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How I see libraries.

 

I happened to stop in the library of a community library the other day. It looked gorgeous. It was bright and open with lots of couches and armchairs. I walked around looking for the books and only found a small area of about half a dozen rows of books.

I thought there must be other stacks somewhere else. I walked up the librarian and asked where their local history area was. She took me back to the shelves and pointed out the small area to me. I asked her where the other books were.

She said that the shelves held all of the physical books they had. The rest of their library was digital. So this community college has a library that is smaller than the library of the typical elementary school.

I was floored by this.

I am not against ebooks. I read them and listen to them often. However, when I research, I like having the book open in front of me (usually multiple books).

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How my desk usually looks when I’m researching. It wouldn’t be easy to do with e-books.

The librarians seemed unconcerned that they were nearly all digital, but I know a lot of the books that I use for research are not available in a digital form. They are too old and aren’t seen as having enough interest to justify digitizing them. I’ve also heard people complain about modern texts being digital because their layouts can be awkward to use, particularly if there are charts and other graphics in the book. These are just the types of books that I would expect to find in a college library.

The small liberal arts college near my house has a nice multi-floor library with some of the floors filled nearly entirely with books.

I’m not saying that e-books don’t belong in a college library, but it seems that in the case of the community college, the physical books were sacrificed.

Am I wrong in thinking this? What are your thoughts?

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Smashwords kicked off its 8th Annual Read an Ebook Week yesterday. It’s a giant promotion of ebooks published on its platform. Thousands, maybe even tens of thousands of ebooks are discounted anywhere from 25 to 100 percent from March 5-11.

It’s a great opportunity to get a great deal on ebooks from new authors. Because Smashwords is an aggregator, meaning they distribute their books to around two dozen ebookstores, you can find an ebook that fits your ebook readers.

I checked the promotion and saw that 10 of my books have been included. I’ve got history, historical fiction, biography, young adult, and horror titles that are part of the promotion. So if you are looking to stock up on some of my titles, here’s your chance.

50% Off Books

Saving Shallmar: Christmas Spirit in a Coal Town ($4.00 promotional price)

9f2a936d3ba79285caad2a928ffd477705b98828-thumbIn fall turned to winter in 1949, the residents of Shallmar, Maryland, were starving. The town’s only business, the Wolf Den Coal Corp. had closed down, unemployment benefits had ended and few coal miners had cars to drive to other jobs. When children started fainting in school, Principal J. Paul Andrick realized the dire situation the town was in and set out to help.

 

 

October Mourning: A Novel of the 1918 Spanish Flu Pandemic ($3.00 promotional price)

cabd7e2edf73bcd3295d24eba5d467e89829e78c-thumbIn October 1918, Spanish Flu left behind 40 million dead. In Cumberland, Md., Dr. Alan Keener wants to take steps to prevent its spread, but he is met with resistance from old-school doctors who believe that the flu’s deadliness is overblown and easily treated. His work is complicated as a street preacher named Kolas aids the flu’s spread.

 

 

Beyond the Battlefield: Stories from Gettysburg’s Rich History ($4.00 promotional price)

58bc7189378b3328a38ab711142c5868a7e9cef2-thumbBeyond the Battlefield is a collection of 47 true stories and 56 photos that tell the history of Gettysburg and vicinity beyond the famous Civil War battle.

 

 

 

A Byte-Sized Friend (Hackers #1) ($3.50 promotional price)

e0da6fbdc837e571342e9880a63a6abed1279ea2-thumbChris Alten’s world is limited to the wheelchair that an accident has confined him to. He is lucky, though. The same accident killed his father. Chris also has a mysterious new friend whom he meets online and shows him a brand-new world where he can once again walk. This new world comes with its own dangers when it is discovered that Chris’s new friend is an artificial intelligence program.

