25k! Unbelievable!

Amazon has been treating me very well of late. Even though the downloads have been tapering off, they have still not died entirely. As a matter of fact, some time yesterday the combined downloads of all of my books on Amazon.com crossed the 25,000 mark! Granted, the vast majority of those downloads are free copies of Book 1, but that does not diminish the fact that tens of thousands of people have my book in their digital libraries. This is a very big deal for me. I realize that most of you out there would suggest that it would be a big deal for any indie author, but people who know me personally can appreciate how monumental this is to me specifically.

I am intensely self-conscious about the things that I create. I always have been. The books in particular were a source of great embarrassment for me for reasons I’m still not able to fully articulate. On the day that I self-published, the number of people who were fully aware that I’d written a book, let alone a trilogy, was in the single digits. I would agonize over whether or not to tell someone, and swear them to secrecy about it. Members of my immediate family didn’t know. Now there are thousands and thousands of people who have the book. That is simultaneously the most exciting and most terrifying outcome I could have imagined. To my great relief, the experience has been extremely positive. Don’t get me wrong, it hasn’t been perfect. I’ve received some reviews that I’ve described as psychologically ruinous. (Evidently there is at least one person out there who would have liked to see all of my characters die in a fire.) Most people who share their thoughts, though, are encouraging and helpful. For the others, I’m slowly developing what I refer to as a “review callous.” Very slowly.

I very much doubt that I’m the only person who has poured countless hours into a project, then sat upon it for fear of failure. Consider this an example of what could happen if you take a chance.

Rather than spend a whole post patting myself on the back, though, let me give you an update on what’s going on. I’ve finished doing another revision of Book 3. In the next few weeks that will go live, and those interested can update. Since I’ve received comparatively few complaints about typos and the like on Jade and Bypass Gemini, I’ll put off doing additional revisions of them in order to focus on the current book I’m writing. I’m not usually in a hurry to finish a book, but I am extremely interested in getting Sci Fi Book 2 finished and published. When I’m selecting books to read, I always feel a lot better about trying a new author when I know that, if I like their stuff, there will be more where that came from. Thus, continuing the adventures of Lex, Karter, and Ma is my current priority, so that fellow series readers will know that it isn’t one and done.

That’s it for now. As always, thanks for reading.

25050

Amazon Notifications and Other News

I’ve just learned that Amazon has sent out the notifications about my corrected version of The Great Convergence, so if you have been waiting for it, it is either already sitting in your inbox or will be arriving soon. (Though ‘soon’, it has been pointed out, has an entirely different interpretation for large corporations.) The message claims that it is correcting formatting errors, which isn’t strictly the case, but it is probably better to say that than “a frankly embarrassing number of grammatical errors,” which is what I would have said. It is worth pointing out that the message also warns that updating will cost you your highlights and bookmarks, so if you’ve made significant use of such features, you may want to avoid the auto update. You won’t be missing out on any plot alterations, just a few moved commas, a few word substitutions, and a few corrected spellings.

The Amazon Sales Anomaly seems to have finally tapered off, with new purchases trickling instead of gushing, but I couldn’t be happier with the results. My thanks to all of you who made this possible. I earned enough to finance a professional edit of Book 1 – which is still a few months away, mind you – and I’m within spitting distance of getting the same treatment for Book 2. I’ve also got a bit set aside to commission some new covers. I’m still waiting to hear back from the artist that has been recommended to me, so if any of you have artists in mind that are taking commissions, I’d certainly take them into consideration. Likewise, if you have any thoughts on what the covers should depict, I’d love to hear them, too. Obviously keep spoilers to a minimum. As always, if you’ve got something to say that you think would spoil things for those who have not finished reading, you can drop me a line directly at the email address on my contact page.

Before I sign off for now, I’ll give you an update on my current project, a sequel to Bypass Gemini. I still haven’t picked out a name, but I’ve got a few ideas now. Giving you an idea of the length of an ebook is tricky, but so far I’ve reached 51,000 words, which is just over a third of the way to the average length of the books in the trilogy. It has got a long way to go, and real life has been conspiring to slow down my progress, but I’ll keep plugging away.

Until next time, thanks for reading.

Smashwords Sale

Hi, everybody! Although the vast majority of you probably found your way here due to the Amazon edition of my books, all of my novels are for sale on Smashwords.com as well. This is good news for anyone looking to finish reading my trilogy (or pick up one of the other books) but iffy about paying $2-3 each, because Smashwords is having a huge sale.  For the month of July, all of my books (except the free one) will be half price if you apply the coupon code on each book page (SSW50). There are plenty of other great books from indie authors that are slashing prices as well, with discounts of 25%, 50%, 75%, or even 100% off. So head on down and take a look at the promotion. You can also find links directly to my novels via the Books page.

