Do You Like And Support Indie Authors? Then Don’t Do This

I normally try to be careful about what I say about things like reviews, but I noticed something that really gets my goat.  On Barnes & Noble, someone left this one-star review for my mystery novel This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies:

This may be a great book. I read another Reed Ferguson, but this one came out with the typography all garbled so it could not be understood.

Seriously???  Where is the review of the book?  Where’s the discussion of what you liked (or didn’t like) about the story, the characters and so on?  This review has nothing to do with the book…and that’s what a review should be about.

All this reviewer has done is hurt me as an author.  Why?  Because that one star affects my overall rating, which other shoppers see, and it affects my ability to advertize, as many sites want a minimum review rating (usually 4 stars or higher).

I’m all for honest reviews…of the book!  You want to tell me I stink as a writer, that’s okay.  I can take it.  If you say that I have typos or grammatical errors, that’s a fair critique.  I’ve learned things from reviews, both positive and negative, and before someone says I’m saying don’t give negative reviews, let’s be clear.  I’m not.

What I am saying is that if you have a problem with an a book’s formatting – it’s garbled, didn’t get delivered correctly, etc. – things the author has no control of – then the complaint should be taken to the company.  Why?  Because Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other sites don’t read the reviews!  They have no idea that you’re upset, like this reviewer was.

I get it – you’re upset that the product you bought wasn’t what you expected.  And here’s the thing: I’m just as upset as you are that you didn’t get the ebook delivered correctly.  That stinks.  But again, to leave this kind of review only hurts the author.  It doesn’t help you get the issue straightened out.  It doesn’t help Amazon or whatever site improve their systems.  They do need to know, but trying to alert them with a negative review isn’t the way to do it.

So, a plea from an author, if you run into this situation, please think about the author before you write this kind of review.

What do you think?

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Indie Authors – 5 Predictions For 2014

indie author handbook

Indie Author Handbook

As we move into 2014, I thought I’d give some predictions for indie authors in the coming year.  Who knows if I’ll be right or not, but it’s interesting to speculate on what might happen this year in the publishing world.

Indie Authors – Will Barnes & Noble Or The Nook Disappear?

This is one many authors are debating, and I’m going to weigh in.  I don’t think the Nook disappears, at least not this year.  It’s second in sales, and expanding its sale distribution outside the U.S.  And many readers prefer the Nook over the Kindle.  A change in how they try to sell the Nook would do wonders for it.  As Dean Wesley Smith states, the Nook does need some refocus, but it’s not going anywhere.

Along the same lines, some, like JA Konrath, predict that Barnes & Noble will go away.  I don’t see this happening.  Paperback book sales are fine, and Barnes & Noble is doing everything it needs to in order to stay viable in the book business.  For more on this, and for some great counterpoints to JA Konrath’s predictions, read Dean Wesley Smith’s blog – it’s a wonderful synopsis of where he thinks Konrath is correct, and where he’s missed the mark.

Indie Authors – Amazon’s Pull In The Market Will Diminish

Amazon took ebook publishing by storm, and they did a lot to try to corner the market amazonwith KDP Select.  But more and more authors are reporting that free isn’t what it used to be, and they’ve left KDP Select (for more on this, read Indie Authors – Is Amazon Kindle Countdown Deals Beneficial?).  That’s one factor in what I see as Amazon’s losing it grip on the market, although it will be slight.  Another factor is overseas sales.  Even though Amazon is publishing in many other countries, it’s difficult to make any headway in those markets.  And readers in other countries aren’t necessarily gravitating toward the Kindle (can anyone say Kobo?), and this doesn’t bode well for Amazon either.  I’m sure Amazon will come up with something else to try to lure authors back into exclusivity with them, but I don’t see many coming back because they don’t want to forfeit the traction they’ve made in other markets.

Indie Authors – Don’t Quit Your Day Job

Each year we see more and more people try their hand at writing, many (if they’re honest with themselves) with the dream of hitting it big.  But one thing that hasn’t changed over time is that few will do that.  Sure, it’s easier now to make a living at this writing thing, but it still takes a lot of work, dedication, more work, sacrifice, and more work to get paid a livable wage on a consistent basis.  Many people don’t have the stomach for this.  And many will realize that, although they’re doing okay in terms of sales, it’s not enough to make a living.  The old adage don’t quit your day job will remain true.

Indie Authors – Mainstream Publishers Will Reshape And Reform

Mainstream publishing isn’t going away.  The Big Five (or whatever it is now) will still produce books, still live off some big name sellers, and still be in the marketplace.  They do know now, more than ever, that publishing is changing, and they’ll change with it.  It may mostly be in negative ways, but it’ll be enough so that they stay around.  I do think we’ll see more indie authors get hybrid contracts, where the big publishers produce their print books, but the authors retain ebook rights.  And that’s a good thing.

Indie Authors – Do You Need An Agent Anymore?

Agents will continue to lose relevance.  Now, I’m not saying there aren’t good agents, or that they aren’t helpful to authors.  But the old way of publishing, where you generally had to have an agent in order to publish, is long gone.  In its place are agents who are trying to figure out their role in all this.  I also think we will see a rise in agent scams, so it behooves indie authors to vet agents very carefully (this should happen anyway, but unfortunately it doesn’t).

