Tag Archives: self-publishing

DIE 6 is no longer free…but you can still buy it for $0.99!

So I gave away 54 copies of DIE 6, a book that hasn’t really sold much, no matter how proud I am of the stories in it.  One of my favorites, titled “Blood Ties,” was a fun and fast write.  I dreamed the premise.   I remember the dream vaguely now, just that it was about someone asking a ghost about where some buried loot was or something like that.  When I woke up, I made a mental note of the idea, and later started writing it. 

The story is that this psychic is in trouble with a loan shark and stumbles across a magazine article that talks about a bank robbery from the 1920’s.  After a little investigation, he finds that the suspect (who was never jailed for it) is dead, killed in a hit and run accident (an unusual event back when cars were new, I’d guess, but pedestrians definitely got killed in accidents back then).  So he starts to research it, and visits the guy’s grave, where he meets a beautiful young lady who turns out to be the robber’s great-granddaughter.  From there, it was pure fun.  I tried to write my main character with more than a little snark in his attitude, but with a good heart.  My loan shark bad guy is a caricature, for sure.  But he was fun to write as well.

I also included one about the Tooth Fairy being caught by an adolescent who is late losing his baby teeth.  That one’s short (about 2500 words) but it was fun to imagine the world of the Dentata (the tooth fairy race).  I read something like it on Reddit not too long ago, but I thought mine was still better! 

Three of them were written for a contest back in the Delphi days.  Ancient history, perhaps.  Two of them were sort of SF, one with transferring one’s being to the computer, and the other with time travel.  The computer-y one was very dated and took a lot of rewriting, almost to the point where it was a new story.  The time travel one worked for the most part as it was.  So did the horror story, THE GHOST TRAIN, set in Addison Falls, our shared setting back in the Horror Discussion Group (Custom Forum #235) days of Delphi.  Of course, all of these were edited for style, grammar, and length (most became longer). 

Anyway, I always felt that DIE 6 deserved at least a few readers.  Now it has at least 54 potential new readers, presuming that most of them read something they downloaded for free.

Thanks if you downloaded it, and please, sign up for the mailing list. 

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Mailing List!

I finally checked off a box on the to-do list: I set up a Mailchimp Mailing List!

Please sign up!  I promise not to spam you with tons of unsolicited emails.  Things I will email you about: 

  • New Releases
  • Sales or Free Promotions
  • New Blog Posts, occasionally, if I think it’s worthy of attention
  • Other releases by indie authors that I like and have read

To sign up, use this link:  Scott Dyson Books

Other ways to keep up with me besides reading this blog:

If you read this post and sign up for the list, I will gift you a free Kindle ebook from the following titles:

  • THE CAVE
  • 14 DARK WINDOWS
  • DIE 6
  • THE STRIKER FILES

When you sign up, please use the “Contact Me” page to tell me which book you want. 

Thanks for signing up! 

*****

Publishing Paralysis

As you may or may not have noticed, I have not published anything…ANYTHING…in 2016.  It’s not for a lack of things to publish.  I currently have four works ready to go.  They are, in no particular order, ODD MAN OUT, RECIPROCAL EVIL, THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT, and finally, DEAD OR ALIVE.  Most are novella-length; RECIPROCAL EVIL is a bit over 50,000 words, while ODD MAN OUT clocks in at about 33,000.  I think that both DEAD OR ALIVE and THE NEVER ENDING NIGHT are around the same length:  approximately 27,000 words.

I have been writing.  I have a YA novel finished called THE SEVEN CITIES OF GOLD:  CIBOLA which is about 53,000 words.  I am about 68,000 words into an untitled end-of-the-world novel which was inspired by Hugh Howey’s WOOL.  I’m working on a longer vampire novel which would follow DEAD OR ALIVE and a horror story set in a fictional town called Addison Falls.  I’ve also been tinkering with a series that I started with my son a couple years ago, called THE NINE KEYS.  The first of that series is basically finished, and it is something around 68,000 to 70,000 words in length.  The second is about 20,000 words at this point and has a long way to go.  I also started a space opera novel but that’s stalled out at around 17,000 words at the moment.

