Cast in Ruin: Chapter one

It’s the end of July, and as promised, here’s Cast in Ruin, Chapter One, which Amazon lists as a 20 September 2011 release. It’s an October title; it’s sold to stores as an October title, and the date of publication that I always reference on my pages is the publication month for which the book is sold to stores. With paper books it is impossible to have an exact date without complicated legal embargos (i.e. of the type used for Harry Potter books and no one else); the Amazon date is probably truer to the time at which the book will start to arrive in physical bookstores (and therefore Amazon’s physical warehouse).

It is also listed on the Elantra page in the sidebar, but I thought I would try to save people a few clicks and a page load by linking it from this post as well. Yes, it’s taken me several books worth of first chapters to think of this, but, ummm, I plead author-brain.

The UPS man delivered the mass market paperbacks of both Cast in Fury and Cast in Silence yesterday (where, true to form, I tripped over them on the way in from work, and bounced around the front hall with Stubbed Toe. The books, however, were unharmed). Cast in Fury was originally published with a glossy cover in trade paperback; the mass market has a matte finish, but with the title, my name, and the tag-line on the back cover in full gloss. I really like the way it looks. It is, otherwise, the same book.

Enjoy!

Warlord

Warlord is the earliest of the Essalieyan short stories. Published in 1998, it was written in 1997. It is some (small) part of Avandar’s story, and had the distinction of being the longest short story I’d written to date in 1997. It is not the longest short piece I’ve written since, though. It was written for Larry Segriff of Tekno books, and both he and my editor were very patient with both the length and the timing of its delivery.

As usual, it’s up on Smashwords now, and is in the Amazon.com queue. The last two ebooks took five days to clear the Smashwords’ distribution queue, instead of the fifteen days the first book took, and the books went up slightly earlier than forecast at Barnes & Noble and Kobo. The first three are now available on iTunes, as well; the last two are waiting review.

I am working on proofing the final story, Memory of Stone, now. A word about that: Some of the Kindle versions of The Weapon contained a earlier proof version of Memory of Stone. The current version on Amazon no longer does. As it wasn’t proofed, there are errors; it’s the original manuscript-as-typed-from-book before any of the proofing rounds were done. Since it wasn’t supposed to be appended to The Weapon, those won’t be changed or fixed in The Weapon, but the story, with the various small typos/formatting difficulties, is essentially the same. So people who did pick up the earlier Kindle copies don’t need to pick up the actual version of Memory of Stone when it’s released.

When Memory of Stone is finished, everything will go to the typesetter, and from there, to Lulu, and at that point, all six stories & their introductions will then be available in print form.

 

ETA: mention of Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo.

Bits and pieces of news

I’ve been informed by DAW that my DAW backlist — the eight books that comprise The Sacred Hunt and The Sun Sword — should be trickling into the ebook channels in four weeks. They were total conversions, in that they had to be scanned from paper copies.

This means that all of my novels to date will be available as ebooks.

Huntbrother was on Barnes and Noble as of last night. Echoes which was sent by Smashwords in theory on the same day still hasn’t appeared. On the other hand, Echoes is available at Kobo.com, but Huntbrother isn’t.

The contracts for the audio versions of the first three Cast novels have been sent, so it looks like the first five novels will be available at Audible sometime in the not-distant future.

I am just in from Confluence 2011, and I had — as always — a lovely time.

But – and there has to be some bad news – I’ve had to pull out of the Worldcon this year =(. With luck, things should be more stable in the household in October, so World Fantasy is still a possibility, but it’s no longer a certainty.

Also, on a totally unrelated note, the cubic volume of mosquitoes has risen precipitously in the West backyard. You probably heard the shrieks of dismay (mine; mosquitoes only buzz).

The Weapon

This is the fourth of six stories. I felt, after The Black Ospreys, that I had figured things out, and things would go smoothly. Hah. However, I am refining my organization, such as it is, and at least it was a completely new mistake, as opposed to the prior mistakes. I am confident that I am learning how to do this properly.

