Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Google Love

Google. I loved you when you were just a baby search engine and everyone was hot for Yahoo and its ilk. I remember when Yahoo was king and Ask Jeeves and how they clogged up the search with advertisements and confusion. I took one look at Google's clean, readable pages and I had found my Web Search soul mate.

Then came Gmail and Blogger and our love deepened. Now there is Google Play where I've listed my books and sales are anemic but I'm not worried. We've been down this road before, haven't we, Google? We'll get there.

Now my kid who grew up only knowing the great Google is working on a Google-related product. Heck, yes, I'm proud. Check out this YouTube video of Salman Sajun Productions working on a project for a cool Google phone case.

It's neat to see how it all comes together.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Dv-P8QG4JXc

And here is the making of the video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qv9svoypuUs

Google, thank you for all the good years and here's to many more. Stay the course and all will be well.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

President Trump.

So does this mean the US electoral system isn't corrupt...?

Just trying to understand here.

All I heard every freaking day from Donald Trump during the campaign was that the US system for collecting votes and counting votes was "fixed", "rigged" -- completely untrustworthy, and heads were gonna roll if The Donald lost.

Well, The Donald won. So can I assume that the US President-elect was not lying and the electoral system that put him in office is "fixed", "rigged" and he didn't win fair and square?

Or is the system fine and The Donald is a liar. Did the US President-elect lie to the American people?

Which is it? Because it's one or the other.

Another quick question: if The Donald can lie about the US electoral system, can he be trusted to tell the truth when he takes the Oath of Office?

Hmm. A leopard does not change his spots as my mother used to say.

Read a book. Blow stuff up in your mind. This too shall pass.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Books2Read Universal Link and the Independent Publisher



I am an independent publisher. I also write but because I manage four pen names, one imprint, two blogs and forty titles, I am considered an independent publisher. I use Smashwords, Kindle Direct Publishing and Draft2Digital to get the titles into the world. I use CreateSpace for printing and print distribution. After twenty years of trying to make a living at writing, these service providers have made it possible for me to actually make a living at writing. Whoo hoo!

You'll notice I've changed the sales links to the titles on this blog from individual ebook retailers to one link per title: Books2Read Universal Link. ( https://www.books2read.com/ ) 



This amazing little tool was developed by Draft2Digital for authors and book-buyers to streamline the shopping process. Instead of half-a-dozen links (that I may or may not get right) I only have to provide one. 

1) The book-buyer clicks on the link and is taken to a landing page for that book where all the stores that carry the book are listed with logos readily identifying each  store. Cool!

2) Book-buyer chooses store he or she likes, clicks and boom--there you are on the product page. Read the blurb, mull over the price and buy. Swell! 

3) The buyer is prompted to request the same store for future purchases. Nice!

I like stuff to be as uncomplicated as possible. Shopping online is very difficult for me so anything like this helps cut out the clutter and I don't feel pushed or hassled into looking at a bunch of stuff I don't want.

Draft2Digital did not charge me as a publisher for this new tool. These savvy ebook distributors are quietly remapping the publishing industry one book sale at a time.

Smashwords is another forward-thinking distributor that also has a hopping book store. They sell in all formats, retailer direct, give an outstanding royalty to the author, host author pages, giveaways and work with libraries to promote independent titles. They are super international and have a free section to sample new authors. No pop-ups or advertising or spam emails--just books in all genres at great prices.

Check them out:   Smashwords Book Store
Hey! Happy Reading!

Image result for books2read

Monday, October 31, 2016

Happy Halloween!

Nothing scary in my neck of the woods, but fellow Canadian indie author, Steve Vernon has a Night Time Podcast up: 

Haunted Halifax with Steve Vernon


Check it out tonight while you're handing out Mars Bars.

Chilling!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Dear Donald Trump....

Men died to keep the democratic process in your country alive and well so Americans could live free.

This was not a cheap gift.

They died. They literally gave their lives for every vote that is cast in your country. Think about that for a minute. I know I do. I think about it every time I cast a vote in my country. I'm a freaking coward. I could not do what those young men did in WWI or WWII.

Remembrance Day is November 11, three days after the election in your nation. Are you really going to challenge the outcome of a democratic election when democratic nations all over the world are honouring the sacrifice made by their soldiers?

Democracy is messy, sometimes uncomfortable, often expensive and does not always work out the way we hope. Seriously. I'm a Canadian and I have no dog in this fight. But in defense of democracy, I have to speak up, even if it's just on this blog.

