Category Archives: eBooks

print books

I’ve been half-heartedly experimenting with print books over the last year, and I now have eight books available in print. (DEMONSOULED, SOUL OF TYRANTS, SOUL OF SWORDS, CHILD OF THE GHOSTS, GHOST IN THE FLAMES, GHOST IN THE ASHES, GHOST IN THE MASK, and FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT.) They tend to sell only a few copies a month, so I haven’t paid close attention to them.

But in December they’ve had a big sales spike. The logical conclusion is that people are buying them as Christmas gifts. Which is so nice! That means someone liked the book enough to give it to someone else. That doesn’t happen every day.

So, thank you, holiday gift shoppers! (Instead of thinking of the ebook version and the print version, I may have to think in terms of the “ebook version” and the “holiday gift version.”)

-JM

THE TERRARCH CHRONICLES, by William King

One of the more interesting series of self-published novels I’ve read in 2013 was THE TERRARCH CHRONICLES, by William King. The series has four books – DEATH’S ANGELS, THE SERPENT TOWER, THE QUEEN’S ASSASSIN, and SHADOWBLOOD.

To sum up, the books are basically a cross between Glen Cook’s THE BLACK COMPANY and H.P. Lovecraft, set in an 18th century Europe if 18th century Europe were ruled by racist magic-using elves.

In the setting, the elves call themselves Terrarchs, and invaded the human world after their homeland fell victim to some mysterious catastrophe. A thousand years later, the Terrarchs still rule over the humans, but their empire has fractured into several competing states, all which regard humans differently – some treat humans as free albeit second-class citizens, while others regard humans as enslaved cattle. However, all the Terrarchs are starting to lose their grip, as the humans are simply outbreeding them, and developing technology is beginning to erode the edge the Terrarchs’ magic and longevity give them. Magic beats sword, but a cannon loaded with grapeshot beats both magic and sword.

The chief protagonist of the story is Rik, a half-human, half-Terrarch soldier. Since halfbreeds are despised everywhere, Rik started out as a thief, and then joined the army to escape his vengeful former associates. When sent to fight a gang of demon-worshiping rebels, Rik kills a renegade Terrarch sorcerer who had been aiding the rebels. Rik takes possession of the sorcerer’s spellbooks and tries to teach himself magic from them, failing to realize that a lot of very dangerous people, human and Terrarchs both, want the contents of those spellbooks.

Mayhem ensues.

The the books have a compelling plot, and does a good job of capturing the feel of Europe at the start of the industrial era, the poverty and despair alongside the wealth and the massive possibilities. When discussing fantasy, it’s useless to talk about historical realism, because if you have a setting where people can summon up giant spider-demons, you have taken realism out back to be shot. But you can talk about verisimilitude, and THE TERRARCH CHRONICLES does a good job with the verisimilitude of the setting. Naturally, the additional of sorcerous elves and otherworldly horrors to early industrial Europe simply adds spice.

It’s the rare writer who can create “morally ambiguous” characters without having them turn into, to put it simply, “unlikable jerks”, but Mr. King pulls it off. Rik, Sardec, and Lady Asea all have fascinating character arcs – Rik starts out as a soldier and a petty thief and becomes something much stronger and darker, while Sardec begins as an arrogant elitist and becomes something almost like a hero.

Definitely recommended, and I hope there are more books in the series one day.

-JM

Thanksgiving 2013

Happy Thanksgiving! THURSDAYS OF SWORD & SORCERESS 28 will resume next week.

This year, I am thankful to God for all the many of you who have bought copies of my books, left reviews, and left comments here or at another one of my websites.

Thanks, everyone! It has been a good writing year, and I hope 2014 is a good year for all of you, too.

-JM

 

Durchschnittliche!

Unbekannt means unknown.

Rezensionen means reviews.

Taschenbuch means paperback.

Aktueller means current.

Verkaufsrang means sales rank.

Korrekturen means corrections.

Durchschnittliche means average.

Herausgeber means publisher.

Dateigröße means file size.

Fremdsprachige means foreign language.

And these are just some of the many German words I’ve learned since I started browsing my books on Amazon Germany. :)
-JM

Reader Question Day #77 – all about the Kindle Fires

This week’s Reader Question Day actually has nothing to do with writing.

MLM asks, concerning Amazon’s Kindle Fire tablets:

Tell me everything you know about Kindle Fires. I’m coveting…

Everything I know? This will take a while! :)

Basically, there are choices. Four models are available currently:

The 7-inch Kindle Fire HD, at $139 with 8 GB of storage.

The 9-inch Kindle Fire HD, at $229 with 16 GB of storage.

The 7-inch Kindle Fire HDX, at $229, with 16 GB of storage.

The 9-inch Kindle Fire HDX, at $379, with 16 GB of storage.

(Models with higher storage and cellular connectivity are available, but obviously that drives up the price.)

The 7-inch HD Fire has a 1200 x 800 display and no camera.

The 9-inch HD Fire has a 1920 x 1200 display (basically, more pixels so the screen looks prettier and more things fit on it) and a front-facing camera for Skype and such.

The 7-inch Fire HDX has a 1920 x 1200 display, which means it basically packs the same of pixels as the 9-inch Fire HD in a smaller space, so the screen looks very, very good. It also has the front-facing camera for Skype and so forth. It will have a lighter and thinner build than the HD Fires, and a better battery life.

The 9-inch Fire HDX has a 2560 x 1600 display, which is a lot of pixels and one of the best tablet displays currently on the market. It also has front and back cameras, so you can take pictures with it, though I imagine that would be rather awkward. Basically, the nine-inch HDX is the nicest of the lot, but the most expensive by far.

