Kitemaster

99 Cent Goblins

I’ve dropped the price on both of my e-book collections at Amazon and B&N. (The price at iBooks and Kobo should be following shortly.)

Kitemaster and Other Stories [Amazon | B&N], which collects six of my lighter short stories and includes a preview of Libriomancer, is now $2.99.

And for the next two weeks, Goblin Tales [Amazon | B&N] is only ninety-nine cents.

  

From a business perspective, I’ll be fascinated to see how this plays out. I submitted the price change over the weekend. What fascinates me is that after Goblin Tales dropped to $.99, sales quickly jumped, despite the fact that I hadn’t yet announced the change. I had only sold 7 copies on Amazon this month. In the past 24 hours, that’s doubled to 14 copies. Not a huge number, I know, but interesting…

My bookstore page includes purchase links to various sites. I know that readers outside of the U.S. probably won’t see the same pricing, due to VAT and other issues. If the books are overpriced or unavailable in your area, please contact me directly and we can work something out via PayPal.

Holiday Bookplates, Books, Etc.

Bookplates!

ETA: And we’re done. This post was picked up by some of the “Get Free Stuff Online!” sites. (My favorite being the “samplesexpress” Twitter account, which I’m sure is supposed to be Samples Express, but I’m amused.) Anyway, I’m now getting flooded with e-mail from folks who have never heard of me or my books, aren’t bothering to read the post, and expect me to just send them their free bookplate. I don’t have the time to deal with this, and as far as I can tell, the actual fans and readers who wanted bookplates have had time to contact me. So the offer is now done.

In previous years, I’ve offered bookplates to anyone who plans on giving my books as gifts. I still have some left, so I figured I’d do it again. If you’ll be giving any of the goblin or princess books away for the holidays this year and would like an autographed bookplate to go with them, please let me know. This is a U.S.-only offer, I’m afraid. Be sure to include:

  • Your address
  • Which book(s) you’re giving
  • The name of the recipient

I can send up to three bookplates, but let me know this week if you want ’em by Christmas.

#

E-book Sale!

I’m planning to drop e-book prices starting next week and lasting through the end of the year. (Translation: I want to shamelessly cash in on everyone getting e-book readers and gift cards!)

 

I’ll be dropping Kitemaster and Other Stories [Amazon | B&N] to $2.99, and will be reducing Goblin Tales [Amazon | B&N] to a mere $.99 at both stores. (I can’t directly adjust the prices at Kobo and iBooks, but if I have time, I’ll try to set up direct sales at the reduced prices so that nobody feels excluded.)

#

Free books!

Mark Terry is offering his thriller The Fallen as a free Kindle download.

Martha Wells’ fantasy novel The Cloud Roads is also available for free on Kindle.

Catherine Shaffer has posted two short stories for free on Smashwords. I haven’t read Long Winter’s Nap, but I read Improving Slay Times in the Common Dragon a while back, and it was a fun read.

#

Promote Your Stuff!

Following John Scalzi’s lead, please consider this post your chance to promote your own stuff. A lot of my friends are authors – what books do you have that people should check out? I’ve seen some of the great jewelry folks on my LJ list make – give us a link to your store and tell us a little bit about it.

Whatever you do, this is your chance to share and maybe pick up a few holiday sales.

I’ll start with a link to the Magick 4 Terri auction to support Terri Windling. I bet you could find awesome gifts for everyone you know just by scrolling through the listings…

One Year of Self-Publishing

I’ve self-published three e-books in the past twelve months. Goldfish Dreams [B&N | Amazon] is a mainstream novel about rape and recovery. Goblin Tales [Amazon | B&N] includes five goblin-related short stories. And Kitemaster & Other Stories [B&N | Amazon] collects six of my lighter fantasy tales.

  

It’s been an educational year. Goblin Tales has been the most popular book by far, selling more than 500 copies. Kitemaster comes in second, with just over 100 sales since it came out in mid-August. And then there’s Goldfish Dreams, with 80 sales over the course of an entire year.

Most of my sales have come through Amazon, with B&N in second place. There are a handful from Kobo and iBooks, as well as a few Lulu print sales for Goblin Tales, but Amazon and B&N are the big ones. Here’s what those Amazon (A) and B&N (BN) sales look like broken down by month.

I think the strongest lesson here is that a direct connection to an existing, moderately popular series makes a big difference. Goblin Tales has been and continues to be my strongest seller.

The other thing I’m seeing is a clear dropoff over time, much like my commercially published books.

With Kitemaster, I raised the price from $2.99 to $3.99. I honestly don’t know how much of a difference that made, or whether the increased royalties per sale offset any potential lost sales.

I suspect I could boost the sales numbers a bit by spending more time, energy, and money on promotion, but I’m not sure how much I’d be able to increase sales. What I am sure of is that I don’t have the time or the desire to shift more of my work into promotion.

All total, after expenses, these three self-published titles have brought in a bit over $1000 in royalties.

I’m curious how I’d do self-publishing my backlist titles electronically. I suspect novels would sell significantly better than short fiction collections. But that experiment will have to wait. All of my DAW books are still in print, and with DAW doing the goblin omnibus next year, I don’t expect to see any rights revert back to me any time soon. Which is fine — the books are available and continue to sell, and that’s what counts.

