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eBook pricing has been in the news a lot lately, because the Department of Justice is investigating the Big 6 and Apple for price fixing.

Right now we have the Agency model where publishers get to set the prices for their eBooks and they’ve set them quite unrealistically to try to hold on to their print sales.  First, one could easily argue that a high eBook price isn’t exactly going to drive a Kindle or Nook user to go buy the print version.  It’s actually driving them to buy a less expensive eBooks.  Which is good news for indie authors like us.  For example, at one point in Men’s Adventure on Kindle, Steve Berry was #1, I was #2 and #3, then there there were two Clive Cussler titles, then I was #6.  So 50% of the top six books in that genre were mine in that snapshot a little back.  In War, I have 11 of the top 50, more than W.E.B. Griffin, one of the masters of that genre.  I have two of the top ten science fiction sellers on both US and UK Kindle (Area 51 and Atlantis).  I submit it’s not necessarily that my books are so great but also an issue of pricing.  At $2.99 to $4.99 , I think my books look a lot more attractive than a $14.99 book from some trad author.

I’ve previously pointed out how pricing an eBook over $10 makes no sense financially.  Frankly, I’m of the opinion that pricing an eBook over $5 isn’t that great and at Who Dares Wins Publishing we recently reduced prices on all our titles to under $5, including our nonfiction.

On the other end of the spectrum is the uproar over the .99 eBook.  John Locke has made a lot of headlines for his savvy move of selling over one million eBooks, except all are priced at .99 except for his book about selling one million eBooks which is $4.99.  I kind of love the logic there.  But I’ve also pointed out that one million eBooks at .99 equals 166,000 eBooks at $2.99, which several indies, myself included, have achieved with much less fanfare.

The big cloud I’m seeing on the horizon is the growing awareness in NY that they need to revise the way they view the eBook.  It’s not competition for their print sales, it’s part of their overall revenue stream.  I predict we will see a lot more books from the Big 6 priced under $5 in the coming year.  I think there will be more direct to eBook publishing, where the book might never even come out in print.

What does this mean?  The playing field is going to level out.  New York is going to get leaner and more efficient and embrace the eBook instead of viewing it as the enemy.  Indie authors are going to have to work harder to keep their readers and also consider, if successful, what to do when NY or Amazon or whoever comes calling with offers.

The biggest thing all writers—trad, indie, hybrid—need to realize is that there is no one ‘right’ path to Oz.  In fact, we’re all starting from different places, not necessarily all from Kansas, and Oz might even mean different things to each of us.  To each their own, but the ones who succeed will be the ones who keep their options open and constantly educate themselves on the business and also are able to act decisively.

The bottom line is that you, the reader, will vote with your wallet.

Readers Rule!

 

 

In the past year, my writing career has improved considerably—enough, even, to call it a career.  With my talented and hard-working husband/publisher, we’ve put ten books up on Amazon Kindle. Having used our own covers, product descriptions, product positioning and pricing, we were surprised and delighted by how well these books have performed.

Looking back, I realize the dream I chased for so long (Big Six publisher, six-figure advance, feted in New York) is gone for good.

Here’s a trip down memory lane: my experience with a Big Six publisher:

1) Agent makes the deal.  Editor calls to say, “We love you!” You say, “So you’re putting it in hardcover?”  Long pause.  “We’re thinking mass market paperback.  That’s the way to reach people. Hard covers are too hard to sell.  You’ll see–this is going to be huge!

2) Two months go by.  Editor asks for a handful of revisions and decides to change the title of your book.

3) Eight months go by.  Editor sends photo of the cover.  “Here it is!”  You ask, “Why did you put a werewolf on the cover?” You receive only stony silence, and despite the fact that the book doesn’t have werewolves in it, you soon grow to love the cover.

4) Publisher sends copy edits.

5) They assign you a publicist. The publicist writes a few lines down on one sheet of paper, describing you and your book.

6) The publicist misses the point of the book, so you ask her to change it.  You never hear from her again.

7) Book comes out.  There’s a flurry of excitement.  Will PW review the book?

8) Sadly, no.

