Friday, April 22, 2011

Guest Post: Edward L. Cote

Ed was one of the first authors to join the Twelve Worlds project. His contribution to the anthology is a fantasy adventure short story called Iron in Shadow, which ties in to his upcoming debut novel.

Ed is where I was about July last year. Working to get his first novel polished and published. To get there, he could use a little help. I'll let him explain.

Here’s Ed:

Hello to all followers of Derek's fine blog. I'm Edward L. Cote, author of the not-so-short story "Iron in Shadow" in the Twelve Worlds anthology, which you have surely all purchased by now. I hope that you've enjoyed the stories. I thank you for supporting us and the charity Reading is Fundamental. I also want to thank Derek for all of his hard work and leadership on the project.

My first book is Violet Skies, a fantasy/YA novella and the first in a series also called Violet Skies. I plan to self publish it at the end of May. The story "Iron in Shadow" takes place in the same world as the books. Dibian features prominently in both and Kasper (aka "The Man With Too Many Names") will reappear in Book 4, maybe sooner.

Since you're accustomed to getting information in the form of charts and graphs, I will present my problem thusly:

I am raising funds on Kickstarter: for publishing expenses, chiefly a cover. If you're not familiar with Kickstarter, you can read their FAQ here: but basically, it's a site where people can raise funding for creative projects. You should check it out not just for my sake- there are many artists, inventors, and problem solvers doing some very clever things. Backers pledge funds and get specific rewards based on the amount pledged. Funding is all-or-nothing. Either a project meets its goal and is funded, or it does not, in which case no money changes hands.

In my case, I'm selling signed paperbacks for $10 each, including shipping, or PDFs for $5 each. As you can see from the chart, I have only one backer at the time that I'm writing this. In retrospect, I probably shouldn't have started the project on a Monday, but I'll learn.

For more information, check out my blog: and if you have any questions or comments feel free to send me an email or leave a comment on my blog.

Thanks for your interest and support,
Edward L Cote


I’ve read some of Ed’s Violet Skies and I decided to contribute to his Kickstarter account. I’d love to see Ed get his work published. It has action and character development and a rich world in the making. Even if you are not into fantasy, I’d still suggest that you think about pledging $5 and help an aspiring author on his first step into publishing.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Twelve Worlds SF&F anthology now available!

I’m pleased to announce that the science fiction and fantasy short story anthology, Twelve Worlds, is now available for $2.99 on Buy it here!

TwelveWorlds contains 14 short stories by new and aspiring authors.  Genres include my own gritty cyberpunk as well as epic fantasy, romantic fantasy, paranormal detective mystery, star-faring scifi, and more. There’s around 80,000 words total, so that’s a great deal for $2.99.

Author royalties for Twelve Worlds will be donated to Reading is Fundamental, the nation’s largest nonprofit children’s literacy charity.

My own contribution to the anthology is called The Price of Vengeance. It tells the story of Maggie, a woman with nothing to lose who goes after the genetically engineered dwarf who killed her entire gang. Yes, she’s hunting Noose, the protagonist of Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance. I think fans of Noose will really like this story, because it provides insight into and points of view of secondary and tertiary characters from my cyberpunk novel. If you want to read this short story, you’ll have to buy Twelve Worlds. It’s the only place you can get The Price of Vengeance!

Here’s a full list of the stories in this anthology:

By a Whisker by Kevin O. McLaughlin (3500 words): Someone is siphoning magical energy from the powerful ley nexus at Northshield University in this urban fantasy. Ryan goes to investigate, and gets help from an unexpected quarter.
The Accidental Muse by Amy Rose Davis (6200 words): A girl with no memory, a grieving widower, and a sweet-natured boy with strange power live a quiet life in their sheltered Keep until the night a traveling musician arrives at the door. The power of the musician's harp threatens to destroy their family unless one of them can stop it. A tale of gods, muses, mysterious spirits, and the power of love.

The Price of Vengeance by Derek J. Canyon (7400 words): In 22nd century Atlanta, Maggie hunts the genetically-engineered dwarf who killed her entire gang.
Insomnomancer by JE Medrick (3400 words): Witness life through the eyes of a predator. Kyle Hall, barely remarkable in a world of gray faces, is targeted by a very specialized hunter. To the target, it is night after sleepless night. To the Insomnomancer - a game of points and hungry satisfaction.

Thump by NB Kelly (4650 words): When a hitchhiker becomes part of an impromptu road trip, peace is the last thing that two young men will get out of it.
Iron in Shadow by Edward L. Cote (14900 words): The best thief in Rithmoor, the City of Dark Water, goes by the name Slip. He takes on a promising job, but it gets more complicated and dangerous the more he learns about what exactly it is he must do. To avoid certain death at the hands of the Great Magus Dibian, he must risk the wrath of the world's hardest people.

