Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Happy New Year! Also, Smashwords sale is ending today!

Happy New Year everyone! We had something of a medical emergency in my family, which pretty much consumed December, but I am hoping to get back to Alien Skies and release the Kindle and paperback versions on Amazon in February.

Meanwhile, the Smashwords Winter Sale is ending today! All my books are either half price or free.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Cover reveal: ALIEN SKIES

I'm still working on the final draft of Alien Skies, book 3 in the Wakanreo trilogy. but I went ahead and commissioned the cover because I wanted to catch the artist when she had a free slot in her schedule.

Tada! Here's the cover for book 3!

I really like that you can tell from the covers that book 1 is about Kuaron and Dina and books 2 and 3 are about Yulayan and Kamuhi. 

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

You can reach the world via Google Books

To be frank, I don't sell very many ebooks via Google Books. I give away about 6-10 copies of The Sixth Discipline (free almost everywhere) every month, through Google Books, but it has been a while since I broke double digits on annual sales.

But what's amazing is, where the books go. Through Google Books I have found readers in the US and the UK, but also in Poland, Lesotho, Indonesia, India, Myanmar, the Philippines, New Zealand, Colombia, South Africa, and  Romania. That's amazing!  My words have traveled a lot farther than I ever did.

Monday, October 8, 2018

Saturday, September 15, 2018

An Update on Moving Books to KDP Print

So, Amazon appears to have finally worked things out. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I had moved three of my print titles over to KDP Print from CreateSpace. I moved them one at a time, using the Create Paperback link on KDP, and I was able to keep the same ISBNs (I own the ISBNs for all my books; I purchased them from Bowker). The reason I could keep the ISBNs is that the interface asked me if they were published on CS and gave me a chance to enter the ISBN. Amazon has changed that protocol so that the KDP Create Paperback button didn't allow using an existing ISBN.

Amazon was working on a way to move all a writer/publisher's CS titles to KDP in a single step. They had a link for it on the KDP bookshelf weeks ago, but it didn't work! Apparently, they unplugged one way to move titles before making sure the new way worked. After a while, they took that link away, but it returned a couple of days ago, and I was able to use it successfully, if not seamlessly.

At the point in time I clicked the link, I had five titles in CS. One was in draft because I am having problems with that cover and I cannot fix them myself. One of the five I had approved for sale recently, even though the cover needs work because they are things I can fix, and I wasn't sure it would move to KDP if it was still in draft. The other three had all been for sale for sometime and were properly linked to their Kindle versions on their Amazon product pages.

So, once I clicked the "Move my titles" link on the KDP bookshelf, I got the page with the three buttons: validate my CS account, validate my KDP account, and move the books. This time all three buttons seemed to work!  When it was done, everything disappeared from CS. The account was still there, but there were NO books listed.

In KDP, results were less uniform. One of the titles moved over perfectly, and was already linked to the Kindle version. The other titles have moved over but had not linked automatically.  When a book exists in KDP in two formats, if they are properly linked, there is only one entry on the bookshelf, like this:

Each format has its own menu to edit content, details, etc., but they are one title.  If there is only one format, the entry on the bookshelf looks like this:

If the book is a Kindle book, the links are for creating or linking a paperback, and if it's a paperback, the links are for creating or linking a Kindle version. For four of the five books I moved over in one step, KDP created a second entry on the bookshelf instead of linking them. When I tried to link them myself, using the Link to Existing Paperback on the Kindle bookshelf entry, it did not work, but when I used the Link to Existing Kindle version on the newly-created paperback entries, it worked fine. I was very pleased that the draft CS title with the problematic cover came over just fine, as a draft entry in KDP. And for the one that's in better shape, but isn't really ready for prime time, I was able to pull it off sale by using the Unpublish option on the paperback menu.

My books are all now moved over. Goodbye, CreateSpace. It was nice knowing you,

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

Alien Vows has launched!

