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Messages - Becca Mills

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1
My take on historical fiction: the emphasis is on fiction.  That said,  I also expect a certain degree of accuracy and research.  Perhaps there are other words you can use that are less potentially offensive? OTOH, in the era of PCness and easily offended snowflakes, anything can offend anybody it seems. I fully expect to get dinged by someone when I release my ancient historical novels.  The hard part will be not answering back. It's frustrating when people insist on applying 21st century attitudes to the past.

Anyway, some good advice in this thread. Maybe you could write something in your author's note about your choices and why you made them?

At a guess, I would bet that you don't write historical fiction, if you think readers don't care if you get the history right.

Perhaps you accidentally quoted the wrong person here, JR? ceejay13 says they write "ancient historical novels" and sounds committed to including historically accurate material that will generate criticism of the sort dunkleosteus is worried about and Doglover has reported receiving.

2
Writers' Cafe / Re: The bubble has burst
« on: Yesterday at 02:08:58 PM »
Well, you gotta figure they probably only used the people who gave them the answer they wanted and edited out the rest.

The fact that the last person was a retired librarian suggests to me there was something about the question that caused people to blank out or think they were being asked something more complicated than they actually were ... or something.

3
Writers' Cafe / Re: Hello! And a grammar question
« on: Yesterday at 01:41:48 PM »
Okay...so if it is present perfect, the sentence itself is written in present tense about an event that happened in the past? If it is, how do I write the sentence in past tense?

I don't think it needs to be changed. Present perfect is what someone in that situation would naturally use.

Perhaps you've been told that you have to choose either past or present narration and "be consistent" throughout the book? That's good advice, but if it's applied in the wrong way, it'll lead to problems. Books inevitably use lots of different verb forms. Here's an example of consistent past-tense narration that nevertheless incorporates a lot of verb forms other than simple past. I've colored the narration blue:

   Sally pulled [past] back into the supermarket parking lot, annoyed [past] that she'd forgotten [past perfect] to buy milk. She made [past] her way into the store and picked up [past] a gallon of skim.
   At the checkout, Bob looked up [past] in surprise. "Ms. Smith! Just can't stay [present] away from FoodMaxx, can [present] you?"
   "That's [present] right, Bob -- my life revolves [present] around your store." I hefted [past] my milk. "I should have bought [modal, past perfect] this when I was [past] here an hour ago."
   Bob's eyebrow rose [past]. "Well you know [present], I've heard [present perfect] it helps [present] to use [infinitive] a list."
   "I always lose [present] the darned thing. Maybe I need [present] to start [infinitive] keeping [present participle] my list on my phone."
   "I use [present] Alexa. The list shows [present] up in my phone's Echo app."
  I smiled [past]. "We have [present] one of those too. I'll do [future] that from now on."

I think I've caught all the verbs and labeled them correctly ... IANAE (I am not an editor), and present participles vs. gerunds pretty much makes me cry. But anyway, books are always a tapestry of different verb forms. The perfect tenses will show up in both narration and dialogue, and all possible tenses will show up in dialogue. That's the case whether you're using past (as above) or present as the dominant narrative tense.

<pockets $5 from Amazon for product placement>

4
Reading through the 'what has changed' about Amazon thoughts in another thread got me to thinking about something I don't often see referenced.

In the early days -- oh, for fun, let's call them pre-AMS ad days -- Amazon sent out gazillions of emails. Some a customer had to sign up for (newsletters, follows) and some just appeared unsolicited in the inbox. One of the biggest drivers of sales for our catalog, including the multi-author box sets I managed, were the recommendation emails. Titles that sold well organically over a 10-14 day period used to be rewarded with a recommendation email. Books in the first few positions in the rec'd titles' alsobots could also receive a little bi-weekly boost. Titles that continued to sell well would regularly be treated to a reco email. Here's a screencap of one of the older box sets that we'd stopped advertising where Amazon stepped in to pick up the slack. Every major spike coincides with an Ammy reco mail:



(Coincidentally [as in I was surprised by the date when I pulled up the url], today's the 3-year anniversary of a post to KBoards I made with the details. This image is from that thread.
http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,215091.0.html

Post-AMS ads, I've noticed that the SMP account no longer receives any emails save for the romance newsletter, despite browsing under that account. That's pretty significant, I think. Plus, it's been forever since my personal account has received a reco mail or an author mail (an email dedicated to one author's titles based on viewing habits).

