Corvette 2 Almost Ready

I’ve been pretty scarce around here and on my mailing list for the past month or two and for that I apologize. I have a fairly decent excuse – been nose to the grindstone on Corvette 2. The ebook is finished and proofed and it’s now awaiting cover art. This one is proving to be difficult to create a cover for. The ships are long and narrow and the cover is vertical so that limits how much of the ship we can show and how to place it in the frame. I’m not really sure we have it figured out yet, but we’re trying. Provided we get something decent, the ebook should be out this month.

I’ll be getting back to the first draft of Corvette 3 next week, as I await a final cover for Corvette 2. There will be just three books in the Corvette trilogy. If fans clamor for more, I’m prepared to do another three books after that. But in the meantime, I need to do a short story or two in preparation for working on XiniX, Book 5 of the Star Saga. That novel will be my primary focus for 2018. So next year you’ll get Corvette 3 in the Spring and possibly a few short stories and then perhaps XiniX by Christmas.

I have all the models I need for the next couple of books, so for 2018 my modeling hobby will focus on WWII aircraft.

Corvette 2 Update

Corvette 2 is in the hands of beta readers and hopefully, by the end of the week will be in final edits. At that time I’ll format the paperback and ebook. In the meantime, the models used for the cover are being photographed. Here are some shots from the first attempt by me to capture the Black Star and the Weippe.

The above shots were taken with my phone while I waited fro the sun to clear clouds. Meanwhile, the shots I took during the clouds are probably more interesting to look at. Glad I have a few of both. I played for a little over an hour with ship and camera positioning. Hopefully my brother can use something to create a dynamic cover.

Above is an example of one of the shots we may use taken with the good camera. The models are the same scale, 1/350, so you can see the size disparity between them.

I’m still aiming for a Halloween-ish release date, fingers crossed.

Long Overdue Writing Update

WRITING STATUS

Fans of the Corvette novella will be pleased to know that the first draft is complete and in the hands of a few select beta readers. A second draft or pass at the manuscript will occur after I get some comments from the betas. Then it’s off to the editor and copy editor and finally, it will get released. When will that last part happen, you ask? Probably in late October.

In the meantime, I’ve already started writing book 3 and the final Corvette novella. If I finish it before winter you can look for that one to be released late winter or early next year. By that time I will be well engaged in writing Book 5 of the Star Saga – XiniX.

The only book on the schedule for next year is XiniX but that could change. If the Corvette trilogy continues to sell well and the demand is there, I could do the first book of a second trilogy in that series probably called Destroyer. As you can guess, Captain Vance progresses to a bigger ship in that trilogy.

SALES UPDATE

Corvette sales have slumped in the last month but sales of the other Star Saga books are steady as new fans make their way through the back list. I average about two thousand US dollars per month which is not too shabby for no advertising and no big publisher backing. Last month I did a reading at one of my local libraries and enjoyed hearing what other local writers were doing and meeting them to talk shop.

MODELING STATUS

On the modeling side of the house or more appropriately the garage, I’m trying to finish detailing the Black Star pirate ship for the Corvette 2 and 3 covers. Another week or so of fiddling with greeblies and then I can get her primer coat applied. From there it’s a base coat of flat black and then a bit of weathering and battle damage to finish her off.

I have drawn up plans for a second corvette model, this one a bit newer in design that will be featured on the third Corvette book cover. I probably won’t light it and will knock it out as soon as the pirate ship is finished and photographed.

LIFE IN GENERAL

Summer is another scorcher here in Idaho and now the area forest fires are making the air hard to breathe. It’s my least favorite time of year in the western US. The temperatures are hovering in the high nineties and hundreds Fahrenheit.  Which means I have to do my model building in the mornings and writing in the afternoons when I’m confined to the air conditioning.

We did a short family vacation last week in McCall Idaho and had a blast. Hiking, boating and canoeing were some of the fun things we did in the local resort community.

Hope you summer is going well and I’ll check in again when I have some updates.

 

What’s a K’nat?

My next novella will drop in July. So I’m introducing it early to generate some interest. The idea is to get folks to go buy it on pre-order so that it has a big first day when it finally comes out.

First things first. How do you pronounce K’nat? I pronounce it with a short a like in “bat” but a silent “K”. It’s spelled like gnat, with a Votainion “K” instead of a “G”. Make sense? Okay then.

So what is it?

