I have a bone to pick

With Amazon.

It’s not about Jeff Bezos being a rich commie, or about him suddenly discovering that mail-in balloting is rife with possibilities for error and fraud.  It’s about Amazon Logistics and their crowd-sourced delivery scheme, and some weird shit that seems to be going on with their print-on-demand service.  But also about what they think is important and what isn’t.

As those of you who know me know (and if you’re reading this blog, of course you know), I dabble a bit in Science Fiction.  We take this moment for self-promotion (as if this whole blog isn’t about self-promotion):

I published this novel as a Kindle e-book last July, but because of time constraints and issues with putting it together, I didn’t create a paperback edition at the same time.  I finished the paperback edition in December, uploaded it, ordered a proof copy, fixed some issues I found in the proof, re-uploaded, and let it go live.  It’s sold two copies.  Which is not a big deal because I make only 34 cents/copy in royalties for the paperback vs. $2.03 for e-books.  So definitely buy the e-book.  Or read it on Kindle Unlimited; I get a fraction of a cent for every page you read on KU, so I’m good with that.

Bottom line, the paperback, for me, is mainly a vanity issue.

Amazon will sell authors as many copies of their print-on-demand books as they want, at Amazon’s cost.  (Well, within reason; there’s an upper limit and I don’t recall what it is, but I’m way, way south of it.)  In my case, that’s $4.44 per copy.  Plus $1.11 shipping, even though I’m a Prime member (which is another nitpick).  So that’s $5.55.  Which means if I sell them at the cover price of $7.97 (plus s&h if I have to mail them), I actually make $2.43 — a little more than I get for the e-books.  So yeah, if you want a print copy, and you want me to autograph it, please don’t order it from Amazon – email me or message me (I’m on MeWe and Signal) and we’ll work something out.

So I ordered ten author copies on December 31, so I’d have some available to autograph for people who’ve said they want autographed copies.  (Yes, there are a few of them out there.)

First (big) nit:  Three weeks for delivery!  No, I can’t afford to pay you for faster service.  So yes, I’ll wait till “January 22-24”.  WTF, assholes, I have Prime.  (Yeah, yeah.)

Second (big) nit:  They charged my card on the 20th for the entire 10 copies.  I’ll get to why I’m annoyed at that in a moment.

Third (big) nit:  They delivered one copy before we woke up this morning.  The other nine copies are currently in limbo somewhere between the printer and us.  This is the reason for nit #2.  Where are the rest of my copies?  Still in Monee, IL, for all I know, and possibly not even printed yet.  But still, supposed to be here by 10PM today!  Pardon me while I snort, politely.

Fourth (medium) nit:  The Amazon Logistics driver left the package in our mailbox at 7:57AM (I didn’t even roll out of bed till nearly 9AM; it’s Sunday), then had the balls to report “Your package was delivered.  It was handed directly to a resident.”

Fifth (small) nit:  Amazon drivers are not authorized to leave packages in USPS mailboxes.  It is in fact a federal crime for anyone but the USPS or the resident to place items in the box.  But Amazon drivers do it all the time, anyway.  I guess that beats leaving it sitting on the driveway in the snow.  (Why, yes, one driver did that once.  Another driver left a (paper, not Tyvek) envelope on the uncovered part of the porch in the rain.  Luckily it was one of those heavy, almost waxy brown paper envelopes, so the inside was perfectly dry.)

So now WTF are they going to do?  Dribble the rest of the books out to me, onesee-twosee?  That’s pretty poor service, regardless of how small a fish I am in their great big author pool.

Anyway, it looks like I’m finally going to have a few copies to autograph and mail, so there’s that.

EDIT, 25 Jan 2021:  They finally got here this morning.  And were left just off the porch, in the dirt, behind a bush, where they would have gotten soaked had I not seen them and brought them inside before the rain hit.  Sigh.  And apparently packed by a group of mentally-deficient chimpanzees, but thankfully undamaged.

Proof

Courtesy of my lady wife, lookee what I’ve got hyar.

