The Sun Singer's Travels

Malcolm R. Campbell's World

Archive for the tag “Amazon”

Trying to re-discover the joy of writing

Contrary to popular belief, most fiction writers don’t start out dreaming of becoming the next John Steinbeck or J. K. Rowling. We start out because writing a story that springs from our imagination is a joyful experience. That’s it. Some of us find agents and are published by HarperCollins. Some of us find small, boutique presses that publish five to ten books a year. And some of us publish directly on Amazon. Most fiction writers don’t make enough money to live on from their novels.

Those who do, whether it’s by luck, talent, and/or a flair for publicity are rare, rather like the number of sandlot baseball players who make it into the major leagues. Most don’t.

We’re happy, many of us, if we can sell several hundred copies of a novel and then move on to the next book. Unfortunately, Amazon has thrown a wrench into the works even though they court indie authors. The best we can figure out is that it has changed the algorithm that controls book rankings to favor large presses and/or higher priced books.

Here’s what that means for the rest of us. Used to be, we could reduce the price of our novels to 99 cents, run a modest ad in a readers’ newsletter, and easily sell 25-50 copies or more. This would cause our books to rise in the rankings enough to be spotted by people who hadn’t seen the ad, so we’d get additional sales during the following days at the full price. With the new algorithm, our books don’t rise much in the rankings, or if they do, they quickly drop back to their pre-sale level, and there are few residual sales. This leads to fewer reader reviews and fewer reviews means even lower rankings and fewer sales.

A writer friend and I talked about why neither of us has made any progress to speak of on or novels in progress. We realized that our fixation on “the Amazon problem” has killed our joy of writing. Yes, we’re both pissed off about our fixations. We think we should be able to keep writing and not worry about sales at all because the act of writing is where the fun is. However, one has to have some sales or s/he runs in the red when you consider the cost of ISBN numbers, copyright registration, cover art work, and an editor to weed out the typos, and office supplies.

All authors have to consider the business side of their art, like it or not. That is part of being a writer. Those of us who write, knew going into this sloppy business that the deck would always be stacked against us in favor of the BIG PUBLISHERS, BIG AGENTS, and BIG AUTHORS. No, we’re not happy about that, but before “the Amazon problem” emerged, we could at least be content with selling a reasonable number of copies, attracting some nice reviews, and having a group of readers who looked forward to our next book.

So it is that my writer friend and I really need to ignore sales. That doesn’t mean giving up our blogs, websites, Facebook announcements of new books, or Twitter accounts. It means remembering why we’re doing this, writing, I mean. We joke about getting a call from Oprah letting us know our latest book is her new book club pick or that Warner Brothers just bought a $10,000 option on our latest novel. We’re not masochists who want to live in poverty for our art.

In spite of a strong reliance on our imaginations for concocting novels and short stories, we are capable of being realistic about our place in the writing universe. We didn’t set out with a John Steinbeck of J. K. Rowling goal. We need to remember that when we start agonizing about Amazon’s new algorithm that helps the rich and famous become more rich and famous. Let it go, I want to say. I never planned to become rich and famous. (Frankly, I don’t think I could cope with it.)

We like to tell stories. We’re happy while we’re telling them and we’re happy if  a few people find them and enjoy the novel or short story. That’s where the joy of the work is found. Sure, I have to give a wink and a nod to book promotion, but if becoming a slave to it is destroying me–and the books I want to write–then to hell with sales figures.

Okay, enough is enough. I’m taking a one-week vacation to the mountains. When I come back, I’m ignoring Amazon, the number of copies I’ve sold, and the number of reader reviews I have. None of that matters. Actually, it does matter, but I’m going to stop focusing on it and do what I want to do: write.

–Malcolm

 

 

Advertisements

What about Amazon’s Third-Party Sellers?

via Help! Someone else is selling my book! – Indies Unlimited

While taking a short break from obsessively Googling your name and checking your KDP dashboard, you wander over to search for your book on Amazon. Imagine your surprise when – gasp – you see two listings. Or three listings. Or even more! Someone named IHeartBooks is selling your paperback on Amazon! Not only that, but – horror of horrors – they’re charging more than you are. Or maybe less than you are. Or maybe you’re one of those authors who’s stumbled across a copy of your paperback selling on Amazon for $6,789 or some such outrageous price.