Here are the emails I used to get pre-AMS (not including the KDD, monthly sales and Prime reading stuff):

* newsletter emails (you have to sign up for these)
* category/genre emails
* reco emails
* author emails
* new release mails
* recs based on what you've read emails
* author follow emails

Post-AMS, that's been whittled down to:

* newsletter emails
* category/genre emails (although less frequently)
* new release mails - but generally now only for the authors I'm following
* author follow emails
* what's new - a recently introduced, more-or-less daily email with, so far, only trad/APub books
 
In addition, the newsletter and category emails are now curated. Where before an indie author who'd had a good run in the past week had a chance to be one of the face-out books highlighted in the emails, no more. Curation seemed to appear after it was pointed out to KDP that quite a few titles that were being botted to the top were being rewarded with extra visibility.

TL;DNR conclusion: Amazon seems to have replaced much of the free, off-site visibility it once used to promote indie titles with paid, on-site AMS ads. A shift as devastating to some catalogs as any ranking algo change.

Thoughts?

Thank you so much for pointing this out, Phoenix. Having opted out of as much of Amazon's email traffic as possible, I hadn't noticed any change. It's alarming, IMO. The possible A/B testing with also-boughts might follow the same logic of doubling down on a pay-to-play model for visibility. Sigh. I suppose traditionally published authors might point out that this is the way visibility has always worked at brick-and-mortar book stores. Indie authors/publishers are just being pulled into a new-style co-op system. Still ... ugh. It seems to sap some of what I like best about the indie movement -- and I say that as someone who could afford to try heavy advertising, if I had books I thought it would help.

Desmond, SMP = Steel Magnolia Press.

5
Writers' Cafe / Re: Hello! And a grammar question
« on: May 19, 2018, 11:34:25 PM »
Verbs have tenses. Must isn't a verb.

It's one of a totally weird class of verbs -- a modal verb, like jd said. A few of the English modals do have different past and present forms, like "can"/"could," but "must" is the same for both past and present. You can think of it as a highly constrained verb, or something like that.

6
Writers' Cafe / Re: Question for Romance Writers.
« on: May 19, 2018, 12:44:35 PM »
I agree with your disagree! :)  yeah, this thread will live until it is locked by someone overstepping.

Let's try to keep it going. :) For writers who're interested in including a wide range of characters, it's helpful to be able to talk about it, and an internet forum is a pretty good place to try to have that conversation, IMO.

7
Writers' Cafe / Re: Blocked Book Issue
« on: May 19, 2018, 11:24:44 AM »
Welcome, Hazevamp. :)

Amazon is one of Smashwords distribution channels; Amazon just doesn't accept most of the books Smashwords would like to distribute to it. According to what I'm seeing on Smashwords right now, you have to have made more than $2,000 on a book via Smashwords before they'll consider distributing it to Amazon.

All that said, I'm not sure what happens if you're not in the "$2,000 club" but don't opt out of distribution to Amazon as one of your Smashwords channels. Maybe Smashwords automatically tries to distribute all opted-in books to Amazon, and Amazon rejects them. So ... do you have Amazon opted out as a Smashwords distribution channel?



Alternatively, is it possible that someone else accessed your KDP account?

If neither of those two explanations work ... just a big ol' Amazon glitch, maybe?  ::)

8
Writers' Cafe / Re: Are Also Boughts Gone?
« on: May 19, 2018, 10:34:09 AM »
I was seeing this on my books yesterday too--four 'what customers buy after viewing this item' books, which accurately represented the first four titles that usually feature in my also boughts rows, and then no other trace of also boughts anywhere on the page, just a whole lot of sponsored items. And there was no carousel on those four, just smaller-than-usual thumbnails for those titles in a vertical list and nothing else. Today they appear back to normal.

