All posts by jmoellerwriter

Smashwords and DRM

Reader Miguel Guhlin has some nice things to say about my books here, along with some entirely accurate criticisms of DRM.

I should mention that, whenever possible, I upload my books without DRM. So if you buy one of my books off Amazon, you can always download it, convert it through the free Calibre program into an EPUB file, and then load it onto a Nook or Kobo reader or whatever your device of choice.

But if that sounds like too much work, you could always get it off Smashwords in all formats at once. :)


THE RAVEN, THE ELF, AND RACHEL by L. Jagi Lamplighter

THE RAVEN, THE ELF, AND RACHEL, sequel to 2014′s THE UNEXPECTED ENLIGHTENMENT OF RACHEL GRIFFIN, follows the adventures of Rachel Griffin, a thirteen-year-old girl at the Roanoke Academy for the Sorcerous Arts. (Roanoke, of course, having disappeared when the Parliament of the Wise, the governing body of wizards, hid the school to keep it from the Unwary, or non-magical mortals.) As is traditional for wizard schools, there is trouble afoot, with a sinister secret society of wizards plotting to bring about the end of the world. Much to her vast frustration, none of the adults in Rachel’s world seem to take the danger seriously, so if someone’s going to save the world, it’s up to her.

Rachel makes for a compelling protagonist, largely because she is a genius who nonetheless has the personality flaws and weaknesses of a 13-year-old girl without those flaws becoming annoying to the reader. She hasn’t quite grasped the fact that her emotional state is not necessarily reflective of the actual state of the universe, and her intellect and eidetic memory causes her to hoard secrets, refusing to give information unless she receives some in turn, which quite naturally causes trouble for her.

THE RAVEN, THE ELF, AND RACHEL is a entertaining fantasy YA novel with compelling protagonists and an intriguing setting, though I suspect the book will be more enjoyable to teenage girls due to the amount of space devoted to Rachel’s examination of her feelings.


Special FROSTBORN and THE GHOSTS sale for Kobo readers!

Kobo is running a special promotion this weekend (October 17th through 20th). You can get THE GHOSTS OMNIBUS ONE for 50% off, GHOST IN THE COWL for 35% off, and FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT for 25% off.

So if you’re a Kobo user and you want to give the FROSTBORN  or THE GHOSTS series a try, now is an excellent chance!

Links and coupon codes below.

50% off THE GHOSTS OMNIBUS ONE, with coupon code SAVE50.

35% off GHOST IN THE COWL, with coupon code SAVE35.

25% off FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT, with coupon code SAVE25. (Since FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT is on sale for $0.99 until the end of the week, this is literally the cheapest the book has ever been!)


Who are the Jutai?

Since I mentioned that one of the main characters in MASK OF SWORDS would be Sigaldra of the Jutai, naturally I have gotten a few questions asking who the Jutai are. A short explanation is below. Note that it contains mild !!!SPOILERS!!! for SOUL OF SORCERY, SOUL OF SKULLS, and SOUL OF SWORDS.

When the Tervingi left the middle lands for the Grim Marches, they came across another barbarian nation called the Jutai. The Malrags had almost destroyed the Jutai, and the survivors were holed up in three towns. Athanaric and Aegidia the Guardian wanted to ignore the Jutai and go through their land in peace, but Ragnachar wanted to claim the supplies of the Jutai and kill them if they resisted. Two of the three Jutai towns agreed to join the Tervingi, while Ragnachar slaughtered the third. The remnants of the Jutai nation then accompanied the Tervingi to the Grim Marches.

After Ragnachar murdered Athanaric and Mazael Cravenlock killed Ragnachar in battle, the Jutai swore to Mazael as their new hrould. The Jutai stayed loyal to him, and sent men to fight at both the great battle of the Northwater and again at Knightcastle. After the war (which later became known as the Runedead War) was over, the Jutai returned to the Grim Marches, and Mazael settled them in a destroyed village a few days’ ride from Castle Cravenlock.

Sigaldra is the last holdmistress of the Jutai – among both the Jutai and the Tervingi, the holdmistress governs the affairs of an individual village, while the headman deals with matters of war, defense, and outsiders. But since the Jutai have no men left of sufficient stature to claim the rank of headman, Sigaldra has been serving as both the holdmistress and headman of her hold, essentially making her the last leader of the Jutai.


one more thought on Kindle Unlimited for self-publishers

Apropos of my last post about short stories and Kindle Unlimited, I got an email from another writer saying that it seemed like a good idea, but he really hates writing short stories.

Well, yes. This strategy would only work if you actually like writing short stories.

Myself, I quite like writing short stories. In fact, for years short stories were all that I wrote, since in the Bad Old Days before ebooks, it was way easier to sell short stories than novels. So I got really good at paring down a story to 4,000 words or 6,000 words or whatever the word count limit of the particular market was. Of course, now that we’re in the age of ebooks, those limitations are artificial, and my short stories tend to want to land at 9,000 to 12,000 words or so. (I think that’s technically a novelette or a novella, but whatever.) That said, short stories are generally not very profitable, but I like doing them, and I enjoy using them as free giveaways for my longer books.

But if you don’t like writing short stories, I don’t think you should force yourself to write them just because it seems like a good promotional strategy. Book promotion should not make you want to tear your hair out.


a short excerpt from MASK OF SWORDS

Now on chapter 5 of 20 of MASK OF SWORDS. Time for an excerpt!

“When did you go to Skuldar?” said Mazael.

