Category Archives: World of the Demonsouled

selling short stories: The Bone Orcs & The Skull Trees

Today let’s talk both about the FROSTBORN short stories and a bit about writing and selling short stories.

Everyone likes short stories, but they’re hard to sell, because while people like short stories, they much prefer to buy and read novels.

Myself, I write short stories for two reasons. One, I enjoy doing them. Two, they make useful bonuses for my new-release newsletter. When I release a new novel, I also give away a free copy of a tie-in short story to my newsletter subscribers via Smashwords coupon code. It’s a nice bonus for the newsletter, and usually a couple hundred people just buy the short story outright, which is also a nice bonus for the author. 🙂

That said, I’ve never figured out quite what to do with the short stories after the coupon code expires. They just sort of sit there and don’t really do anything. They’ll sell a few copies a month (my oldest bonus short story, GHOST ARIA, sold three copies in May), which is nice, but won’t do much else.

So I’ve tried various experiments to sell more of the short stories, or to use them as promotional materials for my novels. Here are some of the things I’ve tried that didn’t really work:

-Enrolling the short stories in Kindle Unlimited and giving away free copies.

-When Kindle Unlimited’s new pay-per-page structure came along, I tried the short stories in that, and it didn’t really work, either.

(As an aside, I decided to stop using Kindle Unlimited altogether. It means you can’t sell on Kobo and iTunes and Google and the other platforms, it’s too unstable, and there are never-ending stories of problems like this one. While KU has benefits at the moment the cons of KU definitely outweigh the pros.)

-Bundling the short stories together into anthology-style collections. I gave away a bunch of them with CLOAK GAMES: THIEF TRAP and CLOAK GAMES: FROST FEVER, but that was pretty much it.

Then I stumbled onto the one thing that has really worked – the fix-up novel. A fix-up novel is a novel that originated as a chain of related short stories that were then fused together into a single book. A lot of writers have done that – Stephen King, Poul Anderson, Agatha Christie, Raymond Chandler, William Faulkner, Jack Vance, Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, and numerous others.

FROSTBORN: THE KNIGHT QUESTS is probably the most successful result of short stories I’ve done so far. Most of the FROSTBORN short stories are the origin stories of Ridmark’s companions (except for THE TRAITOR’S TALE, which has a lot of spoilers), and are combined in a frame story where the Warden of Urd Morlemoch lays out his plans.

So fix-up novels seem like a good long term idea, which led to another idea.

What if the short stories were designed to be joined together in a fix-up novel at the end? Usually the short stories are one-off tales – like, GHOST DAGGER doesn’t have much in common with GHOST THORNS. But what if they were designed to become a fix-up from the beginning?

The DEMONSOULED short stories would lend themselves well to that, since they’re all about a younger Mazael at Lord Malden’s court. After MASK OF SPELLS comes out, I’ll write one more story about Mazael as a young knight and combine it with the others to make a new fix-up novel, probably entitled SOUL OF KNIGHTS.

Also, I’m trying something new with the remaining five FROSTBORN short stories. They’ll all be about Ridmark’s journey into the Qazaluuskan Forest four years before FROSTBORN: THE GRAY KNIGHT, and in the end I’ll combine them into a fix-up novel called FROSTBORN: THE BONE QUEST.

It will be interesting to see how it does!

-JM

THE SERPENT KNIGHT now available!

SerpentKnight

May 2015 marks the 10th anniversary of the original publication of DEMONSOULED! To celebrate, I wrote THE SERPENT KNIGHT, a novella set in the DEMONSOULED workd, and it’s now available at Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon Germany, Amazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Google Play, and Smashwords.

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the internationally bestselling DEMONSOULED series, here is a new novella set in the world of the Demonsouled. 

Mazael Cravenlock has prevailed over terrible foes and now rules the Grim Marches with a firm hand. Yet when ruthless brigands threaten his lands, Mazael must take up his sword and defend his people.

But Mazael has enemies more powerful than mere bandits, enemies who see a chance to bring about his downfall…

THE SERPENT KNIGHT coming soon

SerpentKnight

I think THE SERPENT KNIGHT should be able to come out this week or next week. Meanwhile, here’s the cover art and the description!

To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the internationally bestselling DEMONSOULED series, here is a new novella set in the world of the Demonsouled.

Mazael Cravenlock has prevailed over terrible foes and now rules the Grim Marches with a firm hand. Yet when ruthless brigands threaten his lands, Mazael must take up his sword and defend his people.

But Mazael has enemies more powerful than mere bandits, enemies who see a chance to bring about his downfall…

-JM

four years, quarter of a million books, and a free DEMONSOULED novella coming soon

I started self-publishing four years ago, and in that time I have sold over a quarter of a million copies of my books. Thanks, everyone!

I had no idea this would work so well! When I started in April of 2011, I thought I would publish DEMONSOULED & SOUL OF TYRANTS, write a third DEMONSOULED book, and call it good. I would then focus on blog posts about Ubuntu Linux, and maybe sell one or two copies of my fantasy trilogy every fiscal quarter.

This was one of those times in life when it was good that things didn’t go according to plan! Or God’s plan for my life included selling a lot of ebooks. I don’t know why, but I’m definitely not going to complain.

If you will forgive a brief personal note, I really like self-publishing, especially compared to traditional publishing. Traditional publishing is a grim and joyless place that regularly erupts into nonsensical Internet flame wars, particularly SF/F traditional publishing.  I do not miss that at all, and regard it as a stupendous blessing that I never got another book contract after DEMONSOULED & THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS, since that meant my books were free of legal encumbrances once self-publishing came along. Self-publishing is a thousand times better than traditional publishing in every possible way.