 

 

25% Off Books

Clay Soldiers: One Marine’s Story of War, Art, & Atomic Energy ($5.99 promotional price)

096b0d8946bc2b824034ba68d473b09b647f2bb2-thumbChuck Caldwell is a WWII vet and Purple Heart winner who has met Civil War soldiers, fought at Guadalcanal and Tarawa, and studied atomic bomb explosions in Nevada. Through it all, he painted and sculpted miniature figures that have become sought after by collectors around the country. Clay Soldiers is the story of a man who became part of the history of America and chronicled it through his art.

 

FREE Books

My Little Angel

e64185333e93433b9b7be9da00c1e7585bd02946-thumbJanet Sinclair is not looking forward to her first Christmas without her daughter. Janet still doesn’t know how she will go on without Danielle. Then Janet receives a beautiful porcelain angel that looks so much like Danielle that she can’t bear to look at it. As Janet tries to deal with Christmas, she finds out that the angel is more than just an ornament.

 

 

When the Babe Came to Town: Stories of George Herman Ruth’s Small-Town Baseball Games

85d5ff6c190421c86439ef06e7dfef0c142737f0-thumb“Babe” Ruth was a baseball legend. You can find out why in “When the Babe Came to Town.” This book shows how the Babe connected with the fans through his many exhibition and barnstorming games.”When the Babe Came to Town” is a collection of some of these stories highlighting games that Babe Ruth played in Emmitsburg, Maryland; York, Pennsylvania; Oakland, California and Cumberland, Maryland.

 

The Race (Canawlers, Book 4)

295dc0e85e623c2c13f705aa78fdc5168b1c4bc3-thumbFollow the lives of the Fitzgerald family on the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal as Tony and Thomas Fitzgerald race their canal barge against a train. If you enjoyed “Canawlers” and “Between Rail and River” by James Rada, you’ll want to follow this adventure set a few years after the Civil War during the canal’s heyday. Originally published as a limited-edition chapbook for CanalFest 2003.

 

 

Welcome to Peaceful Journey

8c8a7ab5d44d5d8a40c59c4f008be84ed971912b-thumbA collection of short stories featuring the most-unusual funeral home you will ever see. Welcome to Peaceful Journey Funeral where the journey from life to death can be anything but peaceful.

 

 

 

Kachina

ae894698c3f44c84c60a38c4864370d5cea5158c-thumbDavid Purcell was on his way to meet his girlfriend when he fell into a cave. Now he can’t remember the five weeks he spent in the cave. With the help of Adam Maho, a Hopi, David discovers that he must remember that lost time if he if he going to stop the ancient Hopi evil, the dark kachinas, from being released into the world again. To do so, David will have to find his way back to Kuskurza.

UntitledIf you’re a fan of Edgar Allan Poe, The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe solves the mystery of the great writer’s murder, and you can get it FREE on Kindle until Jan. 13.

You might be thinking that Poe wasn’t murdered. He died in a hospital. You’re wrong.

While he did die at the Washington Medical Center, before that, he was found delirious on the streets of Baltimore and wearing clothes that were not his own. He was admitted to the hospital where he died without explaining what had happened to himself. One clue to what happened to him was that he shouted the name “Reynolds” before he died.

The hospital and its records were later destroyed in a fire, so we’re left with theory and conjecture about how the Master of the Macabre died. One person knows how the Father of the Modern Mystery died, and that person is …

The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe.

This is his story, although it reads like one of Poe’s horror tales.

Alexander Reynolds has been known by many names in his long life, the most famous of which is Lazarus, the man raised from the dead by Christ. Matthew Cromwell is another resurrected being living an extended life. Eternal life has its cost, though, whether or not Alexander and Matthew want to pay it.

Alexander has already seen Matthew kill Edgar’s mother and he is determined to keep the same fate from befalling Edgar.

From the time of Christ to the modern days of the Poe Toaster, The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe is a sweeping novel of love, terror, and mystery that could have come from the imagination of Edgar Allan Poe himself.