One thing I do know is that I’m grateful to all my readers and supporters!  I hope you all have a wonderful year.  What do you think will happen in 2014?

On a side note, it’s Elvis Presley’s birthday!  If you know me, you know I’m a huge fan.  I wrote a blog last year, Five Things Authors Can Learn From Elvis Presley, and I hope you’ll give it a reread for some inspiration :).

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Indie Authors – How To Make It In Self-Publishing

indie author handbook

Indie Author Handbook

I saw an interesting business article this morning called 9 Ways to make a Million and as I read it, I was struck by how much of the advice applies to indie authors and self-publishing.  I’ve been working at my craft for many, many years and at times I get discouraged that I don’t have the success of some others.  And there’s always more I should be doing:

  • writing faster and publishing more books
  • getting my existing books in more markets
  • pursuing other avenues to sell books
  • figuring out other ways to market my books online
  • and on and on

I’ll talk to friends of mine (who aren’t authors) about all this, and many will say but you do so much, and you work so hard at it, it will come.  I sometimes lose sight of what I have done, and that this whole journey is part of the process to get me where I want to be.  And that’s where the article has value for indie authors…

Indie Authors – Start With Nothing

Most of us indie authors don’t just have a gift for writing a bestseller on our first attempt.  We learn our craft, practice, get rejected and more before we hit it big (and many of us will never hit it big, it’s just the way it is).  But, as the article points out, adversity and competition breed great leaders, or in this case, great authors.

Indie Authors – Do What You Love And Hope The Market Is There

For me, writing is more than just a business, or a way to make money.  I love everything indie authors earn moneyabout writing and books.  I love plotting stories and creating characters.  I would never do this if it was just about money, because let’s face it, there are a lot easier ways to make money (I just want to someday make enough money that I don’t need a day job :)).  Indie authors also have to consider that the story they loved creating may not have a market.  That’s part of this journey as well.

Indie Authors – You Own It

The really cool thing about self-publishing is that we indie authors are in control.  We get final say over editing, covers, where we publish, how much we charge, and so much more.  But with this comes the need to be prudent with our budgets and our resources.  Most of us don’t have tons of money for advertizing, publicists and so on.  We have to be creative in all areas of our publishing endeavors.

Indie Authors – Take Risks, Make Mistakes, Trust Your Gut

As the article states, wildly successful people take calculated risks.  Sometimes you’ll fall flat on your face, but to be successful, you’ll pick yourself up and keep going.  And you’ll learn from your mistakes.  Indie authors also learn to trust their instincts, and beyond that, we have another great resource – each other.  This is such a supportive community – tap into it.

Indie Authors – Hard Work And Sacrifice

indie author - hard workThis piece of advice has been around for centuries, and it applies to indie authors.  It takes a lot of work to write and publish.  I think we’re already seeing many indie authors leave the business because they thought they could just write a book and it would instantly be a bestseller.  What the successful indie authors know is that it take a lot of hard work, and sacrifices in other areas of our lives, in order to write and sell books.

Indie Authors – Make Your Own Luck

There’s been a lot written about manufacturing your own luck.  Yes, there is such a thing as luck, but putting yourself in situations where luck can occur is prudent.  Get out and meet people, talk about what you do, look for opportunity to connect with readers and other authors, and things will start happening.  For example, I started teaching a class on self-publishing at a community college and it’s led me to wonderful new opportunities, some of which may help propel me into a household name.  If that happens, it will be because of luck and my putting myself out there…

Indie Authors – Diversify

At this point, if you’re staying exclusive to Amazon, you’re probably making a mistake.  And if you’re only selling ebooks, you’re probably making a mistake.  Look to diversify into paperbacks, audiobooks, boxed sets, serials, collaborations and more.  Get your books out in as many markets as you can.

What do you think it takes to make it in publishing?

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Indie Authors – 2013 In Review

Another year has come and gone, and it’s time to take a look back at 2013.  It’s been an interesting year for indie authors, and for the publishing industry.  Here are some things of note that occurred…

January – What Does The New Year Hold For Indie Authors?

January imageThe indie revolution continues.  The previous two years have seen double-digit gains in ebook sales from previous years.  Will this happen in 2013 (more on this below)?  On another note, Guy Kawasaki publishes APE How to Publish a Book with amazing success.  Unfortunately many indie authors don’t have the kind of brand he has, but it can be an inspiration to us.

February – Changes To Amazon’s Affiliate Program Affects KDP Select

Amazon, yet again, makes changes that affect indie authors who give away free books.  Sites like Pixel of Ink and ENT have to adapt and feature paid books as well as free.  How much did it affect indie authors?  Hard to say…

March – Bookbub Explodes On The Scene

Okay, maybe I’ve got the month wrong, but somewhere early in the year Bookbub took hold of indie author hearts.  Bookbub (at least initially) seemed to really help authors boost sales, even though their prices were (and are) high and continued to rise.  Finding where to effectively advertize is still a challenge.

