The Darkling Prince is Now Available for Pre-Order

darkling princeKrayven has only ever wanted one thing: his mother’s love. Cold and beautiful as starlight, he trails after the queen, an unseen shadow vying for affection she would never lower herself to give. Enshrouded in secrets and mystery, he watches each day as she travels to the Nether Lake and stares longingly into the deep.

He knows not what she’s looking for, and following her is forbidden, for her secrets are her own. When his father’s jester informs him that she speaks to spirits there, the boy cannot resist the lure to spy upon her in the act. Perhaps he will overhear something to shed light on the aloof woman who brought him into the world, and then went on about her life as though he wasn’t even a part of it.

What he learns while spying is enough to send him running, for some secrets are better left undiscovered, lest they wake the darkness in a heart that was born to know only pain.

The Darkling Prince, a novella that takes place between the events in Winterborn and Jack in the Green, is now available for pre-order on Amazon for just $0.99. Other venues will follow over the next few days, so be sure to check the book page over on my site for updates as they are added.

Amazon Sales Venues

US, UK, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, Mexico, Brazil, The Netherlands,India, Japan, Australia

#Excerpt from #SF short story PERFECT FIT by Deborah Jay #readers #books

The World and the Stars 500Excerpt week continues!

Today, a little snippet from my forthcoming contribution to the SFF multi-author anthology edited by Chris Butler, THE WORLD AND THE STARS, that I will be publishing next month.

You are the first people to see the cover!

I trained originally in life sciences, with specialised interest in genetics, so developments in gene-splicing and genetic modification (GM) are of particular interest to me, and that’s how this story came about.

Roz is a technician in the gene-splicing lab on board a worldship, travelling to set up a new colony. Unfortunately their arrival is long overdue, and the inhabitants are getting restless.


Excerpt from PERFECT FIT, a science fiction short story

Roz sidled in at the back of the crowded meeting hall and slid onto a chair in the hope that nobody would notice her arrival. The wooden seat creaked a protest as she perched on its front edge, and she drew a couple of deep breaths to settle her pounding heart. Accustomed to the sterile atmosphere in the lab, she almost choked on air thick with the smells of so many bodies.

She glanced from side to side to check who else was there, and met a pair of beautiful velvet brown eyes, almond-shaped above sculpted cheek bones. Sam’s lips curved up, and her stomach flip-flopped. She’d met him at her second meeting, and they’d made an instant connection, though under normal circumstances their paths would never have crossed. As a gardener, Sam’s was not a profession normally found in the social circle of a lab tech, but these secretive gatherings defied the usual conventions, and for that, she was glad. Their relationship was blossoming fast, and even as Sam smiled at her, Roz’s mind was darting ahead, imagining how his unique, fuzzy-tipped fingers might feel against her bare flesh. The tech side of her brain speculated what genes might have produced the specialised modification that allowed Sam to pollinate plants with just his finger tips.

Just then, Garth, the huge man responsible for instigating the budding revolution, rose to his feet at the front of the hall, towering over everyone else, even those still on their feet. Roz’s face snapped forward, severing the delicious promise in Sam’s gaze. The assembly—several hundred, by Roz’s reckoning—settled into reverent silence, overawed by the spectacle that was their leader. With the dense double muscling of his bovine GM bulging beneath his skin, Garth looked like he could take on the world and win. Charolais genes, a mutation that had proven fortuitous for the beef industry, supplied the tech side of Roz’s mind. Sometimes she wished she could switch it off.

She’d seen countless modifications, but few as visually impressive as Garth’s. Specially designed for heavy lifting, his super-manly physique had quite swept her off her feet when they’d first met, but things had not gone so well thereafter. She crossed her legs and squeezed her thighs together, recalling their embarrassing attempt at sex.

She’d heard all the jokes about ‘size matters’, but she didn’t think that was quite what they meant.

Boxed Set Update

Well, I got it listed, and it looks pretty good, I think. Check it out here, and let me know what you think. I shortened the name and threw everything but the kitchen sink into the description. (I just read that you should use every bit of that space that’s allowed, making sure all your keywords show up there, too.) I was hoping amazon would put the comparison up there, showing how much you save buy buying the set, but maybe there was something I was supposed to do to show that. ?? Still learning, here, but at least it’s up. Hope you guys like how it looks, and if you have any suggestions, please feel free to post here. Thanks!