Just don't, man. If you lose, shake hands and move on. Respect the sacrifice others made to give you the freedom to do and say as you please. It is a favourite phrase of yours that you speak your mind. Well, buddy, a man much younger than you died to give you that privilege.

Suck it up. Be a man. And lose with grace.





Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Seriously talented young musician.

 CAITLIN WARD

Caitlin Ward was my young neighbour in Rupert, Quebec for a few years. She was a nice kid who really liked animals. One day, being a good neighbour, she popped over to show me her pet snake--little realizing I had a huge snake phobia. My screams went down in recorded history of the village. Her mom and I were in the same book club for awhile and she told me Caitlin was a musician. Encouraging young talent is necessary for older creative people, so I said "send me the link to her stuff and I'll post it on my blog." (I get traffic. Stop that smirking.)

Today, I finally got around to watching Caitlin perform and wow. WOW!

I'm thrilled to introduce my critter-loving young neighbour who grew up to be a dynamite singer-musician.

Caitlin Ward on YouTube

Caitlin Ward Music on Facebook

Caitlin Ward on Soundcloud


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Unpublishing a book is like....

Getting a divorce.

It smarts. But I had to do it.

My foray into the fast-paced world of writing fast and dirty was a bust. I conceived the idea for Razor Wire for the brand-spanking-new Kindle Unlimited program. It was designed to be read in installments, ending in a cliffhanger like a thriller television show. I'd outlined 6 'episodes', wrote 3, and then Kindle Unlimited changed its royalty structure for payment and the serial format lost its value overnight.

I bundled the installments, thinking I would come back to the series in future to write Razor Edge and Razor Close.

Heh. Well, here's the thing. I lost steam or my mojo or whatever that thing is that makes a writer connect to a story long enough to get it out. I tried many different methods to get going again but my brain wasn't having it. Creatively, the series was dead in the water.

And dead sales-wise too. I think I sold less than 10 ebooks and 5 print books that were mostly pity sales. A local fan said it wasn't anything like my other books. Yeah, well, a girl's gotta try new things or she becomes stale. I'm not sorry I wrote it because it pushed me out of my comfort zone to explore a new sub-genre. I think of Razor Wire as a creative experiment in writing to market, in which I proved to myself that the book market is a moving target.

Razor Wire is unpublished (or is in the process) at all retailers as of today. CreateSpace will still sell the print edition. My plan for the thriller is to go back to my original idea and publish it as a trilogy. I'll beef up the story, explore some themes I rushed through and go deeper into the psychology of the characters. I believe there's a good story there and I didn't give it its due. I'll release the serial in July in three complete installments. CreateSpace will get the complete edition for print at the same time.

Writing fast is dandy for first drafts, but the process has to slow down after that to get to the good stuff. Lesson learned. It only hurts a little. Lives were not lost.

Takeaways:

  1. Stick to your vision.
  2. The story wants to go the way the story wants to go. Be the pencil.
  3. Slow down. You are creating worlds not making a cheese sandwich.




Daniel Razor and his troubling sidekick, Charlotte Dawson, will return new and and improved in the summer. Bigger and brighter in three juicy installments. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Kindle Unlimited and Me

I would've titled this post Kindle Unlimited and the Indie Author but every author's experience is different. Our books are different, our marketing skills are different---it gets really boring itemizing how different we all are. We're so hung up on trying to find commonalities when we share information that we can't see the forest for the trees.

Here is the forest:

Amazon is a book retailer. They are also publish their own imprints. They are also a mechanism by which authors can self-publish their work direct to Kindle ereaders. They sell the devices as well as the books to read on the devices. They also offer subscription-based access to all books enrolled in Kindle Direct Publishing Select. They have margins.

Here are the trees:

The independent authors who have enrolled their books in Select. They give Zon an amazingly diverse catalogue to hook Kindle Unlimited subscribers and Zon gives them a platform with which to reach readers. Sure, almost everyone wants the blockbuster novels, but indie offerings are the "added value" component of the whole forest. The authors also have margins.

It's a happy, balanced ecosystem until Amazon has to increase its margins and then the authors inside the forest get squeezed. We felt the Amazonian boa constrictor squeeze this week when the KENP formula was changed and the value of our books decreased by about 60 pages. KENP stands for Kindle Edition Normalized Pages. Authors in Select are paid 0.0046 per KENP read. If Mary Sue borrowed my riveting mystery, Iced Under (511 KENP) in January, I would have been paid a $2.35 royalty. Now, I would be paid $2.07. The royalty on a sale is approx. $2.79.

