Book Releases Going Wide…Again

bannerphoto

When I began publishing back in 2014, I had made my books available on all platforms. The idea was to reach as wide an audience as possible and get onto readers’ Nooks, Kobos, iPads, iPhones, and whatever else I could.

Eventually sales stagnated and I grew impatient. Amazon is, and has been, the eight-hundred pound gorilla in the middle of the room. Kindle has brand recognition and the most amount of readers. I myself own a Kindle, like a hell of a lot of others and I love it to death. Before I broke down and bought my Fire HD tablet, I had the Kindle app on my iPhone and on my wife’s iPad. Amazon virtually owns the ebook market, especially in the US. At that time, it made sense to align myself with the big guy and enroll in KDP Select.

For indie authors and small presses that sell exclusively on Amazon, there are certain luxuries available through Kindle Direct Publishing if you enroll in their KDP Select program. This allows readers to borrow your books through Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited program, and for you to be paid for each page read. You can do countdown deals and offer free promotions, which is pretty great. Lots of indie authors have had much success with their KDP Select enrollment. I did not.

In my estimation (and your mileage may vary), KDP Select is awesome for authors who can continuously churn out new releases on a regular basis, or who already have a large virtual footprint with a large catalog of titles available. If you’re publishing six titles a year, it may be best to target Amazon readers specifically. I’m not one of those authors, and have time and money to only publish once or twice a year. And at this point, the virtual shelf space my name and titles occupies is fairly limited.

There were periodic spikes in sales and borrows, especially around the release of two fairly high-profile anthologies (The Cyborg Chronicles and CLONES, specifically), but those trailed off rather quickly and my Amazon sales dashboard has, over the last few months, become a rather disappointingly flat line.

I’ve also become a bit less than enamored with a few of Amazon’s business decisions, as both a reader, customer, and independent author-publisher. KDP Select is fairly easy to game (there have been instances of authors producing phone-book sized titles that are mostly ads and junk in order to increase the page count), and authors compete against one another for whatever bonus Amazon has set aside to those who generate the most pages read. The monthly payout per author varies and can go higher or lower depending on nothing more than the whims of Amazon.

I’m also not thrilled with Amazon’s easy-to-game review system and its enforcement to ensure legitimate reviews are posted. Too often, I see reviews on various books from people who have clearly not read the material, and even admit to such in their reviews. Check out virtually any traditionally published title, and you’ll find one-star reviews because the customer disagrees with the publisher’s price (like this recent review for a Kindle Worlds Legacy Fleet title from the Sisters of Slaughter, Michelle Garza and Melissa Lason). Or one-star reviews from readers with a bone to pick over an author’s inclusion of homosexual characters or other progressive politics, as was the case with Chuck Wendig’s Star Wars title last year, or because readers hate whatever they’re gonna hate, and they have an agenda, and they blame the author or publisher for not producing material suitable to their preferred echo chamber. Those reviews all get posted, and yet legitimate reviews can get pulled if Amazon finds out you are a reader who follows an author on Twitter and Facebook, and decides you’re in cahoots, legitimately or otherwise. There is also the specter of being banned by Amazon. A few months ago I listened to an episode of The Horror Show with Brian Keene with an erotic horror author whose work had been de-listed and banned from Amazon.While this may never happen to me, or many other authors, I also do not want to risk keeping all of my work for sale on a single site that could, one day, make it all disappear and lock me out just because.

All of these are factors for why I think it’s time to diversify once again. Dwindling sales and corporate practices are, for me, two good reasons to launch wide again, wherever possible. However, I will still be exclusive to Amazon for at least one upcoming title, which will be set in a new Kindle Worlds series (more on this in the coming weeks), and I expect the anthologies I’ve been involved in to remain exclusive to Amazon for the foreseeable future, as well. It’s also entirely possible that I may one day sign, maybe, with a publisher (or publishers) that sell exclusively on Amazon. The rest of my titles, though, are now available on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iBooks, in addition to Amazon. When I can diversify, I will, simply because I prefer to not keep all of my eggs in one basket.

