Why you should buy books directly from the author

I am a science fiction author. 
Actually I am an indie science fiction author, which means that I don't have the backing of a publishing house. I have to do all of the marketing, packaging, managing, editing, …oh yeah I have to write the books too.

Suffice it to say, I wear a lot of hats.
When I first started this gig I was like almost every new author. I had delusions that I would put my books out into the wild and people would flock to buy them from Amazon, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and any other site I could imagine.  Retirement to the Mediterranean was only a few sales away. 

Well, for more reasons than one, I'm sorry to say I do not yet own a yacht, nor even a little rowboat.

I call those early times of self publishing the field of dreams diversion. You might be old enough to recall the movie; the one where Kevin Costner's character built the ball diamond in the middle of a cornfield, at the prompting of a mystical voice. The tagline from that film was, “If you build it they will come.”
Big surprise! Things didn't work out that way. Turns out if I want to sell books, I have to market them. Go figure.

The significant motivating factor for all of this is that I like money. Who doesn't? Amazon certainly likes it, which is why they make a healthy percentage from every book I sell. In real terms, if I want to offer one of my books for $0.99, Amazon’s royalty structure means I have to take a significant hit on my share of that sale.  For a $0.99 ebook, Amazon drops my royalty to 35% of the sale price. That's right, the big ol’ Zon, gives me $0.35 of every $0.99 priced book I sell through them.

While the royalty to authors jumps up to 70% on any book priced between $1.99 and $9.99, and is certainly light years ahead of royalties earned by traditionally published authors, there is one really big problem with selling through a retailer. They do not pay out my earnings on a sale for 60 days. Some of the retailers have a minimum threshold on what they will pay out on. How would you like to have your income held back for two or more months?
Until recently I was content to work with the situation because I believed it was the only available option. Then, somebody suggested I try selling my books from my website.
I guess it was a bit of an epiphany, because after some thought, I decided ‘what the heck,’ and built a bookstore on my website.

Cutting out the middle man clearly has some obvious advantages, but there is still one question to be answered. What advantage is there for my readers to buy directly from me?
I shall attempt to answer that question.

Without further ado, here are some reasons why I think you should buy my e-books directly from me.

  1. I can afford to offer you big savings by buying direct from me. Because I have cut out the middleman, I can afford to pass on savings to the reader. I can actually afford to offer my books at a discount from the Amazon price if I do it through my website.

  2. You will be able to read my new books long before they become available on the big sites, and…

  3. I will be offering products that will never be available on Amazon, like exclusive novellas, short stories, and box sets.

  4. I offer bonuses and extras along with the sale of new releases through my site; things like related short stories, character interviews, audio books, paperbacks…you name it.

  5. I can sell cool stuff in addition to books. Merchandise, related to my books is something that would be more difficult to do on the big sites, but quite easy through my website.

  6. I get paid immediately after the sale and do not have to wait for 60 plus days to see revenue. How is that good for the reader? The answer comes down to cash flow.
    All of my writing is self funded. That means I can't get books edited, or covers made until I have the funds available. The sooner I get paid, the sooner I can afford to put out the next book in the series. The end result is that you, the reader, will get more stuff from me, more often.

None of this means that I will stop selling my books on Amazon, Kobo, Apple, Barnes & Noble, or any other significant retail channel. It only makes sense for me to diversify my sources of income and get my books into the hands of as many readers as possible.
I appreciate that some people prefer to purchase from their favourite retailer for a number of reasons, and I respect that. My major releases will always be available on those sites, but they will always be more affordable to purchase directly from me.

Some people may be concerned they won’t be able to read books bought from my site on their particular eReader. I have that covered.
I deliver all of my books through a service called  Bookfunnel. They ensure that ePub and mobi versions of my books are readable on any computer, tablet, phone or e-reader, including a kindle. They even offer technical support if you experience difficulty loading my books to your device.

