Scott Marlowe
Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Thief’s Gambit now available for pre-order!

Thief’s Gambit, the fifth story in the Assassin Without a Name series, is now available for pre-order on Amazon!

It's priced at 99 cents throughout the pre-order period. After that, it goes up to $2.99.

Here’s what it’s about:

The hunter has become the hunted, as the Assassin Without a Name is forced from his usual haunts by Gwendolyn Goddard and her Black Guard watchdogs. On the run and out of patience, a welcome distraction arrives in the form of an old flame, Elizabeth West, who recruits him for a special Warder mission. The Jakaree are on the move, searching for an ancient relic so diabolical the Warders are intent on destroying it before the zealots can lay a hand on it.

But the Assassin Without a Name soon learns that Elizabeth has something bigger in mind. Suspicious of her employer's true motives, she sets out to uncover the truth, leading them on a harrowing escapade across Alchester's rooftops, deep beneath the city's once grand temples, and into the sky onboard a Warder airship.

The official release date for Thief’s Gambit is March 10, 2015.

The Five Elements: StoryBundle Bound

The Five Elements & StoryBundle

I have some fantastic news to share to start the new year (Happy New Year, by the way). A couple of months ago, I was approached by someone associated with StoryBundle who wanted to include The Five Elements in one of their upcoming fantasy bundles. Of course I agreed. The legal end of things has been wrapped up at this point, so I’m free to make this announcement. I won’t go into the other titles that will be part of the bundle just yet, other than to say I have seen the list and it’s a good one. I can’t wait for the bundle to go ‘live,’ which should happen in about a month.

Not familiar with StoryBundle?

Basically, they’re a site that bundles like novels by different authors and sells them as a single unit. One of the special things about StoryBundle is their pricing scheme, which is set by the reader on a sliding scale based on what he or she thinks is a fair price. If a reader is willing to pay more, bonus material (additional books) are included. Also, readers get to choose how much goes to the authors and how much to the publisher (in this case, StoryBundle). You can also donate 5% of the price paid to charity.

Another cool thing about StoryBundle is that the books are curated. Let’s face it: many self-published authors have not done anyone any favors by releasing material that is not ready for prime time. StoryBundle’s curation process guarantees readers a minimum level of quality; StoryBundle cares about their reputation, so they have to care about the product they put in front of consumers. The result of their curation process is a win-win for everyone.

I’ll have more details about StoryBundle’s fantasy bundle including The Five Elements soon.

Science Fiction & Fantasy MAD January Sale

Science Fiction & Fantasy MAD January Sale

Looking for some great new science fiction or fantasy reads to get your reading started in 2015? I’ve banded together with a number of other authors in a HUGE one day sale extravaganza where all books are 99 cents each!

This is a one day only event, starting and ending on Jan. 1, 2015, so head on over and stock up for the New Year!

Merry Christmas

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Thoughts on Kindle Unlimited and Why I’m Out

Kindle Unlimited

On July 20 of this year, I wrote a post about why I was going all-in with Kindle Unlimited (KU). KU is one of those things where you don’t know if it’s something that will prove beneficial unless you actually try it. I can now report that I did try it, I did have some success with it, but, ultimately, I personally have not seen a great enough benefit to remain with the program moving forward. Today is therefore the last day the books in my Alchemancer series will remain in the KU program. The remainder of my books will fall out next month.

As a reader, I like the idea of KU and the idea of having an unlimited selection of books to read (yes, I know, some refer to KU as “Kindle Limited,” because the selection is not as good as Amazon will have you believe). However, my schedule does not allow me to read enough to justify the $9.99/month cost. I enrolled in the 2014 Goodreads Reading Challenge, where I committed to reading 50 books in 2014 (I’m currently at 49, so almost there). That’s about 2/month, meaning I’d pay $5/read if I was enrolled in KU. Not bad, actually, but then what if I don’t read 2 books? What if I only read one? I don’t know if I could handle the pressure! Of course, there are a number of short stories and novellas enrolled in the program, so it’d be nice to read those without having to “pay” for them.

As an author, the program started out fair. I was “selling” multiple copies of my Assassin Without a Name shorts and novellas each day, which was kind of nice because I can see some light at the end of the tunnel in terms of recouping some of the costs associated with producing those little gems. Also, I started moving a good number of my novels. In terms of units moved, KU worked out well. But only in the beginning. More on that in a sec.

Then there’s the payment thing. KU works like this: someone downloads a title, but the author isn’t paid until said reader gets past 10% of the eBook. Amazon pays for each read out of a monthly pot. So, each author receives a share, which is basically the total pot divided by the number of reads in the entire program to determine a ‘per read’ dollar figure. The dollar figure for the months I’ve been enrolled has been somewhere in the range of $1.33 – $1.50 (I can’t remember the exact numbers, but it really isn’t important). For a 99 cent short story, this works out great because, before KU, I would get $0.35 per book sold. However, for a $4.99 novel, where I get $3.50 for an actual sale, KU isn’t such a good deal.

NOTE: There’s a bit of back and forth amongst my peers about if a ‘read’ really replaces a ‘buy.’ In other words, just because someone ‘read’ your book via KU doesn’t mean you lost a sale (i.e., that they would have bought it). It’s impossible to know this, so difficult (and pointless) to debate.

The greatest benefit, and the reason I initially was happy with KU regardless of the payout, was that I was moving units. Not thousands or even hundreds, but some, every day and consistently. This was enough to keep me in the program. But then something happened. Right after Thanksgiving, reads dropped off a cliff. Literally. To the point where, this month, I think I’ve had 2 KU reads credited to my account. Fortunately, sales are going pretty well, so this has been offset. But, with no rhyme or reason to the drop-off, and no way to stimulate things back to where they were before, I don’t have any choice but to ‘go wide’ once more and release all of my titles to BN.com, Google Bookstore, iBookstore, Kobo, and others.

So, the first books to drop out of KU are The Five Elements and The Nullification Engine. The rest will fall out of the program around January 15 of next year.

This is actually good news, though, because I have been invited by various parties to participate in some fantastic opportunities in the near future. Since Kindle Select requires exclusivity, I need to get out of the program anyway. You know that saying, when one door closes, another opens? That’s pretty much the situation I’m happily in. I’ll have more on these opportunities as soon as things solidify enough for me to talk about them.

In the meanwhile, I’m in the process of restoring the first of my books back to wide distribution whilst saying a fond farewell to Kindle Unlimited. See ya!