Tag Archives: ebook

Cover to The Unquiet Sword, book two of the Fair Folk series

The Unquiet Sword is available for download

You’d think writing the second book in a series would be easier than the first. And you’d be right, in a way. After all, you’ve already birthed the characters, built the world, and you know where the story is heading. Sort of. But, of course, a story is a fluid thing; it doesn’t always do what you expect it to. So it changes as you’re writing, and you have better ideas, ideas that stretch and expand and challenge the story you thought you were writing.

I like to think that all makes for a better story. I hope so, anyway, because The Unquiet Sword is out there now. It didn’t take me as long to write as The Fey Man but, in a way, it was just as hard, only in different ways. And I’m sure the next one will be just as hard! But, in the meantime, I hope you enjoy my second novel. You can download it from your favourite ebook retailer now:

Amazon UK | Amazon US | Kobo | Apple iBookstore | Barnes & Noble

Overdrive logo

Overdrive, Libraries, and Ebooks

I’ll admit it: I was behind the curve on this one. I’d heard that some libraries lent ebooks but that it was awkward, difficult and poorly executed. So I didn’t investigate further. Turns out I should have done. Library ebook lending has come a long way thanks to a service called Overdrive.

Overdrive is an ereading app that links into your local library’s ebook catalogue. The app is available on iOS, Android, and Windows Phone. It’s possible to load borrowed ebooks onto ereaders too, but you have to use Adobe Editions which is, apparently, still awkward, difficult and poorly executed. So I would say Overdrive is really targeting phones and tablets.

So far I’ve enjoyed the Overdrive experience. I can browse my library’s ebook catalogue, borrow items and return them all within the app. The reading and listening experience is decent; it lacks a few flairs such as page turn animations and annotations, but it gets the job done.

My one gripe so far is renewals. It took me far too long to figure that out and involved rummaging around a menu on the library website. Even after I’d successfully renewed, I still had to download the book again. If I can return a book with a simple tap within the Overdrive app, why not renewals too? And why not leave the content on the device?

However one thing I did love was the little counter over every borrowed item showing how long you had left. This little countdown seems to act like a great motivator to read before you lose the book; I steamed through The Girl on the Train in a matter of days! This also means there are no late returns and no fines; the content is simply deleted once your time is up.

Overall, if you want to borrow ebooks from your local library, using a phone or a tablet, Overdrive seems like a pretty good solution. It’s a shame it’s painful to get them onto an ereader, but since I’m not paying for the ebook it seems wrong to complain too much. So I’m pretty sold on Overdrive! But what do you think? Leave a comment about your experiences with Overdrive (or any other way you’ve borrowed ebooks from libraries). I’d love to hear your opinion.

P.S. The Fey Man is now available from Norfolk Libraries ebook catalogue, so why not borrow it for free! Not in Norfolk? Just ask your local library to order it from Overdrive. I’ve set the price for libraries to free, so it shouldn’t cost them a penny!

Annah Wooten's incredible artwork for the cover of The Fey Man

The Fey Man Promo Codes

Reviews are great (ask me why), and whilst The Fey Man is gathering some good ones on Goodreads and Amazon, I’d love to get some more on Apple’s iBookstore.

Therefore I’ve secured 5 promo codes for readers willing to write an honest review. These codes will let you download The Fey Man for free!

Please note I’m seeking honest reviews. That means you’re under no obligation to say nice things; if you hate it, by all means say so!

Like I said, I’ve only got 5 promo codes at the moment so let me know if you want one in the comments!

My Problem with Kindle Matchbook

Kindle Matchbook is a great idea: buy a paperback and get the ebook version at a discounted price (or even free). It’s a nice reward for a reader and it helps remove the format quandry (as ebooks are often cheaper but not as nice to own). There’s just one problem with Kindle Matchbook.

It’s not universal.

