Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Dominion, Book Four in the Serenity Series is Out Now!

Whoo-hoo! Today is my official release for Serenity's book four, Dominion! Though the book went live on Amazon over the weekend, today is the day I had planned for my release. With that in mind, I have lots of giveaways planned over on my facebook page today, starting a little later today when people across the pond are out of bed. I'm going to giveaway signed copies of my books - including paperbacks of Alone, Buried, and The Dark Road, personalised jewellery, and even a C.D. of the music I write to.

On top of that, to celebrate my new release, the rest of the Serenity series is on sale! Alone is free, Buried is down from $4.99 to $1.99, and Captured is down from $4.99 to $3.99! So if you've not already started the series, now would be a good time to stock up on the books at a low price.

So head on over to Amazon.com or Amazon.co.uk to grab your copy of Dominion! In a few weeks, Dominion will also be available on Barnes & Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Sony, but in the meantime you can purchase various formats which you can load up onto which ever e-reader you have from Smashwords.

In other news, it's NaNoWriMo next month! I will be taking part and this is my third year, though I'm still undecided about what I'm going to work on! Though I had planned on writing the first book in a new series, Serenity's book five, Endless, keeps calling to me. The characters keep having conversations in my head, so I'm wondering if I may end up having to write that one instead.

Are you planning to do NaNo this year?

***To stay updated about my new releases, make sure you fill in the new release form at the top of my blog!***

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Vampire Diaries - Season Four Review

I was late coming to The Vampire Diaries. When I first saw the adverts of Elena stumbling around in the woods with the 'vampire' (who randomly could walk in the light) vanishing when she cut her ankle, I actually rolled my eyes.

I've loved vampires from my teenage years. My first introduction was a birthday sleepover involving lots of giggling girls and 'The Lost Boys'. After that was the dark, brooding and ever-lastingly lovely Louis from 'Interview with the Vampire'. So when I saw ads for 'The Vampire Diaries', I rolled my eyes and went back to writing my stories - where vampires were actually scary!

However, one night while spending my usual evening in front of the computer,  the television was on  in the background and the show came on. We were onto series two by now and strangely my interest was drawn. Once I actually stared paying attention to what was happening, that was it. Show over... at least on my part. I was hooked.

Unlike in Twilight, these vampires kill! They also have sex - and hot sex at that! I watched a couple of episodes and soon went back and rented out series one to watch each episode back to back (cue several late nights and crabby mornings, though they were all worth it...)

So, here in the UK, the fourth season has just aired. Wow! What a fantastic start.

I have to be honest, initially I thought Elena becoming a vampire was a cop-out (see here for my earlier post) but the way it was handled was excellent. I loved how the production team worked in all of Elena's heightened senses so we felt them for ourselves, and also how she remember the things Damon had tried to glamour from her memory.

The usual brotherly tension was also prevalent in this episode, with Damon angry at Stefan for following Elena's wishes and letting her die. Damon would have saved Elena first, whatever she wanted. But I had to wonder, did Damon want to want to save her humanity because he wanted her to be human or was it because he didn't want her to remember the times he'd told her he loved her and that he'd met her first?

However, even though I love Damon (and really who doesn't???), it was also lovely to see Elena and Stefan growing close again. Perhaps this will be the end of the love triangle for a while?

There were a couple of other story lines which ran alongside Elena changing - that of Klaus taking over Tyler's body (which I couldn't really see the point of) and the council getting all of the Salvatore Vervain and planning to rid the town of the vampires and all those who help them. Also, witch, Bonnie, attempted to help Elena, but at the same time welcomed in some 'dark magic' so I'm sure that will be a featured storyline during this season as well.

So this season really does look like it's going to be different from any of the others. With Elena now a vampire, and a whole heap of people not only out to get them, but to also expose them for what they are, Season four will be one to look forward to!


Friday, 19 October 2012

Low Priced Indie Books... Did they Ruin Things for the Rest of Us?

The other night, I managed to get into a debate over the same thing twice - the price of ebooks!

In the early indie days, the $0.99 price tag was a jumping point for several now indie publishing rock stars, most of which have now signed up with one of the New York big boy publishing houses. But while they've all jumped off the indie bandwagon, they've left the rest of us floundering around in a market place saturated with low price (and often low quality) indie books. That in itself is fine - everyone has an equal right to publish in this day and age - but the affect it has had on the readers is more important. Readers now expect to pay no more than a couple of dollars for an indie novel, yet will happily compare that indie novel to one of the New York published novels which would set them back $10 and more!