If Amazon ever gets around to finishing its review of my cover update (as you may be able to see, it’s out of alignment to the right — my fault, I wasn’t paying attention when I put the PDF together, arghh), it will be available from them for $7.97, one assumes plus shipping unless you have Prime or whatever.

By the way, and just to get his off my chest, it really irks me that Amazon is pleased to send me a proof copy at a discounted rate, and then turn around and make me (a Prime member almost since Prime started) pay shipping, so I ended up paying MORE than the cover price for that proof copy in my hand.  But, hey, I’m a curmudgeon, I have to have something to complain about.

Since people have asked, I am working on a way to provide autographed copies, so if you just must have an autographed copy, my advice is don’t buy one right away.  I don’t go to cons much (LibertyCon 32 was my first and only con in thirty-mumble years, and of course we all know what’s happened since then with the WuFlu), so you’re not likely to see me sitting at a table somewhere signing books.  My vague plan is to buy copies myself at the author’s discount and sell them at the cover price plus shipping & handling.  I have no idea what that S&H cost will be and it may vary depending on where you are located.  There will be an online form and payment will be accepted via credit cards somehow.

So . . . hang in there if you want my illegible scrawl in your book.

Paperback TLG maybe late next week, plus musings

Probably interesting only to myself, given sales reports, but I’m waiting on a paperback proof copy of The Lion of God to show up next Wednesday; if the proof is satisfactory, the paperback edition (6″x9″ trade paperback) will go on sale on Amazon for $7.97.

Interjection before I start to pontificate:  The paperback version will have the corrected errata mentioned in this post.  I am also going to update the Kindle version today, so if the errata bother you, you’ll be able to re-download it at some point later this weekend, that is, assuming the review process goes quickly on a holiday weekend.

Before anyone thinks I’m overpricing what they may consider a half-crap debut novel, I get a whopping 34 cents of that.  And the minimum cover price would be worse if I clicked the “Expanded Distribution” box — close to $12 when I experimented last night.  Those are Amazon’s minimums (well, the minimum for standard distribution is actually $7.40, a price point at which I get $0.00 royalty).

I honestly don’t know how anyone makes a living at this shit.  I’m personally damned hard-pressed to spend $10 for a book (frankly, I’ll only do that to buy the latest in C.J. Cherryh’s Foreigner series, which I’ve been reading since the first book came out in 1994, and maybe a couple of other things), but so many “pro” releases — even in Kindle, with what really amount to tiny production costs, most of which are on the author’s side — are $9.99 these days.

When I sell The Lion of God as a Kindle download, I get (for my $2.99 cover price, which is the minimum if you want in on the 70% royalty scheme, which has certain benefits the 35% scheme doesn’t) a $2.03 royalty.  This makes sense, because it costs Amazon a pittance to make the book available as a download (dirty little secret:  This is how they can afford KU).  Unless you use their crappy cover designer, ALL production costs are ultimately borne by the author (and even their cover designer doesn’t cost them much, since it’s extremely limited).

I would estimate in covers alone I have close to $3,000 invested.  $1,600 of that was to buy a new computer that could handle a high-resolution DAZ3D render in a couple of hours vs. a couple of days — but that computer was bought with at least one other use in mind, so the cost is “distributed”, as it were.  Could I buy covers, like, find a cover artist whose work I admire and commission them?  Sure.  Do I want to deal with an artist?  No.  I have an artist friend who does covers (he has made some absolutely gorgeous retro Star Trek covers and even “movie posters” for TOS episodes) and evinced little or no interest in making mine, though to his credit he did mentor me through the process of getting DAZ3D up and running, and we continue to share tidbits back and forth as I get better with the program — and he admits he’s glad I got into it because my questions stimulated him to get off his butt and work with it again.

The bottom line of all of this is, unless something happens and I suddenly start selling hundreds of copies of my books a year, I will never get my investment back.  But I don’t care.  It’s a hobby, not a job.  I already have a job and I want to retire from it in about five years 🙂  I didn’t write at all for 20+ years because writing was already my day job, and it wasn’t fun to jump from writing technical materials all day to writing fiction at night, which is known as taking a “busman’s holiday.”

