Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

5 out of 5 stars for The Five Elements by reader Terra

The Five Elements 200x300Terra had some very nice things to say about The Five Elements on Amazon.com:

As an epic fantasy adventure, Scott blends magical realism, elemental powers, alchemy and mechanics into a fascinating story.

And,

What I didn't expect is to be sucked into the book to where I was forced to shirk all work, parental, and clean-up responsibilities just so I could find out what happened next in this world Scott Marlowe created!

It's gratifying to have anyone read my work. But to get an excellent review in the process? It's the ultimate form of validation.

Thanks, Terra!

The Great Free Experiment

The Hall of the Wood

The Five Elements

Right now, you can download both of my eBooks on Amazon for free.

This is an experiment to see if "free" works. I won't know the results (results being measured in real $$$ sales) until after the free period ends (tonight at midnight), so I'll have another post to discuss that.

What I do know at this point is that The Five Elements, which was not selling well even at $0.99, has gotten nearly 1,000 downloads in just 1 1/2 days of being free. The Hall of the Wood, which is free only for today, has racked up a couple of hundred downloads.

I don't know yet if free will actually translate into sales, but it sure seems to be working for getting readers, or at least downloaders. The key metric I'm really looking to get out of this is reviews. In theory, the more people who download the eBook, the more people who read it. I don't expect everyone who downloads either eBook will actually read it (people like to hoard, and sometimes the sheer volume of 'free' can be overwhelming once you fire up the Kindle), but even if 10% of the downloaders actually read the book, that's 100 new readers. Maybe even some reviews, too.

The Hall of the Wood: Free Today

The Hall of the WoodThe Hall of the Wood is free on Kindle today. This is a 1 day deal, so get it while you can.

My other novel, The Five Elements, is also free just for today. I decided to extend the 1 day freebie on that one into a second day because it was gaining so much momentum I didn't want to stop it. Right now, The Five Elements is sitting at #5 Epic Fantasy and has gotten over 500 downloads.

But this post is supposed to be about The Hall of the Wood.

The Hall of the Wood went free for most of the month of December and it "sold" (downloads, really) like crazy. Around 200 downloads/day, and never really showed signs of slowing. I'm hoping some small fraction of those thousands of potential readers will like it and leave a review. The jury is still out on that.

In the meanwhile, go download The Hall of the Wood.

Evolution of a book cover: The Hall of the Wood

Everyone knows that a quality book cover is important. It's all too easy to tell the professional from the non-professional. While a "good" book cover isn't necessarily indicative of the quality within, it's at least a good starting point.

When I was first getting ready to self-publish my own novels, I explored the different options. Those options were:

  1. Don't use a cover
  2. Make my own
  3. Commission a professional

Ultimately, I decided to create my own cover. I think it's safe to say sales of The Hall of the Wood were not stellar. In some months, they were non-existent (more on sales in a near future post). Then, late last year, I decided to look into the possibility of option #3. I made inquiries with some artists who had their work showcased on deviantart.com, and quickly came to the conclusion that having a professionally done cover is not cheap. That's not to say prices were unreasonable, but the return on investment given my sales up to that point just wasn't there. I'd about given up when I came across a wonderfully perfect illustration by Simon Schmidt. A quick inquiry and some price discussion later and Simon had himself some money out of the blue and I had the illustration I should have used from the start.

This, then, is the new cover for The Hall of the Wood:

HOTW cover 1.0.7 - reduced

What you are looking at in the background is, of course, the Hall. It's uncanny how well this illustration fits the novel. It's got all the elements: forest, patroller's keep, a certain dreariness as if a gloom has settled on the woods. There's even a hint of age with the vine-covered pillar in the forefront.

The new cover went live on Amazon and other retailers at the beginning of December. About the same time, due to some price reductions I made at other retailers, Amazon dropped the price down to $0.00. The unfortunate thing is I can't tell at this point if it was the book cover or the price that caused sales (downloads, really) to soar. At its peak, The Hall of the Wood was getting 150 downloads per day (rough figure; I'm going to post exact numbers in a near future post).

It will be interesting to see how the book sells moving forward. It's no longer free, but it's gotten plenty of recommendations and a couple of reviews. Most important, perhaps, it's showing up on other novels' "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" lists.

I'll leave you with a look at the previous covers cooked up by yours truly. They're not much to look at, and perhaps a reminder why people like me should leave the artwork to the professionals.

hotw 200x300-old hotw-200x300 HOTW cover

Get The Five Elements for free on Smashwords

Just a quick note to let everyone know you can download The Five Elements for free from Smashwords from now until the end of the year. Just use the coupon code UP62L at checkout.

I like Smashwords because they sell eBooks in a variety of formats (HTML, MOBI, EPUB, LRF, RTF, etc.). Buy the book, and you can download whatever format fits your need. Use the coupon code, and it won’t cost you a dime.