eBook Distributor Review

This is a comparison of various ebook distribution services. A lot of these companies provide MORE services than just ebook distribution, but this review will only highlight them based on the maturity and value of their ebook distribution service.

This list is informational only, and will hopefully give self-publishing authors a good starting point to go out and do further research on each service to review the “fine print” and make their own decision.

http://www.bookbaby.com – $149 + ISBN

http://www.lulu.com – 20% of retail sales, but no start up fees. Offers free ISBN in the Lulu Publishing Wizard. However, purchasing your own ISBN makes you the Publisher of your book.

http://www.smashwords.com – 60% of retail sales, but n0 start up fees

http://www.ebookpartnership.com – $99 one time fee and zero commission

http://www.booktrope.com – Requires you to submit your book for consideration.

http://www.bookfuel.com – Service fee model. $99 to distribute ebook to one venue of your choice. $149 for all 5 venues that they cater to (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Google Play, and Apple iBookstore)

http://www.bookmasters.com – Have to request a free quote, but they distribute to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, OverDrive, and Apple iBookstore

http://www.ingramspark.com – 40% (45% if you choose not to distribute to Amazon). I personally didn’t like their ebook distribution service (which is specifically what this review is about), but I do love their Print-On-Demand service.

If you think I am missing some that others should know about, please let me know in the comments below.

Book Review: The Way of Kings

The Way of KingsRating: 5 out of 5 stars!

Overview: This is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, written by the infamous Brandon Sanderson. It is the 1st book in The Stormlight Archive series and is just over 1,000 pages long. It is an adult fantasy novel, but is appropriate for even young adults.

Spoiler Free Plot: Brandon Sanderson is a master at world building. This is a world that gets hit by recurring highly destructive storms called highstorms and the plant life has adapted to live in these conditions. The book follows many different characters: a highprince, a bridgeman, and a ward. Each character has intriguing character traits, riveting personal backgrounds, and dilemmas that they are trying to overcome. The plot is about a 6 year long war that has been going on in an attempt at vengeance over the assassination of the King, and what this war means for the future of the kingdom.

Review: I quickly grew addicted to the characters and their lives. I felt connected to them, sharing in their struggles and their moral complications. I can’t recommend this book enough; it was one of the best books I’ve ever read and I can’t wait to start the sequel! I’m convinced that any fan of fantasy would love The Way of Kings as much as I and will appreciate the artwork that was sprinkled throughout to help bring the world of Roshar to life.

Book Review: Ender’s Game

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars – I highly recommend this book!

Overview: Ender’s Game is a science fiction novel written by Orson Scott Card in 1985. It’s the first book in a 5 part series.

Spoiler Free Plot: Ender Wiggin is a young boy genius and is recruited into an intense military tactical training school in preparation for the 3rd invasion against the buggers – an alien race.

Review: I grew to love Ender Wiggin. His character was very likable and instantly drew me in. I was always intrigued by his trials and tribulations throughout his tactical training school. Even more so, I was enthralled by his genius. Orson Scott Card brought his character to life.

The first 3 chapters used terms before the reader knew what they meant. I’m sure it was a tactic to draw the reader in, but I was a little put off by it. None the less, once I fully understood the meaning behind the terms, I was already drawn in by the story. Near the end of the conflict, I had caught on to the ending before it was revealed, though I don’t think that ruined the novel at all. The chapter after the end of the conflict that was supposed to bring closure to all the loose ends was a bit strange. It rubbed me the wrong way, just as the first 3 chapters did – but regardless, the book was wildly entertaining!

I am a dedicated fantasy fan. As long as there is a fantasy book I haven’t read, I would rather read that before I switch genres. But, with Ender’s Game being a sci-fi novel, I thought I should give it a shot because of the movie that has come out – and I was blown away. This made me want to check out other sci-fi books, and that’s saying something.

Book Review: First King of Shannara

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Overview: This is an epic fantasy novel, targeted toward an adult audience, written by Terry Brooks. It is the Prelude to the the Original Shannara Trilogy (aka The Sword of Shannara Trilogy), but was actually written after the trilogy was completed.

Spoiler Free Plot: A rebel druid named Brona is amassing an army to wipe the elder races off the face of the planet. Only Bremen and his cohorts can stand in his way. But to destroy someone as powerful as Brona, a magical sword must be forged, and only the King of Shannara can wield it.

Review: The only reason why I didn’t give this 5 stars is because I became picky over Brooks’ writing style. I can’t count how many times he used the words subverted and subjugated. Additionally, his writing style sometimes “told” you what was happening, instead of “showing” you. And there was one spot where I thought the protagonists were cornered, about to meet their maker, and then suddenly a secret passage was available for them to escape (a huge let down – very similar to a deus ex machina). But that about sums up my gripes.

However, the story was very entertaining and fun! I felt like I personally knew the characters by the end, and there was tensions and action throughout the book! I feel like I would have been even more surprised at certain points had I read the trilogy first, so I would recommend reading this last.

The book was well structured, separated into 3 parts. It followed the individual stories of many of the cohorts that supported Bremen’s plan to thwart the evil Brona, and each was gripping and fast paced. There was never a moment when I thought the book was sluggish, and I highly recommend it to any fan of fantasy – as Terry Brooks is one of the greats!

Book Review: Dragon Champion

Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars. My favorite book of all time!

Overview: This is a fantasy novel by E. E. Knight written entirely from a dragon’s perspective. It is book 1 out of 6 in The Age of Fire series.

