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Messages - TimothyEllis

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I can't load Book Report this morning, and I can't find Is it just me?

Seems fine for me.

I think we may not be as far apart as it might seem.

My point is that once you get a reader to your book's page it's your job to get them to stop and choose that book rather than leaving it behind to go on to someone else's.


It should have no effect, because Amazon is just one distributor amongst many.

Amazon is 80% of the market.

The rest are many, but collectively few.

Subjectively, 3) they also make us all look bad, and those who put out crap make readers and others in the biz tend to think all indies are crap

And this is the club trad people beat us over the head with.

Sometimes I wonder whether our desire to help and point out ways to improve the cover and blurb make us fail to evaluate the chances that the improvements would make much difference.

My guess is that if you had a great cover and blurb that everyone here raved about, you'd be lucky to double your sales and more likely see no change. I've published ten books which have received the KBoards seal of approval for covers and blurbs and even titles. I'd be thrilled if any of them sold two per day consistently.

For this book, a better cover and blurb would pick up some readers, but only those who dont read samples. The sample itself is the main problem.

Others have given far better advice than I would have, so I'll leave the rest of my opinions to myself, but one thing in the sample that made me say to myself "this isn't worth my time" as an avid sci-fi reader (military and otherwise) are three of the first four words in the book: Federation. Starship. Yorktown.

Gene Rodenberry made referring to your space government as simply "The Federation" more or less off-limits to other sci-fi universes in any genre more than 50 years ago.

Federation itself is a no-no, because of Trek. But naming your federation is quite ok. Not naming it is probably being lazy.

Starship is generic. Everyone uses it. But better if you dont. Starship is a word used when the author doesn't want to define the ship properly. Enterprise 1701 was a Battle Cruiser, but the show wasn't supposed to be military. ED was a Battleship hull purposed for civilian use, run by military personnel. Converting the Galaxy class to a Battleship wasn't that difficult, and was done for the Dominion War. They were still all called Starship though. Again, because the show wasn't supposed to be military, although DS9 went there. The reason why was the writers were not actually writing milsf, but SO.

Yorktown is used a lot, because the name has a history in the US navy, the same way Warspite, Repulse, etc have in the British navy. When the fleet is Earth based, using exiting Earth ship names is quite legitimate.

General commanding a ship on the other hand, is a killer.

Your job is to make it so that people who enjoy these kinds of stories are going want to read your book rather than mine or someone else's.

No. Your job is to convince someone who has already read 20 similar books to read yours AS WELL.

Cover + Blurb + Sample = You convincing me to read yet another book on a repeating theme.

There is no actual competition here. People who read these kinds of books will read yours, mine, and 20 other authors, BUT you have to convince them to read yours.

Lets assume 30 authors are writing milsf save the earth style books, bringing out a book every 3 months. Lets assume each reader finishes each book in 2 days. This leave 30 days where they dont have a book to read. So they are looking for something else to read, but you have to convince them your book is worth reading, and will be a different take on it.

There is plenty of scope in the market for plenty of authors to write similar stuff, and not compete with each other. Those 30 authors share a fan base, and the day after your book comes out, they are reading someone else. It's not a competition. Its a marketing exercise to convince readers to try you as well as those they already read.

With the Lizards victorious everywhere and poised for their final strike -- the attack upon Earth itself -- the desperate defenders turn over command of the shattered remains of humankind's once-powerful fleets to Harry Yamato, tactical genius and their only remaining hope.

Even as Yamato calls upon his battered fleet to make one last stand against the deluge, he knows that he hasn't a hope in hell. Barring a miracle, the Lizards will soon celebrate their ultimate triumph.

But if it's a miracle he needs, Yamato will plumb the Stygian depths themselves to find one, because he'll be damned if he'll allow history to portray him as the man who doomed humanity, the man who lost


This is much better, but ends on a negative note, which assumes he did lose the battle. I would reword to make it sound like he can win.

Oh, dear. I knew what it was. Does that make me ancient?

No. Well read.

Cause the first two books that sold well (my first two books), the first was published in 2014 and the second was published in 2015

Here's the thing: Amazon wants book 2 30 days after book 1. A year later, and you are resurrecting the dead. Another year later for book 3 and also resurrecting the dead, with the added thing that people have long forgotten you, and given up on ever seeing the next book.

