Kobo, Smashwords, Nook Preorders for Last Dragon King


It’s a week to go before the launch of The Last Dragon King, and now the pre-orders are also available on Kobo, iTunes and Smashwords .

And if you’re one of the few remaining Nook users, you can get the book already, exclusively from Barnes&Noble‘s store. Here are all the retail links:

Kindle Edition:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | DE | IT | FR | ES | JP | CA | BR | AU
Also:
iTunesNook | Smashwords Kobo 

Don’t forget – December 27th is when the book is officially launched, and all your preorders get delivered to your e-readers!

“The Shattering Waves” full launch – now out on Nook, Kobo, Smashwords & iTunes


After being available as a pre-order on Kindle, Book Seven of the Year of the Dragon, “The Shattering Waves”, is now available with all other e-book retailers. See links below for your favourite shop!

It is the time of Darkness, as prophesied by the priests and soothsayers. Armies clash, cities burn. The sparks of hope are few and scattered.

The Kiheitai, leaderless and purposeless after the disastrous Battle of Heian, flee to the harbour city of Naniwa. Hiding among them, Bran and Nagomi plot to release Sato from the clutches of the Serpent. In the South, Dylan, Gwen and Edern assist the rebel army marching against the Taikun, just as the Gorllewin dragon riders begin to have second thoughts about their alliance with the Fanged.

Kindle Edition:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | DE | IT | FR | ES | JP | CA | BR | AU
Also:
iTunesNook | Smashwords Kobo 

And if you need to catch-up, “The Year of the Dragon, 1-4” is today only for a bargain $0.99!

“The Withering Flame ” launching everywhere!


If you bought the Amazon pre-order, you’ll be getting “The Withering Flame” sent to your Kindle right about now. But also, you can now buy the book on Nook, Kobo and get it from Smashwords. In a few days it should appear on iTunes, too. Get the download links below. Exciting times!

Book 6: The Withering Flame

For centuries, the world outside Yamato turned, while in the island nation, little changed. But the barbarians have finally broken through the gates, and the rebels have risen openly.

Bran reunites with his father on Dejima, just as the Bataavians and the local daimyo prepare to join the rebellion against the Taikun. Nagomi follows her visions across the Dan-no-Ura Straits, only to discover there is more to the Prophecy than she ever imagined. Sato and the Kiheitai, on secret orders from Lord Mori, rush to reach the Imperial Capital of Heian before the full might of Taikun’s army – and the Black Dragons he’s allied with.

The time for whispers and secrets is over. The dark clouds burst – and the bloody civil war is finally upon Yamato.

Kindle Edition:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | DE | IT | FR | ES | JP | CA | BR | AU
Also:
iTunesNook | Smashwords Kobo 

Perma-free on Amazon, 2015 version


Perma-free is a controversial method of getting your work out there, but it still works as a promo tool for some, especially if you have a series of books. I will not be discussing here whether it’s a good or bad thing to do; but if you do decide to do it, here’s how. I just did these steps, so I know they work.

Step one, of course, is to ensure your book is free elsewhere. This one remains the same as always, and has been described countless times. Just to refresh your memory: use Smashwords. Even if you have publisher accounts on Nook or iTunes already, these won’t let you set up a price of zero. Only Smashwords can do that for all channels – as far as I know (still not sure about Draft2Digital). Kobo is the only publisher that lets you set up a perma-free book directly, and that will come useful later, but Amazon doesn’t see Kobo as as much of a competitor as Nook or iTunes in US, so that alone may not always work.

All your other books, you can sell directly through retailers, if you so wish. But the book you want perma-free, has to be distributed through Smashwords (or equivalent).

Once you’re sure your book is free on as many other stores as possible, you have to inform Amazon. The old way was to simply get your friends to report the price match from the book page, through the “tell us about lower price” link. But this no longer works as well as it used to. In fact, it didn’t work for me at all. I waited and waited, and the price remained stubbornly as it was – until I’ve discovered the truth. So here’s what’s changed: right now, the best and most reliable way to ensure your book is price-matched to other retailers, is to write Amazon a letter.

Log in to your KDP account, click Help, then Contact Us. From the list of topics, choose Price Matching. Fill out the form with the following information: your book’s Amazon info (title, link, ASIN), and all the channels where your book is currently free that need matching to.

