Monday, July 29, 2013

The ElectroLive Murders

The first title I ever put up on Kindle, and the first effort I made at self-publishing, was my novelette The ElectroLive Murders. Originally I published it under the pen-name Don Broma because I was worried that self-publishing a piece would hurt my chances of pursuing traditional publication with other projects, and so I wanted to keep my real name hidden. Since then there have been plenty of high-profile deals offered to authors who came to attention because of their self-publishing efforts, so the same taboos don't really apply--and I've also decided that I'm not really that interested in pursuing a traditional deal, anyway. So, when I put Blood Brothers up on Kindle, I went back and changed the author name to my real name.

I recently went through the process of adding this title to the nook store, and doing so refreshed my memory about it. I still think it's a great story, lots of fun, with a compelling hard-boiled tone and some novel sci-fi ideas. I don't think it's managed to find the audience it deserves yet, but we'll see if making it available on nook helps.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

why I write and why I publish

The Amazon reviews are starting to show up for Blood Brothers, including a particularly extensive and thoughtful take on the characters and the story by "humanitysdarkerside", who also has a blog and posted the review there.

Getting a review like this--a review that shows an attentive reading by someone who enjoyed the book--is incredibly fulfilling to me. The main reason I write is because I love words and I love getting lost in my own imagination. But the reason I publish is because I hope that people will read what I've written and feel some sort of connection to it. I think this review shows that connection, and I'm both thrilled and grateful for it.

The offer I mentioned in my last post is still on the table: I'll gladly send a free eBook copy of Blood Brothers to anybody that's willing to write a review of it. Please email me if you're interested: mf.soriano {at} yahoo {dot} com

my take on J.K Rowling's pen-name news, and an offer to my "potential fans"

A recent piece of news that caught my attention: J.K. Rowling outed as author of acclaimed crime novel 'The Cuckoo's Calling'

If you click the link you'll get a story that leads with flattery about the crime novel in question. The article's first sentence says the book has been "hailed as one of the best debut detective stories in years". Two sentences later we're told that Rowling's "cover was blown when the Sunday Times newspaper became suspicious that such an assured piece of writing could have been created by a first-time novelist".

In other words, the news story's angle is that this is a great book, and the book's very greatness is what led to Rowling being outed as the author.

Sort of makes me wonder if the story was written for a newspaper that's owned by the same company that owns Rowling's publisher. The article reads more like a publicity piece for a product than a news article.

It isn't until the eighth paragraph in the article that you read this: "The novel had sold around 1,500 copies in hardback. However, in the hours after Rowling was named as its author, it shot up the bestseller charts. It was listed as the third biggest seller on on Sunday"

I saw, in another article elsewhere, that the book was released eleven weeks ago.

So, 1500 copies in 77 days, or about 19 copies a day, which puts it at the 4,709th place on Amazon's bestseller list. And now, after it's revealed that Rowling is the author, the book moves 25K units overnight, and Rowling is #1.

There's a lot you can read between the lines with this story. You might wonder, for example, if the "outing" was truly the result of a reporter's canny sleuthing, or whether it was information deliberately leaked in order to create a story (and sell lots of books).

But what I'm most interested in is this: the article says the book was critically respected upon it's release, and it got a decent release boost from a major publisher (Little, Brown & Company), and yet it was only selling 19 copies a day. I haven't read the book, but if we go with the critical consensus and say it's really good, we're left with the knowledge that a really good book, in a popular genre (crime fiction) is still, despite how good it is, not going to sell very many copies if its author is unknown.

Where does that leave people like me? I think my book Blood Brothers is an excellent book, but I'm a no-name author who has chosen to forgo the traditional publishing route, and therefor has no big business to help get me the book out there. I don't even have access to the "critics" who "acclaimed" The Cuckoo's Calling. Furthermore, Blood Brothers is in a less-popular genre (Fantasy), and it's pretty unorthodox for the genre it falls into.

In other words, everything indicates that Blood Brothers doesn't have a chance of selling any copies, let alone 19 a day (let alone 25K overnight).

And you know what? I'm okay with that.

I still feel like it's a great book. I still had a lot of fun writing it, and I'm still very proud to think of what I managed to pull off. In the end, that's what matters to me.