It’s not available in every country and, of course, you can’t make use of it if you have a non-Kindle ereader device or app. I enrolled The Fey Man in Matchbook but I’m painfully aware that my UK-based readers, for instance, can’t take advantage of it. And anyone reading their ebooks on a Kobo or iDevice are out in the cold too.

So here’s my solution: if you bought a copy of The Fey Man in paperback and you want a free copy of the ebook version, take a picture or yourself with it and post it to my Facebook Page or upload it to Twitter (be sure to mention me with @realjtk!) I’ll send you a copy of the ebook in your preferred format (and help you get it on your ereader as well).

(P.S. There’ll be no DRM in this ebook, either, so you’ll be free to share it with friends. Because I’m nice like that.)

KDP Pricing Support can't help you price your ebook.

KDP Pricing Support Gets It Wrong

Amazon have unveiled a new tool for indie authors. KDP Pricing Support seeks to compare your ebook to similar offerings in the Amazon store and use that comparison to find the best price point for your book. The purpose behind KDP Pricing Support is to maximise author earnings, something most authors will appreciate. But I think it’s almost useless.

Let’s look at Amazon’s suggestions for my short story You Are Just A Guest, which comes in at just over 5,000 words. It’s priced at $0.99, which I think is pretty reasonable; (what I hope is) a solid and entertaining piece of writing costs the same as a single chocolate bar. But KDP Pricing Support thinks I should charge $2.99 for a short story.

Amazon isn’t alone in that opinion; Dean Wesley Smith concurs. And if we think about it, selling a 5,000 word story for $2.99 means I make $0.06 a word. Consider that, at the low end, Analog pays $0.07 a word and Asimov’s $0.08 a word and I’m doing pretty well for a new author! And the way Amazon’s royalty structure works, I’d have to sell six copies at $0.99 to make the same as just one copy at $2.99.

So this is a done deal, right? Time to hike the price! But hang on a moment. Don’t we need to consider what the reader is willing to pay?

Let’s consider Analog and Asimov magazines, which sell for circa $3.50 a copy and contain a lot more than a single story. Let’s consider that the best selling paperback on Amazon is just shy of $7.80. Let’s consider that, while you make $0.06 a word on a $2.99 sale price, most short stories tend to sell to a magazine just once. It is not reasonable to ask a reader to fork out $2.99 for a single short story.

But KDP Pricing Support can’t tell you that, because the best earning point is $2.99, where the sales and royalties are high enough to earn more than at $0.99. From a data perspective, it’s the best idea for my short story.

But I doubt readers would agree.

Free Stories for January

January’s a time for tightening belts. Literally and figuratively. While we’re trying to work off the Christmas pounds, we’re also staring at our bank balances and our credit card bills in disbelief. Time to start cutting back on a few luxuries. Like books. (Although I think books are necessities, I’m aware that some people don’t see it that way.)

January is a good time for freebies.

So anyone who subscribes to my newsletter gets two short stories for free. The first is You Are Just A Guest, a suburban horror told via social media about a young couple in a house that’s home to something else. The second is The Homeless Hero, a superhero tragedy about a man trying to help everyone but himself.

They’re available in MOBI, EPUB and PDF format so you can read them on a Kindle, iPad, Kobo, Nook or even your computer. There’s no DRM either so you can share them with your friends and family if you want.

And if you enjoy them, please review them on Amazon. Posting reviews is a great help to authors!

So let me treat you to a freebie and subscribe today!





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Can Indie Authors Trust Kobo?

It would be easy to get angry at Kobo. When their UK partner WHSmith removed all self-published ebooks to stamp out the pornography that’s been hogging headlines, Kobo cosied up to them and followed suit. They cut off thousands of indie authors from any revenue they might have earnt via Kobo. They punished the many for the sins of the few. In short, they burnt downt the house to get rid of the ant nest, and they asked indie authors to pay for the matches. An indie author could be forgiven for wondering if they should trust Kobo. But here’s my point:

You shouldn’t trust any of them.