Get Your Copy Here

From the reviewers:

  • “Impressively original, exceptionally well written, absolutely absorbing from beginning to end, ‘The Man Who Killed Edgar Allan Poe’ showcases author J. R. Rada’s outstanding skills as a novelist. ” – Reviewer’s Bookwatch
  • “…this fictional nail-biting account of the two men whose blood feud brought about Edgar’s death. … it’s a great ride through suspense, horror, and mystery – worthy of the writer for whom the novel takes license.” – Allegany Magazine

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swlogoWhen I started putting out my books as ebooks, I was initially overwhelmed. Just consider all of the platforms that sell ebooks: Kindle, Nook, Kobo, iBooks and Overdrive to name a few. Was I going to have to prepare my manuscript to meet the standards of each one?

Then I discovered Smashwords.com. It’s an aggregator of e-book platforms. I could upload my book once and have it converted to all of the necessary e-publishing platforms and then appear on the different sites. It was a godsend.

The site is pretty easy to use, too. You fill out book information and then upload a cover and the interior of the book. Smashwords converts the book into the appropriate platforms and then sends it out to the different retailers.

The one problem I have found myself having of late is that to qualify for a listing with all of those retailers, you have to format your book to certain specs. It was no problem for my novels. I just followed the tips that Mark Coker, the owner, posts for formatting and the process went smoothly.

The problem I run into is with my non-fiction books, which contain pictures. The pictures apparently cause a lot of problems in the conversion process. I must have tried six times to get my last book uploaded properly, but something kept going wrong. I think I may have it figured out, though, so I’ve got my fingers crossed for the next book I upload. (FYI, I will be setting my pictures at 96 dpi instead of 300 dpi. The latter is the standard for print publication. Since I’m not doing the print version, the web standard for pictures works fine.)

I haven’t made as much use of Smashwords as I can, which is something I’m trying to remedy. The site offers some useful tools for indie authors. You can easily change the book pricing. Unlike Amazon KDP, Smashwords allows you to make your books free of charge for an indefinite period. You can also alter how much someone can read of your book for free.

You can also use a set of marketing tools. Create coupons. Post an author interview. Link books in a series together.

These are just a few things that I’ve discovered so far.

Despite the advantages of using Smashwords, I also use Amazon KDP for the Kindle versions of my books. It does require some extra work to prepare the manuscript again, but most Kindle users buy their Kindle e-books from Amazon. I found that when I started publishing directly with Amazon KDP, my Kindle sales jumped considerably.

Still, uploading two versions of my books is a far cry from having to upload six versions. Now I just need to find the best ways to use the marketing tools at my disposal.

As my income from ebooks continues growing, I find myself paying more and more attention to the trends in the market. My income is not at the level where I think it could be so I can see a large market that I’m not fully going after yet.

I know some readers don’t enjoy reading ebooks, but the market for them is still going strong. Sometimes that can be hard to tell from the reports that you read. Depending on the source of ebook data, it can be very skewed.

  • Some studies only look at ebooks with an ISBN number: More and more e-books are being published without one, though, because it’s not needed. My physical books need one to make it easy for bookstores to use. My Kindle ebooks get an Amazon code for tracking through their system so I don’t need an ISBN, which saves me money.
  • Some studies include all ebooks, including free copies: Free copies will make your sales numbers increase, but they aren’t really sales in my mind. The author isn’t getting anything out of the transaction. Ebook sellers will separate free and paid bestsellers because a book has more value when a reader
  • Paid sales do include reduced-price ebooks: Selling a book at a reduced price will certainly bump up your sales and it can be argued that if you run a lower-price offer for a book that is normally sold at a higher price, the results will be somewhat skewed when comparing that title to other ones. However, the same is true for physical books that are sold at a discount in bookstores.

Another author introduced me to Authorearnings.com. It shows the most-complete picture I’ve seen of the market and breaks it out in ways that I understand.

The most-recent report that looks at the previous 23 months ending in February 2016 shows that indie-published ebooks account for nearly half of e-book paid sales while the ebooks from the big publishers has fallen off dramatically. This seems to dovetail with the news that Amazon gave the big publishers more control over the pricing of their titles.