Together They Die by Brian Drake (3220 words): A former cop helps a ghost solve her murder.
Incubators by Manley Peterson (3200 words): Lost in space, three astronauts struggle to accept their fate aboard a crippled ship. Could a last-minute rescue be all they hoped for?

Cube by Coral Russell (4150 words): Luke's family isn't perfect, but they're worth saving. How far would you go to save your family?
The Star-Eater by K Gorman (6000 words): Karin wakes up one day on her starship, realizing her sister has been killed--but not before her sister cursed the murderer. Now she's got a man to kill. And her boss is starting to suspect that she's a little more than human...

Man-Maker by BC Woods (8050 words): A young boy in a society based entirely around defending itself against zombie-like demons refuses a sacred rite of passage.
Daddy Issues by John G. Hartness (4200 words): Vampires, voodoo, zombies and gold-diggers, it's all in a day's work for the boys at Black Knight Investigations. Vampire Private Investigators Jimmy Black and Greg Knightwood are called in to dispose of a zombie in the library, but there's always more than meets the eye where these detectives are concerned. Takes place before the events in Hard Day's Knight.

Weird and Wondeful by Tony Lavely (6000 words): Mailira and Marelsa together bring an old Scottish folk tale to life for a young musician.

The Light Stream by Jaylin Baer (3060 words): The transition between waking and sleeping, dreaded by some and enjoyed by others, becomes something altogether different for a very select few. Discover one woman's journey into the Light Stream.

So, if want to read new stories from 14 talented new authors, you should definitely buy this ebook! Who knows, you might find a new author that you really enjoy!

After reading it, don’t forget to write up a review on Amazon. It really helps sales.

You can also visit the official Twelve Worlds website and discuss the stories.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Guest Post: Robin Sullivan

Here’s another guest post. Robin Sullivan has a great blog over at Write to Publish. She comments and evaluates both print and epublishing from a much wider and deeper knowledge base than I do.

Here she is:

I sent Derek an email recently about exchanging guest blog posts.  So here I am.  For those that don’t know I’m not an author, nor do I play one on TV, but I do know a fair bit about the publishing industry. I handle “the business” side of my husband’s writing (Michael J. Sullivan <>). I do a lot of public speaking on publishing (I run a writer’s group <> of 500+ authors in the DC area), and I also run an indie press (Ridan Publishing <>). My husband has been self-published, small press published (by AMI of MN), and now has a six-figure, 3-book deal from Orbit <> (fantasy imprint of Hachette Book Group). As you can see I’ve had my toes in just about every aspect of publishing and while many accuse me of being a “self-publishing cheerleader” I can honestly say that I think all paths offer plusses and minus and the trick is to align yourself to what works for you.

Since Derek’s blog is “Adventures in ePublishing” I thought I would take a minute to give you some of “my” impressions on ePublishing which is, without question, the biggest thing to hit publishing since the Guttenberg Press. There’s a lot of talk these day about Hocking, Locke, Konrath and the like. I’m thrilled for each of these fine writers but recognize them as outliers. Just as Meyers, Rowling, and King are in the legacy publishing world. But to me, the “real story untold story” about ePublishing is how it has the potential, and is, changing the lives of many authors that are not in the top .01%.

It’s no secret that many in legacy publishing have to keep their day jobs. So I was shocked that starting in November 2010 I noticed more and more self-published (primarily e-published) authors making high five and six figure salaries. It wasn’t just one or two…it was 30, then 60, and that number is growing every day.  Now many critics say in the overall scheme of things this is small percentage of writers, and to that I agree. But I fully contend that if the only variable you changed for these 30 – 60 authors was keeping on a traditional publishing path, or going ePublishing their lives would have been MUCH different.

The February AAP <> numbers came out and ebooks are now *29.5% of the TOTAL trade publishing sales*. And this data is from 82 publishers and only 16 of them reported ebook numbers. Throw in all the uncounted self-published numbers and that is MUCH higher. For instance, in December I sold 10,500 ebooks of my husband’s Riyria Revelations but only 490 print copies.  I’m thinking if we had access to “all sales” data ePublishing would be 30% -35%, which is MUCH higher than the 12% – 15% that I was predicting when the 2010 AAP numbers <> came out showing only *8.34%.*

Now over on AW (Absolute Write) there are many that say, “don’t mix ePublishing with self-publishing.” And it is a valid reminder to keep in mind that one is a format and the other is publishing decision, but for the self-published, ePublishing has transformed what was once the last resort of the desperate to the preferred choice of the savvy.

