Immortal


GeneDoucette_Eve1400The latest book in the Immortal universe is available now!

Did you want to know more about the mysterious red-haired woman?  I did too!  That’s why Immortal Stories: Eve now exists.  Pick up a copy, post a review, let me know what you think!

Buy it here

Hello new readersImmortal_Cover58

Just a quick hello to the many new readers who’ve stopped by over the past couple of days.  Most of you folks probably found your way here due to one promotion or another for the Immortal $0.99 deal.  Or–and this is a long shot–you’re reading this having no idea such a deal exists and you landed here due to some happy accident.  If that’s the case, and you’re reading this post in May, 2015, the deal is still good, so go pick up a copy!

I’d like to apologize for the state of this blog page.  I did sort of know you were all coming, and I should have cleaned up, but I’ve been busy!  I’m working on a new novella about a character from The Immortal Book Series, named Eve.  If you’ve read the trilogy, you’ve already met her a couple of times.

Anyway, I don’t want to keep you!  If you’re interested in keeping track of what’s going on with my and my various projects, you’re already in the right place for semi-regular updates.  Check out the Immortal Books link for a complete accounting of every Immortal-based book, and for everything else, here are some other links:

The Cult of the Immortal (fan page)

Gene Doucette author page

Mailing list

Gene on Goodreads

Gene on Twitter

Gene’s unnecessary Tumblr page

ImageWould you like to hear me talk about Immortalpublishing, first-person authorship, Adam, and a whole bunch of other things?  For thirty-five minutes?

Of course you would!

Honestly, I’m listening to the podcast right now, and this might be my favorite online appearance.  Janelle Alex gives good interview.

Here are a few of links:

Authors Talk About It: The Immortal Trilogy

The Immortal Trilogy on Podbean

Authors Talk About It on iTunes

You can own Immortal, the book that started it all, for only $0.99 starting today, 5/7, until 5/31.Immortal_Cover58

If you haven’t read it, now’s your chance!  If you have friends who have resisted all your past demands that they read this book, now is THEIR chance!

It’s the book that leads to Hellenic Immortal and Immortal at the Edge of the World and all five books in The Immortal Chronicles.  It has 77 Amazon reviews for a 4.4 average, and 788 ratings on Goodreads for a 4.08 average.  It’s book one of a long adventure that is still being written.

And it’s only $0.99.

Immortal on Amazon

Immortal on Itunes

You might recall that a few weeks back I took one of my novellas– Immortal at Sea–and discounted it to free.  You may also recall my taking it out of free a little while after that.GeneDoucette_ImmortalatSea1400

So, funny story.  The idea behind permafree markdowns is to expand interest in the other books associated with the free product.  What I started seeing after the paid-for promos I’d run for Immortal at Sea was a sharp drop in downloads of the free book and a marked increase in the purchases of the other books in The Immortal Chronicles, which led me to conclude that I had accomplished what I hoped to accomplish out of it.

Then I took it out of free, and almost exactly a week later my sales fell through the floor.

Seeking advice

It happens I know a lot of writers, and most of those writers are more successful than I am at this.  (Statistically, the odds are pretty good.)  I went to a few of them, on the KBoards and at SFWA, to discuss my problem, which we’ll call an issue of discoverability.

A lot of what came out of those conversations was depressing and hopefully untrue.  (For example: some books have a level, and they will never out-perform that level, so go write other things.  This is true, and it’s good advice, and I don’t think I accept it.)  Two things stuck: one, clearly in the short-term, the free giveaways of Immortal at Sea were driving my other sales and it should stay free.  Image

So, it’s back to free again, and I’ll be running various promos from time to time to keep people interested in downloading it.

Two: the ‘also-boughts’ on Amazon tell a story.

Closed ecosystem

If you go to Amazon and look up one of my books, scroll down the page and look at what the people who bought one of them also bought.  You’ll find they bought my other books.

This is great!  It means if you’ve read one of my books, you’re interested in all of my books.  This is also not great.  It indicates that I’m not getting a lot of new readers who are following another author’s work in order to get to mine.  I’m not reaching enough new readers, in other words, to impact Amazon’s algorithms that match my work with readers of other works.Immortal_Cover58

This is the problem of discoverability.

BookBub

At around the same time I was struggling with this problem, my publisher was lining up a promotion for their SF/F titles for the month of May.  In addition to contributing a couple of guest blog posts for the tour, the plan was to mark down Immortal for part of the month.

This is a fantastic idea.  But for it to work, it needed to be done with more than a blog tour and a social media blitz.  It needed a big hitter.

It needed BookBub.

If you’re an ebook reader, you might know BookBub, and your opinion of them may be different than the opinion of an author.  Both of those opinions are no doubt positive, but still different.