Preorders make sense for series

Preorder ebook

I wrote previously about my trials and tribulations with preorders, so I thought it was only fair to post again with the results of a much more successful preorder experiment. I decided to put the second book in my Wolf Rampant series up for preorder because the first book had gained so much attention, selling 4,000 copies since March in addition to giving away thousands more over two free runs. Both in reviews and in emails, I kept hearing from readers who wanted book two. So I was confident that at least a short-term preorder would make sense.

I didn’t want to get in trouble with Amazon if delays occurred during the holiday season, so I set the preorder release date to January 15 on December 4…even though the book just needed to pass through my copy editor’s computer and then enjoy one more read-through of my own. I emailed my list and immediately sold nine preorder copies, then managed to move about one copy per day over the next few days just by having the book available on Amazon.

Also Boughts

At that point, my copy editor got back to me much sooner than expected and I had a final copy of the book ready to go, so I moved the launch date back to today (December 15) on December 12. When I did so, I noticed that I’d sold enough copies of Pack Princess that the also-bought section of the book page had populated, which meant my book began showing up on other titles’ pages (although not within the first six, so readers would have to hit the scroll buttons to see my title). This combination of factors (without any extra shout-out on my part), meant that my preorder sales increased to about two per day (a 21% sell-through rate from Shiftless, the first book in the series).

A kind fan let me take part in a facebook giveaway this past weekend, which sold a few extra preorder books and helped move the book up the charts. As a result, even without any reviews in place yet, the preorder book went into its launch period already ranking in the top 100 in its two smallest categories (Women’s Fiction Fantasy and Women’s Adventure).

What’s my takeaway? If you have a popular series, you’re losing money by not setting up a preorder (which you can do up to 90 days before the book’s launch date). In fact, I noticed that Shiftless saw a moderate uptick in sales after the preorder page for Pack Princess appeared, suggesting that the second book was serving as an advertisement for the first. My goal at the moment is to have book three ready to publish in June, which would mean a preorder in March — stay tuned for more updates on this further experiment in the months to come!

Paid book promotions worth their salt, part 2

Despite the Billionaire's RichesIf you missed my first post on the subject of paid book advertising, head over here first to get caught up. The short version is: the most sure-fire way to advertise books is to get your title included in one (or more) of the email lists that go out to thousands of readers on a daily basis. My previous post mentioned a few websites that will list your book for free, while this second installment will delve deeper into the paid sites that are most likely to provide a return on your investment.


The big dogs

If you hang around with other independent authors for long, you’ll soon hear them singing the praises of Bookbub. Although this advertising service costs hundreds of dollars a pop, most folks find that Bookbub provides a positive return on your investment, and if you play your cards right, your book might even end up in the top 100 in Amazon’s store after being listed! Unfortunately, there are big hoops you need to jump through to be eligible, and Bookbub rejects a lot more submissions than they accept. So, if you can’t get into Bookbub (or can’t afford their high fees at the moment) where do you turn next?

In Write. Publish. Repeat. the authors explain: “We’ve had the most luck with,, and’s 99-cent promotion programs. We’ve also had lesser but substantial success with (.co, not .com) and” Let’s Get Digitial Author David Gaughran weighs in as follows, “After BookBub, the next biggest sites are Ereader News Today, Pixel of Ink, BookSends, and Kindle Books & Tips,” before warning that the value of promotional opportunities changes fast, and to do your research before plunking down any money. Sure enough, Pixel of Ink is not currently accepting submissions at this time.

There are also a lot of smaller advertising sites that I’ll mention later, but the smart thing to do if you’re committing to a paid promotion is to combine several promotions in short succession in an attempt to move up the ranks and stick there. The accepted wisdom is that you should first try to bring one of the big dogs on board, then you should plan the other services around the main event.


Preparing for the sale

Now it’s time for a healthy dose of “do as I say, not as I do.” The reports I’m going to present below are based on a promotional push I ran around the launch period of Despite the Gentleman’s Riches, and, with twenty-twenty hindsight, I’d do a lot of things differently. All of my previous books have been in the fantasy genre and (in contrast) Despite the Gentleman’s Riches is a contemporary romance, so I wasn’t prepared for my fans’ complete lack of interest (or outright disdain) for the new book. Previously, I’ve emailed my list to find interested readers a couple of weeks before launching a new title, had sent out review copies when I got the manuscript back from the copy editor, and had been able to count on at least 15 reviews averaging about 4.5 stars trickling in during the first week. Since you have to plan your promotions at least 14 days in advance, I just assumed similar reviews would appear on my new book in time for the blitz. Instead, several of my advance reviewers gave the book three stars, one of my preorder fans gave it one star (ouch!), and I went into the promotional period with a 4.2-star ranking. That doesn’t sound bad, but there’s a big visual difference between only four stars filled in versus four and a half, and fewer glowing reviews meant my new book had less perceived social capital. So, lesson 1 — don’t assume that you’ll have a great-looking product page soon after launch. A better idea would probably have been skip soliciting reviews from my fantasy-loving fans entirely, to let the book build reviews organically, then to pay for a promotional period at a later date when the book’s perceived social capital was high.

