Mailing lists – why?

I’d been planning on doing this blog for about a month, now, because next month I’m a part of a number of different promotions aimed at increasing my mailing list.

Does that feel like icky marketing stuff to you?

Because it did to me for quite a while – give me all your information so I can pester you with buy links! – and I’m coming around on this being a lot more than that, and nothing like as scammy and sell-y as I thought it was.

Stick with me on that.

The reason the timing is… interesting… is the ‘pocalypse going on among a bunch of the Amazon-exclusive authors right now. I’m not going to talk a lot about it, because it’s business-y and it’s highly data-driven, and… well, a lot of the authors involved are kind of struggling not to sound whiny, despite some very sound data running around to support them. I try very hard to keep my positive voice on, when I’m in public, because the internet is forever, but you can’t blame them, when they’re seeing a business model potentially impode on them.

And that’s the part that’s relevant, here. Continue reading “Mailing lists – why?”


My writing calendar revolves around November.

Four years ago, I promised myself I was going to try to make a career out of writing, and that journey began at NaNo (National Novel Writing Month, in November).  While a lot of people quite legitimately feel like NaNo falls in the middle of what is already the most stressful season of the year for meeting obligations and finding time to get things done, I find it reinvigorating to repurpose a dark, cold season into the peak of the writing year.  The first few years, I intentionally took off the entire month of October, in order to be sitting on a pile of creative energy, come midnight, October 31st (not to mention a pile of leftover candy with its own kind of energy).  That hasn’t worked out for scheduling reasons, lately, but it’s still day 1 of my writing calendar, with a sense of new, with all of the shortcomings and the lots-of-work from the previous year wiped away.


This is also when I take a close look at what I got done last year and what I plan on getting done next year, because anything that I don’t have on a glide path to finished by November isn’t going to get done in 2016 – it’s going to have to be next year’s project, anyway.  And this has been… an interesting year.

For reasons that aren’t worth listing out, here, I had a large break in publishing called ‘2015’.  I didn’t publish anything between Warrior, which came out Dec 30, 2014, and HDM: Miami, which was May, 2016.  (It’s worth noting that I didn’t stop writing, through this period.  I had two successful NaNos, and a few other really strong writing-challenge months, so the work is written.  I just have to get it *done*.)  They say that a gap in publishing that big is a momentum killer, but I didn’t have any momentum to speak of, anyway, so I figure it didn’t make all that big a difference to me.  Regardless, when I looked at this year, back at NaNo2015, I wanted to get books out, again, but that particular muscle had atrophied quite a lot, and it took five months to get the HDM novel organized and put out.  From there, things have rolled a bit more smoothly, but without really seeing the results I was hoping for.

So I made a deal with myself.  Writing year 2016-2017 is *the one*.  Everything I have been promising myself I was going to get around to, everything I’ve been meaning to try, all of the identified causes I have for not being as successful as I want to be – I’m going after them.  And that starts with a blitz of content all targeting – November 2016.

The things that are already done for #ProjectNovember:

-New cover for the original His Dark Mistress novel.  (The old one was a formative attempt at proving to myself that I’ve got no idea what I’m doing, designing a novel.  I’d love to say that that lesson is officially learned, but…  Quite frankly, I’m probably going to continue trying.)

-Publish and release Dragonsword.  My favorite book of the ones I’ve written to date, I’ve been sad to see it languish as much as it has, so far, and I hope that as I get further into #ProjectNovember, some of the readers who really enjoyed Sam & Sam will find that they enjoy it as much as I do.

-Release the Sam & Sam box set.  The first four books are really one story.  It has three natural breaks in it, which are where the four books come from, but this is how they were always meant to be.  I don’t know if I’ll do another Sam & Sam box set with any of the other books I have planned; perhaps a box set of Sam & Sam companions, as they come into existence, but probably not with the linear (numbered) Sam & Sam novels.  They just don’t go together the way the first four did.

