Welcome to my worlds!

I'm James Maxey, author of fantasy and science fiction. My novels include the science fantasy Bitterwood Saga (4 books) the Dragon Apocalypse Saga (4 books), numerous superhero novels including Nobody Gets the Girl and the Lawless series, the steampunk Oz sequel Bad Wizard, and my short story collections, There is No Wheel and Jagged Gate. This website is focused exclusively on writing. At my second blog, Jawbone of an Ass, I ramble through any random topic that springs to mind, occasionally touching on religion and politics and other subjects polite people are sensible enough not to discuss in public. If you'd like to get monthly updates on new releases, as well as preview chapters and free short stories, join my newsletter!

Friday, July 30, 2010

My Kindle Journey: Part 5. It's Alive!

At last, Bitterwood is live in the Kindle store! I've downloaded the complete copy and the formatting looks beautiful on my Droid. It includes free a sample chapter of Dragonforge, "Judgment by Swine." Download a free sample of the project (or purchase the whole thing for a very modest $2.99) by clicking here.

I feel very much in control of my own destiny as a writer at this moment. I've loved working with traditional publishers, and very much want to do so in the future. There's something satisfying about working with professional editors and seeing the work produced by professional cover artists. But, on the flip side, the rewards are nearly outweighed by an endless string of frustations. For instance, there have been multiple times when the paperback edition of Bitterwood has sold out, and simply not been available in bookstores or Amazon. To me, it's difficult to imagine how this happens; it seems as if publishers might have some system to collect data on how many books are selling and be able to anticipate when to order a new print run? Of course, the whole data collection is an entirely different complaint. Almost all authors I know complain about getting any kind of sales data out of their publishers on a timely basis. In theory, I'm supposed to be updated every six months. In practice, I'm updated at random every 7 or 8 months with data that is several months old. In May, for instance, I recieved information on how many copies of my dragon books had been sold through November of last year. By putting my own work up on kindle, I can get updates on a daily, even hourly basis. And, I don't have to wait until some random time for payment... I can just have the money from the sales transfered to me at the time of my choosing. What a concept!

I still have my doubts about just how much of the market ebooks are actually going to win. But, my royalty rates on Kindle sales are 1000% higher than my royalty rates on paperbacks. That wasn't a typo, by the way. My royalty on a paperback is 7%; Kindle offers 70% royalties. If my e-books ever reach even 10% of paperback sales, I'll be very happy. And, with the proliferation of smartphones, and the Kindle heading even lower in price, the future looks positive indeed.

Republishing my already published work is a no-brainer. The big question remains, will the Kindle prove such a strong outlet that I start writing books purely for release on that platform?


J. Edward Jr. said...

If you did started publishing on kindle only, I would have to go by a kindle.

James Maxey said...

Thanks, Jeff! Of course, you don't have to buy a kindle to read kindle books. The software is free for PCs, Macs, and almost all smartphones. I really think smartphones are the future of ebooks.

True story: I had a dentist appointment today at 10:40. I was still sitting in the waiting room at 11. I pulled out my phone and was reading news, but got bored since it was a slow news day. I clicked over to my Kindle app and downloaded "Ghost of Manhattan" by George Mann, a new superhero novel I kept seeing linked to "Masked," the new superhero anthology. I was taken back into the room to have my tooth drilled and filled, and had to wait another half hour while the anaestetic took hold, and I spent that time reading my new book. To me, that's the beauty of ebooks on a smart phone. They just magically spring into your hand anytime you discover a slow spot or an unexpected wait in your day.

The biggest obstacle I think that ebooks face right now is that traditional publishers charge too much, often more than paperbacks. This for a book that uses no paper! As a writer, I want to get paid, but as a reader, I think it's a rip off to be charged extra for an electronic copy of a book. I chose to charge only $2.99 for Bitterwood on Kindle since A: I think it's a fair price for a reader supplying their own media and B: I still make a lot more on an ebook sale than I'll ever make on a paperback sale. And, maybe the lower price point will encourage more readers to take a chance on newer works. One can hope.

TheyStoleFrazier'sBrain said...

What do you think of Ghosts of Manhattan?

James Maxey said...

Well, I wish I'd paid 2.99 instead of 9.99. The writing is a bit over the top melodramatic, to the point it's difficult to figure out if it's supposed to be a parody of or a homage to the pulp adventure novels of the 1920s and 30s it's based on. That said, I'm still reading, and still like the overall concept of the book; once I'm done I'll review the novel in my IGMS column.

David said...

Well that is awesome about Bitterwood being available on the Kindle. Bitterwood actually caught my attention last year at Dragon-Con which I picked up a copy and turned out it was an autographed copy (just assuming it was your autograph). I had gotten a kindle previously and so your book went into my bookshelf collection but I checked on Amazon weekly to see if it was available on the Kindle. Now that it is, and at an awesome price I might add, I will buy it this evening. However I have a few books that I need yet to read before I get to it, well maybe anyways. There is always the chance that I will move Bitterwood up some. Actually I need to get it and your new super hero story. Now I will be eagerly awaiting the rest of the Bitterwood trilogy and Nobody gets the Girl.
On another note your brief review has me less eager than I was about Ghosts of Manhattan. I am reading Shades of Gray at the moment and it is very good thus far.

James Maxey said...

Thanks, David! Hope you enjoy the books. Dragonforge is coming soon; I started working on the cover over the weekend, and I'm hoping the stuff I've learned coverting Bitterwood will speed up the process. My goal is to have it done well before the end of August.

I did sign some books at a dealer's table at Dragoncon last year, and I also gave away a couple of dozen books to people who gave blood. So, you must have one of those.

Don't be too discouraged about Ghosts of Manhattan. I was actually reading a few more chapters tonight and felt like it's getter better after a jerky start. A lot of writer's bungle their beginnings. A good beginning has the oxymoronic goal of giving the reader enough interesting information that they are left with a lot of questions. Learning the art of getting the readers to ask the questions you want asked is pretty tricky. Mann didn't quite hit it, but, fortunately, a book is more than just the opening chapters.