon login information, and allows you to upload directly from ‘.doc’ files. It’s fairly intuitive to use, but there are guides available about how to do it.

Creating paperback editions can be done through Amazon’s Create Space (https://www.createspace.com/). Formatting for paperback is a bit more difficult, but it can be done. I did a post on one way to do this not long ago. It’s here if you want to see it: https://dlmorrese.wordpress.com/2012/03/01/my-self-publishing-adventure-episode-nine-formatting-your-book-for-paperback-publication/. The paperbacks you order for yourself for ‘proofs’ come at a discount, but you do have to pay for all but the first.

Once you have your books available for sale on Amazon, you can do a quick check of your status through Amazon’s Author Central (https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/home). I will caution that the reports you get from Author Central are not as accurate as those you get from KDP, for some reason.

As I said, all of these services through Amazon are free of up front costs for the author. Amazon does take a cut of sales, though. These are still considerably less than a traditional agent and publisher would take, and, of course, you retain full rights to your work, which I think is the biggest reason so many authors are now self-publishing.

Sounds good, right? What self-publishing means, though, is that the author does not get the support provided by traditional agents and publishers, and this is where the costs come in. Here are a few things someone considering self-publishing should consider:

1)      Editing – It is tough to edit your own work, tougher than I ever imagined until I tried it. A good editor is also hard to find and expensive. For a full-length book of 100,000 words, you should count on outside editing costing as much as $6,000. It could be more or less depending on the services you need. A quick proofreading can cost just 2¢ a word ($2,000 for a regular novel). My advice for poor authors is to know someone who has editorial experience and owes you a favor. Failing that, edit your book yourself and beg your friends and family to proofread it.
2)      Cover Design – This can cost as little as $100 to $200. I paid $200 for two covers. I got artwork for one and didn’t like it, so I created my own covers and ate the rest of the cost. I created my covers, which you can see on the “Novels” tab on my website, using the free image manipulation program, Gimp (http://www.gimp.org/), and Microsoft PowerPoint. Once you have determined the page count and size your paperback will be, Create Space can give you a template for the dimensions of the cover. Even if you only produce a digital edition, though, you still need a cover that can be displayed on websites.
3)      Formatting – This you can do yourself, honestly. It’s not that hard if you are proficient with Microsoft Word. From a good Word .doc file, both KDP and Create Space can produce quality products for Kindle and trade paperbacks.
4)      Marketing & Distribution – Now this is where the traditional publishers really have things sown up. They have access to book reviewers and to brick and mortar stores (those that are left) that self-publishers do not. They also may promote (advertise) your book, although I understand they don’t do this as much as they once did and now only really promote books they believe can be bestsellers. A self-published author, therefore, should have some online presence, such as a website, blog, Face Book page, Twitter account, and such. It also helps to establish a presence in forums such as Goodreads (http://www.goodreads.com/).

That’s a quick rundown of what I’ve leaned on my self-publishing adventure so far. Individual results may vary.

Related posts:
My Self-Publishing Adventure: https://dlmorrese.wordpress.com/blog/my-self-publishing-adventure/

Felix and the Frontier – by Chester Burton Brown

I found this book refreshingly different and very enjoyable. It is a short tale that follows the explorations of Felix, a galactic traveler who is not a robot. He is extremely curious, intensely appreciative of the wonders of the universe, kindly but detached. He is an explorer, a scout for the Solar Neighborhood, a Zorannic man, and while he may be non-biological, he is most certainly not a robot. I saw his personality as that of the quintessential scientist. He is a very charming fellow.

There is a surprising amount crammed into this little novel. It’s like a space faring Gulliver’s Travels. Felix roams the galaxy, hopping from one planet to another using his ‘gatehouse,’ which seems more like a TARDIS than a spaceship. His mission is to scout, to discover new life and new civilizations, and to assess the potential of the places he explores for colonies for the Solar Neighborhood. But just when it seems that this is all the story is, a plot happens. The Solar Neighborhood is not the only civilization looking to colonize the galaxy. And the others may not be going about it as nicely as they are.

So how is this book different? Well, it’s written in third person present tense, which is common for a synopsis but not for a novel. The prose and vocabulary are precise, the punctuation is stylistically correct, and the voice is unique. Let me give an example.

This is when he is eaten. It is sudden, vicious, and bewildering. Felix has the vaguest impression of being rent asunder and then is cast into the rudest kind of soundless, sightless, darkness…

See? Well, maybe not, so I’ll just say I liked how it was done.

