Kindle Unlimited Author Experience – Sept 2014

Kindle-Unlimited-logo-220x86

Recently, after speaking with KDP business office reps, I agreed to move my full bibliography to KDP Select. This meant a few things:

  1. My titles were now exclusive to Amazon
  2. Anyone who was on Prime, Lending Library or the new Kindle Unlimited could read my book for free.
  3. My two Free titles, Ghost In The Machine and All These Pieces Of Me, were no longer free.

This was a marketing test. I’d previously had two titles in Kindle Select back when all they had was Prime. Prime members can only get one book per month free, so my download numbers were nill. I mean, why spend your one monthly download on some unknown newbie author?

The new Kindle Unlimited (KU) program, however, is more like Netflix for books – people pay $10/month and can read unlimited books that are on the program. As an author, I get paid an unknown amount for each download as long as the reader reads 10% of the book. I’m also seeing way more downloads than I did back when there was only Select. My downloads pretty much match my sales – which are up and down and up again, but average out to around six sales and six downloads per day. I’m not breaking any red-carpet records, but hey – for a two-year-old indie author, I don’t think that’s half bad.

I began this test mid-September, so this isn’t a full-month result. Here are some things I’m noticing so far.

  1. Pricing/Earnings per unit: For September, I ended up getting 1.52 per KU. This means that my 99cent novellas for which I’d normally only get .35cents, I was getting 1.52 for. It also means that for my 3.99 novels for which I’d normally get 2.70, I was only getting 1.52 for. So, you win some and you lose some. It didn’t quite even out, BUT those KU downloads don’t necessarily translate into missed sales; see point 2.
  2. Visibility: Being part of KU means two things – more visibility and a new audience. Amazon has admitted to giving visibility perks to KU/Select authors. Also, people who wouldn’t normally buy your book may give it a chance through KU, read the 10% and you get paid. They may also like your book enough to go back and download the rest of your KU -available titles.
  3. No returns. Ah, returns – the bain of Amazon Authors because Amazon will refund a book purchase even if the reader has read the entire book, and even if the return request is done a year later (yes, they say ‘7 days’, but I know at least three authors who have had this happen – a return done a year later) Yes, I’ve still had one or two returns, but a person in KU can’t return it, and as long as they read 10%, I get paid!
  4. Marketing options: With select, I get to do the Freebie days or the Countdown deals, both of which give me extended visibility.
  5. Less headaches: Only having to manage my books in one place has relieved some stress.

Negatives: Exclusivity. That is about the only downside I’ve found so far to the new KU set-up. I don’t miss Kobo (sex-haters who flag everything with a penis in it as Erotica), iBooks (zero sales) or Google (zero sales). I do miss Smashwords, All Romance and Barns & Nobel. Smashwords was great for doing prize-giveaway coupons. Barns & Nobel and All Romance were decent for a few extra sales per month.

Another minor negative is the ‘Not Knowing’. I have no real clue how much I will earn per KU download until the month is over and the KU-Fund is divided between all the authors. It seems the average is anywhere from 1.25 to 2.25 per month, depending on the size of the pool and how many authors participate.

My future plans are to keep all titles in KU and release new titles on Amazon, All Romance, Smashwords and B&N for two months before making the new title KU exclusive. KU is a new program, and it’s steadily gaining subscribers. I’m curious to see how my first full month, October, shapes up. They’ve also enlarged the royalty-per-download pool, so I may get more than 1.52/download. I’ll let you know!

Gamebreak: J.U.L.I.A. Among The Stars, a sci-fi adventure #VideoGame review

header

Today, I’m taking a quick look at a game recently released by CBE Software through Steam’s Greenlight program. J.U.L.I.A. Among The Stars is a point-click adventure / found objects and puzzle game with a science fiction exploration theme. It was released Sept. 27th for $19.99.

I love puzzle adventure / exploration type games, and for $20 with a sci-fi theme, I figured I could give it a try. I usually don’t buy new releases on Steam, because sooner or later they tend to go on sale. I also don’t like being a ‘first wave’ gamer – forking out 60$ only to find out the game totally sucks ass *coughDestinycough*. I’ve been burned too many times before. But, I decided to give JULIA the benefit of the doubt due to its early review metascore.