The Weapon takes place during the period of the Blood Barons, as they were affectionately called. In the Hidden City, and actually in at least one of the Sun Sword novels, mention is made of the first day rites, and of the festival of The Ten. The Weapon is the story behind the first day rites.

Of the six stories that are connected to the Empire of Essalieyan, this is the one I like second best. (My personal favourite is Memory of Stone). It’s possible that it’s because these work well as standalones.

As usual, the story is up at Smashwords now. It will be available at Amazon within twenty-four hours (or possibly less). In two weeks, it should be available in the iBooks store, and at Diesel.

I’ve started to put the word-length in the product description, because it’s something I look for when I’m looking at ebooks.

The Black Ospreys

The Black Ospreys

The Black Ospreys is now in the queue at Amazon (which states a time of 24 – 36 hours before it’s available; Huntbrother was much faster, but Echoes took longer); it is up at Smashwords, and in a month (I’m sorry!), will make its way to B&N, Kobo and Sony. Echoes is up at Diesel, so I think once a title clears the Smashwords distribution queue, it immediately goes up at Diesel. I still have no data on how long something takes to reach the iBook store.

I think you’ll find the introduction to the story amusing. The story itself, as the title suggests, is about the Black Ospreys.

I’m now fifty percent of the way through the six stories. But, the final revision of Skirmish did clear the house, Cast in Peril is going well, as is War. I am hideously behind in reading and in non-short related blogging, and of course, I immediately went to look at Google+ when I noticed an invitation in my mail queue.

I am now going to go back to proofing The Weapon.

Some news

First: I’ve just been informed by my editor that Cast in Fury and Cast in Silence are going to appear as audio books/files at Audible.com in September, which is also when they first appear in mass market editions. But where, you ask, are the first three? We’re working on that now. (When I say we, what I mean is my agent, when I say working, I mean negotiating; I’m reasonably optimistic that the first three will also be produced at around the same time). These will be my very first appearance in audio, so I’m pretty excited about it.

Second: Echoes has finally been approved by Smashwords for is premium catalogue. This means that it will now propagate from the aggregator (which is what services like Smashwords are commonly called) to the other ebook retail sites: Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Diesel and Sony. The estimated time from Smashword shipment to consumers is: approximately two weeks.

It’s been two weeks (15 days) since Echoes was uploaded to Smashwords for review to be approved for retail channel distribution.

What this is means is there’s a month-long window from the time I upload a book to Smashwords to the time it appears in any of their retailer venues. The exception to this is Diesel, for which no time-frame is given; this might mean the books go to Diesel and are offered immediately.

I don’t actually know how long it will take for the iBooks version to be available, yet; I’m watching to see when it goes live. The first book, Echoes, was uploaded on the 6th of July; it’s currently the 14th of July, and it is still in the review queue (quality assurance review, not critical review).

Amazon.com is pretty much twenty-four to thirty-six hours (it was less for Huntbrother, longer for Echoes). So Amazon.com has the clear lead-time of availability. (Amazon also has tens of thousands of spam ebooks – books for 0.99 which contain links to web-site garbage, rather than content. Smashwords doesn’t. Smashwords has a review team composed of people; Amazon doesn’t. These are the tradeoffs.)

If you’re comfortable with side-loading, the book is available on Smashwords from the moment I upload it to the Premium Catalogue distribution review queue, in most formats – and it’s the same epub that will, one month later, be available at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Sony, at the same price. I believe the mobi format offered there also works on the Kindle. I believe that Smashwords also allows you to download any of the formats available, if you switch ereaders. Or if, for some reason, you have two.

This does not mean I love the kindle or prefer it to the Kobo, Nook or iPad; I don’t. I have an iPad, after all, which I adore like a crazy person, even if I don’t read very much on it.

Huntbrother

Huntbrother ebook cover

I’ve mentioned that the best thing about this whole process is seeing covers, right? Given today’s trial and error, it’s never been more true (I had some minor version control issues while formatting for Smashwords, and ended up uploading the wrong version the first time. And no, the first story, Echoes, has still not cleared the Premium Catalogue queue, which is called the Barnes & Noble queue in this house).

