My Books Now on Scribd. Netflix for Ebooks, They Say

Scribd. Never heard of it? Nor had I until a few days ago. For $8.99 per month you get allegedly unlimited access to allegedly over 400,000 books–which sounds like a heck of a bargain if you read even just a few books a month. You can also buy books outright, if you want to keep them.

Anyway. Thanks to the fabulous folks at Draft2Digital–the distributors through which my books reach iTunes and Barnes and Noble–both Ascension Point and Venus Rising are live on the site. Payment terms are pretty reasonable: the author gets paid for any sale as you’d expect, but also for any subscription read where the reader got past the 30% mark. Which is pretty neat. They even count ten 10-30% reads as one sale too, which is a little bonus.

Plus, the Scribd site is SWANK.

scribd

Just look at that. Mmm. Shiny.

I’ve added Scribd to the store links for both books in the bar on the left, so head on over and check it out.

Advertisements

Dear Reader…

Have you read Ascension Point? You have!? That’s great! I wrote you this letter…

——————————————————–

Dear Reader:

Thank you so much for buying a copy of my debut novel, Ascension Point. I hope you enjoyed it. If you were here, I’d high-five you, and then we’d have a beer. Maybe a snack. I’ve got some nice cheese in the fridge.

I’m writing to you today to ask for your help in addressing a shocking issue that’s afflicting one in every one science fiction authors in my immediate area: Ascension Point‘s chronic shortage of Amazon.com customer reviews.

As you may or may not be aware, Amazon.com reviews have comparable value to these items:

  • Uncut diamonds
  • Gold dust
  • Enriched plutonium

While Ascension Point has sold well, and received a small number of (very positive) reviews, my in-depth calculations regarding its sale-to-customer-review ratio have determined that this many readers go on to leave a review:

11 / 500 = HARDLY ANY

This debilitating shortage of customer reviews is the leading cause of at least one of the following conditions:

  • Global warming
  • The rise of militant fundamentalism
  • Teen obesity
  • Me not being able to run a BookBub promotion

But it’s not too late. With your help, we can address at least one of these issues. (Probably the last one.) It only takes a minute, and costs you ZERO DOLLARS.

That’s right.

ZERO DOLLARS.

(Although while you’re there, if you decided to buy a copy of Venus Rising as well, that’d be cool.)

Here are some examples of the reviews that could go a long way to addressing this terrible problem.

‘Ascension Point was a super-fun read. Dan Harris is clearly the new Joe Haldeman, except with less scientific rigour or Vietnam War allegory.’ *****

Or:

‘Even though I bought Ascension Point in ebook format, I made the effort to find a way to print it out in its entirety, just so I could shred it and use it as bedding for my seventeen diarrhea-afflicted guinea pigs. That’s how bad it is. But then the author asked me to leave a review, so here I am.’ *

Or even:

‘Meh.’ ***

You see how easy it is? Even one word, and a pseudo-random selection of a value from one to five counts as a review!

That’s all I ask. Help me help you help me, and together we can guarantee that I’ll write another post exactly like this next year. You can leave a review here.

Thank you.

Dan Harris

So I’m Not Writing Much at the Moment

In case you were wondering. I do have a complete outline of my next book, the third in The Unity Sequence, and I’ve drafted the first four chapters. But a combination of the tendinitis in my left wrist flaring up a few weeks back, and the fact that Mrs. Dan and I preparing to relocate from Brazil to the US at the start of July–with all of the visa getting, flight planning, and shipping organising that this entails–has meant I haven’t put any words to digital paper in the last few weeks.

Not pictured: Me grimacing.

But never fear. I’m still confident I can get a first draft done by about October, and edits complete ready for publication before the end of the year. That’ll keep me on the two-books-a-year plan which should make me rich and famous by about 2024.

It’s good to have attainable goals.

Author Interview – Dan Harris : Part 1

Last week I was interviewed by Tim Flanagan, a fellow SF author and an indie publishing enthusiast. Tim likes to share the stories of other indie authors on his very popular blog, and I was delighted to be featured. Check out this installment for my thoughts on the writing process. Parts two and three will be out later this week.

TIM FLANAGAN

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWithin the Indie Author Hub, you can learn about other authors, their thoughts and opinions, what makes them tick and how their writing process works for them.

All this week I will be releasing segments of an interview I conducted with fellow author, Dan Harris, an inspirational Sci-Fi writer. Have a look at his profile and books here.

