Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

The Places of The Five Elements

Following in the footsteps of last night's post where I detailed the characters of my fantasy/pseudoscience novel, The Five Elements, tonight I give you the places of The Five Elements. Surprisingly, there aren't that many. Much of the story takes place in Norwynne, then onboard an airship, and within a couple of different houses out in the wilderness.

Oh, almost forgot, there's a volcano and a floating city, too.

You can also see this info out on the new product/landing page for the novel.

Last comment… this *is* leading up to something (a hint: it involves 'free' and 'eBooks'). Check back tomorrow night. Until then…

Places

Norwynne Keep

A prosperous yet remote oceanside city that began as a military outpost. It boasts the fabled wall Regrok, which has never been breached or broken, and Ellingrel, Tower of Sorcery. The city-keep is ruled by Lord Vuller.

Ellingrel

Norwynne's Tower of Sorcery where reside Elsanar, his coterie, and their staff.

The Underkeep

The area beneath Norwynne built out by the dwarves who once called the remote location home. Abandoned long ago, only the highest sub-levels have been converted for use by the city's current residents. It is said dwarven treasure remains to be found somewhere deep down, though no one has ever found anything.

Ursool's house

Ursool's home in the woods.

Wildemoore Manor

A remote abode called home by Master Ansanom and his apprentice, Serena.

Griffin

The Griffin is a one-of-a-kind airship specially designed to stay aloft for long periods of time and to ascend to especially high altitudes.

Cauldron Mountain

A volcano, presently active.

Valacia

A city in the clouds.

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.

Goodreads Giveaway Follow-up

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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:

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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.

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

5-stars

There's a new review for The Five Elements out on Amazon and Goodreads and it's 5 stars out of 5!

I love getting reviews, even if they aren't always flattering. They're feedback regardless of the number of stars. But it's always nice exhilarating getting a 5 out of 5.

In this one, reader Timmain, who also read and reviewed The Hall of the Wood, said this about her experience:

The Five Elements is an enveloping story that drags you in and doesn't let go. I enjoyed it immensely. The characters come to life and tell their story in a way that shows the authors passion for the subject matter. I myself do not have any background or knowledge of alchemy and yet the story is written such that I had no trouble following along and cheering the heroes on through every step of their journey. Well done Mr. Marlowe.

Thanks, Timmain!

She brings up a good point re the use of alchemy, which I would extend to all of the pseudoscience and steampunk-like devices and machines used in the novel: While I strive for some semblance of believability (in the context of it being fiction, of course), I never at any point let the story get bogged down in technical mumbo-jumbo. My job is to entertain, not teach. It's nice to see I accomplished that.

If you'd like to get your own copy of The Five Elements, you have some options:

  1. If you're a member of Goodreads, you can enter the currently ongoing giveaway and maybe you'll win a print copy.
  2. Buy the print edition on Amazon.
  3. Buy the Kindle edition on Amazon. I'm holding prices at $1.99 until the Goodreads giveaway ends on March 10.