Amazon buys Goodreads.  From comments on many of the articles about the sale, readers aren’t happy.  Goodreads says it won’t change…we’ll see.

April – Nook Ebook Sales Are Up

David Gaughran notes on his blog, self-published titles at Barnes & Noble account for 25% nook bookof their sales (Amazon sales are about 30%).  Kobo’s fan base is growing as well, especially in Canada, where publishers estimate Kobo has 50% of digital sales.  Indie authors, take note…

May – Author Solutions Is Sued

Author Solutions, known as a scam agency, is finally sued.  If you’re not familiar with Author Solutions, just google Author Solutions scam and you’ll find a plethora of information about how this agency is scamming folks out of their money.  It’s about time someone took them to task.  And watch out for Archway Press (operated by Author Solutions).  It pays to educate yourself in this age of self-publishing…

June – Indie Authors Report Free Has No Value Anymore

free tagAh, did we finally come to this?  No, not really.  Many indie authors report that Amazon’s KDP Select isn’t working anymore (i.e. no post-free sales bump or jump in popularity lists), but many turn to permafree as the new way to work free.  Free can still bring in fans, but capitalizing on KDP Select seems to be a lost cause for most.

July – Ebook Sales Experience Minimal Gains

A report states that the Association of American Publishers, ebook sales increase 4.8% in the first six months of the year.  Children’s ebooks skew this a bit because of the sales in previous years of The Hunger Games series.  How accurate is the survey?  Who knows…but we do know an indie author can still sell plenty of ebooks :) .

On another note, Penguin and Random House complete their merger, creating a giant in the publishing world.

August – Is Amazon Messing With Rankings?

Is it a glitch with Amazon?  Authors report that sales rankings on Amazon are jumping all over the place.  Categories seem to be messed up as well.  Kindle boards are abuzz, but things seem to stabilize quickly.

September – Amazon Changes Categories, And Kindle Matchbook

Amazon changes their categories.  From their site:

The number of browse categories allowed for Kindle titles was changed from five to two in order to provide our customers with a more relevant searching experience and achieve parity with our guidelines for physical books.

Books published before this change will retain their original category assignments of up to five.  However, if a publisher chooses to change their category assignments after this change was implemented, their title will be restricted to two categories.

We can add a total of two Kindle store categories that aren’t currently available to select in your KDP Bookshelf, as long as they already exist in the Kindle Store.  If you’d like us to manually change your category, you’ll first need to remove one of the current categories.  Also, for the books having more than two categories, please also confirm that we can delete the third category that we added for you.

The changes affect keyword searches, and more concerning, author sales.

kindle matchbookAlso, Amazon introduces Kindle Matchbook, and authors don’t have to be exclusive to Amazon to join the program.  If you purchase a paperback book from Amazon, you can now buy the Kindle ebook version at a discount.  And what’s nice about the program is that Amazon is promising that even if you bought a book from Amazon years ago, you can still get the ebook now at a discount.

October – Goodreads Changes Review Policies In Response To Bullies

Goodreads changes its review policies.  Apparently someone wasn’t playing nice with their goodreads logoreviews, prompting Goodreads to step in.  It will be interesting to see how this change impacts indie authors.

Kobo pulls titles after a backlash about them publishing indecent material.  It affects many indie authors whose titles weren’t violating their policies.

November – Amazon Introduces Kindle Countdown Deals

Kindle Countdown DealsAmazon’s latest program to lure authors into exclusivity with them is Kindle Countdown Deals.  But since so many authors have left KDP Select, will the program work?  It does seem like a great way to influence buyers, but the exclusivity piece may signal its downfall.  Only time will tell…

On another note, print books aren’t going away.  According to the latest stats, hardcover books sales outpace ebook sales in 2013.  Of course, stats can be manipulated, but it’s probably fair to say that print books are doing okay.

December – Boxed Sets Are In

From browsing the bestseller lists, it would seem that boxed sets are in.  Back in my day (oh, I’m getting old :)), we called it the Omnibus, but regardless, boxed sets are selling.  Take the first three (or more) books in a series, bundle them together and sell them at a discount.  It seems to be working.  Many indie authors are also creating boxed sets with others in their genres, creating a sampler for readers.  And a takeaway from this: how creative indie authors are about their marketing.

And that’s my takeaway for 2014: we indie authors are a creative bunch, not only with the books we sell, but with our marketing, too.  Mainstream publishers and book agents should take note.

What things did I miss?  A lot has gone on this past year.  For some in-depth analysis from an industry pro, read Dean Wesley Smith’s post.  It’s enlightening.

Thank you ALL for your support this past year.  I hope you all have a blessed New Year and I’ll see you in 2014!

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Indie Authors – Questioning Bookbub

By now I’m sure just about every indie author has heard about Bookbub.  I seemed to have heard about them later than others, but I’ve used them a few times now for advertizing.  And although their results are better than anywhere else, I believe that there are some concerns with their site.  Read on…

Bookbub – Bookbub Indie Savior?

bookbub logoI’m stealing that headline from Rob Guthrie.  He wrote an interesting post a while back about Bookbub and their editorial staff.  If you haven’t read the post, it’s worth getting another indie author’s perspective on Bookbub.  One thing Rob notes is:

The Bub better be careful.  The window of success for businesses who treat their clientele like meal tickets rather than valued partners is very small.  Microscopic in the long run.

