the cycle of arawn

Perhaps you’ve noticed I haven’t been posting much this month. Or perhaps you haven’t noticed anything different! We all have our own priorities. But I haven’t been posting, mainly because I’ve been nipples-deep in another project: putting the finishing touches on my newest novel, The Great Rift.

The Great Rift is the second book in my epic fantasy series The Cycle of Arawn. To celebrate its release, the first book The White Tree is currently free (and will be so for the next few days).

Meanwhile, The Great Rift is just $2.99, half off its regular price of $5.99.

According to Amazon, The White Tree is 417 pages long (150,000 words), and normally sells for $4.95. The Great Rift is a whopping 575 pages (nearly 200,000 words) and will normally sell at $5.99. In other words, that’s nearly 1000 pages of epic fantasy for $2.99, or 73% off. Numbers!

This is the first time I’ve had the first clue what to do with a new release. If you like what I do on this blog–you know, the numbers and such–and The Great Rift sounds like it might be worth a read, consider its purchase an investment in future content. The more I sell, the more I learn about how to sell! The more I learn, the more I can talk about what I’ve experienced and what you might try for yourself! Everyone wins and gets rich and life is wonderful forever. This is how you sell something, right? Insane promises?

Anyway, some discussion of price, strategy, etc. after this lovely picture of the cover (artwork by Char Marie Adles):

The Great Rift

So, when most indie books are $2.99 or $3.99, with a handful doing battle at $4.99, why $5.99? Well, because this book is super damn long. I worked the better part of 8 months on it. 200,000 words is a lot of words. As it turns out, it is 200,000 of them. To put it in different terms, that’s 2-3 times as long as most of the books written these days. From a financial, conquer-the-world standpoint, it would have been smarter to split it in half and sell two books at $3.99 or $4.95. But that would have messed with the story. It would have made it worse, I think. I don’t want to make my books worse.

So I’m hoping people won’t be put off by the fact it costs $1-3 more than many indie books. It’s twice as long, after all, and if I know one thing about writing, it’s that volume is the only thing that matters!

In general, “hope” is not a great business strategy, but I’ve spent the last month selling Breakers at $5.99 and $7.99, which has proven to me that.. I can sell Breakers at $5.99-7.99, when it has plenty of Amazon visibility behind it and 59 generally positive reviews in a completely different genre than The Great Rift. But I have also learned $5.99 is not necessarily a death sentence. Maybe I can sell there.

And if I can sell there, then I can justify writing books this long. And if I can’t sell there, well.. bummer. Because I think this book kicks ass. And I really want to write the finale to the trilogy.

The underlying point is this: I talk a lot about numbers and algorithms and strategies. At times it probably sounds very calculated and mercenary. Like min-max gamers in World of Warcraft who’ve forgotten how to have fun. Examining this stuff is very fun to me, because there is an underlying logic that can be brought to life if you look closely enough and long enough.

But that’s not ultimately why I do this. I do this to write cool books. Books I can be proud of. (When I’m not overcome by Acute Author Shame Syndrome, at least.) If you’re a writer, I bet you feel exactly the same.

When I’m prattling on about the numbers, then, and the numbers tell you to do one thing but your instincts as a writer tell you to do something different–ignore me. Forget the numbers. Do what makes you happy. This is supposed to be your dream job. Treat it as just that.

I’m presently sitting at just past 125,000 words on the sequel to The White Tree. My outline’s changed here and there in the actual writing of it, but The Great Rift has more or less stuck to my projected word count. That means I’m about 2/3 of the way through the first draft. If I can maintain this pace–which has been fast, but not breakneck–I think I might be done with it by the start of June.

From there, it’s dicey. I think I can revise it in a couple months, but progress on revisions is far less predictable than declaring “Today I shall write 3000 words” and then writing those 3000 words no matter how much crap they may be. Still, if you walked in with a gun and demanded me to put a timetable on it, I would say, “Hey, that’s not very civilized,” and then I would say, “Early August? I hope?” And then you would put the gun away and replace it with a cake that we would both enjoy.

Thanks for the cake. Back to writing.

I’m nearing the halfway point of the first draft of the unnamed sequel to The White Tree. It’s a big book. A lot of travel. A lot of new characters. A lot to keep in mind, in other words. Oh, and it might be the better part of 700 pages long. I’m thinking I could use a couple-three beta readers to help me out.

What’s a beta reader? A beta reader’s somebody who reads an early draft of a book with an eye for making it better. This can cover everything from proofreading (“You misspelled ‘rein’ again, dummy”) to problems with characters and plot (“How did they get from the Cauldron of Scalded Souls to Naked Fairy Lake in two days? In chapter 42 you said they were 1000 miles apart”). It’s a pretty broad role, really. Your feedback would pretty much be whatever you feel comfortabe giving. And what do you get in return?

…Nothing! Absolutely nothing! Ah ha ha ha!

Well, not quite nothing. It would be a volunteer position. In most ways, the compensation will be pretty minimal: a free copy of a book you were (presumably) going to buy anyway. Getting to read it weeks or months in advance of when the final version will be released to the public. Helping me increase the book’s overall awesomeness. And a thank you on the acknowledgements page.

It’s probably going to be about three months before I reach this stage, so don’t expect to see any hot new copy until then. But I figure I may as well start casting the net now. So if you read The White Tree, you liked it, and you want to help the sequel be even better, please let me know–just leave a comment with your email here, or drop me a line at edwrobertson AT gmail

From there, I’ll let you know when completed draft day draws near. Thanks, everyone.

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I am a Science Fiction and Fantasy author, based in LA. Read More.


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