The Shadow Third Cover 250The turn-around on this is almost immediate – for the main Amazon regions at least (see below) – as opposed to the “Tell Us” button. A day or so later, your book will be price-matched – plus, you get an e-mail confirmation, which is always nice. But there’s a trick to it. Amazon now wants you to inform it of EVERY COUNTRY your book is free in, to match it to its own regional stores. Linking only to .com versions of the retailers will only match your book on Amazon.com.

This isn’t easy, since some stores don’t have regional versions, so I had to do some digging. I used the following list of links to make sure I covered all possible regions for “The Shadow of Black Wings”:

(The only one I’m missing so far is India, but I never had any success selling books there, so it’s something I will have to live with for now.)

Just search for your own book at each of these links, and you will have the contents for the letter ready. Click send, wait no more than a few days for a reply, check if the books are really free everywhere you wanted them (you may need to clear cache or view in incognito mode to see the change) – and start promoting! 🙂

Note: it may still take a few weeks for the effect to trickle down to the more obscure Amazons, like NL and BR – and they might revert to full price at any moment without notice. Just another down-side of the silly way in which KDP manages regional websites.
Thanks to the good folks at Alliance of Independent Authors, who first taught me this trick!

October News: NaNoWriMo, Smashwords… and BOOK 6 incoming (eventually)!


It’s been a while since I wrote something about my books – over a month, in fact; and even longer since I mentioned “The Year of the Dragon” series. But, here it comes:

The sixth book of “The Year of the Dragon” series will be called “The Withering Flame”. We have a new cover artist once again this time – Anndr Kusuriuri. The cover is awesome, if I do say so myself (and a bit spoilerish, if you can figure out what’s going on in the picture!).The Withering Flame

Now, there’s a bit of a setback with the book. It really should have been ready for this Christmas, but I’m afraid that won’t happen – and there’s nobody to blame but myself. I’m just recovering from a bout of severe writer’s block, which lasted far longer than these things should for a professional author. It’s been over a month since I last put the finger to the keyboard; I’m finally back on track, though, and roughly half-way through the first draft.


Participant-2014-Square-ButtonWhich brings me to another piece of news – I’ll be doing NaNoWriMo again this year, hoping to finish the first draft by the end of November. You can keep up with my progress – and cheer me up! – here. I’ll be counting words from whatever I have written by Nov 1st, so I may “lose” if I assume the book is big enough, but having a deadline may keep me from falling back into the writer’s block’s sweet embrace.smashwords

Final bit of news – there’s yet another distribution channel for the first five books: Smashwords. Like on Kobo, you can get the “Shadow…” for free there, and the rest of the books are priced the same as elsewhere.

A natural step now that #Kobo is a Japanese company: onsen-proof e-reader :)


Kobo Aura H2O is the first premium eReader to have a waterproof and dustproof design that allows you to take it worry-free from the beach, to the bath, to your bed. Plus, with up to 2 months of battery life, you have the freedom to keep reading, wherever you go. So if you drop it in the bath or accidentally spill a drink on it, your Kobo Aura H2O will still work like new. Just use the included drying cloth to dry the screen, so you can get back to reading.”

Starts at $180

NEW RELEASE! CHRYSANTHEMUM SEAL IS OUT!


The files are uploaded, verified and approved. The Chrysanthemum Seal is out now!

It’s the middle of summer in the Year of the Dragon. The hunt for the Crimson Robe may be over, but the adventure continues…

With Bran seemingly gone from Yamato forever, his friends settle in their new lives, their common adventures a distant memory. Sato enrolls in Lord Nariakira’s school of wizardry, while Nagomi joins her father’s medical practice in far-away Nagoya.

But the revolution, once started, cannot be stopped. The foreign threat finally comes to Yamato’s doorstep. A Varyagan submarine drops anchor in Kiyo harbour. A Bataavian warship arrives at Kagoshima, carrying Dylan ab Ifor, Gwen and Wulfhere. In Shimoda, the Black Wings supply fleet brings with it a curious, unwanted guest…

Kindle Edition:
Amazon US |Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR | Amazon ES |Amazon JP | Amazon CA | Amazon BR | Amazon AU
Kobo Edition:
Kobo | Kobo 楽天
Nook:
Nook

If you haven’t yet read any of the books in “The Year of the Dragon” cycle, you should start from The Shadow of Black Wings:

NEW_SHADO_ 1000 It is the Sixteenth Year of Queen Victoria. In the powerful empire of Dracaland, Bran, a young dragon rider, joins his father on a military expedition to the mysterious lands of the Orient. In the reclusive Yamato, Sato, a tomboy samurai girl, strives to prove her right to inherit her father’s school of western magic. Nagomi, a timid shrine apprentice, is haunted by the visions of dark future she must keep secret even from her best friend.

