Category Archives: eBooks

The School Internal Homes Of Magic And Sorcery

The phone/tablet Google Translate app has this very useful feature that allows you to point your device’s camera at a page of text, and the app translates the text to the language of your choice upon the screen.

If you work with a lot of computers configured to use foreign languages, as I do, this is extremely useful.

However, sometimes the translation is a bit inaccurate, as the following translation of the book description of Harry Potter from Spanish to English shows:

IMG_0008

Though, to be honest, if the government did operate a School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, it would probably name that school the “School Internal Homes Of Magic And Sorcery”.

-JM

 

5 years of self-publishing

As of April, I’ve now been self-publishing for five years now.

First, thank you all for reading! I spent years writing without an audience, so it is very gratifying to get emails asking when the next book is coming. So thanks for coming along on the adventures of Mazael, Caina, Ridmark, Nadia, Rachaelis, and all the others – knowing that people await the next book is a good spur towards excellence!

Man. Five years. Tempus fugit! Considering my original plan was to self-publish DEMONSOULED and SOUL OF TYRANTS and then forget about them, self-publishing worked out really well. 🙂

In the last five years, I’ve written 7 DEMONSOULED novels, 14 GHOSTS novels, 11 FROSTBORN novels, 3 CLOAK GAMES novels, 9 nonfiction books, and dozens of short stories. I thought I was done with fiction in 2010, but clearly that was not to be.

Stay tuned – I have some sales scheduled to celebrate the 5 year mark, and I’ll give away some stories for free to my newsletter subscribers later this week. Of course, this would be an excellent time to subscribe to my new-release newsletter. 🙂

-JM

how did I learn to write non-fiction?

Ubuntu1510Terminal

Antonio asks:

“How in the world do you write so much and such diverse topics?

How did you learn both fiction and non-fiction writing?”

How did I learn to write non-fiction? Long story.

First, I learned the fundamentals in high school. I took a journalism class from a very competent teacher, who taught me the three basics of non-fiction writing: 1.) Avoid passive verbs, 2.) Answer the questions “who, why, where, when, and how”, 3.) You can write an article on any topic by sticking to the basic structure of Introduction/Thesis, Point A, Point B, Point C, and Conclusion, with additional Points added as necessary.

This was to serve me in excellent stead later in life.

Jumping ahead to 2005, DEMONSOULED was published, and author blogs were all the rage back then. Since I wanted DEMONSOULED to sell lots of copies (it didn’t) so the publisher would buy the sequel (they didn’t), I started an author blog, and promptly ran into a problem.

Namely, I didn’t have anything to blog about. The trouble about writing non-fiction is that you need something to write about.

So I tried blogging about various observations and witticisms, but nobody read them, and I gradually started to lose interest until I accidentally did something clever.

Namely, I complained about a Ubuntu Linux problem.

My day job is in IT, and Ubuntu Linux is the most popular version of Linux, and it turns up in a lot of server rooms. Back in early 2008, I upgraded a machine from Ubuntu 7.10 to Ubuntu 8.04, and in the process the upgrade broke the file sharing functionality. I happened to complain about it on my blog, and the next day I noticed that the blog post had gotten over 60 hits from Google searches. Apparently a lot of people were having that problem, and turn to Google in search of solutions, and so came to my blog.

That suggested possibilities.

I started writing more about Ubuntu Linux and the various things you could do with it – SSH, Samba, web servers, WordPress, and so forth – and my blog traffic climbed steadily, spiking up a bit with every new release of Ubuntu. Soon the site was getting hundreds of hits a day, and then thousands. I started experimenting with Google Adsense ads on the site, and at its peak in 2011 and 2012 it was getting five thousand hits a day and bringing in a few hundred dollars in ad revenue every month.

In fact, it was going so well, and I was so disgusted with the traditional publishing industry, that after I wrote CHILD OF THE GHOSTS in 2010, I decided to stop writing novels and focus entirely on the Linux website. Maybe I would do a short story from time to time if I saw a call for submissions that looked promising, but that would be it.