K’nat fighters are the NexGen or Next Generation of starfighters built using the same technology that the Eclipse had in Book Four – Starstrikers. So if you have not read Starstrikers yet, you might want to read that one first. K’nat Trap takes place chronologically a few years after Starstrikers and features two Starstriker agents, Kiloe and Tamia on a secret mission to recover a downed K’nat fighter on a bog planet. If that premise seems vaguely familiar to you, you might be an aviation buff.

The source material for this novella is the Japanese Zero that crashed on an island in the Aleutians at the start of WWII. American forces recovered it and took it to California where they got it flying again and then learned the airplane’s secrets. The F6F Hellcat from the Navy was designed to specifically defeat the Zero fighter based on what we learned from the captured Aleutian plane. I used the name of that island as the name of the planet where my K’nat fighter crashed – Akutan.

Below is the model I built of the K’nat fighter. It was constructed of plastic and scaled to 1/32. There are lights in the headlights and engines.

 

This model was used for the book’s cover which hasn’t been revealed yet. Stay tuned next week for that! If you want to see some detailed pictures and commentary on the making of this model, you can check it out here.

It was even rendered as a 3D mesh by my son using Blender. His is sleeker, I suspect. 

The design was crazy complicated to work out, so I built a cardboard model of it first. Here’s that model along side stablemate Votainion starfighters from the same era.

Here’s a size comparison with a P-51 fighter from WWII. Just about the same wingspan as the legendary American fighter.

Weekly Summary

Corvette – Seer of the Black Star is progressing this week. I’m currently in the middle of chapter 3 as the above image shows. That white paperback is the plain cover ARC of Corvette that I use for reference. The computer is new, a System76 Galago Pro for fans of Linux.

She may not look like much, but she’s going to eventually be the Black Star pirate starship. Right now it’s little more than a mount point and some HP computer scrap. Going to be pretty cool though, stay tuned. Eventually this will grace the cover of the book I’m currently writing. I keep a photo bucket on my model builds, so if you like to follow such craftiness, please check in as you can to follow my progress.

Yours truly after a lunchtime writing sprint this week. I listen to play lists on Spotify while I write. Currently the list I’m using is called Corvette 2. If you enjoy pirate music give it a spin. Some songs in the list are not safe for work, wear headphones.

 

The Journey Continues

What you see above, is the end of chapter two of the next Corvette novel. Being written on a shiny new System76 laptop purchased with money I earned from selling the first Corvette novella. You gotta love that. I’m writing two more Corvette books this year to satisfy the demands of readers. That’s a perfect storm for a writer. Having fans that buy your novels and want more, ASAP.

The first sequel is called, Corvette – Seer of the Black Star and will take place about a year after Corvette. Then I will write another one called, Corvette – Pirate’s Lair. As you can guess by those titles, the crew of the Weippe are back to escorting transports and defending them from shipping pirates.

In the meantime, later this summer I’ll be releasing another Star Saga book, K’nat Trap. So be on the lookout for that one. If you follow me on Twitter, GooglePlus or FB, you will probably get regular pictures like the one above as I write. Hey, I see you enlarging that image to read the page. I’m careful not to show any spoilers for those who do that. ;-)

More Corvette, Please

The success of my novella, Corvette has caused me to alter my writing plans this summer and possibly this fall. The book was a hit and it has sold quite well for a month and a half now. Sales numbers are finally coming down now for that book but people are taking a chance on my Star Saga as a result. This was the whole point of writing Corvette, to act as a gateway to the already established universe. As anyone who has read Corvette knows, it is set up beautifully for sequels. I only had a vague idea of where to take the crew next at the time I wrote Corvette, last year. I really wanted people to just read Starforgers and work their way through the Star Saga series.

But many readers have expressed enthusiasm for more adventures of the crew of the Weippe, so I’ve had to consider doing more books and what that would entail. After a some thought I have settled on simply referring to them as Corvette books and instead of numbering them, just give them subtitles as I write them. This way I could make a trilogy by writing two more and then if there is still sufficient interest, I could back fill with adventures in between those books and all I’d have to do is note the read order. This is pretty flexible and lets me space out the next two books over two or more years. The biggest reason for doing that is to follow the career of Captain Vance.