I will say that in the course of spreading my works out onto these various sites, I’ve already earned more than I did throughout the last few months of my KDP Select period. Granted, this may not last very long, but the hope is that I increase my discoverability and widen my footprint by being more accessible to an increased set of readers.

I’ve also released my first audiobook, Revolver (Audible | iTunes), further diversifying not just where my books are available, but how they can be enjoyed. Hopefully you’ll check it out. If enough listeners snag a copy, and if I’m fortunate enough to turn a profit, this could help pave the way for many more audiobooks to come. I’d love to work with Revolver’s narrator, Patricia Santomasso, again, and if you’d like to hear more of her reading my words, we need your support. But, if you’re a non-Kindle reader and non-audiobook listener, you can find links to your preferred bookstore at the pages of any of my solo titles listed right at the top of my homepage.

Book Releases Going Wide…Again

The Shot Heard ‘Round The World – REVOLVER Audiobook Now Available

revolver-audio

Best Novella 2015 – Edward Lorn, author of Cruelty 

Named Top Short Story of 2015 by The Leighgendarium

Big news! My indie title, Revolver, is now available as an audiobook on Audible, Amazon, and iTunes!

Narrated by Patricia Santomasso, this short story clocks in at a lean 1 hour, 14 minute listen. And it’s less than $5!

Patricia has worked with a few of my conspirators co-authors from CLONES: The Anthology on narrating their individual releases, including Daniel Arthur Smith’s Hugh Howey Lives (Audible | Amazon) and RD Brady’s Hominid (Audible | Amazon), so give them a listen (or read), too!

Working with Patricia was a great experience, and she gave this story her all. Revolver is not exactly a pleasant story, and can be downright brutal and hostile, and I’m tremendously proud of Patricia’s work here, and the energy she brought into the recording studio. Right from her very first audition, I knew she was the voice of Cara Stone, and I think she’s made this story even more powerful.

Revolver will be making its way on to iTunes soon, and I’ll update this post with that information once I have a link available.

Adrian, aka BeavisTheBookhead, recently reviewed the ebook of Revolver, and had lots of kind things to say, including:

This is an angry story, one that goes straight for the jugular in a most unapologetic but engaging way. … ‘Revolver’ is a great story, bristling with tension, unflinching with its descriptions and thoughtful.

For those unfamiliar with Revolver, here’s the synopsis:

The “stunning and harrowing” short story, originally published in the anthology No Way Home, is now available as a standalone release and features an all-new foreword written by award-winning science fiction author, Lucas Bale.

Cara Stone is a broken woman: penniless, homeless, and hopeless. When given the chance to appear on television, she jumps at the opportunity to win a minimum of $5,000 for her family.

The state-run, crowdfunded series, Revolver, has been established by the nation’s moneyed elite to combat the increasing plight of class warfare.

There’s never been a Revolver contestant quite like Cara before. The corporate states of America are hungry for blood, and she promises to deliver.

By the way, if you haven’t already, now is a really good time to sign up for my newsletter. In the coming weeks, I’ll be doing a few special giveaways, and announcing the release of a brand new title that will be launching next month, so be sure to subscribe now!

 

The Shot Heard ‘Round The World – REVOLVER Audiobook Now Available

Review: The Warren by Brian Evenson

Review:

thewarren-brian-evenson

Although The Warren is short – less than a hundred pages and compelling enough to read in a single sitting – I needed some time to digest its content and figure out what I wanted to say about it. Ultimately, I think the less said about it the better. (And I do mean this in all seriousness, and in the best way possible.)

I went into this book blind, knowing very little about it other than it had a snazzy cover and was another release in Tor’s strong line of novellas. I think this is about all you should know about it, as well. It’s a good, twisty read and you should probably check it out so long as you can stand not having everything perfectly resolved and all questions neatly answered.

Not enough? OK, fine. Imagine taking some science fiction heavy weights, like Blade Runner and The Martian and tossing them in a heavy-duty blender with Memento for added flavor. The Warren, however, is far from simply a pastiche of these other works, even if I found their influences to be strong. What you end up with, though, is a short work that calls into question the nature of self and self-perception with an utterly unreliable narrator in what is, basically, a locked-room drama.

