If you've read 43 Seconds or Erebus, you'll know James has nostalgia for the golden days. His dreams are an extension of my own. Instead of the golden days of aviation, however, I dream about the pulpy days of science fiction. Book covers painted in gauche with paint-streaked rocket ships bisecting star fields, like these:
Like 'em? Check out my collection on Pinterest.
I also love the concept of the serial, tuning in next week or getting the next issue to see what befalls our hero. It's really the structure for most modern sci-fi television, whether you're watching Dr. Who or Star Trek. Bite-sized stories consumed sequentially, starring the same characters, focusing sometimes on the star, sometimes on the co-stars.
When I conceived Hayden's World, it was a full-fledged book. I thought the voyage to get to that point, however, was its own exciting story. I'd been searching for Kindle short reads to consume each night in bed - ninety-nine cent stories I could read in under an hour. To my surprise, there was a shortage of them. It was an itch which needed to be scratched, and I decided to tackle it with my keyboard.
Publishing sci-fi shorts on Kindle is surprisingly difficult. I think people are more likely to try a novel from an unknown author than a short story. It's nearly impossible to advertise ninety-nine cent fiction without losing money. I've found the most effective paid promotion is simply to buy the books from Amazon and give them away (via Amazon's Giveaway program). Kindle Select allows me to set the price to free for up to five days every three months. and this moves two hundred copies if I pay for basic advertising. Recently I had a friend ask if there was good money in my Kindle sales. I told him I could buy one nice dinner-for-two yearly from them.
This quote from author Palessa on Nicolas C. Rossis blog sums it up perfectly:
On the author side, I decided to go more for brand awareness than book sales, because if I’ve learned anything in this whole independent author journey, it’s that obscurity is the force we are all fighting against.
The main challenge hasn't been one star reviews. It's publishing to the abyss. It takes money and effort to keep your needle in the haystack from sifting to the bottom of the pile. And, you've got company there. You can deduce this fairly quickly from your Kindle stats. When your book bottoms out in sales, it moves to a sales rank of around three million (meaning, there are three million books in the pool, and you are at the bottom). When you sell just one copy, your rank jumps to one hundred thousand. This means those 2.9 million other souls are selling no copies.
I'll admit, it's daunting. I was an artist before I was a writer. Both are creative endeavors. Art is easier, though. It's visual. When you post a newly completed piece online, you immediately get feedback. People can assess its merit in the few seconds it takes to glance at it, and respond. They can share the image socially. Writing, though, is different. There's a commitment to read a story, and then it takes more than a Facebook like to give feedback.
I'm four stories deep now in the Hayden's World series and excited about the subplots developing. There's plenty to explore, especially with James's discovery in Erebus, or the lack of closure with the pirates in Aero One. Looking forward to seeing what happens next with our heroes.
As always, you can help with your feedback. Leaving a rating on Amazon or Goodreads really helps, or just a comment on this blog if you like a story or have questions about what's next. I love to hear from readers, so drop me a line.