Keith Robinson is the author of various fantasy and sci-fi series suitable for all ages. He is best known for the popular Island of Fog series. He publishes 3-4 books a year, most recently Sinister Roots (Island of Fog Legacies #2) in August 2016. He is currently working on Book 3 of the same series, due for release around Christmas 2016.
Happy holidays, massive downloads, foggy plans, black comedies, and daft ideas
Posted on December 26, 2016 (Subscribe to Blog)
Happy Holidays, all ye readers out there!
As usual, a warm welcome to new subscribers since my last post. Most of you subscribed via my "Free Fractured" offer, and I'm curious to know how many have actually read that free sci-fi book by now versus putting it aside to read later? Either way is fine with me, I'm just interested.
So what's new this month? Well, I'm VERY close to finishing Gargoyle Scourge, which of course should have been finished already by now. The third book in the Island of Fog Legacies series is (now) set for release early February 2017, a few months later than originally planned due to an unexpectedly busy schedule and some other things that have gotten in the way. Actually, today is the first day in two weeks that I've had time to sit down at my computer and do something that doesn't involve my day job as a website designer. Shocking!
Anyway, on with recent happenings...
The Most Downloads Ever
On October 22nd (my birthday), I ran a promotion for Island of Fog (Book 1) on Bookbub. Before that promotion, free downloads of the book were at a snail's pace, a mere trickle compared with previous years:
Oct 18 – 54
Oct 19 – 39
Oct 20 – 77
Oct 21 – 65
On the day of the Bookbub promotion, I got a nice boost, though not as many as expected:
Oct 22 – 3426
These downloads came in over a few hours, a notable climb every time I refreshed the screen. This is all pretty standard stuff. The promo started around 10 AM my time, and the download stats started leaping over the rest of the morning and into the afternoon. By the evening, it had tailed off a bit. But downloads over the next few days were notably higher that in the days prior to the promo, what's known as the tail-end of the promo:
Oct 23 – 888
Oct 24 – 395
Oct 25 – 246
Oct 26 – 212
I was okay with the results, though not blown away. The most downloads I'd ever experienced in one promo was around 11,600 a few years ago. Many have been 5000+ since. So this one was not all that impressive.
And then something weird happened.
I looked in one day and stared at the screen, thinking there had to be an error. Apparently, I'd just received a massive bump in downloads:
Oct 27 – 35,418
What struck me as odd was that this number just appeared as if by magic. It wasn't like I checked in at 10 AM and saw a few thousand extra downloads, then checked again every ten minutes and saw that number climbing in increments of a few hundred or a few thousand. No, the jump occurred instantly in the space of a few hours. And there was no tail-end this time, either. Downloads went right back as they had been the day before.
I checked with Amazon to see if was a mistake. They said, "...I looked into the download numbers for "Island of Fog (Book 1)" and can confirm that the number is correct and that the report is working as designed. You did receive 35,418 free downloads on 27 October 2016..."
Well, this is great news, right? Except... where's all the peripheral movement? When you receive a deluge of downloads like this, you expect a whole bunch of new reviews, subscribers, sales of other books, and so on. But not in this case.
Since then, my overall daily downloads have improved, so I guess those 35,000+ downloads counted for something. It just doesn't feel like they were real. A few years ago, when I received 11,600 downloads, I more than quadrupled my sales over the next month or so, and that was for only five books in the series. Now I have nine books in the series, and my sales have not even doubled despite the promo.
Anyway, I just thought I'd share. It appears that the conversion of free downloads to other sales is much, much lower than it once was. 11,600 downloads to other sales used to be around 2% (meaning 2% of those readers bought one or more other books in the series). Now it's more like 0.2%. That's really lame.