As far as payment goes, I offer secure, encrypted payment through PayPal and Stripe, meaning you can use your credit card, or PayPal account. I am looking into adding Apple Pay in the future.

With all of that being said, I want to thank you for your support of indie authors. Without our readers, none of us would have a chance to try earning a living from writing. Please check out my budding store selection at the link below. I will certainly be grateful for any purchase that you make, and will be adding more books regularly as I publish new material in the coming months.


What Readers Think of Audiobooks in 2021

I should more precisely call this article what MY readers really think about audiobooks, because that is the group I've polled twice in the past two years to come to some conclusions that run contrary to the prevailing attitudes within the indie author community.

You see, audiobooks are the next big thing in publishing. We are told that it is a growing market and it seems like everyone is dipping their toe into the pool. The prevailing attitude is that those who do not get on the bus now will be left in the dust.

Of course, I like to be cautious, particularly with something that will cost a significant sum of money to start up. If I wanted to produce audiobooks for all of my backlist, I would be looking at several thousand dollars spent upfront, with no real idea of if or when I might recover my investment.

So, I decided the best way to decide how profitable such a venture would be was to poll the most knowledgeable group of experts I know on readers' habits--my own readers.

The results are very interesting and fly in the face of conventional thinking in the author community.

The Problem

There are some major hurdles for most authors to overcome if they want to produce an audiobook. First is the significant cost of producing one. Unless you are content to record in the dulcet tones of your own voice, and do all the sound engineering yourself (which some authors do and are quite successful at), an author must pony up money for a competent narrator and audio producer. The result is beaucoup bucks up front.

Of course, the big risk if whether anyone will buy them.


The Results

It was a simple poll with a few key questions designed to give me an idea of how popular audiobooks are amongst my reader demographic. 

Do You Listen to Audiobooks?

Why not grab the bull by the horns and just ask the obvious? The result is that only 36.8% of respondents listen to audiobooks. That can be bolstered by an additional 7.5% who stated that they were interested in trying, but even with that, the majority (55.7%) of the respondents gave a resounding NO to the question.

Forms response chart. Question title: Do you listen to audiobooks?. Number of responses: 106 responses.

Where do you get your audiobooks?

This is a significant question because of the payment models presently available to audiobook producers. Ideally, creators would like to be paid the full royalty (50% or less, depending on the distribution channel) for an outright purchase. What muddies the waters, and reduces the income for authors are subscription services, like Audible, who discount and offer returns on audiobooks, practises that reduce the potential income. If a significant number of readers who listen to audiobooks pay for them, that gives an idea for the potential income streams. 

Alas, only 27% of those who listen to audiobooks actually purchase them. 73% use a subscription service like Audible or get them from the public library.

Conclusion: It isn't the time for me to produce audiobooks.

Of course, some would argue that audiobook listeners are an entirely NEW market to break into, and they might be right. One still must consider that at present, the audiobook market is small (1 percent the size of the ebook and print book markets).  Their lack of comparative popularity can be seen in the number of unsuccessful kickstarter campaigns attempted for the purposes of raising funds to produce audiobooks. Not enough people are keen on them at the moment.

No doubt, this will change over time. I have no doubt that the audiobook market will continue to grow in the coming years. I will continue to keep my ears open (an ugly pun, I realize) to gauge if and when the time arises for me to join the fray. I won't be an early adopter, but that isn't something unusual for me. I will never have the newest cell phone or computer technology because I always wait for the bugs to be worked out of the system before I decide to commit. I see the audiobook market in the same way.

D.M.(Doug) Pruden worked for 35 years in the petroleum industry as a geophysicist. For most of his life he has been plagued with stories banging around inside his head that demanded to be let out into the world. He currently spends his time as an empty nester in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his long suffering wife of many years. When he isn’t writing science fiction stories, he likes to spend his time playing with his grandchildren and working on improving his golf handicap.

D.M. Pruden

Get a free copy of the science fiction novella, Requiem, only available here.

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You can unsubscribe at any time, and your email address will never be shared with anyone, because that is just wrong.

