Tag: Kindle

Scamers Will Scam 

conartistThis is an old story but one I just heard about.

https://www.writtenwordmedia.com/2016/03/17/amazon-toc-issue-everything-you-need-to-know/

In my books I usually place the table of contents in the rear to give sample readers more of the book. I never thought about using it as a cheap way to scam Amazon. The way it works is Amazon pays authors for the number of pages read through Kindle Unlimited. So if you have a link at the front of the book that takes readers to the back of the book, Amazon’s system counts all those skipped of pages as being read. It didn’t take long for scam artists to figure this out.

To combat this, Amazon has been flagging all books with the table of contents in the rear and letting those authors know that if they don’t move the table their book could be taken down. Pretty Draconian, I know. I would think looking for internal links in the first few pages would be more effective but then I don’t work for Amazon.

Truth be told this really doesn’t affect me as I only have one book on Kindle Unlimited and I’ve not really seen much money from it. Still it’s sad to see people taking advantage of the system. You could also argue that Amazon takes advantage of honest authors’ hard work but that’s for another post.

The Day I Deleted My Kindle App

kindleThe Amazon Kindle App was one of the first additions to my smartphone back in 2010. Today I removed it from my current phone. It has been replaced by my shiny new Kindle Paperwhite. For the longest time I was a strong proponent of having everything on my mobile device; all my books, music, streaming, games, you name it. The convenience of having a single device that can do everything is great, but sometimes a device that does one thing really well is the better choice. The Kindle Paperwhite is the e-Reader I have been waiting for. (Though no offense to all the Nook owners out there. They are great devices too, I just have 90% of my library in Amazon’s cloud.)

One problem with reading on a smartphone, or tablet for that matter, is that bright screen will eat up most of your device’s battery life. One look at the battery usage and you’ll see that the screen accounts for most of the use on any given day. An hour or more of reading could really have you hunting for your charging cable, especially as your device ages, to say nothing of the strain on your eyes. The e-ink screen on the Kindle, (or Nook GlowLight), is far easier on the eyes, even with the back-light on, plus it merely sips at the battery. There are a number of font types and sizes and the pages snap into view quickly. The size and weight make it perfect for one handed reading. It is even lighter than my smartphone. Storage is not a problem as eBooks take up so little space and with WiFi connected to the cloud my whole Kindle library is available at a touch.

There are 4 models of Kindles plus ones with special offers that reduce the cost so I urge you to take a look. Once I began using mine I had no problem removing the app from my mobile devices. Besides, I needed the space for more matching gem games.

An Idea So Crazy It Just Might Work

long bookIt still scares the bejeeses out of me. That idea is,  What If Authors Were Paid Every Time Someone Turned a Page? I placed my book Undead Heart on Kindle Select over a year ago. I have not seen much revenue from borrows, less than sales in truth. SO it was with mild interest I read the email last month from Amazon announcing their shift to a pay-per-page plan. Then this week I read this article on Gizmodo Amazon Might Pay Self-published Authors Less Than a Cent  Natually I had to do some math. Under the old plan if someone borrowed a copy of Undead Heart I received $9.99. The length of the book is 230 pages so at 0.006/page that comes out to $1.38. Now that is most likely a worse case scenario, (please be a worse case). Either way I am keeping my day job for as long as the State Library stays open.

One thought that troubles me, now,  is how writers will adapt to this market. I do not write long books. My books are the length I need to tell the story and my stories are usually pretty concise. I’ve talked to new writers who complain about 100,00 pages just not being enough to tell their epic fantasy opera. In the back of my mind I’m also thinking it is probably more than most would care to read anyway. Just the same, the precedent here rewards for length but not necessarily quality. Granted a reader has to stay invested in the story to keep reading, and nothing sends a reader screaming for the exit like crappy writing,  but there are enough tricks and traps to keep the reader flipping to find out what happens next. Will we now be subject to 500 plus page tomes that amount to the literary equivalent of a pop-up book? I wish I knew,  then maybe I would get started on one. What do you think? Does pay-by-page entice you to try Kindle Select?

Interesting Trends

The July report from AuthorEarnings.Com points out a couple of interesting trends in the market place. If you are unfamiliar, AuthorEarnings.Com is a project that reports on the Amazon eBook sales numbers of authors who have agreed to share thier sales data.