Instead, I’ll be starting work on one more collection: Sister of the Hedge & Other Stories, which will collect some of my more serious stories — including my first rewrite of the Sleeping Beauty tale. I think I’ll price this one at $2.99 again to see what happens. I’m already talking to someone awesome about cover art, and I look forward to sharing what she comes up with. My goal is to have it available by Christmas, when everyone rushes out to buy books for their new Flaming Kindles, or whatever Amazon is calling ’em.

Kitemaster Day

Today marks the official release of Kitemaster and Other Stories, which collects six of my lighter fantasy stories, including my muppet werewolf tale, my Writers of the Future story, and more.

The first review popped up last week over at Flames Rising, where Alana Abbott describes it as, “a strong collection with several excellent pieces … This is a great entry point into Hines’s work for people who haven’t read his other series; fans of his earlier books won’t be disappointed.” Chris Gerrib over at POD People calls it “highly recommended.”

The collection includes the following stories:

Kitemaster
Untrained Melody
Blade of the Bunny
Over the Hill
Spell of the Sparrow
The Creature in Your Neighborhood

As a special bonus, I’ve also included the first chapter of Libriomancer, for those who want a preview of what I’m working on.

The book is available for $3.99 at the following sites:

Amazon | Amazon.uk | Amazon.de
Barnes & Noble
iBooks (Coming Soon)
Kobo (Coming Soon)

I’ll also be putting up a link for direct sales, probably using PayPal. I’d prefer readers to purchase through the online bookstores when possible, but I also recognize that regional restrictions mean not everyone can do so. I’ll probably have a follow-up post in about a week with the rest of the links. (You can also check the Bookstore page on my site, which I’m still working on.)

I’m not doing a print release of this one right now. I know not everyone reads electronically, but the last time it was simply too much time and work for relatively little in the way of sales/results. I may do a print edition eventually, but it’s not at the top of my To Do list.

As with Goblin Tales [Amazon | B&N | Lulu], I will be posting the occasional update to share how sales are going. I’m curious to see whether this release has any impact on sales of Goblin Tales.

My thanks to everyone who’s shared their excitement about this collection. I hope you enjoy it!

Kitemaster Collection Coming August 15ish

Kitemaster & Other Stories will go on sale around August 15. (I’d love to set a firm date, but some of it depends on how long B&N and Amazon and the rest take to update their systems.) The lineup includes the following stories:

  • Kitemaster
  • Untrained Melody
  • Blade of the Bunny
  • Over the Hill
  • Spell of the Sparrow
  • The Creature in Your Neighborhood

The price will be $3.99, which comes to 66 cents per story. As a special bonus, the collection will also include a sneak peek at the first chapter of Libriomancer.

I’ve seen mixed data as to whether it’s more effective to sell individual short stories vs. bundled collections like this, but you know what? It’s enough work putting together a good e-book collection. I don’t have time to prepare six different covers, get six different files uploaded to various sites, and of course, to update those files on the different sites when and if something should change.

Reviewers wanted: I’d like to send out about some review copies, and hopefully get some reviews posted next month. If you have a review site or a blog with a decent sized following and you’re interested in reviewing Kitemaster et al., please leave a comment. I can’t promise free books for everyone (I’m currently $200 in the hole on this project), but I’m hoping to get at least 10-20 copies out early. Maybe more, depending on demand.

Kitemaster Cover Evolution

When I prepared Goblin Tales [Amazon | B&N | Lulu] I had two pieces of cover art in mind, and had a relatively easy time getting permission to use one of them. Working on Kitemaster & Other Stories has been a very different experience. The image I originally hoped to use was unavailable, so I decided to commission a piece. I spent a long time browsing DeviantArt. A lot of artists weren’t taking commissions, but I found one whose portfolio looked good, and it turned out he was someone I knew who had done some goblin fan art a while back.

So I contacted him, gave him a description of the project, including a copy of the story “Kitemaster,” and we were off and running. I wanted something light-hearted, since these would be some of my fun stories, and something that clearly positioned the collection as fantasy. Within a few days, he sent me four sketches. (Click on any of the thumbnails for larger views.)

All four had their charm. I decided against the lower left sketch, because it looked like my protagonist Nial was sleeping. Too passive. The top two were nice, but lacked a fantasy feel. So I went with the lower right pic for a starting point.

The next sketch showed up with a built-in block for the title text. I liked the picture, but thought Nial looked like she was falling instead of running or flying. I also looked at the birds from the first sketch and asked about putting some dragons in their place, to emphasize the fantasy feel.

The third sketch fixed Nial’s pose and added dragons. I gave the okay, and it was time to start filling in some detail.

This brings us to sketches four and five below, where Nial’s clothing gets colored in, and we start to see the finer details. Some of the things I e-mailed about at this point were the kite’s frame and maybe changing the dragons from green to red. I also asked him to remove the kite’s tail, because it looked a little too cutesy with the pig-tail curl.

At this point, I’ve been staring at this thing and poking at it in Photoshop so long I’m having trouble seeing it anymore. I think I like the red dragons better, but I’m not 100% sure. Here’s a mock-up of a possible cover design:

It doesn’t feel like a traditional commercial cover … somewhere between that and a comic book cover, I think. I like it, but like I said, I’ve been staring at it for too long. I’m happy with the font. I like that the title and name are legible at small sizes. Overall, I think the image accomplishes what I wanted.

So what do you think? Details like the kite string over the title will get cleaned up in the final version. I’ve got at least one more round with the artist, so I can request further tweaks as needed. Red dragons or green? (ETA: Or each one a different color, as suggested by a friend?) Would this image make you look closer? Any and all feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Jim C. Hines