Friday, November 20, 2015

One Year of Being a Published Author

It was one year ago today that my first novel The Immortality Game was officially published. It feels so much longer. Normally time seems to fly by so quickly, especially as I age, but somehow when it comes to publishing the opposite is true. It feels about three years since I first published a book!
artwork © Stephan Martiniere
I suppose part of that is that I took all of what I had written over the past ten years and prepared it and published it in three separate books this year, as well as publishing two short stories in anthologies with other authors. I feel so busy all the time.

The drawback is that I haven't been able to write much over the past year. I have spent a lot of time thinking about what I am going to be writing next, but that's the easiest part. I need to actually write it down, and that hasn't been happening. As an unknown indie writer, if I don't expend a lot of energy just in trying to let people know my books exist, then my books remain invisible and go nowhere.

So how has this first publishing year gone? Not great, but not so badly either. Here are some numbers:

Here is my first novel (published--I actually wrote The Shard first). It was published 'wide', meaning not exclusive to Amazon. I published the paperback through IngramSpark. The number of paperbacks sold in one year:

IngramSpark: 102 paperbacks

The ebook was sold via Amazon, B&N Nook, iTunes, GooglePlay, and Kobo.

Amazon US: 1672
Amazon UK: 35
Amazon France: 5
Amazon Germany: 13
Amazon Canada: 15
Amazon Australia: 6
Amazon Spain: 1
Amazon India: 1
Amazon Italy: 1
B&N: 260
iTunes: 71
GooglePlay: 30
Kobo: Site is down so I can't get numbers, but it was only around 30 or so

So that isn't too bad, but not what one dreams about selling. October was the best month for me due to a Bookbub ad that I ran. That landed The Immortality Game at #1 in Cyberpunk on Amazon for three straight days and #116 overall on Amazon.

My second release was The Shard in March. I sold it exclusively on Amazon via the Kindle Unlimited program, so I don't know all sales due to the fact that Amazon started telling authors about number of pages read via the KU program, and that isn't very helpful as far as tracking sales goes. Here are the numbers I do know about:

Paperbacks sold: 13
Amazon US: 78
Amazon UK: 6
Amazon India: 1
Amazon Australia: 3
Amazon Germany: 3
Amazon Canada: 2

I published Lord Fish, a collection of short stories, in August. Like The Shard, I made it exclusive to Amazon in the KU program, so I don't know about sales via KU.

I won't break this one out by country, since the number of sales hasn't been high enough to make it worthwhile. The number of sales also includes a Countdown Deal where it was free for one week. The number of sales in total has been 66. The price didn't seem to matter. I tried it at .99 and sold only one, so I raised it to 2.99 to see if it would give it a better profile, and sold a bit better.

The final result is that I'm fairly content with how The Immortality Game is doing, while the other two books remain invisible so far. Reviews of all books have been mainly very positive, and I really appreciate those who have taken the time to leave a review, as they are pure gold to indie writers. I'll end the post with links to the two anthologies that published stories by me during this past year. Please note that both of these stories are also published in Lord Fish.

Monday, November 2, 2015

The Future Catches Up

A mind-blowing thing happened to me today. I saw a new review on Amazon, and it had a piece of information that simply amazed me.

Here is the review:

"Amazing debut! I would have given this book 6 stars but took one off because the author didn't seem to know that the Gsh-18 pistol does not have a safety. There are already several reviews which tell about the book and the story so I'll just mention one of the really stand-out qualities that sets this book apart from lesser efforts. The characters and their interactions are layered in ways that subtly hint at a very mature and developed sensibility on the part of the author. He doesn't beat you over the head with it but, I came to realize the depths of the characters about a third of the way through the book when I wondered what it was that kept drawing me in. This quality of recognizing relationships and histories in the characters and bringing them out without spelling them out was an amazing feat by the author. I'll be looking for more by Ted Cross."
Zoya, Illustration © Stephan Martiniere
Well, first of all it's really great to see someone view the development path of the characters the way I meant it to be. But it's the mention of the GSH-18 pistol that blew my mind. You may not know this, but I began writing the The Immortality Game quite a few years ago. When I reached the part where I needed to use a newer model of gun, I decided I wanted it to be 'old' from the perspective of the characters in the year 2138, but I also wanted it to be 'in the future' from our perspective. So I looked up some models of pistol and chose the GSH brand, and I then added some numbers to it so that it would be a 'future' model.

Now it is possible that the GSH-18 was already being mentioned at that time and I simply missed it. But as far as I recall, there was no GSH-18 when I wrote that part, and yet it now exists today. I didn't expect the future to come whipping by so fast!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Global Climate Change: The Coming Catastrophe

The United States has a very long history of refusing to deal with looming problems until the problems grow to a point where they can no longer be ignored. Naturally this means the resolution of such problems always costs us more money and results in heavier consequences than if we simply admitted the coming problems and dealt with them logically ahead of time in a calm and orderly fashion.
The biggest problem is that so far the US has gotten away with this attitude toward dealing with issues, because no issue has yet been so huge as to overwhelm us. But that is about to change over the next century with the looming catastrophe of rising ocean levels due to global climate change.