I like the "what customers buy after viewing this item" feature as a shopper, since it tends to guide me away from iterations of a product people have rejected and toward the best/most popular iteration of that product. It's also great for products people tend to buy only one of, like cribs or TVs. But speaking as both a seller and a shopper, I wouldn't want to see it replace also-boughts. There may be overlap between the two features for many products, but they can serve different functions.

9
Writers' Cafe / Re: Are Also Boughts Gone?
« on: May 18, 2018, 09:20:17 PM »
Moved again, to how I stated in my first post.  Also Boughts at the bottom again.  :(

Hmm. I still see also-boughts in the normal place, high on the page.

Under the reviews, I'm seeing a horizontal line of also-vieweds; followed by a vertical list titled "What do other customers buy after viewing this item?"; followed by a blue feedback window; followed two horizontal lines of "Your recently viewed items and featured recommendations"; followed by an images-only line of recently viewed products. Seems like they're offering tons of different possibilities here, including somewhat repetitive ones.

10
Writers' Cafe / Re: Is this plagiarism?
« on: May 18, 2018, 04:10:25 PM »
I feel like there's a clever analogy lurking here -- something about a plagiarized text being a zombified version of the original.

Okay, maybe not so much on the "clever."

11
That's a shame since romance can often deal with our basest human needs and emotions - usually in the deepest detail.

I couldn't agree more. Even "light" treatments of sex and love touch on the deepest things, IMO.

12
Let's please stay focused on the craft and/or marketing issues K.B. may encounter with their planned romance series. Merely tangentially related comments have and will be removed.

13
Writers' Cafe / Re: Best Indie Book Award
« on: May 18, 2018, 01:27:34 PM »
Hyperscape, our rules permit you to respond the questions/concerns people have addressed to you in the thread, but posting images of winners and info about their books is purely promotional. Those types of posts must be at least seven days apart. Please drop me or one of the other moderators a PM if you have questions.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk

ETA: Three such posts have been removed from the thread.


14
Writers' Cafe / Re: Is this plagiarism?
« on: May 18, 2018, 10:37:04 AM »
You mean like Clueless or 10 Things I Hate About You or Pride and Prejudice and Zombies? I saw one the other day that's basically Wuthering Heights... but IN SPACE!

Or The Lion King? Adaptation is cool. :)

Maybe some of those zombie-slaying Bennet daughters will come for this thread ...  :P

15
I have sometimes had similar feelings. It made me feel guilty, the first couple years, to make so much money doing something that felt so frivolous. But I wrote books for the woman I was when I read the most romance: an overburdened woman carrying family, career, friends, and everything else. Trying to be a good wife, a good mother, a good friend, a good sister, a good daughter, a good lover, a good boss, a good employee...

It's exhausting. At night, I just wanted a few minutes to read a book that was fun but not stupid, hopefully a little funny, a little steamy, a little heartwarming, that would help me remind myself of the woman beneath. As a writer, I want to help strong, caring, loving women to flip that switch for themselves and get to feel  romantic, flirty, sexy, sweet, desired, and loved. Not always easy. I wanted to be "Calgon, take me away."

The Nobel Committee ain't warmin' up the jet. But I'm a good writer, I love what I do, and it has given me and my family a really nice life and maybe brought some pleasure into other women's lives. Close enough.

Love this. :)

If you found out you would die next week, which stories would you regret not having the time to tell? Those are what you should be writing. People have thrown the word trash around in this thread, and others, referring to published books. One man's trash is another man's treasure. If I worried about somebody judging a book I wrote as silly or trash, I'd never write anything. Maybe I think they write trash--that doesn't stop somebody else from enjoying it, and my opinion probably matters to them as much as theirs does to me. Who cares?

Love this too. :)

16
That was my thinking: I was making good money without advertising, so why not try to double it by using advertising? I tried to slow down on the writing and increase my income using ads. Then everything collapsed.

As I said before, I'm a lurker on kboards, so I won't reveal my penname because I've seen how things have gone south on here and won't become a target while looking for help. If I reveal my books I could get better help, but I could also become the target of a smear campaign and end up losing my reputation. People on this post are already accusing me of being a liar or a fraud and they don't even know who I am yet.

