Wednesday, March 22, 2017

A new Kindle Scout campaign

I have new book entered in the Kindle Scout Program. Kindle Scout is Amazon's version of a talent contest. The book is called Turnabout. It's a YA/alternate world/dystopian story. I like to describe it as Jumper meets A Handmaid's Tale, but with the genders reversed.

The way Kindle Scout works, if the books gets enough nominations, Amazon will publish the Kindle version. If it doesn't win, I can, of course, still self-publish, but Amazon gives a lot more help to books it publishes than to self-published books. Either way, I plan to publish the paperback via CreatSpace (Amazon) and Barnes & Noble.

Here's what the print cover will look like

Cover by Alexander Von Ness


Check it out here, and feel free to share this link with anyone who might be interested. Hopefully, that's everyone you know!

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Print vs ebook: Amazon Giveaways

I recently used an Amazon feature called "Hosting a giveaway." If you look at the product page of a book, below the reviews and just above the "What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?" section, you will see a link to create a giveaway.

Amazon offers this feature on a lot of items, not just books. Basically, whoever "hosts" the giveaway pays for the items, including delivery. It can be anyone, not just an author, but for books, it's usually hosted by the author. Until just about a year ago, you could give way print books but not Kindle books, but now it works for both formats.

Setting up a print giveaway

The set-up process lets the host determine number of prizes, odds of winning (e.g., 1 in 1000, 1 in 500,etc), and what users have to do to enter (e.g., watch a video, or follow the author's Amazon page).

The process also allows some control over who can share the link. If you want to give away copies a part of your own promotion, you might want to use this option to limit how the giveaway was accessed. On the other hand, if you just want more readers and hope for reviews, you would wanted wider distribution not narrower,

What you don't get is a way to contract the winners. You can see their Amazon user names, but not contract them. But Amazon handles picking the winners, so it's guaranteed to be fair.

I have run giveaways in the past, but this time Amazon had added a new button that let them distribute the link for you. It sounded good,so I went for it.

Based on prior experience, I set the odds at 1 in 150, and since it was for print books, I limited the prizes to two. I created my welcome message, my congrats to the winner (with a plea for a review), my sorry you lost message (with a reminder that I have another book free, in Kindle format), and clicked the button.

I was waiting for the email to tell me that the giveaway was live, so I could post the link. I never got it. The giveaway ended in 16 minutes. A total of 282 people entered and, of course, two of them won.   I was astounded.

The ebook giveaway

A couple weeks later, I tried a giveaway that was as identical as I could make it, but this time with the same title in Kindle format, and three copies as prizes. I used the button to make Amazon distribute the link, and since it was a test, I didn't mention the giveaway here or anywhere else until after I gave away two kindle copies. That took 18 hours!

Once the second copy was given away, I advertised the link but even then, the number of entrants slowed to a trickle. I will be curious to see if the third copy is claimed before the giveaway end date of March 15.

So it looks like, as a prize, a print book is still much more valuable than a Kindle book.


Sunday, March 5, 2017

E-Book Sale!

Read an eBook Week starts Sunday, March 5, 2017, and in honor of that Smashwords is running a huge promotion. A lot of ebooks are on sale, including mine.



 If you're not familiar with Smashwords, it's a site that allows authors to publish and sell their ebooks globally.  Authors can opt to also push their books out to iBooks, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and a bunch of  other more well known book vendors, but those sites are not where the sale is happening. Smashwords itself sells directly to readers, allowing a choice of non-DRM'd books in a wide variety of formats, and that's where the sale is.

To promote ereading, Smashwords makes it easy for authors to put their books on sale, as they offer the use f coupon codes at checkout, and I've taken advantage of that. If you use the promotional coupon, you can buy any of my books this week only for half price (except for The Sixth Discipline, which is always free, and my fantasy novella Where Magic Rules, which is free this week only). .

Once you buy a book from Smashwords, you can download it, and read it on pretty much any device. If you have a Kindle, be sure to select that format (Mobi/Kindle), and download the file to a location on your PC where you can find it again. I have directions for putting Mobi files onto your Kindle here and here.

You can browse the sale page by genre to see what all they've got. Some books will be free and others really cheap.

Remember, all mine are either free or only $1.50, but you have to use the coupon code RAE50 for the non-free titles..

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Win a Kindle copy of KING OF TREES!

Since "alternative facts" are in the news, I decided to host a giveaway for my "alternative world" book, King of Trees. This is an alternate history/time travel time novel with fantasy overtones.

I'm giving away three free copies, but sadly, you have to be in the US to win.



If that's you, enter here!


Saturday, December 31, 2016

Thursday, December 15, 2016

SFR Brigade December Showcase and Giveaway!



