Archive for August, 2011

Going Free on Amazon…and Book Reviews

In the KindleForums, I always see these HUGE numbers quoted of books being sold, and then I see my small potatoes of sells, and… I’m Happy! Thought I would say I was NOT happy? Huh? Huh? Nope.

I’m happy!

I’ve set my prices free on Smashwords, to make it free on Barnes and Noble some months back. I didn’t upload to PubIt only because I didn’t know about it until I found the KindleBoards forum, but I do like the coupon option and multiple eBook formats given by Smashwords (I might mess around with PubIt sometime later). I didn’t get any sells on my one (1) book that was not free on Smashwords (The Made). But I did get a few reviews on Barnes and Noble and a few ranks (about seven people marked the stars).

Then one of my books went free on Amazon. I didn’t do anything to get it free. The one thing I did do was connect my books with Shelfari, and as soon as I did that, one went free. Not sure if it was related, but that’s what happened (See What the Heck).

I’m small potatoes in sells, not anything that’s been listed on forums, which are hundreds of sales in days and week, but I’ve let you know that I’ve only sold about 7 books a months since this March 2011 (I’ve had the books out since 2009–things changed when I put the books for free on Smashwords/B&N earlier this year and sells trickled then to Amazon). Now that I’ve had one book Free on Amazon (my book IRID), I’ve sold 40 of my other three books. I did set two of my books to .99 for a week (The 9th Symbol and Ruby, Flesh and Heart), and that’s when it really sold. Next week, they’re going back up to 2.99…just to see what happens.

So, since IRID went free on Amazon sometime around Aug 10 or 11, 2011, I’ve had almost 8,000 downloads (over 14-15 days), and I’ve gotten three more reviews added to my one review that’s sat lonely since March 2010. I had about 3,000 downloads on my two free books on Smashwords over a period of 5 months. In the forums, people quote these numbers happen to them in just over a period of days, but mine took a week. Why is that? I don’t know. It might be the genre and my subject matter–the mixture of the two is pretty rare. However, what has happened for me for this month is better than the entire 2009 year! So, that’s why I’m

HAPPY

.

I’ve since changed the pricing on Smashword and the downloads stopped. It took almost 2 weeks for the Free status to change on Barnes & Noble. Now…I’m going to do the waiting game and see what happens.

On Amazon, it was fun being #1 in a genre for a week!! 🙂

REACH FOR THE STARS!

About Book Reviews

I’m currently writing about my new opinion on how to get readers, which includes a area about Book Reviews. It will be posted at a later date. It also includes my new opinion on not soliciting for Book Reviews. But for now, I wanted to say that because of the free books, I’ve managed to get a trickle of reviews on Amazon, as I said earlier. Then, when I registered with GoodReads, LibraryThing, and Shelfari, I saw who had it marked to read my book, who had read them, and saw a few more reviews–just little numbers:

GoodReads – 1 two-stars with a written review, 2 three-stars (1 star is “I didn’t like it” 2 stars is “OK”, 3 Stars is “I liked it”, 4 stars I really liked it and 5 stars is “Amazing”.)
Amazon – 2 two-stars and 2 five-stars (1 star is Awful, 2 stars is Poor, 3 stars Neutral, 4 stars is Good and 5 stars is Excellent).
LibraryThing – no ratings, but a few people have IRID in their queue (Star rating can include 1/2 stars, so it’s like movie ratings)
Shelfari – no ratings but 18 people have it on their shelf (1 star is “I hated it” 2 stars is “I didn’t like it”, 3 Stars is “I liked it”, 4 stars “I really liked it” and 5 stars is “I loved it”)
Barnes and Noble – about 7 ratings averaging 4 1/2 stars–no ratings on The Made (not loaded yet) and The 9th Symbol. (1 star is Poor, 2 stars is Disappointing, 3 stars is “Okay, but not great”, 4 stars is Recommended, 5 stars is “Outstanding”)

When looking at the different rating stars, you have to remember the differences. A 2-star on Goodreads is a 3-Star on Amazon.

There you have it for today. My Book Reviews without soliciting for them. So far, they are pretty neutral. I can’t wait to see more in a few months, once those who have downloaded the free versions start posting their opinions.

Negative Book Reviews

From an advice on the forums that I’ve been reading, an author should NEVER, never, never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever… comment on a negative review. Ever. I read how some authors who have commented, and things got really nasty, and really bad…really fast. Some authors just gave up and pulled all their books off the shelf, just because of this. Just remember to wear your thick skin. People are entitled to their opinions. What one reviewer might not like, another might. Some negative reviews even bring on more readers!