I update my blurbs pretty frequently depending on how the market goes and my covers cost over $600 a piece-- they fit the market for sure. And the writing is also good, so I don't see why analyzing the books would help because the product isn't the issue.

If you know a successful author or two in your genre who might be willing to give you some of their time, you could ask them to take a look at your books and marketing and give you private feedback. I mean, there has to be something going on: product and marketing are the whole kit and caboodle, right? There's nothing distinguishing one of us from the rest of us that doesn't come under one of those two umbrellas.

Gene is 100% correct. I am extremely burned out on writing a book a month and no longer have any idea on how to make this work. It used to take me 7 days to write an 80k novel. After doing that over and over and over for over a year (with lots of books before that), I'm struggling to get down 2,000 words A WEEK. So I don't know if continuing to produce anymore is going to help me.

Advertising was a bust, I got that. But if I can't produce and advertising doesn't work, what's left for me to try?

Burnout is rough. You probably need to address that in some way because if there's one thing that'll for sure prevent you from rebuilding a writing career, it's not being able to write. I don't see an easy way to address the problem, though. You said in your OP that you "can't afford" to go back to your previous job. I'm assuming it was a low-wage kind of thing, and your writing income has allowed you to establish a nicer lifestyle than your old job could support? That's a real bind. You may be looking at bailing on your current lifestyle to free up some assets and lower your costs to the degree that you can support yourself with a non-writing job for a while and give your brain a vacation. Hopefully the urge and ability to write would come back, with time.

I don't know, active. I can see you feel stuck between about six rocks and hard places. While you're absolutely free to remain anonymous here, a choice many of us make, I do think getting specific feedback from someone knowledgeable would be a good idea. It definitely sounds like you know what you're doing. At the same time, it's just not the case that "advertising doesn't work" in some totalizing sense, and no writer's books are without weaknesses. Getting into the nitty-gritty with a trusted confidante may be the best way to attack this situation. Or the only remaining way, as we're not coming up with much a solution here. :(

17
C. Gockel made the list with a single-author boxed set a couple years back: https://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,230510.0.html

18
Greetings, Courtney! You're welcome to promote your business and website here in the Writers' Cafe.

Now that you have an official thread, you'll want to add your listing to our Yellow Pages, found here: http://www.kboards.com/yp/. The listing is free to KB members and is completely self-service; you can add and edit your listing from the page. More information on our Yellow Pages listing can be found here.

In your thread here, we ask that the same basic rules be followed as we have for authors in the Book Bazaar: you may have this one thread about your service and must post to it rather than start a new thread each time. New threads about the service will be removed. Please bookmark this thread so that you can find it again when you want to post. You may not make back-to-back posts to the thread within seven days. If someone responds (as I'm doing with this post), you may reply to them, but otherwise you must wait seven days. Any pattern of posting designed to artificially bump your thread to the top of the forum is prohibited. Please note that very short or (one- or two-word) posts with no meaningful information are discouraged and may be deleted at the moderators' discretion. Lastly, your posts and images will need to meet our "forum decorum" guidelines, which is the case for every member.

You may find that members ask searching questions -- about how your service works, for example, or what they will get for their money, or whether your service adheres to Amazon's terms of service. Such "vetting" is a common here.

Note that members are allowed to provide civil and honest feedback about your service in this thread. This feedback may include criticisms as well as kudos. You may respond to criticism in a civil manner, but name-calling, badgering, accusations of lying, and other breaches of forum decorum can lead to loss of vendor posting privileges.

Any and all disputes between you and your clients should be handled off-site.

Thanks,
Becca
KBoards Moderator

(Note that this welcome does not constitute an endorsement or vetting of a service by KBoards. Members should do due diligence when considering using a service.)

19
They're now terminating KDP accounts on what I'm guessing is the third month when an account is showing allegedly fake page reads.

Does anyone know ... if one's account gets terminated, would it work to republish one's existing books through D2D, or would Amazon catch them with its plagiarism filter and refuse to let them through?

