Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Book Recommendations

My narrator uploaded the first half of the Jehovah and Hades audio book, so I'm about to start going through that to see if he needs to do any re-recording before making the master track. He said the full audio is ready to go, I just have to give the two plus hour long audio book a listen before we move on to mastering it. So that audio book isn't too far from going live.

Before I start listening to chapters of Jehovah and Hades, I figured I would post some book recommendations for self-published authors that I've read but you may not have heard of yet. In most of these cases, I've read at least one of their books. These books do have swearing and violence in them, so I'm adding that in as a disclaimer. Let's start:

1. A.G. Riddle
A.G. Riddle became successful on Amazon with his first self-published book, which is pretty rare. He's turned it into a series that now has three books. The first one, The Atlantis Gene, has over 7,000 reviews on Amazon and a rating of 4.2 / 5 stars. I've made it about 90% of the way through The Atlantis Gene and I have to say that it's been a good book so far, even though I think Riddle is a little too long-winded at times. This first book in the series clocks in at just under 500 pages. It's $2.99, so definitely a bargain. This action / adventure thriller deals with the origins of a specific disease and goes back to track down the mystery behind the evolutionary line of humans. Pretty interesting stuff. It's currently #64 in the Amazon Top 100 and it has been in the Top 100 for a long time now. You can pick up The Atlantis Gene as an e-book by clicking the cover image below:

2. Russell Blake
Russell Blake has been featured on the front page of the Wall Street Journal and has sold over 600,000 books so far. He mainly writes fast-paced thrillers and is successful in that area (as evidenced by the strong sales in his Jet series.) Personally, I like Blake's PI / Detective books the best. There are currently four books in his Black series (about a PI named Artemus Black) and I've read all four. They're all great reads. Instead of linking to Jet, I'm going to link to the first book in Blake's Black series (which is currently at $3.99):

3. Nick Russell
Nick Russell made the New York Times Best Seller list with the first book in his Big Lake series, selling over 100,000 copies. Nick has featured my books on his blog several times which has brought in many additional sales for me. He's a traveling RVer who tours the country while speaking at various RV conventions and recently even started an informal workshop on self-publishing books. I read his latest stand-alone novel, Dog's Run, last year and it was in the top 5 for best books I read in all of 2013 (and I read a lot.) I'll link to Dog's Run below (which Amazon actually tried to make a deal with Nick to acquire.) It's definitely worth the current $3.99 price tag:

4. Hugh Howey
Hugh Howey hit it big with what I think was around the 10th book he wrote, a short story called Wool. It was so popular that fans demanded that he continue it into a series. I purchased the complete Wool collection a while back and I'm currently in book 4. It's a great series, but for the moment I've moved on to other reads. Howey is famous as an indie author for making a deal with Simon and Schuster for ONLY his paperback rights. Every other company in the Big 5 wanted to take his e-book rights as well and he stood firm and told them no. I'm currently reading Hugh Howey's latest novel, Sand, which is the book I will link to below (it's a different book outside of the Wool series, Hugh currently has it at $5.99 but I grabbed it when it was on sale for $1.99):

5. Brandon Hale
Brandon Hale is the author of the popular Day Soldiers series. He's also made my last two Facebook profile images, because he knows I love Assassin's Creed and thought it would be cool to photoshop me as an actual assassin. Brandon recently made the jump to full-time author and then found out shortly after that he has cancer. He's been fighting it and I know he's going to beat it, but it would definitely help him out if you grabbed a copy of Day Soldiers. I've read it; it's amazing. It features a world where vampires, werewolves, and other creatures come out of hiding and publicly declare that they exist, promising to extinguish humanity. The Day Soldiers are the humans that stand against them and fight back. Brandon has a great way of writing about the old school, original creatures of the night, not shiny, sparkling vampires. I read Bram Stoker's Dracula when I was a teenager and Hale does vampires more justice than Stephanie Meyer ever did. Day Soldiers is free, so if you enjoy it I would encourage you to leave a positive review and pick up more books in the series:

So there you go. Five new self-published indie authors to try out. Read any one of the five books I recommended and you can tell all of your friends that you're a hipster who reads indie authors. I know that's what you all secretly want, right? :-P If none of those books work for you, you can always check out my author page here. (Keep in mind that I'm a self-published indie author too.)