From my experience, I’ve seen titles from my favorite big-name authors priced at $7.99 or higher. I am reluctant to pay that much for an ebook unless I really, really want it. This doesn’t happen much because I’ve got something like 40 ebooks on my reader that I haven’t read yet. Instead of buying that high-priced book, I put it on my wish list and check to see if it goes on sales. Meanwhile, I’ll read my other unread books. It’s a pile that never seems to shrink because I do buy books by new authors who have priced their books very competitively.

Ebooks should be priced lower than paperbacks since there are no physical costs to producing them. It’s not devaluing the product, it’s just pricing it reasonably. You wouldn’t expect to pay hardback prices for a paperback book. That’s because the production costs of a hardback are more than a paperback. The same thing holds true for ebooks vs. paperbacks or hardbacks.

This difference in pricing strategies between indie publishers and traditional publishers can be seen in this chart.

gross-sales-trend-20160110

From Authorearnings.com

Indie books sell for less and so they generate fewer overall dollars (45% of unit sales but only 25% of dollars). That fine because ebooks are very profitable for an indie author.

Selling a $25 hardback earns the author around $3.25 (15%) and selling an $8 paperback earns the author around 80 cents (10%).

An ebook priced at $8 will earn the indie author about $5.40 (68%). A traditionally published author will be lucky to earn $3.20 (40%) from the sale.

An indie author selling a $5 ebook will make around $3.40 (68%). That means indie authors can sell their books at a lower price and earn more per copy than traditionally published authors get from selling higher-priced ebook or even hardback books. In addition, the lower price of an indie ebook helps it sell more copies.

The reader gets a value-priced ebook and the author gets a higher royalty. There’s nothing wrong with that unless you’re a traditional publisher.

 

Publication1

Here is the short fiction that I’ve published electronically. Two are novellas and two are short collections. Two also have previews of novels with the same characters in them.

I waver back and forth as to whether I like e-books or physical books better. Both have their advantages, but one of e-books biggest advantages is that it has brought back the viability of short fiction.

I remember when I was writing a lot of short fiction back in the 1990s that a professional rate was considered 3 cents a word or more. That means you needed to get paid at least $75 on a 2,500 word short story. At the time, I was making at least 10 times that amount for a non-fiction article. Plus, the market for non-fiction is much larger.

While some novellas could be published as chapbooks, it could be costly, both for the publisher and the reader. I independently published a 65-page novella that I needed to retail at $5.99. That was really too much for a novella that size, but between the printing costs and the retailer cut, that’s what was needed to make it financially viable.

The one area that did work for short fiction was a collection or participating in an anthology. For me, anthologies were always iffy because I usually bought one because a favorite author of mine was part of it, but usually there were other stories in it that I really didn’t like. With short story collections, my impression is that they never seemed to be as big a seller as a novel by the same author.

Then along came e-books.

You can publish a novella and price it at a $1.99. You can publish a short-story collection, just a couple short stories, or even a single story and price them appropriately. Electronic publishing opened up a lot of new avenues for short fiction. These new avenues can pay royalties indefinitely, eventually making the author a lot more money than he or she would earn from publishing a single story in a magazine.

Short fiction e-publishing also makes a great marketing tool. First, these e-books are usually priced very affordably so that a reader would be willing to try out a new author. Second, these e-books can be offered as perma-free without the author feeling he or she is giving up a large royalty. Third, short e-books can be used to promote upcoming novels.

I have seen the latter happening more and more. The author has a new novel coming out in the fall. In the spring a short story is released for 99 cents. Besides the short story, there is usually a preview of the new novel attached at the back of the story. As an added benefit, publishing short fiction along with your novels helps keep your name out in front of readers.

As a reader as well as a writer, I’m happy to see the resurgence of short fiction. I’ve got quite a few on my e-reader that I read and enjoy.

Publication1For a limited time, I am offering three of my historical novels for free. If you’ve been reading my blog and enjoying the posts, here’s your chance to grab three free novels. By clicking on this link and signing up, you’ll be able to download Canawlers, The Rain Man, and October Mourning.