Both the HD and the HDX Fires come with Special Offers – Amazon sets the lock screen to show ads and featured deals on products it thinks you’ll like. Some people find it creepy, but I suspect you would not object. You can pay more for a Fire without Special Offers, but most people don’t.

The HDX Fires have better battery life and are lighter than the HD models, but the HD Fires aren’t particularly heavy and get good battery life.

Both the HDX and the HD have good speakers, and you can use them without headphones in a quiet room. Both make unexpectedly good portable stereo systems.

The HDX Fires also come with a feature called MayDay – you hit the MayDay button, and within seconds an Amazon rep appears for a video chat to solve your problem (assuming your Internet connection is working). I personally think that’s a bit creepy, but I think most people will love the feature. Don’t know if you’ll ever use it.

The content offerings on all the Fire models are very heavily geared towards Amazon – they work well with Kindle, Amazon MP3, and Amazon Instant Video and so forth. There are Netflix and Hulu Plus apps available for the Fires, but the Fire tablets work best with Amazon’s media services. Obviously, you won’t be able to install the Nook app on a Kindle Fire, or anything from Apple.

Speaking off apps, the app selection is somewhat limited for the Kindle Fires. The only source to get new apps is from the Amazon Appstore, not the Google Play store. The selection isn’t terrible, and most (but not all) of the popular ones are in there. However, certain Android apps might be missing, so if there’s an app you absolutely MUST have, it’s good to check to see if it is there first.

Related to that, the Kindle Fires do not have a lot of offline storage. The baseline model, the HD 7-inch, comes with 8 GB of storage, and after the OS and various apps are installed, I believe only 5 GB or so is available for user files, and 10 GB on the HDX 7-inch model. Additionally, the Fires do not offer microSD slots for storage expansion. One HD movie can weigh in at about 6 GB, so if you have a big music or video collection, you’re not going to fit a lot of it on any model of Fire. (I think Amazon prefers that you stream everything anyway.)

Ebooks take up a comparatively small amount of space, so you won’t have to worry about filling it up with ebooks unless you have something like 4,000 books or more in your library.

In the ads Amazon has been touting how you can work with Microsoft Office documents on a Fire HDX, but practically speaking, it’s hard to actually do work on a tablet. You can probably use the Fires to read a long Word document or spreadsheet or something, but if you actually need to sit down and compose a long document or a PowerPoint presentation, you’re going to use your laptop.

So, to sum up, if you want a 7-inch Fire, go with the 7-inch Fire HD on cost, or a 7-inch Fire HDX if you’re willing to spend the extra $100 for a nicer screen. If you want a 9-inch Fire, get the 9-inch Fire HD – I don’t think the 9-inch Fire HDX is sufficiently improved over the 9-inch HD to justify the extra cost.

And that is all I know about the Kindle Fires.

-JM

a milestones post

Some exciting milestones in October.

FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT sold its 1,000th copy in October, in two in a half months. Of course, GHOST IN THE MASK sold its 1,300th copy in October, managing that feat in a mere six weeks. (Sorry, Ridmark Arban – I suppose Caina Amalas is simply more charming.)

And A KNIGHT OF THE SACRED BLADE (the second book of THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS series) sold its 1,000th copy in October, and that took seventeen months. But it was a particularly satisfying milestone. I wrote the entire THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS series in 2003 (more on that here), and the books sat unread and forgotten in my hard drive for years.

So it’s good to know that I didn’t waste 2003. :)

-JM

ebook sales for September 2013

Some self-publishers (and potential self-publishers) read this blog, and since I haven’t done a sales post in a while, I thought I would do one today. Feel free to skip if you’re not interested in the business side of the writing stuff.

In September of 2013, I am pleased to report that I sold 6,014 books. Of those, 736 were copies of GHOST IN THE MASK. Thanks, everyone!

Some other interesting numbers as of September 2013:

-Both GHOST IN THE FORGE and SOUL OF SKULLS passed their 3,000th copy sold!

-SOUL OF SWORDS has sold 1,876 copies as of the end of September.

-GHOST IN THE ASHES has sold 1,920 copies. One of them was even in print! :)

-In August and September, FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT sold 776 copies, which is pretty good for the first book in a series with no sequels yet. (I shall rectify this situation soon.)

-In the first 9 months of 2013, I have given away about 52,000 copies of CHILD OF THE GHOSTS and 25,500 copies of DEMONSOULED.

-This year so far I have sold 56,602 books.

Thanks, everyone! Obviously none of this would have happened if you didn’t, you know, actually buy the books. :)

-JM

impressions of iOS 7

I’ve made a few jokes about iOS 7 here. But in fairness, I have an iPod Touch I use to listen to music while writing and for testing how my books look in iBooks, and I upgraded it to iOS 7. It’s not all that different from iOS 6, just a little shinier. But there are several little things I like about it:

-The number buttons on the lockscreen are much bigger. It’s a lot easier to unlock the screen one-handed.

-You can control the music playback from the lock screen. It is pleasant not to have to unlock the device to change which song is playing.

-Speaking of control, the new Control Center is nice. Swipe up from the bottom of the screen, and you can control the music playback, the wifi/Bluetooth, and quickly access the camera, the calculator, and a few other commonly used apps. Granted, Apple “borrowed” this feature from Android. But to be fair, Android “borrowed” quite a few things from iOS, so no sense worrying about it.

-You can get to the Spotlight search by swiping down on any home screen. Since I have something like 22 gigabytes of music, and I sometimes I want to play a particular song without digging through several levels of menus, this is nice.

-Navigating in the Music app is easier, because everything is just slightly bigger. Granted, that means more scrolling, but it’s easier to accurately tap on items.

I don’t use the iPod Touch for anything except music and testing how my books look in iBooks, so I can’t really speak to iOS 7’s other features. That said, iOS 7 does make the iPod Touch into a better music player.

-JM