All posts by jmoellerwriter

FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN table of contents

Making good progress on FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN, so let’s close out September by sharing the Table of Contents:

A brief prologue

Chapter 1 – The Torn Hills

Chapter 2 – The Sorceress and the Exile

Chapter 3 – Things To Lose

Chapter 4 – Memories

Chapter 5 – The Swordbearer

Chapter 6 – The Knight’s Quest

Chapter 7 – The Devout

Chapter 8 – The Archmage

Chapter 9 – Something New

Chapter 10 – Urd Morlemoch

Chapter 11 – Mechanisms

Chapter 12 – Guests

Chapter 13 – To Your Deaths

Chapter 14 – The Frostborn

Chapter 15 – Who Am I?

Chapter 16 – Bliss

Chapter 17 – The New Empire

Chapter 18 – Power at a Price

Chapter 19 – Threshold

Chapter 20 – Knights

Chapter 21 – Wrath of the Devout

Chapter 22 – The Long Game

Chapter 23 – One Hundred Thousand Years Of War

Chapter 24 – Where The Secret Rests




Reader A.L. asks concerning FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN:

I recently got a Kindle Unlimited account, considering my recent spending on books it was a good idea! Will The Dark Warden be available through it?

That is a good question, which has both a short answer and a longer answer. :)

Short answer: Definitely not now, but maybe in the future, depending on what happens over the next year.

Now for the MUCH LONGER answer. Brace yourselves for math!

Kindle Unlimited is sort of Amazon’s “Netflix for ebooks”. The idea is that you pay $7.99 a month subscription fee (or £7.99 in the UK), and then you can read an unlimited number of Kindle Unlimited ebooks per month.  This is a good deal for readers, especially the kind of power readers who can get through multiple books a day. Authors with books in Kindle Unlimited get paid if more than 25% of their book is read, and then their payment comes out of a “pool” – typically $2.5 million dollars – that is divided out based on the number of borrows per month. Usually this comes out to between $1 to $2 per borrow, and Amazon also pays out bounties to the top 100 Kindle Unlimited writers per month.

For a writer, though, the big downside of Kindle Unlimited is that the book has to be available ONLY on Amazon – no Barnes & Noble, no iBooks, no Google Play, no Kobo. For me personally, this would be a major disadvantage. In August of 2014, 42% of the books I sold were through Amazon US, 29% through Amazon UK, 0.7% through Amazon Germany, 1% on through Amazon Australia, 1% through Amazon Canada, 11% through Apple iBooks, 9% through Barnes & Noble, 2.5%through Google Play, and 1.5% through Kobo. So about 74% of my sales were on the Amazon websites, and 26% were on Amazon’s competitors.

So if I put FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN in Kindle Unlimited, I would hypothetically lose about 26% of the book’s potential sales, and I’m not willing to do that. Barnes & Noble’s Nook platform has kind of stagnated over the last year, alas, but I’ve been seeing growth on iBooks, Kobo, and Google Play, which I would like to see continue.

It might not continue, though. If I get to a point where, say, 90% of my book sales are on Amazon, it will definitely be time to start experimenting with Kindle Unlimited.

That said, I might try to move my short stories onto Kindle Unlimited. In the last few years, I’ve written something like sixteen FROSTBORN, THE GHOSTS, and DEMONSOULED short stories that I’ve given away as a free bonus with my new-release newsletter announcing a new book. (Subscribe now!) But after the short stories are out and the free copies downloaded, the short stories just sort of sit there and don’t sell very many copies, and they especially don’t sell very many copies on non-Amazon sites. What I might do long-term is give away a new short story with each new book, and then after a month, move the short story over to Kindle Unlimited. Kindle Unlimited items can also do short free bursts and temporary price promotions. So the goal would be to pull fresh readers into FROSTBORN, THE GHOSTS, and DEMONSOULED, since each short story would have a link to the first book in the series at the end. And if it doesn’t work out, I would move the short stories off Kindle Unlimited and back to the other sites.

The big advantage of self-publishing ebooks is that you can make decisions based on actual data, rather than a gut feeling or how the editor’s morning doughnut happened to affect his mood that particular day.


a question about GHOST IN THE HUNT

A reader writes concerning the character of Cassander Nilas, magus of the Umbarian Order, in GHOST IN THE HUNT.

I like the name Cassander, did you make it up? 

Actually, I took the name from a historical figure – Cassander of the Antipatrid Dynasty, who was the King of Macdeon from 305 BC to 297 BC. Cassander and his father Antipater were among Alexander the Great’s chief lieutenants, and after Alexander died in 323 BC, Cassander assisted his father in battling the other lieutenants (known as the “Diadochi”, from the Greek word for “successors”) for control of Alexander’s empire.

The Diadochi were a hard bunch, but even among them, Cassander was known for his ruthlessness. Cassander rebelled against his father’s control to seize Macedon for himself, and later had Alexander’s mother, wife, legitimate son, and illegitimate son murdered to secure his hold on power. When I started plotting out GHOST IN THE HUNT, I wanted a Greek/Roman name for the Umbarian magus Caina would meet, and Cassander was the perfect fit.