I’m feeling a bit like Rob these days, especially as Bookbub continues to raise its prices, reject books that should be accepted, do very little to answer questions, and does not verify that their mailing list is indeed as large as they state (more on this below).  So what’s my deal with Bookbub?  I’m glad you asked…

Bookbub – Bookbub’s Numbers

Bookbub claims to have over one million subscribers for their daily email blasts.  That’s quite a number, one that they never verify (believe me, authors have asked them to but never get an answer from Bookbub).  Bookbub also has a page that breaks down their pricing (you’ll choke when you see it) and averages on book downloads.  Let’s take the mystery category.  Right now, Bookbub states that this list has 770,000+ subscribers.  Free book downloads average 17,000, with a range of 8,000 to 25,800.  Discounted books average 1,730 sold with a range of 250 to 4,720.

Bookbub – Breaking Down The Numbers

Let’s say that Bookbub’s numbers are true.  What then should the indie author be able to click-through rateexpect?  In email marketing, a decent click-through rate would be 1% to 2%.  Really good click-through rates would be 5% or higher.  So, is Bookbub delivering?  We should expect at minimum 1%.  Let’s check it out, using their highest numbers in the mystery category:

4,720 / 770,000 = 0.0061298701298701

Wow.  Bookbub delivers at a whopping 0.6% rate.  Not good at all (especially for the price they charge).  And herein lies my main issue with Bookbub…

Bookbub – The Cost

The main complaint I hear from indie authors is that Bookbub is SO expensive.  And rightly so.  Don’t believe me?  Right now, to advertize a 99 cent book is $520.  To advertize a book at $2+ is more than my mortgage payment!  Think about that.

Bookbub price imageOf course Bookbub can charge what they want, but wouldn’t you expect that such a costly site would have a better click-through (sales) rate?  Now I’m sure many of you are saying but I’m getting more sales than I have anywhere else.  Yep, me too.  But don’t be fooled.  You should be expecting more from Bookbub, and they need to hear this.

On a side note, I fill out the feedback form every time I do a listing.  This last time was the first that I had a book offered on other sites, and when I gave Bookbub my numbers, I forgot to include Barnes & Noble.  And I also quoted my numbers based on the one day that the Bookbub listing ran.  Boy, their staff came back within minutes that I’d reported the numbers wrong.  And they were only partly correct.  They’d included all sales since the listing, not just for that day.  So they are sensitive to their numbers, but I also think they are erroneous in how they figure out what they charge.  Here’s why.

Bookbub – What They Should Focus On

Bookbub focuses on the wrong thing, in my humble opinion.  They look at their email list (questionable, and some are wondering if they’re buying their lists, which would be really bad for them if that ever comes out) and say wow, we’ll charge you based on how many people are on the list.  Then they say the author get 35% or 70% of the listing price, which is also not true.  Authors pay a delivery fee, depending on the size of the ebook, and royalty rates are also dependent on whether an author is enrolled in KDP Select or not.  But Bookbub doesn’t care.  And finally, just looking at the download numbers is wrong, again, based on the royalty rate.  It take a lot more downloads to break even if you’re royalty rate is 35%.  Bookbub should be thinking about this.  But again, they don’t.

And this is all wrong on their part.  They should be charging on the click-through rate, which would be more fair to those advertizing on Bookbub, and it would encourage authors to continue using the site (without the growing grumbling).  But again, they don’t care.  They should (read Rob’s post for reasoning on this), but they don’t.  They should be concerned that authors are only breaking even or barely making a profit.  Why?  They want authors to come back, and the more authors don’t make money, the more likely they’ll look elsewhere.   Yes, it may take some time, but it will happen.

Another concern is that the more readers see the same books on Bookbub (i.e. an author advertises the same book every six months), the effectiveness of the listing could go down.  Now, maybe not.  Maybe a reader who passed the previous time decides to buy the book this time.  I don’t know, but at $260+ on up for advertizing, the risk becomes greater.

Bookbub – Indie Author Expectations

breaking evenOne thing I also wonder about is our expectations as indie authors.  I can’t tell you the number of indie authors who say:

Well, I’ve broken even or made a little money on most of my Bookbub listings.

Call me crazy, but wouldn’t you want to do more than break even or make a few dollars when you advertize?  Yes, I realize that we’re looking for new readers and new reviews and more exposure, but at what point do you want more than a break-even scenario?  This isn’t a good long-term marketing formula.  And yes, I know some of you have done very well, but I suspect this isn’t the vast majority, or Bookbub’s numbers would reflect this.  And again, using the same site over and over again to boost your sales or keep the sales high may lead to ineffective advertizing there.