There are a lot of indie authors who don’t bother with Kobo, or Apple, Barnes & Noble etc. They cosy up to Amazon, sign up to their exclusive KDP Select scheme and sit back. They trust Amazon to sell their book for them and no-one else.

I have often said that’s not what authors should do. I’ll say it again too. Authors should ensure their books are available in as many formats from as many vendors as possible. KDP Select might offer you a few perks, but why are you alienating the Nook owner who can’t download your ebook? Why are you telling the Kobo owner she’s not good enough to buy your ebook? If readers can own different ereaders, authors should make their books available on all of them.

But Kobo have highlighted the other side of this argument. Spreading your ebooks over multiple stores diminishes your risk.

Imagine Amazon reacted the same as Kobo. Imagine Amazon just stopped selling your book. If your book is sold by Kobo, Apple, Nook, Smashwords et al then you’ve taken a blow but it’s not the end of the world. But if no-one sells your book but Amazon? Then you just stopped earning any money whatsoever.

WHSmith have shown us how easy it is for a retailer to stop selling our books; they did it in a heartbeat. Kobo took less than a day. Trusting any retailer to have your best interests at heart is foolish and, if you rely on those royalties to pay the bills, dangerous. So whilst Kobo may be denying us sales, perhaps we should be thanking them for the lesson.

Don’t put all your ebooks in one basket.

The Homeless Hero: A New Short Story

It’s safe to say the batteries are recharged after the Zeldathon so it’s time for the announcement I was putting off: it’s new short story time!

It’s called The Homeless Hero and it tells the story of a young journalist who becomes involved with the world’s only superhero, Pinnacle. Pinnacle wants to follow in his father’s footsteps and help others. But he gives too much and it’s killing him. She needs to encourage him to be a little selfish before it’s too late.

Last time I was writing about how houses can be scarier than any of the demons and ghosts we can conjure to put in them. This time I’m writing about what it means to be a hero. What does it mean to devote ourselves to helping others? Superman has a life, a job, a wife (depending on DC’s mood that morning). He eats and sleeps like the rest of us. But there’s seven billion people in the world and someone always needs help. How does a superhero draw a line in the sand and say “this is my time; you’re on your own”?

These are the things I think about when I see Clark Kent doing, well, anything.

A copy of The Homeless Hero cost you only $0.99 from Amazon, Apple, Nook and Smashwords. But if you sign up to my newsletter, you can get a copy for absolutely free!




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Review: Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

If you read my review of House of Leaves, you may finish reading this review thinking I have a weakness for narrative gimmicks. You wouldn’t be wrong. Sometimes I read a book purely because it sounds like it’s doing something weird with narrative. But, in this case, I read the book because I saw the trailer for the film. And I didn’t understand it at all.

Cloud Atlas tells six stories from six different time periods:

1) notary Adam Ewing’s travels around the Chatham Islands in the 1850s;
2) composer Robert Frobisher’s apprenticeship to composer Vyvyan Ayrs in 1931;
3) journalist Louisa Rey’s investigations into a coverup surrounding a nuclear facility in 1975;
4) editor Timothy Cavendish’s incarceration in a nursing home in the present day;
5) rogue clone Somni~451’s interrogation in a dystopian future;
6) goatherd Zachry’s encounter with a technologically advanced visitor in a post-apocalyptic future.

If you’re expecting the stories to link up, get ready for some disappointment. The only connections are thematic. Well, that and one character in each story has a similar birthmark. I never did figure out why.

A half-read book is a half-finished love affair.

Here’s my biggest problem with Cloud Atlas: the stories are all split in half around the centre of the book. So you read the first half of story one, then the first half of story two, then the first half of story three, four and five. Then it’s all of story six before you get to read the ends of stories five, four, three, two and one. This has the effect of making the first half of the book an exercise in frustration and the second half one in relief. Sad to say I reached the end of Cloud Atlas and said, “I’m glad that’s over.”

Now I’m a spent firework; but at least I’ve been a firework.

