Thursday, March 26, 2015

Borrow my book— please!

I hate the fact that Amazon requires exclusivity for a KDP book to be in Kindle Unlimited. Exclusivity means the ebook version of a book can only be for sale in the Kindle store. Amazon doesn't care about the print version, but the ebook can only be a Kindle book. Amazon calls this status being in Kindle Select, and they sweeten the deal by allowing a limited number of promotions for Kindle Select books: the author can make the book free or on sale. Of course, you can lower the price of your Kindle book to 99¢ anytime you want to, but that's not the same as displaying it as "Regular price, $3.99, on sale for 99¢, YOU SAVE $3.00!" which is what the Kindle store buyers see with a Kindle promotion. It eevn shows how long the sale will last, which is a good impetus for a browser to click the buy button.

To date, I've never kept a book in Kindle Select for more than a single 90 day cycle. In the past, being able to make the book free for a few days was a great way to get some reviews, and reviews sell books. But once that first 90-day period was over, I always loaded the book on other platforms. I still plan to do that for Saronna's Gift, but not for another 90 days. I've signed on for another cycle because Kindle Unlimited has been pretty good to this book.

As I said in my earlier post, the Kindle Unlimited per-borrow fee paid to the author is running about half of what the royalty is for a #3.99 book. However, that doesn't mean you always make less money with Kindle Unlimited. That's only true if people who would have bought the book borrow it instead. As a new author, I think the borrowers I'm getting are people who might otherwise never have seen or bought my book. Ergo, I'm going to give it another 90 days and we'll see where we are then.

Hopefully, by then that book will have more than 6 reviews. Honestly, people, would it kill you to post a review?  They make it really easy! There's a button right on the product page.






Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Value of Kindle Unlimited

Well, Saronna's Gift has been out for about six weeks now, and it's been a different experience from the other seven books. This is the first book I have marketed as a romance. Some of the others are very romance-friendly, but in this book, the point of the story is the relationship. It's also the first book I put out since Kindle Unlimited was an option.

In self-publishing ebooks, unknown authors have some tools (besides writing an engaging book) to get their work to readers. Two of the main ones are they can make books free (on some platforms), and they can price them very cheaply. Giving away a book works best as a marketing strategy if it's the first book in a series. But even that has limitations because there are so darn many free ebooks, that many of them are never read. People see “free” and click the button, but once they have the ebook, they don't feel any urge to read it right away. It might not even be a book they would want to read, but what the heck, it was free, right?


The Kindle Unlimited program is different. It's a subscription program, aimed at “heavy” readers, people who read a lot!  They pay a fixed price (I think it's $10 a month) and then they can download as many KU books as they want, but they can only have 10 KU books on their device at a time. Because they have already paid the fee, they feel a need to get their money's worth and read lots of books. They don't download as recklessly as they would totally freee books, but they are willing to take a chance on new (to them) authors.

Amazon pays KU authors for every time a book is borrowed and read to at least 10% of the book. Some authors are not happy because Amazon pays a flat rate, without regard to the book's price or length. Right now, the rate is approximately $1.40. That means if a book sells for 99¢, the author gets paid more for a borrow than a sale. But if the book sells for $3.99, the borrow pays only about half what the sale would pay.  Sounds like a terrible deal, right? I don't happen to think so.

Some people look at a borrow and see it as a lost sale. I don't. I see it as a reader gained. The thing is, if you're Stephen King or J.K. Rowling, anything you write will get a lot of attention. If you're Carmen Webster Buxton, your books have a ton of competition for readers' time and money. A program like Kindle Unlimited gets an unknown author over the barrier of the reader plunking down money to find out if they like a book or not. The free sample feature helps a lot, but I know a lot of people feel like it's not enough to really tell them if they'll like the book. With KU, there really isn't much of a barrier except the reader's time commitment, and they can stop reading any time, return the book, and go on to something else.

And I have to say, when it comes to “heavy” readers, romance readers have it all sewn up! They read more books than almost anyone. Which is fine with me!

Now if they would only write more reviews . . .

Addendum:  Adding a link here to an excellent discussion of this topic on Jane Friedman's blog.









Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The books are in the mail!

The Goodreads giveaway (see post below) is over, and the books are in the mail! If you were notified you won a paperback copy of Saronna's Gift, you should get it before the end of the week.

If you're not familiar with Goodreads, you should check it out. Lots of authors host giveaways. The cover all genres, and it doesn't cost anything to enter.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Saronna's Gift giveaway on GoodReads

I'm hosting a giveaway of three paperback copies of Saronna's Gift via Goodreads! You can enter to win using the link below.  Note that you do need a US mailing address.


