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You certainly are aiming high. Just reading the lists of series you plan takes effort. I'd start with the series you think has the best chance of catching fire, and I'd write three book in that series before putting anything else out. Single books in multiple series are hard to market, and it's much easier to pull readers in with a continuing series. Best of luck.

It sounds like a glitch. I'd email book report

Writers' Cafe / Re: Designing ebooks in Calibre or otherwise
« on: February 23, 2018, 08:00:13 AM »
Billy, I think you answered your own question with regard to the fonts. Amazon has the fonts it likes, and readers don't really care. They're used to picking one of the Amazon choices and off they go.

As for Calibre, my experience is that it works great if you properly format the manuscript using styles in Word. I spent a lot of time researching conversion tools before settling on Calibre, and it's DOCX to EPUB converter was generally well regarded. It's worked great for me, but as I say, I don't try to format in Calibre but with Word. Best of luck to you.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is there a downturn in Kindle sales and KU reads?
« on: February 13, 2018, 08:14:50 AM »
Is it possible the Olympics have pulled a lot of readers away from their Kindles?  Just a thought.

I had the same thought last night as I sat watching the entire evening Olympics program. I even found out where NBCSN is on my cable lineup. Hey, it only comes every two years, and my books will wait patiently until its over.

There's a website called TV Tropes that has a lot of info, but if you read fantasy, you should know the tropes pretty-well already. It's a huge genre, and you likely want to get much more specific about the kind of fantasy you want to write.

Writers' Cafe / Re: 1 Week Training My Dragon
« on: February 11, 2018, 07:11:57 AM »
This is such a timely post!  I've been considering dictation writing for some time now, but which version of Dragon is best?  The basic Home version?  Premium?  Professional?  What are the differences?

I have the latest professional version for Windows, I believe it's version 15. I upgraded to it at a discount hoping it would be more stable than Home version 13. No such luck. I see no improvement in the way it performs. Some people favor the version which allows you to transcribe from a digital audio recorder. I've tried that, but the transcription is much poorer than when using a wireless microphone with my laptop. So I'd get the cheapest, Home version 13, if I were to do it over again.

Writers' Cafe / Re: 1 Week Training My Dragon
« on: February 09, 2018, 03:01:36 PM »
What happens if you have Dragon and then you change your laptop? Can you re-download it? Would I have to re-train it? I haven't bought the software yet. Just thinking about it.  Thanks.

I've been using Dragon for about a year, and I recently had to switch laptops. Yes, I had to download it again, even though I have a disk version, and yes, it takes forever. The good news is there is a way to copy your profile and reuse it, and it does work.

Overall, this is the most frustrating and impressive program I use regularly. When its mind is right, it works great, but some of the time, it seems brain-dead and makes a lot of ridiculous mistakes. Usually, when that gets bad enough, I cancel the program and restart it. That usually helps, don't ask me why.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Paralyzed by Promos
« on: February 07, 2018, 01:14:25 PM »
So I'm comfortable with writing, formatting, working with editors, Wordpress website building, funnels, using email software like MailerLite, and many of the steps required of an aspiring indie writer. But for some reason, I become paralyzed when it comes to promos.  Although I've written in non-fiction, I'm about to publish my first novel in a few weeks. I'm basically following the advice given by Chris Fox on launching the book, and promos right out of the gate are not a part of that plan (due to lack of reviews and also because they can pollute the Also Boughts). I'll pre-order for 5 days and then launch at 99c for 5 days. Once the price returns to normal, I'll try using AMS and FaceBook ads (and possibly BB CPM). Prior to the pre-order, I'll put up the print version of the books and try to get some ARC reviews. Let me know if you think there are any problems with the above plan.

As for the promos, I really don't know how to make the best use of them. I know this topic has been discussed ad nauseam but I guess I'm a slow learner. So here are some questions:

1. For a new novel, when should I try to start booking promos?
2. Should I wait for my first Countdown opportunity and book the promos then?
3. For those using AMS ads, do you rotate between ads and promos?
4. Since my stand-alone book will be in Select, is it worth running free promos since I have no sell-through? Or are free promos a waste of time since people in KU can read for free anyway?

If anyone can give me a crash-course on best practices with regards to promos, I would be EXTREMELY grateful!

Thank you in advance!

Here's my take: In general, it's tough to promote a single novel because most email promo services require the book to be free or $.99. Neither makes any financial sense unless you have a chance at read throughs to another book. I'd stick with AMS and Facebook because you can promote at full price. Both are tricky to do right and can be money pits.