9) You go to the local Barnes & Noble.  (Borders is closed.)  There you go look for your book, and you find it, spine out, two copies.

And there, at last, is that wonderful moment when you are standing in that bookstore, holding the book of your heart. You’ve arrived!

Absorb that wonderful feeling.  Revel in it.  Photograph the occasion.  Because in three weeks time, that book will be pulped and turned into a beer carton.  It will disappear off the face of the earth…

Until it crops up as an ebook.

*If you didn’t get a high six-figure advance

Please welcome Colin Falconer to Readers Rule!

******

I was seven years old when my Aunty Ivy came to visit us. I got a bristly kiss on the cheek, was complimented on my curly hair, and handed a bag full of comics.

It was the start of a lifelong love affair – with stories.

There were some Superman comics in the bag, but they were promptly discarded in favour of the half dozen dog-eared Classics Illustrated. Every week after that, when Aunty Ivy took the train down from London to see us in (what was then) rural Essex, she added to my library of the world’s greatest literature, each volume condensed into 52 lurid pages with speak bubbles.

By the time I was eight I had read Moby Dick, Doctor Jekyl and Mister Hyde, The Moonstone, The Black Tulip and Ivanhoe; was familiar with most of the major works of Alexandre Dumas (Père), Mark Twain and William Wilkie Collins; and had even read most of Homer’s Odyssey (although I never found out how it ended because the comics were second hand and the last page had been ripped out.)

I just hope he got back home all right.

I was the only eight year old I knew who preferred Michael Stroganoff to Huckleberry Hound. All right, so I thought Faust was the Incredible Hulk’s younger brother, but what those comic books gave me was a thirst for great stories.

When I left school the first thing I did, to the consternation of both my parents, was go hitch-hiking around Europe. After all, why go to university? I’d read everything Shakespeare ever wrote one wet weekend when I was 9. What was left to learn?

Instead I hitch-hiked to Morocco, where me and my mate were the only white faces (then) wandering the Djema El-fna’a, the Place of the Dead, in Marrakech. Not too long after that I found myself on a rusted freighter in the middle of a typhoon in the South Java Sea, then heading to the Golden Triangle in Burma, where I shook hands with CIA agents and drug smugglers.

My travels in Indochina led to my first novel, based loosely on the life of Charles Sobrajh, a serial killer whose path I almost crossed many times. They were also the source of my five book Opium series, based on the growth of the heroin trade.

Shadows moving behind the fretted windows of a Marrakech palace led to my fascination with Muslim culture and to books like HAREM and SERAGLIO.

Yet when I look back on the beginnings of my writing career, I still wish I had paid more attention to staying in genre. Pick your niche and stick to it, as Bob Mayer says. Like Grisham or Clancy or Picoult.

But at the start I was too naïve to realize that I was writing out of genre. For a kid raised on Classics Illustrated the only genre I understood was a great story written in an accessible way. I leaned towards historical backgrounds because the Classics Illustrated stories were mostly that.

I try to pay more attention to genre these days, because readers certainly do. But in my own mind I have never strayed from my domain, one you won’t find in the writing books. It is the Aunty Ivy genre; I pray at the feet of the genius who sandwiched Les Miserables into forty eight garish pages.

I don’t have genius. All I have is a love affair with a big story on an exotic canvas that someone can read on one rainy afternoon, just like I did. If just one of my stories can fire someone else’s imagination and send their lives on a different course, as happened to me, then Aunty Ivy and I will consider it a job well done.

 

Check out Colin’s latest release, Venom at Barnes and Noble Nook First!

Buy at Barnes and Noble

author of provocative mysteries and thrillers

The next best thing to reading a great book is talking about it with your friends who’ve read it. That’s why book clubs are so popular and those discussions are so important to readers. I love these talks as much as the next reader, and I sometimes lead the activity for a mystery listserv I participate in. I also love to discuss my own books with groups who contact me, so I have some experience in asking and answering thought-provoking questions. I’ve even posted discussion questions on my website. I thought I’d share some of my insights on what makes for good book discussion questions.