I am very grateful for it, and for all of you who have bought my books over the last four years.

On a related note, next month is May, and that marks the 10th anniversary of the first time DEMONSOULED was published. (In the DRESDEN FILES book SKIN GAME, there is a line where Harry Dresden wonders how he became a guy that things happened to ten years ago, and I know exactly what Harry means!) After I wrote SOUL OF TYRANTS in 2005 and couldn’t get the publisher interested in it, I was pretty sure the DEMONSOULED series was done and dead. So it was amusing to look back from ten years later with a grand total of eight DEMONSOULED books written and tens of thousands of copies sold.

Anyway, as a way of saying thanks, next month I’m going to give away a new DEMONSOULED novella for free to my newsletter subscribers via Smashwords coupon code. Watch for it in the third or fourth week of May! (If you haven’t subscribed to my new-release newsletter, you can do so here.)

-JM

Reader Question Day #66 – all about The World Of The Demonsouled

Bob L asks:

What is the World Of The Demonsouled, and in what orders should I read the stories?

Short answer: the World of the Demonsouled are short stories and novellas set in the setting of the DEMONSOULED books. There isn’t really an official order, since all the stories take place before DEMONSOULED actually starts, but in terms of the setting’s chronology, the stories go in this order:

THE WANDERING KNIGHT

THE TOURNAMENT KNIGHT

THE DRAGON’S SHADOW

DragonsShadowWebCover

Cover image Copyright Sauderdarcher | Dreamstime.com & Antares614 | Dreamstime.com

The two KNIGHT stories deal with the younger days of Mazael Cravenlock, while THE DRAGON’S SHADOW is sort of an origin story for Lucan Mandragon.

Now for the longer answer. 🙂

Back in 2012, I had the idea to write alternating novellas in THE GHOSTS and the DEMONSOULED series. Like, when I released a novel in THE GHOSTS, I would also release a novella set in DEMONSOULED, and when I released a novel in DEMONSOULED, I would also release a novella set in THE GHOSTS. I hoped this would tide people over between novel releases.

In practice, the idea didn’t quite work out. People were annoyed, since they wanted a full novel, but instead received a novella. Additionally, there was some confusion about chronology. For instance, GHOST DAGGER takes place between GHOST IN THE FLAMES and GHOST IN THE BLOOD, but several people thought it took place after GHOST IN THE STORM. Plus, while I am a pretty quick writer, it took at least two weeks to write each novella…which was would further delay the next novel release. I was also worried about the novellas degenerating into prequelitis and failing to move the overall story forward.

So I adjusted tactics, and instead decided to write a short story, set in the same world, to accompany every novel release. Additionally, I would give the short story away for free to my newsletter subscribers as a thank you.

That was a lot closer to the spirit of what I wanted to do, and it has worked out pretty well so far, so I will keep doing it for the foreseeable future.

That said, there will be more short stories in the World of the Demonsouled at some point. If you read to the end of SOUL OF SWORDS, you know I intend to write more novels in the setting. But before I get there, I might want to do a short story or two in the setting.

There will also be a World of the Frostborn, naturally. 🙂

Many people write to ask:

When is GHOST IN THE ASHES coming out?

Soon! 🙂 If all goes well, hopefully the week after the Fourth of July.

-JM

THE DRAGON’S SHADOW now available!

Image copyright Dvargfoto | Dreamstime.com

I am pleased to report that THE DRAGON’S SHADOW, a stand-alone novella of the DEMONSOULED series, is now available.

Click here to read the first chapter of THE DRAGON’S SHADOW.

You can read the rest of it at Amazon, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords. (Availability on iBooks should be in a few weeks.)

Lucan Mandragon is the Dragon’s Shadow, the most powerful wizard of the Grim Marches. His brother hates him, his father regards him as a weapon, and the nobles distrust him…but they all fear his magic.

And when Lucan’s lost love Tymaen falls ill, stricken by a deadly poison, there is no one else who can save her.

But to save Tymaen, Lucan will have to plumb the secrets of a master necromancer…and face a trap that even his power cannot overcome.

-JM

THE DRAGON’S SHADOW – the first chapter

Image copyright Dvargfoto | Dreamstime.com

Click here to read the first chapter of THE DRAGON’S SHADOW.

The rest of the novella will be coming very soon. Here’s the description:

Lucan Mandragon is the Dragon’s Shadow, the most powerful wizard of the Grim Marches. His brother hates him, his father regards him as a weapon, and the nobles distrust him…but they all fear his magic.

And when Lucan’s lost love Tymaen falls ill, stricken by a deadly poison, there is no one else who can save her.

But to save Tymaen, Lucan will have to plumb the secrets of a master necromancer…and face a trap that even his power cannot overcome.

-JM

The Dragon’s Shadow coming soon

Image copyright Dvargfoto | Dreamstime.com

Now that GHOST IN THE STONE is finished, it’s time to start working on THE DRAGON’S SHADOW, a stand-alone DEMONSOULED novella about Lucan Mandragon.

What’s it about? Read on for the description!

Lucan Mandragon is the Dragon’s Shadow, the most powerful wizard of the Grim Marches. His brother hates him, his father regards him as a weapon, and the nobles distrust him…but they all fear his magic.

And when Lucan’s lost love Tymaen falls ill, stricken by a deadly poison, there is no one else who can save her.

But to save Tymaen, Lucan will have to plumb the secrets of a master necromancer…and face a trap that even his power cannot overcome.

If all goes well, it should be out before the end of the month.

-JM