Canawlers is my favorite among the historical fiction novels that I’ve written. It follows the Fitzgerald Family as they try to keep their canal boat running along the 185-mile-long C&O Canal during the Civil War.

Midwest Book Review wrote, “A powerful, thoughtful and fascinating historical novel, Canawlersdocuments author James Rada, Jr. as a writer of considerable and deftly expressed storytelling talent.”

I wrote this book after biking the C&O Canal with my wife. Up until that point, I had little interest in history, but I fell in love with the canal and wanted to tell a story set on it.

The Rain Man is set during the 1936 St. Patrick’s Day Flood on the Potomac River. It was a devastating flood. If you ever get a chance to go to historic Harpers Ferry, there’s a building there with all the flood high-water marks on it. The one for 1936 is the highest mark on the building and well above the first floor. A flood like that seemed like a great setting for a novel.

This Rain Man is a mystery thriller set during the day of the flood as a Cumberland City police officer pursues a killer through a city that is quickly being submerged.

In the fall of 1918, Spanish Flu killed around 60 million people worldwide in two months. That was about 2 percent of the world’s population. People were terrified and with good reason. It is the deadliest disease known to man and no one knew how to stop it.

Now imagine that someone was deliberately aiding in the spread of the flu? That’s the idea behind October Mourning.

Reviewer’s Bookwatch said, “This is a very good, and very easy to read, novel about a famous, yet unknown, bit of 20th Century American history.”

There’s no trick involved here. I’m working on building my mailing list, and as a way to say “Thanks for signing up,” I’m offering these e-books for free. Their normal retail price would be $16. Enjoy them, and let me know what you think.

https://aimpublishing.leadpages.co/fb-hf-box-set-test/

I had an e-mail in my inbox this morning about a new program at Amazon called Kindle Scout. It is being billed as “a new reader-powered publishing program where readers help discover the next great books.”

The book is posted as part of the program and readers nominate the ones they like. Readers can nominate a book a month. The books that receive the most nominations will be published by Amazon.

Those who nominate the winning books receive a free, early copy to review and talk about to create some pre-publication momentum. The book will also receive some Amazon promotional help. It will be enrolled into the Kindle Lending Library and Kindle Unlimited as well as be eligible for targeted email campaigns and promotions.

Have any of you heard of it? It sounds interesting to me and I am considering submitting a book to the program just to see if it is accepted and how it will do.

According to the e-mail a new never-before-published novel is submitted as a Kindle book to be considered for a publishing contract with Kindle Press.  One drawback for me that I saw is that the program is for romance, mystery, thriller, science fiction, fantasy, and mainstream fiction. So my historical fiction and nonfiction is apparently out of the running.

I’ve been working on expanding into new genres with a pen name, though. So I am thinking about submitting one of those manuscripts.

At first, I was going to pass on trying for the program because I can already get a Kindle book published and keep the 70 percent royalty myself. Kindle Scout offers only a 50 percent royalty. However, Kindle Scout offers a $1,500 advance.

I also don’t like too much that Kindle Scout gets worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages. I could sell print rights, but I don’t sell a lot of print books internationally. Although I sell most of my ebooks on Amazon, other platforms tend to be stronger internationally and I won’t be able to list my book on Kobo and Apple, for instance.

Amazon is also asking for these rights for five years. That’s a long time. Now, there is a caveat that if the author doesn’t get at least $25,000 ($5,000 a year on average) from that agreement, then the author can cancel the contract. Otherwise, Amazon can renew the contract under the same conditions in five year increments.

On the low end, if Amazon totally fails to be able to market the book, then the author can get his or her rights back in two years. A failure would be the book garnering less than $500 in royalties in the preceding 12 months. I think that’s a good deal.

Find out more information about the program here.

So what do you think about the program? It seems like it’s a relatively good deal to me unless I’m missing something big. Authors give up some things that I would like to keep, but in giving up those things, I think authors get something better.

Get 3 FREE E-books!

Sign up for my newsletter using the link above and you will get copies of Canawlers, October Mourning, and The Rain Man for FREE.
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