What else did I especially like? I mentioned the main character already. He is quite enjoyable. The style and prose, yeah, got that. I haven’t mentioned the tech yet. It’s interesting. The gatehouse isn’t a spaceship, although Felix can build one if needed for short planetary hops. The gatehouse swaps bits of space-time to get him where he needs to go. How it does this, we don’t know, but it makes sense. The robotic ants are quite cool. These are little constructor robots, not a new idea but a very logical one. They, too, make sense.

So, what didn’t I like? Nothing, really. The story seems not to have a real plot at first, other than following Felix explore the universe. I was okay with that, although some might see this as a slow start. When more of a plot did develop, it started and then ended rather abruptly, and the story concludes with something of a cliffhanger. I admit this is mildly annoying when the sequel is not immediately available.

Overall, though, I found this an exceptional book, different from most. I highly recommend it.

Defying Fate – Free Kindle Promotion 1 and 2 July 2012

For two days only, Sunday 1 July and Monday 2 July 2012, you can get a free Kindle edition of Defying Fate, a fun parody of fantasy adventure epics, from Amazon. This special Kindle exclusive contains both The Warden Threat and The Warden War in one convenient download. There are no gimmicks and no qualifications. Just go to Amazon on one of these two days and snag a copy for your Kindle, then sit back, read, smile, and enjoy the journey.

Defying Fate is a charming and witty science fiction parody of epic fantasy adventure stories. Set on a planet much like earth, this tale follows the exploits of Prince Donald of Westgrove as he discovers that the true nature of the threat to his kingdom is not what his father, the king, believes it to be. With the assistance of his cynical guide, a goodhearted bodyguard, a beautiful messenger, and a couple of ancient androids, he tries to prevent three nations from going to war.

Technically science fiction, Defying Fate is almost an anti-fantasy, which pokes a fair, or perhaps an unfair amount of good-natured fun at the serious tone and dependence on magic common to many epic fantasy adventure novels. This book turns all of these common fantasy stereotypes on their collective heads for readers who may be looking for something fresh and different. Often insightful and frequently funny, this book is a great way to spend a leisure weekend.

Get your copy here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005E1JBBO

My Self Publishing Adventure – Episode Two – Free or Almost Free

  My self publishing adventure continues. In the last five days, there have been twenty more free downloads of my first book from Smashwords, for a total of 157 since I made it available on 10 September. I find this exciting and I hope some of the people who have downloaded it will read it and write a review.

My plan was to end the free promotion at the end of the month and I have done so. The price for The Warden Threat  is now 99¢. I still have seen no sales from Amazon at this price. I will let you know how this affects the number of downloads on Smashwords. I expect it will dramatically. A free novel by an unknown author is a bargain but at 99¢, not so much. Many books, especially self published books, are available at that price. Free, mine stands out. At 99¢ it does not, even as a full length novel of over 80,000 words.

So why raise the price? My primary reason is not to make money. Few fiction authors actually seem to make money from their books and I don’t expect to be one of them, despite the fact that I would like to be. My primary reason for charging for it is to give it value in the eyes of readers. In our materialistic society, we often equate value with cost — no cost implies no value. As mistaken as I think this equation may be, it exists.

My plan forward is to continue as I have with limited promotion on social media at least through the end of the year and, of course, to continue writing. The third book in the Warden series should be available in 2012.

I’ll post an update periodically to keep you updated on how my adventures in self publishing ebooks are going. I invite you to share your experiences in the comments to this blog. You are also more than welcome to sample my writing either at this blog or on Amazon. If you do, please let me know what you think.

Related Posts:

Why I Chose To Self Publish
My Self Publishing Adventure – Episode One

My Self Publishing Adventure – Episode Three – Building a Platform
My Self Publishing Adventure – Episode Four – Managing Expectations
My Self Publishing Adventure – Episode Five – Gaining a Following

Why I chose to self publish

   When I told my friends and relatives I had finally embarked on my life long goal to write fiction and had actually published something, they said, “Great! Where can I get it?” When I told them, their responses were much different. You see, my books are self published and there is still a stigma about self published books. Many believe self publishing is what you do when your stuff isn’t good enough for a “real” agent or publisher. My books were also ebooks and everyone knows “real” books are made of paper. My friends didn’t even have ebook readers and had no plans of getting one. I myself didn’t have one until this year so I couldn’t really say much.

When I tried to explain that I chose to self publish rather than seek a traditional agent and publisher, I was met with skepticism. “Yeah, right.” (This is the only case I know of in which two positives make a negative.) “You chose to do this?”

