Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

The Killing Knife: Release Announcement

I’ve got something new out. It’s called The Killing Knife. It’s conception was simple: Now that there are five stories in the Assassin Without a Name series, totaling about 300 pages all told, I wanted to put out a compilation of the first few stories to give readers an easy way to get familiar with the characters and the series without having to make three separate purchases.

The Killing Knife is therefore a compilation of the first three Assassin Without a Name fantasy adventure stories. It includes:

Fine Wine
Even for an assassin, death isn't always the answer.

Killing the Dead
Some say the dead should stay dead. Not everyone agrees.

Night of Zealotry
The job was simple, right up until the Assassin Without a Name finds himself in the middle of three organizations all willing to kill to fulfill their objectives.

The Killing Knife is available on Amazon only (for another week or so, until all of the Assassin Without a Name titles fall out of Kindle Select, then it will be available everywhere fine eBooks are sold) and is priced at $2.99. That’s a 40% savings over purchasing each of the stories separately. The Killing Knife clocks in at 54 pages.

Thief’s Gambit, the fifth Assassin Without a Name story, is now available as a pre-order at Amazon!

Thief’s Gambit now available for pre-order!

Thief’s Gambit, the fifth story in the Assassin Without a Name series, is now available for pre-order on Amazon!

It's priced at 99 cents throughout the pre-order period. After that, it goes up to $2.99.

Here’s what it’s about:

The hunter has become the hunted, as the Assassin Without a Name is forced from his usual haunts by Gwendolyn Goddard and her Black Guard watchdogs. On the run and out of patience, a welcome distraction arrives in the form of an old flame, Elizabeth West, who recruits him for a special Warder mission. The Jakaree are on the move, searching for an ancient relic so diabolical the Warders are intent on destroying it before the zealots can lay a hand on it.

But the Assassin Without a Name soon learns that Elizabeth has something bigger in mind. Suspicious of her employer's true motives, she sets out to uncover the truth, leading them on a harrowing escapade across Alchester's rooftops, deep beneath the city's once grand temples, and into the sky onboard a Warder airship.

The official release date for Thief’s Gambit is March 10, 2015.

The Five Elements: StoryBundle Bound

The Five Elements & StoryBundle

I have some fantastic news to share to start the new year (Happy New Year, by the way). A couple of months ago, I was approached by someone associated with StoryBundle who wanted to include The Five Elements in one of their upcoming fantasy bundles. Of course I agreed. The legal end of things has been wrapped up at this point, so I’m free to make this announcement. I won’t go into the other titles that will be part of the bundle just yet, other than to say I have seen the list and it’s a good one. I can’t wait for the bundle to go ‘live,’ which should happen in about a month.

Not familiar with StoryBundle?

Basically, they’re a site that bundles like novels by different authors and sells them as a single unit. One of the special things about StoryBundle is their pricing scheme, which is set by the reader on a sliding scale based on what he or she thinks is a fair price. If a reader is willing to pay more, bonus material (additional books) are included. Also, readers get to choose how much goes to the authors and how much to the publisher (in this case, StoryBundle). You can also donate 5% of the price paid to charity.

Another cool thing about StoryBundle is that the books are curated. Let’s face it: many self-published authors have not done anyone any favors by releasing material that is not ready for prime time. StoryBundle’s curation process guarantees readers a minimum level of quality; StoryBundle cares about their reputation, so they have to care about the product they put in front of consumers. The result of their curation process is a win-win for everyone.

I’ll have more details about StoryBundle’s fantasy bundle including The Five Elements soon.

Thoughts on Kindle Unlimited and Why I’m Out

Kindle Unlimited

On July 20 of this year, I wrote a post about why I was going all-in with Kindle Unlimited (KU). KU is one of those things where you don’t know if it’s something that will prove beneficial unless you actually try it. I can now report that I did try it, I did have some success with it, but, ultimately, I personally have not seen a great enough benefit to remain with the program moving forward. Today is therefore the last day the books in my Alchemancer series will remain in the KU program. The remainder of my books will fall out next month.

