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Messages - WasAnn

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1

On a side note, it looks like a lot of people on this forum are releasing their books for only 99 cents at launch. Is this to stay current and competitive with the market?

Not sure about how I feel listing it for that low a price, unless it was only for a short period of time as a promotion.

I'll tell you why I do it. Maybe that will help some with decisions.

I do it because I want my newsletter folks to be able to get it at a low price...which also urges them to buy during those first crucial days instead of waiting. I'd rather sacrifice a little in royalties and get a few hundred sales which will boost rankings and make Amazon show my book to loads of other folks, who will eventually pay full price. 99 cents is still within the impulse "almost no money" zone for people, even those who are total bargain shoppers.

Would I do that if I didn't have a whole lot of folks on my list? Probably not, unless I could arrange a whole lot of advertising.

2
Query time: to become an official bestseller, it only has to hit #1 in one of the selected categories, right??


Rachel Wollaston | YA/Fantasy author

Just a friendly tip here: Don't do it.

Getting that #1 in a category, particularly a sub-sub-category with the next highest ranking book somewhere in the five digits, does not a best-seller make. It absolutely ruins your credibility because it's super easy to check the best rank a book ever achieved.

I'm a USAT and WSJ Bestseller (#14 and #4). I'm also Amazon BS (love that BS...lol) oh so many times. I never once called myself a bestseller until I hit those official lists. If you hit #1 in the PAID side of Amazon, then you can too, but only if that Amazon caveat is before it. Some people do it if they hit top 100 of all of Amazon on the PAID side.

If you're hitting a small subcat, don't do it. Just don't.

3
Writers' Cafe / Re: First Person Present Tense (FPPT)
« on: December 12, 2017, 03:24:54 PM »
I love it! I love to read it and write it. It's immersive if done properly. Done badly and it's like being in the shower with someone you hate while they do their thing. But yeah, I love it overall.

4
From other threads I've seen, you're not necessarily put in the next batch after you're invited to the program, which I guess is why they don't tell you when it is!

You're right about that. The email doesn't say which quarter it will be. That's weird. When they want to do a KDD or something they tell me which quarter...then the month and day when I agree. I guess this is super different.

5
Just wondering when the next batch will start :)

Hah! Me too. I'm going to be in the next round, so I'm curious.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Kindle Scout experiences & Nomination Requests (MERGED)
« on: December 04, 2017, 06:35:19 PM »
Would love to do this someday.. It's hard to critique one's own work.

A developmental edit is really a gold mine. It allows that objectivity to shine. We, the authors, can't possibly achieve true objectivity. It can be pricey, but I like a deep edit like that. Do I take all the advice? Nope, but I pay attention to it. It's worth it.

7
Writers' Cafe / Re: Apple's rules of order
« on: November 28, 2017, 06:03:06 AM »
I'm going with the capitalize it suggestion.

On the cover, it looks fine, like a part of the design element.

In the title on the web page, it will look strange and not professional.

8
Writers' Cafe / Re: And! Amazon rank-stripped me
« on: November 21, 2017, 03:01:03 PM »
What Phoenix said. My BB a few weeks ago did the same thing. It lasts as much as a couple of hours while it runs another level of checks. It will come back. Mine was gone less than two hours, but came back.

9
Writers' Cafe / Re: Buyer Beware
« on: November 18, 2017, 11:56:32 AM »
We'll certainly never know what happened if people don't share the details. Naming the service isn't damning it, but adding to our ability to understand what connections, if any, exist.

Exactly. And in reality, until we can figure out who it was for sure and if there's a trend there, then that's one more thing another author can stumble into and regret.

While I've been around long enough to take a guess at the service...and it's already one I avoid because it's not TOS compliant...the name changes and website changes and so on could very easily fool another person into seeing it and not realizing it's one they'd put on their own naughty list.

For the one who posted how hard they're working to build a business up correctly, I understand your worry, but being able to put a "dark list" up that shows who not to book with can only help those who don't engage in such ways to build up their white-hat businesses.

