Category Archives: Blade of the Ghosts

new cover art for BLADE OF THE GHOSTS

BLADE OF THE GHOSTS is getting new cover art, courtesy of Clarissa Yeo of Yocla Designs. Images and links below:

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Available at Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon GermanyAmazon Canada, Amazon Australia, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo, Google Play, and Smashwords.

Eighteen years old, Caina Amalas is a novice nightfighter of the Ghosts, the spies and assassins of the Emperor of Nighmar. Skilled with stealth and disguise, Caina is the unseen agent of the Emperor, working to maintain the peace and order of the Empire.

When a scholar uncovers an ancient relic from the Empire’s distant past, he unwittingly unearths dangerous secrets.

Secrets that might destroy the Empire and kill Caina…

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

BLADE OF THE GHOSTS – Permafree versus Kindle Unlimited

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Today I’m going to talk a bit about book marketing. Feel free to skip if you have no interest in the topic, or to ask questions if you’re curious!

For the last couple of years a successful marketing tactic for ebooks has been something called “permafree”. The idea is that if you have a multi-book series, you make the first book free on Amazon and Barnes & Noble and all the other ebook retailers. If it works, people download the first book for free, read it, like it, and then go on to purchase the other books in the series. This has worked out pretty well for me – DEMONSOULED, CHILD OF THE GHOSTS, FROSTBORN: THE FIRST QUEST, THE TOWER OF ENDLESS WORLDS, and THE TESTING are all free on all the ebook platforms, and they’ve done a good job of drawing people in to the rest of the books in their respective series. In marketing-speak, this is called building a “funnel” draws people in to the rest of the books.

In the last year and a half, free books have become less effective than they used to be on Amazon while continuing to work on the other retailers. One reason is that Amazon added an additional click to get to the free lists – they used to be displayed side by side with the paid bestseller lists, but now you have to specifically click through to find them.

A far bigger reason, though, is Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s subscription program for ebooks. I don’t think predictions that KU would destroy the paid ebook market have borne out – I sell more books on Apple, Kobo, and Google Play than I did before the advent of KU – but I do think that a lot of the people who used to read free books on Amazon have shifted over to Kindle Unlimited subscriptions instead.

The logical response, of course, would be to switch the first book of the series to Kindle Unlimited. The significant drawback would be that the formerly permafree book would no longer be available on the other retailers, and it would be kind of stupid to have, say, DEMONSOULED books 2-7 available on Kobo, but not the very first book. No one starts a series on the second book, or at least not very many people.

So I thought about this for a while, and I decided to try an experiment.

I wrote BLADE OF THE GHOSTS, a short novel set between CHILD OF THE GHOSTS (GHOSTS book #1) and GHOST IN THE FLAMES (GHOSTS book #2). When CLOAK GAMES: REBEL FIST comes out next week (if all goes well), I will give BLADE OF THE GHOSTS away free to my newsletter subscribers for a month, but after that month is up, I’ll put it into Kindle Unlimited.

We’ll see how it does. If it performs well on Kindle Unlimited, it will stay there, and if it does not, I’ll put it back on all the other retailers. It will make for an interesting marketing experiment, and if it doesn’t work, one can always obtain useful knowledge from even a failed experiment.

-JM

BLADE OF THE GHOSTS & a digression on book marketing

For the last two years, I’ve written a free GHOSTS short story and given it away for Christmas to my newsletter subscribers.

This year, though, I’m not doing that.

Instead, I’m writing a short GHOSTS novel, BLADE OF THE GHOSTS, and giving it away for free to newsletter subscribers when CLOAK GAMES: REBEL FIST comes out next month. It will be set between the events of CHILD OF THE GHOSTS and GHOST IN THE FLAMES. Newsletter subscribers will be able to get it for free via Smashwords coupon code for two weeks, and then it will go onto Kindle Unlimited.

(That’s the short news. A longer explanation is below, complete with a digression on the business of self-publishing.)

For a long time now, CHILD OF THE GHOSTS has been free on Amazon and everywhere else. The marketing idea behind it is people download the first book, read it, and like it enough to move on to the other 15 books in the series.  (Doing so is commonly called a “permafree” book.) This has worked out pretty well, and I bet a lot of you reading this got into THE GHOSTS and GHOST EXILE because you read CHILD OF THE GHOSTS for free. Thanks for coming along this far!

That said, free books have gradually been becoming less effective on Amazon. They’re not ineffective for marketing purposes by any means, but less effective than they used to be. Part of this is the gradual maturing of the ebook market, but a big part is that Amazon has been deemphasizing free books in favor of Kindle Unlimited.

The downside of Kindle Unlimited is that a book in KU can’t be on any other ebook vendor – no iTunes or Google Play or Kobo. I seriously considered putting the first nine books of THE GHOSTS (CHILD OF THE GHOSTS through GHOST IN THE SURGE) in Kindle Unlimited for Christmas, but decided against it since the series has been doing well on Kobo and iTunes lately. Amazon might have been deemphasizing free books in favor of Kindle Unlimited, but free books still work pretty well on Barnes & Noble and Kobo and iTunes and Google Play.

So that is the crux of the dilemma – put books in KU in favor of greater Amazon visibility and lose out on sales on other platforms, or keep the books available on other platforms and be at a disadvantage against other books in KU. (As of this writing, GHOST IN THE THRONE is #1 in its category on Amazon US, but of the top 20 books in that category, 11 of them are KU books.)

Therefore I decided to split the difference and write BLADE OF THE GHOSTS. Since it’s set between CHILD OF THE GHOSTS and GHOST IN THE FLAMES, it will be an excellent place to start the series. I can put BLADE OF THE GHOSTS in KU and use it to promote, while leaving all my existing books available on all the other ebook platforms.

It will be an interesting experiment. And if it doesn’t work, no harm done: after three months I can always put BLADE OF THE GHOSTS on all ebook platforms! Subscribers to my new-release newsletter will get the book for free no matter what, so be sure to subscribe now.

-JM