Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

The Characters of The Five Elements

I recently whipped up a new product/landing page for The Five Elements. Sort of a one stop/one page destination for people who have already read the book and want some more information about the novel, its characters, and its places, or for people who haven't yet read it but want to get a better feel for what it's about before buying.

The top half of the page is the sort of stuff you can find anywhere: reviews, a link to buy the novel, etc.

The bottom half is something I'm calling "The Five Elements Miscellany". This section is comprised of Characters, Places, and a FAQ. Below you will find that first section, or you can visit the landing page which is now complete.

Characters

Aaron

Alchemist, mathematician, metallurgist, sorcerer's apprentice, Aaron is an unpretentious, gifted fifteen year old apprenticed to the great master sorcerer, Elsanar. He hails from Taloo, an oceanside fishing village south of Norwynne Keep, but since his apprenticeship has lived in Ellingrel, Norwynne's Tower of Sorcery.

Shanna

Shanna is a free-spirited fifteen year old who wants, above all else, freedom from the life of drudgery that awaits her as she enters adulthood. She is given this opportunity when Norwynne is near leveled by an elemental attack.

Ensel Rhe

A member of the blue-black skinned race known as eslar, Ensel Rhe's reasons for coming to Norwynne remain as enigmatic as the blood-stained satchel he carries with him everywhere. Folk know only that he is a mercenary in the employ of Norwynne's sorcerers. What tasks they set him on remain as mysterious as the eslar himself.

Elsanar

Greatest of the three master sorcerers who call Norwynne home. He recognized immediately the value Aaron might bring to his research, and so he enlisted him as his apprentice.

Rion

The youngest of the three master sorcerers of Norwynne Keep.

Vuller

Lord of Norwynne Keep.

Jadjin

A healer. She arrived at Norwynne from the far south years ago and decided to stay.

Ursool

A witch. An ally of Ensel Rhe's.

Erlek

Savant, scholar, man of science. He walks as if an elder one moment, then moves with the swiftness of a twenty year old the next. His purpose is both mysterious and diabolical.

Erlek's Tool

A boy who carries himself as if a king. He is always at Erlek's side.

Ansanom

A master sorcerer in his own right, Ansanom is ally and friend to Elsanar. He dwells in the remote manor house known as Wildemoore.

Serena

Master Ansanom's apprentice.

Krosus

Houndmaster. He leads a pack of demonic hounds and is a demon himself.

Corrin

A bully who goes out of his way to torment Aaron.

Tom

A cabin boy serving on an airship called the Griffin.

Sergeant Tippin

A sergeant in Lord Vuller's army.

Kelgin Blackhand

Dwarven clan leader of Fire Rock. Wielder of Soljilnor, the Flaming Cutter.

Engus Rul

A dwarven raider. Second-in-command after Kelgin.

Keln

A dwarven raider

Mirna

Erlek's servant.

The Five Elements: New Kindle Cover

It's no secret that my novels have enjoyed some pretty bad covers in the past. While both improved over time, a graphical artist I am not. Not even close.

So when I started thinking about going with a new eBook cover for The Five Elements it was purely coincidental that I ran across this post by Joanna Penn of The Creative Penn fame wherein she gives a shout-out to Derek Murphy. Derek is a graphic artist who, via his site CreativIndie Covers, specializes in book cover art. If you're an author and you need a new cover, go check out his site. He's got some very nice stuff showcased.

I contacted Derek to see what he could do for me. This is the result:

This wasn't a first attempt; it took a few iterations before we'd gone back and forth enough to nail down what I wanted conveyed. But I think Derek hit the target perfectly. He was able to keep the glyphs representing the five elements while cleaning up the lettering and introducing a figure who pulls in the series title quite nicely.

As a thanks to Derek and because I like to help fellow artists out, I've put one of his banners on my site. If you're on my site already, it's right there over on the right. If not, here it is:

Again, if you're looking for someone to work with you on a new cover, Derek is affordable and does a great job.