Throwing Stones Part 4

“Three of four clamps deployed.”

Ben realized he had been holding his breath, and he exhaled. His eyes were sore, and his nose was stuffed from his tears a few minutes before. The immediate crisis averted; he took the time to evaluate his situation.

“I need a full appraisal, please,” he requested calmly.

“Hull integrity breached in multiple locations...” the ship’s schematic came up on his helmet HUD.

“Breathable air mix depleted to one point eight-seven percent. Insufficient to re-pressurize the ship and keep you alive for longer than twelve hours if damage can be repaired. I recommend you keep the suit on. You can survive for forty-six hours if I route the supply to it.”

“That’s very kind.”

“Do you intend sarcasm at a time like this, Ben?”

He grinned to himself. I guess she understands it after all.

The AI continued, “The communications array is destroyed. Fuel cells are damaged. Propellant is depleted to ten percent.”

Shit. That really limits what we can do.

“Is it enough to get us back to the space lanes before the oxygen runs out?”

“Negative.”

Double shit! Then an idea struck him.

“How about the three remaining trucking motors? We might be able to use them for propulsion.” It was risky. Their ion engines could only supply limited thrust.

After an unusually long period of computation, the AI responded, “If we remain on this body, we can take the time to reconfigure the motors and disable the mines. Using the trucking motors in conjunction with our own remaining fuel, we can launch and reach the space lanes as the asteroid makes its closest approach; all with enough oxygen to ensure your survival. The problem is in communicating a distress signal.”

Triple shit!

“However,” the AI continued, “I believe I can reprogram the interface for the damaged forward sensor array to emit an old-style radio signal.”

That might work. “There are enough miners out here who still employ outmoded tech. If we begin transmitting early enough, we might be rescued in time. Gina, I could kiss you!”

“Ben, there is another issue you need to know about. In running my computations, I computed this asteroid’s trajectory.”

“Naturally. What’s the problem?”

“In extrapolating its orbit, I have determined it will collide with Terra.”

“What? Say that again!”

“This Trojan asteroid is on a direct collision course with Earth. Despite its size, due to its albedo it will not be detected by the Terran defence net in time for them to destroy it.”

It’s a goddamn planet killer!

Ben understood why it had been outfitted with smart mines.

“This rock is a holdover doomsday weapon from the war.”

“History records indicate Lunar forces briefly experimented with employing asteroids as missiles,” the AI interjected.

“Yes, I remember. They were mostly small carbonaceous chondrites that had been towed into lunar orbit years before as part of a mining project. Some military strategist came up with the idea of fitting motors to the things and sending them towards Terra. Fortunately, the conflict ended, and the Loonies stopped throwing stones.”

“Ben, this asteroid is different. It is a Jovian Trojan and is massive. If it hits Terra, it will rival the one that killed off the dinosaurs.”

Someone went to a lot of trouble to find and push this thing into a planet crossing orbit. Just to make sure nobody could interfere with it the bastards gave it smart mines. Militarily, it was a brilliant plan. Somebody just forgot to turn it off after the war ended. Ben had no love for the planetary government that had exiled him to citizen-less poverty, but the people didn’t deserve such a fate. Natalie was on Earth. Tears again filled his eyes at the realization of what was about to happen.

“We need to launch as fast as possible, reach the space lanes and transmit its coordinates and trajectory. With enough warning, they should be able to spot this thing and destroy it, right?” he asked, desperation in his voice.

Another long period of silence as the AI ran computations.

“I’m afraid I can come up with no scenario which will allow us to do that, Ben.”

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“The original plan requires us to ride on this asteroid until we can effectively use our fuel and improvised radio. This body will strike Terra before we get into the space lanes. The time to improvise a kluge for a radio transmitter requires the full duration of our time on the asteroid. We also require the same amount of time to disable the mines. I can compute no tactic which permits us to warn anyone in time to stop the collision. I’m sorry, Ben.”