Alien Vows, the sequel to Alien Bonds, and Book 2 of the 3 book Wakanreo trilogy, is now for sale on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback formats.

It took more than nine months, but I still feel like a should offer you a cigar! 

UPDATE: Alien Vows already has its first review!  It's short, but very good. Five stars, in fact! 

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Celebrating a 2-star review

The review of Alien Bonds above is interesting because it's actually an excellent review but the reviewer opted to give only 2 stars. This is certainly his or her prerogative. I have taken away stars in reviews for an ebook that was badly converted and full of typos (although never for a living author). And in this instance the reviewer made it clear the problem was not bad writing or a dull story, but simply the point of view from which the story was written. 

As someone who cannot read a present tense novel, I can empathize. Some writers like present tense because they think it's more immediate.  It's supposed to make the reader feel like the story is happening now. I can tolerate present tense when it's used intermittently, to show different timelines, for example; but after a while, present tense is like fingernails on a chalkboard to me. I just want it to be over. If the whole novel is present tense, I simply don't try to read it.

I will say that while the entire narrative of  Alien Bonds is certainly third person, I don't know that I would call it omniscient. I try to be sure every scene is in someone's point of view. There are at least three POV characters; I would have to read the book again to guarantee there aren't more. In the sequel. Alien Vows, there are five. I know some readers don't like "head hopping" from character to character, but the longer the Wakanro saga goes on, the more complicated it gets. I prefer to change the POV character and not have that person relate what happened later, in the main character's presence. To minimize the sense of head-hopping, I tend to write in a not-that-close third person, which may be why the reviewer saw it as omniscient. 

Anyway, kudos to Pygmy Amazon Reviews for sticking with my book! It's the best review I ever got from someone who didn't enjoy reading the book.

Monday, August 27, 2018

I made the jump to KDP print! (well, halfway, anyway)

UPDATE, Sept. 9, 2018: Amazon has changed things. They have cut off being able to input the ISBN and move the files from CreateSpace, so at present, if you have your own paperback ISBN, you cannot move your books from CS to KDP.  There was a link at the top of the KDP bookshelf to move all your books from CS to KDP, but it did not seem to work (at least not for me) and now it's gone. Hopefully, Amazon will restore it once it works properly.
So, I keep hearing that Amazon will shutter CreateSpace, their separate self-publishing arm for physical "printing" (they do CDs and DVDs as well as paperback books) and make everyone use KDP, which now has an option to "Create Paperback."

In the past I stuck with CreateSpace because it had some functions not offered in KDP Print but it looks like those are pretty well accounted for now.  In additon, if the book already exists in CreateSpace, Amazon has made it very easy to move the book over to KDP. When you click the link in the KDP database (illustrated here with a title I have not yet published in print) to create a paperback, you get a form to fill out that's partly filled in from the Kindle version.

If you answer yes to the question "Have you published this book on CreateSpace?" it gives you a place to enter the ISBN (whether it's an ISBN CreateSpace assigned or one you own). Once you do that, KDP retrieves the PDFs of the interior and the cover so you don't even have to load them again. One quirk I found was that if you had loaded your book to CreateSpace but didn't actually publish it, this process won't work; you need to complete publication on CS, and then move the book over to KDP Print. You still have an option to get a draft copy from KDP if you want to be sure. I notice that instead of merely marking "proof" on an inside page, KDP puts a Not for Resale banner on the draft copy's cover,

Once the paperback version exists in KDP, the entry for that book includes a separate set of options for that version. The menu there is where you can order author copies and make changes, if needed. 

So far I have moved over three out of my six print titles. One thing I thought was better is, KDP let me price the books a couple of bucks cheaper than CreateSpace did. Now, this could have been because CS lowered their prices, too, but didn't notify authors they could change prices on existing  books, but I thought it was positive. It's much harder to compete with traditional publishing in print because you can't undercut them on coast like you can with ebooks.