10
Writers' Cafe / Re: Cover model stock photo search tips please!
« on: November 17, 2017, 10:06:07 AM »
Not a good fit, but I thank you for trying. The model in that is quite a bit darker than my character, and also her top isn't far off from being just a bra which is way more objectifying than my goal.

That's been a big problem for me with stock as well. A lot of the pictures that aren't tainted by a strong background are either highly fashion-oriented (not that that would necessarily be completely unworkable), or fall under the umbrella of "under-dressed person making ____ look sexy".

For a lot of folks, getting the basic person is enough because almost everything can be shifted during the cover image manipulation. Clothes changed, hair changed, everything can be changed really. It's almost easier to get basic body shape and facial angle and pose, the adjust everything else from there. Finding a stock photo you can use exactly as it is can be extraordinarily difficult if you want something other than a beauty shot.

11
I've allowed it and I love the results. I'm SF, not anything Romance-y at all, and this one borders on SFHorror with a YA slant. Total niche, so it's not my best selling series.

It inspired someone and I said yes. That said, I'd read other work by the author before so I knew it would be a quality product. I wrote a series bible so they knew the boundaries of the science, but I purposefully left the whole world open in case anyone wanted to play in it.

The end result? A big fat book that's freaking excellent. A real joy to read. It's a new line of people in a different part of the world who did things a little differently from my cast of characters and it rocks.

I heartily recommend not only allowing it, but writing those series bibles to make it easy on you. That they keep all their income is a given where I'm concerned. Whenever I have a BookBub or big sale on that series, their book gets a boost and it makes me happy. We all start somewhere and it's a good thing to do.

12
Writers' Cafe / Re: Kindle Scout experiences & Nomination Requests (MERGED)
« on: November 14, 2017, 06:07:03 AM »
Well, I just received my rejection letter. I would like to express my thanks to all of you for your advice and nominations throughout this process. If I receive any feedback in the coming days, I'll be sure to share it.

I saw the email this morning and was completely shocked they passed on this one. The sample was fantastic. Hope you'll share your feedback and let us know when you hit publish!

13
Writers' Cafe / Re: Audible Book Returns
« on: November 10, 2017, 06:45:56 AM »
When there is a generous return policy, you'll always find people who take advantage of it.

While it doesn't happen as much anymore, Kindle used to have a problem with serial returners. They'd go through an entire series, buying and returning each one as they went. Loads of us have seen this happen. Eventually, Amazon began inquiring when customers did this habitually, and it petered out. It still happens, but less.

Likely, the rise in price for whispersync add-on audiobooks had something to do with it. The temptation to return was simply too high, so they're doing it. Eventually, Audible will crack down in the same way Kindle did...with simple inquiries as to why the customer returns so many books after listening to them entirely.

We just have to put up with a certain number of them. Sadly.

14
Writers' Cafe / Re: Mass Primary launched 11/8
« on: November 09, 2017, 09:03:58 AM »
MASS PRIMARY (Dark Landing Series book 2) launched yesterday! Science fiction and fantasy; mystery thriller; adventure

The first book in the series, TRANSMUTED (my debut novel) was selected last year. If they don't select book 2, I'm more than a little concerned about how to market the series when I have no control over pricing/leverage of the first book. Has anyone else experienced this?

Please nominate MASS PRIMARY--I need all the help I can get! Thanks.  https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/2DGR84RNEU107

You can handle this a couple of ways. One that seems to work well is to write a side-tale or prequel, then you have control over pricing for a book that allows firm entry into the series.

15
Writers' Cafe / Re: Pronoun announce they are shutting down! [MERGED]
« on: November 06, 2017, 02:19:24 PM »
I'm really bummed out about it. While I don't have a lot of wide titles, I put those I had out with them for stores other than GP and Zon. I liked their interface, thought their emails were pretty good, and was rooting for *anyone* who might be able to do something with Amazon.

16
Writers' Cafe / Re: The Decline of the Promo Sites
« on: November 06, 2017, 04:49:37 AM »
The Bookbub people are serving their investors first and foremost, and their subscribers second. They were very happy to take advantage of indies in the early days, but they don't need them so much these days.

This is true and far more important than we might have considered before. I did a couple of months of detailed analysis on 12 genre of BB offerings. And when I say detailed, I mean super-duper detailed, the same level I did when I made the KU scammers post last year.

Without knowing precisely what is said behind the scenes, there are some very clear changes that tie into curation vs premium payment, trad vs indie, etc.

Quote
I think one of the reasons the promo sites are losing their effectiveness is that there's no curation on the basis of quality. Some of them have no curation at all (if you can pay, you're in), and some curate according to some proxy of quality, such as number and rating of reviews, but we all know how reliable a guide that is.

Like you, I've been cringing lately at some of the best tier 2 sites and their offerings. One in particular which serves my primary genre has been featuring more bare-chests and clearly sexy titles...which does not bode well for an audience that helped them rise to such prominence on their love of SF action and post-apocalyptic tales. Curation is falling in many over the need to fill their slots.

Quote
I subscribe to Bookbub purely to get the free Regency romances, as genre research. The vast majority of the offerings I don't bother with. Why? Either because they were on Bookbub previously and I've already read them, or the reviews are full of complaints about editing issues and historical inaccuracies. Now, a lot of readers don't care about such things, but for those of us who do, it's disheartening to realise that the premier promotion site is endorsing books that fail even the most basic quality test. There must be plenty of people giving up on Bookbub and the like because they can't guarantee finding anything they want to read.

In my longer analysis of BB, the trend overall is beginning to balance with a certain percentage of trad vs indie that is substantially different than it was two years ago or a year ago. In many of those genre, the shift is decidedly toward trad, while in others, the balance is being struck in favor of indie...but with conditions.

It's too much to go into now, but suffice it to say that in different genre (say, SF and Cont Romance), it's almost like BB is two different BBs. Their rules for those genre are entirely different, so a general analysis of BB as a whole would not apply. Instead, the analysis has to be divided by BB genre.

And yes, what I noted in the review portion of the analysis is shocking. In some cases, one SP in particular (that specializes in backlist) shows up frequently, but with HUGE problems. And yet, despite books being pulled for formatting by Zon, or with a 1* average for reviews (yes, they have those), or no reviews at all, that same publisher will show up with another book in the BB newsletter a few days later with an equally poorly rated or non-rated book.

Why?

Here's where I lose the ability to analyze because I don't know what deals are made behind the scenes, but there's only one logical conclusion to be made: TP does not have to apply really, but rather simply orders their slots. Also, based on pub dates and other clues, it appears they get LONGER than 30 days out to make their orders. And the only way any of this makes sense is that they pay a premium for this privilege. Otherwise, why would BB alienate readers in the same genre over and over by offering books so bad they get pulled by Zon? It has to be money...i.e. investors first, readers second.

Also, it appears that indie books are the "make up slots" taking what TP doesn't use first. There are few clues out to verify this, but there are some if you're determined. Examples would be TP authors talking about a big promo push two months out with a date...and them showing up in BB on that date exactly. That sort of thing. So, when the 30 day window for us opens, the number of slots actually available to an indie is actually far fewer than it might have been previously. Also, trend analysis for two of the Romance genre in particular, shows a heavy shift...with Indie slots being heavily shifted toward free over time. And box sets...good heavens...we all know how that's going.

So, I agree with you on this. Even BB is falling into the trap of sacrificing reader and subscriber happiness for a paycheck, and it will eventually show in hesitance at clicking for a buy. Once curation is overcome by premium placement money, loss of trust by subs is only a matter of time.

17
Writers' Cafe / Re: The Decline of the Promo Sites
« on: November 03, 2017, 08:41:00 AM »
Short answer: Yep.

Longer answer:

Even Bub is less effective than before. I've had two recently, and I'm gonna say that the actual ROI for international by percentage was substantially higher than domestic. (Only when talking buys against list size, not overall profit.) That says a lot. A quick analysis of others who recently ran (and were willing to share numbers) points strongly to stagnation from older subs. Without new bodies, it will grow flatter and it's only the massive numbers that keep it effective...yet less effective than before with much smaller lists.

This same impact is everywhere on the old faithful lists you mentioned and others, only it's more noticeable to us because they were smaller than Bub in the first place.

Combine that with worries about what NLs the clickfarms might be targeting to hide scamming by downloading legit books on sale and you have a recipe for a waist-cinching alteration in sale book lists.

Private NL swaps are seen as golden today, with personal NLs still the diamond in that ring. I've been very choosy and limited lately doing that because I suspected that people are tired of having other books pushed on them. Turns out a new report by LitRing (it's worth a read) shows that to be true in a big way.

An example of that is being committed to a swap when I didn't agree to it because others in the group agreed to it for me. The books don't even remotely match what I'd normally recommend to readers of my books, so I'm doing it with teeth clenched and firmly committed to never doing it again. That's the sort of thing they're sick of seeing.

All in all, it makes the waters of advertising today much choppier. While I'd love to limit everything to Bub and rotate through, I don't have enough series' to do that and keep everything afloat. Nor do I have enough stand-alones in a long, connected series that I can rotate those books through like a few others. Also, who wants to help create yet another monolith that controls everything?

18
If done well, the role-reversal trope can be funny, but when ham-fisted and over the top, well...it's just cliche and comes off as woman-hating. Definitely not YA in any way once you put whips and chains into it.

19
I would guess views would tend to be lower, but I don't really have any hard evidence, either.

I'm not sure what your normal launch entails, but KS wouldn't interfere with your normal launch sequence unless you were selected. (Obviously, if you don't want to be selected, you definitely shouldn't submit your book.) I don't see why you couldn't do exactly what you would normally do for a launch after you get the rejection email--with one exception. You will have all the momentum the book built up during the Scout campaign working for you.

Your mileage may vary, but some of us have experienced spectacular indie launches following a Kindle Scout campaign. MY KS reject started stronger than any of my other new releases. It's true that I hit it with a lot of promos, but it was doing well even before the promos kicked in. Also, some of the promoters I used before performed markedly better than in the past (three or four times better in some cases).

I shattered pretty much every modest personal record I had, and that one book brought in about half the income I've made in my five-year publishing career, mostly in the three months following release.

I'm sure there were other factors, but it's hard to imagine KS exposure didn't help. One piece of evidence was in the also-boughts. On every other release, my own books featured prominently in the also-boughts, as you would expect. On this one,  my other books weren't represented at all for weeks. What I was seeing were books in the same genre that were either KS rejects like mine or Kindle Press titles. The only possible explanation for that would be that it was the Scouters that were producing the early momentum. After the initial period, the also-boughts normalized, partly because sales and borrows on my other books increased as the new release peaked and sell-through really kicked in.

Not everyone has the same experience, but I did read someone mentioning in the Post-KS thread that a book only a few days old had pulled in 75,000 KENP in one day. :o

By the way, that's why I pay for Scout promotions. I know the stats won't get my book selected, but the more people exposed to it before launch, the better a launch I'll have, whether the book is picked up by Kindle Press or not.

That's excellent insight! Thank you!

As to my normal and how it might interfere, I was thinking of holidays there too. If I subbed and got rejected, I'd probably wait till after the holidays to launch, which would lose the momentum of the campaign.

So, you really helped there! Totally answers my question.

On a normal launch, I can expect about 100 sales the first couple of days and then more as the various promos and newsletters go out, so I do okay with launches. Not as great as I'd like, but okay. If I go through the nail-biting stress of a KS campaign, I'd like to be able to leverage the heck out of that stress into amplifying a launch in the case of rejection.

Waiting till after the holidays seems a smarter move. Thank you!

20
What are everyone's thoughts regarding running a campaign over the holidays? Normally, I wouldn't release a book during that time frame, but rather wait until well after. Is Kindle Scout similar? Is there a significant lessening of views and so on?

I'm still on the fence about putting Portals in KS and giving up my normal launch for a new book, but I really want to just to do something new. Hence, the planning goes on and I'd like to cover all my bases.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« on: October 26, 2017, 07:32:03 AM »
Currently, the cost of doing business for Amazon with this debacle is basically zero when they're wrong. There are SO many books in the store...and in KU...that even the loss of trust in moderately well known indies is basically a zilch impact situation.

This algo deranks temporarily for a second level check (I'm almost sure that second level check involves a very poorly trained human, but the first is pure algo). If it passes second level, then the rank is restored a few hours later.

**This has happened to LOADS of people, particularly when doing a promo for a book that hasn't had promo love in a long while. Since I had a BB that day, I noticed, but I'm going to bet many don't even notice the temp rank removal. (And mine was a 0.99 WIDE book with no KU relationship at all. I'm a Bleached Hat operator at all times.)**

That second level is probably wrong as often as it is right, but here's the point. It's a work in progress and it makes ZERO impact to Amazon's bottom line even if it's 75% wrong. Sure, they'll tune it to make it better, but it doesn't matter even one bit if it takes a year and sweeps a wide swath through indie ranks.

We're not even a dime a dozen anymore. We're a penny a million.

Financially, it makes more sense to Amazon to keep tweaking this new algo until it gets better, regardless of the fallout, than to hire more people. Bottom line.

We used to take pride in being Amazon partners, grateful that this new ability to be indie and make a living at it, proud of Bezo's belief that Indies matter and can write great books. We shifted from Partners to Associates and some of us got that tickle up our spines, but we trusted Amazon.

We are now nothing more than Vendors of cheap goods that they have millions of other sources for. This is our reality. We are paperclips.

I don't know how to get across to anyone that matters how awful this is, but I'm not sure even a single person in charge somewhere (other than Bezos) could meaningfully change the course of things.

And yes, I also still maintain that the bigger bot operations are likely using NLs  of all kinds to obfuscate what they're really doing. The real books targeted have zero ability to stop this from happening, which makes the whole thing super-scary. It's like being told to walk naked through a crowd of rapists and then sent to prison if you get raped.


22
Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« on: October 25, 2017, 03:18:28 PM »
My books get picked up from time to time by random promo sites. I don't book them, and I only find out they've ran if I'm tagged of FB or twitter, or something. How are we supposed to control who downloads our books? That's not realistic. Anyone can find a book that's free/99c/doing well on the charts and pop it into their newsletter. Anyone can bot any book. How do we protect ourselves from something we cannot possibly control!?


^^^^This^^^^

Almost every single time I run free days, some place or another I've never heard of picks up the book I make free. I have zero control over that. How do we stop random strangers from picking up a book like that? We don't.

Amazon is flipping losing their corporate minds here to put this on us. Consider that they...most of our primary partner...won't tell us even the color of *their* secret sauce, let alone the ingredients. Do they honestly think that every other business in the world is going to open kimono for us?

This is revolting. I hope David can get some answers.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« on: October 22, 2017, 12:20:17 PM »
I'm as cynical as the next person, but I think we have seen Amazon bow to public pressure before. We may not have been overjoyed with the action taken, but I think we have been able to nudge Amazon into action on occasion. Better than doing nothing, and securing your own independence through mailing lists and whatever else, these things aren't mutually exclusive (and I think everyone talks about mailing lists all the time btw).

David - When our two pieces last year got notice, I'm sure you also got some reach out. Once mine hit the front of Hacker News and all those bigger publications, they cared. Of course, what they cared about was limited *entirely* to the ASINs I researched *AND* put in the piece. In short...they cared very deeply that they could immediately remove those pieces so those who wanted to pick up the story would no longer be able to access them. They cared a tiny bit about the ASINs I'd already researched and were certain were botted, synonomizer garbage. When asked if they wanted to know how to find the rest....answer...no.

They may bow to public pressure, but only inasmuch as it takes to remove anything from the store that is specifically getting the limelight. The thousands of others...nope, don't care.

So, I'm not so sure Amazon is what they once were.

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On another note ...

Does anyone have suggestions regarding how long to space the interval between the first book and sequel in a series? I've seen people release them very close together, if not simultaneously. Julianne, you had around a month and a half between Unruly Ghost Mysteries installments -- do you think that was optimal; or would you have released closer together if possible? (I know it's complicated by the fact that you had Ghost 2 in a KS run until recently -- and you're certainly doing very well either way!)

While I'm not entirely sure how much traction I would get based on other people's experiences running KS campaigns for subsequent books in a series, I was thinking about it. However, I'm wondering if it's not better in my case simply to publish on KDP shortly after the first book.

At this point, I can't decide which is more stressful -- the thought of another KS campaign or installing vinyl plank in my basement!  :P

Hoping to see another selection go up on the KS main page soon! Good luck to everyone still in the running!

CJ

As a general rule when trying to gain traction on Zon, it's good to release close together. Very close. There's even a 5 plus one in the hole method...release the first five in the series at once, then release the next a month later...that's super effective.

Since I took a year off to write more slowly, I've sure seen the impact of not releasing regularly. Whew...it's brutal out there.

For the book I'm still on the fence about putting into KS (I really want to do something different and I'm weighing the risks of not having an awesome launch if I win KS compared to my normal launch), I'm actually completing the entire second book before submitting.

Here's the calculus for that one...it's a duology only. So, I won't be able to build up momentum with each successive book. It's a two-fer and that's it. So, launch almost simultaneously is the goal. If you're planning a longer series, you have more time, so consider that.


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Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon yanking sales ranking after a Bookbub promo
« on: October 21, 2017, 06:59:46 AM »
My theory is they have a number of different checks now. They could range from speed of rank climb plus source of download(s) plus whatever.

First step is to suspend/derank. A further check is done and your rank returns, which explains the short down period. Extended periods may be due to a resourcing problem.

If thatís true then we can expect more mystery deranking that doesnít last.

Next question is what makes them send the warning letter, which you clearly didnít get. Whatís the trigger for that? Because from what Iíve read some people get it, but their rank is reinstated quickly anyway. Does that mean the warning isnít valid?


Not sure about your questions, but the notion that it might be cloaking by scammers isn't *entirely* without merit.

When I did my long post that got attention regarding scammers, I actually interviewed one of the worst of them. It would be wrong to assume that they are brute force attackers who find an easier route at the first sign of resistance. Many of them are incredibly smart and they do this as a big business...and a very lucrative one. Increased costs they either pass on by opening new channels of revenue and creating customers or simply factor those into their cost of doing business.

Is it possible that one of the medium sized click farms (or more of the smaller ones) are cloaking? Yes, entirely possible. A small/medium farm could easily assign sectors...50 accounts download a freebie from one NL...50 from another...another two sectors of 50 download a paid book from two genres on a big newsletter (with a certain percentage being returned before the one week period is up)...etc. Rotate that around your accounts and you've got an excellent cloaking system that hides the main purpose of click-farming KU books.

Of course, this would absolutely tie up innocent authors who used advertising.

But would this be common? I don't think so. The CBA on it would tilt radically after a while. The only way this could continue is if they made sure they were returning a lot of books during that 30 day free trial of KU and then ending it because it would create a pattern. Given that they use gift cards to create the accounts, that makes sense.

But again, I think this would be uncommon since it requires an extra level of management on their part.

Amazon's detection system is fatally flawed. I'm sure they were giving high fives and thinking they'd get kudos for figuring out a method to detect scammers that required zero additional hires, but they failed utterly.

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