You play the role of Rachel, a scientist who left Earth for a 500-year long cryo-sleep to explore a solar system. Rachel wakes up alone on the ship, except for JULIA, the ship’s AI. Rachel uses Mobot, a mobile exploration robot to explore the planets in the solar system to unravel the mystery of what happened to the rest of the crew.

I think I got my money’s worth. The game offers a good mix of space exploration, mystery, crime solving, puzzles and storyline. Although the storyline is a touch predictable, I still had fun with it. Some of the puzzles were a bit of a struggle to figure out simply because the interface or instructions weren’t clear. One puzzle type you do repeatedly to build schematics you find to improve your Mobot unit – those puzzles were a pain.

Aside from a few of the puzzles being tedious, the overall UI takes some getting used to. You are given two launch resolution options. Choose carefully – once you select and start a game, you can’t play that saved game in the other resolution. I think this was done to make the game playable on tablets, and I can see this as being a good tablet game.

My only other complaint is Rachel, Rachel is a bit of a whiney prat who doesn’t sound like a scientist most of the time. There were several pieces of dialogue that had me going ‘really?’… and some of the storyline arcs were a bit stereotyped.

The planetary exploration, though, was fun. I do feel like they could have taken it much further and done way more with it. I logged a total of 12 hours playing the game, start to finish, and I think they left room for a possible sequel, In the end, you are given a choice. Your choice determines how the game ends. Don’t worry, you can go back and try the other choice, too. Overall, I had fun with it.

Book Review: Core Punch – Futuristic New Orleans sci-fi crime investigation

15982975

Core Punch
Series: A Baker & Ban!drn Adventure
By: Pauline Baird Jones
Sub-Genres: Crime Investigation / Futuristic Cops

Amazon
GoodReads
Booklikes

Rating: I loved it!  (?)

Review

It was a dark and stormy night….

Actually, it was a category-five hurricane named Wu Tamika Felipe (yes, WTF) baring down on a futuristic New Orleans. Oh, and I should probably mention that New Orleans was a floating city, although the majority of the novel takes place in the old, ‘dirt-side’ New Orleans instead of the new floating city. This is a series, so I hope that the next book spends more time exploring the floating city.

That’s not to say that the dirt-side atmosphere wasn’t just as interesting. The author paints an easy to visualize picture of the old, abandoned city – falling into ruin, flooding as nature took back over and the few stubborn folk who refuse to leave. The hurricane adds to the atmosphere-building, which is a bit heavy-handed at times. We are reminded again and again how hot Louisiana can get and how windy a cat-five hurricane is.  I think that, along with the pacing, kept me from reaching the OMG MORE level.

Continue reading

Unique aliens and the bird-like Kilari – SFR Brigade Showcase #scifirom

SFRB-ShowcaseBanner

Welcome to the Science Fiction Romance Brigade Showcase for October, 2014! The Showcase is a chance for SFR Brigade members to share their own Sci-fi Romance books, WIPs and new releases. For more posts, visit the SFR Brigade Blog.

Side-Story-Og400I think October is the perfect month to talk about aliens that are more than just ‘humans in space’. I try to incorporate unique traits into several species that inhabit the Corwint universe. Hedarions, for example, have eyes that are completely black and heights that never go beyond four-foot-four. Orellians, like Ogrridannes on the cover to the left, have overly-muscualr bodies, orange, scaled skin and are completely hairless, except the females who have a mohawk crest that raises and flattens with their mood, and a braid down their back.

Kilarians have traits related to birds, not only in their physical makeup, but also in their vocal and body language. While Hedarions and Orellians have had a prominent role in my series so far, little has been revealed about Kilarians. In the next few books in the series, more will be revealed about the isolationist Kilari.

Here is a snippet from a future Corwint series book, which will feature a Kilarian main character.