I also realized that, as I’ve been receiving comments and reviews, there are some questions that have been asked frequently. The standard operating procedure when that starts to happen on the internet is to produce an FAQ. So I did. As I find more people asking similar questions, more will be added. If you have questions that are not answered there, and are itching to ask, go right ahead. In the mean time, I’ve got to get back to work on Sci Fi Book 2.

Thanks for reading.

Book 2 Updated

Just a quick heads up. I just pushed fresh copy of The Great Convergence to both Amazon and Smashwords. If you haven’t read that book yet, or plan to read it again, you can download a new copy immediately if you bought it from Smashwords. If you bought it from Amazon, the new copy will be up in a day or two. If you got it from Barnes and Noble or one of the other retailers, it will probably be few weeks.

I read through and got rid of a few glaring typos, including the infamous “reign/rein” problem that a number of people have pointed out. There are also a few awkwardly worded sentences that have been reworked, and one or two lines added to clarify the literary equivalent of stage direction. I’m not saying I caught all of my mistakes, I’m just saying there are fewer now than before. It is probably a side effect of a Computer Engineering and Information Technology background that I’ve been treating these books like programs, complete with patches and updates every few months.

After a short break to regain some sanity, I’ll try reading through book 3 and giving it a similar update, along with continuing the Sci Fi followup.

UPDATE: June 30th, 2010 7:35 PM

It looks like the updated Amazon version is live. You can replace your current version if you like.

 

Testing the waters

Hello, all.

Progress has been a bit slow on the next book, I am afraid. (I’m about 33,000 words in, or about half the length of Jade. That would put me at about a quarter of the way to my target length.) It has been a while since I gave you any updates, though, so I figured I would take this opportunity to get your thoughts on a thing or two. I’ve gotten a lot of reviews and comments since last I posted. Some were justifiably critical, but most were very positive. A handful have even remarked that it is a shame the books aren’t available in print. In the past I had looked briefly into what would be necessary to have some paperbacks made, but at that time it didn’t seem worth the effort, since I’d had a grand total of four sales. The time may have come to revisit the area.

Naturally if there were a print edition there would be some differences. Foremost, I wouldn’t be able to offer Book 1 for free. Considering the sheer number of pages in the book, in fact, the minimum price is going to be pretty darn high. A quick estimate puts it at $10+, which I personally think would be a tough sell. Since my readers wouldn’t have the ability to download corrected editions free of charge, I would want to wait until I had a professionally edited manuscript before shipping it off to be printed. (In all fairness, I should have done that for the ebook version, but it is doubly important for the print edition.) It would also be a good idea to get a snappy cover made. There would be decisions to be made regarding what form factor I should shoot for, what typeface, what font size, and no doubt a few dozen other things I’m not even aware of.

All of the considerations above boil down to a fair amount of money and a fair amount of time. Since both of those things are very valuable resources, I’d like to know what you folks think. Should I give the dead tree version of self-publishing a try? Most of you are reading this because you already own and have already read at least one of my books, so I wouldn’t expect you to buy a second version of the same story. The real question is, do you think that printing the book would be worth my while? What benefits do you think there would be? I’m interested in your opinions, so if you have a thought you’d like to share, please comment.

Ask and you shall receive

It has been almost a month since the Amazon Sales Anomaly began. I want to thank everyone who read the books and liked them (or hated them) enough to come to this site. I would also like to thank Pixel of Ink for sending so many people my way. If you need a good source for information about bargain ebooks, you really ought to check that site out.

There has been a tremendous amount of excellent feedback from my readers, and it is clear from both my positive and negative reviews that there is one obvious area for improvement: Editing. Well, pending a bit of paperwork, it looks like I’ve earned enough money to get a professional to smooth out the wrinkles in Book 1 of The Book of Deacon. It is a lengthy process, so don’t expect a new edition to drop tomorrow, but unless something unfortunate happens, the chances are good that an effectively typo-free revision should be available in the fall.

In the meantime, I’ll be rereading and touching up the other titles as best I can so that people nice enough to pick up the second book don’t run into a train wreck of typos after a clean first installment. I’m under no delusion that sales will remain strong enough for me to afford an edited edition of the rest of my books any time soon, but I’ll do my best. Until then, thanks again for reading.

I’m going to NYCC (Sorta)

Just a quick update to any folks on the east coast, particularly the NYC area. The New York Comic Con is October 13-16th this year, and is once again being held at the Jacob Javits Center. I will be attending! Professionally! However, the profession won’t be “author.” Instead, I’ll be there representing my other major side project, BrainLazy.com. Thus, I’ll be milling about with a press badge, taking notes, asking questions, and generally absorbing information. That said, if any of you good people will be there, feel free to drop me a line if you want to meet me and the rest of the BrainLazy crew. (Incidentally, these are the same people who proofread and critique my books before I publish them, and are basically responsible for the creation of the characters of Oriech and Desmeres.)

