Some of you may have noticed that my books have disappeared from both Apple and Google. (Or “Appoogle” as I call them.) After a lot of research, thought, and number crunching, I’ve decided that I could no longer utilize those platforms. I know that many of you will be angry, as you may not be able to purchase through Amazon in your country. I am working on a way to rectify that problem, but as of yet, I cannot promise that it will happen, let alone when.
The problem is that neither Google nor Apple are well thought out sales platform. (Which is not too surprising, since Apple is only interested in sucking you into their world, and Google loves to come up with cool ideas but never bothers to think them through.) It is nearly impossible to get the ball rolling on either of those platforms. A reader cannot even search back through the pages, searching through the rankings until they find something they want to buy. Basically, Appoogle says “this is all we’re going to show you, and if you don’t like any of them, tough.” To find my own books, I have to basically search my name, which makes it highly unlikely that many new readers will stumble across my books.
Granted, I may not have spent enough time trying to figure out how to find stuff on their sites, but therein lies the point. As a reader, we shouldn’t have to. That’s when I realized that Amazon has a bigger share of the market simply because they are much better at presenting you with something you will like.
There are two other reasons that I decided to discontinue my attempt to sell through Appoogle. First, I was losing about 50% of my revenue per month! (That alone should be enough of a reason.) The second is that my mailing list signup rate has also dropped by 50%, which, surprisingly, hurts even more. I have always believed that my mailing list is my safety net. With a large enough mailing list, should Amazon suddenly no longer sell ebooks, (or should their terms suddenly become intolerable) I am guaranteed the ability to continue to make a living writing my stories.
I recently traveled to Seattle, where I had a chance to meet with people from Amazon, and learn a bit more about the Kindle Desktop Publishing program, as well as the Select and Kindle Unlimited Programs. After that meeting, I feel a little more confident in the future of Select and Kindle Unlimited. It was after that meeting that I sat down and started taking a serious look at the sales and mailing list numbers from the previous 3 months.
It was a mistake for me to start selling through Appoogle at this time. Someday, I’m sure I will return to those platforms, despite their remarkably poor design. But I’m afraid that day is further away than I had thought. I still have a lot of stories to write, and for me to be able to continue writing them, and continue expanding this website, and to fund all the related projects I hope to do (but cannot discuss at this time) I have to make a living. Right now, the best way to do that is through Amazon, exclusively.
Man I love you guys.
Now, you may have noticed that I removed the expected month of release from the episodes page, replacing them with the expected ‘season’ of release. The reason I made the change was because your comments made me realize that my desire to get the books out on time was causing me a lot of stress. Even worse, it was keeping me from rewriting things when I got better ideas simply because I didn’t want to miss a deadline. That’s not healthy for me, and it’s not good for the story. Furthermore, since the story has gotten bigger and more complex, there are so many more variables to track and deal with. This increase in variables makes it not only more complex to plot, but it gives me so much more to play with. The possibilities are friggin’ endless, and I want to explore them.
I’m still going to shoot for 3-4 months between episodes, however, from now on, they will be done when they are done. Part one needs to end in such a way that it blows everyone’s minds, including my own. I’m not going to pull that off by rushing to meet a deadline. So, the best I can promise is that part 1 WILL conclude this year.
Now, when I start part two, I’m going to write the first three episodes BEFORE I release the first one, so that I have a buffer built in. This will also allow me to get the audio version ready so that all formats can be released simultaneously. Doing this requires that I take a year break from releasing new episodes of the main saga. However, I will be releasing a book in the interim, set in a different time period. (A sort of ‘prequel’, if you will.) In addition, the netcasts (short stories that will investigate how the bio-digital plague ravaged the Earth and her core worlds) will continue to be released once per month during the break, ending when the first episode of part two begins.
Luckily, it is getting a bit easier to write. I have been carefully following a 30 min writing/15 min break. (I tried the dictation route, and it just didn’t work for me. I may try it again later.) During breaks I get up and move around. I bought a bike as well, and every other break I take it for a couple of laps around our neighborhood. I also alternate from my desk chair to my recliner (with a big ass monitor on the wall). All this helps keep my back from getting sore. I’ve also started using a recording of the background noise of the universe. (It’s what they used for the constant humming of the engines on Star Trek TNG.) This helps block out noise and keeps me “in the scene” as I write.
More importantly though, I’ve started playing the guitar again and using one of those hand/finger strength exercise devices. This seems to help reduce the finger/wrist pain. (That and a wrist brace at night.) I’ve also found that I can think about the story while I’m running scales on the guitar. (I’m a bit rusty and need the practice before I start jamming with my brother again.)
Anyway, thanks for all your support. I will try to post updates about what’s going on in the future.
I am a very lucky guy. I get to write stories that I love, and share them with people that enjoy them with equal fervor. Even luckier still, I earn a living do so. However, luck isn’t always enough.