Example, I got two negative reviews (they at least gave me 2-stars and not 1-star), but then a 5-star came around after those and, to me, that blew the other 2-star reviews away by reading like a very thoughtful and in-depth review, in just a few short sentences! I thought, at first, that my story telling wasn’t getting across correctly, and I was discouraged and down for a few days. THEN this review came in (and my down emotions went up and skyrocketed! Thank goodness it came soon), and now I know I’ve reached at least one person on why I write what I do. I also had to remember that at the other book store, I got more 5-stars than not. See what I’m saying?

You’re going to get bad reviews. The only time to start worrying about them is if you KEEP getting bad reviews. And remember there’s different cultures and different types of readers. You’re a reader, right? There are some things you like and some things you don’t like. You might see at one store that a particular item has 5 stars and at another it just has 3 stars.

You must form your own opinion based on everything provided. Let time let you know the overall results, and don’t give up! And keep reaching for those stars!

Until next time!

What the Heck??!!! Amazon Kindle book Free?

Yeah! What the Heck?!! I kept reading how HARD it was to get your book free on Amazon and that the only way to do it is to use the area where it states: Would you like to give feedback on images or tell us about a lower price?, and then and only THEN, and only SOMETIMES and RARELY would your book become free on Amazon Kindle.

SOOoooooo… why the heck is my book Free ALL OF A SUDDEN!??!!

Hey, I’m not complaining…not in the least, but it surprised the heck out of me! I checked my KDP sales reporting everyday (I know, I’m obsessed with my little small potatoes of sales) and I see that IRID has 1975 sales. I was like, “there’s a mistake somewhere.” So, I went to the book’s site on Amazon to see if there were any book reviews. Nope. Still just the one. But then I saw the ranking and it was number 65 for Free books.

Huh?

Yeah. I’m scratching my head. Then, I looked at my book’s pricing and … $0.00 is what I see.

What the Heck??!!

I went to my Author Central page and took a look at my book, and sure enough, it states:
This format of “Irid” is currently ranked #65 out of over 15,000 free books in the Kindle Store. (updated hourly)

I look over to my hubby and tell and show him what’s on my laptop. “How the world did this happen?” I ask him. Then I answer my own question. The only thing I did differently was connect my Author Central Page to Shelfari (just learned that it had that capability) on Aug 10th and now one of my books is Free, and that happened somewhere around Aug 11 (my other free book didn’t get “un-freed”…hmmmm). I’m guessing someone must have flagged IRID because it was free on Smashwords and Barnes & Noble? OR the Amazon Bots found out? I don’t know how it happened. I don’t care how it happened. I’M JUST SO DARN HAPPY IT DID!

I’ve gone and “un-freed” my books on Smashwords, which will take a bit to update to Barnes & Noble, so when I do get IRID back to being a paid Kindle book, the “bots” or whatever will know the pricing is the same. So, no more Free books for right now…well, on Barnes and Noble, the two books are free until it updates. I still have the Smashword’s coupon option if I want to give away any free eBooks.

What was really shocking was that after all this researching for answers, I went back and my ranking jumped from 65 to 57, AND I became #2 ranking in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Romance > Fantasy, Futuristic & Ghost. AND the books jumped from 1975 downloads to 2048 to 2090 to 2111 to 2122 to…. And my ranking went from 57 to 54…. I had to get my excited butt to sleep. I had things to do in the morning. So, you know it was the first thing I checked when I woke back up, right? IT WAS LIKE CHRISTMAS!!! What’s inside that beautifully packaged, bowed present….??!!!! The rank went to 52 with 2580 downloads at 8:30AM to 3242 downloads by 5PM (That’s Central Time)!

Every time I refreshed my webpage, the numbers kept going. And, of course, that’s what I did for the rest of the night, and the next day, watching the numbers grow…and my ranking go down in the overall free books for Kindle (not for the genre–it stayed at #2). But hey, the numbers of downloads kept growing and, about the rank,…that’s just how it goes. The most uplifting part for me is that I had wanted One book to be downloaded by 5,000 people in Smashwords, but the number of downloads was just getting slower and slower. At the rate that it was going, it was going to take TWO YEARS to reach 5,000 downloads. NOW! NOW! Now, I’ve reached that number with Kindle in just FOUR DAYS!!

HURRAY!!! Another goal accomplished!

On Aug 14, by 10:20pm, the count was at 3683.
On Aug 15, by 5:40pm, the count was at 4670 and by 10:25 it reached 5,044!!

Some people might think, heck, the book is Free, why wouldn’t anyone download it?