Every novel has specific (and often conflicting) events and character actions that naturally seem ripe for discussion. Do you believe the mayor’s version of what happened to Jessie? Why or why not? And there’s nothing wrong with the standard questions that work for almost any novel. Did the setting enhance the plot or could the story have worked anywhere? What themes did the author weave into the story? Was the antagonist believable?

My favorite questions, though, go beyond specific settings or events:

Motivation. Any question that gets to the heart of a character’s motivation, especially to behave in a socially unacceptable way, will make for a lively discussion.  Jasmine shares privileged information with a reporter. Why Claire says she stole the painting to protect it, but what were her real reasons? I’ve discovered that readers bring their own experiences into a novel and often perceive things in characters that others don’t, even the author. It’s fascinating.

Fate. Questions that discuss the course of events and whether those events are inevitable generate strong reactions from readers. Did the young boy have to die in the end? Could the story have gone in another direction and still been effective?

Coincidence. Does the story rely on a major or minor coincidence? Was it believable and did it work for you? Was the story plausible overall?

Values/beliefs.  In what ways do the events and characters reveal the author’s values or world view? What is the author trying to say about this subject or theme? [Insert hot-button topic here: women, race, sexuality, discrimination.] Did the story make you question any of your own beliefs?

Some of the best book discussions are those in which readers disagree and perceive the story in different ways. Sometimes those talks can make you want to read the novel again and see what you missed.

Do you belong to a book club? What have been your favorite books or subjects to discuss?

FREE 21-25 Feb

FREE 21-25 Feb

From today through Saturday, I have six free books available on Amazon.   A bit of something for just about everyone.  And a Nook First featured title.

For thriller lovers:  Lost Girls is one of my favorite books.  It’s based on the premise:  Who polices the world of covert operations.  Think about it.  If a Special Operator goes rogue, who’s going to capture him?  And then can you even put him on trial with all the secrets he knows?  Regular police would be no match even if they could track him down.  In Lost Girls, we meet Neeley, our favorite female assassin, from Bodyguard of Lies and Gant, as they try to find out who is kidnapping and killing young girls.  It turns out to be a Special Forces sniper team that was betrayed overseas and has come back to the States to wreak vengeance on the families of those that betrayed them.

For those of a more science thriller/science fiction bent, there is Atlantis: Gate.  What if the force that destroyed Atlantis came back to threaten our present world?  Last summer, the Atlantis series was the #2 bestselling series in Science Fiction, just behind Game of Thrones.  “Some say the world will end in fire, some say in ice.” Thus Robert Frost warns the President of the United States at the beginning of Atlantis Gate, before departing on a classified mission on the first nuclear submarine, the USS Nautilus. In 480 BC, King Leonidas leads 300 Spartans to Thermopylae to try to delay the massive Persian Army. Known only to the King, they have an even more important mission: to escort and protect a powerful priestess to a mystical gate through which she can travel to help save the world. It’s a mission for which Leonidas will gladly sacrifice his own, and his men’s lives.  On the Nazca Plain in Chile, an old woman has been studying ancient lines in the ground for decades. Now she finally understands their terrifying message. In the present, tremors deep inside the Earth threaten all civilizations.

FREE 21-25 Feb

FREE 21-25 Feb

Eric Dane races against time to find the key to stopping this assault from the dark Shadow. He must reach across time to the Spartans and the priestess they escort to find the key to this defense. And in doing so, he must travel to the Space Between, the boundary between our world, and the world of the Shadow.

For writers and nonfiction fans, there is The Writer’s Conference Guide:  Getting the Most of your Time and Money. A writer’s conference is a large investment in time and money so it’s certainly worth spending a little of that time and money beforehand to maximize your investment. We cover strategies for:

• How to find and pick the best conferences to meet your needs.
• Tips on how to efficiently plan for the conference.
• How to select the workshops that will benefit you the most.
• How to socialize and mingle with those who can help your career.
• Pitching techniques and tactics so you’ll be prepared for the opportunity to discuss your book.
• Finally, we go over an After Action Review and Follow-up so every conference you attend is a great success.