I was originally going to do all of the several rounds of proofing for all of the stories and upload everything at once (Huntbrother was proofed in printout 3 times, on the iPad twice (epub and Kindle), and in MS Word, because the font there is Times New Roman, a font in which I generally don’t do work). But there has since been a change of plans. Why? Because I actually feel like I’m not spinning in place when I upload something, even if it then goes into long queues. Once it’s in a queue, my part of the work is, in theory, done. It’s kind of like submission. The in theory perfectly proofed and entirely correct short stories are also being collected for the Print collection and the ebook collection, and I’m adding to that file as I finish.

The Weapon and Warlord are out making the print-proofing rounds now, and I’m am at the end stretch of the Skirmish revision, to which I am returning after making so many mistakes in formatting the neighbours could hear me shrieking from the sidewalk spending a calm, productive and entirely reasonable day.

This is a novella that was written because I was asked for a Hunter story. I was happy to write this one because it’s about Cynthia of Maubreche and her son, named Stephen (yes, this could cause confusion down the road, but it was the only name she wanted). It’s therefore set in Breodanir, the land in which the Hunters rule. It’s the fifth longest short story I’ve written, and I will not tell you what length I was actually asked for, because the initial requests usually come in form letters. Well, that and it’s embarrassing.

Huntbrother is available at Smashwords now, in their epub format. It will be available at Amazon.com in between one and two days in their kindle format. It will be at least two weeks until it clears the Smashword’s Premium Catalogue and makes its way to Barnes and Noble, and while it’s in the queue at the iBooks store, the first book has been in the review queue there for five days and hasn’t cleared it yet, either.

A word about pricing:

The stories range across lengths; most are less than 10,000 words; one is over 30,000.

For any story under 7,500 words, the price is 0.99.

For stories over 7,500 but under 17,000, the price is 1.99.

For stories over 17,000 the price is 2.99.

Everything I’m doing now is, of necessity, experimental. I understand print publishing and the demands of physical books and bookstores (writing and working in one for ‘lo these many years), but the ebook market is new to me, and I’m figuring it out as I go along.

The first six stories are set in Essalieyan, and I’ve never written a story set in that world which was under 10,000 words.

But the next ten or so that follow are the early Sagara short stories, and all of those are under 7,500.

A bit about ebook availability for various platforms

Hilda asked a question in a prior comment thread, and I thought I would answer it because it also allows me to talk a bit about availability of ebooks on different platforms.

Concern and question: For my birthday in August, I requested my sons and daughter to give me an easy to use e-reader, (I have way over 1,000 books at home) Your paper books are showing my intense use. I’m in no way an expert in anything electronic. Previous discussions in this forum seem to indicate difficulties in obtaining your books or some of them in Kindle. No discussions of the Nook. 3 days ago, I went to compare Kindle and Nook. I found lots of your books in the Nook (Barnes and Noble) under Sagara and West, maybe all of them; they were very easy to read. I also went to a Kindle vendor, but could not compare them, except for looking at the screen size, the 9″ Kindle, vs. the 7″: Nook.. Will all your books, currently published and in the future, be easily available in Nook? A friend also suggested that I could use an I Pad. Would I be able to access all your books there? If I sound ignorant, I am. My law degree is not good here.

The reason people have difficulty finding some of my books on the Kindle is because some of my print novels don’t exist as ebooks at all. Those would be the first eight of my DAW novels – the two Sacred Hunt books, and the Six Sun Sword novels – which were published before ebooks were part of Penguin Putnam’s production process.

Any one of my novels that’s available on the Kindle is also available for the Nook.

I personally have an iPad, which I adore – but I don’t yet use it for reading. If you have an iPad, you can access the Kindle store (through the Kindle app) and the Nook books (through the Nook app). There’s also a Kobo app. No, wait, you can access the Nook books if you live in the US. If you don’t, you can’t. (I don’t, and can’t). My father uses an iPad for reading because the screen is large and bright, and he reads indoors; if he’s outdoors, he’s walking.