Just because it is free, doesn’t mean it’s something someone would want to read. Think about how you would want to spend your time? You want to read something you would enjoy…free or not.

And what’s great about FREE books?

FANS!!!!!

I got a few more purchases of my other books because of the free IRID sales on Kindle. COOL BEANS!

Now….now I sit back and wait for those people who’ve downloaded my book to start posting reviews. It might take a few months, since people download FREE books and have a large collection of books on their Kindles. It will take some time before they get to actually reading my book. Until then, as of the night of Aug 15, 2011…I became #1 Free book, of the Top 100, in the genre.

I’m scared… 🙂

The 9th Symbol on Paperback & The Made on B&N & Rise of the Apes

Okay, so I’m late putting The Made on Barnes and Noble. I had wanted to look over it some more…but…my waiting on doing that was a bit long. I figure I might as well upload it just like it’s uploaded to Amazon. Heck, it’s selling on Kindle, so might as well make it available on the Nook.

Also, I’ve uploaded The 9th Symbol to CreateSpace, using the file template I downloaded from Lightning Source for the book cover pdf file. I looked over the proof–and it’s BEAUTIFUL! My Book Cover Designer used the file and made my pdf cover for me. The paperback is now available on Amazon. I’ve decided to wait on uploading to Lightning Source since I’m not particularly getting any finances from those sources yet (yeah, yeah, I’m stalling again with Lightning Source like before). I’m only been getting my small potatoes of money from my Kindle sells–enough to buy me lunch, but hey, it was better than nothing (and nothing was 2009 AND 2010) and I’ve got people I don’t know buying my books. I’m pretty excited about that; and thus I’ve met my goals to get readers :)!

Now to get more readers and keep them? I’m working on Creations and finishing that one. Jetta is already finished. I just have to look over Jetta again, and I’m still using Book 2–Jetta to correlate with Book 3–Creations. When will book 2 and book 3 be done for The Calling Series? I have no idea. I get blocks of time to write, here and there, between a 12 hour day of work and commuting and raising, my now, two year old daughter.

On the weekends, I just want to rest and watch movies and try to catch up on my TV shows–online streaming; as well as rummage around on the internet and try to find some other socializing site I can get into that would be fun (putting my URL in my profile and using my pen name as a login-id for those who are interested in knowing who I am).

And, oh, by the way, I MUST say Rise of the Planet of the Apes …IS AWESOME!!! My husband and I went to see it while the toddle was with kinfolk, and it just BLEW ME AWAY! I LOVE, absolutely love, a great story line filled with emotion, characters to connect with and action and…did I saw STORY! What a story! I think it’s up there with all my other loves of Sci Fi: King Kong (2005), Dark Crystal, Fantastic Planet, Legend, Avatar–The Last Air Bender, Claymore, Farscape etc. etc.

I know people are tired of remakes and rehashing of older films; especially authors feel this way, and screenwriters, who have other ideas that could be incorporated and made into movies–but this one ROCKED!

Occasionally new things come out, like The Matrix and Inception and Push, but it’s a big risk for film makers. I think they think we want to stay with what we know. It’s where the money is. And it worked before.

So, that’s where we Indies come in to mix things up a bit–to bring out those unique things that people seek. Thinks like INK.

Science Fiction and Fantasy films are just getting better and better, especially with CGI in the mix. I’m in love, and so happy to be in the time and age that these things can become “real”…at least on screen :).

I don’t expect my books to get on the big screen, just not that type for films, you know? It would be nice to see it, but that would be like making Octavia Butler’s book Dawn on screen. And I’m not sure how the film makers would go about creating it…with bypassing, you know, “those scenes”.

Anyway, I digress. The books are up, and I need to get back to more books stuff that I need to do.

Tootles!

Self-Publishing is judged like Freddy Krueger–Scary and Disgusting

Yep, there’s a war going on and some people see Self-Publishing like they look at Freddy Krueger–Scary and Disgusting.

I’ve been trying to find a group of people who are doing what I’m doing–self-publishing. I’ve wanted to learn more and more to make improvements. But, I’ve gone to several forums and every time I think I found a good area that I might learn something new…a fight breaks out. Yeah. Really. As soon as the word “self-publish” enters into the conversation, a complete blow-out happens and the knowledge of information that could have been acquired and passed on to each other gets lost.

At first, I just thought it was a subject that gets debated…a lot. That forums loved to discuss and rehash the topic on Self-Publishing versus Trade Publishing whenever someone mentioned self-publishing their book–because that was the way it was for something so new (by the way, Trader Published authors “hate” it when you call them “Traditional” Published authors or refer to Trade Publishing as “Legacy”).