Take a look at what is happening to Europe right now with the refugees coming out of Syria. Europe is panicking over what is a very small crisis compared to the number of refugees we can expect to see from rising ocean levels over the next century. Magnify the number of refugees to a global level and numbers as much as hundreds of millions and then try to imagine what will likely happen. Folks living inland aren't likely to spread their arms in welcome to help those who knew they lived in the danger areas yet kept stubbornly living there anyhow.
America could do the right thing and actually start working on this problem now. We could create millions of new high-paying jobs for engineers, planners, electricians, carpenters, and so forth by laying out new cities inland and building them, and then offering growing incentives to start moving people away from the danger areas well ahead of time. Will we do that? History says no. History says we will do almost nothing and wait until it blows up into a crisis that may very well take down our country.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Final Tallies for My Advertising Push

My last post told you about my first use of Bookbub, the big ebook advertiser. Now I have the final totals of what The Immortality Game sold during the time-frame of my ad. Note that I was selling one to two copies per day even before the ad, but that is a small number so it is still interesting to see what I actually sold this past week. Also note that I wasn't selling much at all on any of the other sites, so the numbers for the non-Amazon sites are all due to the advertisement. Finally, there were bumps in sales for all of my other books during this time, but I'm not going to worry about those numbers here.

Amazon ebook: 1134
Paperback: 5

B&N Nook: 232

Kobo: 12

iTunes: 60

GooglePlay: 28

So it's easy to see that Kobo was the site that brought the fewest number of sales. B&N did better than I expected. I had only sold 2 copies total on iTunes before this sale, so 60 is a pretty good number for them. Likewise I had only sold 2 copies in total on GooglePlay prior to the ad.

Friday, October 23, 2015

My First BookBub Ad

I'm pleased at how well my first Bookbub advertisement went yesterday. I had been hearing about Bookbub for so long, that they were the only truly worthy site for getting a lot of traction for your paid ad, so it was nice to see the returns be worth the money.
Waking up this morning, you can see that I hit #116 overall on the Amazon store and #1 in both Cyberpunk categories, as well as #3 in Technothrillers. And it's #9 overall in Science Fiction!

And my book is in some great company there! Maybe today it will push even higher.

And how about on non-Amazon platforms? I sold 120 copies on B&N yesterday. And I'm doing okay on Kobo as well, sitting above John Scalzi, one of my favorite authors!
Have any of you tried Bookbub before? And look, I get the cool orange Amazon icon indicating #1 best seller! (Sorry I am so excited, but such things don't happen so often)

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Happy Back to the Future Day

You've probably seen it all over Facebook already, but in case you haven't, today is the date that Marty travels to in the second Back to the Future movie. Yep, the future is now!
I see lots of articles pointing out how few of the technological advances depicted in the film actually came to pass. I don't find this strange at all. I've argued for a long time that writers tend to be overly optimistic in their timelines for when they believe advances will happen. Funnily enough from what I observe, the more inaccurate such sci-fi writing is, the more popular it tends to be. From Snow Crash to Blade Runner to Back to the Future and so many more, the writers depict near-future situations as if almost everything will massively transform, when we all know the reality is that only a few things change dramatically while most things change fairly little. Don't get me wrong, I love these stories, but it does bug me a bit just how far off they are.

So when I write my own science fiction I tend to give more realistic timelines for the technology that I wish to depict. I feel that the story of The Immortality Game is what I consider to be near-future, but I still chose a date of 2138, because I wanted to be sure that we actually had a realistic time frame for the changes that I wanted to show.

By the way, this week (until October 26) I have The Immortality Game on sale for .99 (from the normal $3.99 price). Please let your friends know!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Chess World Cup

Today was a really cool day for me as a chess fan. I visited the chess World Cup here in Baku, Azerbaijan. It began with 128 players and now has only 16 as of today. Three of the remaining 16 are American players--Grandmasters Hikaru Nakamura, Fabiano Caruana, and Wesley So.
Nakamura plays Adams
The organizers were very nice and gave me a press pass so that I could go inside the roped off area and take photos up close. I was introduced to Wesley So's adopted mother and we had a nice conversation for about twenty minutes. It's fascinating to learn details of an elite player's life. Then I saw and watched the games for a couple of hours.
Fabiano Caruana
Nakamura only needed a draw against Michael Adams of England in order to advance, and he did that easily. Caruano lost yesterday, so he had to win today and he only managed to draw, so he is eliminated. As I type this Wesley So's game against Vachier-Lagrave of France is still going on, but it looks as if he will lose and also be eliminated. So a mixed day for American chess!
Wesley So
I also had a nice chat with the charming WGM Turkan Mamedyarova. I assume she is the sister of famous elite grandmaster Shakriyar Mamedyarov.