The down side to the iPad as an ereader is that compared to a Kindle or a Nook (not the colour variety), it eats batteries. It has to be recharged pretty much once a day (depending on how often you use it). A kindle doesn’t.

A Kindle/Nook/Kobo/dedicated ebook reader is better for reading in bright daylight. I will use my iPad in bright daylight, but I have to crank up the brightness when I’m outside. You won’t have to do that on a Kindle/Nook/Kobo/etc. Conversely, it’s much easier to read on the iPad in any other lighting condition, although I believe many ereaders now come with a backlight (which will eat battery life as well).

I’ve received word that my DAW novels are now in the physical queue for conversion in the production department (which involves OCR scanning and clean-up, before anything else can be done) – but I have no idea how long that will take. What this does mean is that they will be made available, and when they are, they’ll be available on any platform you choose.

Unless, again, you live in Canada.

Amazon‘s Kindle store doesn’t list the DAW novels that currently are available (Hidden City, City of Night, House Name) if I am surfing from Canada, unless I really dig (I have to click on the various side-links; a direct search fails to show them to me at all). There are no DAW or Roc titles that I can see in the iBooks Canada store, either. Since DAW has North American rights to the novels, I have no idea why no one in Canada can currently buy them, but will do some digging on my end on Friday, which is when I have access to the Penguin Canada distribution team.

They seem to be available in Canada on the Kobo. Since Indigo, our single bookstore chain, has gone with the Kobo as an ebook reading/delivery system, maybe the lack of presence on Amazon.com and the iBooks store for Canadian readers is deliberate.

That was a minor digression. When the books have been converted, they’ll be available for purchase at almost all of the on-line venues, so make your choice based on what you think you’d like best in terms of the reader itself.

Ebook availability upon publication

Which leads us to: It took Amazon.com 36 hours to make Echoes available for purchase. I started the only process available to me – Canadian! – to get Echoes to Barnes & Noble, but at the moment, there’s a fourteen day lag time (estimated; it could be fourteen days to be approved for distribution, and then an unknown number of days to actually be distributed). I’m considering my options now, because at the moment there’s no way to make certain the book is available to all outlets at the same time (Americans shouldn’t have this problem for any of the primary ebook distributors). If I could upload directly to B&N, I think it would be available in the same time frame as it is on Amazon, but I can’t. Because I’m Canadian (trying not to sound bitter here >.>). I have no idea what Apple’s lead time is because the initial approval to be a vendor at all takes weeks, and I haven’t been approved yet.

In order for Canadians to get the ebook to Barnes & Noble‘s Nook store, it has to be published at Smashwords.com first, which means it has to be on sale there first. There’s no other way to have it in the “pending” queue for release to other ebook outlets. If I wait to upload to Amazon, there’s a better chance that the Amazon and B&N releases would hit at the same time – but the book would still be available for sale on Smashwords weeks earlier.

I know that publishers can set strict on-sale dates for their ebook titles, but those publishers aren’t relying on Smashwords for the bulk of their distribution. So, it’s very likely that any of my ebooks will be available at staggered times outside of my control.

I don’t want to penalize anyone who prefers one reading platform over the other, so I’m still considering options here. Smashwords does sell the books in pretty much any format – .epub, .mobi, .pdf, .lrf and .pdb. All of these can be sideloaded onto an ereading device you choose and…

Smashwords is also available to iPad users through the Stanza app.

Actually, that is one advantage to the iPad — and, if you like the idea of tablets, to the Android (which I don’t have). The bookstores are reached through apps that run on the tablets. So if you own an iPad, you can go to Apple, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, etc. Android has a separate bookstore, but all of the big ones are also available.

But the downside to that is that your library can be fragmented across these various readers.

Yet another question time

First: Genna asked, in the previous comment’s thread, about Cast in Moonlight. The Harlequin terms for the novellas are exactly the same as the terms for their novels. For most short fiction, the author grants exclusive rights to publish, in the English language, for one year, after which the author is free to do what she wants with the story – sell reprint rights, etc.

In the case of Cast in Moonlight, this doesn’t apply, so while I would love to bring the story out as a standalone, I can’t.