One lecture I give frequently is *Which path is right for you?,* sometimes entitled *Publishing 101*, where I discuss big-six, small press, and self. I must have taught this lecture a half dozen times but for the February 2011 version I had to completely revamp the materials as the income *potential*for self completely up-ended. Six months ago, my husband’s self-published income was “play money”.  From November – February he made *more* than his * ENTIRE* six-figure, big-six advance. I crunch numbers….a lot of numbers and my analysis tells me by signing we’ll lose $200,000 to $300,000 by taking the deal.  Such a thing was unthinkable a year ago.

For those avoiding self-publishing, the ePublishing revolution will help you as well. As more authors like Bob Mayer and Barry Eisler turn down $750,000 and $500,000 deals to self-publish the 14.9%/52.5% author/publisher split will change. It has to. Publisher’s can’t attract and retain top talent with such disparity. Also, I think the business model of multiple books with short times between which has propelled successes for Hocking, Konrath, Locke, David Dalglish, B.V. Larson, J.R. Rain, and even my husband Michael J. Sullivan, will show traditional publishing to stop limiting their author’s output with long release cycles and non-compete clauses that prevent them from releasing books too close to one another.

Anyway you dice it…ePublishing is the biggest and best thing to happen to writers since 1455.  All of you will benefit from it.


That’s a lot of great info from Robin. As you can see, she keeps well-informed on the publishing world. You should definitely follower her blog so you can benefit from that in your own epublishing endeavors.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Elemental Odyssey now available!!

I’m pleased to announce that my first YA adventure novel, The Elemental Odyssey, is now available on Amazon for just $2.99.You can buy it here.


There are all sorts of fun and exciting things to do in South Dakota: hike the mountains, see the monuments, explore the caves, watch the wildlife. But what’s not on the travel brochures is getting abducted by magical aliens!

While vacationing in the Black Hills, twelve-year-old Kyle Morgan and his new friends, Jurgen, Susie, and Veeksha, are hauled on board a strange alien ship and forced to help the animal-like Zurans!

Whisked around the world on a perilous quest, the children solve riddles to find mystical elements for their fierce captors. Scheming against the aliens, military, powerful elementals, and even each other, the kids must escape before the Zurans can complete their mysterious mission.

If you enjoyed Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, or Narnia, this book is right up your alley.

Approximately 94,000 words

Friday, April 8, 2011

Guest post: John G. Hartness

John G. Hartness is another indie author working hard to succeed in the new era of self-publishing ebooks. He's contributing a Black Knight Chronicles short story to the Twelve Worlds anthology coming soon. We recently traded excerpts of our novels and it's been working quite well. Here's what he has to say about it.

Writers of the world untie! (or how a simple idea led to some nice sales for everybody)

I blame David McAfee. Let’s face it, blaming the horror writer is always pretty easy, but in this case it’s also fairly accurate. A few months ago, I saw a post from David on KindleBoards mentioning that he was going to put excerpts from a few other indie authors in the back of the new version of one of his novels that he was uploading.

“Wow,” I thought. “That makes a lot of sense. It doesn’t cost David anything but a few minutes of time, and might do something nice for everyone.” Then I filed the thought away and forgot about it. Until January, when my third novel, Back in Black was ready for release. As I was finishing up the formatting I remembered McAfee’s idea, and decided to steal it, inserting a preview of my first novel, The Chosen, into the back of the book.

This was also about the same time a group of us indie authors were getting rolling on the Twelve Worlds anthology, a charity project that was spearheaded by Derek Canyon (you’ve probably heard of him, since you’re reading his blog and all). I thought Derek seemed like a nice guy, and I liked the story he put in the anthology, so I figured it might be a nice thing to include an excerpt from one of his books in the back of Back in Black. Kind of a “Thank You” for driving the whole Twelve Worlds project.

If you’re not familiar with Twelve Worlds, then follow the linkies! This stuff doesn’t underline itself, you know. It’s a project with more than a dozen stories by indie sci-fi and fantasy writers to benefit Reading is Fundamental. Obviously we hope to see some residual sales out of it on our other projects, but all proceeds from this book go to charity.

But I digress. Really, I do. It’s kinda my thing. Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, I gotta digress.

So I contacted Derek and asked if he’d like to put a sample in the back of my book. He said yes, and then was kind enough to reciprocate by putting a sample of Hard Day’s Knight in the updated version of his first full-length book, Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance. Then we sat back and watched to see if anything happened.

