13th Nov2012

It’s Release Day for Chrono Virus!

by Aaron

It’s November 13th and I’m REALLY excited to let everyone know that Chrono Virus is now available for you to read! I’ve had a ton of fun writing this story and working on it at a break-neck pace (more to come about that on a future blog post). Come join Ken Mallory and the three-person crew of the Raven to see what happens when their past interferes with their future.

You can get Chrono Virus over at Amazon, B&N, Kobo, on Smashwords, and direct from me over at my store. I’d love to hear your feedback about the story, so if you pick it up, be sure to sound off with your thoughts.

16th Jan2012

Being Selective

by Aaron

Last month Amazon made headlines, yet again, with the launch of a new program for people publishing with their KDP platform. This offering, called KDP Select, is an aggressive move by Amazon to lock up the market of eBooks while providing value to authors and readers.

In a nutshell, enrolling a book in KDP Select allows the book to be included in the Amazon Lending Library. This is available only to their Prime members and is another perk of signing up for it (which I did since their 2-day shipping is well worth it). Within the program, you are allowed to borrow one book per month and keep it ‘out’ as long as you want. There’s no extra charge and it gives lots of value to that $80 membership fee everyone ponies up.

As a writer, Amazon provides a royalty on every borrow via the Lending Library but there is a very big requirement to this: your book must be exclusive to Amazon. You cannot sell the eBook on Barnes & Noble, SmashWords, iBooks, not even on your own website! You’re essentially cutting out every market except Amazon and putting all your eggs in one basket.

I’ve sat back and watched the past few weeks to see what the reaction was and it’s been mixed. I’m not completely sold on KDP Select but without trying new things in the Wild West of self-publishing, there’s no way to know what works or what fails.

I’ve decided I am going to dip my toe in the water and I’ve enrolled Paradox into the KDP Select program. This has an upside for everyone that if you are a Prime member, the book is yours for free to borrow! In addition, I will have the opportunity to run some promotions for Paradox a few times during various times over the next three months. Stay tuned for that.

If you haven’t checked out Paradox, it’s a great, quick read!

07th Oct2011

There’s Fire in Your Books

by Aaron

Last week Amazon announced their highly-rumored tablet reader, which is also a competing product to B&N’s Nook Color. It wasn’t so much of a secret and more of a ‘when is it coming?’ situation. The tablet, called the Amazon Fire, is revolutionary in one big fact: the price. Amazon knows about pricing and knows they need to get it right in this market that’s not just hot completely changing how everyone reads books and accesses information.

So what is the Kindle Fire? I could go into technical specs and quote CPU speed and all sorts of geeky stuff but none of that matters. All you need to know is that it’s a 7-inch, color, touch-screen device that costs $199. It also ties together all the digital goods Amazon’s been peddling for the past few years. Bought some MP3′s from their music store? It’s there. Picked up a digital movie last year? It’s there. The tons of Kindle books you have in your library? It’s there too. Amazon has brought us a device that delivers all of the content they sell and keep on their servers. The Fire utilizes their storage (called cloud storage) to keep all your stuff. You just download it again whenever you want and it’s on the device.

The Fire looks great so far and I believe will fully occupy the sub-iPad market where tons of Android tablets are left to whither and die. But Amazon didn’t stop there. They also changed their entire Kindle lineup with the Kindle Touch and a redesigned Kindle. The keyboard’s been removed and frankly that means the base Kindle (with no touch) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Who wants to input text with a compass button with a selector in the middle? Not this guy.

Here’s a quick run-down of the updates:

Amazon has countered B&N’s Nook with their own touch version. It works the same way, using an infrared overlay that sits on top of the ePaper display and tracks touch. The display itself isn’t touch at all. This means you keep the fantastic ePaper technology but get touch capability. The touch comes in a wifi and 3G model while the base Kindle is only wifi. Luckily if you prefer the last-generation Kindle, they’re still selling those at $99.

I find it amazing how quickly the price has dropped on the Kindle. Just a few years ago when it came out, it was $399 and I bought one. Not to mention there was a 3-4 month wait to get them. Now they’re selling for $79 (base Kindle with ads on the lock screen) and you can have it shipped next-day. Amazon is single-handedly ushering in the eBook revolution with B&N, Apple and Sony helping out to make this the STANDARD when it comes to reading. In ten years will reading a physical book be an oddity? Based on price, convenience and selection, it’s difficult to see why people would want to build a collection of physical books over a digital one where space is infinite.