I read a post on Amanda Hocking's blog that one of the reasons she took a big publishing contract was because she knew, however hard she worked, the editing would never be good enough unless she had someone who was at the top of their game working on her books. I can understand this thinking, especially when readers pick up an indie book and read it expecting the same sort of editing that the book would have received if published by a big house.

I am a big believer (now) that a book shouldn't be published unless it's been edited professionally. An author should try to save every penny to pay for the editing. However, I didn't always have this opinion. When I first got on the indie train I thought just having another author edit my work would be perfectly fine. It wasn't.

So what is the right price to charge for an ebook? Let's look at the costs. (The following are an approximation and obviously do vary!)

Editing - $300 - $500
Proofreading $75- $150
Cover design $120
Isbns $30 (for two - one for ebook, another for paperback)
Paperback upload (Lightning Source) - $60
Advertising/email subs/website/hootsuite etc. (optional, but neccessary!) $100 per month approx.

Before the book is even published an author is looking at an outlay of up to $760, and then another $100 a month going forward. If an author prices their book at $0.99, they would need to sell well over 2000 copies just to break even. In the indie world, with so much competition, most indie authors don't even earn $500 a month!

So what is the right price for an indie novel and did those early pricing strategies set the rest of us up for failure?

Yes, and no. Unfortunately pricing is still the biggest tool indies have against the mighty power of the big six. I price my novels at $4.99, but I don't think I would put them much higher, even though traditionally published indie books charge more. Is this because I think my books are worth less? In a word, yes, I do. I'm not saying that my story or writing is worth less, but I'm not dividing my profit between a number of people. Once my costs have been paid off, the profit goes in my pocket, unlike a traditional publisher who have on-going costs including paying staff and royalties to the author.

So do I think $0.99 is too low a price for a novel? Yes, definitely. $0.99 should be a price reserved for short stories. I even think $2.99 is too little, but I can understand authors using that pricing in the hope people might try out the novel of an author they've never heard of.

Pricing will continue to be an issue, with some readers steering clear of low priced ebooks because they automatically think the books will be poor quality, and some readers even refusing to pay for an ebook because there are so many free ones out there. (This actually happened to me - someone read one of my books, loved it, and then actually laughed at the idea of paying for another one... like authors don't deserve to be paid for their work, unlike any other industry out there!).

What do you think is a reasonable price for an ebook? If you're a reader, do you tend to try out the cheaper books, or try to steer clear?



Saturday, 6 October 2012

The Hardest Part about Writing a Series...

I'm now about two-thirds of the way through my final edits for the fourth book in the Serenity series, 'Dominion'. My editor already has the first half of the book and is working away on it, so I'm well on track to have the book out for the 30th October, as promised.

With the end approaching, I have to admit that I'm nervous about the publication of this book. I was nervous about 'Captured' but 'Dominion' is even worse, nerve-wise. The reason for my nerves? Well I just don't want to let the readers down! There are so many readers who have been waiting  months for this book and I want them to love it just as much as the others.

All too often the ratings for series books tend to go like this: first book has slightly lower ratings because the first book has weeded out all those people who didn't like the style or the storyline, or perhaps they found the main character annoying. That's fine, they just go on to read something different. Now the second and third books should have higher ratings. All those people who loved the first book have gone on to buy the next in the series and (hopefully) they love the books as much as they first.

But, what tends to happen in a series, is, as the series goes on the average ratings start to go down. People end up disappointed in the books. The characters start to get annoying, the storyline stale. THIS is what I'm most worried about.

As with each of my books, I've pushed the boundaries of paranormal romance in 'Dominion'. I've always had graphic violence, and yes, even horror in my books, and 'Dominion' is no different. I wanted to push the reader out of their comfort zone and I'm hoping they'll thank me for that in the end, leaving them with a story that will keep them thinking long after they finish.

Even so, I have to admit that the tradition of lower ratings the further on a series goes does leave me worrying. It's partly for this reason that only plan one more book in the series after 'Dominion' (though never-say-never!). I want people to finish the series wanting more, not wondering when the hell it will end.

Worries about people starting to dislike the books aren't my only reason for stopping the series at five books, of course. I already have another two series' planned - a Young Adult spin-off of the Serenity series, and another paranormal romance series, 'The Spirit Shifters'.

So I'm hoping everyone loves 'Dominion' as much as the first three books. I guess in a few weeks I know for sure!