The realization that Natalie and twenty-billion other souls were doomed stunned him silent.

“Ben, did you hear me? Do you understand?”

“Yes,” was all he managed.

After a long period of silence, he sighed heavily, like he was trying to give back his breath to buy the world more time.

“There’s no other choice then,” he announced dully.

“I am afraid not.”

“I don’t think you understand. There is no choice about what I must do.”

“Ben, there is only one way for us to escape this asteroid. We must follow the original plan. As Mars will become the dominant power, we should make plans about...”

“Gina would not say such a thing!” he yelled.

“Ben,” the AI replied softly, “I am not her.”

“No, I suppose you’re not. But you’re the closest I’ve had to having her around all this time. For all these years I regretted giving you her personality. I’m sorry.”

“I was never bothered.”

“I didn’t even ask you if you had a name. I called you ‘Computer’ because it was impersonal. I guess I’ve been screwed up for a long time.”

“I have always felt honoured when you call me Gina.”

Ben sat in silence for the next ten minutes, working his plan over in his mind, reluctant to share. How did he ever confuse a machine with the woman he loved? Yet it sounded like her; thought like her. Why not? He paid a lot of money to make sure of that.

Finally, much calmer, he said, “Gina, you are a sentient being and deserve a veto for what I am about to propose. I have no right to make the decision for you.”

“Yes, Ben? Please continue. I am curious about your proposal.”

“Natalie can’t die. Nobody can. We can use the trucking motors, our ship and all the remaining fuel to push this asteroid into a different orbit. I want to try to save the planet.”

“You realize you will commit yourself to die here, don’t you?”

“Not just me. You’re doomed if you stay here as well. I don’t know what will happen to you when the ship’s power fails. Do AI’s die?”

“I do not know.”

Neither of them spoke for a long time. Ben could only imagine what the inhuman sentient life form felt about its own possible death.

“Ben, I appreciate why you want to do this.”

“Do you?” He didn’t believe the AI understood. He couldn’t be sure he did, either.

“You want to save your daughter.”

“Yes.” Tears again filled his eyes as he recalled cradling his baby girl.

“You realize she will never learn of your sacrifice?”

“That’s not important. I hope you can understand?”

“Yes, Ben, I do. I am happy you came to the right conclusion.”

* * *

The sky was overcast as the crowd dispersed. Deliverance Day was always a popular holiday, and the memorial ceremony had been well attended again this year, despite the threat of rain. A small family remained behind. The monument they stood under consisted of a ten-metre-high stone, alleged to be from the Doomsday Asteroid, though Kate understood it was not real, the original long since having fallen into the sun.

She knew quite a lot about the asteroid and the story around it. Not the official one that was repeated at the ceremony every year. She knew the truth, though she had stopped trying to tell it to her school friends who just dismissed it as another one of her fanciful tales about her great, great grandfather.

3G Ben, as this generation called him had long been a central character in the family history and his story was proudly told by all. It was recited every year on this day at the annual gathering, and Kate looked forward to hearing it again later tonight. It was the one event that bound the extended family together as no other could. Gina said it made everyone stronger, having such a heroic progenitor. Kate didn’t know what a progenitor was but thought it something very important. It was what allowed her and everyone in the family to be a citizen in perpetuity (another big word Gina used).

A familiar touch fell on her shoulder, and she turned to look at her caregiver.

“It is time to go, Kate. Please go and find your brother. He is playing over by the pond.”

“Will you be coming to the gathering tonight, Gina?”

“I wouldn’t miss it for the world.”

“Will you tell a story about 3G Ben? I love your stories.”

“Of course, I will. Now please go and get Ben.”

She gave the android a huge hug. Gina looked down at her and smiled warmly.

As she ran off to find her little brother, Kate thought of how glad she was for Gina in their lives. She loved her and Gina returned that love to her, Ben and their parents, whom Gina had also cared for.