1. If you do want to go forward, plan to order email promos several weeks to several month in advance because they book up.
2. I'd hold of on countdowns because you need to promote them with email promos to get the best benefit.
3. With regard to AMS, that's slow moving system that's hard to turn on and off without affecting results. It can take months to build up momentum on AMS without wasting a lot of money.
4. As for KU, see above. You can get page reads during a free promo period, and I usually do, but they probably won't amount to much for a single title.

Just my opinions. YMMV. Best of luck whatever you decide.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Kindle Scout experiences & Nomination Requests (MERGED)
« on: February 04, 2018, 08:11:27 AM »
It is Sunday and I've got the day off and I intend to do some writing.

But first, let's talk about Kindle Scout. A lot of people ask me - IS KINDLE SCOUT WORTH IT?

Well, mileage can vary, like they say in the commercials.

My book, KELPIE DREAMS, won Kindle Scout back in May 2016. I got a big fat $1500 US advance, which translated to about $2000.00 up here in Canada. That's a lot of money for this old boy. I paid some bills and even a few frills for my wife. As a direct result my local publisher matched that Kindle Scout advance on my latest regional book.

So that's definitely worth it.

The only problem is I haven't managed to sell off that advance yet. I have sold about a 1000 copies of KELPIE DREAMS and am still about $275.00 worth of sales away from turning this into a paying proposition.

So - Kindle Scout sucks, right?


I suck. Not in an oh-heck-I-might-as-well-jump-off-an-asteroid sort of suck. No, no I am talking about a whole different level of suckitude. I have had a rough couple of years losing family and dealing with other personal crisis and my fighting instincts have been dulled down a bit. So I suck. Some of you folk will want to tell me not be so hard on myself, but I don't blame myself for this level of suckitude that I have unexpectedly acquired. I own it, I accept it and I am taking steps to rise above it. Sitting around and grumbling about the ineptitude of the folks at Kindle Scout would not serve me one little bit - so I will take on that suckitude and conquer it.

Kindle Scout works for some folks.

Let's take Tom Swyers for example. His book, THE KILDEER CONNECTION, was released in August of 2017 and has sold over 5000 freaking copies.

Is KILDEER a BETTER book than KELPIE?  Heck no, but what is true is that Tom Swyers has promoted his release in a heck of a lot more ways than I had ever thought of. Better than that, his KILDEER is #2 in a series, so a significant portion of those 5000 readers who bought a copy of KILDEER have read it and enjoyed it and have gone on to buy a copy of Tom's first book, SAVING BABE RUTH.

Tom Swyers took what Kindle Scout gave him and made it work.

So - is Kindle Scout worth it?

You bet your sweet patootie it is worth it - but you ought to give some serious thought about what comes next. Be ready for that next move. Have your paperback version ready to hit print in a week or two after the e-book release. Have your promotional material all ready to roll. Have your guest blogs pre-written. Have your Twitter feed all HootSuited up - (or whatever freaking gadget/app/thing-a-ma-bob that you use). Get busy thinking about the next book and your next campaign.

Be ready to work at it.

As for me, I know what I need to do. I am working on that new local book for my traditional publisher. I aim to have it submitted in the next couple of weeks. I have a deadline and I am cooking.

Then I need to get busy working on my next book. I need to get back on my writing machine and start boogying. Enough of wallowing in my own personal funk.

I am NEVER going to blame the folks at Kindle Scout for my own personal suckitude. The fact is, I have worked with at least TWO of the suckiest small press publishers on the planet, over my forty years of pounding keyboards into money and BOTH of those sucky small press so-called-publishers have gone the way of the do-do, meaning that they are done-done!

So I am NOT even going to mention their names, because they are dead and gone - but the point is - I HAVE SEEN THE BEAST OF SUCKITUDE - and Kindle Scout (or Kindle Press) does NOT look a ding-dong-thing like either of them.

So YES - Kindle Scout can work, just so long as you are ready to work too. Be prepared to promote your release and be prepared to follow up your new release with a brand-freaking-new release and don't just sit there in the funk of your office chair moaning and wondering when Kindle Scout is going to send you some brand new money.

Speaking of money - I still owe about $275.00 on my KELPIE DREAMS advance.

The good news is that KELPIE DREAMS is currently on sale from this Sunday to next Sunday (February 4 to February 11) for 99 cents.