For a mix of science and thriller, there’s The Green Berets: Synbat, where a government experiment to produce the next generation of soldiers goes horribly wrong.  Currently under option for the Syfy Channel.

FREE 21-25 Feb

FREE 21-25 Feb

Then another thriller:  Black Ops: The Omega Sanction, described as “Sizzling, first-rate war fiction.” By the Macon Beacon.

Last, but certainly not least, is my first indie release direct to digital, Chasing The Ghost One of my favorite protagonists I’ve written, Horace Chase has been chasing ghosts his entire life.
First, his Medal-of-Honor winner father who died in Vietnam without ever meeting his son. And left him the legacy of an automatic appointment to the Military Academy at West Point which shaped the next thirty-five years of Chase’s life. Then, the ghost of his mother, who died while he was at war in Afghanistan and wounded, causing him to resign his commission and return to the United States, a lost soul.

Chase now wears two hats as a Federal counter-terrorism liaison to the local police department in Boulder, Colorado where he becomes embroiled in two seemingly un-related cases. Working as a detective with Boulder PD he chases another death, this one the apparent rape/murder of Rachel Stevens, an upscale housewife attending night classes at the University of Colorado. And with his counter-terrorism team he is embroiled in a series of killings involving a militia group, a rogue ex-Special Forces officer, a psychopathic ex-CIA contract mercenary, and ruthless drug runners.

From the streets of Boulder, to the highest railroad tunnel in the world, to a swingers club hiding in plain site in suburbia, Afghanistan starts to look pretty good to Chase.

Feel free to download and enjoy the books–and if you do enjoy them, then perhaps pay back with a positive review!

And if you’re a Nook owner, check out Black Ops: Section 8 which is featured as an exclusive Nook First title.

All the best and Readers Rule.

I’m heading off tomorrow to one of my favorite gigs – the San Diego edition of the Southern California Writers’ Conference.  I’m scheduled to conduct an in-depth presentation entitled: Writer Primer – Writer Responsibilities to the Reader and to lead several Read & Critique Workshops.  I’ll also meet privately for one-on-one Advance Submission sessions with aspiring writers whose work I’ve read and evaluated.  This conference, like many others, is devoted to the creative and business needs of aspiring writers.

Those of us who lead workshops are willing mentors to the next generation of writers.  I believe that the Directors of SCWC, Michael Stephen Gregory and Wes Albers, will forgive me if I reveal the fact that Workshop Leaders are not paid big bucks for sharing our experiences in the trenches of the writing/publishing world.

We participate at conferences, counsel students, and lead workshops for several reasons, among them a passion for our craft, the pleasure of finding the one or two or three golden nuggets of creative talent among the attendees, the chance to guide talented writers onto a path that will result in marketable books, and the opportunity to reconnect with our own peers in the writing community.  That last one probably doesn’t surprise you at all, since you realize that the life of the writer is a largely solitary one.

Given the length of my writing and editing career – 20 plus years – I’ve participated in countless writers’ conferences across the country.  I can accurately say that the two stand-outs for me are SCWC ( Southern California Writers’ Conference www.writersconference.com/ ) and SBWC ( Santa Barbara Writers’ Conference www.sbwritersconference.com/ ).  Both conferences allow me to share my experiences as a multi-published writer in both traditional print publishing and, more recently, in the digital publishing arena, as well as to utilize my skills as a veteran editor when critiquing student work.

And so, Readers, I want you to know that aspiring writers are in good hands as Workshop Leaders groom the next generation of writers – the same writers who are destined to entertain and delight you as they sweep you into the future, the distant past, or the here and now with their fiction, or inform you with their non-fiction.

I would like to close by offering my own sincere and heartfelt thank you to Readers You’ve been amazingly supportive of my romantic suspense books during the last several months – so supportive, in fact, that INTIMATE STRANGERS, FALLEN ANGEL, DESERT ROSE, MIDNIGHT STORM, and HEARTBREAKER have all occupied (simultaneously, no less!) the Bestseller Top 100 Romantic Suspense List at Amazon.UK for the previous two weeks, and those same books all spent two months this winter on that same Bestseller Top 100 Romantic Suspense List at Amazon.com in the U.S.   Color me extremely appreciative of readers.