No, this is not piracy. It’s business. Stores and others buy your book at wholesale and sell it at retail. Others buy your book, read it, and then sell the copy to somebody else. It’s legit. Publisher Melinda Clayton explains why.

I buy too many books. So, I’m happy that Amazon allows me to resell the copy after I’ve read it. I usually don’t make very much because some sellers try to make their profit on volume by keeping the extra (if any) charged for shipping while selling the copy for a penny. Occasionally, I make a few dollars.

You can, too. And so can a lot of other people.

–Malcolm

Amazon UK Kindle Storyteller Award

The Amazon UK Kindle Storyteller Award is open for entries. The Kindle Storyteller Award is a new literary prize recognising newly published work in the English language across any genre and includes a £20,000 prize.

via Amazon UK Kindle Storyteller Award – Indies Unlimited

This looks like a great opportunity if you have a potential Kindle Direct Publishing manuscript ready or almost ready. The big plus, in addition to the award, is the publicity. That can be a nice boost for your writing career.

Thanks to Indies Unlimited for posting this.

Malcolm

‘Cora’s Crossing’ (‘A Travessia de Cora’) Now On Kindle

coraportcoverIt took it awhile, but the Portuguese edition of “Cora’s Crossing” is finally available on Amazon.

Description: No meio de uma violenta tempestade, dois homens jovens são misteriosamente puxados para uma velha ponte no meio de um pântano na Flórida. Eles descobrem que os mortos estão esperando para falar, suas vidas estão em perigo, e eles devem ajudar uma jovem mulher ferida que eles encontram na lateral da estrada.

Two young men are mysteriously drawn to an old bridge during a rogue thunderstorm, where they discover the dead are waiting to speak and their lives are in jeopardy when they help an injured young woman they find beside the road.

Cora’s Crossing was inspired by the now-abandoned Bellamy Bridge (which the author last saw 50 years ago) over the Chipola River near the town of Marianna in the Florida Panhandle, and the local folk legend that claims the bridge is haunted by a 175-year-old ghost who died tragically on her wedding night when her dress caught fire.

–Malcolm

coracoverThe English edition is available here.

 

 

Amazon’s New Pre-Order Policies Give Authors More Flexibility

“Amazon recently made some changes to their pre-order process that give authors more flexibility. Back in 2014, in what was considered a great leap forward foward self-published authors, Amazon provided the ability to offer books for pre-order.”

Source: Amazon’s New Pre-Order Policies Give Authors More Flexibility – Indies Unlimited

Now, author R. J. Crayton tells us that changes in the system will make the service even easier to use. I like having the ability to due pre-orders as my publication dates draw near.

–Malcolm

 

Amazon Give-Away – ‘Conjure Woman’s Cat’

KIndle cover 200x300I’m giving away 5 free Kindle copies of Conjure Woman’s Cat on Amazon.

Hurry if you want a chance to win one of them because these things go by really fast.

Here’s the link.

Free – three books for three days

It’s time for a late August giveaway set for August 28 through August 30 on Amazon for the Kindle editions of The Sun Singer, The Lady of the Blue Hour, and Carrying Snakes into Eden.

Here are the links:

The Sun Singer

"The Sun Singer" is gloriously convoluted, with threads that turn on themselves and lyrical prose on which you can float down the mysterious, sun-shaded channels of this charmingly liquid story. - Diana Gabaldon, Outlander Series

Robert Adams is a normal teenager who raises tropical fish, makes money shoveling snow off his neighbors’ sidewalks, gets stuck washing the breakfast dishes, dreads trying to ask girls out on dates and enjoys listening to his grandfather’s tall tales about magic and the western mountains. Yet, Robert is cursed by a raw talent his parents refuse to talk to him about: his dreams show him what others cannot see.

When the family plans a vacation to the Montana high country, Grandfather Elliott tells Robert there’s more to the trip than his parents’ suspect. The mountains hide a hidden world where people the ailing old man no longer remembers need help and dangerous tasks remain unfinished. Thinking that he and his grandfather will visit that world together, Robert promises to help.

