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down for maintenance

Later tomorrow my website and email will be going down for some much-needed maintenance.

I’ve put it off for a while, but it’s time to bite the bullet and get it over with. This post, if my numbers are right, is the 7,684th post and page I’ve put up on my site, and so it really needs some maintenance at this point. I don’t think FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON will be ready until early May, so this is probably as good a time as any to do it.

If all goes well, we’ll be back up by Friday or Saturday.

-JM

 

CLOAK GAMES updates

A quick note of thanks – CLOAK GAMES: TRUTH CHAIN had the best first-month sales of the series so far. Thanks everyone!

Also, occasionally people ask how many CLOAK GAMES books there are going to be. I finalized the outline last week, and CLOAK GAMES will have a total of 11 books.  After the 11th book I might continue the series the way GHOST EXILE continued THE GHOSTS series, but I’ll decide when I get there.

Meanwhile, there will be 11 books in the CLOAK GAMES series, and I’m looking forward to starting CLOAK GAMES: HAMMER BREAK later this year!

-JM

what will GHOST IN THE RING be about?

Been working on GHOST IN THE RING on the side while spending most of my time on FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON, and I finished Chapter 1 today.

Related to that, intrpeid reader Bret asks:

And perhaps I’m slightly worried. Ghosts Exile was soooo good and ended soooo strongly, that I’m having trouble imagining how you’re possibly gonna match the quality and excitement of those books.

Well, here are six short previews of what GHOST IN THE RING will be about.

1.) Caina’s mother’s family. Caina’s mother was actually the youngest daughter of a family that’s like a cross between a sorcerous Mafia and the Death Eaters.

2.) What does Caina do now? Hard to be a spy when you’re famous.

3.) A ring, a dagger, a sword, an amulet, and a crown.

4.) The Umbarian Order.

5.) Some neutrals support the Empire, and some support the Umbarian Order.

6.) Sometimes history is like looking at an old, dusty skeleton. You look at it and think it’s dead, but then you poke at it and the skeleton sits up and reaches for your throat, and you realize that history isn’t quite as dead as you think. Some characters in GHOST NIGHT will learn that the hard way. 🙂

-JM

how FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT became an audiobook

A few people have asked how I made FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT into an audiobook.

Short answer: I didn’t do any of the work. 🙂

Much longer answer:

Back in 2016, I was looking seriously at turning some of the FROSTBORN books into audiobooks, so I researched the process thoroughly. Amazon has a website called ACX designed to link up writers with audiobook narrators, and many indie writers who have audiobooks find narrators through ACX. The idea is that you post a sample of your book, and narrators record auditions for it, and you choose a narrator from the auditions.

It’s a good idea, but the difficulty is that audiobook narrators cost a lot of money. Audiobooks are measured in terms of “finished hours”, which is how many hours the final recording turns out to be. (FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT was just under 11 hours.) Narrators are paid per finished hour, and a good narrator starts, at minimum, at $200 per finished hour. $300 to $350 is more likely, and really well-known actors can charge more.

You can see how this would quickly become expensive.

There are cheaper options, but in terms of audiobook narrators, the old maxim “you get what you pay for” is especially true. ACX offers an option called “royalty split”, where the writer doesn’t pay the narrator anything upfront, but the writer and the narrator split all the royalties on the audiobook for the next seven years. I didn’t want to do that, partly because I didn’t want to split the royalties, and partly because a lot of beginning narrators use royalty split to build up a portfolio, which means some of them don’t actually know what they’re doing yet.

Additionally, I couldn’t do just one audiobook, because all my books are series, and if I was going to make a go of audiobooks, I would need to have a bunch of them recorded. Recording just one would be useless, so I needed several. The trouble is that would get expensive really fast. FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT was 11 finished hours long, and since that would be about average for the series, getting all 14 books recorded at a rate of $300 per finished hour would cost $46,200 dollars. Even doing the first five at $300 per hour would come to $16,500.

That’s entering the neighborhood of a Small Business Loan, which is risky territory. I had read accounts of indie writers who had sunk tens of thousands of dollars into making audiobooks, and were not at all sure if they would ever recoup that money.