I’m going strong on Facebook, Google+, and at Twitter (AuthorLTaylor) these days, so reach out and we’ll connect.  Meantime, READERS RULE!

Hugs all around, Laura

Area 51 is in the middle of nowhere on the road to nowhere.  Nevada Route 375 which has officially been named Extraterrestrial Highway is road you take only if you want to drive by the fringe of Area 51 and stop in the Little Ale’Inn in Rachel, NV.

When my wife and I moved from South Carolina to Whidbey Island, WA almost five years ago, we went out of our way (well I did, over my wife’s protests) to drive up the road.  We got on it and saw not a single car for at least a half hour.  Then, and not making this up, we spotted a car coming the other way.  Right out of Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang.  Same kind of old car and the people in it were dressed exactly right for the era with the top down.

Now that was weird.

And today (14th) through Thursday (16th) Area 51 Legend is FREE on Amazon.  In fact, I’m giving away a free book every week this year on Amazon.  I’ll update this site, but if you go to my Write It Forward blog, you’ll see not only my free books for the week, but our other authors, such as Mary Reed McCall’s title:  The Templar’s Seduction, which is free today and tomorrow.

Last year I spent a morning with a crew from the SyFy channel filming in Nevada.  I drove down from Whidbey Island—takes two days.  We linked up in Vegas and then drove out, at the unGodly hour of 4 am (reminded me of being in the Army when everything always started at oh-dark-thirty, especially airborne operations) to drive the 120 miles to Rachel, NV.  We stopped at the Little Ale’Inn.  Then I led them out to the main gate to Area 51.  We filmed for about an hour.  I was technically the ‘expert’ about Area 51 for the host of the show.  I’ve done shows before, Discovery Channel about Special Forces, etc, but this was interesting because we were filming in a place where you can’t film.  Big sign says so.  But also, we were on BLM land, not on Air Force aka National Security Agency land.  We could see their cameras filming us.  So I guess my license plate is in the database now.

And we didn’t run into a little grey, aka Paul, on the road.

The episode was about the Spear of Destiny and how it could have ended up at Area 51.  The crew had filmed all over the world, tracking it.  We had to film so early because the entire crew was flying to South America at 4 that afternoon.

I thought about it for the show, and I do have to say as former Special Forces, it would be a hell of a place to infiltrate successfully.  On the west you’ve got the Nevada Test Site where they detonated 739 nukes over the years.  I aint coming in from that direction. On the south, Yucca Mountain where they store nuclear waste.  Ditto.  And then the outer perimeter, which keeps getting expanded, is thoroughly covered by cameras, thermal, motion detectors, etc.  And it’s pretty much wide open desert.  No sneaking up.  No parachuting in, because the airspace is as highly classified as that over the White House.  And if you did get through outer perimeter, you still got dozens of miles to get to the actual facility, which has its own layers of guards and security.  So, all in all, when the host asked me where I would secure something very important, I had to say it was Area 51.

On the drive back, I passed Pilot Peak in northeast Nevada.  I have a scene in my book, Duty, Honor,  Country a Novel of West Point & the Civil War set at the base of that mountain.  It was pretty easy to see why the mountain was so important to early travelers.  John Fremont named the mountain after Kit Carson went there and lit a fire to guide him in when they needed water.  Both figures are in the book as I cover their 1845 expedition to California, where they ended up conquering California from the Mexicans.

One thing I love about being a writer is going to the places I write about to get the feel for them.  When I walked the entire Shiloh battlefield, I was amazed at how places that resonate in history such as The Hornet’s Nest or Bloody Pond, were just these simple spots that you wouldn’t give a second glance to, but on which so much blood was spilled.  Now that I’m back east in North Carolina, I will be revisiting a lot of Civil War locations for the second book in the Duty, Honor, Country series.  For the new series spinning off of Area 51:  Area 51: Nightstalkers, I think I’ve already spent enough time tempting the fates in Nevada.