The first l interesting trend in the report concerns the earnings of independents and Big 5 published authors. The Big 5 authors lead the pact in sales across Amazon’s bestsellers list. However, when you look at gross sales independent authors show growth above the Big 5. In fact the report shows that, “Self-published authors are now earning nearly 40% of all eBook royalties on the Kindle store.” To paraphrase, the days of self publishing being a last resort are over.

The other tend that really surprised me but at the same time matches what I have seen in other digital market places, concerns DRM. Nearly all works from Big 5 authors come with some form of Digital Rights Management. You buy the book and you can only read it on your devices. Conversely books lacking DRM can be loaned to friends for reading on thier devices. The report shows that, “Indie titles without DRM sell twice as many copies each, on average, as those with DRM.” Can it be? The lack of DRM has become an in demand feature? I will be looking closely at succeeding reports to see if this continues or changes on way or the other. I suspect this gap in sales will only widen as readers buy more digital works and more importantly look to share those titles with friends who own thier own devices, as they have done with printed books.

All in all an interesting report. I urge any writers or readers interested in the publishing business visit htyp://authorearnings.com , sign up for an email of new reports or add to the numbers by taking thier author survey.

Did You Get Your Payoff?

image

I was surprised to get an email telling me I had a credit from Amazon on my account. I didn’t recall returning anything. After reading the email I realized it was from the price fixing settlement that I, because I had bought some eBooks, was a part of. So thank you Amazon I will put your credit to good use, but we still need to talk about eBook prices.

http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/amazon-issues-credits-in-response-to-ebook-price-fixing_b84002

I am of the mind that prices for current eBooks offered by the big publishers are too high. I know this ventures into the whole debate of how do we, as authors, attain value for our work, but I, as a consumer, do not place the same value on eBooks as I do other content. It isn’t that I don’t enjoy reading eBooks, I do, it is more one of consumption. Since an eBook only exists so long as I am reading it and I cannot sell it or lend it to extend my value for it I cannot see paying more than six dollars for it. Sadly that is about 1/2 of what many best sellers go for in the Kindle or Nook stores.

The other side of this is, I don’t have to pay that much for eBooks. There are a wealth of independent authors offering their works at the consumption friendly prices that bring them closer to the impulse buy of supermarket checkout line paperbacks. Some might make the false assumption that these prices represent the quality of the work. Some might erroneously conclude that anything at this basement price indicates something of a farm team effort, professional but not quite the big leagues. All of these people would be far from the mark. When you are a self published author coming up with the price of your work is probably the most difficult decision you have too make. Once you do make it you will always second guess yourself. Is it too low? Am I shorting myself? Is it too high? Could I sell more at a friendlier price? I have books priced at ninety-nine cents and ones priced just under three dollars. Sales have not proven one price better than the other. The debate continues on. The only advice I can give is go with your gut. Look at eBooks you have bought and what price made the transaction a done deal and what price left you with a, “maybe if the price ever goes down.” Let that guide you for your own work and hopefully put an end to those sleepless nights. You have bigger things to fuss over, like your next book.

To Kindle Select or Not To Kindle Select

Amazon KindleHopefully the Bard’s lawyers will let that one slip. While there has been plenty of articles and debates on the merits of Amazon’s Kindle Select Program, https://kdp.amazon.com/select, I figured now is as good a time as any for me to weight in; especially since I have some first hand knowledge. I decided to try out Amazon’s Kindle Select Program with my latest novel, Undead Heart. Basically what enrollment in Kindle Select provides are: lending of your title through the Kindle Reader Lending Library and a share of the global fund, access to promotions and extra advertising and full 70% royalties from some international markets. All that it asks for in return is your soul. Only kidding, but Amazon does ask that while enrolled in the program your title be digitally exclusive to Amazon’s Kindle store. You can, however, sell paper copies through any channel you wish.

Looking at how my previous two works performed in other digital platforms, namely, Barnes and Noble’s Nook store, Lulu.com and Smashwords, my main question was what would I be sacrificing in sales from those channels. Sadly the answer was not much. My sales across those other platforms have not even been a fraction of what I sold through Amazon. I figured I was not giving up anything but maybe a bending of principle with giving Amazon exclusivity to my work, if only for the time being. That is correct. The way the program works is I can choose to leave at any time to pursue other options for my digital sales.

