Confessions of a Digital Novelist

Tag: Digital Publishing

Evermore: Call of the Nocturne Kindle Edition Release Date

by on Sep.16, 2012, under Books, Digital Publishing

I am happy to announce that typesetting of the Kindle Edition is complete and that I’m ready to finally release the Evermore: Call of the Nocturne to the Kindle Store on Wednesday, September 19th. It took some time to fix all of the little bugs resulting from the conversion process, forcing me to use my rusted HTML skills, but it’s finally ready to go. The only thing I couldn’t fix was a strange bug with the Kindle Fire that ignores the #start bookmark in the file. Instead, Kindle Fire will start the e-book halfway through the acknowledgements section rather than at the beginning of the prologue. After its release, I’ll keep researching ways to remedy this bug but for the most part it’s relatively minor. Everything else works just fine.

Next steps will include getting the Lulu print edition ready, although it has run into some technical difficulties, and then setting up the official book launch.

I hope you enjoy the book. If you want to let me know what you think, please drop me a line in the comment section below.

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It’s a Wrap! Evermore: Call of the Nocturne is Finally Complete!

by on Feb.15, 2012, under Digital Publishing, Personal, Writing

After eight years, more than eight drafts, thousands of hours of my life, and three computers later, I have finally finished the manuscript for Evermore: Call of the Nocturne. My god, that took far longer than I ever expected it to. When I started back in 2004 (and this is not considering pre-production planning), I thought that it might take me three or four years. When I finished the first draft by 2007 or 2008, I thought I was nearly done. When I started this blog in 2010, my goal was to publish it that year. Obviously, that was not to be.

That said, the time was not wasted. During that four-year period, I had two professional edits done on my text. A developmental edit by Erin Stropes and a line edit by Amelia Bennett. The suggestions made by those two led to immense improvements in the manuscript. I owe them both a debt of gratitude for their contributions. E:COTN is a much better novel now then it was before their help. Still, it was four years!

Having reached the end of the road, I admit that my feelings are a little bittersweet. On one hand, I feel relief for having finally completed it. One the other hand, I feel a little bit lost. Completing this novel has been one of the driving forces of my life and now that it’s over, I feel like I’ve lost a little bit of the purpose of my life. I have been thinking about this novel constantly for the last eight years, thinking up new plot elements, developing characters, and filling holes and inconsistencies. Now that’s it’s done, I no longer have to obsess about it. I’m also somewhat overwhelmed but the length of time I’ve been working on it. I’ve been working on E:COTN for about a quarter of my life. With its completion, a significant chapter of my life has closed. It will be a time in my life that I will always miss.

In an ironic twist, I started to watch Martin Scorcese’s The Aviator to relax after completing the novel. At the beginning, the protagonist Howard Hughes four years and almost every cent who had on a movie called “Hell’s Angels”. His level of obsession with the project was absurd. He bought or loaned every plan he could find, used no fewer than 26 cameras, and then reshot the film twice: once because he wanted to get clouds into the shots and a second time because he wanted to add sound! It was insane and yet, while I watched, I understood completely. When you commit so much of your life to a project, it can be really difficult to let go. You want to make it perfect, but perfect is impossible. At some point you have to let it go, warts and all.

Howard Hughes couldn’t let it go and I’ve difficulty letting go of Evermore. As I came closer and closer to the end, I became more reluctant to finish. I was always finding something that needed to be improved or worked on. But at some point, I came to the conclusion that the novel was about as good as I could ever make. It was time to let it go. I had fixed all the plot holes I could find, I addressed every concern raised by my editors, it was done.

There’s still more work to do, of course. I still have to get the cover art drawn and arranged, I have to register the copyright and buy an ISBN. I’ll need to prepare the epub file, test it and upload it to iBookstore and the Kindle store. I’ll probably give the manuscript one more read to be sure but the bulk of the work is done.