This warped and fairly grim narrative cares not a whit about delivering the goods in a linear fashion, so readers should go in with scrutinizing eyes and pay keen attention to the details. Brian Evenson raises a lot of questions within his story, most of which are either answered ambiguously at best, or left to the reader to suss out the clues. I enjoyed connecting the various puzzle pieces presented in The Warren, and I suspect that a second read-through would be both deeply rewarding and quite different than the initial journey. This is certainly a story that demands a focused reading, and the closer you inspect Evenson’s writing the more satisfying it becomes.

[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title for review from the publisher via NetGalley.]

 

Buy The Warren At Amazon

Original post:
MichaelPatrickHicks.booklikes.com/post/1466714/review-the-warren-by-brian-evenson

Review: The Warren by Brian Evenson

Too Little Or Too Much

A short while ago, maybe a month or two, I publicly shamed myself on Twitter for not having a large enough output this year. In 2015, I had published a novel and appeared in three anthologies, and released one of those stories as a stand-alone title. Halfway through 2016, I was feeling the pinch of having hardly any releases at all this year. So far, I’ve released only one short story, Let Go, and a short story titled “Black Site” was published in CLONES: The Anthology. Although I was busy writing, not much of it was making its way out into the market and it was making me a feel bit depressed. I felt like I either wasn’t doing enough or wasn’t getting stuff done (partially true, but mildly inaccurate), and the weight of it was like a vise around my neck.

The big pro-tip to being a writer is one simple rule: Finish Your Shit.

I was not finishing my shit, or at least not the one big shit I had in me, but not necessarily for lack of trying. I’ve been working on a novel since March and it’s become my own personal Moby Dick. Not because it’s a wild, untamed beast that I have sworn revenge against, but because it’s been such a long, arduous journey in trying to finish it off. I know the rough shape of it, and when I’m working on it, it feels good and (mostly) right. And it’s not even a lack of focus or desire to continue plugging away at it.

Mostly, it’s because I allow myself to keep getting interrupted with other projects. This is by no means a bad thing, nor is it a complaint. If anything, it is perhaps a very good problem to have. I’ve put this novel on hold several times, and have done so once again, in order to tackle a story and an invitation that is simply too good to pass up. Back near the start of writing said novel, a lonely old man named Everett Hart told me a story and his voice demanded that I write Let Go. So I did. And then I got invited to contribute to CLONES: The Anthology. I had a killer idea for that one, so, again, the novel got put on the back burner. Ultimately, it was certainly worth it. This book became an Amazon Best Seller in their sci-fi anthology category, and, for a very brief time, I was a Top 100 science fiction author over there. Pretty cool!

I’ve gone back and forth with this novel-in-progress a few times now, interrupting the process once more very recently in order to write a novella that captured my fancy. It’s called Broken Shells and it needs lots of editing, but the story itself is largely finished. I began writing this shortly before my mother passed away, and in the weeks following her death it provided a much-needed retreat for me, and even a little bit of therapy. All that remains now are the finishing touches. That, too, is now on hold, thanks to an invitation that was extended my way late last week.

At the moment, I am roughly 3,000 words into REDACTED. I’m not sure what I can or cannot discuss about this work yet, so it’s perhaps best to say nothing. It’s the kind of deal though, that when you’re invited in, you do not turn it down. And since a dude at Amazon called me to discuss this work specifically goes a long way in telling me it could maybe possibly be a big deal. The kind of project that you simply do not say No to and walk away from. If anything, you drop whatever you’re doing and get to work. Of course, it’s entirely possible I’m blowing smoke up my own ass. I get the impression though that this is at least important to Amazon, and it could certainly have the potential for more readers to discover my work, which is a fantastic reward all by itself. So, yeah, I dropped everything and got to work! REDACTED will be novella length, and while it’s in my wheelhouse of both science fiction and horror, it’s of a particular sub-genre I haven’t written in previously. There are a few hurdles to overcome, and plenty of research to do. Thus far, it’s been a lot of fun, though, and I’m excited to see where it goes. I’ll have plenty more to say about this in the coming months, so be sure to stay tuned, or sign-up for my newsletter to get the big scoop straight to your inbox.