-Various behind-the-scenes advertising and promotional work.  I find this a bit tawdry to discuss here, so I won’t.  Suffice to say, I haven’t done it before, and they say that in order for readers to know that your work exists, you have to tell them.  I find it difficult to argue with the inescapability of this logic.

Things that are yet to come before November:

-Sam & Sam paperbacks.  Yes.  This is happening.  The covers are done, it’s just a question of getting the layout finished, which takes time, and JJ is already underwater with the amount of stuff I’m asking him to do.  Like, you know, publish two books and a box set in two months, and a bunch of other things.  The first four books plus Dragonsword will all be ready in paperback by the end of October, though, or I promise to beat him.

-Isobel.  Oh, Isobel.  Isobel has been digging a hole in JJ’s brain for years, and he asked me to pry her out and pin her to a story, so that’s what I did.  She lives in the Anadidd’na universe – not that she knows it.  She’s the first of the Sam & Sam companion stories, and is an odd format, compared to the others.  I’ll be posting a short story (or at least, part of one, depending on how things go) to my blog here to help get a feel for how Isobel goes.  The cover is done, the editing is mostly done.  Isobel should be up by the very end of the month.

-More advertising and promotion.  I should note, here, that if you want to find out about all of the big groups of discounted books I join up with, be sure to sign up for my mailing list.  There are going to be more of these, going forward.  They’re a great way to find other authors who are writing the same kind of stuff I write, at great prices.

-Potentially the first Book of Carter novella.  In all, there will be four novellas, and my plan is to release them quickly across the end of this year and the beginning of next year, and then combine them all into a single book.  The first one is called Rage.

November.  The writing year starts in November.  And I’m going to do everything I can to make it a big one.

Wish me luck.

Rangers boxset!

So, things keep stacking up.  I’ll have a blog on it in a day or two explaining where I’m headed, but this is here so I wanted to get it posted:

Rangers Origin, books 1-4 is now available on Amazon at a 30% discount to the price of the four books individually.

All the demonic hack ‘n slash, none of the going-to-get-the-next-book.  Score one for the good guys!  Buy your copy here.


Dragonsword: Live today!

It’s here!

I want to open with this, because it’s important to me: Dragonsword is my favorite book, of the ones I’ve written so far, including 17 novels and a basket full of shorter work.  The world of Sam & Sam continues to pick up new characters, and this is the cast that I’ve really been looking forward to.  There are also a number of continual character transformations that are really important, over the course of this book.  Makes this book, among all of my Sam & Sam books, their offshoots, and my other books, feel like home.

After the tumultuous formation in the first four books, Sam, Samantha, and Jason have hit their identities.  The problem is that there’s a reason Samantha ran away from all of this in the first place: New York and its political intrigue is messy, dirty, and violent, and the more powerful you are, the more involved you are, whether you like it or not.  And while Samantha may not like it, she’s not going to back down.

You can get Dragonsword on Amazon here.  Don’t want to dive in in the middle?  Start with Rangers, for only $0.99.  Prefer to read paper?  Watch this space: Sam & Sam in paperback is coming soon!


Borrow My Book

Among the things that authors war over, the existence and use of Kindle Unlimited is way up there on the list of things that they are unable to reach agreement about. Some authors think that it’s anti-competitive, because Amazon requires exclusivity on the part of the authors who participate, diminishing the competitiveness of the other book-selling platforms. Other authors believe that it devalues books and sends book prices into a downward spiral toward free as readers get used to the idea that they ought to be able to go online, choose any book they want, and read it at no marginal cost to them. A third group resents the lack of control they have over their pricing and the fact that they are losing the opportunity to grow a readership on the other sales platforms.

I was doing some editing work last night and came across a character who, in the face of three brothers who believed that justice, bread, and faith (respectively) were the basis of civilization, said that they were all wrong: that money is the basis of civilization. If you’ve followed my blogwork at all, you’ll hear that my voice harmonizes with hers. With intense respect for the value of all three of the others, I believe that a dispassionate investigation of economics often reveals the most virtuous decision, and I think that that’s the case, here.