Part 1 : Dan’s Writing Process

What inspired you to become an author? I’m honestly not sure. I’ve been devouring books since I was about four years old, and writing stories on and off since I was twelve. But it was another fifteen years before I said to myself ‘look, you’ve got no excuse for just talking about writing a novel, instead of actually writing one’. Which did the trick, as I sat myself down and, over the course of a year, banged out Ascension Point. If I wasn’t an author I…

View original post 473 more words

On To The Next One

With Venus Rising successfully wrapped up and shipped out, I’ve turned my attention to the next book in The Unity Sequence. It’s actually been outlined for a couple of months, but on hold while I finished the edits to Venus Rising. Today I… I want to say ‘broke ground’ on the first draft, but that only applies to buildings. (Note to self: Coin a phrase for starting first drafts. Spread it around. Become famous…. Profit?) Anyway, I had a few hours free while Mrs. Dan was out, so I banged out the first 2,800 words of what’s eventually going to be Causal Nexus. 

In structure it’s going to be a little bit different to the other two books. Ascension Point and Venus Rising are both made up of chapters four to five thousand words long, each with four to six scenes. This works well for a fast-paced story, with quick POV shifts between scenes and lots of action. But Causal Nexus is going to be a slower-paced, more character driven book, so those 2,800 words are just the first scene… and also the first chapter.

There’s still going to be a lot of action, but the story takes place over just one day, and shows how the lives of seven characters–most of whom don’t know each other–can interact in shocking and dramatic ways. I really want to dig into the characters’ thoughts and feelings, and bring across how different they are and how each of their lives touch the others’.

It’s going to be interesting to write, and a bit of a change in style for me. I really enjoyed writing this first chunk, and I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

New Release: Venus Rising is Out Now!

It’s been edited, re-edited, and polished until shiny, and now Venus Rising–the second book in The Unity Sequence, and the follow up to the occasionally critically acclaimed Ascension Point–is available from all good online bookstores. Here’s the blurb:

_________________

A year has passed since the events of ASCENSION POINT, and the galaxy shifts uncomfortably as the opposing forces of progress and tradition threaten the new and fragile peace. Titan society teeters on the brink of civil war, the Commonwealth bristles with hostility towards the returning Seryn, while the Collective remains silent in the spaces between the stars, watching. And waiting.

VR-smallAgainst this backdrop of turmoil and unrest, the Peacetrooper brother of Commonwealth Senator Neela Kane has gone missing. Intelligence places him on Karak, an Independent desert world, and Operative Dante Zo is dispatched to bring him home—or confirm his demise. Quinn, employee of the shadowy Seryn Agency, is also headed to Karak, where rumours abound of a fierce and sudden tribal war centred on a mysterious woman with uncanny power: Venus, the Seryn’s most dangerous rogue agent.

Meanwhile, on Karak itself, other forces bring their pieces into play. Tasha, a young but mercurial assassin, is unleashed to kill the foreign witch and bring peace back to her home. But with a renegade Titan mercenary at her side, Venus will let nothing stand in the way of her plan—and the conquest of Karak is just the beginning. With a world in the firing line, and the fate of the entire galaxy at stake, only one question remains:

In the name of duty, is there anything that can’t be sacrificed?

_________________

I’m also delighted to be able to say that, like its predecessor, Venus Rising has been awarded ‘Outstanding in Genre’ status by Red Adept Select.

It’s available from Amazon.com in Kindle and paperback, and from Amazon.co.uk (Kindlepaperback). Those of you with other e-readers or iDevices can grab it from KoboBarnes and Noble or iTunes.

Thanks to all who’ve followed me on another journey from vague idea to publication–and happy reading!

Edit The Second One, Sell The First One: Rinse, Repeat, Profit

Bit of a status update, this post. My wonderful editor–Misti from RedAdept–finished her initial edit of Venus Rising at the end of last week, and we had our edit kickoff call this Tuesday. Some of you might remember this post from the same point during the writing of Ascension Point. Highlights included an hour and a half on the phone to talk through all of the things that needed fixing, and a mammoth 619 comments from Misti on my first draft, as well as all of the inline edits she’d suggested. This time?

Twenty five minutes on the phone. 90 comments on the draft. (Fewer than on the first chapter alone of that draft of Ascension Point.)

So, yeah–it certainly seems like I’m improving as a writer. Hurrah! I’d thought so, but it’s nice to have something approaching quantitative evidence.

Anyway. Lovely wife is away at a conference this week, giving me a certain amount of spare time to fill. There are only so many back episodes of Chuck that I can watch in one evening, so I spent quite a lot of time on my edits, and sent Misti a new draft last night. It’s looking really good, and I’m confident the final draft of Venus Rising that I release in April is going to be great. Exciting times!