So my challenge now is to crank out two more Corvette books before the end of this year and then get back to the Star Saga next year by writing XiniX, Book Five of the Star Saga. I was going to write a Mystery novel this summer as my pen name of Johnny Batch. I still very much want to write that novel, but the sad fact is that there is no market for it. The first Mystery novel, Null Pointer is not selling at all right now. The only way that series could take off is to write another five books using the same amateur detective character. I actually do have a six book arc for that series, I just don’t have the time to write them. I have a day job and a family and other hobbies to attend to. So time is pretty limited for writing. If it were my full time job to write novels I could be gainfully employed for the rest of my life. But unless my writing takes off much better than it has, I need to keep the day job.

I was approached by a audio book publisher in regards to producing Corvette but because the book was so short they decided not to produce it. Audio books prefer longer titles that give the listeners plenty of value for their dollars. They didn’t feel the Star Saga was popular enough to warrant producing at this time so no deal was offered. If I manage to finish two more Corvette novels and they continue to bounce up the charts, I’m sure they would be interested at that point. Which is a big motivation for doing a few more Corvette titles. Besides, they are damn fun to write.

Corvette Sales Update

We’re at the month mark after the release of my novel, Corvette. The book debuted on 21 March but didn’t really take off until April. What I’ll be looking at today are April’s numbers.

Corvette Sales

This chart is from my KDP dashboard and shows the sales of just Corvette. Getting to 50 on the third day was key to kickstarting the whole climb. After that it was the jump to just under 100 that put me on some Best Seller lists and from then on the climb was pretty steady. Getting over the 100 a day peak resulted in a big boost in sales that lasted until the 150 a day period which is still off and on until the end of the month.

The blue line graph is how many page reads the book is getting in the Kindle Select program. Much of the time I make more money off of those page reads than I do by actually selling a copy of the ebook. Amazon pays you for a “sale” after a reader completes 60% of your book. This is why it’s essential for your book to be in Kindle Select.

All Sales

This chart shows how Corvette’s sales are boosting the sales of my other Star Saga books. About two weeks into the month I slid three more of my lower priced books into Kindle Select to boost readers. It’s only just starting to help towards the end of April. This means I had to take the books off sale at Kobo and Nook but that was not a problem since sales on those platforms were non-existent.

I decided to pay for a better graphing tool for my Amazon numbers and here is a late April screenshot of sales using Book Report.

I like this tool because it has graphs and a pie chart and book covers with links to the books. Laying the Kindle Select reads on top of the sales numbers really shows you how they correlate. Select are in blue and sales royalties are in red. I told you being in Select pays!

Also of note here is the widening slice of pie that is Book One of my Star Saga – Starforgers. The thing I want to see is if all those Corvette readers start making their way through the series. This should drive sales more and more as Corvette fades from the bestseller lists.

Here is a breakdown of the earning per book for April. Keep in mind that Devon’s Blade, Ocherva and Blood Empress have only been in Select for a few weeks. Their numbers should grow next month. 

This is a fun graph from Amazon’s back end that shows my Author Ranking which is a Beta program that compares your sales to others in your genre. It changes hourly. I like it because it shows the rise from obscurity to hit in one month.

The last time my sales took off like this I only had one book out and the whole thing folded in about two months. Now that I have close to a dozen books in the same universe, it will be interesting to see if I can gain a following. Once again, spending a decade writing as many novels might finally bear some fruit.

 

Corvette, Written to Market

Last year I read a book called Write To Market by Chris Fox. Chris was no stranger to me having followed his stellar Indy career and read a few of his writing books before. But this book was different. This book chronicled Chris’s attempt to write a best selling ebook. He spelled out how he wrote a Sci-Fi book and took it to market specifically to sell well. This was what I wanted to do. I already had a five book series out but was unable to get any traction with sales. I made so little money at selling them that Amazon didn’t even send me tax information. That sucks.

So I read Chris’s book carefully and I executed his exact game plan for my novella, Corvette. I’m not going to go into all the things Chris tells you to do, you should get his book and read it yourself. But I will say what I had to do to play ball in order to sell in the big leagues. I had to study the market, which fortunately was similar to his market, and read what was selling. I’m not talking traditional books like Scalzi or Weber, but best selling Indy books from authors I had never read or even heard of before. It took some research and some time to read through about four books in the Military SF best seller lists but I started to see what Chris was talking about. I already had an idea about what I wanted to write, but I had no cast in mind. The book would be set about thirty years before the series and could be about anyone I wanted.