My books are in Kindle Unlimited, today. Where there are legitimate arguments against it (particularly the one that complains that I have no idea what a borrow is going to be worth until after it happens – that’s a wild business model: I send you product, and you sell it, and then you tell me what you’re going to pay me for it… hmm…), the economic incentives favor being there over not being there, and so I stay. The moment that those incentives tip (well, within the three months after that), I’ll drop and sell everywhere. In the meantime, if you are in the market for a book and faced with what is sometimes cast as a moral decision between buying my book and borrowing it (Did you know that you can borrow one book a month using Prime? You do now.), let me say quite happily: borrow it.

The way that Kindle Unlimited is currently stacked, short books get penalized for each reader who chooses to borrow over buy (assuming that reader actually reads the book…), but longer books have to be priced pretty dearly before that ratio shifts over.

And I write long books.

Going over my list of novels that are presently available, all but one of them make more money for a borrow than a sale. Looking at the list of ones in the production line, there are another three that make more for a sale, compare to seven that prefer borrows, but that doesn’t entirely capture it. For a book like Portal Jumpers – not just long, but very long – the ratio approaches 50% higher for a borrow than a buy. For all of my written work, there’s a difference of 15% between KU and a regular purchase.

Not only that, but KU gives me an opportunity to reach readers who might not otherwise be willing to risk a new series and a new author. A very large fraction of my readers are using KU, and I’m grateful that Amazon gives them this path to reading my work that’s more akin to a library experience than a bookstore experience. I get paid (pretty well, actually) so long as they like my work and actually read it. And these particular readers tend to read *all* of my work, if they like any of it.


That’s a relationship I love to have.

I’m sorry to miss out on the Apple shoppers, and the ones who prefer to use Nook or Kobo to get their books, but that ease of interaction that Amazon gives me and my readers – they’re not going to get any complaints from me about that.

Now. I’d love to know what I’m going to make on the things I’m selling before I sell them. I’d love to see more consistency from book to book on what my per-read compensation is (I have a 10% variation across my current library, and that’s after a 20% devaluation earlier this year that I never found an explanation for). I’d love to get more transparency on how Amazon calculates the length of a book. (And no secret devaluations, dawgonnit.) I’d love to have a book market where Amazon’s competitors were stronger and made this a bad economic decision, because Amazon having to compete for my products is better for me. But I also believe that subsidizing a poor business model that doesn’t efficiently put in front of readers books that they absolutely want to buy is not in my best interest, because it diminishes the pool of readers. (If everyone could find a book they could not put down until they finished it, a lot more of them would buy books instead of watching movies or TV. First-world consumers have plenty of entertainment dollars to compete for in aggregate, and the book market is not exactly a stellar example of how to do that, outside of Amazon. Strictly my opinion.)

I have similar complaints about the audiobook market, though, and notwithstanding those complaints, I will jump in with two feet the very moment it appears that using the best tools-to-market for audio is going to generate revenue in alignment with the effort it takes to generate it. I certainly wish I had access to mass market paperback distribution channels, but I only have access to trade paperback, and so I will put my books out in trade paperback – slowly, compared to e-book, because the revenue per effort for paper is much smaller than e-book, but inevitably, because I want my books to live on my bookshelf – and I will be glad to have the readers I get in that format.

I have to take the world as it is, not as I wish it would be. So does everyone else. Should I try to change it when it’s unpalatable or unfair? Sure. But only when the other option is better. KU is a great option for me, right now – bonus – and I’m glad for the opportunities it gives me.

So borrow a book.

Read it.

If you enjoy it, there are more where that came from, and I’m endlessly glad that we got a chance to meet.


Shameless update: Dragonsword, book 5 of Sam & Sam is due out any day. Keep an eye out here or on Amazon for the release, or check out book 1 (Rangers) for only $0.99.
What I’m reading: La Morte d’Arthur by Thomas Malory
What I’m watching: Chopped (it’s good dinner fare)

Sam & Sam: Need to Know

In December, 2014, I published 4 books.  They were Rangers, Shaman, Psychic, and Warrior, the first four books of the Sam & Sam series, a plot, a set of characters, and a universe that I am persistently preoccupied with.  After that, life happened for a while and I didn’t publish anything again until King of Miami (A His Dark Mistress novel) in May of this year.  Near as matters, a year and a half without publishing.