On the shore of a mountain lake, Robert steps alone through a doorway into a world at war where magic runs deeper than the glacier-fed rivers. Grandfather Elliott meant to return to this world before his health failed him and now Robert must resurrect a long-suppressed gift to fulfill his promises, uncover old secrets, undo the deeds of his grandfather’s foul betrayer, subdue brutal enemy soldiers in battle, and survive the trip home.

LadyoftheBlueHourcoverThe Lady of the Blue Hour

Short Story. When Kenneth arrives home from a high school band trip with exciting news, he finds the house empty. His parents appear to gone to a hospital in a hurry. At twilight, a strange woman appears on the street, and she might be looking for him. No doubt, there’s magic afoot.

Grandfather Elliott, from “The Sun Singer” is one of the characters in this story which takes place in a quiet neighborhood of old homes in a Midwestern city. That made the story especially fun to write.

Carrying Snakes Into Eden

Always free on Kindle Unlimited

Always free on Kindle Unlimited

In this tongue-in-cheek 1960s-era short story with a dash of magic, two students skip church, pick up a hobo with a sack of snakes, and realize there may be long-term consequences.

This tale is one of a series of short stories set in Florida’s notorious Tate’s Hell Swamp on the Gulf Coast. I loved this swamp when I was growing up in the Florida Panhandle. The Garden of Eden mentioned in the story refers to a one-time tourist attraction that the owners claimed was the site of the original Garden of Eden. All that remains of the attraction, near the town of Bristol, is a “Garden of Eden Trail” maintained by the Nature Conservancy. The rare and endangered Torreya tree can be seen along this trail.

I hope you enjoy the books.

–Malcolm

TatesHellSeries

YouTube and Amazon: Gain Exposure by Using Both

“It’s becoming evident that newsletters are a valuable tool for authors to have. Shawn Inmon recently discussed the importance of newsletters, and one of the things he said was, ‘The reason why is simple: You control how and when you access a mailing list, as opposed to investing everything into working the Amazon or social media algorithms.’ That really resonated with me, so I decided it was time for me to take his advice seriously.”

Source: YouTube and Amazon: Gain Exposure by Using Both – Indies Unlimited

As with everything else in the business–that of writing and marketing books–there seem to be so many variables about what works and what doesn’t. In this Indies Unlimited article, Melinda Clayton has found a couple of variables that work for those of us trying to get a newsletter started with more than our spouse and uncle Zeke on the mailing list.

–Malcolm

Tips for Turning Your Book into an Audiobook with ACX.com

ACXlogo“A couple of years ago Melissa Bowersock wrote a helpful post on her experience with using ACX to create an audiobook. A couple of things have changed since then”

Source: Tips for Turning Your Book into an Audiobook with ACX.com – Indies Unlimited

My publisher Melinda Clayton, who’s in the process of bringing out my second audiobook via Thomas-Jacob Publishing, looks at why ACX is even easier to use than ever.

–Malcolm

How do you find most of the books your read?

I’ve always had the impression that most readers find most of their fiction with very little effort. That is, their friends (on and off line), their newspaper, an on-line news site, or social media might well provide more tips and links for new books than they can afford to buy, much less have time to read.

During the time when I was doing my book-links posts for this blog called Book Bits, I had a regular list of places if checked for the latest author, book, publishing, how-to, and review information along with news. Since I was publishing a links-of-the-week kind of listing, I’m sure I looked at a great many more sites than most readers.

In no particular order, here are some places people tend to rely on for information about new books:

  1. Browsing Amazon, Powell’s, Barnes & Noble or the website of their favorite independent bookstore.
  2. Facebook, Twitter and other social-media links and chatter, with an emphasis on that people on one’s friends list are reading.
  3. Checking one or two favorite online book sites such as major newspapers that still review books, Book Page, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal, and book blogs written by people with similar book tastes.
  4. Occasional news stories that surface on sites like Yahoo News, USA Today, CNN and other places that will feature authors and books that are usually at the top of the bestseller lists and/or famous.
  5. Browsing book displays in local bricks and mortar stores, grocery stories, Walmart and other places that sell paperback and hardback books.
  6. Local book clubs and other reading groups and/or discussions with friends and co-workers.

I probably discover most of my reading material via 1 & 2 above. How about you?

–Malcolm

Post Navigation