SO - if I can only manage to sell 300 copies of KELPIE DREAMS over the next week I will burn that last bit of advance down to the ground and my book will become a paying proposition!

So please, if you can find the time, pick up a copy of my book for 99 measly cents. If you already have bought a copy, thank you very much, and could you PLEASE shout it out somewhere. On Facebook, on Twitter, even write it on the walls of your washroom at work.

As for me, I'm going to keep on writing.

I am getting down off of the soapbox now.

End of sermon.

So let's get on with today's list, shall we?

Remember - the campaigns that need nominations the most are the ones that are closest to the LAST DAY LEFT, 1 day left, 2 days left etc.

Updated List

7 days left Justified Sins by Brian Drae
7 days left Imperfect Li(v)es by SA Krishnan
11 days left Coyote Ate the Stars by E.A. Van Stralen
12 days left Trip to Turbulence by James F. Walsh
13 days left Electric Gardens by M. Black
18 days left Wards and Wonders by Kay L. Ling
18 days left Ghostly Intentions by Jill James
18 days left The Haunting of Kaleb Bell by W. & W. Sawday
18 days left hypnoSnatch by Trisha Mcnary
19 days left The Lunar Deception by T.E. Olivant
21 days left The Last Hunter by Lee Hayton
22 days left Don't Ask, Don't Tell by Monte Dutton
25 days left Kingshold by D.P. Woolliscroft
25 days left Ghost and Found by Kimberly G. Giarratano
25 days left Forever Young by Sue Seabury
25 days left A Woman of the Road by Amy Wolf
26 days later The Lost Tomb of Cleopatra by J.T. Osbourne
28 days later The Space in You by K.D. Lovgren

I put this list up every morning and I strive to keep it up-to-date so that this thread needn't dissolve into a flurry of "NOMINATE MY BOOK, NOMINATE MY BOOK" posts. No one is under any obligation to nominate any of these books. I'm just trying to keep the thread clear of unnecessary clutter. This way once a day there is a complete list of current candidates and folks can readily check out the kboards members who have a book in the running and can make up their own mind. I try and stay nonpartisan about it - which is why I don't comment on any particular book by title. I just keep the list.
If I have missed anyone please let me know either with a PM or by posting a link here in the thread.

Happy scouting, folks!

PS: Don't forget, if you HAVEN'T been selected for Kindle Scout and you are wondering what to do next you can get just as much help from the "My Book Wasn't Accepted For Kindle Scout - Now What?" thread. Even if you already know what you are going to do I guarantee you'll get an awful lot of support from the gang over there!

Check it out -,243477.0.html

Great post, Steve.

Is Scout worth it? It's what you make of it. You could just as easily ask is Kboards worth it? There's a ton of bilge pumped out every day at Writer's Cafe, but every so often, actually quite often, somebody writes a terrific comment that get's me thinking about the publishing world in a different way. You just did today. Thanks.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Urban Fantasy vs Dark Fantasy & visibility
« on: February 03, 2018, 02:52:26 PM »
FWIW, I've read a handful of books off the dark fantasy bestseller list in the last few months, and they all struck me as pretty much straight-up urban fantasy, somewhat toward the grittier end of the spectrum, but not like Twenty Palaces. Functionally, for our purposes as publishers, I'm not sure there's a whole lot of a dividing line between UF and DF right now, though that may have more to do with the rampant categorization problems on Amazon than with how readers think of/experience the two subgenres in spaces other than Amazon.


Writers' Cafe / Re: 30 Books to 0.01k!
« on: February 02, 2018, 01:38:45 PM »
Ken, if you write your stories anything like you wrote this post, I'm afraid you're doomed to success. Sorry.

Wow! I suppose if one asks a question, one has to roll with the punches! It's painful to consider simply giving up on my existing book (in fact all three of them) and going right back to square one: an extremely radical solution that I must say hadn't occurred to me. But every point of view is helpful, so I do take note of what you say. Thanks for the good wishes.

That said, I take some comfort from the fact that I've had so many positive reviews for my first book in the US (none of them prompted by me in any way). As I said in my original post, I really do still have belief in the book, and suspect that its limited success may be largely down to my inexperienced and sporadic promotion efforts, not to fundamental flaws in the product itself. That's why at this point I'd rather look for ways to get more exposure for it - e.g. with a cover change, or following some of the other suggestions posted here.

