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Archive for the ‘Ebooks’ Category

New Collection and Also Music for Writing

First, the business stuffs or whatever.

I have a new fantasy short story collection out.  Here are the shiny details:

A pregnant witch must decide between protecting her heritage and protecting her unborn child… A man looking for a better life learns there is a permanent price attached to change… Grieving for his lost brother, a man faces the mother of all tornadoes with a little magical assistance… When a social worker threatens to break apart her family, a single mother of two must use all her imagination and courage to escape to a better world.

This is a collection of four fantasy short stories from Annie Bellet.  Included are: River Daughter, La Última Esperanza, Roping the Mother, The Scent of Sunlight.

*Bonus Material*
The first five chapters of “A Heart in Sun and Shadow”, a fantasy novel set in a re-imagined ancient Wales.

You can buy it for Kindle here: http://www.amazon.com/River-Daughter-Other-Stories-ebook/dp/B005SM8372/

And in all other formats via Smashwords here: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/93998

Now, on to what I want to talk about in this post.

Music. Specifically, the music I use when writing.  I’m always curious about what other people listen to while writing (or don’t listen to) but I am not sure I’ve shared some of my favorites.

It often depends on what I’m writing, but generally, I can’t write without music.  I gotta have it.  I prefer music without English or Spanish words (or at least pretty incomprehensible lyrics if they are in a language I understand).  But instead of just waxing on forever about this band or that song or whatever, I figured I’d just post some links so you can listen to things yourself.

For writing SF, lately I’ve been totally hooked on the Halo 3: ODST soundtrack.  Listen to this and tell me it doesn’t make you want to go write something full of spaceships and brave people and guns and stuff:

I’ve also been listening to the Bastion game soundtrack a ton.  You can get the soundtrack (or listen to it) here: http://supergiantgames.bandcamp.com/

For writing fantasy, especially epic-feeling fantasy, Two Steps from Hell is pretty much the winner.  Listen to this and then go write a giant sword fight or sweeping reunion among long-lost companions: 

In general, I’ve been enamored of the Red Sparowes lately:

And for writing romances or fantasy or pretty much anything highly emotional scenes, you can’t go wrong with anime soundtracks.  I really love the work of Yoko Kanno:

So that’s the story with me and writing music.  The right song while writing a scene can help me tap into the emotional core I’m looking for or help me visualize the story I’m telling.  I don’t know how people write without music.  It works for some. Just not for me.

By the way, I’m always on the lookout for more writing music.  So if anyone has suggestions of things I might not have heard of, don’t be afraid to post some links in the comments.

September and Sundry

September was a stressful month.  I was still recovering from the summer and Clarion (and all the other travel I did).  I was also doing a lot of sitting around and trying to figure out what I should be writing and where my energy should be going.  I think I’ve  got that sorted at least, though it means writing in other genres.  Science Fiction just doesn’t have the large readership I want to tap into, so I’m expanding my horizons and testing new waters.

Ebook sales started out amazing and then died off almost completely until the very end of the month.  I don’t know why but I wasn’t the only one seeing the Kindle sales fall like a stone, so who knows.  I put up another short story collection and a novel in a different genre under a pen name.  Over the next six months or so I’ll be putting up quite a bit of work under pen names, so Annie Bellet probably won’t have much new (other than The Raven King which is coming this winter at some point, I promise).  My Clarion project book is also in the works and that will be up in the next month or two.

Here are the stats, such as they are:

Ebooks sold: 102

Paper books sold: 0

Words written: 11,206

In other news, Daily SF got SFWA qualified, which means that if I can scrounge up 80 bucks, I, too, can be a full SFWA member.  At the moment I’m super broke, so I won’t be joining.  But I will before WorldCon next year, probably, even though I’m more or less leaving NY publishing behind and focusing my efforts on publishing my own work.  I am still going to write and (hopefully) sell stories to magazines, so it might be useful to be an SFWA member.  We’ll see.

I will be a panelist at the Portland, OR convention Orycon.  I’ll post my schedule closer to the convention.

So that’s the news with me lately.  Chapters of Casimir Hypogean will still go up each Monday and I have many new victims for my Neo-pro Interview series, so look for those on Thursdays.