Similarly, I should have managed my pricing so that I was eligible for a countdown deal during the promotionary period. Most sale sites won’t accept your book unless it’s marked down to 99 cents, which you can either do manually or with a countdown deal, the bonus of the latter option being that for the five days of the countdown deal, you’ll receive a 70% royalty on the reduced-price book. However, since I’d been trying to get fans to consider a title outside their main genre during the preorder period, I launched the book at 99 cents, meaning that I had to make twice as many sales to break even with each ad (due to the 35% royalty). Again, raising the price to $2.99, waiting for the 30 days Amazon requires between price change and countdown deal, and then setting up a real sale would have been a better bet. As an added bonus, the countdown deal would have shown the higher price with a slash through it, so the customer would have known they were getting a great deal.

Summary: More patience on my part would have made this sale period go much more smoothly!


My experiences

Mistakes aside, my paid promotions are still likely to break even by the end of the month. I chose 13 paid promotional sites spread out across 13 days, paid $370.50 for the privilege, and (if borrows bring in $1.33 like they did in October), I will make $260.51 for the first 18 days that the book has been live. I could have brought in quite a bit more, though, if I’d focused on the winning sites and avoided some expensive losers, so I thought I’d report my results to keep your own costs down. (Of course, keep in mind that the results of each promotional site is likely to be genre specific, and that some sites probably attract readers who were more turned off by my lack of perfect reviews than others. But, still, this should help you get started.)

Results of paid book promotions

Okay, the chart above might look a little daunting, so let me give you a quick text rundown. The two sites listed in green (Ebookhounds and Naughty List) were both free, but their results were quite good, so I added them to the chart. The other advertisers were all paid, and I listed the net earnings from each, using the assumption that I wouldn’t have sold any other books that day without their help (not a big stretch since the book basically started at nothing). As you can see, some of the cheaper promotions — Awesome Gang ($10), Bkknights ($5), and Sweet free books ($5) did better than the more expensive options. I added the little guys on at the last minute as a way of bringing up the rank of the book before the supposed big dogs hit, since Amazon is supposed to reward slow, organic growth of a book’s sales better than a spike in the rankings from one big advertising blitz. (The former results in a good sales rank that is supposed to stick around longer than the latter.) But now I’m starting to think that lots of these little guys might be a better financial investment than a few of the supposed big dogs!

Because, unfortunately, I was much less impressed by the more expensive promotions that I paid for. I stacked most of the big dogs together, so I have to guess which ones were and weren’t worth the money, but I’ll give you my informed opinions here. Having tried two different $15 promotions through Hotzippy on two different books and lost money on both, I’m now relatively convinced that Hotzippy is not a good use of money (for me at least). I also suspect that Book Gorilla and Kindle Nation Daily (both by the same company) are too overpriced at $50 and $100 respectively to be worth the cash. Finally, since so many people sing the praises of Ereader News Today, I’m going to assume that the expensive My Romance Reads ($75) that I layered on the same day is why that period’s advertising didn’t break even.

And, finally, here’s the cheat-sheet version of the advertisers I at least tentatively recommend:

Ereader News Today — Prices range from $15 to $45 at the moment, depending on genre. Sometimes called “the little Bookbub”, ENT is pretty choosy but is usually considered to be worth the price tag.

Free Kindle Books and Tips — 99-cent books cost $25 to advertise. They do waive their review restrictions for new releases, but they only send out new-release notices on weekends. I didn’t sign up for these guys because I didn’t notice the new-release option when I was first researching, so I have no first-hand data to report.

Booksends — Costs $10 to $50 for a 99-cent book depending on genre. They rejected me, so I can’t report any results.

Awesome Gang – $10

Bknights – $5.50

Fussy Librarian – $5 to $14, depending on genre. I somehow got my wires crossed on setting up my ad for this particular book, but have used them before and broken even.