They don’t know it yet, but their paths will cross… And when they do, nothing will ever be the same again.

Welcome to The Shadow of Black Wings, a steam-powered romp across the land of dragons, wizards and samurai. It’s big, it’s fast, it’s been compared to Tolkien in terms of world-building, it has strong female characters and lots of carefully researched detail. You will meet the Royal Marines sailing mighty ironclads and Chinese walking machines; mysterious warlords and crazy inventors; you will discover dark prophecies, family secrets and blood-thirsty demons. And all that in just the first volume!

Kindle Edition:
Amazon US |Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR | Amazon ES |Amazon JP | Amazon CA | Amazon BR | Amazon AU
Kobo Edition:
Kobo | Kobo 楽天
Also:
iBooks | XinXii | Nook
Paperback:
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CN | Junglee.com | Barnes&Noble | Book Depository

Or if you don’t want to read the books piece-meal, dive straight in and splash out on the bundle of the first four volumes – this will bring you right up to date with the events leading up to the Chrysanthemum Seal!

 NEW_BUNDLE_250
 This is a bundle edition of the first four books of the best-selling historical fantasy saga, containing the entire Crimson Robe arc:

 

  • Book 1: The Shadow of Black Wings
  • Book 2: The Warrior’s Soul
  • Book 3: The Islands in the Mist
  • Book 4: The Rising Tide
The deluxe edition contains also a short story “Birkenhead Drill”, a full glossary of foreign words, list of characters, the map of the land of Gwynedd and a chronology of the world.
Kindle Edition:
Amazon US | Amazon UK  | Amazon DE | Amazon IT | Amazon FR | Amazon ES |Amazon JP | Amazon CA | Amazon BR | Amazon AU
Kobo Edition:
Kobo | Kobo 楽天
Nook:

kyotoOh, and here’s a little something to while away the time when the books download to your respective e-readers:
2048: The Year of the Dragon Edition!

How I sold 8000 books in my first year – and why it shouldn’t matter to you


bsA year ago today, I published on Amazon my first novel, “The Shadow of Black Wings” – book 1 of a planned long-running saga, “The Year of the Dragon“. Since then, I published a few more books – three more books of the series, a short story collection, a fantasy novella, and a bundle of the first four volumes of “The Year…” combined.

For the first three months I haven’t even sold a hundred copies; but eventually the trickle turned into a river. I have now sold 8000 copies of all my books put together; a vast majority on Amazon Kindle, about a hundred so far on Kobo and in paperback. That’s sold – not given away – and not for peanuts, either; my average royalty on these was about $2 per book, pre-tax. You can do the math yourselves.

Now, in terms of commercial results, this isn’t an indie success story people like to read about: not only I’m not the next Hugh Howey, or J.A. Konrath, I’m not even in the same league as the dozens of romance or thriller authors who consistently sell hundreds of their books every week. I am, however, quite satisfied with what I had achieved so far. This is, after all, my first year of publishing; these are my very first books written in English; the genre I write is not a bestseller genre – if you look at the Asian Fantasy lists on Amazon, my books consistently occupy the first places both in free and paid categories: there just doesn’t seem to be that many more readers interested in these kinds of stories. You could say I broke one of the main rules of making money off self-publishing: “choose a popular genre”.

8,000 copies sold is more than enough to pay the proverbial bills; it is an extra income that enabled me to embark on the summer journey around the UK coast that I’ve always wanted to make; it is an extra boost of confidence which enables me to continue writing more books (whenever I have the time :). It is, finally, a lot more than I had ever expected to sell when I started this journey, shortly after settling down in the UK.

If you are a starting self-published writer, you are probably constantly looking for advice on how to sell more books. I don’t know whether, in a world where some authors sell millions, a meagre 8,000 sales can interest anyone, but if it does, then sure, I can tell you how did it. But only if you promise me to read this post to the end, to find out why it doesn’t matter what I, or anyone else did to sell their books.

In the beginning, I tried many things; anything that anyone advised, I did it. I bought books, I read blogs, I studied business cases. Social media. Paid ads. Free ads. Blog posts. Blog tours. Guest posts. Short stories. Wattpad. Figment. Goodreads. Shelfari. You name it – I was there. The one thing I never tried was the physical part of book selling: I never did any signings, never pushed my paperbacks into bookstores. That was something I knew from the start I would not be any good at.