New Short Story Collection

I released another short story collection as an ebook. This one is all science fiction and all the stories deal with space travel or distant planets in some way.  It includes my other Clarion application story, “Pele’s Bee-keeper”, which also was a semi-finalist in the Writers of the Future contest.  “No Spaceships Go” appeared in December on Daily Science Fiction and will be reprinted in the third issue of Scapezine: the magazine of Young Adult SF.

Here’s the cover:

Here’s the blurb:

A shuttle crash and a rescue by a mysterious woman alone on a deserted planet leads to political and physical dangers… A captain facing court-martial discovers an alien in hyperspace… In the not so far future, a teenage boy has to choose between love and traveling to the stars… On a far away planet, one old miner finds something beneath the ice that forces him to face his grief… Two brothers offered a second chance at their dreams of manned space exploration face technological and personal dangers that could cost them far more than just their program…

This collection of both new and previously published science fiction contains four short stories and a novella. Included are “Pele’s Bee-keeper”, “The Memory of Bone”, “No Spaceships Go”, “Beneath the Ice and Still”, and “The Light of the Earth as Seen from Tartarus”.

Here’s where you can buy it:  For Kindle, For Nook, All Formats.

Tomorrow- another chapter of Casimir Hypogean!

WotF Results, August Summary

Well, in what very well might be my second to last quarter of eligibility, I got another honorable mention in Writers of the Future.  Go figure.  At least I’ll pro-out with a stack of certificates, right? Bright side and all that.

Ebook sales held steady for August despite people apparently thinking that summer would be the slow months.  I’m hoping they were right and that this fall is going to be even better.  And I’m really looking forward to the holidays when many more people will acquire e-readers.

Here’s the numbers:

Ebook sales: 105 (Note: Smashwords hasn’t updated since June for most of the places other than Apple, so I don’t know about some sales yet)

Paper sales: 3

Words written: 19, 904

Yeah. My word counts have died down horribly.  But that’s okay. I’ll make up for it this month.  There’s probably no way I’m going to hit 900,000 words this year, but I think I’ll hit 500,000 or so, which is more than half of goal. Clarion and my husband losing his job side-tracked me a lot.

I have another SF collection ready to go (just waiting on one rejection (or sale) ) and I’ll start the weekly chapters of Casimir Hypogean tomorrow so that my blog is totally neglected while I’m writing The Raven King.  Most of the plot for Raven King fell on my head while I was driving to Reno for Worldcon, so I feel confident that I can bust out the novel in good time.

 

One Year of Indie Publishing

Yeah, I am not sure I like the term “indie” either, but it has become pretty common usage, so here goes.

In July of 2010, I decided to test out the e-book waters with three short stories.  I put them up under a name that has no internet presence (you can find those stories here if you are curious) and sat back to see if anyone would buy them.  That’s right. I didn’t bother with promotion or anything because hey, they were just short stories and literary short stories at that.  Since then, well, Music in the City became my bestselling story, outselling anything until I put up Surfacing.  When I wrote Surfacing and put it up at the end of April, it then became my new bestselling story (usually it accounts for 30-40 of my sales each month, which, as you will see, is the bulk of my sales).  Under my published/known name (Annie Bellet), my short story Broken Moon was my bestseller (10-15 copies a month) since it went up in April until I put my SF novella Light of the Earth as Seen from Tartarus free. Since it went not-free, it has sold over 40 copies in just a couple weeks though that appears to be slowing down.

But here is a year of sales, by month:

July- 3
August- 4
Sept- 3
Oct- 4
Nov- 2
Dec- 12
(released Spacer’s Blade & Other Stories)
Jan- 17
(released Light of the Earth as Seen from Tartarus (LoTEaSFT)
Feb- 18
(released Heart in Sun and Shadow)
March- 39
April- 34
(Released 3 short stories)
May- 84
(Released Gifts in Sand and Water collection, lowered LoTEaSFT to 1.99)
June- 87
July- 103
(LoTEaSFT was free for 2.5 weeks of July on Kindle with 3257 downloads)

I have also sold 2 print copies of A Heart in Sun and Shadow, one via Amazon, one through the distribution.  (If you are in the Portland, Oregon area and want a print copy, Annie Bloom’s Books in Multnomah Village carries a few and they (and I!) would be thrilled if you went and bought a copy there.)