As a reader, I like the idea of KU and the idea of having an unlimited selection of books to read (yes, I know, some refer to KU as “Kindle Limited,” because the selection is not as good as Amazon will have you believe). However, my schedule does not allow me to read enough to justify the $9.99/month cost. I enrolled in the 2014 Goodreads Reading Challenge, where I committed to reading 50 books in 2014 (I’m currently at 49, so almost there). That’s about 2/month, meaning I’d pay $5/read if I was enrolled in KU. Not bad, actually, but then what if I don’t read 2 books? What if I only read one? I don’t know if I could handle the pressure! Of course, there are a number of short stories and novellas enrolled in the program, so it’d be nice to read those without having to “pay” for them.

As an author, the program started out fair. I was “selling” multiple copies of my Assassin Without a Name shorts and novellas each day, which was kind of nice because I can see some light at the end of the tunnel in terms of recouping some of the costs associated with producing those little gems. Also, I started moving a good number of my novels. In terms of units moved, KU worked out well. But only in the beginning. More on that in a sec.

Then there’s the payment thing. KU works like this: someone downloads a title, but the author isn’t paid until said reader gets past 10% of the eBook. Amazon pays for each read out of a monthly pot. So, each author receives a share, which is basically the total pot divided by the number of reads in the entire program to determine a ‘per read’ dollar figure. The dollar figure for the months I’ve been enrolled has been somewhere in the range of $1.33 – $1.50 (I can’t remember the exact numbers, but it really isn’t important). For a 99 cent short story, this works out great because, before KU, I would get $0.35 per book sold. However, for a $4.99 novel, where I get $3.50 for an actual sale, KU isn’t such a good deal.

NOTE: There’s a bit of back and forth amongst my peers about if a ‘read’ really replaces a ‘buy.’ In other words, just because someone ‘read’ your book via KU doesn’t mean you lost a sale (i.e., that they would have bought it). It’s impossible to know this, so difficult (and pointless) to debate.

The greatest benefit, and the reason I initially was happy with KU regardless of the payout, was that I was moving units. Not thousands or even hundreds, but some, every day and consistently. This was enough to keep me in the program. But then something happened. Right after Thanksgiving, reads dropped off a cliff. Literally. To the point where, this month, I think I’ve had 2 KU reads credited to my account. Fortunately, sales are going pretty well, so this has been offset. But, with no rhyme or reason to the drop-off, and no way to stimulate things back to where they were before, I don’t have any choice but to ‘go wide’ once more and release all of my titles to BN.com, Google Bookstore, iBookstore, Kobo, and others.

So, the first books to drop out of KU are The Five Elements and The Nullification Engine. The rest will fall out of the program around January 15 of next year.

This is actually good news, though, because I have been invited by various parties to participate in some fantastic opportunities in the near future. Since Kindle Select requires exclusivity, I need to get out of the program anyway. You know that saying, when one door closes, another opens? That’s pretty much the situation I’m happily in. I’ll have more on these opportunities as soon as things solidify enough for me to talk about them.

In the meanwhile, I’m in the process of restoring the first of my books back to wide distribution whilst saying a fond farewell to Kindle Unlimited. See ya!

Favorite Reads of 2014

Mostly, I read for entertainment. Most of the titles below fit that bill. Some, like The Men Who Killed the Luftwaffe, find themselves on my reading list because I love history (Revolutionary War, Napoleonic, World War II, Ancient Rome timeframes are all thumbs up) and have great respect for anyone who has served in our military. I find their stories emboldening and interesting. Other reads, like What Kings Ate and Wizards Drank, are just fun, and something I hope provides information that finds its way into my writing. There’s one financial-related book in this year’s best because I love what Jim Cramer does for the small investor and I found this book in particular hit very close to home because Mr. Cramer talks quite a bit about the tech bubble of the late 90’s. I graduated college in 1994 and lived in the Silicon Valley area (I grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area) during the rise and fall of the stock market during that era. Looking back, it was quite a ride. I don’t think any of us really knew what we were in the middle of, but it was some good times. The rest of the books are the usual fantasy, with a little steampunk thrown in, but all good reads (otherwise they wouldn’t be on this list) I recommend.

 

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