I remember when iUniverse came about and I heard of sooooo many bad books being produced from there, and so I thought I should never go that route. I should never self-publish because it was bad–B.A.D. But since 2000, I kept my eye out on self-publishing to see how things were going; but it was still bad…so I kept improving on my writing and looking at it again …. occasionally.

It wasn’t until 2008 that I decided to make the plunge and do it anyway and started my massive research into this new world. I couldn’t find much step-by-step information until I found this one blog of a self-published author. I actually bought and read his book, someone who did it on his own: Michael R. Hicks–In Her Name: Kreelan Warrior. And saw that…it was great! It was a wonderful book! I couldn’t stop reading it until I got to the end.

This book made me realize that there were some people who could produce very good self-publsihed books. It inspired me even more after I had made the decision to try it (to at least try it). I have been going at it ever since…and Loving it!

Then I searched for forums for any more information I might need to improve upon this new business (and yes, you must see it as a business, though I’ve been seeing it as something fun to do and self-improvement while dwelling in the internet world). But the majority of the forums had this scary campaign against self-publishing. They would give big WARNING signs that you would ruin your chances of EVER getting picked up by a major publishing house. That you’ve just given away your FIRST PUBLISH RIGHTS, and no one will want you (One. Two Freddy’s Coming for you!). That your novel isn’t good enough (Your Freddy Krueger Burnt Up Face Novel is just…Disgusting!!) unless you go through the waiting period and solicit agents and get picked up by the Trade route. Then and only then, and then only, would you really know that your novel is good enough. Plus the many people working at the publishing house would then make your book.. BETTER! Oh. And by the way. Since you’ve never been picked up by a publishing house, then it’s an absolute that your book isn’t good. What? What you say? You’re selling on Kindle? (Freddy’s claws the blackboard making that screeching sound that hurt your ears). Well, that doesn’t mean a thing. What? Selling a thousand a month? Oh no. It’s still not good enough. And besides, that NEVER happens and YOU’RE LYING ABOUT YOUR FIGURES! And even if that’s so, you can NEVER call yourself a Best Selling author…that is, if you can call yourself an “author” at all (Three. Four. Better shut the door.).

(NOTE: I’m not selling a thousand a month, but there are some self-published people who are selling that many, and other forum members are saying that they’re lying, when all they have to do is go to Amazon and look at the book’s ranking and numerous book reviews).

It took me some time to find the right place where I could be comfortable and be at home: Kindle Boards (for some reason I kept thinking the Amazon Discussions were the KindleBoards and the Amazon Discussion Boards were too hard to navigate and I had no idea how any one found any information on it). I’m so glad that I’ve finally found “the somewhere” where I can get more information from people like me! The Freddy Kruegers on the Block!

On the flip side, those in Trade Publishing are also feeling attacked by Self-Publishers who put down the steps they had taken to get published. The “constant waiting” and the endless “rejections” and the 18-24 months before the book gets into print and the amount of money they DON’T make…all of these negative aspects are attacks towards them (Five. Six. Grab a crucifix). Self-publishers put down Trade Publishing and give all sorts of negatives information about it, and that, in itself, causes those who choose to continue to go this route to counter-attack. To be honest, Self-Publishers can’t really attack something they’ve never been through, accept to state that they’ve never got picked up (Every town has an Elm Street! Heh. Heh. Heh.).

Those who are in the publishing side say that Indie Authors are just like the Mom-and-Pop stores on the corner. These types of stores don’t damage or cause any sells to drop from, let say, the Wal-Mart stores. Indie authors are just a pee in an ocean. There’s NOTHING to compare. The Indie world is not taking over and bringing down THE MAN. They’re not causing the monoliths to fall. They are nothing, and shouldn’t be compared with, publishing houses. And, darn it, there are other publishing houses out there besides the BIG SIX. Indie’s are just a bunch of mice squeaking about how GRAND they are.

And to this, I say, I’ve always loved the fable of The Mouse and The Lion. Yes, we’re different and we don’t cause any “damage” to the publishing houses, and we’re not in competition with the publishing houses and agents. And, no, we don’t rule the internet book market.

However…

There are those who have done both sides of publishing, and NO ONE can argue with them. The main person who once put his nose up against self-publishing has now become the Voice of Self-Publishing: J.A. Konrath.

On the Absolute Writers forum he stated these things:

You say that starting in legacy “seems a good strategy.” It’s not. It’s a poor strategy, for a multitude of reasons.
Rather than hijack this thread and list them all, here’s a 15,000 word dialog that explains many of them, and a 13,000 word dialog that explains many others.
The times are changing at an amazing rate, and signing a legacy deal is harmful, pretty much in all cases. Unless the Big 6 are going to offer you life-changing money in one immediate, lump sum (and what are the odds of that?) you’re better off going it alone.