But, because I love the book, I'm still willing to put some energy into trying to help it find an audience. And the idea I've got now is this:

If you want to read Blood Brothers, I'll give you an eBook copy for free if you agree to write a review. Email me: mf.soriano {at} yahoo {dot} com

(Two people have taken me up on the offer so far. Will you be the third?)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

emotionally driven horror

Since I've already posted excerpts featuring the other two characters in Blood Brothers, I figured I'd post a third excerpt to introduce Athemon. While Grillis's point of view lends itself to descriptions of action, and Verlvik's POV lingers on metaphysical and mystical experiences, Athemon perspective results from a lifetime of vicious racial oppression. He's been viciously traumatized, he's got a huge chip on his shoulder, and he is just beginning to discover the power to give back some of the pain he's been given. So, a lot of the scenes shown through Athemon's eyes are shown through the lens of horror. Here's an example:

A hard shove knocked him out of his reverie, knocked him hard enough to make him sprawl on the ground. He rolled over quickly to face his assailant.

It was Hanswerth.

“Good morning, horn-head,” the portly bully said cheerfully. “What are you doing out of your pen?”

Jollsen and Rogyle, standing on either side of Hanswerth, chuckled at their leader’s wit.

Athemon looked up at them, saying nothing. He thought of his father’s warning the day before: don’t provoke the humans, or you will not be able to stay in this house.

Hanswerth smiled down at Athemon for a moment, and then abruptly dropped the smile. “Stand up when I’m talking to you, caprine,” he said.

Athemon stood up warily, careful not to look the butcher’s son in the eye.

“You should be happy I’m talking to you,” Hanswerth said. “You should be grateful for every chance you get to speak with your superiors. Come on, horn-head. Let me see you smile.”

Athemon’s face flushed dark with anger.

“I said smile!” Hanswerth barked.

Athemon closed his eyes, and thought of his father’s command: be humble. A sick feeling filled his stomach. He focused on the corners of his mouth, tried to lift them, willed his lips into a thin smile. It isn’t easy to smile when you feel like crying, but he did his best.

And then a heavy hand smashed into his mouth like a brick. His knees dropped out from under him, and he sprawled in the trash again. His mouth began to fill with a salt-copper taste, and a thin flow of blood streamed out over his chin. He thought of his uncle: we must punish the body to fight the sin. He thought of his father: be humble.

“What do you think you’re smiling at, you dirty goat-son bastard?” Hanswerth shouted. He sank his boot into Athemon’s side with a thud. The small caprine felt his ribs crack, felt a sharp ache spread up through his spine to his brain. He fell onto his side, and curled into a ball of agony.

Be humble. Punish the body to fight the sin.

For several moments Athemon knew nothing but pain. And then, as the rest of the world came back, he could feel the three boys standing over him. Their hate washed down on him like heat from the sun.

“Actually, we’re glad to find you, Athemon,” Hanswerth said, sounding jolly again. “You can help us clear something up. Thanks to you, we know that caprines really do have horns. But we still don’t know if their balls are pointed like a goat’s.”

Athemon felt hands grabbing at the waistline of his trousers, nearly pulling him off the ground. He tried to push the hands away, but a fist smashed across his face again. He heard his uncle’s voice: punish the body to fight the sin. The hands ripped at the drawstring to his trousers. He heard his father’s voice: be humble.

And then he heard another voice, a calm voice, a deep voice. He heard it more clearly than the cruel laughter of his tormentors, more clearly than the beating of his own harried heart. Burn them, Athemon, the voice said. Burn them!

A sudden rage filled him, flooding through his body like his blood itself was molten. The pain in his lip, the sharp ache in his ribs, fed that rage, stoked it like fuel thrown on a fire. He drew on the rage, pulled it into his heart, embraced it. It burned like a firestorm behind his sternum, growing and growing. And just when he thought he might explode from the power of his hate, he channeled that power into his outstretched hands. Athemon opened his eyes, saw heat bending the air around his hands, saw Hanswerth leering down at him. He reached out with both hands, grabbing the bully by the face, driving his thumbs into the butcher boy’s eyes. Burn them, Athemon! Burn them!

