A Busy Spring and a Book Launch Sale

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.

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A Hard Lesson Learned

Hard Lessons LearnedAlthough 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.

Sigh.

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No One is Surprised: CreateSpace Closes and KDP Print Takes Over

Amazon CreateSpace KDP PrintBetween 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.

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Readers, help us solve a few mysteries about your reading habits.

Recently, I confessed to not reading prologues. I’m not sure when I stopped reading them, but I believe it was in my late teens. Why? From what I can remember, I thought they were boring and unnecessary to the story. In my mind, they kept me from getting to the story, stalled my progress, and that was something I was unwilling to do, particular if I really wanted to read the book.

It’s been so long since I read a prologue, that I truly can’t remember if those books in the 70s and 80s had boring prologues. In some cases, they were merely information dumps, something the author couldn’t creatively inject into the story.

Or perhaps it was the books I was reading, not the period. Maybe the books were written in the 60s or 50s or before then. I can’t say.

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Books with Table of Contents in the back of eBooks targeted by Amazon

New FlashAmazon is an extremely innovative company – and usually quite responsive to self-publisher’s concerns – but sometimes it gets things very wrong too.

Today is one of those times.

I’ve received several reports from writers threatened with having books removed from sale, and heard even more worrying stories from others who had their titles actually removed from the Kindle Store without notice.

What were these authors guilty of? What crime did they commit for Amazon to adopt such heavy handed treatment? Something completely innocuous: the Table of Contents was at the rear of their books instead of at the front.

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Simple Tips to Make Your Book Description Standout on Amazon

Lessons in Self-publishingConfession: When I uploaded my first book to Kindle many moons ago, dozens of things ran through my mind…

  • Is anyone going to read it?
  • Is anyone going to like it?
  • Will the interior formatting pass Kindle’s inspection?
  • Will the cover be the right size and quality?
  • Did I miss something that will make it not appear on the website?
  • Is the ISBN correct?
  • Am I spelling my name right? (Yes, I worried about this too)
  • Am I choosing the right key words?
  • Is my description good enough?
  • Are there spelling mistakes in the description?
  • Will the power go out before I complete the publishing? (Okay, that’s my worry today because of the blizzard outside.)

Publishing for the first time can be overwhelming. The goal is get the book uploaded and to not get bogged down by unimportant details. Worrying about all these things I listed gave me no mindset to focus on individual aspects of the eBook publishing process.

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Amazon Warning Readers About Mistakes in Your Books

New FlashA few days ago, I read a post by a writer who was deeply concerned by a message she received from Amazon. It caused her to immediately jump into action to solve the problem before one of her books was stamped with a big yellow warning sticker informing readers the book had issues.

A worst case scenario would be this sticker.

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Treat eBooks like Websites and Update them Regularly

eBook UpdatesEach January, I take a few weeks and update my eBooks – all of them.

This doesn’t mean I edit the stories. It means I update the file with new information and refresh what might have gone stale in the past twelve months. I also add details on things to come, such as the release of a book.

How long will it take?

Updating eBooks take less than an hour per book across all venues. It will take longer if you have not gathered the necessary pieces of information or you are unfamiliar with formatting.

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Distribution News from Smashwords

New FlashSmashwords Expands Global Ebook Distribution with Odilo, Tolino and Yuzu

Smashwords today announced three new partners that further expand the reach of the Smashwords ebook distribution network in the US, Europe and South America.
The new agreements with Odilo, Tolino and Yuzu span three continents and will allow over 300,000 Smashwords titles to reach new readers at retail, in higher education and at public libraries.
Here are details for each the three agreements:

Odilo brings Smashwords expanded library distribution in North America, South America and Europe

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Updating Published eBooks

eBook UpdatesTime ages things: bread, people…eBooks. Every now and again, we must spruce things up, get a make-over or update information. Although I’ve tinkered with my eBooks a few times since originally publishing them, I haven’t done major renovations.

I’ve decided January is a good month to perform the task. I think I might even turn this into an annual event.

When I speak of renovations, I’m not talking about editing the story. I’m talking only about updating the actual file and the information that completes the remaining space in that file.

In the past twenty months, I’ve learned a lot about what an eBook should contain. My writing material has also expanded, much of it still ignored by eBooks published more than a year ago.

In the next few weeks, I’ll renovate each publication to date (all nine of them). Although updating files and ‘republishing’ them may take only minutes at some vendors (Smashwords) and twelve hours at others (Amazon), it will take much longer for other outlets (such as iTunes, Sony, Barnes & Noble) to receive them from Smashwords. These slow reaction times will mean the whole process will take a few months to complete even if my part of the job is done in one week.

eBooks are different than print books. Different information goes in the front and the back. After much research and consideration, here is what I’ve decided to put as front matter in my eBooks this time around:

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Free Book Debate

fire campOver the past three years I’ve seen the pendulum swing back and forth. Many say that gifting (or giving away) books helps sales. Others are adamantly against pricing their books for free even for a short time.

I’ve read accounts where free books have increased sales substantially on the free book involved (after the free period) and for other books by the author, particularly those in a series. I’ve also read the other side too: no increase at all, just crickets in the dark night.

Personally, I think sales are influenced by many things, including free offers. But the free offers must coincide with other things, like the time of year, the genre, other books offered by the same author, the alignment of the stars and moon and…many things that are too complicated to list here.

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Kobo Quarantining and Reviewing All eBook Titles

New FlashI just received this message from Kobo. It sounds as though they have quarantined every title to ensure nothing that violates their content policies is published through their outlet.

Here’s what the email said:

To our Kobo Writing Life and self-publishing partners:

As you may be aware, there has been a significant amount of negative media attention in the UK regarding offensive material that became available across a number of eBook platforms. Kobo was included in the reports from media and we are taking immediate action to resolve an issue that is the direct result of a select few authors and publishers violating Kobo’s content policies.

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Writing a Back Cover Blurb

In all honesty, writing a blurb for the back cover should be the fun part of creating a novel. We get to be splashy, to the point, mysterious and brief. But often, writing a blurb—a summary for a book—becomes an anxious time for a writer. How can they dramatically and effectively tell their story (without giving away the ending) in two hundred words?

Don’t sweat it. You can do it. And there’s a formula to help you.

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Calculating the Price of Ebooks

The publishing world is changing quickly, making it difficult for authors and publishers to accurately judge the value of an electronic book. When ebooks first became available, there were no numbers to crunch to calculate their price. Should they go for free because they’re not permanent (in the same sense as a printed copy), or should they be priced the same as their paper counterparts?

Now with several years of ebooks behind us, a general pricing by publishers is taking shape. It’s aided by the facts more readers have devices to read ebooks and ebooks are becoming more popular. Have you looked at the price of the ebook version of the recent paperback you just bought? I did. The paper copy cost about $15.00 whereas the ebook cost $10.99.

Browsing Chapters online, I found many ebooks selling for more than ten dollars, some more than $30. Wow. I never thought electronic books would sell for so much, but then, this is a whole new world for books, authors and publishers. They—we—are learning as we go.

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