“Years ago,” said Romaria. “Long before I met you. Before I even went to the middle lands. I thought I was going to go mad and die, remember, and I wanted to see as much of the world as possible before I did. I had heard the Skuldari killed any who ventured into their mountains, which made me curious, so I went.”

“Clearly you got out alive,” said Wesson.

“It was a close thing,” said Romaria. “I shouldn’t have gone, but I was young and stupid and bitter. Worse, I was curious.”

“A deadlier affliction by far,” said Arnulf.


Kindle Unlimited For Self-Publishers

So why did I put a bunch of short stories into Kindle Unlimited?

Kindle Unlimited (KU), if you haven’t heard of it, is basically Amazon’s version of Netflix for ebooks. Basically, you pay $9.99 a month in the US and £7.99 in the UK, and you can read all the ebooks you want from Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited catalog. For readers, especially the sort of power readers who can get through multiple books a day, this is a pretty good deal. 

For writers, this can be a variable deal. Basically, once 10% of a borrowed book has been read, the writer receives a payment. The payment comes out of a fund of money Amazon sets aside each month for KU, which is then divided by the number of borrows total across Amazon for the month. The fund for October 2014 is $3 million, so the payment per borrow will be $3 million divided by the total number of borrows. So far, this has been about $1 to $2 per borrow.

There’s a catch, though – to be in KU, a book has to be in Amazon’s Kindle Select program, which confers a number of benefits (you can set a book to free for 5 days every 90 days), but a book can only be on Amazon – no Barnes & Noble, no Kobo, no iBookstore, no Google Play, no Scribd, nothing. It has to be only in Amazon.

This wasn’t something I was willing to do. On any given month, about 75% to 80% of my sales are on Amazon, which means to do KU, I would have had to walk away from about 25% of my monthly book sales. I wasn’t willing to do that with my novels or technical books.

My short stories, though…

I write short stories mostly as a bonus. I give them away for free with my new-release newsletter via Smashwords coupon, and after that I put them for sale on the various platforms. They don’t really do much then. A few copies a month, but little more than that. Most of those copies are on Amazon.

So I did some math, and in September, of all the short stories for THE GHOSTS, GHOST EXILE, DEMONSOULED, and FROSTBORN, I sold 155 copies (not counting GHOST RELICS, which was too new), and of those 155, only 34 of them were on non-Amazon platforms.  Why not experiment with those in KU? That’s one of the advantages of self-publishing – you can try something and base further decisions on actual data from the results, not upon whatever a particular publisher happens to feel like doing that day.

I decided to put the short stories into KU as a promotional tool. The enrollment term for Kindle Select is three months, and I figure it I can get more than 34 borrows a month by the end of December, the experiment will have been a success, especially since the borrow would (currently) earn more money than the $0.35 or $0.70 I would get per story. Additionally, I can use the free days to give away stories when I send out newsletters. When I sent out the newsletter for FROSTBORN: THE DARK WARDEN on October 5th, I also set THE SOULBLADE’S TALE to free. THE SOULBLADE’S TALE got downloaded a bunch of times and was briefly in the top 20 free SF/F short stories on Amazon. Since THE SOULBLADE’S TALE also had a link to FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT, which had a mini-boom in sales from that – as of this writing it’s at #14 for Arthurian Fantasy in Amazon US, #2 for Arthurian Fantasy in the UK and #8 for Historical Fantasy on Amazon AU.

So even if KU is a bust, the ability to give away an older short story as a free bonus with my new-release newsletter is obviously valuable.

Writers do have to self-promote, and I think my old short stories will help me do that. Since I know many writers are unsure about Kindle Unlimited, I will post my results here.


now starting MASK OF SWORDS

As you might have guessed from recent Facebook posts, I am now writing a new DEMONSOULED novel entitled MASK OF SWORDS. It is the first book of a planned trilogy, and if all goes well MASK OF SWORDS should be out sometime before Christmas. (Note that “before Christmas” is defined as everything up to 11:59 PM on December 24th. :) )

So what is MASK OF SWORDS about? A hint is below. Note that this hint has !!!SPOILERS!!! for the end of SOUL OF SWORDS, so if you haven’t read all the DEMONSOULED books you should probably skip the paragraphs below.


For three thousand years the Old Demon walked this world, shaping it as he pleased.
When he began so long ago, many dark powers contested for the rule of our world. The Imperium of the Dark Elderborn, which ruled from ocean to ocean. The soliphage, who feasted upon the souls of mortals. The Trichirabi, whose mastery of necromancy made the High Lords of Old Dracaryl seem as feeble children. The San-keth, worshippers of the serpent god. The princes of the deep waters and the lords of the burning realms, and a score of others, each powerful and fell. Yet the Old Demon overcame them all, banishing them from his sight and locking them away in desolate places and the underworld, forcing them to creep through the shadows.

He did this not out of benevolence nor kindness, but only that they should not hinder his plans. For the Old Demon raised up generation upon generation of Demonsouled, leading them to their doom so that one day he might feast upon their power and become a god. For thirty centuries the Old Demon moved unchallenged through the world, making kings and nations and empires dance upon his strings, until at last he was ready.

Yet at the very moment of his triumph, in the instant he reached out his hand to claim the power and become the new god, the Old Demon was defeated and slain, and mankind saved from his malicious grasp.

But his old enemies remain, watching the realms of men with hungry, covetous eyes.

For the Old Demon was the darkest horror of the old world…but with him slain, who left has the strength to vanquish the other creatures of dark power?