So forget about the previous books, as they are not going to springboard book 3 or later. The only thing which works here is spending money. But, there is no point in spending money if you can't convert it.

i know that sector general isn't suitable for a fleet commander and fleet admiral is. but this is the 25th century. is it really this? maybe i should change it to admiral then, instead of 'sector general'

For mil readers, YES. The military side of it MUST be perfect to how now military are set up, or explained why they are not. I swapped Major General and Lieutenant General around, and no-one blinked because my MC was setting up his own structure, and I went through his thinking about why it should be changed.

But to just use the wrong rank in a situation, upsets mill readers.

Biggest upset for me in the game X3 TC, was the plot assigned you a plot rank as you progressed, and the rank structure was just insane, having no relation to any existing structure. It breaks your flow in the game, and in the read.

in my first 10 paragraph opening, i had harvey yamato (my mc in this book) take a seat on the "admiral's" chair, and before i changed this, the book sold 9 copies one day. it hasn't sold that many since. but i also changed it so that there was no "admiral's chair" (my current 10 paragraph opening) on that same day i sold 9 copies (i changed it half way through that day), so i don't think it mattered.

Likely enough, your change had nothing to do with the days with 9.

Admiral's dont run ships. Captain's do. Admirals most often have a separate CIC/CCC, with their own chair being in the same place as the Captain's chair in the main CIC/CCC. Admirals have staff, Captains have crew. Admirals give orders to Captains, who give orders to the crew. Admirals give fleet orders through a fleet com officer on the admiral's staff in the Admiral's CIC/CCC, one recipient of which is the captain of the ship the Admiral is on.

It is extremely rare for an Admiral to command a ship, or be on the bridge with the Captain. Admiral, Captain, and XO will all be in different places so at least one of them survives.

And mill readers expect all this. Space navy is always close to wet navy, in rank structure and ship design.

Space Opera on the other hand, breaks all the rules, or at least bends them a lot. You can get away with a lot writing SO, where you cant writing millsf.  But SO is about characters, not momentous events. Yes, the events are still there, but the story is about people and how they feel, not about if the earth was saved or not.

You seem to have the mill mindset of writing event driven stories, but you lack an understanding of the military itself. And Mill readers are very unforgiving of basic mistakes.

If this was me, I'd be looking for a mill editor, or a mill author, who will red pen all your existing books, and tell you what you need to research to get it right. Then forget about this series, and use the lessons to start again with a new story. And in 2018, you need to release the whole trilogy inside a year. In 3 years time, you can go back and rewrite this series as second editions, and people will read them in flowback from your current books.

Besides, as Timothy said, pretty much every military SF/space fleet novel/series out there has humanity at war with evil, either insectoid or reptilian aliens and the grizzled space marine Captain Manly McMannish and his old, but faithful ship and crew are the only ones who can save humanity from distinction.

I think that sums up humanity. Everyone is trying to save us from distinction. Result? Endless mediocrity.

Gotta love typos.  ;D

Here's me as a reader:

The cover looks like a giant spider, until you see the ship and planet are 2 different things. Strike 1.

The blurb is one big info-dump. Nothing there to attract me in. Strike 2.

The first page is also major info-dump. I dont care who and what they are. I want a battle. I want to be shown a crew in action, in a way I can tell immediately this author knows how to write military. Strike 3.

But the things most likely to put off mil readers? A General doesn't command ships, an Admiral does. This 1 minor issue makes you wonder what else is wrong on the military side. And the second where I was really dumped out? The General doesn't already know the exact status of his ships. There are situations where this would be ok, but none is presented. Or the status of all of them is immediately at hand, but apparently not. Me, gone.

Observation: If you are going to be inside someone's head a lot, write it first person and be there.

If I was the editor, I'd be cutting out about 70% of the first page. As it is, as a reader, the first page tells me I dont want to read this.

Sorry to be brutally blunt, but as a mil reader, anything which isn't militarily correct on page 1 is a deal breaker.

As an observation on writing this sort of thing, I'm of the view you explain nothing in the first 3 to 5 chapters. You drop your reader in the deep end, full on action, and only after the action is done do you start filling things in. I dont want to be told what the enemy are. I want to be shown it at an appropriate time in the story, as in when one is on screen, or the first one boards the ship. Everything else is info-dump, and has no place at the beginning of the story.

Eh, it sounds like to me his personal stake is if he doesn't win this thing, humanity gets wiped out.

The problem here is every military sci-fi book has the same stakes. The end of the world is not an attraction anymore, its 'oh gawd, not another one'. Its also expected, more or less.

So stakes have to be something which gets the attention of the potential reader, rather than making them think it's just one more in a long line of save the earth/humanity novels.

The blurb needs to define something new, which makes this book unique and worth reading.

