Category Archives: Soul of Swords

How many DEMONSOULED books?

In today’s mail came a question asking how many total DEMONSOULED books there are.

Right now there are ten DEMONSOULED books in two series, and both series are finished.(So, no waiting for it to be finished! 🙂 The first series, the DEMONSOULED series proper, has seven books. The second series, MASK OF THE DEMONSOULED, is a trilogy with three books.

The first book DEMONSOULED is free on all ebook platforms if you want to give it a try.

-JM

15 years of DEMONSOULED

It just occurred to me that I started writing DEMONSOULED in August of 2001.

Fifteen years! Man. A lot has changed since 2001.

One of those changes is that unlike in August 2001 in August 2016 someone bought at least one copy of a DEMONSOULED book every day worldwide. I like to consider that a good change. 🙂

Thanks everyone! When I started DEMONSOULED in 2001, I had no idea I would still be working on the series 15 years later.

-JM

Kindle Unlimited and DEMONSOULED, Part I – a 56% successful experiment

(Today I’m going to ramble a bit about the business of self-publishing. Feel free to skip if it’s not a topic of interest!)

Recently, I decided to do an experiment with the DEMONSOULED series and Kindle Unlimited. DEMONSOULED will be in Kindle Unlimited for May, June, and most of July.

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 is typically set at $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. That said, Amazon seems to have stabilized the rate at around $1.30 per borrow by adding additional money to the fund every month, since (so far) Amazon seems unwilling to allow the borrow rate to drop below $1.30. It looks the rate for May came to about $1.34.

(ADDENDUM: The day I typed this, 6/15/2015, Amazon changed the payment structure for KU starting in July. It looks like instead of paying at 10%, KU will now pay roughly $0.01 for every page a reader actually reads. So July’s post will have to reflect that, though it doesn’t apply to May or to June.)

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.

That said, I’ve written a lot of books – over forty novels and a bunch of shorter things, for a total of over 100 different ebooks available. So I have some room to experiment. I’ve also noticed that some writers do really, really well off Kindle Unlimited. Granted, a lot of these writers seem to write romance novels where the female protagonist is in a love triangle with a vampire and a werewolf (or, depending on genre, a werebear or weredragon), or in a love triangle with a 21st century billionaire and a 12th century Scottish lord, and I don’t write books like that. That’s not to knock romance books – I simply don’t write them. (I usually get four or five books into a series before the protagonist gets a love interest.) So I was curious whether KU only worked for romance writers, or if it would work for fantasy writers as well.

MASK OF SWORDS was what finally prompted me to try the experiment. That book didn’t sell terribly well compared to my other books. Typically, a new GHOSTS novel or a new FROSTBORN book will clear 1,000 copies its first month, and it took MASK OF SWORDS six months to get that far. I would like to do two other MASK OF THE DEMONSOULED books, but pausing on FROSTBORN and THE GHOSTS to write them would take a hit to my book sales.

So what to do? Perhaps if I put the first seven DEMONSOULED books into Kindle Unlimited, I could promote them and get more readers into the DEMONSOULED series, and then I could finish MASK OF THE DEMONSOULED.

I did some math, and between the seven books in the DEMONSOULED series, I typically sold about 100 a month on all the non-Amazon ebook platforms – Barnes  & Noble, Kobo, iBookstore, Google Play, and Smashwords. Since KU pays about $1.30 a borrow, and a DEMONSOULED novel generally nets between $2 and $2.65 per sold copy, I would need to have about 200 borrows per month to cover the removal of the DEMONSOULED series from the other platforms.

So with that in mind, how did DEMONSOULED do in Kindle Unlimited in May?

In May, the DEMONSOULED series had 112 borrows, and sold 281 full copies. So if my goal was 200 borrows to replace the 100 sales DEMONSOULED would have had on all other platforms, the experiment was 56% successful.

Tune in next month for a discussion of June’s borrows – I tried some new marketing tactics in June, and I think it shall have some interesting results.

-JM

Reader Question Day #68 – the knightly orders of DEMONSOULED

Note that this week’s Reader Question Day CONTAINS SPOILERS for the entire DEMONSOULED series. Read at your own risk!

MM asks:

Would an Arminiar knight beat a Dominiar or a Justiciar knight?

Probably. The Arminiar knights are battle-hardened, on account of constantly fighting the Malrags coming down from the Great Northern Waste and invading Northreach.In fact, the Arminiars have done their jobs so well that most of the realm thinks Malrags are only a story, or an ancient foe from the past that long ago died out. Of course, in SOUL OF SERPENTS, everyone in the Grim Marches learns otherwise.

The Justiciars and the Dominiars, by contrast, haven’t faced a foe on the level of the Malrags in the centuries since Randur Maendrag accidentally destroyed Old Dracaryl. The Justiciar Order was originally founded to guard the realm from dark magic and serpent worship, but in time became corrupt and more interested in the acquisition of lands, especially after the fall of Old Dracaryl. The Dominiar Order split off in protest of that corruption…and, in time, spent most of its time trying to seize new lands and fighting the Justiciars.

But Mazael destroyed the Dominiars in SOUL OF TYRANTS and the Justiciars in SOUL OF SWORDS. So the Arminiars are the only knightly order left in the realm. One of the ideas I’m contemplating for the next series set in the world of DEMONSOULED is centering the story around the Arminiars, but I haven’t decided anything so far.

EJT asks:

If you do not mind me asking, how many books are you planning for the GHOSTS series?

As long as I can keep ‘em from getting stale and people keep buying them, I’ll keep writing GHOSTS books. :)

More concretely, I’m planning to do between ten and fourteen, with any more beyond fourteen determined by whether or not they’re getting stale and if people are still buying them.

-JM

ebook sales for June 2012

It occurred to me that I hadn’t done an ebook sales post for a while. Though to be fair, it was because I have been busy writing new books to sell. 🙂

I am pleased to report that I sold 7,279 books in June, for my best month ever. Of those, 825 were copies of SOUL OF SWORDS, which had a very strong first month.

Thanks, everyone! There are entire towns that have less than 7,279 people.

For the curious, here are total numbers dating back to April 2011, when I started doing ebooks.

April 2011: 22

May 2011: 105

June 2011: 236

July 2011: 366

August 2011: 489

September 2011: 1335

October 2011: 1607

November 2011: 2142

December 2011: 2340

January 2012: 3261

February 2012: 3750

March 2012: 3644

April 2012: 3521

May 2012: 3886

June 2012: 3580

July 2012: 4153

August 2012: 4608

September 2012: 4785

October 2012: 4923

November 2012: 5400

December 2012: 5584

January 2013: 6369

February 2013: 5265

March 2013: 7084

April 2013: 5069

May 2013: 5691

June 2013: 7279

-JM

SOUL OF SWORDS, the first week

SOUL OF SWORDS had a strong first week. Like, 200+ copies strong. Thanks, everyone!

I am impressed that many people have finished the book already, because it is a big book. Not as big as some, but still not short. Still, that is the nature of the writing business. A writer can take two months to write a book, but a determined reader can blast through it in two days. 🙂

-JM

SOUL OF SWORDS and numbers

Due to SOUL OF SWORDS, some disreputable rogue named Jonathan Moeller is (currently) the #93 fantasy author on Amazon US. Thanks everyone!

Browsing that list, it was interesting to see how many of the top-ranked fantasy novels actually seem to be romance novels with a fantasy trapping. Not that I have anything against romance novels, mind, but it seems clear that if I want to see more of the kind of books I really like, I’m just going to have to buckle down and write them myself. 🙂

-JM