Cover Art for the Upcoming Powder Mage Novella

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I've dropped a lot of hints recently (especially if you follow me on Twitter) about my latest little side project, a Powder Mage novella. It's coming along nicely. The cover art is finished and the manuscript has gone through numerous edits and two rounds of beta-readers. If everything stays on schedule, I'll finish another edit tomorrow and send it off to the copyeditor, then final edits next week and a release of 1/26/14 on Kindle, Nook, Kobo, and directly from me. The novella takes place 35 years before Promise of Blood. For reference, "Hope's End" takes place about 18 years before PoB and "The Girl of Hrusch Avenue" is about 10 years before PoB.

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"Erika ja Leora is a powder mage in northern Kez, a place where that particular sorcery is punishable by death. She is only protected by her family name and her position as heir to a duchy.

When she decides to help a young commoner—a powder mage marked for death, fugitive from the law—she puts her life and family reputation at risk and sets off to deliver her new ward to the safety of Adro while playing cat and mouse with the king's own mage hunters and their captain, Duke Nikslaus."

Second Series

I can finally announce, to my great excitement, that I will be writing three more books for Orbit after the end of the Powder Mage Trilogy! The deal was nailed down by my awesome agent, Caitlin Blasdell, of Liza Dawson Associates. I will continue to be edited by the wonderful, fantastically foul-mouthed Devi Pillai.

The new series will take place in the Powder Mage universe ten years after the end of the first trilogy. It will follow soldiers, politicians, Privileged sorcerers, and powder mages through a conflict on a distant continent. I probably shouldn't say much more about it, as even mentioning the viewpoints could cause spoilers for the first three books. I will say that all the viewpoints will be new (though some of the characters will certainly be familiar).

Obviously this is still a ways off. The Crimson Campaign is finished and in production (due out in February), and I'm working on book three which is penciled in for the beginning of 2015. I imagine that the soonest we'll see the new series is at the end of that year. In the meantime, you can get your hands on my Powder Mage short stories "The Girl of Hrusch Avenue" and "Hope's End." I plan on trying to put out a new Powder Mage short story every three months or so for the foreseeable future.

Oh, and Promise of Blood is still on sale for $1.99 in North America.

Huzzah!

The results of the "Where do you buy your ebooks?" poll

Four days ago (which is something akin to 17 years in internet time) I put up a poll in which I asked people "Where do you buy your genre ebooks?" You can find the original poll here and still vote if you so desire, but the votes petered off a couple days ago so I figured I'd post the results. ebook poll

I'm sure I missed a couple notable ebook vendors like Google Play, though I have the feeling that their market share is negligible.

Now, 279 isn't a huge sample. I know. And I'm sure there are variables. I posted said poll on Twitter and Facebook and Reddit's r/fantasy and I'm guessing that my sample skewed quite young (even younger than the average ebook buyer). There is certainly a huge margin of error. I'm going to just pretend I don't know anything about polling and statistics - because I don't - and just forge ahead with some observations.

A lot of Twitter friends are exclaiming surprise over the 13% who say they prefer to pirate. I'm not all that surprised about it. Pirating work is not uncommon and what harm is there in answering the affirmative on an anonymous poll?

I don't like the idea of such a high percentage but I don't really see the need to get worked up about the whole thing. I'm certain that some of those are people who buy the hardcover and feel entitled to a free ebook. Some of those are people who want to sample and will then buy a hard copy. And the majority are those that just aren't going to pay money for it anyways so hey, maybe they'll at least tell their friends.

Of course Amazon has the lion's share. Which comes as a surprise to exactly nobody. As you'll see below, Amazon has a much bigger piece of the cake of my own short story.

In order to compare this to something else, I put it up next to the only other data set I have access to: the ebook sales for "The Girl of Hrusch Avenue." Which are thus:

  • Amazon: 90.7%
  • Nook: 7%
  • Kobo: 1.5%
  • Direct: 0.7%

I don't sell on iBook or Sony Reader, nor do I have an "other" column. Obviously I don't have access to pirate numbers although I have to say skimping on $.99 is pretty damn cheap. The Nook is spot on, but the Kobo and Direct sales are off. Now, TGoHA is a short story so that may have something to do with the way people decide to buy it, if at all.