Covers are done for three of the four ready-to-go works, editing and formatting are done for all four.  So what’s the holdup, you might ask (assuming that “you” are reading this and are interested in reading what I’m writing)?

I haven’t been selling much (okay, I really haven’t been selling anything!) and I need to do something different.  One option is to give up.  Or keep doing what I’ve been doing, which involves tossing up my writing, offering it for sale, and having no one actually find any of it.

The second option is to try to form a better foundation.  So far I have only published ebooks and only at Amazon.  So, my foundation is this blog/website, my Amazon author page, and my Facebook page.  I have, like, 64 followers on Facebook.  Not enough.  And depending on Facebook to get the word out is a crapshoot.  When I look at how many people view my posts on my Scott Dyson page there, often it’s like 7, or 13, or at best low 20’s.  So of those 64 people, only a small percentage even SEE my notifications when I publish.  Without paying FB to show the post to more people, I guess that’s about the best one can do there.

I am thinking of doing Instagram, just for my cover photos.  I have thought about taking down my collections and publishing the individual works for free on Wattpad, but after looking around there, I didn’t have much luck finding a lot of stuff I wanted to read.  I went specifically looking for my friend Steve Moore’s work there, and I didn’t find it with their search functions.  So I wonder how effective that will be for what I write.

I try to “network” with other writers as much as possible.  I will promote authors’ works (assuming they are something I like and read) here on these pages, with FB posts, and in any other way that comes up, and I have a few author-friends who have helped me out as well.  But I don’t think our audiences cross over very much, or at least what I write is not necessarily of interest to their audiences.  I read so broadly and across so many genres that I am happy to promote their stuff; even more, I WANT to suggest and recommend good reads to my friends.  I think that maybe if I could network with some horror authors, it would work better.  I have tried with a couple, but they don’t seem interested in reciprocating.

But the biggest thing I want to do is set up a mailing list.  And I don’t really know how to go about it.  I mean, signing up is easy.  And it seems that putting the widget on the website is not a big challenge either.  But most authors I’ve spoken to who use mailing lists effectively offer a free work, and all I have are mobi’s of my works.  I’d certainly be willing to offer one or both of my short story collections, or even one of my novellas, for free as an incentive to sign up for the list, but as I have not used any of the software (Vellum, Sigil, Calibre) that apparently can generate ebooks in various formats, I don’t know how to get these files to give away.

As a mailing list builds, eventually you have a ready-made list of people who are interested in receiving information about your releases, and maybe, just maybe, you can sell enough books upon release to push your work into some sort of visibility on Amazon.    I think that this sounds like the best way to increasing sales and visibility.

I also plan on giving away both of my short story collections (as they’re both in Amazon Kindle Select and in KU) and I want to try a FB experiment, ask some friends if they’d share the links to the free books, see if I can give away a bunch more than I usually do.  Watch this page for announcements about those giveaways, or if you’re a Facebook friend, watch my feeds there.

Anyway, I’m going to try to break the paralysis in the next month or two, and get this stuff out there for anyone and everyone to read.  If anyone is interested, that is…

***

 

ODD MAN OUT – Prologue

(I have three new stories ready to go; I’m just dragging my feet on publishing them because I want to get a few other things in place before I start running them out there.  One is a long version of my short story “Odd Man Out,” which was published as a standalone (with another short story called “The House at the Bend in the Road”) and as part of the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS.  What follows is the Prologue of that story, which is novella-length (about 33,000 words, if I recall correctly).  Watch this space or sign up for my soon-to-come mailing list to find out when it is available on Amazon.

ODD MAN OUT

Prologue

Roger Sinclair checked the calendar that hung on the wall over his computer. October nineteenth. Only the nineteenth. It seemed that the thirty-first was taking forever to arrive this year. Time was dragging.

Anticipation had a way of making the passage of time seem very slow.

