I just read a great book, a must-read for anyone deeply interested in superheroes. See my review here.
The first half of 2012 has been a great year for both Wearing the Cape and Villains Inc. Both have spent several months among the Top 10 titles in Amazon’s superhero category. WtC remains in the Top 10, while VI holds steady in the Top 20. Not everyone has a Kindle, however, so for readers out there who prefer Barnes and Nobles’ Nook, both titles have now been made available.
It also looks like Wearing the Cape will soon be going international; although both titles have been available in English wherever Amazon has a market, WtC may soon be translated for sale in Italy. I had no idea Italians enjoyed American superhero stories, but perhaps with the international success of The Avengers and the other Marvel superhero movies we shouldn’t be surprised.
So thank you to everybody who has enjoyed the books and shared their enthusiasm–WtC and VI have succeeded almost entirely on word-of-mouth, with only pennies spent on marketing, and the income from these titles has enabled me to work only part-time while continuing my writing; when Bite Me is finished I intend to return to the WtC titles for a third Astra story (with at least 4 or 5 planned to round out the series), and move to finish several long-time projects from years past.
Happy 4th of July!
Due to the number of comments received here and elsewhere, I have arranged to have Villains Inc. Episodes 2-4 reposted on Amazon.com until the end of March. They will be both available for purchase and for the Amazon Prime free-loan program, so all Prime members will be able to read the last episodes of Villains Inc. for free. Again, I apologize for the inconvenience.
I began the episodic-release experiment last year as an experiment in publishing, and I have to conclude it was a successful one; readers who just couldn’t wait to get their Astra-fix got a new episode every month, and with a series of committed deadlines to spur me on, I finished the book sooner.
It had always been my intent to un-publish the episodes once the full novel was complete–the only question was timing. When I published Villains Inc. and VI4 in December, I took down VI2 and VI3, leaving VI1 because of its Amazon Prime status (Prime members could borrow it for a free read before deciding whether to purchase Villains Inc.).
Since its publication, VI4 spent significant time in the Graphic Novel/Superhero category’s Top 10 as all my readers caught up (although, based on the numbers, I’d guess that many simply bought the full novel instead). Since it’s current sales numbers seem to indicate that my patiently-waiting readers have caught up and now new buyers are purchasing it by mistake, I have decided to take VI1 and VI4 down together; a two-month window of availability should be enough.
However there may be stragglers. If so, I encourage anybody who faithfully bought VI1-Vi3 and missed the window to please contact me here; I have made arrangements before and can certainly do so again. One possibility is an announced availability-date during which VI4 will briefly be made available on Amazon again.
And for everyone who has enjoyed Astra’s adventures so far and shared their enjoyment with me and others, thank you.
Marion G. Harmon
Two months into 2012, and a lot has been accomplished; first and most important, the Wearing the Cape trade paperback has been reformatted, re-edited, and re-released. The trade is now slightly bigger (6″x9″) to provide more surface for the awesome cover, and all minor (very minor) edits have been duplicated in the Kindle edition as well.
I still can’t get over the cover art, and how close it comes to my own inner vision of my heroes. Viktoria Gavrilenko is an outstanding new artist.
My main justification for shelling out several hundred dollars for a cover (and another to come for Villains Inc.) is my intent to make a push and get WtC and VI onto the shelves of bookstores and comicstores nationwide. Still not sure of the details, only that it can be done.
As for a sales report, I’m happy to say that WtC and VI are both performing well this quarter. After a deep drop-off at the beginning of the year (experienced by all superhero titles, judging from the Amazon rankings), sales have picked up again and are holding steady at about 20/day for Wearing the Cape and a bit less for Villains Inc.–and I expect VI’s numbers to rise to match WtC now that VI4 is no longer separately available. I have also arranged to raise the price for both books to $4.99–the going rate for indie-published novels that have displayed a good track-record. Since polled Kindle-users consider anything from $.99 to $5.99 an easy impulse buy, and have expressed a perfect willingness to pay full shelf-price ($7.99+) for ebook titles they like, I feel it is time for my books to match current market practices.
The one thing I regret doing is taking Wearing the Cape off of the Amazon Prime list, which means it will no longer be available for free borrowing by Amazon Prime members. I really didn’t want to do this, but Amazon’s exclusive ebook-vendor agreement prohibits Amazon Prime ebooks from being sold through other e-vendors, and I intend to make WtC available on the Nook through Barnes and Noble (my goal for March). So if you have any friends who are Amazon Prime members, let them know that if they want to borrow WtC they had better do so quickly.
One observation I’d like to make, while not exactly news, is that WtC needs good writers. I’m not talking about open-sourcing Hope’s world for other writers–although I may in the future–I’m talking about the future of the superhero genre itself. Watching the Amazon rankings for the past few months, I’ve concluded that Amazon needs to create a new genre-ranking: Superhero Adventure. At this time most superhero stories are dropped into the Graphic Novel/Superhero category. This has the advantage that comic-book fans, looking for graphic-novel collections of their favorite comics, will stumble across these unillustrated superhero stories (and currently four of the Top Five in this category are superhero novels). But the disadvantage is that indie-authors are competing with comic-book companies for ranking positions.