I don’t know about all the June and July sales yet since Smashwords hasn’t completely updated, but usually for this sort of recording purpose, I count sales in the month they show up, not when they were actually sold (I don’t do this for my tax/permanent records, for obvious reasons).

But a year of ebooks looks like I’ve sold about 410 ebooks and 2 print books across 10 titles.  Only one of the ebooks up is a novel. I have two short story collections, one novella, and the other six ebooks are short stories.

By December I should have at least three more novels out (including the sequel to A Heart in Sun and Shadow), so I am optimistic that this next year will look even better since releasing new work has so far been the best way I see to increase sales.  I also have three more short story collections in the works including my Clarion project book.  Everything should be out by the Holidays.

Speaking of sequels- The Raven King, book 2 of the Chwedl duology, has been delayed. When I set the deadline for Summer ’11, I didn’t realize I’d get into Clarion.  So I’m pushing it back to Winter ’11 because I want to make sure I have time to write the book I want to write and make it awesome.  I also need to re-acquaint myself with the world I built for the first book.  So it is coming this year, just a little later than I’d originally planned.  Also coming in December are at least the first two books of the Pyrrh Considerable Crimes Division.  Book 1: Avarice is mostly complete, I’m waiting to write the others before I release it.  I’m also waiting on the cover artist (the covers are paintings!). I’m really excited about this series though (it’s my Law & Order with sword fights series).

So that’s a year in indie publishing for me.  Here’s for a kick-ass Holiday season for all of us. *grin*

Quickie July Summary

Final week of Clarion is upon me.  I’ll have my post-Clarion wrap-up post (and Kickstarter project book update) AFTER I get home and find out what sleeping in a real bed is like again.

So here’s some number for July (that’s the reason you are here, right? Dirty little numbers):

Ebooks sold- 103

Free ebooks “sold”- 3,257

Print books sold- 1

Words written- approximately 29,275

Stories sold- 0

So yeah. That’s my sad stats.  So far I’ve written 8 stories at Clarion so far with two more on deck this week (one will be workshopped, one will just go into the project book) and maybe one more started this week so that I can slot it into the project book if I need to.

WotF Q2 Results and Sundry

I got a Silver HM for Writers of the Future 2nd Quarter 2011.  My second Silver HM in a row.  Guess I need to step up my game somehow.  If only I could go to an intensive, 6 week workshop on writing SF/F fiction.  (Oh, wait….)

My SF novella is still free on Kindle for a limited time and over 3,000 people have downloaded it.  Want to be cool, too? You can Get it Here!

And my SF collection “The Spacer’s Blade& Other Stories”  was featured on Daily Cheap Reads.  Go here, check it out.

There. That’s all I got. Sorry.  Clarion has 2.5 weeks left, and then I’ll try to formulate some thoughts on it, etc.

June Summary and Other News

I didn’t keep great stats for June, but here goes the quickie version:

Ebooks sold: 87

Words written: 18,654

Stories sold: 2

Monies earned: 1959.17 (most from Kickstarter project)

So, in other news:

Clarion is awesome so far.  We have a really nice group here and everyone is super interesting.  This has led to me getting precious little writing done (about 12k words the first week, only 8.5k that I kept.)  I am going to be better about carving out writing time next week, I swear.  I’m learning lots (got a whole novel outlined using an exercise that Nina Hoffman did with us) and having a good time so far.

I also sold a story to Daily Science Fiction which means that come September when I think DSF has their first anniversary,  I should be SFWA qualified.  That’s a nice milestone and I’m pleased to have done it in less than two and a half years.  I’ve also sold half the stories I’ve written this year, so I hope it is a sign that my skill levels are rising.

Anyway, need to go read and do some stuff for tomorrow.  I will probably be pretty absent from the blog due to Clarion.  Must get up to antics and such, you know.

Refined Cunning Plan

Okay.  After thinking about it a lot and discussing things with some other people, I think I need to refine my plan.  Because of what I already have out, and my writing schedule for the rest of the year, there’s really no way to pull off my dueling genres experiment in anything resembling scientific fashion.

So I’m morphing the plan.  One of the things people constantly try to bring up as a point against putting up ebooks is that there will soon be too many on the market and no one but people with huge marketing dollars behind them will be read.  I have a few things to say about this.

