I can’t get over how busy the past four months have been for me. While I have been writing a little, editing a lot and formatting books, an equal amount of time (if not more) has been spent offline, away from the computer.
Life is going in the direction I had planned, so I’m far from complaining. However, I am rethinking a few things I had planned.
For instance, I wrote two short novels last year, both under 70,000 words. They were not fantasy and because of advice from other writers and Amazon’s algorithms, I had decided to publish these and others of similar fashion under a new pen name. Of course, a new pen name would create a few challenges of its own, but I was prepared to tackle them.
One of my genealogy columns published over the summer was titled There’s No Guarantee in Life or Death. It’s about wills and estates, something I’ve been thinking about a lot in the past six months because my mom is in the final stages of Alzheimer’s Disease. I’m thinking about my final wishes more than hers (hers are taken care of) and wondering what mess I might leave my kids to sort through. I’m also wondering about the things I value, such as my genealogy research and the books I’ve written, and who would appreciate them most.
“In these days where diseases, such as dementia, are on the rise, I believe it is less likely the well-thought out plan for estates will be executed.”
Why? Because a person’s ability to control their affairs and stuff while they’re still alive becomes almost impossible when diseases of the brain take hold. This leaves control of their stuff with those they live with or those, family or friends, who enter their home to see to their daily needs.
The story about Christiane Serruya broke last week or the week before. I’ve been ignoring most of it, getting the gist of it and carrying on because February is a busy writing and editing month for me. However, I read a post by Nora Roberts a few days ago and another yesterday which made me stop and think about this whole writing thing and word theft.
Below are my thoughts on the matter. They won’t be what others think, but these are mine. Take them for what they are worth. When it comes to the written word, the one word that screams at me is integrity.
I can’t remember the first time or the first book I read by Nora Roberts. It was long ago. I’ve read several and while I’m impressed with the stories, what impresses me most about this woman is her ability to churn out stories. She is a writing machine I wish to emulate.
My teen-aged son loves to attend truck pulls at exhibitions. He only has his beginners, but he’s itching to get behind the wheel and has created elaborate schemes that would see him get there before he has his full driver’s licence. He has yet to successfully carry out a scheme, but his mind is always working on it.
The videos he captures at these truck pulls are mashed together and posted to his YouTube channel. After a big pull at the end of August, I told him I’d share his link on my Twitter feed, thinking I’d be helping him spread the word so he’d have more subscribers and more views.
“You can’t do that,” he said. “You’d muddy my brand.”
For a guy who has no problem getting muddy on his four-wheeler, he had a real problem with mud on ‘his brand’. He knows little about marketing – or does he?
Although it’s tough to admit it, six years ago, I made a horrible mistake in my publishing journey. After publishing the first book in my Castle Keepers fantasy series, Shadows in the Stone, I should have buckled down and completed the draft to the second book in the series, Scattered Stones.
However, feeling the pressure to get more books on my publishing shelf, I wrote a few short stories that were not in the fantasy genre. They were quick writes, quickly edited by my editor and quickly published. I soon had four books on my shelf. It looked impressive.
I was following the advice of those who believed the more books on a shelf, the more a writer gets noticed because they have a larger footprint.
However, those giving advice didn’t stress the vital fact that the books written should all be in one genre. Readers sometimes stick to one genre, so those who loved my fantasy novel might not like my contemporary stories about death, domestic abuse or a cranky neighbour.
Between putting the laundry in the washer and hanging it on the line and while I was making pancakes for my youngest child, washing dishes and waiting for the buzzer on the oven to go to indicate the cinnamon rolls were ready for extraction, an email popped up in my inbox.
The subject told me all I wanted to know, and if Amazon thought they’d surprise me, they couldn’t have been more mistaken: CreateSpace and Kindle Direct Publishing to become one service
I didn’t bother opening the message; I was too busy, and I knew what it was all about.
Well, hold onto your socks and chickens, it has nothing to do with footwear or fowl and everything to do with romance novels.