My novel released on the 13th of December last year. To date it has not moved much on the Kindle lending library so that almost appears to be a nonstarter at this moment, but I still have hope. I have to say my pleasant surprise came from the promotion I ran after the 30 day mark on January 13th to the 20th. I ran what Amazon calls a Count Down promotion. You can for the period of the promotion reduce the price of your title and then over time have it gradually increase back to the original price. The best part is you keep the same royalty rate as you normally would have on the title. For my promotion I just went with a 99 cent sale for the whole week.  During the week of that promotion my sales jumped 200%.  Despite the the reduced royalty, 70% of 99 cents instead of $2.99, the promotion accounted for a 300% revenue increase over the previous week. Color me impressed. The biggest payoff to me however was in seeing my book shoot above the 70,000 mark in Amazon’s best sellers rank. On launch my title entered around the 200,00 mark so this was a big showing. Even after the promotion ended the effects of the rank boost carried through for the following weeks.

As you can tell, I am very impressed with how the promotion turned out. I am currently planning a similar promotion at the six month anniversary of the launch. Who knows, maybe once some more reviews show up for my title the lending library numbers will increase as well. Beyond that I do not know if I will remain with the program or as my next book comes out, enter that in the program and send Undead Heart to other digital channels. I have found the Kindle Select Program to be a very attractive option. Is it right for your work? I am afraid only you can answer that.

Formatting It’s a Bitch

formatWith all apologies to Mr. Jagger and Richards. So you have your plot all dialed in, your characters live and breathe in your readers’ minds and your grammar is spot on, not a comma out of place. All that remains now is to get your work in a proper format for your publisher. If you are fortunate to have a traditional publisher this becomes someone else’s headache. For independents it’s time to either open up the checkbook or break out the Tylenol. I have just completed the formatting of my latest work, Undead Heart. It was tedious, it was fraught with peril, hardships and even a few mistakes but in the end I am very proud with how it turned out. Which brings me to this post.

First off a word on drafts. I do my writing on my tablet so my rough draft is a text file with no formatting save line returns. When finish the work I format the paragraphs into 1/2″ indents and double space lines, clean up any obvious keyboard errors and add simple footers to make the first draft. I edit by sprucing up the descriptions and actions and any dialog that needs it for the second draft that I then let my wife read. Her edits and suggestions make up the third draft. Once I’m done with that I let a copy editor go over the manuscript from top to bottom. The final draft is completed once all those edits have been addressed. My work is now ready to be formatted for printing. I know some writers who will rework a piece ten or twenty times but that isn’t me. I have had works that I had to give up on because I could not get them into shape after several passes. You know better than anyone when you are just whipping a dead horse.

The formatting for print and eReaders need to be handled separately so you do not want to be making changes to the manuscript that you have to recreate in the other so make sure your edits are done because you will be making three copies of the file, one for print, one for eBook and one to have in case you really screw up the other two. I usually format the print version first. I pick my font, set the paragraphs to single space with extra space at the end of paragraphs. I set the page to the template size of the book, in this case 5.6 x 7.01. I use a 0.79″ margin with a 0.14″ gutter. I add different headers for the odd and even pages. My name goes on the left page top and the title goes on the right. The page number will go on the bottom of all pages except for the front title pages and my author bio in the back. I do not have a header or footer on the first page of every chapter. To achieve that you need a separate section for each chapter. The trick now is to make sure your page numbers are correct through all the chapters. I find it helpful at this point to zoom the view out so that I can see 2 pages at the same time. I check to make sure all the chapters have the proper page numbering and it is ready for the printer.

For the eBook version I take the final draft and turn the it into one large HTML document. I use MS Word filtered Web page setting. This creates a document with the least amount of junk tags. Now it’s HTML editing time. I use my text editor too strip out much of the CSS in the document. I then use this document to build the Kindle or ePub versions.

There are plenty of resources to get you there if you aren’t ready. A friend of mine, Greg Lundberg, has a very informative book available on Amazon, How to Publish an eBook For Under $350. If you are going the eBook route, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords also have a very large community of writers and support that can answer most of your questions on formatting for their platforms. These are some of the few that I have used and learned from in the past. You print publisher will have guidelines as well as to what type of file they accept and how they want it to look.