Second: I’ve noticed that people have been buying Echoes from Amazon. Genna (again!) said that on her kindle, the introduction is in a pale grey tone. There is the tiny possibility that I may have done something stupid with the color of the text – by accident – and I’m re-uploading the book to Amazon. While I have always appreciated my publishers, I swear, I have never appreciated them quite as much as I do now.

Third: If there are problems with any of the ebooks, please let me know. In this case – as opposed to any problems there might be with my novels – there’s a reasonable chance I can do something to fix it.

And now, on to the question.

The short story project is an ongoing effort, and because it’s required so much time to climb the learning curve, it’s obviously of interest to me. I’m not as certain it’s of interest to all of my readers, most of whom are probably looking to this site for information about the novels, and many of whom don’t read ebooks.

I’d like to be able to post about the short stories as I release them, but I don’t want to flood anyone’s RSS or mailboxes with information they don’t want. (One of the reasons I want to do this is the covers. There’s something about a cover — possibly the fact that I didn’t have anything to do with its creation, beyond a few flailing words here and there — that makes me happy. If someone was pulling all their hair out and cursing creatively at their computer to create those covers, it wasn’t me.)

I can create another blog for the short story information, if people would prefer that. In order to get the hundred ISBN block, I am a small press of one, so I could create a ‘Rosdan Press’ blog, at which I would post information about the ebook singles.

Would you prefer that?

Public Service Announcement

Thanks everyone for your input on my previous question. We (this would be the West household) are going to keep the Author Name under which the stories were originally published.

I have ISBNs! I have a block of one hundred ISBNs! I’m sorry – ISBNs always make me ridiculously happy. It’s a quirk.

Some people might notice that on Smashwords there is one Michelle West novella available; this is because I wanted to make sure that the Smashwords formatting — on my end — actually works. (It does! Yay! It’s the first thing I’ve done so far that’s worked right on the first attempt). It also takes about two weeks for any Smashwords titles to propagate to their various retailer sites.

Because I’m Canadian, there are extra tax forms that need to be filled out, submitted, and acknowledged at any of the various vendors that sell ebooks and with whom I will deal directly. So the second part of this is that I need to be an active account for the paperwork to be relevant.

So…(yes, there’s always more), I also submitted the same short story (Echoes) to the Amazon store and the Apple store. The Apple store apparently takes weeks to review an application to become an iBooks seller (it takes time to review every single book, as well). So the book in the iBooks channel, if I have filled everything out correctly, will also not be available for weeks. (I realize this will not be exciting to many people, as Echoes is one of the stories to be found for downloading for free in the sidebar.)

When I started this, I had the naively optimistic view that the bulk of the time would be spent reading, proof-reading (four different passes on Echoes by me alone, in various formats because changing the way text looks changes the way I catch errors); plus two other proof-readers, and etc.

In the case of Echoes, however, the formatting took far more time. The learning curve here (I typed curb originally, go figure) is probably steeper on my end than it would be on many other people’s. I have learned how to format epub, mobi and MS Word for Smashwords .docs. I have also found, downloaded, filled out W-8BENs for various vendors (that was today’s ordeal). I have made accounts and uploaded and downloaded to make sure things actually work, where work in this case means that only on the Kobo is an extra page inserted at the end of every section, for reasons I cannot quite figure out. But this happened with the six Kobo samples I downloaded as well, and those were publisher-created epubs.

So…I wanted to let you all know that this is not part of the mass release (which I had intended to do), and it’s not part of the collected six stories (since it’s only one); it’s kind of a lone, floating denizen, sent out into the wilds because it’s proof of my commercial US presence, which will make the W-8BENs internally relevant to their various vendors, since every entity that sends you any money at all has to have one on file (this would include the agents).

But the other five stories, the collection and with luck, the print-on-demand version of the collection, should appear in a more orderly fashion at the same time (weeks from now), all paperwork having been submitted, all formatting concerns having been addressed, and covers extant. The covers were the easiest part of the process because the person doing those already knows what she’s doing.

At the end of July, I will put up the sample chapter of Cast in Ruin.

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