My main problem though has been reconciling the disparity in my work versus my output. I’ve been busy, even if I don’t yet have a lot to show for it. I will eventually, and there’s plenty of stuff on the horizon. So, I made a list of stuff in progress to give me a sort of visual reminder and a much-needed kick in the ass that I actually am doing something! Here’s where things stand at the moment for 2016:

  • A short novel is under review with a small press publisher for publication. The sample was apparently good enough that the editor recently asked for the full manuscript. If the story is not a good fit for this publisher, there are other avenues I can explore, so we’ll see what happens there.
  • LET GO – Published
  • Black Site – Published in CLONES: The Anthology, pending solo publication
  • Broken Shells – pending publication
  • Novel – in progress
  • The Marque – pending solo publication (originally published in Crime & Punishment)
  • Preservation – pending solo publication (originally published in The Cyborg Chronicles)
  • REDACTED – in progress, expected publication late 2016/Q1 2017
  • Audiobook edition of Revolver – in progress, release TBA

To top it all off, while doing yard work yesterday inspiration struck. I came up with a cool idea for a post-apocalyptic natural horror short story, which I’ll probably work on once Secret Project is finished and then leap back into the novel.

None of this even takes into account the advance copies of books I need to read and review. Or the fact that all of this must be balanced against working full-time and having a family.

And yet, yeah, somehow, for whatever reason, I honestly felt like I wasn’t doing enough.

Ultimately, I’ve decided I’m OK with where things are at presently. If my output for 2016 is a bit diminished, then I have to be fine with it. I may still be able to get one or two of these projects out by year’s end. If not, then 2017 will be a banner year for me in terms of published stories!

Too Little Or Too Much

Review: Invasive by Chuck Wendig

Review:

invasive.jpg

Between Ezekiel Boone’s The Hatching (my review) and, now, Chuck Wendig’s Invasive, this has been a pretty good summer for bug books! While the former concerned itself with the reemergence of an ancient spider species violently troubling mankind, Wending brings us a brand new strain of genetically modified ultra-violent ants.

Invasive opens with a brief definition of the word ‘formication,’ which is a sensation that feels like insects crawling over or under your skin. This is a good word to know because you’ll be feeling plenty of formication throughout the book, likely by chapter two.

Set in the world of Wendig’s prior novel, Zer0es (which, if you haven’t read, now is a good time to buy. It’s not completely necessary to this title’s narrative, but it is a damn fun read and worth checking out. Minor references are made to Zer0es, but this series seems to be building on a theme of hacking – first cyber hacking in the previous entry, and now bio-hacking with Invasive), Hollis Copper returns and recruits FBI futurist consultant, Hannah Stander, to investigate an unusual case: a cabin housing ten thousand dead bodies. One of them is human; the rest are ant corpses, but are the apparent cause of death for the victim in question.

What follows is a horrific technothriller that feels like the spiritual lovechild of Michael Crichton and The X-Files. While there are streaks of humor, Invasive is a fairly dark read, but it carries all the hallmarks of a big summer blockbuster, right down a gloriously large-scale action set-piece for the book’s second half. Hannah Stander is a terrific female heroine, and shines wonderfully as the book’s strong, central protagonist. I will admit, though, that I was more than a bit captivated by Ez Choi, an entomologist and friend of Stander brought in as a consult. She’s a fun, spunky, punky bug geek and I hope we get to see more of her in future books.

I’ve never been particularly phobic of ants before (I can’t say the same about spiders), and I find them to be rather intriguing little creatures. Wendig has me second-guessing myself just a bit now, though… He does capture their intriguing nature with some nicely done sciencey bits (it seems clear he did plenty of homework, and the book’s layman explanations of the more technical aspects of ant-life and genetic mucking about ring true enough to me), and the more graphic depictions of what these vicious colonies are capable of left with me more than a few uncomfortable sensations. Yes, it’s true – this book made me formicate.

[Note: I received an advance copy of this title for review from the publisher via Edelweiss.]