Bookbub – The Editorial Team

Another issue I have is their selection/editorial process.  I recently submitted The Maltese Felon for consideration.  It’s the third novel in the Reed Ferguson mystery series.  It should be exactly what Bookbub is looking for, as their readers would want more in the series.  Bookbub should be looking at the whole series and making their decision based on that, not just that The Maltese Felon only has 5 5-star reviews.  But the book is not what their readers want…really?  And, as others have noted, some of what they accept seems pretty sketchy, so you wonder if they’re looking at anything but the money.  Not good if you’re advertizing there.  For the cost, we should expect more from the editorial team.

Bookbub – Their Help

And lastly, I think for as much as we pay for listings, we should expect more from Bookbub when it comes to support, and our questions.  I realize they get inundated with listing requests, but there ought to be a bit more feedback on why a listing was denied.  If an editorial team really is checking each book, it wouldn’t take that long to send standard emails that break down why you’re listing was rejected (not enough reviews, poor quality etc.) instead of one standard email.

Will I continue to use Bookbub?  Sure, with reservations.  I’m also looking for other sites to give Bookbub competition.  If you haven’t checked out The Fussy Librarian you should, and you should get all your readers to sign up there.  More competition will force Bookbub to be more equitable.  And that would be good for all indie authors.

Alas, Bookbub will be around for some time, but it will become more and more difficult to get a listing there.  From what I see on my daily emails, they are focusing more on mainstream-published books (they get more money that way), and as more indie authors submit, the higher competition will mean many get rejected.  I do hope sites like The Fussy Librarian take off (especially because The Fussy Librarian vows not to charge mortgage prices to advertize there), but that remains to be seen.

I’m sure many of you will tell me how great Bookbub has been for you, that you’ve had great results, and that’s fine.  Just remember, the numbers in and of themselves isn’t the point of the post :).

Does anyone know of other sites to advertize where you feel that you’re getting good results?  Let us know.  Thanks!

Posted in Indie Author Handbook, Promoting Your Books | 39 Comments

Indie Authors – Is Amazon Kindle Countdown Deals Beneficial?

indie author handbook

Indie Author Handbook

Amazon recently announced a new program, Kindle Countdown Deals, and I immediately wondered will this be beneficial for indie authors, because let’s face it, with Amazon, there is always a catch.  So I read up on Kindle Countdown, and yes, there is a catch.  I also wondered if this new program will be anything like KDP Select was for indie authors, where many cashed in on giving away free books.  Now, more than a month in, I’ve concluded that Kindle Countdown will ultimately fail.  Read more for my reasoning…

Indie Authors – What Is Kindle Countdown Deals?

Here’s what Amazon says about Kindle Countdown Deals:

Kindle Countdown Deals is a new KDP Select benefit that allows authors to run limited-time discount promotions on their books, which can help earn more royalties and reach more readers.  Customers can see the regular price and the promotional price on the book’s detail page, as well as a countdown clock telling them how much time is left at the promotional price.  You’ll also continue to earn your selected royalty rate on each sale during the promotion.

Kindle Countdown Deals

Okay, that all sounds good, but lets break it down.  Here are the pros of Kindle Countdown Deals:

  • customers see the regular book price and a save label beside it, so they know that they’re getting a discount (good marketing strategy)
  • the deal is time-based, so the customer knows when the deal ends, hopefully prompting them to act now (there’s a countdown clock for them to see)
  • Amazon has a separate Kindle Countdown Deals page for books that are currently discounted through the program
  • indie authors can raise their book prices in increments (start your sale at 99 cents, then move to $1.99, then $2.99 etc. until you reach full price)
  • and, most important for indie authors, you can continue to earn your regular royalty rate during the promo (you can get 70% even if your book is under $2.99)

Kindle Countdown Deals - incrementsSounds great, right?  Not so fast…there are negatives to Kindle Countdown Deals:

  • free isn’t what it once was (more on this below)
  • a book has to be enrolled in KDP Select for thirty days before running a Kindle Countdown Deal
  • a book has to be enrolled in KDP Select, meaning your book is exclusive to Amazon (you can’t sell it elsewhere)

Indie Authors – Is Kindle Countdown Deals A Good Thing?

It would seem on initial presentation that Kindle Countdown Deals is a good thing, mostly because you now can get the full royalty rate for your books.  But here’s the thing, in May 2013 Amazon tweaked its algorithms yet again, and now free books see little sales bump after the free days, and some indie authors have even reported that their books dropped lower in the sales rank than they were before the free promo days.  Free isn’t at all what it once was, at least in terms of sales.  So yes, you can have the countdown clock and get your full royalty, but what are you really gaining at this point?  You might gain a few more readers, and some short-term sales, but what are you losing?  I also find it interesting that not too many indie authors are talking about Kindle Countdown Deals – that seems an indicator that indie authors aren’t wowed by the program, or we’d be hearing how wonderful it is.  It’s early, but I doubt that changes.

Indie Authors – Exclusive Doesn’t Pay Anymore

Many authors, myself included, have dropped out of KDP Select.  We are now focusing on other sales channels, like Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Apple, Sony and more.  Many are seeing decent sales on these other sites, so why would they quit selling their books there, risking losing their reviews, and more critically, their sales momentum, to go back to being exclusive at Amazon?  I don’t see it happening.