The Cabin Weekend was approaching, and Roger had big plans for the traditional yearly gathering of his friends.

Friends. That was a laugh. They didn’t like him any more than he liked them. They used him. They always had. Vinnie, Jack and Paul – they hung around with him – no, they let him hang around with them – because he was smart, dependable, and well-off. He made them feel superior – Look at rich, smart, loser Roger, who can’t get a girl and gets shunned by everyone…but us! We’ll take pity on the loser, and we’ll take advantage of his brains and his wealth.

Like the Cabin Weekend. They always went to Roger’s cabin. None of them had cabins. And why spend money on a real vacation when they could just sponge off Roger? Vinnie and Susan, Jack and Nancy, and Paul and whatever hot-looking hosebag he was dating at the moment.

Well, not this year. Paul wasn’t dating a hot-looking hosebag anymore. He was engaged. To Amy Wellington. Amy might be hot, but she was no hosebag. She was the epitome of class. She was the girl of Paul’s dreams, as Paul himself had pointed out.

She was also the girl of Roger’s dreams, but that was beside the point. Paul never cared about what Roger wanted, only what he wanted. He wanted Amy, so of course he ended up with her. That’s how it worked with Paul.

No matter that he had been Roger’s guest at a charity function when he met Amy. Paul had deigned to accompany Roger to the event when Roger’s own date fell through. ‘Fell through’ is sort of misleading. She dumped me on my ass, he remembered. Bitch.

Focus! Roger forced himself to get back on track with his thoughts. This wasn’t about Melissa, the stick-up-her-ass bitch that worked in the IT department of Roger’s family’s company. The point was Paul, and how he met Amy, and how he had practically run Roger over in his zeal to get to her first.

Paul knew that Roger saw her first, that Roger wanted to take a shot with her, but could Paul let him have a chance? No, of course he couldn’t. What Paul wants, Paul gets.

Roger’s fantasy was that Amy would see Paul for what he was and eventually they’d split up. It would be Paul’s fault, of course, and Roger would be there for Amy. He’d be the understanding friend she would need, the shoulder she could cry on, the guy who’d be there for her as she worked through the pain of their broken engagement. Of course it would end Paul’s friendship with Roger, but that was okay. It wasn’t a real friendship, and it had not been one for a long time. Ever since that day at the frat party back in college…

Focus! he told himself again. This isn’t about embarrassment that Paul caused him in college, this is about Amy Wellington. Paul’s fiancee. Roger’s one true love.

And the Cabin Weekend would be the time when things would turn in favor of Roger.

#

(To find out what happens at the Cabin Weekend, watch for ODD MAN OUT at Amazon or on these pages…)

Upcoming releases

I haven’t disappeared…not completely, anyway.

I’ve just been busy.  And when I’ve had time to write, it’s been mostly spent editing three separate works.   And now, all three are very close to being released for Kindle.  Here are the titles:

  • ODD MAN OUT – a 32K novella which is expanded from the short story of the same name
  • NEVER ENDING NIGHT – a 27K horror novella
  • RECIPROCAL EVIL – an almost-50K short horror novel

As I mentioned, ODD MAN OUT started life as an 1800 word short story, released as an ebook combined with the short story HOUSE AT THE BEND IN THE ROAD.  Both stories can also be found in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS.  I thought that ODD MAN OUT would make a good novella, or at least a much longer short story (sort of how DEAD OR ALIVE, originally a 2400 word short story, became a 7600 word short story on the rewrite).  It ended up coming in at over 30K words, and tells the story of how the main character (not named in the short version, but named Paul in this longer version) comes to be…well, maybe I shouldn’t spoil it.  Suffice it to say that a weekend retreat with college friends doesn’t go the way Paul wants it to when he brings his fiancee for the first time.  His friend Roger wants her, and he’ll go to any extreme lengths to get her.