I write science fiction and fantasy, and I often include a love story or two in my books. I like to set stories in the far future so that I can create societies and technologies that don't exist, but one reason I like to include romance is that love stories are timeless. There are plenty of other writers who do similar stories. In fact, there's a whole Science Fiction Romance Brigade, and the group is hosting a giveaway. December 15 through 19, just in time for the holidays, a bunch of SFRB authors are offering free books and other stuff, and I am participating.

The book I'm giving away is Saronna's Gift. You can win your choice of a free paperback copy or a free Kindle copy.



What Amazon reviewers have said about Saronna's Gift:

"It’s definitely an interesting SciFi/Romantic storyline. The contrasting backgrounds of both individuals make for a very complex relationship. Not only did I like reading about how Saronna handles her struggles, but also how Duncan handles his struggles as he tries to court her. I give it five stars for creativity because I have never read a SciFi romance set in a future world with the oppression solely based on gender. It’s a very feministic but still romantic storyline. I was definitely not disappointed for another one of Buxton’s books."

"I can probably best express my enjoyment of this book by saying that I was surprised when I came back to write a review and saw that it had 475 pages. I whipped through it so fast that it seemed much shorter."

"I found this book in a fit of disgust over giving up on another book with a weak female lead and an "alpha male" love interest (read: demanding, creepy, controlling). I had searched for "feminist romance paranormal" with very little hope and miraculously, not only did I get results but several! This book was on the top, was offered on kindle unlimited, and looked interesting. It actually gives all of those things. " [nb: this book no longer in Kindle Unlimited]


A brief excerpt to pique your interest:




Science Fiction Romance Brigade

If you're interested in mixing romance with your science fiction (or vice versa), head on over to the SFR Brigade page to see who else is participating and check out what they have to offer. Don't wait! December 19th is the last day.

You must enter to win!

If you want a chance to win a copy of Sarnonna's Gift, just leave a comment below and tell me whether you prefer a Kindle copy or a paperback. If your name is drawn, you will need to provide an email address to receive the Kindle copy, and a US mailing address to win the paperback. I will 3 draw names and give away a total of 3 copies!.

Everyone gets a free book!

If you like a sure thing, you can also check out my free ebook The Sixth Discipline. It's more science fiction than romance, but it does have a sort of slow motion love story. And it's free in most online ebook stores.

Happy Holidays!


Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Google is now making web cards for books!

A recent post on The Digital Reader blog (also on Facebook, if you prefer to follow it that way), describes how Google is creating "knowledge panels" (I always just called them web cards, although I suppose they are a special kind of web card) for books when you search on the book title.

See below for examples from two of my books, the first being one with both print and ebook formats and the second for an ebook-only title.



Naturally enough, the "Preview book" link takes you to Google Books. This is true whether there is a print version or not. There is no mention that I can find of Smashwords, Amzon/Kindle or any vendors other than Google, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo, except that the GoodReads site is owned by Amazon and always includes their links.  



The only title I don't have on Google Books is Where Magic Rules, and its web card doesn't get a preview link at all. Maybe I need to load that one onto Google Books, too?

Monday, November 28, 2016

Is POD about to change publishing?

The Digital Reader blog has a post about a new Amazon feature called Amazon Print on Demand (available only on Amazon UK, as far as can be determined. Correction: a later commenter identified four such sites, in the UK, Germany, Japan, and the US). It's very much like CreateSpace, Amazon's service for self-publishing in print, but it's intended for publishers. According to the post, there are some small and one large publishers signed on to use it in the UK.


Here's why I find this potentially exciting. Right now a publisher takes a risk in publishing a book. They have to guess how many copies they should print. Print too many, and the books take up space in a warehouse; don't print enough, and bookstores run out, and (potentially) sales are lost if the reader can't get the book when they want it. Having the book available for sale online via POD means the customer can always get the book but there are not unsold copies lying around. This could mean publishers would be more willing to risk publishing books by new and unknown authors.

Of course, the downside is, it pushes more sales to online, which publishers don't like because they don't want Amazon to control even more of the market. This may considerably slow down the adoption of POD for big publishers. Publishers could always sell direct, of course, but they don't have much of a built-in online customer base compared to Amazon.

Barnes & Noble has their own POD online service for self-publishing called Nook Press Print. I wonder if this could push Barnes & Noble to either create a publisher version or add more Espresso Book Machines to their brick & mortar stores?  Or both?

We live in interesting times.



Monday, October 31, 2016

World Fantasy Convention Report

This year's WFC was held in Columbus, Ohio, USA.  Guests of Honor were Mercedes Lackey, Larry Dixon, L.E. Modesitt, Jr,  and Randal Spangler with Jane Yolen as toastmistress. 

Turnout was on the low side, partly due to a kerfuffle over the programming and partly over the fact that Columbus isn't a huge draw as a tourist destination. But those who made the pilgrimage to Columbus enjoyed a fun convention with a nice memorial to the late David Hartwell, who passed away suddenly last year. 

