Don’t Muddy Your Brand

Thought for the dayMy 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?

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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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A Sincere Thank You

To everyone who has downloaded the free, Kindle-version of Shadows in the Stone since it went permanently free at Amazon, thank you. It has gone up and down in the standings the past week, reaching as high as 23rd in free Kindle Store.

At the moment, it sits at #43 in the Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Epic category in Canada.

If you haven’t picked up your copy yet to read now, later or some distance year in the future, you can download it from Amazon.ca and Amazon.com.

Every download gives the book more exposure.

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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Kindle Spell Check and Preview Your Book While in the Publishing Stage

Lessons in Self-publishingLast week—while discussing Amazon’s warning about spelling mistakes and bad formatting for eBooks published on their site—I realised not everyone is completing all the steps necessary to upload and publish a book.

Book title, author’s name, tags, description and the other items on the Kindle publishing page are important, but the two check points before you hit “Publish” are equally important.

These check points are Kindle Spell Check and Preview Your Book.

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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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Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENP)

Twistmas_Diane_Lynn_McGyver AMAZONAll my full-length eBooks are published on several sites, but a few of my short stories are enrolled in the Kindle Direct Program (KDP). This time around, I decided to enroll my full-length adult Christmas romance Twistmas – The Season for Love in the program. The reason is simple: I want to see what it can do in the program.

Once enrolled in KDP, the book becomes available in Kindle Unlimited (KU) and the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL).

From the Amazon page: “Kindle Unlimited is a subscription service currently available to customers in the U.S., U.K., Italy, Spain, Brazil, France, Mexico, Canada, Germany, and India. With Kindle Unlimited, customers can read as many books as they like and keep them as long as they want for a monthly subscription fee.”

From the Amazon page: “Kindle owners with Amazon Prime memberships can choose from thousands of books to read for free once a month from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). KOLL is available for readers on Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, and Amazon.co.jp.”
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Update on Canada Tax Information with the United States

FREE KINDLE READ:
Shadows in the Stone

Something amazing happened during my seven-month hiatus away from writing: the tax worries and hassles that plagued writing entrepreneurs in Canada had eased. In fact, it’s so darn easy now that no one—absolutely no one—has an excuse for not completing the tax form to prevent the IRS from claiming 30% of your royalties from your books.

More than a month ago, CreateSpace sent a message to update my tax information. I meant to take care of it, but like many things since March, it got lost in the chaos of life. The deadline came and went, but fortunately CreateSpace—who really wants my business—extended the deadline.

If I didn’t update my tax information, I would no longer be able to sell through CreateSpace. They certainly didn’t want that to happen, so a grace period of thirty days was awarded. This time I took advantage of the notice and stayed up late one night to see what the fuss was all about.

The questions were straight forward and easy to answer: Was I a US citizen? Did I have a business in the US? Etc.

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Virtual Book Launch Winners

Book LaunchYesterday I launched Fowl Summer Nights on Quarter Castle Publishing’s Facebook Page. Anyone who shared the event, Liked the Quarter Castle Publishing page, Liked a comment or left a comment had their name entered into a draw.

The first name drawn won a paperback copy of Fowl Summer Nights.* The winner was Cathy MacKenzie.

The second name drawn won an eBook copy of Fowl Summer Nights. The winner was Pat D’Entremont.

Congratulations Cathy and Pat. I’ll be in touch.

If you were not a winner and would like another chance to get a free copy, check out the Goodreads Giveaway. The deadline is April 11, 2014.

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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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Kindle Revises Payment Plans – For the Better

New FlashI received the following message in my inbox recently. It means that many of us won’t have to wait to reach a certain amount before we are paid royalties for our books.

The message reads

We’d like you to know about an important update to your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account.  As of December 16, 2013, the minimum threshold amount has been removed for accounts selecting Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) as their payment method.*  You will now be paid 60 days after the month your royalties are earned without needing to meet a minimum threshold amount prior to receiving payment.

You will receive an EFT payment from KDP for any royalties earned that were previously under the minimum threshold. To see if you have royalties awaiting payment, check your Royalty Reports at: http://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/reports
 
While there is no action necessary, you can review or update your EFT banking information by Amazon marketplace any time, by visiting the “Your Royalty Payments” section in your KDP Account at: http://kdp.amazon.com/account
 
Kind regards,
The Kindle Direct Publishing Team

*Note: The EFT threshold for royalties earned from sales on Amazon.com.br is still R$20 for Brazilian publishers and $100/£100/€100 for non-Brazilian publishers.

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Free eBook Download for Kindle

My short story collection Nova Scotia – Life Near Water is enrolled in Kindle Select, and from now until Sunday September 29th (12pm Pacific Time), it is FREE. The regular price is $2.99. Canadian residents can download it here, and those in the United States will find it here. Thank you for your downloads. Everyone counts. The paperback version will be available soon.

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The Man Who Reads Obituaries

Diane Lynn McGyver -The Man Who Reads ObituariesLast night I published a short story to Amazon.com. The Man Who Reads Obituaries is about 3,700 words long. It’s new and hasn’t been published anywhere up until now. This time around, I thought I’d try something different. I’d give Kindle Direct Publishing Select a try.

KDP Select is a program that locks a book into one distributor: Amazon.com. When you enrol, you can’t sell your book from any other site (Smashwords, B&N, Apple, etc.), including your own website. You can advertise the book on your website, but you can’t sell it directly to the customer.

Many people opt in to the program, hoping to get their book into as many hands as possible. The benefits are obvious:

 

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Canadians, Stop Paying 30% to the IRS

MONEY drainLINKS UPDATED: November 7, 2014

GREAT NEWS: The rules have changed. You no longer need an EIN or an ITIN unless you have extenuating circumstances. Read the update here: Update on Canada Tax Information with the United States. I will leave this original post up for those who still need to apply for an EIN.

* * * ORIGINAL POST * * *

Several months ago I discovered that Smashwords began withholding 30% of my earnings to give to America’s Uncle Sam. If I didn’t act, I’d continue to lose this money for the life of my writing career.

To claim this 30% in the future, I’d have to jump through hoops at 1,000 feet in the air and ride a wild boar through the desert…okay, nothing that drastic, but everything I read and everyone I talked to led me to believe that getting all the paperwork in order would be a time-consuming nightmare.

They couldn’t have been more wrong.

Let's Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should (Third Edition) (Let's Get Publishing Book 1) by [Gaughran, David]But before I realised the ease of reclaiming that money, I had reluctantly accepted the fact I would lose $300 for every $1,000 I’d earn in royalties. It was hard to swallow. Just think about this for a minute:

You post a book to Smashwords for $2.99. It sells through them to Kindle who takes 30% for selling it plus $0.09 for delivering it to the customer. You’re now left with $2.00. Smashwords takes about $0.14 of this for a service charge (their hand in selling it). You’re now left with $1.86. From this, Uncle Sam withholds 30%, leaving you with $1.30. Withhold means claiming that money as income tax.

Let me paint a bigger picture for you. For every 1,000 books you sell at $2.99, your profit drops from a potential $2999.00 to $1300.00 after all those hands grab what they want. If you didn’t have to pay Uncle Sam, you would have earned $1,860.00. It takes about 30 minutes to get an EIN and complete the proper form to reclaim that money. And you only have to do this once. In my books, $560 for a half hour’s work is an outstanding pay cheque.

The imagined nightmare has discouraged many writers from dealing with the IRS, but it doesn’t have to be like this. You can start claiming that 30% by following the simple steps below. It will take approximately 25 minutes of your time, one long-distant phone call, one completed form and a US stamp. Oh, and one envelope.

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