It is a little early for me to be planning what days and times I’ll be there, or whether or not I’ll be doing anything special, but as I nail down plans, I’ll spread the word.

On the Horizon

My spare time has been in pretty short supply for the last few weeks, with a dense thicket of video game reviews for BrainLazy taking up a good amount of my leisure hours. The flow of games seems to have tapered off now, so it is back to work trying to get another novel done. I’ve been getting a lot of good feedback from some of my readers, and as I was thinking about how best to put it to use in my future projects, I thought it might be nice to let everyone know just what those future projects were.

The very next thing on the menu, as I’ve discussed elsewhere, is the followup to Bypass Gemini. (Still no name on that one. Naming the book is usually one of the last things I do.) After that, if all goes according to plan, will be a novel length Book of Deacon continuation which will take place well after the events of Jade – which should give readers of that story some idea of where it takes place in comparison to the original trilogy. Both of these books have got at least a few dozen pages written already, but neither is particularly near completion. They were also both planned out prior to any of my other books getting much serious attention or feedback.

Once those two books are finished, I can start working on putting together the first ideas to be developed since a substantial readership began to form, and it seems from some of the comments I’m getting that the character people most want to see more from is Lain. What you see of him in the books certainly suggests he’d have a tremendous amount of back story that would make for good reading, if I can assemble it. I’ll definitely have to start thinking about how best to revisit the character, but I’ll warn that a story about him might take some time to come out. He really was one of my favorite characters, and if I want to do him justice for a second outing, it will have to be done carefully.

There are also a few seeds of ideas knocking around my head for shorter stories based on individual characters, or what my friend has dubbed “Sidequests.” (Technically Jade is a Sidequest, as seen on the books page, but how exactly it ties in remains to be revealed.) Ivy will probably see a semi-solo outing in one of these. There are at least two more books in the Sci Fi series that I could envision writing, and it should be mentioned that that full length continuation to The Book of Deacon is currently being written in a document with the file name “Unnamed Second Trilogy.odt.”

Now that you’ve got a glimpse into just how crowded my head is right now, I’ll close with a few announcements. I pushed an updated version of The Book of Deacon (Book 1) that has corrected a handful of typos. Bypass Gemini is now officially available on Barnes & Noble, for you Nook holdouts. Also, depending on how things look in a month or two, I might (MIGHT) be reaching out to you fine people for advice regarding whether or not I should try to do something that would have been unthinkable to me a few months ago. In parting, I’ll share with you a screenshot I took a few days ago that made my jaw drop.

Good company to be in.

Thank you all.

A Quick Thanks

So it seems that some of the mystery surrounding the inexplicable success of my free kindle book has been revealed. Michael Gallagher, the man behind the excellent and useful Free Kindle Books and Tips blog, saw fit to do a post on The Book of Deacon. You can find the specific post here. Thanks for the publicity, Michael! (And thanks to Irving for pointing it out in the comments for the milestone post.)

A Huge Milestone

The first installment of The Book of Deacon Trilogy showed up in the very beginning of 2010, and it really got off to a slow start. I sold perhaps three copies, anywhere, in the first few months. As time passed I started to get the hang of what little marketing was available to me, and I started so see some interest, but still very little in the way of sales. Once the second book was up, since wasn’t earning any money anyway, I took the advice given by a number of indie success stories and decided to make the first title free. This was a breakthrough. I started to get interest, then purchases, and even reviews. And most of them were actually GOOD!

Sales on Amazon, on the other hand, continued to creep along, and I had no way to make it free. For a long time I figured there was no point, since surely the massive selection on the Kindle would make me nothing more than a needle in a needle stack. (A crooked, homemade needle at that!) But Barnes & Noble was treating me pretty well, so I kept poking Amazon, and finally, as you know, they started a free promotion.

At noon today, just under three days after it went free, I passed ten thousand downloads of the free book. TEN THOUSAND! If you are reading this because you decided to grab a free copy and liked what you saw, WELCOME! I cannot thank you people enough for the interest and support! And the same goes for those of you who became fans even before this windfall. You were the ones that motivated me to come this far.

This experiment in self-publishing has taught me a lot, and there is still a lot to learn. For one, it is time to start looking into a professional proofreader. (Sorry for the errors, everybody!) I look forward to any feedback anyone may have, good or bad, and I’ll try my best to answer any questions I receive, but bear with me, this is new territory. Most importantly, I’ll try to continue writing stuff that people will enjoy.

Thanks again,

Joseph Lallo