As it turned out, our idiot governor shutting down half the state (and our equally idiot mayor shutting down the rest of the city) because of the WuFlu meant I had a lot of time on my hands starting in March that used to be taken up with going out to dinner with friends and participating in fraternal activities.  Not to mention vacation travel, and going to see the kids and grandkids in Fort Wayne once a month.

So you got what I did to break the monotony.  My contribution to “what if?”

Thanks for indulging my imagination. 🙂

A Fox in the Henhouse is published

Believe it or not, the Seasons story mentioned in the last post appears to have been a head fake, because another character bulled her way in from the Timelines universe and said, “MY TURN!”

And it’s really a novella (same number of pages — 72 —  as A Midsummer Night’s Hunt, according to Amazon), but it falls into a series I’ve decided to call “Timelines Short Stories,” so there.

Delaney Wolff Fox is a spy. A cute spy. A deadly spy.

A spy you want at your back when stuff gets real.

From a palatial office in Johannesburg, to a fancy whisky bar in Sydney, Australia, to a beautiful private beach in southwest Florida, to the great and wild city of New Orleans, Captain Delaney Fox, United States Space Force Marines (Intelligence Division) finds herself beset by assassins at every turn, while first saving an alien government’s valuable artifact from the South African cartel that’s stolen it, and then being assigned to guard said artifact while it completes a world tour, on loan from that same alien government.

But like the proverbial fox in the proverbial henhouse, you can count on Delaney to complete the mission and come out with the prize, intact and in hand – even if the “farmer” isn’t all that keen about her doing so.

Free to read on Kindle Unlimited, or $1.49 to buy.

Direct Link

Thank you!

This is really just November 8-9…

Especially to the person who bought the copy of A Midsummer Night’s Hunt 🙂

I hope the books have been enjoyable.  Please do at least rate or post a review.  Thanks again!

And after you read the freebies…

Two requests:

  • If you liked the ones you read, please offer a short review on Amazon.  It would be nice to have some actually-positive reviews for Lion, if you thought it was worth your time, rather than just one dude who read 70 pages of it and said, “Bah, too political.”
  • And please don’t forget there are a couple of other e-books available. Both are Kindle-only, available either to buy for the low, low prices of only 99 cents, or to read for free via Kindle Unlimited.

I’m sitting here right now working on the sequel to The Lion of God, so that will be along at some point.  I was hoping around Christmas, but the general craziness around here has been such that it probably won’t be till after New Year’s.  Which may be good, because the faster we get out of this fucked-up year, the better…

The sequel to Saving The Spring:

Direct link to A Midsummer Night’s Hunt

and a prequel to The Lion of God:

Direct link

Two books, free, this weekend (7-8 Nov)

Saving the Spring and The Lion of God are both on Kindle Free Book promotions this weekend (Saturday and Sunday, November 7 and 8).  Admittedly, 99 cents and $2.99 isn’t a lot of money, but “free” is still better than 99 cents or $2.99.

If you’re looking for something to read, well, you could do worse. 😀

Direct link to Saving The Spring

Direct link to The Lion of God

A Midsummer Night’s Hunt (Seasons #2) is published

A little while ago I pushed the button on the second Seasons story.  If it’s not up already (the KDP page currently says “LIVE“), it should show up “soon” for Amazon Kindle for purchase (99 cents) and Kindle Unlimited.

At the same time, I re-uploaded Saving the Spring again with a couple of typo corrections KDP brought to my attention.  (It didn’t used to do that; must be a new feature.)

A Midsummer Night’s Hunt is a longer story (my Kindle says it clocks at about an hour and a half to read) and is really more of a novelette than a short story.  Indeed, it runs right up to the ceiling of novelette length and bangs on the pipes of being a novel.  But it’s not a novel.

It’s also written in third person rather than being Jack’s first-person recounting of the tale.  That worked for the first story, I don’t think it would work for this story.

And there are illustrations!  Yes, I went apeshit with DAZ3D Studio and there are seven (7) full-color images in addition to the cover.

And it’s still only 99 cents (or, of course, free to read on KU)!  Such a deal.

Direct link