Spoiler Free Plot: The book begins with Auron hatching out of his egg. The reader is quickly engrossed in the life and culture of a dragon and his family, learning the stages of their development (breathing fire, sprouting wings, etc). In addition, Auron is a grey dragon, which means he doesn’t have scales like the other colors, but he became the champion of his clutch (hence the title of the novel). Once Auron is out on his own, he encounters a wide variety of unique allies throughout his adventures as he tries to find his place as a dragon in a world where they are becoming increasingly rare.

Review: This instantly became my favorite book ever! Viewing the world from a dragon’s eyes made everything seem foreign and new.  The amount of thought put behind the culture of dragons (how they communicate, the way their name changes as they reach a certain stage of their life, how they get new scales, the unique names for their front and back limbs, etc) was part of why this book captured me as a reader. There was a balance of humor, action, adventure, suspense, and wonder throughout this whole book. It was gripping.

I’d also like to give props to E. E. Knight for not using a single curse word throughout the novel. In addition, I felt that the relationships the Auron formed were real. The vast assortment of characters really come to life; this book was a pleasure to read and is easily my #1 recommended book from here on out. I can’t wait to finish reading the rest of the series.

Author Spotlight – Sylvia Day

This is a new post that is different from my others, and I hope to do more like this down the road, but this is especially unique since the author I am featuring is a Romance author (and I tend to focus around Fantasy, if anything). Sylvia Day is what I would consider a very successful author and regardless of genre, there is something we could all learn from any author’s success and/or failures. Since my wife is a big fan of Sylvia Day, I have come to learn a lot about this author by proxy and since today (6/4/2013) marks the release of her newest book, Entwined With You, I thought it more than appropriate to speculate on the events that occurred.

Sylvia Day’s marketing plan for her newest book was impressive. This is the 3rd book (out of 5) in her Crossfire series. To develop hype for the release of her new novel, she released a “Snapshot” for each of her chapters once a week on her social networking sites, all the way up to the release date of her novel. The snapshot was simply just a picture that was a clue to give readers what that chapter was about. She received hundreds of comments per post from all the fans guessing at what the picture infers about the story. Leveraging her 63,000 Twitter followers and over 89,000 Facebook likes, this was an extraordinarily simple and successful marketing method.

In addition, my wife has informed me that Sylvia Day can finish writing a novel in just 3 months time. Must be nice to be a full time author, right? Well, let’s look at it from this angle. According to my wife, the two main characters, Eva and Gideon, were completely different in this book from the first two. Is this a side effect of the author spreading herself too thin by having too many projects going on at once? I’ll say this, if you are an author (published or not) it is definitely something to be aware of, as spreading yourself too thin degrades the quality of your work. If you are writing multiple novels at once, you might not be as engrossed in your characters as you would be if you focused on one novel at a time.

Watching the release of Entwined With You today (6/4/2013) confirmed that my wife is not alone in her opinion of the book. As evidenced by the NUMEROUS 1 Star reviews on Amazon, Sylvia’s characters and her story took a turn for the worse. Some say that this is because she turned what was originally designed to be a trilogy into a 5-book series. It’s interesting to see the backlash from readers on this when you consider Christopher Paolini and his Inheritance series. He did the same thing and stretched his story from 3 books into 4, but he did not receive the negative criticism that Sylvia Day received all over her Amazon reviews and her Facebook page. This is why planning and outlining your story is so important, and if you must deviate from your plan, ensure that it is handled with care.

UPDATE (6/7/2013): To be fair, I shouldn’t skew my review of the events that occured as her book reviews were not all negative. However, as an author that is learning from the events that transpired, the community backlash was powerful enough that she thought it needed to be addressed. Here are two posts from Sylvia Day’s Facebook. (By the way, in just 3 days since this original post, she gained 4,000 more Facebook likes, now over 93,000 fans). Let’s look at how she has handled this situation:

 

Book Review: Orcs – Bodyguard of Lightning

Rating: 2.5 out of 5 stars

Overview: The book depicted on the left is really 3 books in a single volume, containing Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder, and Warriors of the Tempest. ORCS is an adult fantasy novel written by Stan Nicholls.

Plot: An orc named Stryke leads a band of orcs known as the Wolverines. He has been commanded by a sorceress named Jennesta to return a cylinder to her. What should have been an easy task for a unit of their skill, quickly spirals out of control.

Review: This book is supposed to revolutionary by telling a story from the point of view of the orcs, adding culture and character to an otherwise mindless tyrannical evil race that, in other books, would destroy things just for the sake of destruction. But not in ORCS, no. The Wolverines were far too civilized and human-like for my taste. They cared for one another (and others), and they often voted on making a decision. I expected in-fighting and animosity, but that only occured between Jup (a dwarf) and Haskeer. . . that’s right, they have a dwarf in their unit and he’s the 3rd highest ranking person!

This book is like a classic action movie. Big on the combat scenes (which I enjoyed), but weak on the plot. The plot spun out of control pretty rapidly. Once the cylinder was stolen from the orcs, the plot became: Let’s go get it back, let’s keep it for ourselves even though we don’t know what it is, let’s conveniently learn about it from an old gremlin guy, let’s go searching for more of these and become renegades. Meanwhile, Jennesta sits back in her castle and sends unit after unit after unit of people to go hunt down the Wolverines. I felt like the author’s story wasn’t planned. The characters continually debated what they should be doing, and most of the time it was hard to agree with their logic (meaning, I found lots of holes in this story).

While the action scenes were memorable, and even though it ended on a major cliffhanger, I was not impressed enough to read the rest of the volume… not when I have other books to choose from, at least.