Then in 2011 I found the Kindle, and discovered self-publishing ebooks. After I got the rights back to DEMONSOULED, I self-published that, and then I realized my various posts on Ubuntu could make a book. So in April of 2011 I combined them, rewrote them, and self-published THE $0.99 UBUNTU BEGINNER’S GUIDE, later renamed to simply THE UBUNTU BEGINNER’S GUIDE. It sold really well – it was my first book to reach 10,000 copies, as it happens.

However, I also decided to write one more novel to finish off DEMONSOULED, so I wrote SOUL OF SERPENTS, and after I made DEMONSOULED free, the novels started to sell more copies than the nonfiction books, so I’ve been focusing on that ever since.

So that’s how I learned to write nonfiction – real-time feedback from blogging! I don’t do as much nonfiction these days, since all my attention goes into novels. That said, if I lose my day job, I’ll add in non-fiction, since it’s easy to do 500 words here or there as you work on a novel.

-JM

an updated THE GHOSTS OMNIBUS ONE

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Let’s talk a little about the business of writing today!

BLADE OF THE GHOSTS leaves Kindle Unlimited on April 17th, and after that happens, I think I’ll add it to THE GHOSTS OMNIBUS ONE to create a new edition. Right now THE GHOSTS OMNIBUS ONE contains CHILD OF THE GHOSTS, GHOST IN THE FLAMES, and GHOST IN THE BLOOD, but the new version will add BLADE OF THE GHOSTS to that, since it fits chronologically between CHILD OF THE GHOSTS and GHOST IN THE FLAMES.

That way, I’ll be able to create a combo cover for THE GHOSTS OMNIBUS ONE containing the covers of all four books. I really like the current cover for THE GHOSTS OMNIBUS ONE, but for omnibus editions, the market really seems to favor either 3-D box set covers, or the sort of four-in-one covers I used for FROSTBORN OMNIBUS ONE and GHOST EXILE OMNIBUS ONE.

I don’t think I’ll put BLADE OF THE GHOSTS back into Kindle Unlimited in the future. It’s been an interesting experiment, and Kindle Unlimited offers some useful promotional tools, but those tools only really work if you put an entire series of novels into Kindle Unlimited, and I’m not willing to do that. Like, the FROSTBORN series is my best seller on Amazon, but it’s also my best seller on B&N, iTunes, Kobo, and every other platform, so it would be a bad idea to sacrifice the sales on those platforms for Kindle Unlimited.

(This also means that CHAMPION OF THE GHOSTS and FROSTBORN: THE KNIGHT QUESTS will be available on B&N, iTunes, Kobo, and Google Play later this year.)

Still, if I was just starting out now, I would probably put my series in Kindle Unlimited at first for greater visibility, and then expand it out to other platforms after the fourth or fifth book.

Now back to working on Chapter 22 of GHOST IN THE PACT! 🙂

-JM

So you want to self-publish?

Recently, I’ve gotten some questions about self-publishing (or indie publishing, as it’s often known). Rather than answer them myself, I will link to people offering better explanations.

Joanna Penn has written an excellent overview post – How To Self-Publish An Ebook – and has many other useful articles about the topic on her site.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch wrote a blog post about bestseller lists that turned into an excellent explanation of the underlying economics of indie publishing. Many people think that traditionally published writers make more money that self-published writers, but save for the top 1% of traditionally published writers, this is no longer the case. It’s not because publishers and agents are inherently dishonest or abusive (though many are), but indie publishing is more efficient and cost effective, the way a modern solid-state hard drive is more efficient and cost effective than an old 3 1/2 inch 1.44 MB floppy disk. A writer will make more per copy from a $3.99 self-published ebook than a mass market paperback, a trade paperback, and most hardcover sales.

Related to that topic, the Author Earnings website offers a detailed examination of Amazon’s bestseller lists, attempting to ascertain just how many books are sold on Amazon, and how many of those books were sold by traditional publishers and how many by indie publishers. The reports are well worth the read, especially if you enjoy data analysis.