Also, those that stay in KDP Select may have a harder time building sales momentum elsewhere.  Right now, there’s less competition on these other sites.  It’s easier to get noticed.  The indie authors who stay too long at Amazon will be facing much higher competition.  And now that advertizing with places like The Fussy Librarian, Bookbub, and others allowing indie authors to reach a much larger audience, we can see great sales boosts elsewhere as well.  The last promo I did was great for my sales on Barnes & Noble, and I’m seeing sales elsewhere as well.

Indie Authors – Why Kindle Countdown Deals Will Fail

I realize that running free promos on Amazon is good for gaining exposure.  But being free tagexclusive to Amazon isn’t beneficial anymore.  The way to go is perma-free (if you have a series), and giving away free books on all the sites, not just Amazon.  This way, you get exposure everywhere readers are, not just on Amazon.  And here’s why I think Kindle Countdown Deals will fail:

  • too many indie authors have already left KDP Select and they won’t come back
  • too many indie authors realize that long-term, consistent sales mean selling lots of places, not just one
  • newbie indie authors will begin hearing about how KDP Select isn’t helpful anymore and they’ll leave the program
  • Amazon will realize indie authors can offer books elsewhere for free (perma-free) and they have to match this (because Amazon price matches)
  • Amazon screwed up with KDP Select – they didn’t realize how indie authors would exploit it and get a temporary sales bump after their books returned to regular price (Amazon wants sustained sales as well, like the bestsellers, not a flash-in-the-pan from a freebie boost) – thus the tweaking of algorithms – Amazon is smarter now and indie authors won’t see that kind of benefit again

Indie Authors – What Does This All Mean?

Amazon is not the only place to sell books anymore, and I don’t see that changing.  Things have stabilized: paperback books and the Big Five publishers aren’t going anywhere soon.  More ereaders emerge every day, each one a sales channel for indie authors.  Amazon tried to corner the market, and although it has the bulk of ebook sales, other sites have not gone under, and they may even benefit from Amazon’s killing off the benefits of KDP Select.

It will be interesting to see what Amazon comes up with next to lure indie authors into an exclusive deal with them.  It will have to be really good for indie authors to come back.  And I also wonder if free is on its way out.  Perma-free may work for a while longer, but I wonder if readers will ultimately decide that they’ll pay for books again, feeling like they’re getting better quality (just sayin’, I don’t necessarily buy that free means a book is crap, but I do still read this).

What do you think of Kindle Countdown Deals?

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Book Signing in Denver!

Hey all, if you are in the Denver area, I invite you to join me at a book signing!

I will be at the Printed Page Bookshop, 1416 S. Broadway, Denver, Saturday December 7th at noon.  I will have all my print books available for purchase, and I will be reading and discussing the latest Reed Ferguson mystery, “Farewell, My Deuce”.  It’s an exciting opportunity to discuss not only my books, but books in general, book publishing, and more…

Here’s a little bit on each novel in the Reed Ferguson mystery series:

mystery seriesThis Doesn’t Happen In The Movies

A wannabe private eye with a love of film noir and detective fiction.
A rich, attractive femme fatale.
A missing husband.
A rollicking ride to a dark and daring ending.

Reed Ferguson’s first case is a daring adventure, complete with a dose of film noir, and a lot of humor. With a great supporting cast of the Goofball Brothers, Reed’s not too bright neighbors, and Cal, Reed’s computer geek friend, This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies is detective noir at its best. Follow Reed as he solves crime akin to his cinematic hero, Humphrey Bogart.

mystery seriesReel Estate Rip-off

Lights! Camera! Reed!
That’s right – Reed Ferguson is back.

A mysterious death.
A brother searching for the truth.
A devious ex-wife.
Real estate shenanigans.
More danger for Reed than a film noir plot.

Reed Ferguson’s second adventure is again filled with film noir and a lot of humor. Along with the Goofball Brothers, Reed’s not too bright neighbors, and Cal, Reed’s computer geek friend, Reed tackles a dangerous case, sharpening his skills as he unearths a string of clues that lead to a killer – but will this case cost Reed his life? With an ode to old Hollywood and movie memorabilia, Reel Estate Rip-off is humorous detective noir at its best.

mystery seriesThe Maltese Felon

Reed’s back with a dose of humor and film noir that will keep you turning pages.

When an attractive female client begs Reed Ferguson to find her prize-winning Maltese show dog stolen from her back yard, Reed suspects he may be channeling Ace Ventura: Pet Detective rather than his hero, Humphrey Bogart. It sounds like a simple case, but things take a dangerous turn and Reed discovers that man’s-best-friend can attract some decidedly unfriendly characters!

mystery seriesFarewell, My Deuce

Reed Ferguson returns in his most harrowing adventure yet!

Life and the detecting business are running smoothly for private eye Reed Ferguson, until one of the Goofball Brothers goes missing. Reed leads the search and soon discovers Deuce’s connection to some unscrupulous characters. As Reed learns more about Deuce’s activities, the clues point to intrigue, danger and death. But will Reed find his friend alive, or will it be “Farewell, My Deuce.”

