Monday, November 29, 2010

Another Chapter in Kindle History Tomorrow With Arrival of A New Thriller And A Very Intriguing Key Character

By Tom Dulaney, Editor

Another chapter in Kindle history will be made tomorrow, with the release of a new thriller that reviewers love from an author who has a multi-book contract from a major publisher, thanks to the Kindle and Amazon’s Digital Text Publishing (DTP) platform.

And how's this for a great character for a thriller! Look at his dossier:

He worked on NASA's space station project. He endured rigorous astronaut training, amusing his peers when floating in the zero gravity flight of NASA's famed Vomit Comet. 

Moving on, he added a Ph. D., from Virginia Tech, in engineering to his credentials. Next he dreamed up 11 US patents at Thomson/RCA, the high-tech engineering company. Next career stop: managing one of Microsoft's Xbox video game testing groups.

He mastered assuming other identities by acting professionally in films, commercials and stage plays.

Like any great thriller hero, he's handsome and daring. He challenges raging white water rivers in rafts, skis like James Bond being chased, scuba dives adventurously like Dirk Pitt, and bungee jumps to fill remaining spare moments.

A well rounded brainy and brawny hero, he asked all the right questions to become an official Jeopardy champion.

His love interest, a beautiful English major, harbored a secret and impossible dream that changed his life. She wanted to become a doctor. Our hero had a dream of his own. For love, he shelved his dream for years to support his leading lady while she attended med school.

She promised, and he agreed, that when she got her MD, he would be free to follow his heart's desire.

Though he's held the most fantastic jobs at NASA and Microsoft, though he tests himself against the elements in daring extreme sports, none of that is enough. The dream he had as a kid burned within during the years of supporting his med school student.

The day came, she got her degree. She was a doctor, he was free. So he set aside all the glitzy jobs, pulled out his chair, fired up his computer, and at last set out on his dream-quest. Writing novels, thrillers to be exact.

The story rises toward a peak as the hero faces an uncaring publishing industry. He makes all the right moves, attends all the right meetings, meets the major thriller writers socially at writers' conventions.

More challenges lined up to take him on as the words flowed. He needed an agent. How would he find a publisher? Would anybody buy his books?  Unknown to him as he wrote over the years, science and technology would create an unusual gadget that would change his life.

He burst with book ideas, using his deep knowledge of the sciences and engineering, plus his wide experiences gliding down mountains on skis, underwater in scuba gear, hanging from a bungee cord and roaring down white water rivers.

He wrote three books combining science and action. One idea for a thriller envisioned a cataclysmic wave. He tapped the story out on his keyboard: A monster tsunami roars across the Pacific Ocean. Hawaii, a puny obstacle, lies in the tsunami's path. Over 2 million people will die.

What more fantastic fictional character can we cook up to send to Honolulu just as the rogue wave appears on Hawaii's horizon? He's perfect for it—gutsy, strong, daring, a scientist with a passion for action.

It's a shame our accomplished, handsome and athletic hero can't appear in the book, but it's impossible.

He's the author, and there's nothing fictional about the man.

He's real. His name is Boyd Morrison. And his thriller Rogue Wave delivers in the Amazon Kindle Store on November 30. for a bargain price of $5.99

Boyd, the living author and not a character, has already dared the fates. In 2003, he set out to write the best thrillers the world has ever seen. After grinding out three novels, he tried to scale the fortress walls of the publishing empire.

I got what I call 'wonderful rejections' from publishers who said they loved this or that about the book, but didn't want it,” he told Planet iPad's editor Tom Dulaney in an exclusive interview earlier this year. “Curiously, there was little consistency of complaint from the 25 publishing houses that turned thumbs down on the novel.”

One said there was not enough action,” he said. “Another thought there was too much action—which I thought an odd thing since it is a thriller.”

With no clear guidance from the conflicting rejections, “I didn't know what to fix.”

From 2007, the next two years saw only a string of rejections. “By 2009 we were finished,” Morrison said. He and his agent, Irene Goodman, had been rebuffed by all of the New York publishing houses. “We were pretty much done,” he adds.

He speaks in passing of “many dark days” but he didn't quit entirely. In 2009, he asked his agent if he could give the book away. The plan: post them on his web site for any and all to take. “I thought maybe we could build some buzz. She said to go for it.”

The book went up on the web, free. “At about that time I saw that anyone could self-publish in the Kindle store,” he said. “I had considered self publishing in print, but that was more trouble than I was willing to take on.”