NEVER ENDING NIGHT was inspired by a Richard Laymon story I read (but can’t recall the title of) where a night goes on and on.  I thought about something like that — what if night never ended in a suburban town?  So I started writing from the POV of a high school girl (age 15) and it started as a diary kept by the girl where she rambles about her friends and her family and about what’s going on in their neighborhood when the sun just doesn’t come out one morning.  Then I interspersed those diary entries through the third person narrative, which alternates between the girl’s POV and some of the neighbors’ POV’s.  Bad things happen when the masks of some people in the neighborhood come off when they believe that some sort of apocalypse is coming and the rule of law has broken down…

The last, RECIPROCAL EVIL, is about a college kid, Chris, who experiences a campus murder as a dream, and is surprised to find out that the dream really happened.  Why is he sharing dreams with some serial killer?  He’s drawn further in when his girlfriend’s roommate disappears.  And when the killer contacts him, he learns some things about his own background, about his family, and about his younger sister, believed to be traveling the world and having the time of her life.  But is that true?  And who is the killer’s next target?

There you have it.  Three soon-to-be-released novellas/novels.  See, I haven’t been completely idle in terms of my writing!

*****

ODD MAN OUT long version is done!

Well, not done exactly, but the story is finished. It needs editing and other such stuff, but I wrote “The End” yesterday at a little over 33K words. It felt good. I knew there was a longer story in there when I started thinking about it, but wasn’t sure how much longer. Was I talking about 12K words? 20K words? I was thrilled to find out that it ended up a little over 33K. And I like it. I think it holds together pretty good and tells an interesting story.

I’m going to unpublish the short version sometime very soon, but it will be included at the end of the novella and will still be available in 14 DARK WINDOWS. Look for it in the upcoming months!

*****

Independent Fiction

I was looking at the books I’ve downloaded on my Kindle and they are probably 95% by indie authors.  That’s pretty amazing, really, considering that a few years ago I didn’t know anything about the field.

I remember how I started downloading books by indie authors.  The first one I did was a book called BONE SHOP by Tim “TA” Pratt.  It is an urban fantasy, the fifth book in a series that had previously been published by a BPH imprint but was dropped after the fourth book.  Why, I don’t exactly know.  Was it not selling?  I bought the first four at Barnes and Noble bookstores, where they had exactly one copy on the shelf.  I always looked when I’d go back in to see if they had anything else by Pratt, and once I bought the single copy of whichever they had, well, that was it.

I was following a blog of editor Annetta Ribken on Journalscape back in the day, before she was an editor.  She had a very entertaining blog, and she was working on a novel, which was released as ATHENA’S PROMISE.  She decided to release it indie via Kindle and Createspace, and I bought the ebook of that one as well.  Both of those ebooks costed $4.99, which, at the time, I considered a bargain.  Now I consider it a premium that I’m willing to pay for authors I like.  Even then, I think twice about it.  “Just how much do I want to read this book right now?”

I started thinking that if Annetta could do it that way, so could I.  Another author-friend who I met at Chicago’s Printer’s Row Festival, Sean Hayden, was working with a small press, editing and writing his own fiction.  He and his significant other, Jen Wylie, opened their own small press called Untold Press, and began publishing their own fiction as well as a few other authors.  Yeah, it’s technically a small press, but it started as a way of indie publishing their own works.

Connecting the dots, I found the blogs of Dean Wesley Smith and J.A. Konrath, and then I found Hugh Howey.  WOOL was, for me, a revelation.  It was engrossing — I couldn’t hardly put it down when I purchased it as an ebook.  Howey’s story was almost as engrossing.  He put the book out in shorter installments, five of them, at $0.99 each, then compiled them into the single edition at $4.99.  And Hugh was making a killing financially, or so it seems.

I found “The Passive Voice” and answered a submissions call for a SF anthology called QUANTUM ZOO, and lo and behold, mine was one of the twelve stories accepted for publication in the volume.  If nothing else, it validated me in my own eyes as a writer.