Where do you fall on the eBook / physical book debate? Do you like the new Kindle’s? Sound off in the comments!

02nd Sep2011

We’re on Final Approach

by Aaron

It’s Friday. For most that means it’s the end of a work week and for us in the Northeast, a hectic one where we’re still recovering from Hurricane Irene. For me, it means we are only five days away from the launch of As Darkness Ends.

My ‘weekend’ is currently Wednesday and Thursday so the past two days off were spent working on the final preparations for the book’s launch. There’s still a lot on my plate but it’s also a waiting game as each service I’m using has different times for doing things. The book has been uploaded and is ready for me to simply hit ‘publish’ on Amazon and B&N. I’ve also made sure it’s ready to go on SmashWords. Essentially, I’m “okay to go” in a staging area.

CreateSpace has been an interesting experience for the print version. After working through some design tweaks I needed for the cover, I then realized I must order a proof in order to approve it for sale. I placed an order and even paid through the nose for priority shipping but it’s the only way to make sure the print copy is ready at launch or just a day or two afterwards. I’m not expecting many print sales since the book is small, prices are inherently higher due to the cost of print-on-demand and it doesn’t deliver the instant gratification of simply downloading it to your eReader / computer.

On the audio front, I fired up my microphone and recorded the first chapter of the book. I want the audio to sound as professional as possible so I ended up recording in my bedroom closet while sitting on the floor. A tight space filled with sound-absorbing clothes makes a good recording studio and I’m impressed with how the audio came out. After some searching for suitable music, I mixed it together and posted it online for review. I need to make a few tweaks but I think my initial effort puts me at a 90-95% success rate. This is one time where my many years of podcasting is put to good use. I have a great microphone and know how to mix in GarageBand. I also have a few other tools to help tweak the recordings as needed.

In order to provide a quality audio book that will come out on a consistent basis, I have decided that the entire book will need to be recorded and produced before I release it to Podiobooks.com. For me, the most important part is to record certain segments all in one sitting. Simply getting up and coming back after a five-minute break can cause those second pieces to sound slightly different than the first. As I go further into this process, I’ll post more insight to everyone.

So that’s where we stand. I have so much going on and you can expect a deluge of blog posts leading up to launch day and the excitement to come. I look forward to sharing it with you guys.

16th Aug2011

I Have Big, Big News

by Aaron

Today is a day I’ve been waiting to blog about for over a month. I’ve moved carefully and begun laying the groundwork for this day in which I have big news: I am publishing a book…. next month!

Click the cover or here to learn more about the book

You may notice that amazing image above. That my friends is the cover to Book One of my new series: As Darkness Ends. I’ve been secretly working on this book for two months and it’s been hard to not say anything when I’m so excited. I totally want to do a happy dance right now.

As Darkness Ends is a planned 6-book series of short stories recounting the end of the world. Each book will tell the story from a different point of view, all in a different place and some will even be in a different time.

This is a project I’m very happy about and I’m excited to share it with you all. So, when can you get your hands on a copy? I’m still hammering out the details but the tentative release date is September 7th! I’m also getting things in place to perhaps get copies out sooner to a select few.

There’s a lot more to announce but I’m not going to play all my cards in one blog entry, so stay tuned!

25th Jul2011

This Gets Me Excited

by Aaron

Different eBook Readers

Electronic books. eBooks. eReaders. Kindle, Nook, iBooks / iPad, Sony Reader. The list goes on and on with company after company releasing electronic ways to read. What was once a floundering device that no one in their right mind would use was turned on its head in late 2007 when Amazon announced the first Kindle reader.

Fast forward to 2011 and an entire industry is playing catch-up in a furious game where the playing field has been leveled almost instantly. Amazon announced it on November 19, 2007. Less than three months later I gave in, paid my early adopter tax and waited another month for it to ship. Since then I’ve been beating the drum about the Kindle and it seems everyone agrees. Barnes & Noble wised up and have jumped onto this gravy-train and it was good move. In hindsight, Borders is going away because they did not embrace this technology fast enough, while B&N did. Things aren’t rosy in the world of book stores but electronic books are picking up the slack… quickly.

All these readers get me excited. It has opened the floodgates for every writer out there to not only publish a book but to get something coveted: distribution. Hell, companies like CreateSpace and SmashWords are built on POD and electronic distribution.

JA Konrath had a lot to say about this but makes a powerful point in why people are passing up traditional publishing contracts: Royalties.