Anyways, I'd be interested in seeing a take on this from other authors who have access to ebook numbers of their own. Do you have similar results? Will you share them (not the numbers themselves, but the percentage of sales maybe)?

My Kindle 3 Review

The Good:
Screen size and weight. It feels like holding a (very) light paperback. I had no problems reading on my back for hours, holding the screen over my head (can't say the same for a Steven Erikson hardcover). The print size is adjustable for those with bad eyesight though I kept it at a standard paper-back sized font.
Didn't hurt my eyes one bit. The e-ink technology they use feels to the eyes just like reading a regular book and I don't know if I will ever touch my Kindle for PC application again.
The web browser is more of a pleasant bonus than anything else. As one of those barbarians without a smart phone it will be nice for checking things on wikipedia or reading my daily blogs when I'm someplace without my computer (but with wireless, for I did not get the 3G model for the extra $50).
It can hold MP3s. I'm sure I read this somewhere before buying, but it surprised me anyway. I threw a couple episodes of Writing Excuses on there yesterday but for anyone with an MP3 player this really isn't that fantastic. It doesn't have a lot of memory but will be a good place to keep audio books--if I ever buy one. What it does not have is a navigable menu for your MP3s; simply a press and play.

The "Meh":
The web browser goes under this, too. It has a tough time rendering pictures and can be slow and choppy. It has an awkward cursor thing that lets you navigate but is less than functional if you're in a hurry or at all impatient.
The touted free ebook archive we've heard so much about is kinda underwhelming. I'd hoped for something that I could browse during work, plucking this book and that and whisking it to my kindle. Instead I found links to several websites (archive.org, openlibrary.org, and gutenburg.org) not a single one of which I found "browseable." Go ahead and call me lazy. I don't mind. It just didn't live up to my expectations. I'd hoped to have hundreds of awesome old books on my kindle in a few days. I'm up to about sixteen that caught my interest and those were mostly childhood reads (Les Mis, Count of Monte Cristo, etc). If a book is public domain and you know exactly what you want, you will probably find it on one of those sites. But don't expect to jump on the internet and fill your bookshelf. Running down a brightly lit bookstore aisle with a shopping cart and carte-blanche this is not.

The Coolest Thing So Far:
I figured out how to put my own work on the kindle. It's really quite simple once you figure out how to save your files and where to put them. The formatting isn't perfect and I won't be able to effectively edit on the thing. What makes me the most excited is my ability to have a non-editing, comfortable read through of one of my books without having to sit at the computer. I kicked back on the couch and read Drums of War on and off throughout the last day and a half and was delighted.
It gave me a feel for how the book would look on a printed page. It didn't hurt my eyes or back and it didn't feel at all like a chore or work. It felt like I was on my couch reading a paperback. And that alone may be worth getting a kindle.

Ebooks and a New Project

About eight weeks ago my wife asked me what I thought about the Kindle. My response was something along the lines of "It's a vanity toy for technocrats and businessmen."

Yeah, I said that. I'm not proud.

Over the holiday season I read a slew of blogs and articles about ebooks ranging from fear that they're going to drive publishers out of business to jubilation that the next real thresh hold of printing technology has been reached.

I'm withholding judgment for now, and I may be for another twenty years because ereaders and the like are going to continue to change and develop just as fast as any other technology. I do think the development is wonderful. I also think it's scary, as I'll be entering my own writing career during a wave of changing practices and technologies and if I or any of the people I work with make the wrong decision at some point it could cost me a career--or at least hamper it decently.

I've done a lot of reading about ereaders lately. I have to admit. They look fun. Between constant promotional sales by some of my favorite authors like Steven Erikson and the giant library of free books Amazon has, I've decided it would be both practical and enjoyable. Mostly enjoyable.

So, tail between my legs, I went to Michele the other day and admitted I wanted a Kindle for my birthday. I've dropped some not-so-subtle hints to family members and maybe I can schmooze save up enough to buy one.