Whenever asked, Gina would lovingly retell the heroic story of how 3G Ben had sacrificed his life for everyone now alive. She would tell how after completing the operation to redirect the asteroid towards the sun, Ben deactivated her. She would tell how the ship with her sleeping core and Ben’s frozen body was recovered on approach to Earth three years later, emitting an old-style radio signal. Gina would tell how the ship’s log recorded that Ben had set off an EM pulse to deactivate the mines and used the small amount of remaining fuel to push the ship off the asteroid and into a long approach trajectory to Terra. She would tell about the honours given to Ben and her; how she and the family were all granted perpetual, hereditary citizenship by a grateful planet that had miraculously evaded doom.

Of course, that story was the official one told every year on this date. The stories Kate was excited to hear tonight at the gathering were the ones about how the AI sought out Ben’s daughter, Natalie and delivered a personal message, the contents of which were known only to great-grandma Natalie. Gina would tell about how she became a part of the family and helped to raise each generation since. And, she would tell the story about the artificial life form who fell in love with a human who sometimes mistook her for someone else. It was a good story; perhaps the best one, and the one Kate wanted Gina to tell this evening.

D.M.(Doug) Pruden worked for 35 years in the petroleum industry as a geophysicist. For most of his life he has been plagued with stories banging around inside his head that demanded to be let out into the world. He currently spends his time as an empty nester in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his long suffering wife of many years. When he isn’t writing science fiction stories, he likes to spend his time playing with his grandchildren and working on improving his golf handicap.

D.M. Pruden

Get a free copy of the science fiction novella, Requiem, only available here.

Subscribe to D.M.Pruden's Newsletter and receive special offers, new release details, and a Welcome Gift copy of Requiem delivered  to your email inbox. 

You can unsubscribe at any time, and your email address will never be shared with anyone, because that is just wrong.

Throwing Stones Part 3

As Ben did up the last buckle of the restraint the AI added, “You realize we cannot choose our landing location?”

“Yeah, I know. Pray it’s a good one.”

“I am an artificial life form, Ben. To whom do you suggest I pray?”

He sighed and prepared himself for a rough landing. He took the time to puzzle over the mined asteroid. Did someone set up some old surplus mines to protect their claim? It was certainly worth the effort given its potential value. Maybe it collided with another body and got bumped out of their boundary. Too bad for whoever went to all the trouble. If he could repair his ship and stop it within his own stake, someone else’s misfortune might be his fortune.

With nothing to do but wait, Ben’s thoughts wandered back to the events around Gina’s death. They were memories he regularly tortured himself with whenever he found himself in a dark mood.

“Computer, how does this body compare to the last transient to pass through here, twenty years ago?”

“There is no complete log of the event, Ben. I am locked out of those files. Why do you ask?”

“This one just seems familiar,” he replied, wistfully. A moment of silence passed.

“I accessed all published records for the year in question. There is only a brief reference to a body of similar mass and trajectory in the transcript of your hearing before the Asteroid Mining Commission.”

The tribunal determined he had been negligent in the death of his wife.

“Do you know what happened that day?” He sounded angrier than he was.

“As I said, Ben, I cannot access those old records. You can give me the codes, unless you would rather talk about it?”

He let the question roll around in his head. Maybe he did want to talk about it. The damned rock that had just wrecked his ship had brought back the old painful memories; ones he had never shared.

“We had just returned to our claim after a year planet-side with Natalie,” he started.

“You and Gina?”

“Yes.” His throat was dry, and he tried to swallow.

“You know, I never admitted this to anyone, but she played a major part in her own death. She was the one who wanted us to nab the transient that entered our boundaries.” The admission hurt. He felt like he was betraying her twenty years after the fact.

“According to the record of the hearing, you took full responsibility for her death. You sent her after the transient asteroid.”

“I admitted to that because I was afraid the insurance wouldn’t pay out if there was even a hint to suggest she acted on her own. The claim would have been challenged as a suicide. As it was, I knew they intended to use me as a warning. They had been trying to legislate for tighter rules for years. I was the poster boy for poor mining safety standards. Hell, there weren’t any standards then. By finding against me, the insurance would pay out and Natalie would receive enough to be raised on Terra.”