Goodreads Giveaway Follow-up

image

image

It's been 30 days since I revved  up two Goodreads giveaways—one for The Five Elements and another for The Hall of the Wood—and that's it. We're done. The lucky winners have been selected and now I'm busy signing books and  stuffing and licking envelopes (or peeling away the cover strips).

All told, 795 people entered to win a copy of The Five Elements and 799 people went for The Hall of the Wood. I'm sure there was plenty of overlap there.

The end goal in doing these giveaways is twofold: to get some more people to read my books and to hopefully get some more reviews. I can control the former (somewhat), but can't do much about the latter. I think I read somewhere that authors get roughly a 40% return on giveaways. At 5 books going out for each title, I hope to get at least 2 new reviews for each novel.

Couple of  Q&A points:

1.) Would I do another giveaway?

Maybe. A lot of Goodreads members added the novels to their TBR lists. This is good. But the value of each giveaway can really only be told if and when sales go up or more reviews materialize. I'd definitely consider another giveaway as a vehicle for raising interest in the next book in The Alchemancer series when that next book is ready to go.

2.) Did the giveaway hurt existing sales?

No idea. It seems like it did, but I've only been comprehensively tracking sales since late January, and these giveaways ran through most of February. If sales begin to creep back up to what I was seeing pre-giveaway, I'll have some idea. Time will tell.

3.) Wouldn't you rather give away eBook copies?

Yes. But Goodreads requires print copies, so that's that.

4.) A lot of readers clicked on my Goodreads ads throughout the giveaway periods. It helped that each ad has a "Enter for a chance to win a copy" line right on it:

image

Do I think people will continue to click on them?

I hope so. Initial results this morning seem to show they are—the number of readers adding The Five Elements has gone up by a handful just this morning. Let's hope some readers become advocates and spread the word.


OK, that's enough of that. I feel like I'm talking to myself.

I'd be remiss if I didn't thank everyone who entered and especially those on Twitter and elsewhere who helped spread the word. Thanks!

I'm eager to see what the 10 lucky readers think. Until then, it's back to writing.

Some Thoughts on eBook Pricing

Determining the "right" price for an eBook is hard to nail down. If you're a traditional publisher, then gouging the consumer with prices over $10 seems to be the way to go. If you're an indie writer, you're typically on the lower end of the scale, with bargain bin prices of $0.99 or maybe $2.99 to get the 70% royalty rate or, if you're courageous (or actually want to make a living at writing), $4.99 and up.

The problem with the $0.99 price is this:

  1. There's too many eBooks at that price, so finding the needle amidst the haystack is next to impossible.
  2. There's a growing consensus that eBooks at that price are crap. (I've read this here and there, and the noise seems to be growing)

You might as well throw free into that pile, too. By its very nature, a writer makes nothing off free, and as far as getting reviews or some other form of reciprocation, it doesn't work.

I've given up on the $0.99 price point except for promotional purposes. John Locke has found a lot of success at that price. In his words, though, he writes "breezy" novels. Say what you like, but I definitely don't write "breezy" novels.

I've also tried $1.99 – $2.99. I've had some success at this level, and I'll continue to offer one or both of my novels in this range. In fact, I just bumped The Hall of the Wood to $2.99. It's a well-written, fun, entertaining read, and I think it's worth that much. Maybe not more, but not any less.

I don't have a series loss-leader (yet), but I also think if The Hall of the Wood is worth $2.99, then The Five Elements, which is an infinitely better novel in just about every way, is worth at least $3.99. That's therefore what I've priced it at.

In general, I'm in the camp that believes a well-written novel is worth more than a latte (and way more than gas station coffee). I also think I work my tail off delivering the best experience possible for my readers. Most have thus far agreed with me on that. Last, if this is to become a viable second (or primary) source of income, 99 cents doesn't cut it.

All this being said, it doesn't really matter what I think my novels are worth. What really matters is what readers are willing to pay. That, my friends, is something I'm still trying to work out.