Friday, May 2, 2014

Reinvesting Author Royalties In The Books That Earned Them

For some of my books, the easiest way to release them and start making money is to make my own book covers. I'm not incredibly skilled in the area of computer graphics, but I can put together a decent cover that will help the books sell. My best-selling book over the past two years sports a cover that I made with a combination of Gimp and Paint.

Recently, I decided to reinvest the author royalties made by my travel photo books back into the books themselves. I wanted the covers to look more professional and more like a unified set. This was around the time I was working on the latest travel photo book, Traveling the U.S.: Utah. So I went from four book covers that look fairly amateurish:

to five book covers that look like a professionally made, unified set:

It always bothered me a little bit that I could never get my author name to match the exact same font size and that East Coast History couldn't use white text. The latest round of covers has none of those problems, they all look like part of a set. If you subtract the cost of the new covers, these five have still made me a little bit of money but, realistically, it's like they're all starting over from scratch with better covers and a few good reviews each.

I've swapped the new covers in for the old ones on all of the e-book versions and on all of the paperback versions as well. I had to raise the prices a little on the paperback versions, but the e-book versions are still the same price. I was tempted to order all five in paperback, but I have a rule about not doing that anymore. I've ordered so many of my own paperbacks that sales of my paperbacks haven't quite balanced it out. I need to reach a break-even point.

That being said, I would like to give you a quick run-down on the five travel photo books in my set. It's unlikely I will be able to release another one for at least a year or two because these are all based on my own travels with photos I took and background info that I researched.

Traveling Asia: The Philippines was the first travel photo book I released. I lived in the Philippines for two years as a missionary, speak fluent Tagalog, and returned in 2010 to tour the Philippines once again. This photo-based travel guide includes Tagalog words for some of the things you'll run into as well as some common souvenirs from Baguio (up north in the mountains) and some foods you can try if you're brave enough.

Traveling Asia: Tokyo, Taipei, and Hong Kong features a photo-based tour of the three cities we visited after stopping in the Philippines for our 2010 vacation. I was just a tourist for these three, so my photos come with some research that I did after we left. I had my Canon camera by this point so all of the pictures are high quality (whereas some of the pictures from my Philippines guide were taken with a film camera or a lower megapixel digital camera.)

Traveling the U.S.: Hawaii features pictures from our 2012 vacation in Hawaii. It mostly covers Oahu but also includes a visit to Pearl Harbor and the Polynesian Cultural Center on Laie. The cover features a wolphin (a dolphin / whale hybrid.) There are only a few wolphins alive today.

Traveling the U.S.: East Coast History is, by far, the longest travel photo book I've written so far. It features over 125 photos from the Capitol, the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial, the White House, Arlington National Cemetery, Mount Vernon, Monticello, Jamestown (with excavation photos), Gettysburg, Independence Hall, the Liberty Bell, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty, the 9/11 Memorial, and more. Since it's quite a bit longer than the others, the paperback is more expensive but I've kept the e-book price the same as the other four.

Traveling the U.S.: Utah is my latest travel photo release. It occurred to me that while everyone gets excited to travel and explore new places, a lot of people haven't seen most of the history in their own city or state. I've lived in Utah since I was fifteen (with the exception of two years that I lived in the Philippines) and I had never visited the Capitol or many of the sites around Temple Square. This, like my other books, is not a comprehensive guide and it mostly covers the history in Salt Lake City but it's well researched and has some amazing photos.

All of the above book covers are linked to the e-book version on Amazon. If you haven't checked out any of them, please consider giving one of them a shot. It's a fun, easy way to get acquainted with new cultures and history and they aren't very expensive.