 

mystery seriesElvis And The Sports Card Cheat

Reed Ferguson returns in an outrageously fun short story!

Perry Rawlings, an Elvis impersonator, has his prize Mickey Mantle baseball card stolen. Who is the culprit? This tale will keep you guessing!

 

 

 

I will also have copies of Nephilim Genesis of Evil, The Emerald Quest, and The Sallie House: Exposing The Beast Within.

I hope to see you there!

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Introducing Farewell, My Deuce – The Reed Ferguson Mystery Series

I’m so excited to introduce a new Reed Ferguson mystery!  Farewell, My Deuce is the fourth novel in the acclaimed Reed Ferguson mystery series.

Farewell, My Deuce coverReed Ferguson returns in his most harrowing adventure yet!

Life and the detecting business are running smoothly for private eye Reed Ferguson, until one of the Goofball Brothers goes missing. Reed leads the search and soon discovers Deuce’s connection to some unscrupulous characters. As Reed learns more about Deuce’s activities, the clues point to intrigue, danger and death. But will Reed find his friend alive, or will it be “Farewell, My Deuce.”

 

Here’s a QA with the author :)

Tell us about the Reed Ferguson mystery series:

I love writing this series.  Reed Ferguson started as a wannabe private eye with a love of film noir and detective fiction, but he’s now become a more seasoned detective.  Reed has bits of me in him (I won’t tell you what lol), and I love incorporating film noir and movie trivia into the books.  It’s been fun taking a private detective from his first case and seeing him grow with each book.  But writing a series also presents challenges because you want to keep the characters and plot fresh.

Why A Mystery Series?

I’ve read mysteries since I was a kid.  My favorite was The Hardy Boys, and then in high school I started reading a lot of mystery series: Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe, Ngaio Marsh, and more.  I also read and loved the James Bond series.  In college I branched out to more hard-boiled authors, and the groundbreaking mystery series by Sue Grafton.  I’m a fan of Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Robert Crais, James Lee Burke, Mary Willis Walker, Parnell Hall, Lawrence Block, Lee Child and more.  I do think series characters get stale, so I’m always looking for fresh new stories and new authors.   I’ve met all but one of the authors listed (James Lee Burke being the exception), and they’ve all had valuable insights into the writing craft.  If a budding author has never been to a writing conference, I would recommend going – it’s a wonderful experience.

Where Does The Title Farewell, My Deuce Come From?

It’s a play on Raymond Chandler’s Farewell, My Lovely.  Each novel in the series has a reference to movies, either a play on another film noir title, or a movie term.  And let me tell you, the more I write in the series, the more challenging that becomes.

Have You Always Been A Film Noir Fan?

Actually, no.  I’ve been a fan of old films since I was in high school, but I didn’t know a lot of film noir until I created Reed Ferguson.  I was looking for a different twist on why someone would become a detective and it was then that I read more about film noir.  Now I’ve become a film noir buff, and I do a lot of research on film noir for the books.  And that means I get to watch a lot of great films :).

What’s Next For Reed Ferguson?

I’ve got the threads of a new story rolling around in my head, so I’m going to work on that shortly.  In this new age of publishing, readers expect books to come a lot faster than in the old days, and it can be difficult to crank out quality stories quickly…but hopefully I’ll have the next novel available soon.

For more information about the Reed Ferguson mystery series, visit my website.

Thanks for reading and I hope you’ll go buy a copy today!

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Indie Authors And Kindle MatchBook

indie author handbook

Indie Author Handbook

I recently heard about Kindle MatchBook and my first thought was is this a good thing for indie authors or not?  Well, it didn’t take too much for me to conclude that there doesn’t seem to be much of a downside to this program (unlike KDP Select, but more on that below), at least for indie authors.

Indie Authors – What is Kindle MatchBook?

Ah, great question.  Kindle MatchBook is Amazon’s latest program for publishers and authors, and it’s a pretty simple concept.  If you buy a paperback book from Amazon, you can now purchase the Kindle ebook version at a discount.  The cool thing about this is that Amazon is promising that even if you bought a book from Amazon years ago, you can still get the ebook now at a discount.  Russ Grandinetti, VP of Kindle Content, says:

If you logged onto your CompuServe account during the Clinton administration and bought a book like Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus from Amazon, Kindle MatchBook now makes it possible for that purchase—18 years later—to be added to your Kindle library at a very low cost.

You can go as far back as 1995 for those books.

Indie Authors – What’s The Kindle MatchBook Downside?

For readers, the downside is that publishers (or we indie authors) have to sign up for the program.  So that kindle matchbookmeans if the publisher of Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus doesn’t enroll in the program, you don’t get that ebook at a discount.  In September, only about ten thousand titles are available, so at this point it doesn’t sound like many of the big publishers have jumped on board (is anyone surprised by this :)).  Some say this will erode the perceived value of ebooks (readers won’t pay full price for an ebook when they have the paperback), and that it will help the legacy publishers.  But will it help indie authors?

Indie Authors – Does Kindle MatchBook Help Us?