Goodreads Book Giveaway

Saronna's Gift by Carmen Webster Buxton

Saronna's Gift

by Carmen Webster Buxton

Giveaway ends February 20, 2015.
See the giveaway details at Goodreads.
Enter to win

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

First US review of Saronna's Gift

At last, the US Kindle store has a review of Saronna's Gift. Reviewer M. Sutton gave it four stars. She wanted more sex (the reader has to wait a long time and nothing overt happens on the page) but she called it a good read and praised the lack of typos and grammatical errors, so I call that a good review.

She mentioned she borrowed the book through Kindle Unlimited. I checked and the review shows up on the paperback version, too, so they are fully linked.

Flat out bragging

I dedicated Saronna's Gift to readers who write and post reviews because reviews are what tells an author he or she has made a connection.  They also help sell more books, by the way.  The book actually got its first review on the Amazon UK site, rather than Amazon US, where it has sold a lot more copies, but in any event, here is the text of the review: "This review is in my husband s name ,but your book made me sad and made me smile, I wish every woman in the world. Was free . Keep writing."


It's short, but it gets the job done! That is what I call a connection! Thank you, wife of ericdavey!  You made my day.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

What I Learned from Self Publishing: My Love/Hate Relationship with Amazon

Amazon is certainly not the only player in the self-publishing game, but it is dominant, and it does offer a print option, which is rare. Smashwords is a great way to get into ebook publishing on every platform except Kindle, but they don't deal with print. Barnes and Noble recently announced they would also offer print on demand via Nook Press. It will be interesting to see if that goes anywhere. Unlike CreateSpace, B&N offers a hardcover option as well as paperback.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is pretty easy to use, and I have put out eight books with it. CreateSpace is the name of their print self-publishing platform, and I have used it only once for my latest book Saronna's Gift. CreateSpace is possible because of print on demand (POD) technology; the book is uploaded to a database, and when someone shopping on Amazon orders a copy, that copy is printed individually and mailed to the customer. Authors can also order multiple copies directly from CreateSpace to sell themselves, or to give to reviewers.

The two platforms have separate set-up requirements, although you can publish a CreateSpace book to Kindle, with no additional set-up, if you're willing to convert the PDF. I don't recommend that, by the way. PDFs are difficult to convert reliably. For one thing, you can end up with excess hyphenation. Also, using the print PDF doesn't allow for a a difference in the elements in the ebook. Because ebooks can't be flipped through in the same way print books are, it's important to offer a clickable table of contents as a navigation aid, whereas in print, it's not that big a deal for novels—especially if the chapters only have numbers and not titles. Also, because of the free sample feature, you might want acknowledgements, blurbs, and lists of your other books in the back of the ebook, instead of in the front.

My Amazon wish list:

  • Add a way to connect KDP and CreateSpace so that the author can specify that the two books are the same thing. This would not have to be automated. It could just notify Amazon to do whatever linking up they do, but at least it would save having to send an email, and hopefully it could happen faster than it does now. Alternatively, the CreateSpace set-up could let you load the digital file that KDP currently uses, instead of using the PDF.
  • Stop requiring ebook exclusivity for almost every marketing benefit (making a Kindle book free or on sale, participating in Kindle Unlimited, etc.)
  • Add a button to the CreateSpace set-up pages to include the “Look Inside the Book” feature; Amazon already gets the PDF, so this should be easy to do
  • Change the set-up protocol for CreateSpace so that you can switch between glossy and matte covers without having to upload the PDF again. 
  • Add X-Ray to KDP. I know from having had it happen to The Sixth Discipline that Amazon can create the file needed for the X-Ray feature to work by using the Book Extras information (lists of characters names and descriptions, places, etc). Currently, this info is entered via Shelfari (accessible from each author's Author Central pages). It would be nice if the author could create the X-Ray file info this way and click a button to submit it. The X-Ray feature is something only Kindle has, so it would make sense to do this.

What I liked about Amazon:

Conversion: In the past, when I had a day job, and time was more of an issue than money, I relied on paying a conversion house to create the ebook digital file, and didn't bother with print at all. Now that the time/money equation is reversed, I decided to try print, and to experiment with creating my own ebook file. I tried using Scrivener and Calibre to convert the MS Word file, and was not happy with either result. Scrivner offers the advantage of being able to keep the book elements (title page, contents, dedication, chapters, etc) as separate things and assemble them different ways, but I didn't like the look of the resulting ebook file. Calibre creates valid files, but it doesn't translate any of the print style features. Imagine my suprise when I tried loading the MS Word file directly to KDP, and found that their conversion had radically improved! 