Foggy Plans for 2017
I scratched my eye the other day, and the screen is a little foggy right now. But that's not what I meant by foggy plans for the new year. You see, it's not escaped my attention that the Island of Fog Legacies series isn't selling anywhere near as many as the original Island of Fog series. And by that, I mean that readers aren't naturally moving on from Book 9, Castle of Spells, to Book 1, Unicorn Hunters. I'd hoped the series would gain a bit more traction since it's so clearly linked to the original books, but I guess not. Maybe if I'd done this instead:
#1 Island of Fog
#2 Labyrinth of Fire
#3 Mountain of Whispers
#4 Lake of Spirits
#5 Roads of Madness
#6 Chamber of Ghosts
#7 Valley of Monsters
#8 Prison of Despair
#9 Castle of Spells
#10 Unicorn Hunters
#11 Sinister Roots
#12 Gargoyle Scourge
This, in theory, would have ensured sales of those Legacies books. But I wanted to be up-front and make a clear distinction between the two series. There are, after all, twenty years between them. And anyway, the format has changed, the characters have changed, and so on. It would have been wrong to just stick the new series on the end of the other.
As a result of being honest, I have dismally low sales of the Legacies series. In fact, I've sold four times more Castle of Spells (at $4.99 each) than I've given away Unicorn Hunters (for free). So obviously not all readers of the original series are moving on. The question is: why?
Is it not clear that the series does in fact continue, albeit twenty years on?
Is it that readers reach Book 9 and feel that's enough of this world?
Is the idea of Fog books without Hal and Abigail in them just not appealing?
I'd love to know. I'm a writer, not a marketing expert. If I were a marketing expert, I might be rich by now :-)
Anyway, the point is, all this gives me pause with regards to Island of Fog and even the Sleep Writer books. I've been wanting to write an adult black comedy (or comedy horror), and maybe 2017 is a good time to do so. I don't mean give up the Fog entirely, but certainly take a step sideways for a few months and try something new.
Black Comedy Horror
I've had an idea for a while now that I'd like to have a stab at. In fact, I've had a few ideas, but one in particular keeps badgering me for attention. Since the idea is a little Syfy Channel-ish, I like the idea of making it a tongue-in-cheek black comedy rather than try to be serious. It would be a trilogy of three short books, each standalone but heavily connected, basically three facets of the same event – a deadly alien attack on Earth, three different approaches to see what kills humans the most efficiently.
I have another idea I want to explore, a quirky sci-fi comedy, but that one's a bit sketchy on details. I have some random chapters already written in my head. It's the rest of the book I need to fill in.
Ideas Out of Nowhere
I mentioned earlier than I'd scratched my eye. I was just sitting there in my recliner minding my business when, out of the blue, something got in my eye. I did my usual thing trying to get it loose, but it wouldn't budge. I spent the next FIVE HOURS trying to wash it out, all to no avail. Maybe I'd scratched it right away, or maybe it just got lodged too far up and around the back. I don't know. But it drove me nuts. I went to bed early.
The next morning, whatever it was had mysterious gone. So either the foreign object had worked its way out, or the scratch had repaired itself overnight. I spent the day with a puffy, blurred eye, which was fine because it didn't hurt and I could return to normality.
The day after that (yesterday), it was no longer puffy or blurred. Instead, I had very clear double vision.
Today, that double vision is almost gone. I'm typing this now with only mild straining to see the words on the screen.
I'm hoping that, tomorrow, all will be back to normal.
But ideas pop into my head at the daftest times. What if, after you scratch your eye and suffer double vision, you start to see things that you can't normally see? Things that are slightly out of phase and can only be viewed when your vision is altered? How would you persuade others there are aliens among us? Would you go around trying to scratch their eyeballs so they can see too?
I know this is a silly idea and not worthy of any more thought, but it does highlight the way ideas "just happen."
I had another idea while waiting for a concrete truck to show up a few months ago. I was supposed to be getting a yard of concrete after the truck driver was done with a bigger pouring job down the road. The truck arrived, but it had run out of concrete because the other job had needed more than expected. The cheek of it!!