Here are my notes written before the novella was started. stating my objectives.

This novella is my attempt to write to market. It will target the self published Military SF market. The plot is similar to the top selling novels in that genre, but it is set in my Star Saga universe. Common tropes that I will use are as follows:

  1. Old captain with an old ship on perhaps a final mission.
  2. Only ship in the area to help find missing colonists.
  3. Secret military mission to find out about mysterious blue skinned aliens.
  4. Happy ending with not a lot of side characters dying.
  5. Violent, overpowering enemy that prove to be cunning and dangerous.
  6. They have to beat the larger, better armed enemy vessel.

I also made notes to remind me to keep the action coming and the chapters short. If you look at those tropes above you can easily apply the to so many SF stories about starships. This was not my usual writing style. I always have action and fast moving plots but I usually didn’t write characters that could fit into any other story. It was hard to not have major characters be women or non-white men, but I was determined to stick to the tropes.

I have talked about what I did bring to the story in great detail in other posts. So I encourage you to seek them out and read them. But what I’d like to elaborate on in this post is that I stuck to the tropes and I stuck to Chris’s suggestions as I wrote this story. It was not a hard story to write and I enjoyed the heck out it.

After Corvette was finished and edited and ready to go I had to make sure it had a decent cover and an inviting description. These are two areas I’ve struggled to refine as an Indy writer. When I started my series I used military unit coins on the covers and nobody understood they were Sci-Fi books. So I went back to the basics and put starships on the cover. Again, I’m not your average SF writer and I was able to design and build my own starship models, photograph them and then hand the images over to my graphics designer brother. Byron put together a color scheme that focused on orange and blue, the same as popular action movies.

For Corvette, we used my huge Votainion warship model and I created a new, smaller ship to represent the tiny corvette. I played around with colors but eventually went with green because it was in the story and many newer SF covers are trending green. The cover blurb was designed to signal the tropes and hint at a the inclusion of naval history in the details. Again, I’ve done posts about the story and what I did to make it unique.

All of these intentional moves helped the book do well on opening day and gradually climb up the charts farther than any book I’ve released since my first one, nearly ten years before. It will be interesting to see where the next release goes this summer. It’s not related at all to this book, but it is a betweener novella that links Book 4 to the yet to be written Book 5.

Corvette Launch, Two Weeks On

I thought it was about time for a numbers update on my novella, Corvette. I launched it on Tuesday, 21 March 2017 with little fanfare as an Amazon KDP Select ebook and a KDP Paperback. I did no advertising for the launch. No Facebook ads, no Amazon ads and no BookBub or similar posts. I mentioned that it was available on Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook. I also hit my mailing list with the link to buy it.

As you can see, the first week it started a slow climb up until it reached a few best seller lists towards the end of the first week. Once on these lists it seemed to climb up until this past Friday when it jumped up to about page two on a couple of the lists. Lots of buyers on that day. As of today, Sunday the second of April it

To get on the lists, you need to be selling 35 or more per day. To make mid-list range or in the 50’s of a top 100 list you have to sell over 70 per day. It’s hard for any book to stay up that high for long and I’ve noticed other books bouncing around with mine for the mid 50’s on two lists.

Above you see the three lists Corvette is on at the time of this writing, Sunday afternoon. Hanging in there at mid-list for two and about page three for the fourth list. No idea how long this will continue. I’ll do another update in a week or two.

Below you see my combined sales of all my ebooks for the same time period.

I have a series called the Star Saga that is starting to sell now that Corvette is out. Corvette is a prequel to that series although no characters carry over. So I’m hoping readers find the series and start to make their way through it. The series has three numbered books with two novellas in between them. So a total of five books in the first trilogy. The chart below shows how the series books are slowly rising in sales. This is for April only and most of these only sell about one or two per month normally.

So I’m happy the series is getting some exposure, that was the whole reason this book was written. It’s supposed to be a low cost entry level novella to the Star Saga. I’m keeping Book 1 of the series at .99 cents to ensure the reader takes a chance on the actual series after liking Corvette. If they come back for Book 2, I charge my regular price – $2.99. All of my series novellas are priced at .99 cents for the ebooks.

So how well did the paperbacks do, you might be asking? Not so good. Paper is still not a viable option for me yet. These are my sales for March. So far in April there are no sales.

If you want to check out Corvette you can get it here.