The con suite was very conveniently placed on the ground floor, and the con suite staff provided much more substantial food than at man cons, although it was usually gone very quickly, it was still a nice change from just a bowl of M&Ms and a bag of potato chips.

This year I attended WFC as a member of Broad Universe, spending some time staffing the BU table in the dealer's room and also organizing the Rapid Fire Reading.  I had everything set up, from cough drops to water glasses, but I forgot to get someone to take a photo of the reading!

Oh, well!  Here are my other WFC photos. 


The bag o' books! 



View from the 18th floor

Con suite lunch

Reading by Carol Berg

Andy Duncan reading




World fantasy Award judges's panel


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Barnes & Noble Nook Press Print vs Amazon CreateSpace

I have used CreateSpace, Amazon's print-on-demand (POD) service to publish three of my books in paperback. The way CreateSpace works is, you upload files for the interior of the book and for the cover, and Amazon then sells the books online. Unlike traditional publishing, they don't print multiple copies and wait for them to sell; they print single copies using an Espresso Book Machine only once someone has ordered a copy. However, the author/publisher can order bulk copies at a lower price directly from CreateSpace (not from Amazon.com) and sell those copies themselves. This also makes it cheaper to get print copies for contest giveaways and to give reviewers.

Smackdown

Recently, Barnes & Noble decided to get into the act and announced that Nook Press would also let you create a POD book that would then be for sale on the Barnes & Noble online store.  I decided to try it. I uploaded virtually the same files for King of Trees that I had used on CreateSpace (I did have change to make the cover file a teensy bit smaller) and was able to publish using Barnes & Noble's Nook Press Print.


CreateSpace copy on left. B&N on right.
I ordered a copy from each vendor, and as you can see, the difference in appearance between the two is minimal. In real life as opposed to this not-that-great photo, the gold lettering on the B&N cover was a little brighter than it was in the CreateSpace cover. The only other concrete difference was in the back cover, which I thought was cleaner-looking on the Amazon copy. Note the bar code area on the back of the book.  CreateSpace does not print the price and Nook Press does.

Amazon left; B & N right

Some differences I observed:

  • On both platforms, the vendor sets a minimum price you can charge for the book, based on size, but interestingly, it was almost $1.50 lower on Barnes & Noble than on Amazon.  Of course, the royalty per book is lower, too, by almost the same amount. And, because of shipping costs, a customer might well pay more on B&N, as Amazon make CreateSpace books eligible for free shipping for Prime members. 
  • Both vendors let you do bulk orders at a lower price, but B&N sets a 125 copy minimum. Possibly, they use a different press for those orders, and not the Espresso. CreateSpace lets you "bulk" order as few copies as you like, but the shipping costs make it cheaper than retail only if you get at least 8 or 10. 
  • CreateSpace will distribute to Amazon in some other countries, and to other vendors, including B&N. Note that you make a teeny-tiny royalty for non-Amazon sales.  Nook Press only goes to B&N online. 
  • CreateSpace lets you order an actual print proof copy before you put the book up for sale on Amazon. If Nook Press does that, I could not find out how to do it. The only preview I could see was online. 
  • Amazon is better at tweaking the PDF files for you if there is a minor problem. Nook Press just states the problem and tells you to fix it.
  • I would give the Create-Space interface the edge over Nook Press, partly because I could not figure out a way to bulk order; there is a tab for Orders in the Nook dashboard, but all that happens when you click it is you get an empty screen that says "No orders yet." Because of that, I cannot compare the bulk order prices. Not that I would actually order 125 copies, but I would have liked to initiate the process to at least find out the per copy price. Update: I found the Order link! It was right near the Edit link. In spite of what the FAQ said (as I understood it), you can in fact oder just one copy; 125 is the maximum number, not the minimum. The bulk order price for KoT on B&N Nook is $6.92, versus $5.00 on Kindle. 
  • On the other hand, Nook Press does let you link the print book to an existing ebook during the publishing process, which CreateSpace doesn't do. Amazon does link the two copies up after a few days, but it's annoying that you have to wait and hope it happens. 
  • Nook Press was very slow to actually put my book on sale; it spent about a week in pending status. On the other hand, replacing the front cover of the Nook ebook (I got a new cover when I decided to do print) was really quick, but Amazon took several days to disseminate the new cover for the Kindle version after I had changed it in KDP.  That's not really a print book issue, but it's only fair to mention it.
  • I did not see any indication that B&N offers anything like Kindle Matchbook, which lets you give away (or sell really cheaply) the Kindle version of the book to anyone who buys the paperback.

From the help screens, it looks like if a Nook Press Print book sells enough copies, you can ask B&N to carry it in stores, but it doesn't say how many copies that is.

If you want to check King of Trees out online, here's the link for B&N, and for Amazon.