The lower engine compartment hummed with a reverberating pulse, like a steady heartbeat. A tubular hydrofusion core drummed on in an unceasing rhythm, providing a constant electrical current throughout the Blue Yonder’s systems. The core’s soft, blue glow caressed every surface, reflecting against the metal casing and amplifying the ethereal haze, enveloping the compartment’s cramped space. For many, their first glimpse at the engine powering the Blue Yonder through the interstellar causeways was a gaze into the sacred gates of an engineering temple where the constructs of man mingled with dreams of the imagination in an attempt to reach the furthest visible star and touch the face of God.

“Damn you! You infernal, stubborn, glitchy-ass piece of geffarion shit!” The cursing tirade was highlighted by the metallic clanking echo of Kalau’kalis Oosori’s telescopic spanner as it flew across the six foot wide compartment to hit against the opposite wall and then fall through the flooring grate at a most inconvenient angle. “Oh, wonderful!”

Kalau rolled his vivid violet eyes and ran a hand roughly through his silvery grey hair, the small downy feathers at the base of his neck fluffing in a reaction to his irritation. A series of frustrated warbles made a melodious tune from his four vocal cords before expelling from between perfectly symmetrical lips that were fighting against a heavy desire to frown and curse again. A Common Tradespeak curse or two did finally win the battle over his native Kilarian language of trills and clicks as he knelt down in an attempt to retrieve the tool. His arm stretched between the floor grates with a pinching tightness that threatened to keep him pinned there for all eternity.

“Having some issues, Kal?” The bright green eyes of Landry Brogen appeared in the square ceiling hatch that led into the lower compartment. Strands of her rich umber hair trailed down beyond the opening, defying her never ending battle to keep them restrained within the clipped bun that served to raise her long hair off her neck in the engine room’s natural sauna-like temperatures.

Kalau flinched at the sound of Landry’s voice calling from overhead and dropped the spanner again, after just managing to secure a grip on it. The spanner mocked its owner in a calamitous, clinking series of pings as it slid between the compressor vent and the pressure-reserve tank to disappear into the black abyss, joining its brethren of abused, misplaced and dropped tools. “Fuck.”

Landry snickered at the Kilarian’s rare, public curse before disappearing from the hatch only to reappear feet first a few moments later. Her footsteps down the ladder rungs accompanied her descent. Skipping the last three rungs, Landry landed squarely behind Kalau and eyed the man’s backside as he stood. “Here,”

Kalau turned to the Corwint female and eyed the water bottle being offered. “Thanks,” he mumbled and took the bottle, avoiding the gaze of her green eyes.

He continued staring down through the floor grating at the spot where he had just lost another spanner. The heat in the compartment raised as his mind berated him for his emotional outburst, which was not a characteristic commonly attributed to Kilarians. Calm, collected, intelligent and arrogant. Yes, that about summed up the off-worlder impression of his people, and it wasn’t a description he bothered arguing over.

Landry rocked back on her heels and tried not to stare at the movement of his throat as he tipped the bottle upwards and took a long drink. “Lose another spanner?”

He coughed and sputtered, lowered the bottle and gave her a sideways scowl which forced him to look at her a few seconds longer than he should. The temperature in the confined space rose another notch. Flicking his glare away, he set the bottle on top of the condenser and knelt down in front of the panel he had opened earlier. “Had I known I would be having an audience, I would have put on a better show.”

Landry scrunched up her freckled nose at his retort and stared at his backside again. The black canvas of his flight pants did nothing to diminish the pleasant view. The white tank-top he was wearing, with lean muscles rippling beneath the pale skin that it exposed, wasn’t helping her efforts to find something else to occupy her eyes. “Condensation on the timing switch again?”

“Yes,” he replied shortly as he tried to reach the junction at the back of the wire-filled panel.

Her brow furrowed. “Need a hand? My arm is thinner and can-”

“No,” he cut her off then grunted as his shoulder wedged into the corner of the unit.

A huff blew up the loose strands of her hair before she crouched down next to him. “C’mon, Kalau’kalis, you’re going to cut your shoulder doing that.”

He flinched as she used his full name, the sound of it on her voice giving him an involuntary shiver. Most either called him Kal or Kalis. Never Kalau, and certainly never Kalau’kalis while attempting to actually pronounce it correctly. Not an easy feat when Landry only had two vocal chords and the Kilarian language required four.

“Kalau,” she urged again.

He shivered again. Dammit. “I’m fine.”