Amazon already bundles ebooks and audiobooks, so why not paperbacks and ebooks?  And yeah, maybe it hurts the big publishers…I don’t know.  But for a little publisher like myself, I don’t see a downside.  Sure, you have to be selling through Kindle Direct Publishing, but most of us are.  And Amazon is not asking for exclusivity, like with KDP Select, so I can be enrolled in the program and still sell my books elsewhere.  Ebooks do have to be discounted at least 50%, but keep in mind that I would’ve just sold a paperback edition.  And the royalties I make on the paperbacks are about the same, or more, than for the ebooks, so even if I’m discounting the ebook, I’ll make more money because I’m getting the royalties for both.  How is this a bad thing?  I don’t see it.

And Amazon could end up driving more sales.  As Nate Hoffelder says:

It’s much more likely that Amazon is going to use the program to selectively suggest ebook sales based on one’s Amazon order history.  I wouldn’t be surprised if I started getting emails from Amazon telling me I can get a $3 Kindle edition of past paper books purchases.  They’ll be using it just like they used the $10 ebook – to tempt me into buying more ebooks.

Getting more sales – isn’t that what we want?  I enrolled all my books where I have both ebooks and paperback editions.  I don’t expect to see a huge uptick in sales, but we’ll see.  And I’ll be sure to let you know what I learn about this program.

What do you think?  Have you enrolled?  What are your thoughts?

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Indie Authors And Goodreads Review Policies

indie author handbook

Indie Author Handbook

Earlier this month, I saw some articles about Goodreads and their new review policies, and I wonder if it will impact indie authors like the whole Amazon review debacle did/does (for more on that, read Indie Authors And Amazon Removing Reviews and More On Amazon Reviews And Indie Authors).  I also wonder if the fact that Amazon has recently acquired Goodreads has anything to do with this recent review change (even though Goodreads denies this).  I’ve read that a lot of people believe that Amazon reviews are suspect, but many readers seem to feel that Goodreads reviews are more reliable.  Is that being questioned now?

Indie Authors And Goodreads Reviews

Initially Goodreads didn’t seem to monitor their reviews much, if at all.  Readers could say pretty much what they wanted without any repercussions from Goodreads (and authors could too – see below).  And authors could review and star-rate their own reviews, and at the moment, this practice continues (unlike Amazon, who now says that authors cannot review each other’s works).  Initially, the policy stated that reviews should be based on the book, and the reviews should not harass anyone.  Pretty simple and straightforward.  Only Goodreads didn’t really enforce this…

Indie Authors And What Started Goodreads Review Revisions

But apparently somebody didn’t play nice, and it finally caught Goodreads attention.  Goodreads and Indie AuthorsWhat happened?  It seems to have started when Goodreads became aware of reviews that had nothing to do with the book, but were attacking author behavior (many of these reviewers even admitted to having not read the books they were reviewing).  As Goodreads moved to address this, they have also had to address what readers perceive to be bad behavior on the part of authors.

Indie Authors And Goodreads New Review Policy

Goodreads review policy states:

  • reviews should be about the book
  • members are not permitted to harass or threaten other people

In addition, they have now made it easier to find the flag button, to make it easier to alert Goodreads staff about a concern.  They are now trying to educate authors about the review policies (more on this below), and they will delete content focused on author behavior.  You can read their blog about the changes here.

Sounds okay, right?  Read on…

Indie Authors, Censorship And Bullying

indie authors and bullyingReaders then cried foul, saying that Goodreads is condoning poor behavior on the part of authors.  Some of this came from authors who innocently questioned Goodreads review policies on message boards, and then were attacked by readers.  Who knows what language was used, or the tone, but Goodreads seemed to feel it amounted to bullying, and they acted by deleting these type of reviews.   And readers felt to take down the negative reviews that attacked the authors was censorship (for a specific example, read this post).

Indie Authors And The Future Of Goodreads

I am one who remains skeptical of Goodreads now that Amazon has acquired it.  It doesn’t surprise me that Goodreads is now deleting some reviews, and it won’t surprise me if we see more deleted reviews with very little explanation or justification.  What I think might be different for Goodreads is that the site is a social site, not a merchandising site, like Amazon.  Users are more vocal, and this may carry more weight with Goodreads as well.  And the damage may have been done, as I’ve read many posts saying users don’t trust Goodreads anymore, or that they are leaving the site.

Indie Authors – What Should You Do?

My personal take is that authors should not publicly respond to negative reviews.  It’s better to just let it all go, move on, and keep writing.  If you engage readers, especially in a public forum, you are opening yourself up to being misunderstood, misinterpreted, and unfortunately, bullied.  We live in an Internet age where it’s easy to cyber-attack someone because there’s not a threat of physical retaliation, and things can get ugly quickly.  It’s not worth it.

If you do respond, you should always be professional.  I am, quite frankly, flabbergasted at the authors who publicly attack readers, take issue with negative comments and so on.  It marks you as an amateur, and I’ve yet to see a case where it positively impacts your career (but I can site many cases where it’s hurt or destroyed careers).  Let it go…

What do you think of the new Goodreads review policy?

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