BookBub is the holy grail of book promotion right now.  They run a heavily curated list featuring deeply discounted books from all publishing sources–self, indie, traditional.  Their promotions are very expensive, and very successful.  They are exactly what someone in my position needs: a way to put my best book in the hands of as many people as possible, quickly.logo-fba9a608247bdb9bdff01f6a1f4c2969

Needless to say, because of this it’s really difficult to get a promo scheduled with them.  Their acceptance rate is somewhere below 20%.

I’m happy to say I scheduled one for Immortal.  It’s happening on May 27.

Between now and then

Immortal will be going on sale for $0.99 starting on May 7th and continuing until the 31st.  I’m scheduling additional promotions leading up to the BookBub on the 27th.  (The only other confirmed promo right now is with The Fussy Librarian on the 13th.)  Also this month, I hope to roll out a new website for the entire Immortal universe, I expect to be featured on a podcast–more on this later–and there are those guest blogs I wrote for the publisher’s blog tour.  And of course, Immortal at Sea will remain free.logo

How can you help?  Tell people about Immortal, and tell them it’s going to only cost them a dollar.  And get ready for the end of May.  With any luck, a lot of people are going to know about Adam by then, and you guys are the early adopters.  Be sure to brag about that.

Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America

Back in 2012, I was enjoying the first big success of my career.  Immortal had taken off–not in the mega-best-seller sense, but in the “oh shit, I’m making real money” sort of way.  That might not sound like a huge deal to you unless you happen to also be a writer, and then maybe it does.  logo-new

It was kind of a big deal, anyway.  Big enough that I wondered what I could do with this success, however modest and/or transitory it might be.

One of the things I checked out was the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.  Immortal and the sequel, Hellenic Immortal had been best-selling on Amazon for five months in multiple SF/F categories.  Surely I could meet the minimum membership requirements on that alone?

I couldn’t.  What I had made in royalties far exceeded the minimum monetary threshold I needed to prove, and I had a publisher–I hadn’t self-published either book.  But I didn’t have the right kind of publisher, and I hadn’t earned that minimum the right sort of way.

Basically, the money had to be in an advance, and that advance had to come from a publisher on their list of approved publishers, and it didn’t look like there was a lot of flexibility on either point.

Immortal_Cover58Even for 2012–which was just at the start of the ebook revolution–this was breathtakingly behind-the-times, but I was in no position to do anything about it other than decide, oh well, I guess I won’t be joining SFWA.

Well, good news: I just joined SFWA.

The organization came to more or less the same conclusion I had back in 2012, and just changed the bylaws to allow for somewhat more flexibility in the application process.  There is still a not-immodest minimum earning threshold ($3,000 from one novel in a calendar year) but I could meet it, and so I’m in.

What does this mean for the future?  I have no idea just yet.  But I’m pretty excited about that future.

In other news

GeneDoucette_YuletideImmortal1400I’ve added Yuletide Immortal to iTunes and Nook.  (I haven’t given up on publishing wide yet!)  I’m still woefully behind on Kobo and Google Play but will keep everyone updated on progress there.

I’m looking into establishing a more robust web page for Adam and all his adventures (and for Corrigan Bain and all of his) and hope to have something to show all of you in the next few months.  With a more up-to-date landing page I’m anticipating being able to do some more things for all of you, like, I dunno, T-shirts?

Something, anyway.

If you have an idea of what you’d like to see in an Adam the Immortal website, drop me a note here.

Decisions

Here’s a sentence that probably doesn’t make sense if you aren’t self-publishing things right now: I’m not sure if I should stay exclusive to Amazon or not.

That seems like a pretty silly statement, because sure, Amazon’s Kindle accounts for most of the ebook sales, but why limit my books to just that one distributor when there is also Apple and Nook and Kobo and so on?  There doesn’t appear to be a solid reason to deliberately limit my exposure in that way.Immortal_Cover58

Perhaps.  But it turns out Amazon can be kind of a bitch about this.

There’s this thing called the Kindle Select program.  If your book is in Kindle Select it becomes eligible for the Kindle Unlimited (KU) program (take notes! This is going to get complicated!), which is their monthly subscription service.  You are also not eligible for the Kindle Lending Library (KOLL), which is… a library thing, I think.  If you aren’t in Select, your book is not eligible and you don’t get any of the benefits from KU/KOLL.

What are the benefits of KU/KOLL?

  1. People borrow your book

That’s it, that’s the benefit.

Hang on, there’s more

Okay, sorry, it’s more complicated than that.  Every borrow means money for the author.  How much is variable from month-to-month and dependent upon Amazon’s mood ring interface, the lunar cycle, and a dart board in Jeff Bezos‘s office, but it’s been between $1.30 and $2.10 per borrow.