And it did. Not at first, but proving the old adage that “a rising tide lifts all boats,” after a few weeks Derek and I started to notice something - our books showing up in the “Customers Also Bought” section of our product listings. Right now, there are six books listed in the first page of the Also Bought section for Hard Day’s Knight. Two of them are mine, two of them are Derek’s and two of them are Jon F. Merz (who I obviously need to hit up next time to swap previews, since my readers like his books!).

Then when I click over to Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance, both of my vampire books are on Page 1 of Derek’s Also Bought listing as well, so there’s some obvious cross-pollination going on. Now I can’t draw a ton of conclusions based on our limited sample size, but both Derek and I have seen significant upticks in sales over the past couple of months.

I hesitate to draw a direct parallel between Derek’s spike in sales and his feature in the back of my book, or my spike in sales and being featured in the back of his book. But I know a few things for sure - it didn’t hurt my sales any, it was fun to do something collaborative with another indie author, and it didn’t cost me anything except less than an hour of my time. So I’ll have more books coming out this year, and each of them will have a preview by another indie author in the back. Because of that whole rising tide metaphor.

So thanks, Derek, for letting me ride your coattails in DDDD, and for letting me come by your blog and hang for a little while. See y’all in the funny papers!

 And thanks to you, John! Your Black Knight Chronicles are a fun read and I encourage all my fans to check out your stuff. Everyone should also visit his blog.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I need your help: Amazon Tags for Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance

My experiment of lowering my price for my cyberpunk novels Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance is helping me sell more copies.
However, I have noticed that the Amazon tags for my novel aren’t very robust. Among other things, tags are used to help users find books related to the tag. So, if someone searches for “cyberpunk” on Amazon, the number of people who have tagged my book with “cyberpunk” will help me show up in the search results.
Alas, only 9 people have tagged my book with “cyberpunk”.
So, I’m asking you all for help. I’d really appreciate it if you would help me with the tags for my book.
Here’s how:
2.    On your computer keyboard, press the “T” key twice.
3.    In the Tag this product window, enter “cyberpunk” into the Your tags box.
4.    Click Save Tags.
That’s all!
Right now, I’m showing up as #24 in the search results for “cyberpunk”. I’d like to see how much lower in the list I can get. With your help, hopefully I can get into the top 10.
Thanks a lot!

P.S.: If you want, you can add other tags that you think are appropriate to the book.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pricing experiment sales rank update: after 5 weeks

Five weeks after dropping the price of my novel Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance from $2.99 to $0.99, my overall Amazon sales rank has dropped to a low of #1121.

I’ve also got into the top 20 in some categories:

#17 Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction > High Tech
#18 Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > High Tech
#25 Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction > Adventure
#34 Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Genre Fiction > Science Fiction

Over the past two days, I’ve also seen Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance start appearing on the first page of other books’ Customers Who Bought This Also Bought lists. For example, 47 Echo by Shawn Kupfer, Under an Amoral Bridge by Gary A. Ballard, and Looking Glass by James R. Strickland.

I think this presence on such Also Bought lists has done a lot to increase my sales. I’m not sure how many such purchases are required to get on such lists, but it must be helping.

A special case of this Also Bought situation is John G. Hartness’ novel Hard Day’s Knight. We recently traded excerpts to put in each other’s books. The result has been very nice for both of us. I show up on his Also Bought list and he shows up on mine. We’re definitely getting extra sales from our excerpt trading. How many? No way to know. Oh, and by the way, if you like detective vampires that don’t sparkle, but do solve mysteries, fight demons and other nasties, and otherwise are pretty darn cool, you better go check out Hard Day’s Knight! John and I will be trading posts on our blogs soon, so watch out for them.

What does this mean for me?

I’m slowly getting closer and closer to the top 1000 Amazon ranks. It’s a battle of inches, slow and agonizing. I can’t estimate when or even if I’ll get there, but even #1121 is much better than the #6000s that I was loitering around previously.

I’m keeping my novel at 99 cents for another month at least. I see no reason to stop the experiment until the sales plateau or decline.

What does this mean for you?

I’ll just keep repeating it. A pricing decrease experiment might be worth your while if your goal is more readers. You might lose some revenue for a while, but the benefits of lower sales rank and Also Bought lists can’t be ignored.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Legacy vs. Self publishing revenue chart for Barry Eisler

On his blog, Joe Konrath is having an interesting discussion about the legacy publishing versus self-publishing decision that Barry Eisler has recently made.
In that discussion, Barry asked to see a chart of the math that they discussed. He calculated that he could make $142,000 per year for three years with the legacy publishing deal. If he instead self-published, he could make $70,000 in the first year and $140,000 each year thereafter. This latter estimate even assumed ZERO growth in ebooks.