 

Buy Invasive At Amazon

Original post:
MichaelPatrickHicks.booklikes.com/post/1442429/review-invasive-by-chuck-wendig

Review: Invasive by Chuck Wendig

Review: Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

Review:

HELL DIVERS

After five Extinction Cycle novels (and a sixth on the way!), Hell Divers, the first installment in a brand-new series from Nicholas Sansbury Smith, is a refreshing change of pace. While it has all the hallmarks of Smith’s usual brand of brimstone and bullets, its premise goes a long way in making this a distinct entry in this author’s oeuvre.

In both the Orbs and Extinction Cycle books, Smith approaches his doomsday scenarios as fresh threats to humanity on the brink of destruction with The End Of The World As We Know It just right around the corner or rapidly in progress. In Hell Divers, the apocalypse has already happened and, two hundred years after Trump’s presidency later, mankind has been reduced to roughly a thousand souls spread out across two airships, the Ares and the Hive. The Earth below them is a radioactive wasteland, the skies treacherous with the constant threat of electrical storms. After Ares is damaged, the Hell Divers (think futuristic paratroopers with wildly short lifespans) aboard the Hive are sent on a rescue mission. Soon enough, they find out the ground is not as lifeless as they thought, as marauding bands of vicious creatures they dub Sirens are out to get them.

One thing Smith does exceptionally well are action scenes, and there’s plenty of those to go around here as Xavier Rodriguez (otherwise known as X) and his team do battle across frozen wastelands, and the shipboard Militia stave off homegrown threats, as well as more elemental troubles. When the Divers do their diving, there’s some legitimate excitement to the sequences and Smith does a terrific job describing this horrific adrenaline rush. Ground combat is equally fierce, although the Sirens could use a little more oomph. As a fan of the Extinction Cycle series, I didn’t find these mutant killers quite as intriguing as the Variants. However, with two more books on the way, Smith certainly has plenty of space left to flesh out the concepts introduced here.

On the character front, X is the strong dashing male hero, and Captain Ash is the strong-willed woman in charge of the Hive – both are great characters, and get their own moments to shine. I’m definitely looking forward to reading more about these characters, as well as their lives aboard ship, and the ten-year-old Tin has all the makings of a heroic prodigy if he survives all the threats life in the skies brings.

There’s a lot about Hell Divers that feels comfortably familiar, but Smith freshens it up with a new coat of paint and shakes up the formula of his previous series enough to avoid feeling derivative of his other apocalyptic military thrillers. I think he’s on to the start of something that could be pretty bold here, and I’m excited to see what he has in store for the Hive, and readers, with future installments. Onward and upward!

[Note: I received an advanced copy of this title for review from the publisher via NetGalley.]

 

Buy Hell Divers At Amazon

Original post:
MichaelPatrickHicks.booklikes.com/post/1434426/review-hell-divers-by-nicholas-sansbury-smith

Review: Hell Divers by Nicholas Sansbury Smith

June 2016 Read & Reviewed Round-Up

I can’t believe it’s already July! The year is half-over, my son will become a one-year-old in a few more months, and the radio will start playing Christmas song way too fucking early. So, let’s take a quick look back at the month that was, shall we?

In June, I read and reviewed the following:

  1. A Song For No Man’s Land by Andy Remic
  2. Return of Souls by Andy Remic
  3. The X-Files: Trust No One edited by Jonathan Maberry (audiobook)
  4. Lights Out by Nate Southard
  5. Burnt Offerings by Robert Marasco (audiobook)
  6. The Last Weekend by Nick Mamatas (audiobook)
  7. Consequences by John Quick
  8. Stolen Away by Kristin Dearborn
  9. The Fisherman by John Langan

Thanks to the magic of the Internets, you can click on those blue links and be magically transported to my reviews! Hurrah!

At the moment, I am currently listening to the audiobook edition of Wolf Hunt by Jeff Strand. Let me tell you, this one is a lot of fun – and funny, too. I’ll be starting The Hatching by Ezekiel Boone shortly, which sounds fantastic (spider horror! Which, I know, is a bit redundant, but still…) and has gotten some great advanced reviews. I’ll have my thoughts posted soon enough, but in the meantime go check out Char’s review at Horror After Dark.

June 2016 Read & Reviewed Round-Up