Sweetfreebooks – $5


The good news of a “failed” promo blitz

Even though I came out a hundred bucks in the hole, I would definitely repeat this experience, with all of the caveats listed above (and a few more that I’ll mention in a minute). I’ve had nine new subscribers join my email list during the promo period, have already landed two new reviews (a four star and a five star — so my book doesn’t suck after all!), and the book seemed to be sticking pretty high in the rankings for at least a while after the promo period ended. Plus, more borrows have been landing in my dashboard daily, suggesting that I’ll be raking in the results of the sale-period visibility for at least a few more days to come.

Sales rank during a promotional period

Aside from dressing my book in its Sunday best before the promo, doing a countdown deal, and skipping the overpriced advertisers, what else would I do differently? Paid promotions are most likely to actually make money rather than just break even if you advertise the first book of a completed series. I’ll try out this hypothesis on Shiftless once Pack Princess comes out in about a month, and for this second experiment I’ll see if Bookbub will take my novel to the prom.

That said, I’m starting to think that a free period might have been a less expensive way to get Despite the Gentleman’s Riches off to a good start…and without spending a penny! So, perhaps the moral of the story here is to be patient, to use a free period early on to give your book legs, and to save the 99-cent advertised promotions for later in the life of a book.

Okay, I know this post got way too long (again!), but if you’re still with me, I hope you’ll leave a comment with your own advertising results. Do you agree on which promotions are and aren’t worth your money? Did you advertise a book in a different genre and see different results? Let us know so we can all save some cash next time around!

Don’t Pity Me, or, Why You Need a Paperback

As some of you know, because I whined about it really loud, I had a technical glitch put a few bumps in my launch last week. (The Kindle store lost my book on day 3, right as the algorithms started kicking in. They didn’t fully resolve it until day 7. We don’t need to relive it.) I was cranky and I was whiny and I was annoying. Seriously.

In the meanwhile, I don’t pay much attention to paperback sales. For one thing, that’s still tradpub’s territory; indies mostly rise or fall on ebook sales. For another, the picture of my cover that CreateSpace gave Amazon is blurry and awful and in my opinion kind of screams SELF PUBLISHED. I asked them if they could do better, and they said no. Hey, I appreciate their honesty. And finally, I have a few friends who still read paper books (can you imagine?) so I knew I’d get a bump there at launch that wouldn’t last.

So long story slightly less long, I didn’t check my paperback sales all day today, despite the obsessive way I check the Kindle sales graph. Do you remember the Seinfeld where George’s father was selling something out of his garage and the one guy would ring the bell every time he got a sale? My husband keeps threatening to get me a bell, is how often I check the KDP graph. But I check in with CreateSpace maybe every other day, at most. I didn’t really notice that the paperback–which was not affected by the glitch–did a small but steady business throughout my launch. Today I sold a couple more. And as of 8:28 EST it’s got a 15k sales rank, it’s the #59 best seller in dark fantasy, and the #17 hot new release in dark fantasy. Not incredible numbers, no, but not bad for a first book from a total unknown, either.

This isn’t a major victory: it’s not a very big category, and it won’t last. Books in the print store yo-yo in the rankings with alarming speed. By the time you read this I’ll probably have a sales rank of 225,000 again and you’ll think I made the whole thing up. And none of it shows at all from the ebook side.

But for the short time it does last, that’s maybe a few more eyeballs on my book, which could potentially bring more attention to the ebook as well. Which brings me to the portion of this post that is not about me. I know right?

I considered not doing a paperback version at all, at least not at the same time I released the ebook. From what I see around forums and blogs and such, that’s a pretty popular sentiment. Launches are busy, CreateSpace is a headache in many ways, and most people’s paperback sales are what, 5% of their total sales? It doesn’t always seem worth it.

But you should still do one. Because you never know. This seems unlikely to have a big effect on the overall success of my book, but who wouldn’t take any boost they can get, right?

(Also I feel guilty because I’ve been crying on Marcia’s shoulder so much, when all the while there was a bright side that I was completely ignoring.)

PLEASE Remember to Retweet!

If we are going to help each other get the word out, we need to be willing to Tweet, post on Facebook, or Reblog each other’s posts. If you enjoy a post or learn something new from it, please share it. It takes only a second to get the drop down menu from the Share Button on the Comments Page. Send these wonderful posts out into the world. And most especially, please Tweet any promotional posts to all your friends and followers. Then, when you have a promotion, the rest of us will do the same for you. We can make a difference!

Remember, it’s Writers Helping Writers here. Spread the word. You’ll be glad you did. 🙂 (You could start with Aimee Easterling’s post about her newest book. She won’t forget you when it’s your turn.)

Have a great day, you folks!