Kindle, the customers know what they want to buy. If your book fits and it’s withing their budget, they’ll buy it. If it’s good. They’ll want more and they’ll tell their friends. If it’s bad, they won’t buy the book and they’ll still tell their friends.

Either way, the good writer goes on. The bad writer goes on or gives up

There is a fast track to publication. It’s called Kindle, and unlike AuthorHouse, it costs no money at all.
What new writers need to learn is that there is no fast track to success. And they’ll either learn that on their own, or they won’t.

But it’s a lot better to upload a lousy book to Amazon for free, and get bad reviews and sell poorly, than it is to spend big money going the POD route.

I also recommend no one self publish without learning all about it.
The book has to be great, no doubt. If it isn’t great, it won’t sell.

But it also needs a great cover and a low price, and the author also needs to release multiple titles so browsers can find them easier.

My favorite statement that he made on the forum was this: Someone stated that J.A. Konrath was making a foolish statement on *guaranteeing* authors that they would make more money than traditionally published authors. And he answered:

A limited shelf life for a traditional print deal vs. forever as an ebook.
Forever wins. Always. Guaranteed.

Another one that Indie’s should be concerned about, and be knowledgeable and research about self-publishing…

There is a cottage industry built around bilking newbie writers out of their money. Publish American on POD houses, agents that charge reading fees, contests that have fees, conferences that teach newbies how to pitch and write query letters, and so on.

But uploading an ebook on Kindle and Smashwords costs nothing. No writers are getting ripped off. This is a much preferable alternative to blowing lots of dough nurturing false hope.

One person stated that authors will get the impression that they will get high returns with self-publishing and will not be able to recognize that when this doesn’t happen, that the problem might lie with their own abilities. The answer to that….

So it’s better for them to start querying agents and spend years getting rejected?
If an author sucks, and tries to find an agent, they won’t land one. Hopefully, they’ll try to improve their craft.
If an author sucks, and self-publishes, they’ll get poor sales and bad reviews. Hopefully, they’ll try to improve their craft.
In the first scenario, there’s a lot of waiting, depression, and helplessness.
In the second scenario, there is some money, instant gratification, and the potential to learn from mistakes much faster.
All authors dream about landing a million dollar contract. The disappointment will come no matter what route they take.
But I believe self-publishing is empowering, and writers can learn from it.

I know that’s a lot of quotes, and trader published authors are sick and tired of self-published author quoting J.A. Konrath. “J.A. Konrath, said..” … “But, J.A. Konrath says…” … “And J.A. Konrath said….” And J.A. Konrath said that he gets misquoted a lot, but he continues to put down what he actually means. He never said that everyone would make as much money as him, but he does say they can make money…if you put the effort out there…somebody is going to buy it. And you will make money. Will it be enough to pay your rent? Only time will tell. Will your book be overlooked because of the hundreds of thousands of books being put online…?

So, yes, there is a flood of bad books being put out on the market by those who don’t take the time and money to get their books polished. However, self-publishers state that the houses put out bad books as well. There’s a fear that the GOOD books will be swallowed up and no one will see them because of the slew, and a large Noah-type flood, of books would overload the online book stores (Seven. Eight. Better stay up late). There’s an answer for that….

I can’t wait to see how in five (5) or more years, what authors would say about books. Because today, I know that the average reader doesn’t know the difference between trade or self published books (like they would have known when iUniverse was the big thing). Readers only know if they like the book or they don’t. And when they pick it up (or view) the cover (Ooooo. That looks interesting!), that’s the first hook. That’s what you use to do when you roamed the dozens of rows of books in the library or book store. Right? If the book is any GOOD, people will tell their friends and the “Word of Mouth” would spread like hotcakes. Look at YouTube. If a video is funny or deemed worthwhile to tell your friends, then it will get noticed…sometimes over night. Look at the internet? How many web pages are put up a day? Blog sites? There’s a flood of websites out there, yet people still find a way to get the information that they want. The BAD books? Well, just like bad websites, they will be reviewed only briefly, (i.e. book reviews stating how horrible and bad the novel is) or flagged as “Spam” (Amazon and the likes will take it down if reported), or it would never get bought because people viewed the inside of the book and saw how horrible it was (Nine. Ten. Never Sleep Again).

The Good Books will still prevail! (Take THAT Freddy Krueger!)

Tomorrow, authors will have a different view, I’m sure, because tomorrow always brings more knowledge than today.

Until Next time 🙂

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