Almost none of it mattered, in the end. In hindsight, if I look back at what I’m certain I did right over the last year, it can be summed in the following 5 points:

  1. Write a series of good books.
  2. Prepare professional publishing package (formatting, cover, editing).
  3. Push the first book out with free and paid promos. Make sure you get what you paid for.
  4. Keep writing and releasing books, pushing each release forward with a set of promotions.
  5. Profit.



If I felt like creating some kind of rule out of it, I would call it “The V3 method“. The V3 was a Nazi super-cannon based on the principle of multiple charges: each missile was propelled along the way in the barrel with explosives in set intervals; the result was an artillery piece that could shoot at London from over the Channel.

I could do that; I could probably write a book about it, and try to hawk my “V3 method” as the “Only True Way” to sell books. But that wouldn’t feel right.

Because what I did worked only for me. And I have no way of knowing for certain whether it would work for anyone else, or indeed whether it will continue to work for me; this is, after all, a very quickly changing business. My books may stop selling at any moment, and I will remain just as clueless as I was a year ago.

Things work differently for different people. For some, using Facebook or Twitter will be a path to success. For a chosen few, it will be a place like Wattpad or Figment where they may find their audience. Many authors swear by Goodreads. Personally, neither of these did anything for me, and I count my time spent there as an author and publisher as very much wasted. I guess I just don’t have the right kind of personality. But that doesn’t mean I would go around dismissing any of these channels of publicity; obviously it works for some. And conversely, my way of doing things may not suit others. Perhaps not everyone feels comfortable with releasing a book every few months, or with scouring the internet for the best places to buy advertising from.

There is lately much talk of survivor’s bias in self-publishing, and I couldn’t agree with this assessment more. As with every new, emerging business, the tales of true success are still few and far between. The statistical sample is far too little to make any assumptions. Nobody knows for certain what works, and what doesn’t. I had offered you my opinion of what worked for my sales – but I could be wrong; it may have been something completely different that I did at some point, and now don’t even remember. Or – very likely – it may have been pure chance. In fact, pure chance may still account for all the success stories out there, including all the great ones; we may try to use hindsight to figure out what went right or wrong, but the truth is, we just don’t know.

So while it may sound depressing and underwhelming for somebody who’s looking for a quick way to win in life’s lottery, there is a positive lesson to learn here: do whatever you feel like doing. Stick to what you do best; if something just doesn’t seem to be working out for you, don’t push it. It may never work out, and you’ll only be wasting time. But, if your book is out, and you’re prepared to spend some time and effort to present it to the world in a professional manner – I’m pretty confident it will start selling in the end.

And when it does, I’m pretty sure deep down you’ll be as clueless as to how it happened as we all are.

 

Back to Kobo, this time for good? (and for free :)


kobo With the last period of Amazon’s KDP Select finally expiring, I am now able to put “The Shadow of Black Wings” back on to Kobo Books. So now you can finally buy all four of The Year of the Dragon books (with more coming 🙂 from there.

To celebrate the return to the other online store, the “Shadow…” is now FREE to download for all Kobo users!

Also, for the first time, the entire bundle, “The Year of the Dragon 1-4” is also available on Kobo.

The platform is right now experiencing huge growth. Hopefully having all my books finally available will help some way towards using this potential.

Here are all my currently available books on Kobo in clickable form 🙂

The Shadow Third Cover 250The Warrior Third Cover_250 2The Islands in the MistTide Cover_250TheYearBUNDLE_250px-3Dragonbone_v2_small

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

PS: Don’t forget, if you’re an author who wants to advertise their Kobo book, or a reader looking for some good reading, head over to kobobookhub.com for a once-every-few-days update on what’s new in the world of indie Kobo.

All work and no play… January projects.


JanuaryJanuary so far is proving one of the busiest months.

Apart from finishing Draft 3 of “The Rising Tide” I’ve launched two major online projects since New Year. It’s been exhausting, but at least I’m finally doing fun things 🙂

The first project is “Today in Japan’s History“: daily Nihon Rekishitweets, FB and G+ posts on Japan’s History, on the day it happened. You can read more about the project here. At the moment I’ve gathered over 1500 facts, amounting to an average of 4-5 posts a day. Do follow please if you find that sort of thing interesting 🙂

The second project, launched today, is “Kobo Book Hub“: a site for promoting Kobo books. There’s a lot of these for Kindle, but not many for Kobo, so I’m here to fill out the niche. Right now it’s just listing books in three price categories, but I expect to be adding new features as the site grows. If you have a book on Kobo, please fill out the submission form. For a while all books are accepted free of charge 🙂