I have been exclusive with Amazon since day one… Not because I love Amazon but because their competitors paled in comparison. The other vendors were too difficult to work with, and showed little to no support for indie authors such as myself. In short, publishing through these other sites would simply have taken me away from what put food on my family’s table… writing books.
Until recently, this had been a fruitful partnership. However, with the introduction of Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, the fruit has soured. Amazon’s pay-per-borrow rate has gone down steadily, with its latest drop being the most dramatic. Furthermore, the rate is the same across the board, be it a 10,000 word short story or a 100,000 word novel. This inequity has opened the door to scammers who hack up their work into smaller chunks in order to game the system.
The plain fact of the matter is that no matter how you look at it, a subscription service like Kindle Unlimited cannot succeed unless it has a massive membership made up of people who don’t use it, and the service must pay the authors peanuts per read. Unfortunately that is exactly the direction in which Amazon is headed, and at what appears to be breakneck speed.
Because of this, I have decided to pull all of my titles out of Amazon’s Select program, and therefore Kindle Unlimited. My books shall still be for sale on Amazon, but they shall no longer be available to be borrowed and read for free. I hate having to do this, but Amazon is leaving me no choice. At the current pay-per-borrow rate, I am losing thousands of dollars per month, a financial hit that I cannot afford over the long term. And as I said before, I expect it will only get worse as Amazon must pay the authors even less if they ever expect to make a dime from Kindle Unlimited.
I do not begrudge Amazon’s decision to implement this program. (Although I do consider it to be somewhat ill-conceived at best.) It is there company and they have the right to do whatever they wish. However, I am not only a writer, but also a businessman, and I have to do what is right for my business. I want to write all the stories that are in my head, and to do so, I have to continue to make a living.
Unfortunately, pulling my books from Select (and Kindle Unlimited) will result in a loss of revenue (due to the loss of pay-per-borrows) as well as a decrease in overall sales due to the reduction in visibility. (The result of no longer being listed in the Kindle Lending Library.) To compensate for this loss, I must raise prices, which as most of you know I loathe to do. But again, this is a business, and in order to ensure its survival as well as my continued ability to publish episodes on a regular basis, I have to take whatever steps are necessary to guarantee its success.
This was a difficult decision for me to make. I have spent months weighing the pros and cons, as I watched; hoping that the pay-per-borrow rate would stabilize at a livable amount, but it has become obvious that this shall not come to pass. These stories are my product… They are a part of me, and I cannot allow Amazon to dictate their value on a whim.
I thank you all for reading, and hope you shall continue to do so for many years to come, as I have so many more stories to share with you all.
As some of you may have already noticed, I have changed the expected publication dates for the last four episodes of Part 1 of the Frontiers Saga. It was a difficult decision, as I have taken great pride in staying as close as possible to my 3-month production cycle. The problem is that life keeps getting in the way, and in the end I find myself writing like a madman in order to even come close to my self-imposed deadlines. Unfortunately, I can’t keep going this way, as I fear that the story, and the writing, (just like my hands and my butt) will suffer.
The Frontiers Saga began as the back story for a massive, multiplayer, online computer game. When I decided to turn it into a series of books, it was because I needed money. It was a long shot at best, but I thought that if I could write and publish a book every 3 months, then I might be able to earn enough to regularly pay our rent with my book sales within a few years. I never expected it to take off the way it did.
I kept to the quarterly publication schedule because regular releases seemed the best way to maintain visibility and therefore sales. Also, as a reader, I was often frustrated by authors who took forever to publish their next book. (Especially if that book was part of a series.) I did not want my readers to experience that frustration, so the quarterly production schedule served a dual purpose.
In the beginning, it was difficult, as I had little experience at writing and publishing. As I gathered subcontractors to help me polish my stories, I managed to get a layered production system where I would be working on 3 episodes at once. (Writing the first draft of one, while editing two others as they bounced back and forth between myself and my editors.) That quickly became rather confusing, and I was forced to return to a more linear fashion of writing. Now, I write an episode over the course of two months, then spend a month outlining the next episode while the previous one is being edited. Through trial and error, I have concluded that this is the best way for me to write.
So, why the change in publication for the last 4 episodes of Part 1? Well, as this first part comes to its conclusion, I find that there is so much more story that I want to tell. (So much so that I considered extending the first part by another five episodes!) Rather than extending it, I decided that the last four should each become progressively longer. To do this, and to do it well, requires more time to write and edit, and edit…
The fervor with which all of you have embraced this series has changed the lives of myself and my family. My daughter will not have to start her life buried in student debt. We moved out of the undesirable neighborhood we were stuck in. My wife no longer has to worry about how we are going to pay the bills. (And she can buy organic foods.) My mother (who was paying our rent on a retired teacher’s salary for several months) is now living in a much nicer home located next door to us, so I can take better care of her. (She’s 83 and no longer driving.) I have even been able to fulfill my lifelong dream of learning to fly. All of this is because of all of you.
