This weekend, I decided to spend a little time formatting one of my books (Dragon Stones, natch) for the Amazon Kindle. The Kindle, of course, is an e-book reader notable for its built-in “Whispernet” wireless client, which allows the user to shop and buy books and have them delivered directly to the device without ever having to connect it to a computer. I got a Kindle 2 for my birthday this year and it quickly became my preferred way to read books. But this isn’t a post about the Kindle, it’s a post about creating Kindle content.
A while back I mentioned that Dragon Stones was now available on Amazon.com and BN.com, but Long Before Dawn hadn’t arrived there yet. I recently took another look and LBD still wasn’t out in the big stores. So I went back to Lulu and took a closer look at the project and noticed that, way down under the “price” section, it said something to the effect of “To be set when your book is approved”. So evidently I forgot to click the “Approve” button after getting my last proof of LBD way back in, oh, April was it? Just think of all the millions of dollars in sales I’ve lost because of that! 😐
Anyway, I have now clicked the “Approve” button, so Long Before Dawn should be showing up on Amazon.com and the other outlets soon.
A while back, I sent a copy of Dragon Stones to the artist in Italy. With his sharp artist’s eye, he noticed that the cover illustration of the dragon was not anti-aliased properly. This problem has now been fixed, and the cover art looks much better — the lines are smooth rather than pixellated and the details are sharper.
I’m of the mind that anyone who bought Dragon Stones with the pixellated cover art is deserving of a pristine copy that looks the way the artist intended. If you have a copy of the book and would like to get the updated version, please let me know and I will send you one free of charge. (Obviously you shouldn’t post your address information in a public comment, so feel free to e-mail me at the listed address.)
Now, some might say that this could be an expensive thing for me to do. But don’t worry. I know how many copies of Dragon Stones have been sold, and it won’t be. (Too bad …)
So I found out today that someone wrote a capsule review of Dragon Stones on Lulu.com. (My father, who keeps closer track of this sort of thing than I do, let me know about it.) With some trepidation I went to read the review, but I needn’t have worried — this is the best review I’ve gotten since M. Kenyon Charboneaux rated Night Watchman “1,000 on a scale of 1-5”. Although the review is anonymous, let me assure everyone that I didn’t write it myself; I was busy in the mountains all day today!
Dragon Stones6 out of 61 Jun 2008byThe story captures the reader right away with interesting characters and descriptive writing. The writer is, in fact, facile with words and the book is an easy read. While it follows the adventure genre of characters moving from situation to situation, one does not wonder, as with some novels, when the string of obstacles will end. I might add that the cast of characters is diverse and interesting. Although it is a lengthy novel, it was not overlong and kept my interest. While the ending ties everything up decently, there are enough strings left for a couple of sequels, and I, for one hope they follow soon.
Dragon Stones is now available direct from Lulu.com! I’m still putting the finishing touches on the formatting before submitting it for distribution via the usual channels, but at this point I think that further changes are unlikely. (And if I do change something after you buy it, then you will have a rare limited edition copy!)
As I’ve mentioned, Dragon Stones is a fantasy novel, so anyone who’s been a little squeamish about reading A Flock of Crows is Called a Murder or Long Before Dawn or (especially) Night Watchman needn’t fear — the goriest thing in Dragon Stones is a swordfight between a couple of the characters (but I won’t spoil anything by saying which). If you enjoy fantasy novels, check it out — I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!
In other news, I’m still editing and formatting my ghost story Father’s Books as my next release. Although it’s a horror novel (again), it’s not nearly as, um, intense (*COUGH* gory *COUGH*) as Night Watchman or Long Before Dawn, so even the squeamish might be able to read that one. I’ll have my wife look at it and report back; nobody’s as squeamish as she is!
Last month, it came out that Amazon.com is instituting a new policy that print-on-demand publishers, such as Lulu.com and Hard Shell Word Factory (publisher of Night Watchman), must use Amazon.com’s own POD service BookSurge* or have the print editions of their books dropped from the main store (though they can still be sold by third parties through the Amazon marketplace). Some companies, like Lulu, quickly caved … uhhh, agreed to use BookSurge; others, like Hard Shell, are taking a harder line and refusing to accede to Amazon’s new rules. The net result, for me, is that Night Watchman may be disappearing from the Amazon.com store in the future. I will be watching to see if this happens; so far, it’s still there, but they only have one copy left (“order soon — more on the way”).
I haven’t quite decided yet what I think of this whole thing. I’m not really sure that Amazon doing anything differently from Wal-Mart, which is notorious for beating up suppliers to cut costs and lower prices. I don’t think Wal-Mart runs its own factories and requires its suppliers to use them, though. (I could be wrong; if I wanted to do stuff like “research” and “fact-checking” I would be writing non-fiction.) I guess I’d have to say that on the face of it Amazon is being anti-competitive and the ultimate upshot is likely to be higher POD costs, but we’ll see how it shakes out. I don’t have much to lose whether my books are on Amazon or not. The ones who do have something to lose are, I think, the small publishers; a lot of folks in the small press and self-publishing world are extremely agitated about Amazon’s move, and some are calling for a boycott. Will a boycott succeed? Probably not; it’s likely to be more symbolic than anything else. After all, Amazon has been boycotted before, notably over their one-click patent. The Internet was a smaller place then (fewer tubes) and the boycott still had no noticeable effect. The current issue at hand is about as arcane as the one-click patent issue, and just as few people care about it; I think Amazon will just get away with it, until and unless it attracts attention from regulators (i.e., never). In any case, I am neither an economist nor an MBA, so my opinion on such matters is probably worth about as much as I make on sales of my book from Amazon.com — i.e., next to nothing.
Anyway, if you’re looking for a copy of Night Watchman and you can’t find it at Amazon, you can always buy it directly from any number of places, like Barnes and Noble or directly from Hard Shell. Or you can just swing by the house and pick up a copy; I’ll even sign it, too.
*Disclaimer: I used BookSurge to tear apart, scan, and republish A Flock of Crows is Called a Murder after the original publisher, DarkTales, went out of business.
Long Before Dawn is now available from Lulu.com in both print and electronic versions. Huzzah! It will eventually be available from Amazon.com and other booksellers, but that is still a week or two away as I have yet to receive my ISBN. I will post a follow-up when this is ready. In the meantime, if you’re interested in purchasing a copy of Long Before Dawn directly from my Lulu storefront, you can do so here (check the link in the sidebar) or here.
In the past, I’ve made a habit of giving free, signed copies of my books to anybody who asks for one. This is partly because I’m more interested in having readers than in making money (although I wouldn’t turn down big bucks for the movie rights), partly because hardly anybody asks for one, and partly because I’m not really comfortable exhorting people to buy my stuff. (This is why I need an agent.) However, it’s been pointed out that giving away books online could get prohibitively expensive, so I’m going to have to forgo the “free” part, and exhort people to buy my stuff*. I will still be more than happy to sign copies, though. If you’re interested, drop me a line.
Thanks, and happy reading!