I did not stop writing.

I’ve been promising Dragonsword, book 5 of Sam & Sam, for a long time, and we finally have a concrete plan to get it published sometime in the middle of next month.  The tentative date on the calendar is September 15.  I have a cover.  (I even have a print cover.  Zounds.)  I’ve written the blurb.  The final word-level edits are in process, and then I’ll hand it over to JJ for the obligatory button-pushing.

He’s very good at that.

And so it is time for my introductory piece on Sam & Sam, since I have not ever written anything *about* this series, other than what exists in its cover copy. Continue reading “Sam & Sam: Need to Know”


This idea has been with me for a very long time. Most authors have something to say about dreams, or they’ve written something that was based on a dream, and here’s mine: I’m deeply jealous of my dreaming self. She’s so much more creative than I am – she tells better stories than I do, ones that are so removed from any of the rootstock of my own fictional life that they look and feel genuinely creative and new…

I went through a phase, maybe six weeks, when I did not dream. I didn’t do anything while I was asleep but sleep, and I would wake in the morning, clear-minded but without any sense that time had passed since I’d fallen asleep. (I am not a morning person, normally. I’m muddled and drunk on dreams.) I’d get up and go through my day without really looking forward to going to bed at night, because I didn’t get that basting time in my own mind that sleeping usually represents. The time was just… gone.

This phase terrified me. I still fear it coming back, though it was many years ago and it didn’t last that long, in the scope of things, but it was like forgetting how to speak or suddenly discovering that my best friend was imaginary. The first night that I returned to the swirling stew of dreams that is a normal night’s sleep was a relief that I can’t begin to describe, and I’ve never taken dreaming for granted, since. Continue reading “Dreams”

Portal Jumpers: Live!

So, it all happened a lot faster than I expected.  I got my notification that Scout was going to decline the contract, and JJ turned around and got Portal Jumpers prepped for launch.

It went live this morning.

Portal Jumpers Cover kindle

You buy your copy here.  Prefer to read with Kindle Unlimited?  Portal Jumpers is enrolled, right now.

Scout was a great experience, and I’m so grateful for the support I got, but I’m really excited to have Portal Jumpers up and available or sale.  Hope you enjoy it as much as I have!

Kindle Scout: Portal Jumpers is Complete

Well, it’s over. My thirty days of Kindle Scout exposure for Portal Jumpers have come to an end, as of about midnight last night, my time. The big results won’t come out for a little while – Amazon reserves the right to take up to 15 days to make a decision on publishing the books that go through Scout – but the small results have been notable all month.
First, I am not a networker, a promoter, or a campaigner. Shocker, there. I write under a pen name that very few of my friends or family know, and I maintain a separate e-mail account, Facebook account, and bank account for. (I have a DBA that makes my signature as Chloe Garner legal. This pleases sixteen year old me.) I knew, going into my Scout submission that I was going to be missing one of the big planks of a Scout campaign: people I’ve met in person. I also knew that I wasn’t going to be willing to go to a bunch of shouting rooms and post digital posters asking people to nominate my work. I have nothing against people who use those spaces the way they were intended to be used – the people who shop there expect exactly what they’re getting – but it feels impersonal and out of character for me.

-So I found KBoards, where the crew has been nothing but encouraging to every single author who ends up there, and where the experience runs deep. Those are good people.

-I found a thread on Goodreads, which was smaller, but where the people were no less sincere in the interest of supporting and encouraging each other.

-I e-mailed my mailing list and I e-mailed a few beta readers and other ground-level promoters, and I heard back from some of them that they forwarded on that e-mail.

-I posted to a couple of Facebook groups where there was an open invitation to put up that kind of information, and I posted to my wall.

-The night before my campaign ended, I posted to Twitter.

And that was it. Continue reading “Kindle Scout: Portal Jumpers is Complete”