Still, as difficult a decision as it was, I’ve decided to take 4 months each (instead of the usual 3) to produce the last four episodes of Part 1. Once I finish episode 15, I will take a break to outline Part 2, and to write the first 3 episodes. (I promise I will keep this break as short as possible.) This way, I’ll have a sizable time-buffer built into my publication schedule so that I can more easily adhere to that schedule, even when life gets in the way. It will also give me a chance to develop the ability to write using dictation. (I have tried this recently, and although promising, it was just too slow for me to use right now.) By developing my ability to write through dictation when there is no deadline hanging over my head, I will be better able to develop not only my ability to write through dictation, but also the application’s ability to accurately understand me. (Something that it is currently unable to do.) I’ll also be able to experiment and customize my production methods to take greater advantage of writing through dictation.
My goal will always be to provide you with the most exciting and compelling science fiction stories I am capable of dreaming up, and to do so in a timely and consistent manner. You have all given me so much, and you deserve to receive the best that I can offer in return. I may not be there yet, but trust me, I’m working on it.
Thank you all for reading,
I recently had the privilege of being asked for an interview on Architect’s Apprentice. I thought you would all enjoy hearing it.
The interview can be heard here:
As many of you may know, I was a paramedic in Monterey County, CA for 11 years. During the last 4-5 years of that time, my partner was an awesome woman named Terri. We were, and still remain great friends to this day. We went through a lot of hairy-assed calls together, all over that county. She was always a partner I could count on to take care of her side of things without fail. After I left, she remained on the rig for another decade, finally leaving after 18 years of service to the community when she married an equally incredible guy named Randy. (With whom I also became good friends.)
Terri followed Randy (who is an officer in the US Navy) first to Norfolk and then to Guam. While in Guam, she learned to scuba dive and went as far as to earn her master diver certification. She sent me some incredible photos, and even made a book of her pictures of Guam, which I keep on my coffee table to this day.
Unfortunately, she suffered a dive accident (DCS) which led to a string of problems, through which she has been struggling. She is now being treated at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, where she has come into contact with many of the young men and women injured while serving our country. A fiercely independent and self-sufficient lady who now has to struggle with incredible pain on a daily basis as she pushes through her therapy to regain her mobility, she has come to appreciate and understand the difficulties that our wounded soldiers face day in, and day out, as they too fight to regain the independence that they sacrificed in service of our nation. She has also come to appreciate the work done by the Wounded Warrior Program, as well as the various therapy dog services.
I ask all of you to visit the Wounded Warrior website, and to do what you can to help. These fine people need our support. A small donation, the purchase of a T-shirt…it all helps.
It is the least that we can do.
Welcome to the first ever Frontiers Saga website! We’ve been working on it for some time now. It’s been difficult to find the time, especially with such a frantic writing schedule. A lot of the time was due to the fact that I really wanted to get the designs of the Aurora worked out so that the exterior shots would be accurate. (It’s not easy to design a ship after you’ve already written about it.) We plan on adding so much more to the site over the next year, like ship designs, deck plans, technical drawings, even uniform patches! (Gotta have uniform patches!) We’re even working on a wiki-style database that visitors can peruse to discover information they might have missed, or forgotten, from the episodes. (It is a long series, after all.) My goal is to make the site an interactive playground for followers of the series. I want this site to be the kind of site that I always wished my favorite sci-fi authors would have.
It’s been a long and painstaking process to get this far. The rate at which I can grow the site depends largely on the amount of time and money that I can afford to spend. This stuff is all far beyond my capabilities to create. (I can think stuff up, but drawing it and such is far beyond my skill set.) Thankfully, the series has finally grown enough in popularity that I can afford to start pumping money into the site development at a regular rate in order to add several new items per month. (Without getting my wife mad at me.)
One of the upcoming features I’m really looking forward to are the 3D star charts. It took us a while to find the right code package so that the charts would have the capability to expand as the saga travels farther out into the galaxy. It will take us a few more months to work out the bugs and get all the system data entered, but once we do, you’ll be able to zoom around and explore the Frontiers Saga universe at will.
I invite you all to use the forums, as I will be frequenting them. All of you give me ideas and inspiration to continue pouring my heart and soul into this story. Without your support and input, none of this would be possible. For this, I am more grateful than you can possibly imagine. All of you have allowed me to live my dream. As I have promised before, as long as there are still people reading them, I will keep writing them.
Finally, I want to thank the team at Streetlight Graphics. They have put up with constant notes and endless, detailed explanations. They have suffered through countless revisions and long screen-sharing sessions in order to get even the tiniest detail right. Their efforts and dedication to help me bring what I see in my head onto the screen are priceless. In fact, they have made many of my ideas exponentially better through their creativity. Without them, I would not be able to share this with you.
I hope you enjoy our little site. So keep checking back regularly for additional features as we grow and expand the Frontiers Saga universe!
BTW: I no longer am fixing computers. The Frontiers Saga is now my full-time job!