It was really an afterthought to publish a Kindle version, just something else to do to try to find readers,” Morrison says. “I did no promotion—just put the books up to see what would happen.”

Actually, he made low level efforts to tout the book in discussion forums on the web. That's where I first heard of Boyd, by reading his polite assistance offered to another person in the discussion group.

I would go to discussion forums and see people recommending the books,” he said.

In the Kindle Forum, Kindle Social Network, Morrison gently announced his books and left links to buy them on Amazon. That social network has some 2,200 members overall in about a dozen subgroups based on topic.

But Morrison monitored the group, and others like it, and responded when group members asked questions he could answer.

You have to be really careful,” he explained. “You have to be contributing to the group” in useful ways, not just pushing your products on the people.

His three “babies” waiting in the Amazon Kindle Store were The Ark, The Adamas Blueprint, and the Palmyra Impact.

People started talking in the social network groups. Early buyers of the books gave them good or great reviews. Things were moving.

One was Number 1 in the technothriller category for a month, and all three were in the top five for a while,” Morrisson says.

The books took off. “I was selling at a rate of about 4,500 a month, and that was rising,” Morrison said.

While it was the Kindle and Digital Text Publishing that brought Morrison to the attention of a wider audience, it was another Kindle that helped.

That was about the time the Kindle 2 was released,” Morrison said. “A lot of people were flooding in” as new Kindle owners, primed to download books with their new toy. With his books ranked high on the bestseller lists in the technothriller category, “people saw the books and the good reviews. It created a virtual cycle.” Sales took off.

The books landed in the Kindle store on March 13, 2009. Sales ramped up. By mid-June, some 7,500 of the books had sold on Amazon, and another 7,500 or so had been downloaded from his web site.

They were selling at a rate of about 3,500 to 4,000 a month by June,” Morrison said, crediting the good fortune of having the books in the right place on Amazon when Kindle 2 sales helped push them up.

All three books were pulled from Amazon's virtual shelves in mid-June 2009.

The Kindle sales figures had broken the barriers, and Simon and Schuster entered negotiations with Morrison and his agent. The books disappeared from the Kindle Store while talks went on, not to return until each book was formally released in print.

Tomorrow, Rogue Wave (previously known to its first readers as The Palmyra Impact) arrives and delivers in the Kindle Store. It's available for pre-order now. It joins The Ark, which Simon & Schuster's Touchstone imprint released on May 11 this year.

The Ark sailed into port amidst the price storm between Amazon and the major publishers. The Ark's price, $11.99, “was set by the publisher,” its Amazon page notes.

Rogue Wave's price is $5.99 for either the Kindle edition or the mass market paperback. Because the price is fixed on the physical book, it seems unlikely it will go up for the Kindle edition. But odder things have happened this year.

On the night before its release, Rogue Wave is at about 35,700 in the Kindle ranking for sales. The Ark is around the 32,000 mark.

The Ark's reviewers give a strong indication of what readers can expect from Rogue Wave. The Ark has 120 reviewers, with 67 giving 5 Stars and 31 awarding it 4 stars. High marks from 82% of all readers.

Boyd told me several weeks ago that he is well into yet another thriller as Rogue Wave rumbles into Kindle readers' electronic libraries overnight.

The book has been changed since I read its previous incarnation as a self-published eBook, so there were be no plot summary from me here. However, I'm glad my Kindle was light in weight. I was so stressed by the action in the book that, for the first time, I had to pace around the house as I read the concluding chapters.

It's that good and, in this reporter's opinion, could very well launch Boyd Morrison to the uppermost reaches of the bestseller lists.

Here's Boyd's description of Rogue Wave, from his web site:

Honolulu, Hawaii. Tourist Paradise. Hell on Earth.

Over the remote central Pacific, an airliner halfway through its Memorial Day flight from Los Angeles to Sydney is suddenly rocked by a massive explosion. Despite the pilot’s valiant efforts, the blast sends it plummeting into the ocean, leaving no witnesses to the fireball.

Kai Tanaka, the new and untested director of the Pacific Tsunami Warning Center in Honolulu, notes a minor seismic disturbance in that region but doesn’t make the connection with the lost airplane. There’s no reason to be worried about his wife, who is the manager of a luxury hotel, or his daughter, who is enjoying the sunny holiday morning at Waikiki with friends.

But when all contact with Christmas Island and its 3000 inhabitants is lost, Kai is the first to realize that Hawaii faces a catastrophe of epic proportions: in one hour, a series of massive waves will wipe out Honolulu. He has just sixty minutes to save the lives of a million people, including his wife and daughter…

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