Finally, it’s well worth reading David Gaughran’s excellent LET’S GET DIGITAL, a short introductory book to self-publishing. (It’s also available in print if you prefer to read in paper.) If you read both that book and Joanna Penn’s series of articles above, you will be well-equipped to tackle your own self-publishing projects.

-JM

introversion vs. extroversion in fiction

I recently read an interesting book on extroversion vs introversion, which made me think about extroversion and introversion in fiction.

Of my lead characters, I would say that Mazael Cravenlock, Ridmark Arban, Calliande, Annarah, Claudia Aberon, and Kylon of House Kardamnos would be extroverts, while Caina Amalas, Corvalis Aberon, Morigna, Lucan Mandragon, Nerina Strake, and Molly Cravenlock would be introverts.

Though Caina could pretend to be an extrovert for a very long time if necessary.

Nadia Moran would be an introvert, while her brother Russell Moran would be an extrovert, which is why Russell needs Nadia to drive him places so he can go be extroverted.

Morgant’s level of extroversion varies depending on how annoyed he is feeling at any particular moment.

The Old Demon is extremely extroverted, much to the regret of anyone who meets him.

Conventional models of psychology would not apply to someone like the Red Huntress.

-JM

a GHOST EXILE fix-up?

A confession: I was looking at putting together a GHOST EXILE fix-up from the GHOST EXILE short stories like CHAMPION OF THE GHOSTS, and in hindsight I really like the GHOST EXILE short stories.

I’ve enjoyed writing and reading short stories for a long time. If you think about, two of the most famous characters in literature – Sherlock Holmes and Conan of Cimmeria – got their start as recurring short story characters. Robert E. Howard, in fact, only wrote one actual novel with Conan, THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON, though some of the longer Conan stories like RED NAILS and THE SCARLET CITADEL got up to novella length. The novel is the dominant form of written fiction nowadays, but I’m pleased I’ve found a commercially viable niche for short stories in my new-release newsletter and the eventual fix-up novels.

But I think the GHOST EXILE short stories are my favorites in hindsight. I really like GHOST PRICE, GHOST RELICS, GHOST NAILS, GHOST KEEPER, and GHOST ARTS. I enjoyed the scene in GHOST ARTS when Caina and Morgant go to the art gallery, and Caina pretends to be Morgant’s empty-headed girlfriend (to Morgant’s great annoyance). Or the band of hapless thieves in GHOST RELICS, and Damla wincing at the hakim’s atrocious table manners in GHOST NAILS.

The question becomes, though – what stories to include in the fix-up? Right now GHOST RELICS is part of GHOST EXILE OMNIBUS ONE, and any short story that’s in the fix-up couldn’t be in the omnibus because of Kindle Unlimited’s terms.

On the other hand, maybe I could write a short GHOST EXILE prequel in the vein of BLADE OF THE GHOSTS, like a short novel or a really long short story, or do that instead.

Decisions, decisions. 🙂

-JM

Sherlock Holmes vs Caina Amalas

A Sherlock Holmes marathon tonight – I shall watch THE SPECKLED BAND and THE ADVENTURE OF THE NORWOOD BUILDER with Jeremy Brett playing Holmes. I think the Jeremy Brett version of THE ADVENTURE OF THE NORWOOD BUILDER achieves the rarest of all feats – a TV adaptation that slightly improves upon the original short story. Like, if I was rewriting THE ADVENTURE OF THE NORWOOD BUILDER, I would make the changes to the story that the TV adaptation made.

Still, THE SPECKLED BAND and THE ADVENTURE OF THE NORWOOD BUILDER are some of the best examples of short fiction in the English language, and everyone should read them.

It’s a pity that the public domain status of Sherlock Holmes is still in flux. About two years ago I wrote an outline for a short novel where Sherlock Holmes meets Caina Amalas, in a version of Victorian Britain where the Royal Magisterium uses sorcery to defend and protect the British Empire, and the Ghosts act as a check upon the power of the Queen’s Ghosts, but I decided that the risk of legal complications was simply too high, so I dropped the idea.

I suppose I shall simply have to write GHOST IN THE PACT instead. 🙂

-JM