In other news (the ‘sell the first one’ part of the headline) today Ascension Point is Ereader News Today’s Book of the Day. This is far and away the biggest promo I’ve ever done. Greg at ENT gets thousands of applicants in January for the 240 BotD slots available for the coming year, so I was thrilled that he deemed Ascension Point worthy of one.

It’s $150 for the promo, and as you’ll have seen from my post a couple of days back I chopped the ebook price down to $2.99 to make it even more enticing to the ENT subscribers. 75 sales will see me break even, which would be a lovely goal to achieve; mainly I’m after some word of mouth and a few more reviews. After eleven hours–and with folks on the west coast of the U.S. just now getting home from work and checking their email–I’ve sold 49 copies and the book’s Amazon rank has gone from 673,000 to 11,000, so it’s looking pretty promising!

I’ll post final numbers in a few days once the bump is over, for the interest of the more writerly readers out there.

G’night!

Long Arc, Short Arc: Episodic Storytelling

There’s a new fad in sci-fi at the moment, which is actually a very old one: serialisation. The mighty John Scalzi is releasing The Human Division, the latest book in the Old Man’s War series, in episodic format. Each episode of around ten thousand words or thirty pages is being released one-by-one in ebook format for 99c, and there will be a bundled compilation–the whole book in one, basically–once the series is complete.

Reading about this got me thinking about episodic storytelling. It used to be a very common format in literature back in the days when newspapers and magazines were the predominant form of media. Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes stories are probably the most famous example; they ran in The Strand magazine from 1891 to 1930, with a brief interruption after Conan Doyle had attempted to kill off his hero, before outraged fans demanded his return.

(If you think fanboy rage was born with the Internet, you’re mistaken.)

But in recent decades it’s obviously television that’s taken up the mantle of episodic storytelling. Phenomenal, wonderful stories have been doled out, week by week, one hour at a time, with the best shows every bit the equal of classic literature. The Sopranos, The Wire and now Breaking Bad; each of them cast a bright, often harsh light on society and the human condition, with vivid characterisation and gripping, often shocking plotlines.

The reason the episodic, serial format interests me is the way in which the writer–to write episodically in a way that’s satisfying and compelling–must mesh two types of story arc.

The first is the macro, the long arcs of both plot and character which carry across an entire season, or series. The ‘big story’ if you like. A novel typically contains just these arcs, to take the reader from the start of the book to the end. The protagonist leaves home, kills the dragon, and learns something about herself along the way, in a nutshell.

The second is the micro, the arc of the story across a single episode. In television this arc can either be well-bounded and easily recognisable, in the case of a procedural series such as CSI or Castle; or more closely entwined with the macro long arc, as in ‘serialized’ shows such as Lost24 and the three aforementioned modern classics. (More on the distinction here.)

The challenge is in their combination. In telling a satisfying story that can stand on it’s own, setup, action and conclusion all wrapped up within the hour, or the thirty pages; but also developing those characters along their personal series arcs, and progressing the broader overarching plot, at the same time. It can’t be easy, and I’ve developed a newfound respect for television writers who pull this off week after week, season after season.

So what am I going to do about it? Well, I’m going to write a series, of course!

For the foreseeable future most of my writing focus will continue to be on my novels–Venus Rising will be out in April, then I’ll start on the draft of the third book which is already outlined, with a fourth to wrap up The Unity Sequence coming after that–but I’m also going to start noodling away at a series. I’m not sure yet if it’ll be episodic literature in the style of Scalzi’s The Human Division, or my first foray into screenwriting, but likely the latter; I think shifting between prose to script will provide some refreshing variety, and I’ve always wanted to give screenwriting a try.

‘But Dan, what’s the point? You’ll never get a TV show optioned. You have to know people and–‘

I’ll cut you off there, my imaginary friend. Because it seems that indie publishing catalyst and retail behemoth Amazon is now in the studio business, too. All pitches welcome. Come one, come all–you don’t need to know anybody, you just need a good enough story. Man, it’s a great time to be a writer.

But what about you, dear reader: are you an enthusiastic consumer of episodes, or do you prefer a single, longer story? Or do you just combine the two and binge-watch an entire season of Homeland on a rainy Sunday?

Venus Rising: To The Editor!

I just sent the MS for Venus Rising to Lynn at Red Adept, and Misti–my editor–will be starting her edit this week. Very exciting. The process took about a month for Ascension Point, from Misti’s first look to the final proofread version, so if things go similarly well we’re looking at an early April release.

I’m a bit more organised for this release than I was the last time; namely, I already have the paperback cover and blurb ready, so I’ll be releasing all versions at the same time rather than over a few weeks. It’s a little more professional, and also gives all of my potential readers their choice of edition right from the off.

Then it’s on to book three! Rinse, repeat.