From Konrath’s blog, I read a comment by author Steven M. Moore, and somehow realized that he wrote SF and thrillers, and I followed the link to his blog, and now I’ve read everything he’s written save (I think) two books.  (I’ll correct that oversight this year.)  I also found horror novels by Bryan Smith and by William Malmborg, which led me again to other horror novelists.

Now I’m reading one indie work after another, generally.  (I am trying to get a good run into Robert Crais’ third Joe Pike novel, called THE SENTRY, but haven’t found the time to get into it much.)  I am in the midst of a series (starting with E) by Kate Wrath.  I’m reading Mit Sandru’s novels.  I read Sean Platt, Johnny B. Truant, John Ellsworth, Bobby Adair, and Edward W. Robertson.

I’ve found tons of the fiction I want to read, and I haven’t broken the bank buying all these books.

Not to mention, I’ve become an indie author myself, with a bunch of short stories and collections out as well as two novellas.

Buy indie.  Cut out that middle man!

*****

 

“E” by Kate Wrath

While perusing the “also viewed by” selections that Amazon provided on one of my own stories (I was either looking at THE INN or at the recently-free JACK’O’LANTERN and Other Stories) I came across a couple of selections that were listed as free.  The covers on two in particular grabbed me (plus the fact that they were free) so I investigated further, and upon a cursory read of the description I downloaded both.  (Hey, it cost me nothing, right?)

Here’s the Amazon description for Kate Wrath’s book E:

Life is harsh. It makes no exceptions. Not even for the innocent.

Outpost Three: a huddle of crumbling buildings choked by a concrete wall. Cracked pavement, rusted metal, splintering boards. Huge robotic Sentries police the streets, but the Ten Laws are broken every time one turns its back.

Eden is determined, smart, and a born survivor. Stripped of her memories and dumped on the streets of the Outpost, slavers and starvation are only the beginning of her problems. A devastating conflict is coming that threatens to consume her world and tear her newfound family apart.

Does that make you want to read it?  It worked for me.  I like dystopian fiction.  I’m not sure exactly why, but I’m a sucker for futuristic extrapolations.  And the description gave me some of those:  an Outpost (this being #3, I’m curious about the others), robotic Sentries (advanced AI tech?), the Ten Laws (political commentary?), and crumbling infrastructure (again, political commentary?).  It also promises an interesting character with a lot at stake in Eden (hence the title “E?”).

I’ve started HORNS by Joe Hill, but it’s a paper version, and I can’t read it in bed.  So out comes the Kindle, and the first thing there is Wrath’s novel.  So I opened it up, and started reading.

Kate Wrath grabbed me from the first paragraph.  “I wake up in a box of iron.  I know nothing, remember nothing.  There is one thought imprinted on my consciousness:  You have been erased.”  From there it is compelling reading.  A picture of a society comes out through her protagonist’s (Eden’s) experiences as she struggles to survive in those first moments after finding herself deposited in this area like so much garbage.  The author uses language beautifully to convey the character and setting but she never loses sight of the story and plot as things set up.

I wanted to find out more about the society and more about Eden herself.

It isn’t a perfect novel, but what is?  I just finished NOS4A2 by the acclaimed Joe Hill, and it was far from a perfect novel.  For me, for my reading experience, Wrath’s E was the better novel.  So what makes it flawed?  For me (and your mileage may vary depending on where you come from as a reader), the novel began to suffer from some pacing problems at about the same time as the romantic triangle between Eden, Matt (who runs Outpost 3 and who doesn’t seem to be a good person) and Jonas (her protector, a man with secrets) came into full swing.  Suddenly Eden’s thoughts turned from survival and from her family and to her feelings for these men more and more.  For me, it bogged down the narrative.  I liked the problem-focused style of the first half better.  For me, it seemed like it changed Eden from this strong force of nature to … something else.

It wasn’t a fatal flaw in any sense.  The story continued to progress, just at a slightly slower pace, and finally wrapped up in a sensible, satisfying conclusion.  I immediately downloaded Book 2, Evolution, and am already a few pages into it.