“Even if you are an optimist, it’s tough to argue against three obvious points.

1. Print sales are falling.

2. Ebook sales are rising.

3. 70% royalty is more than 17.5% royalty.”

Go back and read #3 again. A 70% royalty on sales. This is H-U-G-E. By going at it ‘on your own’, you pocket over 52% MORE than a traditional publishing deal. Even if you sell less copies on your own, you will earn a lot more money per copy. Plus as Konrath says, eBooks are forever. That’s a long time to collect sales on titles people find, based on that one book you got them hooked on.

Does this get you excited? Are you seriously thinking of making a go of it on your own? Sound off in the comments!

24th May2011

Capacious Kindle for May 24: eBooks Arrive

by Aaron

One interesting thing about not updating this blog too much over the past few years is the fact that I’ve failed to capture the rise of the Kindle and eBooks as a whole. The Kindle has been the best-selling device on Amazon’s website for years but now we’re hearing about a whole new class of writers either breaking out (Amanda Hocking) or moving to it (JA Konrath). The eBook has certainly arrived. With the additions of the B&N Nook, Apple’s iBooks app for the iPad and the Sony Reader, there’s no shortage of ways to read on the go.

Here’s where things get REALLY interesting. On May 19th, the New York Times published an article showing that for the first time ever, Amazon is selling more Kindle books than print books. This isn’t more paperback or genre or anything else. Physical books. “Amazon sells 105 books for its Kindle e-reader for every 100 hardcover and paperback books, including books without Kindle versions and excluding free e-books.”

The eBook has arrived and we’re in the middle of this revolution. We’re not only in an exciting time for readers and their access to content but also for authors that have regained a huge amount of control over their destiny. As a writer AND a reader, I can’t wait to see where we go from here.

03rd Mar2011

The Benefits of Self-Publishing

by Aaron

The writing and publishing world has blown up the past week mostly due to the break-out news of writer Amanda Hocking and her incredible publishing story. The amazing part isn’t that she got her books into the hands of millions of readers but the fact that she’s NOT published in the traditional sense. You can read more about Amanda’s story from the link above but the gist is that she went down the ‘correct’ path and after getting one-too-many rejections on her umpteenth book she decided to go the self-publishing route. She now holds multiple spots in the Amazon Kindle top 100 sales and one of her books has already been optioned for a movie. Incredible.

This of course is another wakeup call that I’ve been hearing a lot lately about self-publishing. J.A. Konrath talks a lot about self-publishing and how he makes more from eBooks than anything in print. The biggest fault people find in his argument is that he’s an established writer and he has a fan-base already in place to buy those books. This theory has been blown out of the water by Amanda’s success.

So where does this leave us? Most of us are trying very hard to get our best work written and then queried out to agents in the hopes we are picked up. There’s always the chance but we all know the reality that it’s very difficult. You also can’t just give up and place your work online for self-publishing because that is a disqualifier for most agents and publishers when looking at a book. They want work that’s never been published in any form. I would LOVE to put Spirit Hackers into Kindle and all other stores out there, podcast it via podiobooks.com and do anything else to get ‘out there’ but then I’ve shot myself in the foot on a book that’s taken me over 2-years to complete. Setting Spirit Hackers free isn’t the answer, at least not until after it’s been queried everywhere and then rejected. If I’ve explored all avenues and can’t get it sold, then I will seriously consider putting it online myself.

Can we have our cake and eat it too? That’s what I am going to try. Amanda’s story has pushed me to the realization that self-publishing CAN work if the story is good. So this is my plan to have the best of both worlds: I’m writing two books. You all know Loopback is my new WIP. That book will be written for the traditional route of writing and querying. As with Spirit Hackers, if I exhaust all publishing options I’ll consider putting it online. In addition to Loopback, I plan to develop and write books that I’ve decided will be self-published from the get-go. I don’t know if it will be a short story, novella or novel but there will be work out there and available for everyone. I’m throwing some ideas around and figuring out how to do this but it’s going to be a lot of fun. I plan on working out some of those ideas later today. In addition, if I’m able to write quick enough, I may release it chapter-by-chapter as the book is getting written to make it even more exciting.

Of course this puts a lot more on my plate but I’m focusing on the big picture: getting published one way or another while preserving certain works for a shot at the traditional market. I figure if my self-published work takes off, it may sell to a publisher anyway. It worked for Nathan Lowell, so it can work for me.