Some writers record their own audiobooks. I really liked that idea, because whenever possible I prefer to do things myself rather than hiring someone to do them for me. That said, self-recording an audiobook wasn’t an option for me because, to be blunt, I don’t have a voice for radio. My voice at its best is both somewhat nasal and raspy, and my diction is terrible because I have a tendency to talk way too fast. I wouldn’t pay money to listen to someone with my voice read a book for 11 hours, and no else should have to either. Also, there was the technical side – I would have to level and master the audio files myself to meet ACX technical requirements, to say nothing of editing out the inevitable coughs, etc.

So, after all this research, I realized I had four options.

1.) Do nothing with the audio rights. This would make no money, but I wouldn’t lose any money.

2.) Hire an established narrator on ACX and record some audiobooks, and risk spending tens of thousands of dollars without turning a profit.

3.) Find a narrator willing to do a royalty split on ACX, and spend a lot of writing time sorting through them.

4.) Record the audiobooks myself, which would mean spending a week of writing time, minimum, to record the book and probably another week to get the files ready until I learned the process.

Needless to say, I concluded my time was better spent writing more books, and at the end of July I settled on Option One and that was that.

Then in November out of the blue I got an email from a company called Tantor, asking if the audio rights for FROSTBORN were available. I get a lot of writing business-esque email that I just delete unread (“Format Your Ebook,  Starting At Just $599.99!”) but this one caught my attention because I knew the name from the bookstore. If you walk through the audiobook section of a Barnes & Noble, you’ll see a lot of CD cases with the Tantor logo on the side.

I also read this post from Lindsay Buroker detailing how a couple of different companies have been approaching indie writers and licensing the audio rights to their books. This meant that I now suddenly could add Option Five to the list of four options previously:

5.) Accept some advance money upfront for audio rights. Someone else does all the work and expense of hiring a narrator and getting the files uploaded. Possibility of royalties later if the audiobooks do well enough to earn out the upfront money.

Option Five was, by far, the most attractive of the five. So Tantor got the rights to do the first five FROSTBORN books as audiobooks.

They sent me a list of narrators. The narrators were all good, but Steven Crossley was the best of them. (If you look for him on Amazon, he’s done like a billion audiobooks.) Also, he had done the audiobooks for CJ Sansom’s Matthew Shardlake Tudor historical mysteries, which are some of my favorite books. Read those even before the Kindle came along!

I think it turned out pretty well. The first five FROSTBORN books will be available in audio before the end of the year. So if you have a long car, plane, or train trip coming up this summer, I know how you can pass the time. 🙂

The audiobook is available at at Amazon, Amazon UK, iTunes, and Audible.

-JM

the sequel to the FROSTBORN series: SEVENFOLD SWORD

Now that I’ve started working on FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON, the last book in the FROSTBORN series, in seems like a good time to announce the sequel to the FROSTBORN series.

The next series set in the world of FROSTBORN and Andomhaim is SEVENFOLD SWORD. It will take place in the world of Andomhaim, and some of the characters and settings from FROSTBORN will return. If all goes well, the first book in the new series, SEVENFOLD SWORD: CHAMPION will come out towards the end of summer 2017.

Now back to writing FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON!

-JM

FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON underway

I am now working on the rough draft for FROSTBORN: THE SHADOW PRISON, the final volume in the FROSTBORN series.

It’s going to be a long one! The outline has 34 chapters, and the longest previous book was only 26 chapters. So I’m not entirely sure how long it will take to write, but I’m aiming for releasing it in late May.

Tune in tomorrow to hear some news about the upcoming sequel series for FROSTBORN.

-JM

CLOAK GAMES: TOMB HOWL now available!

Available at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon CanadaAmazon GermanyAmazon AustraliaBarnes & NobleiTunesKobo, Google Play, and Smashwords.

Nadia Moran saved the world and tens of millions of lives.

All it cost was her sanity.

But sane or not, Lord Morvilind has work for her to do. This time, he wants her to work with the brutal and murderous Rebels.

And unless Nadia is clever, the Rebels will start their revolution with her death…

-JM