Based on his numbers, here’s a chart I’ve made:
(You can see another chart and analysis over on the Sweetie Chronicles.)
This chart does not take into account interest you could earn on the legacy publishing deal, nor the present-day value calculations on the future royalties from a self-publishing effort.
Even so, the difference is quite evident.
Given these numbers, after ten years, Barry will have earned around $1,350,000 by self-publishing. Instead of around $426,000 from the legacy publishing deal he recently turned down.
Sounds like a good idea to me.

Oh, I forgot to mention. That blue column continues to increase FOREVER. It doesn't stop in 2020.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Pricing experiment report: after one month

Here are the one month details for my pricing experiment.

Lowered price from $2.99 to $0.99.

As you can see, on March 26, I sold 52 units and my royalties at $0.99 matched the highest daily royalties at $2.99. But, I still did not make as much money on the book in March ($246.40) as I did in February ($371.85).
But, looking at the royalties chart, it looks like the trend line will match the old revenue in about another month.
February average daily sales = 6.6
March average daily sales = 24.3
February average daily royalties = $13.21
March average daily royalties so far = $8.50

Raised the price from $0.99 to $2.99.

February average daily sales = 6.7
March average daily sales so far = 9.7
February average daily royalties = $2.34
March average daily royalties so far = $19.48

Is Dead Dwarves, Dirty Deeds riding coat-tails?
Another question is, does a low price on one ebook increase the sales of other books by the same author? Check out this chart:

The answer seems to be a very strong yes. The trendline for Dead Dwarves, Dirty Deeds sales increased dramatically after the price decrease for Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance.
What this means for me

My total royalties for February were $472.55 and in March they were $884.76. So, a net gain from my price changes.

Even though the price decrease on Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance hasn’t yet achieved previous royalty rates, the trendline looks good. I’m hopeful that I can meet previous levels in another month. So, I’ll keep the lower price in April.
Despite a wide valley in sales around March 27th, my Format Your Ebook for Kindle in One Hour price increase has resulted in a very nice increase in royalties: from $65.45 total in February to $584.81 total in March. I’ll keep the price of this book at $2.99 for the rest of April at least.
What this means for you
If you experiment with price, be prepared to give it a couple months so you can get good data to make a long-term decision.

Other reports on the pricing experiment:

Friday, April 1, 2011

First 6 months sales report

March was my sixth month selling ebooks. In this post I’ll share my sales and royalty information for those six months.
With no further ado, here is a chart (click to see larger):

I sold 1202 copies of my 3 titles in March. That’s 2.5 times more than February. I attribute this increase in copies sold to the decrease in price of my novel, Dead Dwarves Don’t Dance, from $2.99 to $.99 (the price change transpired on March 1). I will provide additional information about the results of the price decrease in the next few days.
My average sales per day for March were 41.4 (up from 16.9 in February).

My March royalties are 1.8 times those of February ($884 vs. $472).
The lesser improvement in royalties (as compared to units sold) is due to my price decrease. However, I also increased the price of my DIY book, Format Your Ebook in One Hour, from $.99 to $2.99. That’s the green bar. Royalties really skyrocketed for that book after I raised the price (perhaps proving that non-fiction guidebooks have great price inelasticity than novels).
What this means for me
I haven’t yet made a profit. I have earned about $1865 in royalties so far. I’m still about $700 shy of breaking even, but that should happen next month. Woot!
If sales remain stable at March levels, my gross royalties for 2011 will be about $10,000. Subtracting my expenses from that nets about $7500 in income. That is really good for the first year of an unknown author. I am quite pleased with these results. I think I will continue writing and publishing ebooks. J
I’ll be publishing my second full length novel, a young adult adventure titled The Elemental Odyssey, within the next few days (as soon as I get the cover art from Igor). Hopefully, this will sell at least as well as my cyberpunk novel, which means I might increase my gross revenue for 2011 by another couple thousand.
If my rate of sales increase continues as it has in the past several months,
What this means for you
You don’t need a vast marketing team to be successful at epublishing. I spent about $250 on paid advertising so far. I did little self-promotion other than this blog and Facebook and Twitter announcements.
If you have a few well-written books in a relatively popular genre, you could easily earn several thousand dollars in your first year.
My advice: Stop waiting for a corporate publishing deal. Self-publish now! The sooner you do, the sooner you can break even and even start making a nice fistful of money to augment your day job.