I am firmly convinced that, if more writers can turn out stories like Ex-Heroes/X-Patriots, Confessions of a D-List Supervillain, In Hero Years… I’m dead, and Other People’s Heroes, Amazon will eventually have to create a new category for us–and other works that should be in the superhero category (like George RR Martin’s Wildcards series and Soon I will Be Invincible!) will join us. This will be good for everybody.
A final note: now that the new edition of the WtC trade paperback is out, it’s time to announce the drawing winner. And the winner is… Linda and Dennis! Let me know where to send your autographed copy. Thanks to everybody who gave me their thoughts on the books, and especially those who also expressed themselves on Amazon!
I am thrilled to unveil Wearing the Cape’s new cover-art, done by Viktoria Gavrilenko, an amazing new artist from Stockholm. You can read her profile here (http://viccolatte.deviantart.com); she has been refining her art for the past few years, and I am firmly convinced that she is going to go pro in a big way. Looking at this, can you disagree?
The new cover will be up on Amazon.com as soon as they can change it (it’s already up on the Look Inside function), and anyone who has already purchased the book for their Kindle, who wants to have the new and awesome cover for their book, can send an email to Kindle’s support site asking them to update the novel in their Kindle archives. Once the update is complete, they can reload it onto their Kindle (it looks amazing on the Kindle Fire, and not bad in e-ink).
I am also pleased to announce that Viktoria’s cover will appear on the new trade paperback edition that will be available through Createspace before the end of the month. Anyone who wants the beautifully covered book for their shelf should wait until they see the cover-art change on this page. And, lastly, Viktoria has agreed to do a cover for Villains Inc. as well, which will appear when the second book in the series makes its own trade paperback debut.
Zombies are like credit card payments. If you keep getting rid of the minimum amount, you’ll never win. (From X-Heroes by Peter Cline.)
Amazon has become like its namesake river; deep, dark, populated by secret tribes of headhunters and cannibals…a mystery uncertainly navigated. A short while back I made the pleasant discovery that Amazon was mining purchaser’s archives for highlights.
That’s right; if you highlight passages in you new Kindle ebook, when you sync with your archives you pass on you highlights, bookmarks, and other bits of reader-activity to the men behind the curtains. While Orwell was obsessing about Big Brother, the Salesmen picked apart our privacy for selling pitches.
So now, on many novels published electronically, if you go down past their Amazon reviews, you will find a section called Popular Highlights. In theory, these are bits of the author’s wit and wisdom, lines that resonated deeply enough for the reader to stop and highlight it. Thus the source of the awesome quote that began this blog-post.
Another one: Neurotics build castles in the sky. Psychotics live in them. Psychotherapists collect the rent. This one is from Sugar and Spice, the British psycho-thriller Kindle bestseller by Saffina Desforges. Fourteen Kindle users underlined that one.
I suppose I could be disturbed by this latest piece of electronic transparency, but as a writer I’m feeling too warm and fuzzy right now. On my Wearing the Cape Amazon page, I found ten selected highlights. Of course one of the highlights was simply Villains Inc., Episode One: Preemption. Apparently nine Kindle users decided to highlight the last-page announcement of the sequel’s opening episode. Three others were highlighted quotes from English authors (Shakespeare, Johnson, etc), and one was a nursery rhyme. But five were mine–including perhaps my favorite line (if a writer can have his own favorites), Mrs. Lori’s acerbic dismissal of higher education.
But this got me thinking. One of the things I’ve really missed, with my fairly small alpha and beta-reader pools, is reader input. I am grateful to the Amazon reviewers who have gone beyond the standard thumbs-up (or thumbs-down), to tell me why they liked it, who they liked, etc. And feedback does make a difference; Bite Me is being written because of readers asking for more Artemis. But, being greedy, I want more.
So, here’s the deal: I’m getting ready to re-release the trade paperback of Wearing the Cape, with minor editorial corrections and a brand new, and truly awesome, cover. And I want to hear from everybody. So everyone who posts a reply to this over on my other blog (A Writer in Vegas), at least five sentences long, telling me their Faves (favorite characters, favorite lines, favorite scenes…), goes in the hat. When I publish the new edition with its new cover, one lucky poster gets a signed copy.
Feedback. Give me feedback. Believe it or not, it does make a difference; who knows what comments might make a difference in the next Astra story.
Happy New Year! For everyone who’s been patiently waiting, Villains Inc. Episode Four will be available on Amazon.com sometime tomorrow, along with Wearing the Cape: Villains Inc. (the complete novel). For more on this breaking story, see my writer’s blog: A Writer In Vegas.
A week behind schedule, but Villains Inc., Episode Three: Countermoves is now available on Amazon. Go to A Writer In Vegas for more details.