Ok, I know, its an inflammatory title. But for once, I am a bit inflamed.

With the Amazon Australian GST changes now in effect, as usual, they have created a problem they cant fix.

This is effecting those Australians who were buying from the US store, and using gift certificates to pay for things.

First, they force us to change to the Aussie store.

Second, large chunks of Amazon are not available on the Aussie store, eg. Digital music.

Third, most vendors wont freight to Australia at all. And haven't done for a long time.

So having been forced to change stores, I find they refuse to move my gift certificate balance. They claim it cannot be done. They claim I can still use it on the US store.

I only really buy ebooks and music from Amazon, having given up on everything else, because they wont send to Australia.

So Amazon has basically stolen my outstanding gift balance, (over US$100) and refuse to do anything about it.

I've asked for it to be upped to a supervisor level, and copied the email to jeff @ amazon.

So far, no luck.

Anyone else having the same problem?

I imagine they are using more than one way. It just hasn't become common knowledge yet. They have entire black hat forums dedicated to coming up with new ways.

I'm also wondering if those forums have been infiltrated by Amazon, and they know exactly who to target now. Or some of the people who went in expecting one thing and found another before leaving, are collaborating with Amazon.

The change from nuking to surgical strikes is a big one.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Another hatchet job on ebook sales numbers
« on: July 17, 2018, 05:33:32 PM »
The article is talking about one piece of the market but purporting to be talking about all of it. If it had been presented as an analysis of the state of the tradpubbed ebook market, it would have been a whole lot less misleading.


Lol! I had to look up the Gatling gun (very early machine gun, for anyone else who doesn't know).

Yeah. Sprayed bullets all over the place.

Yes, indeed. Incisive and thorough and sustained. Lovely to see. Here's hoping this momentum is maintained. It does make one feel a little more comfortable being in KU, knowing that someone is awake and on watch at KDP HQ.

And seems to be using a sniper rifle now, instead of a gattling gun.

when they know they can scam 5-6 figures a month out of KU.

Will they though?

I would have thought if there were any other ways of scamming KU, they would already be using them. Why use a single method of scamming, when 2 will suffice? Or better yet, 10.

Suggestions, Comments / Re: What happened to the signature maker?
« on: July 17, 2018, 05:59:48 AM »
It's a bit rude of you to be attacking his widow

I have not done so. And it was never my intention to do so.

And for the record, I'm getting very sick of mods attributing tone to my words which is not there (Minor frustration tone). I'm no longer in 20books because they moderate based on their own perception of tone, and the place is a minefield where you never know when you're going to say something innocent, and get banned by a mod, without being told anything.

However, if that was how it was taken, I apologize.

Writers' Cafe / Re: My dashboard is bleeding sales
« on: July 16, 2018, 08:14:44 AM »
Also noticed that even though it's the 16th, no calculation of June's royalties with KU has arrived in Prior Month's Royalties yet either. I know Amazon state they calculate it all 'around the 15th', not necessarily on it,  but I am wondering if there's another glitch in the system causing delay.

There was a KDP forum notification saying the KU rate would not be done until after the weekend. Which makes it late, but obviously they didn't want to be doing it this particular weekend.

Edit: So it should be coming out very soon now, as the US is now in Mon business hours.

Writers' Cafe / Re: KB Author Signature tool
« on: July 16, 2018, 06:39:34 AM »
Bummer. Have you contacted the mods?

Mentioned it in the other thread in the forum area.

Writers' Cafe / Re: KB Author Signature tool
« on: July 16, 2018, 03:35:25 AM »
I just took advantage of this new feature and all worked fine for me ...  :)

*Runs away screaming*

It's working ok for me.

Seems to be for me too. There was a slowdown yesterday though, while Amazon was doing all that reorganizing.

Writers' Cafe / Re: KB Author Signature tool
« on: July 16, 2018, 03:16:20 AM »
Don't you just enter the ASIN?

Yes. Its not coming back with either title or author, and has an error message at the top in red, saying it cant find them.

Writers' Cafe / Re: KB Author Signature tool
« on: July 15, 2018, 08:39:47 PM »
Still bugs in it. It cant seem to find half my books.

Suggestions, Comments / Re: What happened to the signature maker?
« on: July 15, 2018, 05:23:42 PM »
Iím not sure if it was phones or what...
he increased number to 20 yesterday or the day before


Edit: It's not working very well. I added 1 new one, and 5 of them were not found, including 2 series asin's. The asins are all current.

Resubmitting the existing signature, results in only 5 images. So it cant find the other 4.

Definitely a bug in it still.

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