Anyway, it started me thinking. Why can't the concrete mixing company just use wormholes to deliver their aggregate rather than using trucks? Just mix the concrete, then pour it into a wormhole. Imagine a hoopla. Pour the concrete into it. The stuff mysteriously vanishes and appears magically miles away on a job site, where a worker holds a similar hoopla over the forms where the concrete is needed. Simple! An endless supply of concrete as needed, no truck, and no waste.
I'm pretty sure this idea, as daft as it may be, will wind up in my quirky sci-fi novel one day.
That, and a maniac trying to scratch people's eyes out.
More soon. Happy New Year!
I downloaded the free copy of Fractured and after reading about half of the first chapter I logged on to Amazon and bought a copy for my Kindle. Good book.
THANK YOU, Louis! :-)
So, I started reading the Island of Fog books when I was ten or eleven, a few years ago. I'm in my teens now, and I have to say, I've pretty much outgrown them. Since the books were such a huge part of my childhood, I would definitely read a new installment with the original characters right away. However, I read Unicorn Hunters, and although I enjoyed it, without the appeal of the old characters, at my age I didn't find it quite intriguing enough to buy the next one right away. (I probably will soon, though.)
Thanks, Lyra. Understood, and good to know!
Hi Keith! My husband and I absolutely love the Island Of Fog series AND Legacies! We live not far from your neck of the woods and we have a forty minute drive to work. i am what he calls his "living audio book" because i read from my kindle on our drive to and from work. We are in our mid forties. Once we got started on this series there was no question about whether we would continue on to the next. Please dont get discouraged, we are excitedly waiting on your third book to come out!
Thank you Charlotte! Good to hear. :-) Where are you located?
I love the first book Island of Fog so far. I just started reading this series and plan to continue.
I started reading the Island of Fog series with my daughter, Lilah, who is now 12. We started before you had finished the series and read through the books at a leisurely pace. We loved your writing and don't regret what we spent to read those books. And, honestly, the content was so good that we couldn't resist continuing to the next book every time we finished the current one. My daughter was ready to try something else when we finished the series, just wanting a change of pace, scenery, or something. Committing to the cost of the next series made me hesitate a little, although had Lilah been eager I probably would have done it. Having a great local library system makes it harder to commit to paying for books. Nevertheless, I have followed along with your blog and read the short stories to Lilah periodically. We may some day reconsider our decision to start on Unicorn Hunters. Thanks for the good material. We have enjoyed it!
Debbie, sometimes I wish I could erase my memory and read the series for the first time just to be objective about it. :-D
Mike and Lilah, it's so nice to hear how you read them all, and I totally understand stopping after Book 9. That's the thing about children's books - the intended audience grows up!
I am between lafayette and noble on hwy 27. I was surprised and happy to find out that you were a local writer.
The kids (and parents) loved book one and we now have bought the whole series. Our son is dyslexic so the accompanying audio downloads for book 1 to 3 have been great. Are there any plans to make the rest of the series into audio books?
Thanks, Rich! Unfortunately I don't have plans to turn books 4-9 into audiobooks anytime soon. It's just too expensive. I got the first two books done for free on a 50/50 royalty split, but I had to pay for the third, and though I get 100% of its royalties, I don't think it'll earn out in the long term unless I get a sudden deluge of sales.
Hope you enjoy the series though! :-)
Just finished Island of Fog and really enjoyed it. I do plan on getting the other books in the series but have to get them slowly as I'm on a strict budget right now (beginning of the year meeting of deductions on medications) so money is really tight but I'll get them later this year. I do hope that you continue writing different things as I do enjoy your style and ideas. Thanks for keeping boredom away with delightful stories. Keep up the good work!
I appreciate that, Diane R, and I'll do my best to continue the fight against boredom!
I just finished reading Island of Fog to my daughter (a free download sometime last fall). We loved it! She is dyslexic and the continuity of series are easier for her to follow so we plan to read the entire series. Thanks for a great read!
Good to hear, Ron! Thanks also for your kind review on Amazon. :-)
I just finished reading Island of Fog and enjoyed it greatly! I will be reading the rest of the series! You are a great writer!
Welcome aboard, Terry. :-)