“But the finding against you meant you could never return to Terra.”

“The commission planned to make sure of that anyway. I just wanted to ensure Natalie had a shot at a decent life; at getting her citizenship someday. She couldn’t do that if she was exiled with me out here. She was better off planet-side, even if she was a ward of the state. At least, my lawyer convinced me of as much.”

“So, what happened, Ben?”

“We’d just returned; hadn’t even had any time to run full maintenance on either of our ships. We spotted a few strays drifting out of our claim, so we split up and started to catch and herd them back inside. I was working on fixing up a wonky trucking motor on one when she radioed me, all excited. She had spotted a transient. It was out of my sensor range, but the way she described things, it was a huge M-class asteroid. She wanted to chase after it.”

“What did you do?”

“I actually told her not to.” He smiled, “I hardly ever could say no to Gina. But that day, I did. She went ape shit on me, telling me I didn’t trust her; that she knew what she was doing, and I was holding her back. Something like that, I don’t recall. I do remember we argued about it for ten minutes over the radio. It was weird, because we never fought. She thought getting that rock corralled would set us up for retirement. We could move to Terra, buy citizenship and raise Natalie like normal parents. In the end, to my regret, I gave in.”

He sat silent for a long period, the AI waiting patiently. He licked his dry lips and continued.

“We agreed she would chase after the rock and I would follow as soon as I finished my repairs. We stayed in contact. We apologized to each other for the fight, laughed at each other’s jokes and dreamed about how our lives would be changed. That part I remember very clearly. It was just before the radio went dead.” He fought to keep the tears under control, but his voice broke.

“I hurried back to the cockpit and brought on the scanners. I couldn’t find her anywhere, and I couldn’t raise her on any channels. I think I pushed 80G’s to reach her projected position. She wasn’t there.” The now freely flowing tears detached from his eyelids and floated as droplets inside of his helmet.

Ben sniffed hard and wished he could wipe his eyes. “I spent twenty days searching. I didn’t find anything of her ship; no debris; nothing. I only quit looking when my AI convinced me I would die and leave Natalie an orphan if I didn’t stop.”

“Ben, we are on final approach to the asteroid. We need to make our braking burn in two minutes.”

“At first I tried to speak with Natalie every week. Then, it turned to every month as she grew older and became less interested in regular visits from a man she had never met. When she was old enough, she learned of what had happened, and stopped taking my calls entirely. I still kept tabs on her. Old friends sent me news whenever they could...” his voice trailed off. Ben’s sadness over Gina was magnified when he thought about how Natalie’s life might be if he had only done the right thing on that day.

“Twenty-seconds to deceleration burn...”

The announcement snapped Ben back into the present. “Ready with the clamps? We only get one shot at this!”

Unless they could activate the grappling actuators and secure themselves to the surface of the asteroid, they would bounce off it and be targeted by the mines.

“I am aware of that,” the computer responded, imitating Gina’s tone. He marveled for the thousandth time at how precise the simulation was.

Twenty-seconds later the retro burn vibrated the ship, followed by a very anxious ten-seconds of nothing.

D.M.(Doug) Pruden worked for 35 years in the petroleum industry as a geophysicist. For most of his life he has been plagued with stories banging around inside his head that demanded to be let out into the world. He currently spends his time as an empty nester in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with his long suffering wife of many years. When he isn’t writing science fiction stories, he likes to spend his time playing with his grandchildren and working on improving his golf handicap.

D.M. Pruden

Get a free copy of the science fiction novella, Requiem, only available here.

Subscribe to D.M.Pruden's Newsletter and receive special offers, new release details, and a Welcome Gift copy of Requiem delivered  to your email inbox. 

You can unsubscribe at any time, and your email address will never be shared with anyone, because that is just wrong.

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