One: Soon? Really? There are hundreds of thousands of ebooks available for Kindle.  There are millions of paperback books available as well through Amazon and other retailers.  Soon has happened. I think it happened a while ago (maybe before I was born in the paperback world).

Two:  How do readers find books now? Word of mouth. Reviews. Search terms and product tags. Etc.  Advertisements aren’t very high on the lists I’ve seen about how readers find things to read.  Putting up a shit load of good books will probably also help, since each one becomes a gateway, a chance for a reader to find you and like your stuff enough to go looking for more.

I tested the waters in ebooks with a few short stories in a genre I don’t write much in (literary) under a name that I don’t use except on legal documents (and now that I’m married, not even those).  No promotion, no history, nothing.  Those stories still outsell my SF/F stories every single freaking month.  Seriously.

But still, anyone following this blog will know that my numbers aren’t exactly buying me more than groceries.  They aren’t covering the rent yet.  SF/F isn’t a popular genre (especially not science fiction, sorry guys. We’ve got like what, 7% of the fiction market?).

So I’m morphing my experiment.  I’m going to try to test two things with one stone, so to speak.  I’m going to write three pulp-era length novels (60-70k words each) and put them up under a pen name that I’m not going to tell anyone about (well, other than my editor and my cover guy- for obvious reasons).  I will let them sit until Jan. 2013 and then report the results.  The reason I’m waiting until 2013 to report is that I don’t think I’ll have time to write the three books until Jan or Feb 2012, so I’d like to give them at least 6-8 months on the market.  So the experiment is put off a little, sorry.

But the good? news is that I’ll still be writing and releasing novellas in the SF/F genres and in Romance, just on a slightly different timetable than my previous experiment.

In other news- one week until Clarion.  Maybe I should think about packing?

I Have a Plan

A cunning plan. How cunning? You could tie a tail on it and call it a weasel. (Yes, I’m sort of quoting Black Adder. I’m that old.)

As I’ve been watching my sales and reading about the sales of others in this brave new e-book world, I’ve noticed some interesting trends.  I’ve watched people promote their little hearts out and then cry about no sales.  I’ve watched people stick up what I like to call “ugly” books (bad cover, bad blurb etc) and cry about no sales.  I’ve watched books I would think were the slightly better-looking cousins of “ugly” books sell like crazy.  I’ve watched books that were actually “ugly” books in disguise sell better than things I thought were actually worth reading.  I’ve watched as my literary short stories under a name with zero internet profile out-sell my SF/F titles 5 and sometimes 10 to 1.

Basically… no one knows what will sell and why.  We’ve got the four principles that Konrath and others go by: Good Book, Good Cover, Good Blurb, Low Price.  I’ve seen plenty of titles with the magic four sell very few copies.  Maybe they will be slower to take off, maybe those writers need to just keep at it and good things will happen (what one might call the DWS principle.)  I don’t know.

One thing I would add to the above however, is “write in a popular genre”.  Now, one might argue that good writing will find an audience, and I believe that.  But would you rather aim at an audience of thousands, or hundreds of thousands?  Does genre really matter?  It’s hard to say.  Mystery and Romance are very popular genres, but there are also a ton of books written in those genres  (Romance on Kindle has more books than Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Horror combined).  Chicken, egg, right?

But hey, what would be the point of experimenting in this awesome new world if I couldn’t run some tests.  So here’s what I’m planning:

I’m going to write ten novellas (20-30k words each).  Five in SF/F and five in Romance.  When all ten are done (by end of September, hopefully), I’ll stick them all up online at the same time, for the same price.  I intend to do zero promotion of the titles for six months (other than mentioning them here so that people will know when the experiment goes live).  I would say that the Romance ones would be at a disadvantage since they won’t be under the name that has an internet presence, but my lit fic doesn’t seem to suffer from being under a pen name so I’m going to rule that the name doesn’t matter (it isn’t like I’m anybody anyway).  I will do my best to make sure each novella has an awesome cover, a great blurb, and is of course an awesome book.  And then I’ll sit back and watch and see how the numbers do.

My prediction, right now? The Romances will out-sell the SF/F titles 10-1.  That’s my early prediction.

See? Isn’t this new world fun?  All kinds of crazy experiments to run! *grin*