150,000 words…and some musings on 2015

I’m starting to realize this is a little too long, now. My hope for today is to write, write, write until I’m done. It’s getting there, but it’s going to be another 10,000 words or so. I want to start with the edits as soon as possible so I can begin the process of fixing this mess.

In other news, an Apple promotion has completely changed my fortunes on iTunes. Apocalypse before the promotion was seeing 10-20 free downloads a day. After this promotion (which ran on the 20th or the 19th, I can’t remember), it’s been the second most downloaded free sci-fi book on iTunes, and in the top 10 of all science fiction and fantasy. This is great news, because I’ve had difficulties securing other promotions on Apocalypse (which might have a lot to do with how disproportionally represented one stars are on the book’s Amazon sales page). Apple reviewers have been much kinder to me, and I’m happy to see that Apple, as a company, is willing to push indies like myself.

Apocalypse is now getting around 250-300 downloads a day on Apple – about 5-6 times the amount I’m currently getting on Amazon. I couldn’t be happier and I hope it leads to new fans finding the series (as I’m sure it will). If you are one of those people, let me know! I’m not sure how long the promotion will last, but until then, I’m glad to see the series getting some much needed exposure.

Anyway, it’s a great way to end off what has been, overall, a really excellent year. I’ll probably write a another post later, analyzing my year in depth, because it’s been a year of a lot of changes. I hope 2015 is just as good, though of course I’m going to work to make it even better. Personally, 2015 will be the year of the Xenoworld Saga. I hope to finish the series in 2015, which is probably going to shape up in being just as long as The Wasteland Chronicles (unless people just think it’s horrible, but hopefully that’s not the case).

I also expect 2015, from an author’s perspective, to be far more competitive year than 2014. Kindle Unlimited really messed things up for a lot of authors. I’ve had requests to enroll my books in it, but this is something I will never do unless it becomes absolutely necessary (something I don’t believe will happen).

Why? Simply put, to be in Kindle Unlimited, I have to be exclusive to Amazon, which means people who prefer using iBooks, Nook, Kobo, Google, or other sites to read my books would just be out of luck, and I don’t think that’s fair to them. Secondly, I think I stand to gain more benefit from publishing wide rather than tall. For example, I wouldn’t have gotten this promotion with Apple had I chosen to be exclusive to Amazon. And third, now that KU has been out for about half a year, while it’s great for readers who are saving money, in general it’s bad for authors…even authors like myself, who aren’t even in the program, because my book might be passed over in favor of something that is enrolled. When you add in the Amazon rankings, a lot of books that would not have been ranked ahead of me, that now get more downloads because they are enrolled in KU, makes my books get pushed down further, which decreases visibility.

Though I haven’t released a new book for my longest time yet, I did notice a marked decrease in sales right around the time KU debuted. I believe as long as I work hard and release books, I will have a good chance of being able to do what I love…but of course, in this business, there are no guarantees. Things change in a flash, and one change can make the difference between a really excellent month and one that isn’t so great.

And last of all, I believe that indies should be treated the same as traditionally published authors regarding payouts. Traditionally published authors get a percentage of the retail price of their books, while indies only get around $1.40 (depending on the month, though the general trend has been getting less and less each month…whether this remains the case is still to be seen). No matter how long the book is, or what the retail price of it is, the payout is the same. A $.99 story that’s only 5,000 words is paid the same amount as a 75,000 word book marked at $5.99, which makes absolutely no sense.

That’s why I publish everywhere I can, and anytime I get a reader who requests I publish somewhere else, I try to do everything I can to make it happen. It’s gotten a lot harder to sell books on Amazon for many authors, and not just myself. This is why I think 2015 is going to be a tough year to find new readers. As prices come down and down, there will be less room for less authors to make a living, and it will become especially hard for new authors to break through. I definitely wouldn’t have wanted to break through now. I’m lucky to have found a following at a time where it was more possible (but still very competitive).

How is an author to survive, then? Write lots of books that people want to read. That’s it, and that’s what I have in mind every day as I sit down to work.

Well, that’s enough rambling. I should probably get back to work.

Comment Section

  • Loved reading wasteland chronicles and your musings. Just like you, I too have been an avid sci-fi & fantasy reader and am formerly from OKC. Marshal grad, now encouraging father to my own talented writing daughter. So loved reading about your decisioning process regarding marketing your books. Thanks.

  • Hello Mr. West. I am a 14 year old girl that finds joy in reading your books. I read them everywhere I go and I have referred them to my friends, who in turn, enjoy reading your books also. Have you ever thought about making a short film or even a movie based on your book(s)? I’m sure many people would love to fund them if you gave them a chance. Just an idea it is. I think you should seek the funding, it would benefit you greatly. Please take my idea into thought. Have a good day, Happy Holidays and Happy New Years Mr. West.

  • Very glad you enjoyed the books. As far as a movie, it takes an insane amount of money to make one, even one that was low budget. I think I’d rather hold out my hopes of it being picked up by a studio or some sort. The books really aren’t popular enough at the moment to really justify that yet (although I agree that it would make for an amazing film…lots of action, dragons, and explosions). What more could you ask for?

    I hope one day to see a movie, but for now my main focus is writing books and finding more fans. Thanks for your comment, and thanks for referring your friends!

  • Avid reader….But just getting used to the whole “online reading” thing. For my 2 cents, I bypassed KU — and instead went this route:

    Last week I downloaded 5 books that were “First in series Free” using a “Post Apocalyptic” search…..Knocked my way through all five of them (all of them worth reading BTW) — and then decided that the Wasteland series was the one book that had me by the shorthairs. The rest is history, just purchased book 7 today — and can’t wait to conclude.

    I personally think giving away the first book (a full book at that — not an excerpt) was the perfect model….I don’t even regret casting aside the KU as even an option. For sure if the first had not been free OR was only a teaser excerpt, I would have jumped on the KU bandwagon. But a full book in a good for free is the ultimate honeypot. 🙂

    • Yeah there are plenty of free books not enrolled in KU. KU is great if you’re a reader who reads a lot, but a lot of the content (at least for the smaller authors) have to be exclusive to Amazon. To me, missing out on other retailers hurts more than getting the most sales possible from Amazon.

  • Hi Kyle. I’ve been mentioning your books here and there and always try to tag or share but can’t connect to you. Is this because we’re not friends on FB but only “liked” or you don’t care to be tagged?

    I’ll get back to you shortly about a FB site your perfect for; family emergency.

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