20
Writers' Cafe / Re: Are Also Boughts Gone?
« on: May 17, 2018, 08:16:32 PM »
Thanks Jeff. I'm seeing the same thing from my computer. On my phone, though, I'm not even seeing Also-Vieweds anymore. And it's been over a month since I've seen also-boughts on any book page when looking from the browser on my phone. Is anyone seeing also-boughts from their phone?

I am. Android user, here.

21
Writers' Cafe / Re: Best Indie Book Award
« on: May 17, 2018, 08:15:25 PM »
Greetings, Hyperscape. You're welcome to promote your contest here in the Writers' Cafe.

Now that you have an official thread, you'll want to add your listing to our Yellow Pages, found here: http://www.kboards.com/yp/. The listing is free to KB members and is completely self-service; you can add and edit your listing from the page. More information on our Yellow Pages listing can be found here.

In your thread here, we ask that the same basic rules be followed as we have for authors in the Book Bazaar: you may have this one thread about your service and must post to it rather than start a new thread each time. New threads about the service will be removed. Please bookmark this thread so that you can find it again when you want to post. You may not make back-to-back posts to the thread within seven days. If someone responds (as I'm doing with this post), you may reply to them, but otherwise you must wait seven days. Any pattern of posting designed to artificially bump your thread to the top of the forum is prohibited. Please note that very short or (one- or two-word) posts with no meaningful information are discouraged and may be deleted at the moderators' discretion. Lastly, your posts and images will need to meet our "forum decorum" guidelines, which is the case for every member.

You may find that members ask searching questions -- about how your service works, for example, or what they will get for their money, or whether your service adheres to Amazon's terms of service. Such "vetting" is a common here.

Note that members are allowed to provide civil and honest feedback about your service in this thread. This feedback may include criticisms as well as kudos. You may respond to criticism in a civil manner, but name-calling, badgering, accusations of lying, and other breaches of forum decorum can lead to loss of vendor posting privileges.

Any and all disputes between you and your clients should be handled off-site.

Thanks,
Becca
KBoards Moderator

(Note that this welcome does not constitute an endorsement or vetting of a service by KBoards. Members should do due diligence when considering using a service.)

22
Writers' Cafe / Re: Getting personal
« on: May 17, 2018, 05:24:29 PM »
I'm so sorry for your loss, LadyG. Sometimes I think the people with whom we have complicated, ambivalent relationships are the very hardest to lose.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk


23
Writers' Cafe / Re: Thinking, pondering... ok let's go for it
« on: May 17, 2018, 11:44:30 AM »
Welcome, anjelus. :)

When I was just starting out, I read some of the early books on self-publishing to get an overview. You might considering doing the same. David Gaughran's Let's Get Digital is a good one that's been kept up to date with new editions.

24
Writers' Cafe / Re: Grammar question (editing is melting my brain)
« on: May 17, 2018, 11:33:25 AM »
She relaxed a little, grateful for the change of subject.

This is the one that sounds right to me.

25
Writers' Cafe / Re: Are Also Boughts Gone?
« on: May 17, 2018, 09:17:45 AM »
Using Firefox on a Mac, they are gone. Well, to be more accurate they are at the very bottom of the page, below the reviews, where no one will ever find them.

It affects both my own books and established books from other, famous, authors. I wonder, are they still A/B testing this, or are they rolling out a permanent update? If the latter, I wonder how this will affect authors. I can't imagine that it would be positive, since Also-Boughts are so integral to non ad-based sales.

I'm still seeing 20 pp. of also-boughts on your books. I think you're right that they're A/B testing.

Perhaps authors who use AMS will benefit, if ads become somewhat cheaper due to more slots opening up for them. Amazon will benefit if books are indeed fungible: sales won't go down, but AMS revenues will rise. I can see why they might see such a move as a win-win. But books are not fungible to me; nor are most other products I buy from Amazon. As a consumer, I would see the site's usefulness as greatly diminished if also-boughts disappeared. I buy tons of stuff on Amazon, and also-boughts are key to how I find and choose my purchases.

ETA: Decided this was worth blogging about.

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