Kindle Bookmatch: Finally, a feature that doesn't require Kindle exclusivity! If you publish your print book via CreateSpace and have the same book in the Kindle store, you can opt to have the Kindle version be free or very, very cheap to anyone who buys a print copy.  As soon as they order the print, they get a button to download the ebook.

No DRM: Some people seem to think that all Kindle books have DRM because Amazon requires it, but in fact, they don't all have DRM. It's a publisher's option, not a requirement. All KDP authors have the option to leave the DRM off. 

So you see, I love that Amazon makes it possible to publish my books, and to reach readers, I just don't like everything about Amazon. 


Monday, January 12, 2015

Just released!

Now for sale at Amazon, Saronna's Gift, is available in both papaperback and ebook formats. If you buy the paperback, the Kindle Matchbook feature will let you "buy" the ebook for free! The ebook is also available to borrow for free from both Kindle Unlimited and the Kindle Owners' Lending Library. KU is a subscription service Amazon offers. The KOLLis a benefit for people who have Amazon Prime and also own an actual Kindle or Kindle Fire device.

This has been a long time coming, and I have learned a lot from the process. In a few days I will post about the it. Meanwhile, here's the opening of the new book:

A warm summer breeze caught Saronna’s veil and almost pulled it loose. She stopped to tuck the folds around her face, to ensure nothing showed except her eyes. By the time she had picked up her valise, her father had almost disappeared into the crowd. She hurried to catch up, darting in and out among the throng as fast as she could without attracting notice.
Where were they going? Her father had told her to pack her belongings. That had to mean he planned another attempt to sell her, but he had given her no clue whom he planned to visit today. 
Even after their earlier trips to New Jerusalem, the city still disconcerted Saronna. Vendors’ cries, chattering voices, ground cars rolling past, and countless footfalls were enough to distract her, let alone the sight of so many strangers. Faces flashed past, some veiled, some bearded, and disappeared into the mass of humanity, never to be seen again.
She caught up to her father just as he turned suddenly, moving through the tall steel supports of the Strangers’ Gate, into the off-world quarter. Saronna had never been there. She gripped her valise tighter as a shiver of apprehension ran through her. Would her talent work as well on an off-world man?


Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Almost there!

I finally finished the corrections on the proof copy of Saronna's Gift, and uploaded new files to both CreateSpace and KDP. I decided to get the next proof copy with a glossy cover, though, because I am not entirely happy with the look of the matte version.

I am getting excited!  Here's the blurb and front cover:


Saronna Maynard never expected to be sold into an off-world household. She and Duncan Trushenko, her new protector, have very little in common, except for living in the same house. Saronna grew up in a small village outside of New Jerusalem, the largest city on Krueger’s World. Duncan grew up on many worlds, and has traveled the galaxy. He is dumbstruck to return from a business trip and find that his father has purchased a companion for him.

Saronna is terrified by the strangeness of the house and her sense of powerlessness, but in a very short time she realizes she might be better off—and safer—in Duncan’s house than in her father’s. For one thing, Duncan doesn’t believe in witches. Also, the more she’s with Duncan, the harder it is for her to believe all men are as evil as her mother taught her. But safer or not, Saronna is still intent on keeping her secrets. After all, she’s still on Krueger’s World. 



Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Happy New Year! Looking forward to 2015

End of year sale on MS Word templates

If you are interested in self publishing in print, you really should check out the sale at BookDesignTemplates.com. When you buy a Word template from them, you not only get the templates, with all the necessary styles and fonts needed, you get really good written instructions on how to use the template to create a PDF that can be used for a print book. The only thing I don't think was included in the directions was a reminder to change the hyphenation settings, if needed. The first time I generated a PDF, the hypenation was funky (e.g., fa-ther). MS Word lets you set a length for minimal hyphenation, and also control how many consectuive lives can end in hyphenation. Changing that setting really made my book look better. 

The templates are incredibly useful for printed book, because the styles handle things like making the page layout different on the first page of a new chapter. Unless you're a real expert in Word, it's a total lifesaver.

The sales ends 12/31/2014, so check it out NOW!


Saronna's Gift has been proofed!

I have the report back from the proofer and will be ordering a new proof copy soon. I think I will try the glossy cover this time, to see which one I like better. 

I have discovered I am terrible at proofing, so it was a good thing I had help. Also, if you're interested in procnostication, this site has some predictions for self publishing in 2015. We'll see in a year how they did. 

Happy New Year, everyone!