Anther advantage is, your print sales (once they are shipped) show up in the same Sales Dashboard bar graph as your Kindle sales. Free ebooks "sales" are blue, regular ebook sales are gold, and print sales are gray. The Month to Date spreadsheet-style chart has a button to select paperback or ebook format.

The final advantage is, the paperback version of Alien Vows was linked to the Kindle version within 24 hours, without my doing anything to request it.

At present, I have three titles in KDP Print and three still in CreateSpace. When I get ready to publish my other five ebooks in print, I will start with KDP.

Wednesday, August 8, 2018

eBooks can be corrected and Kindle books often are!

Any book can have errors, but one book that's almost bound to have errors is an old, out-of-print (or even out-of-copyright) title that is published as an ebook by scanning the printed pages and then converting the resulting file into epub or Kindle format without carefully proofing every word. It might be because the pages weren't in great shape or it might be because the scanner wasn't the latest and greatest, but those kinds of books almost always have some errors. Sometimes they have many errors.

A lot of readers probably pay no attention, but in fact Kindle books are often updated after publication. This could be for reasons other than errors; the publisher might have added content, or enabled a new feature like X-Ray. But since the  Kindle interface provides a way for the user to report content errors, I'm guessing the most common reason is fixing a typo or several typos.  [Note: This only works on an actual Kindle. The Kindle app on my Android phone, my PC, and my tablet do not have this function. I don't know about the iPhone and/or iPad versions. If you know, please leave me a comment.]

If you feel like it, you can send Amazon info about errors using the menu that pops up when you highlight text.  The example below is highly typical of the kind of errors you'll see in scanned books. "For two pins" was a common expression, but the scanner made it into "Pot two pins."

Once you tap the three dots to get the menu, you see an option to report a content error. 

Amazon now asks you to identify the error.

In this case, I tapped Typo.

This gave me a screen where I could input the correction. In a way, Amazon is making readers into proofreaders. 

Once you click submit, you get a screen telling you the error will be submitted. But assuming that the publisher acts on these notices, how do you get a corrected file? Well, corrections and changes happen all the time, but Amazon doesn't automatically reload the book because doing so with no warning could wipe out a reader's notes and highlights and lose his place in the book. If a publisher has uploaded a corrected ebook that you bought from Amazon, that shows in your list of  Kindle books, accessible in your browser when you're on Amazon.com. The list appears under the heading  "Content and Devices"  and updates are obvious. 

If you click the update button, Amazon first sends a warning. 

And there you have it. Good luck trying that with a printed book on your shelves! 

Thursday, August 2, 2018

Taking Inventory

I'm doing final corrections on Alien Vows, getting it ready for launch, but I stopped to take stock of my "stack" of manuscripts.  I put the word in quotes because the stack is digital; the books exist only as files on my hard drive.

I have been writing seriously since 1992, but I didn't start self-publishing until 2011. Since then I have published nine (soon to be ten) novels and one novella.

The unpublished novels list looks like this:

Bag of Tricks
The Return of Magic

Science Fiction
This Nameless World
Child of the Sand (very rough draft)

Science Fiction Romance
Alien Skies (Book 3 of the Wakanreo series)
Worlds Apart
Ice and Fire

YA Science Fiction
Nomads (or possibly Nomads of Menkar 7)
Playing with Fire -- partial m.s.  

The next one in line to publish will undoubtedly be Alien Skies because I want to finish the Wakanreo series. After that I need to decide which direction I want to go. I might alternate, and do a fantasy next and then a science fiction romance, and then repeat. This Nameless World will probably go to the bottom of the list because it's currently at 240,000 words, the longest book I ever wrote.  That's about twice as long as most of my novels, but I don't think I can split it into two books because there's no resolution point in the middle of the book.

In contrast, I have also written six short stories. It's not that I was trying to write mostly novels;it's that the stories that started in my head were mostly novels. Go figure!