First, let me tell you the name of a writer who you have probably never heard of before. It seems this is part of the big mystery: no one knew who this writer was before cockygate became a thing. A copyright thing.
It all started a few days ago when news of an unknown writer getting exclusive rights to use a generic word in a book title hit Twitter. This all sounds very weird, and it’s about to get weirder.
The nobody’s name is Faleena Hopkins. The story begins for this woman on June 16, 2016 when she published the first book in the Cocky romance series. Since then, a few more books were published.
Over the past year or so, she’s claimed other romance writers have used the word ‘cocky’ to copycat her stories because there were so good, famous, long . . . cocky. This led to her claim that other writers used the same stock image as she did to get sales, tricking unsuspecting writers into buying their book instead of hers.
I’ve learned a lot about blogging since January 2011, when this blog came to life. Over the years, I’ve tweaked it and completed major renovations countless times. Sometimes I made these changes because I was bored with the site; other times I learnt how to improve the appearance and ‘saleability’ of it.
Along the way, I have strived to make the blog design user-friendly. After all, if visitors can’t find what they want and what I want them to find, it frustrates both parties. I’ve been on blogs and websites where information was difficult to locate. I usually give up and search for another site with the same information.
I hope my blog is user-friendly and things are easy to find, but I’m always looking for ways to improve the experience. So when D. Wallace Peach made a post entitled 7 Steps to a User-Friendly Blog, I had to see if there were any tips I could use.
There were, so if you have a blog, I suggest reading her post. Visually, it might not improve your page, but the behind-the-scenes technical stuff will improve a visitor’s experience.
After watching the movie The Way, I’ve decided to walk El Camino in spirit first while I wait for the opportunity to go to Spain. My trek of 880 kilometres will be tracked on my El Camino page. I’ve been walking since the end of May, but I didn’t start keeping track of the distance until July 1st.
So far, I’ve walked 95 km. I just left Puente la Reina, and I am on my way to Mañeru. So far, my feet feel great–especially with the new hiking shoes. However, my tendinitis is not improving. On the bright side, it’s not getting any worse.
A few weeks ago, I noticed something strange when I checked the stats for my blog. In the Referrer Section was a referral from me, or at least it appeared to be from me until I revealed the complete address. It began as dianetibert.com.cdn.ampproject.org followed by about 50 more letters and numbers.
The Referrer Section reveals the paths visitors take to get to my website. The majority are usually through search engines, WordPress.com reader, Facebook and Twitter, but I often get visitors from other sites too.
The names are familiar and if a new one pops up, I check it out. Knowing where traffic comes from helps in many ways, including informing me of new websites that may have information that will help me in my publishing / writing journey.
Many years ago, before self-publishing really took, the goal for many writers was to get a book permanently free at Amazon. It was relatively easy back then but for the past six years, Amazon has been reluctant to set books at permanently free. I was told the only way to do it was to set it for free at other vendors and hope (or scheme) customers would tell on you and Amazon would price match it. However, I’ve tried this several times over the years without luck. Until now.
I checked my sales record this week and discovered the book was being sold for free starting on May 9th. Yet, the book still showed a price of $0.99. Confused, I let it play out, watching my books be purchased for an invisible free price sticker. Last night, I checked again, and the Amazon sites finally revealed the true price: FREE.
Why do authors want a book permanently free? In my case, it’s because I want the first book in the series free in hopes the second book will be bought. Next spring, I hope to publish book 3 in the series, and with this boost in ‘sales’, it should do well. At least that is the hoped for outcome.
Last week I shared David Gaughran’s experience with Also Boughts at Amazon. Since then, he’s written a post to share more information on this subject from a different angle. Gaughran’s experience in analysing data such as this helps explain some of the mysteries behind how Amazon works. Read more about this in David Gaughran’s post Who’s Pointing at You.
