State of the author, and my latest book


Thank you very much to everyone who’s so far bought/read “Wood, Iron, and Blood“, my latest Western novel and the first in the new series “The Annals of Ash”.

It’s been published for two weeks now, and is proving popular – so much so that it’s been the #1 New Release in the Amazon category “Classic Action & Adventure” for more than a week.  (Click the image for a larger view.)

The print edition is now available, as is a revised version of the e-book, in which I’ve corrected half-a-dozen typos to which readers drew my attention.  I’m annoyed about them being there.  I try very hard to put out a book that’s as “clean” and correct as I can make it, and I slipped up in a few places on this one.  I’ll try to do better for subsequent ones.  (Speaking of that, I’m having trouble at present holding down my muse, who’s trying to get me to start the second book in the Ash series.  I have several others needing to be completed in the short term, so I’m trying to batten down the hatches on my Western muse while listening harder to the science fiction one!)

If you’ve already bought the e-book edition and want to get the revised edition, simply re-download it from Amazon.  You can do that through your “Content & Devices” menu, found under the “Account & Lists” heading.  To make sure you get the revisions, I suggest waiting a week or so before doing that, to give Amazon time to update their download system.

Yesterday was a bitter-sweet moment.  I was more than half-way through the sixth volume of the military-science-fiction Maxwell Saga, to be titled “Venom Strike”;  but it wasn’t working as I wanted it to.  It was getting overly convoluted, meandering away from the central plot and incorporating too many side issues.  I therefore took a command decision and axed over 20,000 words from the manuscript.  The remaining 30,000 are tightly focused around a particular individual and sub-plot, and will remain key to the book;  but I’ll write a new opening chapter or two, then continue with a fresh approach.  I know there are plenty of fans waiting for the next Maxwell novel, and I don’t want to disappoint them with second-rate work.  It’ll mean a delay in publication, possibly pushing it out into March instead of February, but I’m sure you’d rather have a good book than a mediocre one.  I’ll do my best for you.

(By the way, new editions of the Maxwell Saga will shortly be issued, with updates to improve them – no changes to the storylines, just improving the punctuation, replacing words that were too often repeated with synonyms, that sort of thing.  Because it was my first series, I’ve learned a lot since the first books were written, and I’d like to make them better.  I’ll include update instructions when I publish the new editions.)

People often ask me whether I make more money from book purchases, or “borrows” through Kindle Unlimited, Amazon’s subscription library.  I make about twice as much on the sale of an e-book compared to a loan:  effectively, given partial reads, it takes 3-4 KU borrows to produce the same income as a single e-book sale.  If I could sell that many instead of lending them, I’d be a lot better off!

However, I understand that for many people, particularly in today’s difficult economic circumstances, book purchases are a luxury they simply can’t afford.  For them, a $10 monthly subscription to KU, giving them unlimited access to books in that program, is much more economical and affordable;  so I continue to make my books available through it.  I’d much rather have more readers, spreading the word about how much they like my books, than only a few readers who can afford them.  Other authors have taken the decision to withdraw their books from KU, and/or to “go wide”, publishing their books on other outlets besides Amazon.  That’s their choice, and I wish them well.  Only time will tell who made the best decision(s) in economic terms.

I did a quick analysis this morning.  Based on recent sales, my income stream across all my books breaks down to 35.5% from e-book purchases, 2.5% from print purchases, and 62% from KU borrows.  That varies by book, too:  on some volumes, I get as much as 75% of my income from KU borrows, with relatively few sales.  I hope that answers the questions of those who want to know how my writing income breaks down.  It’s not yet at a level where I can afford to live on it, but combined with my wife’s income from her job, we cope.  As I get more books out there, I hope to improve our finances even more.

I’m never going to be able to afford to retire (my pension went south along with my pastoral career when I took a stand over the clergy child sex abuse scandal), but with my readers’ help, I’ll hopefully be able to earn enough to compensate for that.



  1. It was interesting to see how your writing style matured with experience as i progressed through your Maxwell Saga series. I am looking forward to the new book. Quality is more important than quantity. I'm glad you stepped back and took a second look at the book in progress. You have enough interesting characters that it would be easy to branch out and lose focus. I'm sure you will be happier with the revised approach.

    I'm also looking forward to the third book in the Laredo War Trilogy.

  2. I am in awe of your incredible productivity and quality. I wish you continued success and increased profitability. You do great work.

  3. I try to get you as much money as possible by first reading your books on KU, thenbreturning the KU and buying the e-book.
    I will look forward to the print edition as well. Will you have signed copies available?
    Thanks, John

  4. @John in Indy: I can do signed copies, but it's complicated, because part of my contract with Amazon's KDP publishing arm is that they are the sole vendors of my books. This means you have to order the book from them, then mail it to me for me to sign, then I have to mail it back to you. I don't mind doing this at all, but it's a pain for all parties. It's easier if you can get to a convention where I'll be attending, because I can sign your copy there. This year, I'm hoping to be at Tulkon in Tulsa, OK, and at LibertyCon in Chattanooga, TN.

  5. I just bought the dead tree version.

    I think that's what I'm going to start doing since whenever I have a quiet moment to sit and read the damn kindle is out of gas. And honestly, I can pick up a paperback a month for Kindle Unlimited.

    And when reading on my ipad you can see the fuel gauge (battery level) drop in front of your eyes.

    Heading on a fast train to geezertude. Soon, I'd read nothing that isn't from the library or second hand.

  6. I always buy the Kindle version. I'd love to own the hardcover books, but moving to the retirement home in southwest Colorado we don't have the bookshelves.

    If you can work any of the Ames books into the Durango – Silverton area it would be great.

    Lee Smith

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