One question I had as I read was, “Is this a young adult novel, or does it aim for an adult audience?”  I felt that it pretty much worked on the YA level as well as on an adult level, but usually the protagonist in YA is a teen.  (Thinking of Katniss and Tris here.)  In this book, I had the idea that Eden is a beautiful 20-something woman.  Maybe early 20’s, but not exactly a teenager.  Maybe I’m wrong.  In the end, it didn’t make a difference.

I’ll be posting a quickie version of this review on Amazon (when I get around to it) and will likely be giving the book five stars.  I think it deserves that rating, even if it weren’t a first novel.  I hope that the rest of the series can keep up the standard.

E by Kate Wrath.  Available at Amazon’s Kindle store as well as other places.

*****

Giveaway results

It isn’t the first time I’ve given JACK’O’LANTERN (and other stories) away.  But it’s a Halloween story, and I think it’s pretty good.   The title story was published on a magazine/blog site called “Friendly Fiction” a few years back, and the site’s editor had a go at it, suggesting changes.  I made several at that time, and ignored a few that I disagreed with.  The result was a fairly tight story.  I connected it with two other Holiday stories, THE MOMENT (about a junior high student who finally finds the courage to ask his crush to dance at the school Halloween mixer, through the anonymity of a costume) and SARAH’S PUPPY (where a little girl hears the barking of a puppy that she’s hoping she’ll get for Christmas and meets a bearded stranger by the tree in her living room), because all of them feature younger children and holidays, even though only the title story is horror.

So, for Halloween, I decided to give it away again.  What the heck? I thought.  Maybe someone will like the stories enough to buy the collection that it’s also a part of, 14 DARK WINDOWS(No one did.)  But I also put in sample chapters of both of my $0.99 novellas, THE INN and THE CAVE.  My hope is that someone will read the three short stories, read the sample chapters and be interested enough to check out the novellas.  Maybe realize that they’re bargain basement priced at $0.99, and will buy one or both.

As it turns out, I did sell one copy of THE INN during the giveaway.  Whether it was because of the short story giveaway, who knows?

All in all, I gave away something like 33 copies of the collection, which is back up to $0.99 today.  Would I buy it myself for $0.99?  No.  I’d spend that same $0.99 and buy the collection mentioned above.  I clearly state as the first line in the story trio’s description that it is part of that collection and that the collection also costs only $0.99.

The pattern was something like this:  Thursday, 8 free copies were downloaded, with virtually no promotion besides mentioning it on Facebook.  And I think the downloads occurred before I even made the Facebook post.  On Friday, 6 free copies.  Saturday, only 1 copy was downloaded.  I posted pictures later on Friday of my own pumpkin carvings on my Scott Dyson page, with another link to the giveaway title.  On Sunday the number went back up to 5 free downloads.

Then on Monday, I thought to mention it on Goodreads, in a group I lurk within called Horror Afficionados.  As a direct result of that mention, 13 more copies were downloaded.  More to the point, they were downloaded by people who like horror, if I can safely assume that those who read the post in the promotion topic on the bulletin board.  I can only hope that they get around to reading them and like the sample chapters enough to try my novellas.

So the promotion is done for now.

I’ve been thinking about a topic for a post soon about how I personally rank the elements of a novel when I’m reading it.  Still thinking about how to organize it.

Till then, have a great day.

*****

JACK’O’LANTERN (and THE MOMENT and SARAH’S PUPPY) free on 10/29!

In honor of Halloween, I’ve made my short story trio containing JACK’O’LANTERN, THE MOMENT and SARAH’S PUPPY free for five days, starting Thursday, 10/29/15, till Monday, 11/2/15.  It’s been free before, but this time it contains sample chapters from my novellas THE INN and THE CAVE.

Jackolantern updated cover

All three stories are also found in the collection 14 DARK WINDOWS, which is priced at only $0.99 and will continue to be priced there for the foreseeable future.

Grab it while it’s free! If you like it, grab something else as well! Thanks for reading!

*****