Business Musings: Writers, Scam Artists, Agents, and More by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
I’ve been following Kristine for many years. She often has a lot to say about the writing business, writers, agents, publishers and everything else regarding the publishing world. This post is no different. We may enter a relationship with an agent, editor or publishing company thinking this is the best thing ever only to learn months or years down the line that it was the worst thing ever.
Here’s what Kristine writes…
Just when I thought it was safe to get back into the water…
I’m editing a lot these days. I only edit short fiction projects. Anthologies, anthology series (Fiction River), the occasional nonfiction book, and some magazines. I’m also consulting with the fine folks at WMG Publishing, because they’ll be handling the contracts for the revival of Pulphouse next year. Dean’s vision for Pulphouse includes reprinting some of the older stories, which means we have to deal with estates.
Too often, estates mean agents.
But even some lazy-ass living writers give their agents control of everything. It took me one year—one year—to get my hands on a non-fiction reprint that I wanted for a project of mine. The centerpiece for that project was an editorial written more than 20 years ago by a writer who had forgotten they had even written it. This writer, a friend of mine, doesn’t do email, and mostly stays off-line. (I know, I know.) I didn’t know about their tech phobia when I started into this, and had sent five different emails before I asked another editor friend how to reach this writer.
The first news I heard about KDP Print was in an email from Amazon on February 15th. Since then, I’ve read articles, blog posts and comments about it and watched the praise given by Amazon for this service dwindle quickly.
In the email, Amazon announced they were making print book publishing easier for writers. They stated, “KDP prints your book on demand and subtracts your printing costs from your royalties, so you don’t have to pay any costs upfront or carry any inventory.”
That’s what CreateSpace does. Sort of. I believe CreateSpace takes the cost of the printing of the book from the sale price, then takes a cut of the royalties. Until I see the numbers and do the math, I am unsure which service will offer a better financial deal for authors.
The message also stated, “It also enables you to receive consolidated royalty payments for paperback and eBook sales. You can view combined reports and manage your print and eBook publishing from one website.”
Except, I’m okay with visiting two sites to get my sales reports. In fact, I prefer CreateSpace’s sales report much more than I do Kindle’s. Kindle’s is not straightforward and too clunky to find answers quickly.
The world is always changing, and nowhere is that more prevalent than the publishing world. What was once great last year, no longer works this year, and the tools we use are constantly upgraded and changed to accommodate this rapid evolution.
When I first began publishing eBooks, I formatted them myself in MS Word. But I could not format ePubs. I’ve tried Scrivener to format the file, but I was unhappy with the results. Then I tried Calibre for ePubs, and that worked great for a few years. Last spring during my six-month review, I found formatting issues with eBooks available at a few online retailers. There were no issues with the files I had manually formatted, but the ePubs were a mess.
So I took the leap and rented InDesign. There’s a large learning curve, but once I conquer it, I’ll be able to create eBooks and print books professionally.
A few months ago, I happened upon a post on The Book Designer blog regarding writing disclaimers. I have never given much thought to disclaimers; they’re as necessary for publishing as ISBNs, and just as boring.
I created the disclaimers for my novels by consulting already-published books to see the wording they used. It’s all pretty standard, and I’ve never read one that stood out. The main point was to tell everyone you didn’t write this book about a real person, so you wouldn’t be sued if someone thought they saw themselves within the story. Basically, you wanted to tell the world, “This is fiction. Nothing real to see here. Move along to the end and buy the next book in the series.”
The disclaimer I created and used in print and eBooks came out to read as…
This year—I’ve been told—is the year of the adult colouring book. I’ve seen them around in local stores. My first reaction was to giggle. Colouring books for adults? Seriously?
Then I flipped through them and thought, “They’re complicated. I’ll stick to my kids’ old colouring books.”
You see, I don’t think it’s horrible for adults to colour. I’ve been colouring all my life. With crayons. Coloured pencils. Markers. And whatever I could get my hands on. I think colouring is a great relaxing exercise, and it’s a great physical exercise for your hand. It also sparks imagination, and trust me, I’ve got lots of imagination to prove it works.