I’ll also have more time to write on my blog. I’ve been so busy trying to finish E:COTN that I’ve neglected my blog at a very exciting time for self-publishing. We have new services arising, more direct access to iBookstore and an exciting new tool called iBooks Author that I’m dying to play with. I’ll keep all of you posted on all of these developments and keep you appraised of E:COTN’s release date as we approach.

Thank you again for your patience. I hope that when it is finally published, you will enjoy reading Evermore: Call of the Nocturne as I did writing it.


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The 99-cent e-book?

by on Jun.28, 2011, under Books, Digital Publishing

As some of you are aware, my original business plan was to sell my self-published short-stories for 99-cents, my novellas, for $2.99 and my novels for $4.99. I thought that these prices were fair, created differential pricing between three quality products, and were cheap enough to encourage buying. It turns out that I may have been wrong. According to David Carnoy, the standard price for an indie e-book is $2.99 and may be dropping to $2.99 99-cents.

I had figured that $4.99 would allow me to differentiate myself from the big-box publishers who were overcharging customers. According to Carnoy, the digital revolution in publishing is, like music before it, pushing a race to 99-cents.

In some sense, what’s happening in the Kindle Store is what’s already happened in Apple’s iPhone App Store, where developers have been forced to lower their prices to 99 cents to compete (recently, Angry Birds’ maker Rovio told fellow developers to get used to pricing their apps at 99 cents). The price erosion isn’t that great yet on the Kindle; there are still plenty of $9.99 and higher e-books out there from traditional publishers. And many of them still sell very, very well. But with so many more e-readers and iPads out there, the market has grown large enough–like the iPhone market did–that you can actually make decent money at 99 cents, particularly if you crack the Top 100.

Carnoy highlights the experience of Christopher Smith, whose “Fifth Avenue” became an Amazon best-seller, dropped his price from $2.99 to 99-cents and watched his sales soar into six figures. His strategy seems to periodically drop his price to 99-cents every once in a while to spike sales and maintain his Top 100 ranking on the Kindle Store. Then he returns his price to $2.99 and reaps the higher margin from sales attracted by his high ranking. It seems to be working well for him.

On the other hand, Jesse Brown of Macleans believes that the Internet is becoming a 99-cent store where everything music to books to movies to videogames is sold at the magic price of 99-cents.  According to Brown:

One dollar minus one penny seems to be the magic number when selling virtual goods that can otherwise be easily acquired for free. Self-published authors are discovering that when they drop their sticker price from $2.99 to $.99, sales shoot up, and their titles rapidly climb the charts. Rovio, makers of Angry Birds, have built a multimillion dollar business, a buck at a time, and now preach the gospel of that sweet spot price. Kindle Singles are Amazon’s bargain-priced short e-books, which are breathing new life into long-format journalism. Nine of the 10 best selling apps right now on iTunes are priced under a dollar. As different industries experiment with a range of pricing schemes for their wildly divergent products, they are all arriving at the same conclusion: 99 cents.

So this seems to leave me with two possible business models. The first is where I sell Novellas for 99-cents, Novels for $2.99, and drop the periodically to drive sales. The second option would be to sell everything for 99-cents. Personally, I more inclined to the former option as this would allow drop my price periodically, like Smith, to boost readership and give me something interesting to announce on my website (eg. “It’s Canada Day. All books for 99-cents”). However, if Brown is right, then we’re all going to end up at 99-cents anyway.

One change is for certain. I will have to give away short stories for free. While they involve hard work and dedication to craft, they don’t simply have the value proposition that a full-length novel would have. Instead, I can use them as a way to attract readers (who doesn’t love free?) and build an audience for my full-length novels and novellas. They will also provide valuable experience in navigating the e-book self-publishing environment, even at a modest loss.

Regardless of whether or not the ideal price is $2.99 or 99-cents, the goal remains the same: to publish and sell books. However, the pace of change is shocking in the industry. My life’s work, once priceless in my eyes, is now probably worth 99-cents. Would you buy that for a dollar? I’m hoping so.

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