“Look, just let me,” she stopped as he jerked away from her hand. His violet eyes shut in a wince as a line of blood dripped from a fresh cut on his shoulder. Backing away with one hand on her hip, she pointed at the wound. “See? Why don’t you just let me help you instead of being so damn stubborn?”

Yanking his arm out of the mess of wires with another grunt, he moved further away from her. The thin line of tiny silver feathers that ran down the back of his neck rose in a fluster and he turned his growing scowl to his bleeding shoulder. “I’m sure you have work to get done.”

“No, actually, I don’t.” She waited for him to say something, but he just stood there, glaring at the hydrofusion housing coil as it pulsed.

A bead of sweat ran down the line of his jaw and she caught herself gazing at the handsome angles of his face as she tried to quell her rising anger at his continued attitude. Shaking herself out of the stupor his presence always seemed to put her in, she thought it was high time he explained why he was always so rude to her so she could get over her aggravating, clearly hormonally-imbalanced, infatuation. “What’s your problem, Kal?”

He blinked, glanced over to her then turned away. “There is no problem.”

“Geffarion shit, there isn’t! You’ve been nothing but stand-offish with me since I came on board.”

“I’m Kilarian,” he replied with a light shrug, as if that should be a satisfactory explanation.

“Well, no shit.” She took a step closer. “Here I thought this whole time you were a really pale Tharsan who lost a fight with his pillow!”

She watched as his feathered eyebrows narrowed and the line down his neck rose again in agitation, but then his cheeks puffed and he made several clacks in the back of his throat. Her eyebrow quirked up, knowing full well that kind of reaction from a Kilarian implied amusement. He thought she was funny?

“I just don’t get it, Kal. You’re not like this with everyone else. Did I do something to offend you? Well, I mean, besides the pillow comment.”

“No,” his voice softened as he let out a long sigh. A tick of his head to the left revealed uncertainty and two low, trilling notes from his throat belied his concern. “You’re the Captain’s daughter.”

Her own cheeks puffed as she stood dumbfounded. “What has that got to do with anything?”

His hands dropped to his sides and his eyes raised to the ceiling. “Everything.”


Poor Kalau… I’m having a whole lot of fun writing his character, and Kilarian’s in general. Their vocal sounds and body language give me neat aspects of communication to play with.

If you’d like to learn more about the series, visit Corwint.com

Also, be sure to check out the rest of this month’s SFR Brigade Showcase posts!

Book Review: Irradiance-Excellent scifi with classic Utopian vibes I’d been missing

15982975

In Irradiance
Series: The Dream Guild Chronicles (Book 1)
By: David Bruns
Sub-Genres: Utopian (classic)

Amazon
GoodReads
Booklikes

Rating: OMG MORE PLEASE!!

Review

You may note how I am emphasizing the word “classic” when calling this book a Utopian. We’ve almost forgotten what the difference is between Utopian and Dystopian in science fiction, and the recent inundation of dystopian books hasn’t helped. Many of them are actually utopian, but have been improperly categorized because dystopian is the hot buzz-word the same way paranormal was five years ago, and magical fantasy was five years before that.

Classic utopianism in science fiction has roots with George Orwell, Aldous Huxley and Margret Atwood. They set the stage with a perfectly constructed society that functions in a state of utopia, then the book (through story and characters) slowly peels back the pristine paint to show the gritty truth and layers of hidden wallpaper underneath. I love classic Utopian. It’s my favorite genre. I wasn’t aware that’s what Irradiance was when I started, but I was in for a most lovely surprise.

Continue reading

The Fault In The Stars… Or, why star ratings have become a bad, bad thing

As readers, we judge a book by them just as much as the cover. As authors, we obsess over them and determine our worth as writers to the decimal point. As reviewers, we debate about them, are confused by their inferred meaning and often fear being honest about them.starsSmall_09

I’m talking stars, people. Those tiny, golden five-pointed things that Amazon requires us to include whenever we leave a review for something. It’s not just Amazon. No matter where you go or what you are reviewing, it’s become all about the stars.

Why is this a problem? Because, those little icons, or the lack thereof, have come to mean more than the content within the review itself. Continue reading