But I did. When I decided to begin writing seriously rather than just as a hobby, I initially intended to shop my work to agents and try to get my books published in print. I had compiled a list of agents, what they said they were looking for, and their submission guidelines. I had draft query letters prepared using the best guidance I could find from established agents. I did my homework and I was ready to go. I wanted two books completed before I approached an agent so I could prove I could deliver but when the time came, I had changed my mind.

Maybe it’s a mistake but rather than send out queries for my first book, The Warden Threat, to traditional agents and publishers, I chose to self publish. Why would I make self publishing my first option rather than a last resort? I know many other writers are struggling with the same decision so I thought I’d share the five main reasons for mine (in no particular order).

1: I’m unknown as a fiction writer. My paying job had nothing to do with fiction, at least intentionally, although some of the reports I had done did contain things that were fairly speculative. But the point is, in the world of fiction writing I had no name recognition, no following, and no brand. I assumed it would be very difficult and frustrating trying to get an agent to even look at my work. Agents turn down 99% of the submissions they receive, and all the time the author is waiting to hear back from them is time their book is not available to readers.

2: Self publishing is easy. With the rise of ebooks, there are several places that will allow authors to turn their manuscript into an ebook and publish it. The process is fairly easy and free. I chose Smashwords and Amazon because they seemed to be the industry leaders. Smashwords is the simplest. All you need is a Word document, suitably formatted, and a cover image. Smashwords creates ebooks in multiple formats for you, assigns an ISBN and distributes your book to multiple ebook retailers. Amazon required conversion of the Word file to HTML and then to a PRC format using free Amazon software. Both processes were well within my capabilities. The hardest part for me was coming up with covers but I eventually created some that I thought were simple and eye-catching using no special or expensive software.

3: The popularity of ebooks is growing. Amazon now reportedly sells more ebooks than it does paper books and the popularity of ebooks is still growing. I don’t see paper books going away (I hope they don’t), and I would love to see my books eventually become available in paper because it means more people will be able to read them, but I feel that ebooks are the future and it is good to get in on the ground floor. I see this as analogous to what happened in the music world with the rise of MP3 players. At one time I bought vinyl albums, tapes, and CDs. Probably more than I should have. But I have since converted my CDs to MP3 files and now normally only buy new albums as MP3 digital downloads.

4: With self publishing, authors can choose what compromises to make and what ones not to. I think authors, good authors anyway, write because they have things to say. Traditional publishing is a business and publishers have books they want to sell. There can be an inherent conflict in these two goals and I have heard that authors are sometimes asked to make changes to increase sales at the cost of their intended message. With self publishing, no one will tell you, “You can’t say that.” As your own publisher, you can decide if your story the way you want to tell it is more important than additional sales.

5: Self published ebooks can be the best bargain available for readers. Let’s face it. Times are tough for a lot of us and we have to stretch our budgets. As far as my reading habit or obsession went, I stretched mine by increasing the number of books I borrowed from the public library. I still buy hard copy books from my favorite authors as soon as they are released. I just preordered the latest book by Terry Pratchett for example. But for authors I never heard of, well, I might buy a paperback if it sounds good and the library doesn’t have a copy. But now there is a third option. Ebooks are cheap, normally less than the paperback version, if there is one, and many, especially the works of self published authors, can cost less than a buck. I wouldn’t expect readers to be willing to pay eight dollars for a paperback version of one of my books if they never heard of me and I’d feel guilty asking them to. But $2.99, $1.99, or even just 99 cents is probably affordable and worth the risk. I’m comfortable asking prices like that for my works. I think they are worth much more although my opinion is hardly objective. But until or unless I obtain a following, I doubt I will ever ask for more. My personal goal with my writing is not to make a lot of money. I don’t expect to. Most authors don’t. I just want my books to be read. Making them cheap seems a good way to do that.

Disclaimer:

I am not advocating self publishing for anyone. I have no idea if it will gain readers for my books. This is my first try and I haven’t been at it long. The start of my self publishing effort began the end of May 2011 with the creation of this blog. I published a “beta version” of my first two novels as an anthology in July and got some good feedback from beta readers. After a little more editing and polishing, I updated the anthology and released the first two books separately this month (September 2011). I will provide updates from time to time on this blog and probably on Facebook and Twitter on how well (or poorly) my books are faring. You are more than welcome to check back to find out.

Please let me know if any of this has been useful to you. I’d love to hear back from readers and writers about how they see ebooks and self publishing. Have you bought self published ebooks? If you have, what did you think? Do they provide good value for the money?

Related Posts:

My Self Publishing Adventure – Episode One

Self Editing – Advice And Apology

%d bloggers like this: