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Messages - Bards and Sages (Julie)

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Would You?
« on: Yesterday at 06:57:14 PM »
Lulu's per unit cost per book is higher than the per unit cost per book at Createspace and the majority of POD services.

Lulu's price for a 200-page trade paperback to print (NOT the retail price, but the per unit cost) is $5.25.  By comparison, Createspace is $3.25 per unit. That is a $2 per unit difference that inflates the actual retail cost of your book.

Using their own example of a $14.95 book, through Lulu you get $1.58 for expanded distro sales. Through Createspace you get $2.73. Same book. Same retail price.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Great Reviewers
« on: Yesterday at 06:49:42 PM »
I don't care what they call their reviews.

They are not "good people." They are running a website that is SELLING reviews. Whether YOUR specific "service" was an "editorial review" or "customer reviewer" is not relevant. When Amazon starts purging their reviews (and they will. Spend ten minutes on this site reading threads about review purges) Amazon is not going to differentiate between "Oh, look, this is an "editorial review" not a "customer review" so we will leave that one up. No, they are going to use a chainsaw and not only remove ALL reviews from the site, but sent accusatory warnings (assuming you get a warning and not just get your account frozen) about "manipulating the rankings."

This page right here is a direct violation of the Amazon TOS:

Not only that but if they are not explicitly stating in those reviews that they were paid, it is a direct violation of the FTC disclosure laws regarding endorsements.

I have already discussed this here on this forum:,229468.0.html

Writers' Cafe / Re: Great Reviewers
« on: Yesterday at 01:56:01 PM »
There is no such thing as "Amazon Editorial Reviews."

If you look at a normal book listing, the "editorial reviews", which appear in the main listing, have no star ratings.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Would You?
« on: Yesterday at 01:23:16 PM »
I wouldn't bother even listing on Lulu because their prices are completely out of line with the rest of the POD industry. The only thing they are really good for these days is if you need one or two hardcover copies for a promo, because you really can't get one-off hardcovers anywhere. But for paperbacks? There is just no reason to use Lulu.

IngramSpark has been exceptional in my opinion. You need to get your own ISBNs, but if you are serious about selling print it is worth it. And if you are only interested in having print on Amazon, just use the KDP dashboard.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Great Reviewers
« on: Yesterday at 01:18:38 PM »
Paying for reviews is a direct violation of Amazon's TOS AND a host of federal laws.

That site is so slimy I feel like I need to take a shower now.

By the gods, they even sell packages to guarantee a specific number of sales.

I think the notice is designed to be helpful. Amazon are letting you know that scrammers have taken over the shop to such an extreme degree that it's a 50/50 shot that anyone reading the notice is a scrammer, otherwise why would you feel the need to list scramming as an option if it wasn't commonplace.

Well, to really drive home how ridiculous this is...Vine is an INVITATION ONLY program. That means Amazon already checked you out and decided your reviews are valuable and deliberately invited you into the program. You can't apply to join it.

So I've mentioned before that I am a Vine reviewer. How Vine works: Amazon selects items to place in your review queue that you can request. If you request an item, it gets sent to you to review. If you don't, after about a week if nobody else requests it, it gets moved to Vine For All, which is the untargeted queue that any Vine member can select from. There are not always things in the targeted queue, so it isn't unusual (about three or four times a month) to go into the targeted queue and it is empty. And in the past, the message was only:

Thank you for your participation in Amazon Vine. At this time, there are no products in current inventory targeted to you based on our current targeting system.

So TODAY I check in to review some items I received recently and see if there was anything interesting in the queue. And THIS was the message.

Thank you for your participation in Amazon Vine. At this time, there are no items available to you in your queue because of one or more of the following:
There are no products in current inventory targeted to you based on our current targeting system. [OK. It happens]
You may not meet our active contribution criteria or performance standards. [Huh. Well, maybe I should check to see if they changed the standards recently]
One of your reviews may have been flagged as inappropriate. [Um, maybe you should let me know which one if this is true?]
We may have identified suspicious activity and are investigating your account. [WTF AMAZON WHAT ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT NOW!]

Now don't worry. I was able to review products I already got just fine and select items from the untargeted queue without incident. There is just nothing in my targeted queue currently. But THIS is the new message? Either there is nothing in my queue because there is nothing targeting my demographic OR they suspect me of suspicious activity and I am being investigated? Is this REALLY the general message Amazon wants to send out?
 :o ???

The word you are looking for is "omnibus." A collection of previously published books. Call it The Becca Price Transitions Omnibus and then your blurb would include the details of the three books included.

Writers' Cafe / Re: "How we measure page reads" KDP notice
« on: June 19, 2018, 12:35:51 PM »
You know, the industry standard calculation for...well...forever has been to assume 250-300 words per page. Would it kill Amazon to just divide the total words per document by 250 and call it a day?

And if they are concerned about book stuffing, they could simply set certain formatting requirements using simple tools already used in Word and most word processing software. Require all "bonus content" to have a header that says BONUS CONTENT and then set up your word counter to ignore everything after that header. Then nobody would care how much bonus content there is, because none of it would count toward the total page reads.

The fundamental problem is that Amazon makes things so convoluted that the scammers just use the loopholes. The simpler you make it, the easier enforcement is.

Bonus Content: ANYTHING that is not part of the main manuscript. If your book is a novel, bonus content would be anything that is not part of the novel. If your book is a short story collection or anthology, bonus content would be anything not part of the collection or anthology.

Has anyone actually read the relevant law? What you say is possible, but I would have thought part of processing an application would have been to verify its accuracy.

Welcome to the government! Having had the displeasure of dealing with multiple government agencies over the years (DOT, FAA, FDA, OSHA, etc) YES, it is assumed that you are in fact submitting factual and accurate information when you file any government form. It is not the job of the person processing the application to verify it. There job is only to make sure it is done correctly and the info matches existing records. It is only when there is an audit (either because something got kicked back or because someone logged a complaint), that the original paperwork is looked at carefully.

See, it is actually rather brilliant. Because if you knowingly file a false application, then the government can use that against you if something happens later. Oh, one of your employees shipped a hazardous material from your location and it caused an explosion in transit? Well, your Life Hazard Use Fee application didn't indicate that your location HAD hazardous materials. We just doubled your fine for falsifying documents.

Or, hey, your employee just filed a Worker's Comp claim due to an injury at work. He is still out of work two weeks later, but your OSHA Form 300 incident report said he only missed ONE day and then went on light duty? We just tripled your fines for falsifying reports. And your Worker's Comp insurance rates are probably going up, too.

Now in the case of trademark filings, it could take a long time for anything to catch up. But, let's say, the same attorney files twenty trademark applications that all get challenged. THAT is going to grab someone's attention and get them digging.

Because the other problem is, despite claims to the contrary, most government agencies are incredibly UNDERSTAFFED. They are top heavy with appointees and such, but the actual grunts in the trenches? Significantly understaffed. So there is simply no time to examine each document that comes in. In order to get ANYTHING done, you have to work from an assumption that the information is correct, and then the penalties hit on the back end when it comes out that they weren't.

That's a couple of tickets to a concert, and potentially, much more entertaining. And the payoff if accepted/allowed? Priceless. :D

Keep in mind that is PER CLASS of goods. And, if you look carefully at the official list of classes, "books" isn't a blanket class. "Downloadable series of fiction books" does not also include "series of fiction books" (physical products, not downloadable), or audiobooks. So to cover all three classes, you have to pay for each class. And the $225 fee also has the toughest requirements to file, and the majority of people would need an attorney to help with that. So you have to add in the cost of attorney fees for the filing.

Writers' Cafe / Re: ISBN usage question
« on: June 18, 2018, 05:55:08 AM »
You can't reuse an ISBN. The whole point is that it points to a specific unique version of a specific unique book. It's a serial number. Reusing it would kind of be against the whole concept.

This. No, you cannot reuse ISBN numbers. It is a controlled number. The entire point of the ISBN system and the reason why only certain agencies are allowed to issue them is that they are controlled numbers. If you could just reassign them whenever you wanted, there would be no reason for them to exist.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Pathetic Peeves - Confess Yours
« on: June 18, 2018, 05:51:58 AM »
Ah, sorry. I see people complaining about fantasy names all the time, and I always wonder why the heck the complainers think people from another world would be called Tony or Francisco or Brigid.

Because unless you specifically set up your world to justify strange names, then there is no reason to assume the names would not be relatively normal.

ALL YOUR CHARACTERS are speaking English, after all. You aren't writing in Klingon. And if the fantasy setting mimics Medieval Europe, for example, in character and theme, then there is no reason a reader should not expect names that would fit Medieval Europe. If your fantasy world mimics Ancient China, then the characters would reasonably expect names that mimic Ancient China.

No, your fantasy setting that mimics the indigenous people of South America probably should not have people named Robert. But I would say, yeah, a fantasy that mimics Medieval England probably should not have people named Thak'ror'totak.

Just because something is fantasy does not mean it doesn't need to be internally consistent. If you set up the reader with certain expectations, then you have to follow through on those expectations.

There is a precedent for this: YouTubers already make videos snarking back at their more obnoxious commenters. (No surprise that the author mentioned here is also a YouTuber.)

Not remotely the same thing. Youtube is designed for interaction. When you comment on a video, you are often talking directly to the person who made it. That is the point of commenting.

Customer reviewers are NOT the same thing. It is hard for those of us entrenched in indie publishing to wrap our heads around, but the average, Jane Doe Amazon book buyer is NOT expecting interaction from the author/publisher when they review a book. They simply are not. They are just sharing their thoughts. Some of them do so because they genuinely enjoy reviewing. A lot of them do so because Amazon sends annoying "reminders" to leave reviews and people are oddly obedient when you make such requests. Seriously, they aren't leaving reviews FOR THE AUTHOR. They are often leaving reviews because they think that is what Amazon wants them to do.

Consumer conditioning is a very real thing. Companies spend a lot of money learning how to do it and implementing it.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Boasting about sales ( an indie thing?)
« on: June 15, 2018, 08:38:36 AM »
There are three times as many millionaire indies at Amazon now than there were 2 years ago--

This doesn't really mean anything. The overall number of millionaires in the U.S. has increased as well, yet the median income in the U.S. is around $30,000, a significant drop over the last few years.

Without knowing what the median income for authors is, a lot of this is a moot point. There are a few sites that have compiled data on author earnings, but as those all depend on self-reporting they are skewed high because those folks are the most likely to report. And Amazon isn't providing that data because Amazon doesn't provide ANYTHING without filtering it to the point of uselessness and then spinning it to fit their agenda.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Pathetic Peeves - Confess Yours
« on: June 15, 2018, 08:06:55 AM »
The use of the wore "cement" for what is actually "concrete"  (I'm an architect, shoot me)

Don't feel bad. I once made a writer revise a story because of safety violations in a factory setting. (I am the safety coordinator at my day job, among other things lol). The plot of the story depending on violating about a hundred different OSHA and FDA regulations. I basically told him, "You either need to set up the story to explain how it is this factory has NOT been closed down for what would legitimately end up a multi-million dollar fine, or you need to set up the story better so that we don't need to ignore the actual realities of a factory in the U.S.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Pathetic Peeves - Confess Yours
« on: June 15, 2018, 05:57:26 AM »
Peeves...I have a few  :o :P


I blame this on a high school English teacher. Because, in the 80's, we teens put "very" in front of everything. And he was determined to get us to expand our vocabulary. So he banned the word "very" from all writing exercises. It was effective for me, at least, as it did force me to think more about proper word choice. But to this day, I wince a little when I read "very pretty" or "very smart" etc etc.

Writers in love with their character's name
Pronouns are your friends, people!

"Roland shrugged his shoulders. Roland didn't want to listen to Carol whine anymore. Carol always whined to Roland about everything. Roland wanted to go somewhere else, but Carol just followed Roland and kept whining. Carol was so annoying. Roland couldn't deal with Carol anymore. Roland wanted to punch Carol in Carol's Face with Roland's fist, but Roland knew if Roland punched Carol, Carol would just whine more."

And this is the worst in fantasy stories where these same authors also feel the need to give the character's names that are difficult or impossible to pronounce.

In all seriousness, as an editor, this is a big problem. I often have to go through stories and replace proper names with pronouns or revise some sentences just to stop the endless barrage of proper names over and over.

Commas for no reason
Comma misuse doesn't generally bother me too much. The rules for comma use can get cumbersome. I get it. But when people add commas for NO CONCEIVABLE REASON it gets on my nerves.

The castle was built, in 1483.
Some people drive, cars and trucks.

For some reason this is a real problem with video game loading screens. It is like a Comma Monster infiltrated the code and just added random commas. The problem was so bad in Skyrim that some kind soul actually made a mod to correct all of the loading screens.

"Highlander" effect
People pulling swords and other large weapons out of their jackets, pants, backpacks, or whatever. Does EVERYONE in UF has an inter-dimensional space in their clothing? Do people NOT realize how cumbersome it would actually be to carry a sword inside a trench coat or other piece of clothing? And more importantly, how likely you would be to cut yourself pulling it out?

Women only shown from the backside on covers
Or, really, any ridiculous, probably extremely uncomfortable, hypersexualized pose used on book covers and other media. Particularly annoying with books that are allegedly meant to show "empowered" and capable women. Because apparently you can't be "empowered and capable" unless you have a helluva fine backside to show off.

Reptilian races with breasts
Reptiles do not have mammary glands. There is no evolutionary reason why a humanoid reptilian race that lays eggs should have boobs. Fantasy or not, some internal consistency is needed. Every time I have to talk to a female Argonian on ESO, I get the twitches.

I'm not sure the above is true, Julie. I think that if you title an individual book in such a way that someone might arguably misperceive it as being part of the trademarked series, the trademark holder might sue you. If I published a standalone book and titled it Star Wars, I have a feeling I'd hear from Disney, and the fact that I didn't use "Star Wars" as a series title won't make a wit of difference to them.

First, don't confuse the fact that anyone can sue anyone for anything in civil court with what the actual law says. People sue as a bully tactic, even when they don't have a leg to stand on. Because it is often cheaper to settle out of court than to defend in civil court. That is a problem with civil courts, not the actual law itself. This country needs a great overhaul of the entire civil court system to make it more equitable. Namely, holding the attorneys responsible for too many frivolous lawsuits and possible loss of their licenses would clean up the courts real quick. Because attorneys are the ones often encouraging their clients to file.

Second, the Mouse is inherently evil and sue-happy, regardless of what the actual law says. Disney has a nasty habit of suing people even when people are 100% within their rights to do something. For example. Disney has been known to send DMCA take-down notices to websites that feature PICTURES of toys PEOPLE BOUGHT. Think about that. People buy an item, take a picture of it and post it. And Disney sends a take-down notice citing a copyright violation. There is NOTHING in copyright law that justifies this action. But Disney has done it. So using Disney's actions as evidence of how the law should be interpreted is wrong on its face.

Third, what people identify as Star Wars is directly tied to a very specific fictional universe. You could most definitely title your tell-all book detailing feuds between Hollywood actors "Star Wars" and it would be completely appropriate and legal, because you are in no way infringing on the trademark of the SW franchise, which is tied to the FICTIONAL UNIVERSE. Now if you tried to call you space opera series Star Wars, you might have some serious problems. The thing about a trademark is that it must be associated with something specific that serves as the "noun" for generic use. Again, the fact that Disney might sue anyway isn't relevant to the actual law.

Apple is a trademark for a type of computer. But there is also an Apple School Supply which exists outside the Apple company. There is also an Apple cosmetics. Apple Paints. etc etc. Apple computers can't really do anything about any of those companies, because they exist outside the scope of their own trademarks.

Actually, he DID answer the question. He explicitly said that a single book title cannot be trademarked. Only the SERIES.

So if she wants to call her SERIES the Cocky SERIES, that is fine. But that SERIES has nothing to do with individual TITLES. It would only be triggered if someone tried to create a SERIES with the word cocky in the name. The issue in this case is not the mark itself. The issue is that she is attempting to use the SERIES mark to stop INDIVIDUAL TITLES.

Threads like this are why the entire concept of "ARC TEAMS" bother me. They are fraught with ethical problems. ARC Teams ONLY exist to manipulate reviews. I don't care how often authors claim, "Oh, I only want honest reviews." How many people with ARC Teams keep people on their team that leave bad or even neutral (three star) reviews? ARC teams are specifically designed to generate a high quantity of high star customer reviews. That is the very definition of review manipulation. Particularly when you are policing those reviews and providing direction on them.

These are not neutral reviewers. These are marketing people. The use of the word "TEAM" clearly implies they are a part of your organization, even if unpaid. They work for you in a capacity, and they are "paid" in access to you and free books.

And, yes, requiring a review does violate the FTC rules regarding endorsements. This is why even Amazon removed the requirement for reviews in their Vine program. Originally, you were required to review every product. Then the requirement was moved to 80% of what you selected. But they eventually had to remove the requirement entirely because you can't REQUIRE reviews. EVEN ON THEIR OWN SITE.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Selling ebooks directly from your own website
« on: June 13, 2018, 01:45:41 PM »
I just checked our numbers for delivery actions, and since launching back at the end of September, we have delivered over 18,000 books sold from authors' websites. Most through special offers, exclusive content or discounts, boxsets, and just plain appeals to readers. Readers love their favorite authors, and they want to support them.

The question is not: Can I convince my dedicated fans to buy my book on sale directly from me?

The question is: Can I actually generate NEW BUSINESS selling directly from my site or increase my per sale revenue enough to justify the expense, time, and resources involved?

OF COURSE some people are capable of doing this. Just like some people are capable of hitting the bestseller list with every book.

18,000 sounds impressive, but if that is since last September, that works out to 2,000 sales a month. Across how many author accounts? In reality, is this a case of ten authors selling 200 books each (which merely means a handful of authors have successfully figured it out) or 2,000 authors selling one each (which means the amount of effort involved to get that one sale is excessive.)

The fact that you handle the customer service aspect makes the possibility of selling directly on site easier. And I am certainly not in the "don't ever do it" camp. But folks need to be very careful when they start direct selling, because you open a whole lot of doors that you may not be able to close. Particularly when it comes to taxes. Folks outside the U.S. in particular have to deal with things like VAT (which still makes my head hurt whenever I read about it). And even in some U.S. states, direct selling out of your home, whether digital or physical products, can cause certain issues depending on municipal laws (assuming, of course, you are selling above board and following the law and not doing a "How will they ever know? thing."

And then there are those of us who would pay for a service that told us what genre the confusing mess we just wrote belongs in. Because I would love to make it easier for readers to find me.  It's a business opportunity, Julie. :D

I always miss the opportunity to exploit my fellow authors for profit. I tend to do this stuff for free lol

If you are direct uploading to a retailer with a dedicated device, it makes sense to use a retailer specific link at the back of the book. The easier you make it for people to purchase your book, the better. Because people are inherently lazy  :P And if they are on a dedicated device, they are generally only interested in buying from that retailer.

I think it is less of an issue for retailers that do not have dedicated devices. Someone who is already side loading to their tablet from Smashwords or Drivethru or downloading from Google Play isn't going to be put off by a catch-all page and may actually be happy to see you available elsewhere (i.e., the person who bought the book on Smashwords during a sale and then realized "Hey! The sequel is available at Google Play where I usually buy books! Yeah!" or "OHhhhhhh, the next three books are available on BN and I just got this gift card for my birthday!"

It becomes a balancing act, to be sure. Because people buy for a lot of different reasons, many of which don't actually make rational sense.  :o

I don't think we can really say what belongs where until Amazon gives us more clear guidelines about categories (the way iBooks does).

The problem is that it is NOT up to Amazon to decide what the definition of each genre is. Contrary to the popular opinions, each genre DOES, in fact, have rather clear reader expectations and established tropes and themes. The problem is not that Amazon hasn't told authors what to do. The problems are:

1. Too many authors simply do not have the literary literacy needed to properly categorize their books. They don't know the history of the genres they are working in. Haven't bothered to read the classics in their genres. Don't really do any sort of academic research to understand the how and why of the genre. They just say "I liked Jane Doe's books. Her books were in X genre. My books are like her books so my books are in x genre."

2. Too many authors are ashamed of their genres. I know writers who are clearly writing romances, but put their books in fantasy because they don't consider themselves "romance" writers. I recently had an argument with a friend who put his book in epic fantasy when it was clearly urban fantasy, but he didn't want to put it in urban fantasy because "that is all shifter smut books written by women." (Yes. he is still alive...there is some slight bruising however).

3. Too many authors are too self-important and simply INSIST that they are some cross-genre marvel and their book really, really, OMG SERIOUSLY IT IS a thriller-horror-fantasy-science fiction-romance-family saga-time traveling memoir FOR REAL. Newsflash, a few scary scenes doesn't make your book horror. The existence of a romantic sub-plot does not make your book a romance. Adding one robot to a story doesn't make it science fiction. The fact that a crime occurs doesn't make it a police procedural. I can count on one hand the number of times an author told me their book was a "cross-genre" when it actually WAS cross genre and not just self-important wishful thinking.

4. And, yes, too many authors just want to cram their books into as many categories as possible because they think it will increase their visibility on Amazon.

Those of us who have the knowledge of specific genres should report miscategorized books in the interest of fans of those genres. At the end of the day, to me, it is ALL ABOUT THE READERS. We should do whatever we can to help readers easily find the books they actually want. Because when people can find what they want easily, they shop happy. And when they shop happy, they tend to spend more money. And when they are willing to spend more money, they buy MORE books or more expensive books. So it also benefits the entire community.

We're just talking about what would happen to Indie Publishing if we were to carry on tomorrow without KU. Not because Amazon created another program. Not because (Insert made up scenario). No need to overthink. Just answer the question are indie authors overall better off with KU or without

You are obviously trying to force a specific answer for your own agenda. You CANNOT answer the question without thinking about the context under which that would happen, and I already answered why. Seriously, the very question is a MADE UP SCENARIO because Amazon is not closing KU tomorrow. The question, therefore, cannot be answered intelligently without context.

Now if you just want unintelligent answers from people who don't think, that is another story entirely...

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