Not too shabby, right? What's 72 cents among friends. And besides, isn't the idea we'll get readers borrowing our books and make a bit of money on the side? Hey, I drank the Kool-aid, I'm not judging.

The kicker is we have to promote and compete to get borrows with exactly the same zeal and expense that we have to promote to get sales. Time and money margins. Only these are not sales and your book is only available in one store, not four (or five if you count Google Play and I don't). And then you open your reports page and whoa nelly! You are down by a sum that you did not see coming.

Okay, so we've been "normalized" after not being normal. Or something. I was all in with Kindle Unlimited until I realized I wasn't building a sales record. I was knocking myself out to get borrows. Borrows are lovely when they're in a library and somebody--somewhere--has already paid for the book. But when you become dependent on them for income, borrows are like living in your mom's basement. And every now and then she threatens to sell the house.

It's been said that KU has cannibalized sales. It's also been said that KU has helped sales. I have no data either way. In my experience, I worked like a dog to promote my novels last year and came out about $10 ahead each month that I was in Select versus wide. Other authors report dramatically different results.

The upshot of all this analysis is no two books are alike. Look at your own book and take your own market and margins into consideration when you're deciding to go exclusive or wide with all retailers. If all else fails, experiment. I liked the convenience of Select but I like getting sales in other markets a whole lot more. I like building a sales history. I like getting my $2.79 fair and square.

My margins are chubbier now too and I like a chubby margin.

Peace out.








Monday, January 11, 2016

Writers and Grandchildren


I'm not one to brag... but Calvin Michael was born on Dec.5, 2015 joining his cousins, Oliver and Harrison. 

I have three grandsons. Three! I thought it couldn't get any better.

And then...

My stepdaughter is expecting her first child in May and cleverly announced the sex on Boxing Day by giving us BLUE Christmas balls. Four grandsons! 

I'm thrilled to bits. These little guys are a total joy to be around. The best part of being a writer with grandchildren is they laugh at your jokes and when you tell silly stories they think you're a genius. There is no bad part. 

How fitting that this is my 100th post. Long before these little boys were a gleam in anyone's eye, I was holding vigil for a book that was out on submission and blogging about it. I felt like my life hung in the balance. I felt like everything was riding on that one book finding a publisher. I was wrong, as usual.

No matter how low we are in the moment, the future holds good gifts. Hold on and all will be well. 

Happy anniversary to all the blogging writers who are holding on and telling us about it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A Writer's New Year's Resolutions


1. Write better books.

2. Get more exercise.

3. Write more books.

4. Make more money (anything above poverty level will do)


Resolution 4 used to top my list. Year after year, making money was my number one priority and year after year, it was never enough. I make more now than I did last year but at the expense of my body, emotional well-being and the joy of writing. So I'm ditching Resolution 4. 

Selling books is a crap shoot. Writers can spend years crafting novels and never make enough to pay the Hydro bill. Or they can spend 14 days writing a novel that lies there like a dead dog in August and never sells a copy. Or they can spend years working on craft and net thousands upon thousands of dollars from one book, or the exact same result could be achieved after a weekend of booze-induced scribbling. Total crap shoot.

I hereby resolve to ignore sales reports, do my best and let the money take care of itself. Sink or swim, the book is on its own. 

Next!

Resolution 1 and 3 can grow to like each other with steady, daily application to the word count. 200 words a day for 365 days equals one reasonably-sized book. 200 words is a walk in the park. For me and other writers, the demarcation between "good writing" and "cranking it out" is 2000 to 3000 words a day. 2K for me is a good day's work. A friendly, patient approach and good books will come in great quantity.

I resolve to write good books and more of them with daily dedicated application of 200 to 2000 words.

Which brings us to Resolution 2. All of us who sit in front of a computer for hours at a time need to stand up. Right now. I can see you. You're not standing. It has become life-threatening to sit for hours. (It probably always was but we're just learning about it.) I've restructured my office to allow me to stand and work. But that's not enough. Daily exercise outside improves just about everything.

I resolve to take a daily walk, which will help me stick to Resolution 1 and 3 and increase the odds of number 4 happening in my lifetime. 

I'll report back on December 31, 2016 (God and Blogger willing) on how my 2016 Resolutions panned out. Because that could be fun. Or not. We shall see!