Hellenic_Immortal20This is a low number if your book is being sold for $4,99 and up, and it’s super-fantastic if your book is being sold for $0.99.

For my Immortal Chronicles, it’s just about perfect because I sell those at $2.99 apiece.  I get more per book for each sale than I do for each borrow, but not a lot more.

If one can argue that three people might borrow a book that, if unavailable to borrow, only two would buy, I’m coming out ahead.  Those additional borrows also help with the Amazon sales rank, because they count the same as a sale to Amazon’s algorithms, and borrows bump a rank immediately.  (Sales don’t count until the money is collected.)Immortal-Edge-of-World-Low-Res-Cover

It’s a good deal for me, in other words.  The problem is, one of the requirements of being in Select is that I’m only in Select.  The books can’t be on sale anywhere else.

Going wide

Here’s my dilemma.  As a hybrid author, I have four novels that are indie published– Immortal, Hellenic Immortal, Immortal at the Edge of the World, and Fixer.  All of them were distributed wide and in print, and all of them sold well, although Amazon Kindle is still by far the biggest contributor to my royalty checks.

Last year I started self-publishing The Immortal Chronicles while waiting for book three of the above Immortal trilogy (Fixer is a standalone book that has its own sequel pending) to come out.  This was a way to draw attention to the novels and to create new interest in the main character, and it worked extremely well.

GeneDoucette_ImmortalatSea1400Soon, the Chronicles began to take on a life of their own, and I started to feel bad for the readers I felt I was leaving behind.  Some of the trilogy’s fans bought books in print, and others bought the novels on their Nooks or through Apple.  I was telling new stories for Adam the immortal and ignoring people who wanted those stories.

I decided the best way to take care of this was to publish an anthology that covered the first three Chronicle books, something I could put out in print with a respectable number of pages, and something I could keep out of Select and release through other platforms.

Ah, but I couldn’t do that last thing, because the content of the anthology included stories that were in Kindle Select.  They had to come out of Select first.GeneDoucette_HardBoiledImmortal1400

Now the dilemma

As of this afternoon, the first three books in The Immortal Trilogy– Immortal At Sea, Hard-Boiled Immortal and Immortal and the Madman— are all available on other platforms.  This means I’m free to release the anthology– First Folio— the same way.  (It’s already in print.)

But now I’m dubious.  See, here’s the problem.  The first two books have been out of Select and available on other platforms for about a month– Madman just went live today– and in that time the numbers for all my books on the Kindle have dropped.

GeneDoucette_ImmortalandtheMadman1400Book four of the Chronicles— Yuletide Immortal— came out in December and all four sold very well, but in December all of them were also in Select.  Since these are standalone novellas, they don’t need to be read in order, but it looks like when a “book four” came out it boosted interest in books 1-3, and it only helped that all four could be borrowed.

Will that happen again when Regency Immortal comes out next month?  It will be released in Select, and coming out right when Yuletide comes off Select.  (It’s a 90 day commitment, unless it’s renewed.)  Can a “book five” sell well–and borrow well–under these circumstances?  I honestly don’t know.

The other channelsGeneDoucette_YuletideImmortal1400

What I do know is that right now the other distribution channels aren’t picking up the slack, by which I mean the sales I’m getting from them aren’t offsetting what I think I’m probably losing in borrows from Kindle Unlimited.  Worse, it’s possible the entire Amazon promotional machine may be tied to Unlimited.

Right now my marketing plan is: release new books in Select but only for the first 90 days, which is when the most borrows occur, then go wide after that 90 day period is up.  I plan to stick with this approach to see if I can get some traction from Nook and Apple and Kobo, but if they can’t figure out how to connect the readers of my novels–and I know they’re out there–with the novellas, I might end up pulling the books and returning to Select.

I don’t want to do that.  What I want is for everyone who would like to buy one of my books to have that opportunity, via whatever channel is available.  (Actually, what I really want is for Amazon to take away the exclusivity part of Select.  That would solve all of this.)  I might not be able to afford to do that, though.

GeneDoucette_RegencyImmortal1400Anyway

If you’re a fan, and you don’t have a Kindle, I’m thinking of you.  If, in six months or a year, I end up abandoning you for the exclusive waters of Kindle Select, please don’t take it personally.

It’s not you, it’s me.

*Note: I appreciate the irony of all the Amazon links above.  Here is the link to all my books at Barnes and Noble. I have yet to find an easy web-based interface with Apple.

UPDATE: a reader who knows how to do things I don’t was able to hook me up with a link to my Apple books page.  Here it is!

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