That’s not to say that Mitchell is a bad writer. Far from it. I enjoyed a lot of this book, particularly Frobisher’s letters and Somni~451’s interrogation. Mitchell writes in very different styles in this novel and he does so successfully. Except for the sixth story. The style he adopted is annoying and I skimmed that story in an effort to escape.

Yay, Old Uns’ Smart mastered sicks, miles, seeds, an’ made miracles ord’nary, but it din’t master one thing, nay, a hunger in the hearts o’ humans, yay, a hunger for more.”

Aside from that awful style, Mitchell is a good writer. I would pick up another of his books, though I couldn’t recommend this one. The series of beginnings left me dissatisfied for the first half and the series of conclusions left me breathless with resolution for the second half. It’s a nice narrative device in theory, but in practice it doesn’t work.

In short, I can’t recommend Cloud Atlas. But, off the back of it, I would recommend Mitchell as a writer. Which is an usual result from an unusual book.

Review: Legend Unleashed by M. Latimer-Ridley

“Little Alice here is taking a trip down the rabbit-hole with you then.”

Regular readers will know that I interviewed M. Latimer-Ridley about Legend Unleashed before Christmas. Now that No More Books 2012 is over and I’m free to buy books again, I didn’t waste much time in picking up a copy. Thanks to the preview on their website I already knew it started with some brilliantly intriguing imagery. But how was the rest of it?

A wide black oak grandfather clock towered in front of him. A figure had been chiselled into it; a snarling animal with human hands trying to escape. Roughly carved and splintering in places, it was fused to the ground in a mixture of stone and wood. Numerous white rocks encircled it in a symbolic ring of salt, old magic that was supposed to trap demons inside.

Temperance Levinthal is a regular girl who finds herself caught up in a conflict between wizards and werewolves and finds out more about herself than she expected. Maybe that sounds like standard fare but it’s written with a wit and a warmth that keeps you engaged. There’s no overblown dramatics and not much teenage angst either. M. Latimer-Ridley hit the right tone unfailingly and that made this book an absolute pleasure to read.

“Poor crazy Levinthals, I hope you’ve taken your medication today, you’d be mad not to!”

The Twilight series has made paranormal romance seem rather hundrum now. In fact it’s difficult to make paranormal YA stand out. And Legend Unleashed doesn’t take massive steps to do so. Rather it folds in quirks and foibles that are memorable enough to make the story feel fresh yet comfortably familiar.

For example, Temperance is well aware that she suffers “hallucinations” and takes pills to keep them at bay. She relies on them for stability and it’s a very nice touch to see her rely on them more and more as her world is increasingly filled with impossible things. I do wish more had been done with this idea, but perhaps this will come up in a sequel. For now it’s a nice wrinkle.

A part of her had always wanted to find someone as lonely as she was.

This is a book that wears its Young Adult audience on its sleeve and I loved it for that. There is an enormous influx of YA titles of late and you get the feeling that a lot of writers are chasing the Twilight dollar. No such feeling here. This is true YA. It’s not a dumbed-down “adult” book; it’s written for its target audience. And, like all great books, it can be enjoyed by anyone.

It was nice to see wizards as well. We’ve seen lots of witches and werewolves and vampires but the poor wizard seems to get short thrift. So kudos to M. Latimer-Ridley for resurrecting the wizard.

If I have one complaint about this book it is this: it feels too rushed. M. Latimer-Ridley weave a nice world but I didn’t feel I was given enough time to explore it and settle in. Events happen at a breakneck speed and even major revelations don’t seem to have quite enough space to breath. It was quite a shame as I think I would have enjoyed the book a lot more if the pacing had been a bit calmer. As it was the plot always seemed to have one eye on the horizon. I’d have preferred its full attention on the moments as they unfolded.

That said, if werewolves and YA are your thing then this book is for you and I can definitely recommend it. Legend Unleashed has a well-crafted world with some great characters and a nice, twisty plot. But all I can really say is that I would buy any sequels: what greater recommendation is there than that?