Sudden screaming brought him back to his senses. The air was thick with the stench of burnt meat. Athemon looked up, saw Rogyle and Jollsen standing back, a terrified expression on their faces.

“Look at his eyes,” Jollsen said. “Look at Athemon’s eyes!”

They turned and ran, stumbling in the trash, clawing past each other in their desperate need to escape.

The screaming hadn’t stopped. Athemon looked down at his hands, saw them clutching Hanswerth’s face, thumbs still buried in the fat bully’s eyes. He pulled his hands back. The bully’s eyes were now smoldering sockets, blood running from them like tears. And where Athemon’s hands had touched the bully’s face, the skin had blackened and burned away, exposing the muscle, tendon, even the underlying bone in certain places.

Athemon stood up, and looked at Hanswerth with fascination. The bully writhed on the ground like a wretched animal, his mouth still stretched wide with screaming. Athemon thought of all the cruel laughter that had come out of that mouth, all the harsh words and hateful taunting. And then he thought of his father’s command: be humble, don’t provoke the humans. He realized now that he could not return to his father’s house.

Pickers scattered throughout the dump were watching him, he realized also. There were a few destitute humans, one filthy dwarf, and even a handful of caprines. None of them had come to help him when the bullies were attacking him. But he hadn’t needed their help. Thinking about that, he reached up and touched the leather skullcap on his head. “I don’t need their help,” he said aloud, and then pulled the skullcap off.

Hanswerth was still screaming. Athemon wadded the skullcap up and used it to plug the fat oaf’s mouth. Then he lifted the corners of his own mouth in a smile. It was an honest smile, though the bully wasn’t able to see it.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

my experience with eBookBooster

My book Blood Brothers has been out for a little over a month, and I'm trying to spread the word. To that end, I recently paid for the services offered by eBookBooster, an ebook promotion website that I found out about through J.A. Konrath's blog. I figured I'd write about that experience here, to let other self-publishing authors know how it went for me.

If you go to eBookBooster's webpage, you'll see it's a pretty simple affair. Basically, the website offers to "Submit Your eBook to 45+ Sites for Only $40!" The thought is that you fill out a form once, on eBookBooster's webpage, and then eBookBooster uses that information to submit your book to a group of websites that feature bargain and temporarily-free eBooks. The websites in question are listed in a separate column on the left side of the page.

It sounded good to me, and J.A. Konrath--a guru of self publishing--recommended it. So I paid the $40, entered my book's information, and crossed my fingers.

When the first day of my promotion came around a few weeks later, I went back to to follow the links on the left-side of the page. I wanted to make sure that mention of my book had appeared on those sites. I got about halfway through the list, and I started to notice a few things.

First of all, almost none of the sites had mention of my book on their homepages. I dug a little deeper, clicking through to other pages or sometimes doing a site search for "Blood Brothers", and in the end only 6 sites (of the first 20+) had any sort of mention of my book, at all. (And frankly, the value of a mention that you have to search for seems pretty minimal. If it isn't on their homepage, it probably won't be seen by very many people).

Second, a few of the sites seemed to have almost nothing to do with books. Freebies 4 mom, for example, is mostly a listing site for moisturizer samples and coupons for Pampers.

In the end, I've had better results with previous promotions without using eBookBooster or any other promotion company. I suppose it's possible that my superior results with past promotions relate to the possibility that free-download promotions don't really work nearly as well as they used to. There's no way to really know.

But one thing I do know: I'm not planning on using eBookBooster again.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Blood Brothers in the U.K.

I'd never really thought about it before, but publishing a book on Kindle makes it available to a global audience. And other countries don't use the same website--there's a different website for each country. Recently I noticed a little drop-down menu on the sales-reports page of my Amazon site. I scrolled through some of the other countries and saw that copies of Blood Brothers have been downloaded in Germany, Italy, Brazil, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Cool!

Further investigation revealed that someone using the name "mpfc" has posted a review of Blood Brothers on the Here's what they wrote:

Couldn't put it down...I loved this book, I got pulled in from the start and finished it in about three days. Really well written, excellent characters, I even cried a bit! Looking forward to Mr Soriano's next work.

I have no idea who mpfc is, but I definitely appreciate the review. Knowing that someone enjoyed the book, related to the characters, appreciated the writing--it means everything. So thanks!