Likely the fictional Cassander Nilas will prove just as ruthless as his historical namesake. :)


on writing speed, part II

Continuing with yesterday’s post, part of the reason I write so quickly is that it is a splendid time to be a writer. Compared to as recently, say, 2008, the difference in opportunities for writers is astounding.

Amazon, Kobo, Apple, and Google Play are all competing to attract self-published writers to their platforms. Amazon just added pre-orders and Kindle Unlimited for self-published writers. Kobo is available in a bunch of countries, and keeps connecting with self-published writers for promotions (like happened with FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT back in August). Apple added iBooks as part of the default installation with iOS 8, and as part of that did a huge promotion of book bundles from self-published writers. (Full disclosure: I was invited to participate, but I didn’t have time to pull anything together.) Google Play is available globally, and regularly puts out a newsletter boasting of improvements to their platform and interviews with best-selling self-published writers.

So you have all these different sellers competing to get writers on their platforms and their devices. But back in 2008, before the Kindle, the only way to get published was through traditional publishers and agents, and the submission guidelines for traditional publishers and agents essentially boiled down to GO AWAY AND NEVER EVER BOTHER US AGAIN FOR ANY REASON.

Amazon & its competitors, by contrast, have put out a giant flashing neon sign that says EVERYONE WELCOME! You can write as many books as you want, and Amazon & competitors will be delighted to have every last one of them for sale. This is very different from a traditional publisher, which only publishes a fixed amount of books every year.

So a big part of the reason I write so fast is that there is the opportunity to do so. If I was trying to write for a traditional publisher, with only one book a year, I wouldn’t write nearly as fast.


on writing speed

Someone mentioned that I seem to write fast compared to other writers. This amused me, because I’ve encountered people who can do a novel in a week.

But I do write pretty fast. Two reasons why.

One, since 2011, I’ve written exclusively for ebooks. So that means we don’t have to deal with all the stuff of legacy publishing – typesetting and page proofs and warehousing and shipping and all that.  In the old days you could only print so many books and stay profitable, which was why writers had to write slow. Now I can write as much as I want!

Second, I’ve had a lot of practice. I believe FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN was my 33rd novel – 12 GHOSTS books, 7 DEMONSOULED books, 6 FROSTBORN books,  4 in THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS, 3 in THE THIRD SOUL (I count the first five novellas as one book), and my one attempt at a thriller novel that sells one copy every other month. I’ve done this before, and when I type “CHAPTER 1″ I know exactly what I’m getting myself into.

Writing novels is a lot like baking elaborate cakes from scratch. The first time, you go very slowly. But after enough practice, you can go much faster, and the cakes will actually taste better than your first one.


how long did it take to write FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN?

How long does it take a writer to write a book? Depends on the writer, of course. In my case, it took me twenty-six days to write the 97,000 words of the rough draft of FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN. Here’s how many words I did per day:

Day 1 3500
Day 2 3700
Day 3 2200
Day 4 4300
Day 5 3800
Day 6 3200
Day 7 3100
Day 8 3600
Day 9 1300
Day 10 3600
Day 11 5300
Day 12 3500
Day 13 4200
Day 14 3500
Day 15 4500
Day 16 2300
Day 17 5800
Day 18 5100
Day 19 4000
Day 20 3700
Day 21 4600
Day 22 3700
Day 23 4000
Day 24 3600
Day 25 4200
Day 26 1800


FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN rough draft done!

I am pleased to report that the rough draft of FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN is now finished. 97,000 words in 26 days.

Now I’m going to start on THE PALADIN’S TALE, a FROSTBORN short story I’m going to give away to my newsletter subscribers when THE DARK WARDEN comes out. If you haven’t signed up for my newsletter, you can do so here and get THE PALADIN’S TALE for free when it’s ready.


Caina Amalas, coffee, and Vienna

Writers get ideas from many different places. In my case, I get a big part of my story ideas from history. Today is September 12th, which seems a good day to tell where I got the idea of Caina Amalas opening a coffee house in GHOST IN THE ASHES.

The idea came from the Battle of Vienna in 1683, when the armies of the Ottoman Empire besieged Vienna. Turning the siege, a Polish-Lithuanian adventurer* named Jerzy Kulczycki volunteered to seek aid. He slipped out of the city, disguised himself as a Turkish soldier (avoiding capture by singing Ottoman songs as he marched), and made his way to Duke Charles of Lorraine, who promised to come with help. Kulczycki returned to Vienna with the message that help was coming, and the city leadership decided to hold out rather than surrender to the Ottoman army.

On September 12th (331 years ago today), the relief army attacked under King Jan III Sobieski of Poland, Duke Charles, and several other noblemen of Poland-Lithuania and the Holy Roman Empire. During the resultant battle, which featured the largest cavalry charge in recorded history, the Ottoman Turks were defeated and Vienna saved. The people of Vienna rewarded Kulczycki with money and a house, and King Jan gave him many sacks of coffee beans captured from the Ottoman camp. Using the coffee beans and the money, Kulczycki opened Vienna’s first coffee house, and while coffee had been known in Western Europe since the late 1500s or so, his coffee house helped popularize coffee. In Vienna in particular, coffee houses became centers of intellectual and social activity.

Which explains why Caina, as a spy, would be most interested in owning one. :)


*Given that at various times Kulczycki was a captive, a soldier, a nobleman, and a merchant, “adventurer” seems like the best description of his career.