Of course, you have to do what's right for you. I wouldn't, however, let the reviews influence your decision much. I have 129 reviews for my first mystery book, all organic, and a 4.2 rating. I love that book, and my readers seemed to love it, too. I even wrote a fourth in the series because I liked the characters so much, hoping that would do the trick.

But the question is what's the best use of your time and money as an author? Is it marketing or writing new books. I'm not suggesting you take the books down, but every change you make in the future will cost time and money. High quality covers are expensive. New covers cost me $200 each, and it could take years before I earned that back. Going wide is an option, but promoting to a wider audience will cost a lot of money, too. Will the books ever recover those costs? Who knows?

I can tell you that I've sporadically marketed my mystery series since the last book came out in June 2017, hoping for that spark that would get me a new audience. All I've gotten in return was slight blips now and then. I don't recover the cost of the marketing effort. The least expensive option is to leave the books up and start a new series that might do better.

It's coming up to two years since I published my first Kindle mystery drama, Alternative Outcome, and I have a question. At this stage in the life of a book, is there an appropriate and recognised strategy one should consider to give the book an effective marketing boost?

Up to now, sales have merely stuttered along, but I still have a lot of faith in the book itself. So can I view it as a "slow burner", and cling to the belief that I can still turn some elusive corner with it? If the answer is yes, the question is how?

On the upside, the book now has nearly fifty reviews on with an average score of 4.3, and whenever I run Select free days I get several thousand downloads. (I have the next free promotion booked for Feb 5-9.) In between these promotions I have a single ad permanently running on AMS, which seems to generate an intermittent trickle of sales and ongoing KU reads. But I accept that my efforts have been limited, and I'm light years behind the success that some of the seasoned authors on this forum seem to achieve.

The original book is the first in a series, by the way, and in the past two years I've published two follows-ups. The original book is priced at 99c, and the follow-ups at $2.99. Oh, and I have a stand-alone more or less ready for launch.

Bottom line: can I regard my first book as being on the brink of something greater, and if so, how can I nudge it forward? Where would you spend your money - and how much?

Thanks in anticipation for any wisdom members might have!

With a couple of minor tweaks, I could've written your post. In other words, I've shared the same experience with my mystery series, but I've reached an entirely different conclusion from the same evidence.

My conclusion is that some books sell and some don't, and I don't know why. It doesn't really matter. If a series has had multiple opportunities to take off but hasn't, my view is it's not worth beating an almost dead horse. Your giveaways have been successful, but something is keeping people from reading through the series. I'd focus my time on writing something else that might take off instead, namely a new series.

I agree with the other posters who say your covers could be more genre specific, but it could be a case of throwing good money after bad. If I were you, and I basically am, I'd move on and start a new series. Best of luck to you.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is it possible to make a living writing fiction?
« on: February 01, 2018, 12:38:06 PM »
Reading this thread is scary. Won't quit my day job.

Though I still don't understand who's doing better - (A) somebody who says I earn 50,000 in a year (let's assume net) from 20 books or
(B) a writer who earns the same amount from 2 books.

Generally, the author with twenty books published has probably got the more stable income stream. Book sales tend to be greatest near a book's initial release or the release of a subsequent book in a series. An author with 20 books likely has many that have already passed their sales peak and are producing income at a lower rate for quite a while after the peak.

On the other hand, if an author has two books out and they hit 50K in sales, the odds are high that those sales will drop off in the future, and the author needs to get more books out to maintain that income stream in the future. Of course, there are exceptions where a book never drops in the rankings but rare.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is Kindle Unlimited on the way out?
« on: January 30, 2018, 08:41:03 AM »
While I don't think KU will last forever, I do think it is our immediate future. It's not going anywhere. As for health, you can find opinions on either side of the spectrum and they pretty much follow whatever an individual poster happens to believe about going into KU as an author rather than a reader. From a reader perspective (and I read a lot, 3-5 books a week), I think KU is doing well. I know quite a few people enjoying the system as a reader (and these are people I know in real life, not readers). These are all 3+ books a week readers, too. I think for people who only read a book a month or so, KU is never going to be their thing. The authors who say it's not doing well seem to be relying on wish fulfillment, which I get but it's probably not particularly constructive.
The truth is, Amazon doesn't need KU to make a profit. They don't care about that. They don't care about one part making a set amount of money. They care about the whole machine (millions of parts) coming together to make money. As Pam said, KU is a funnel. They want people to come for the books and stay for the televisions. I would imagine it's working well. Strictly from a shopper's point of view, I'm buying things at Amazon (laundry stuff, cat litter, pool supplies, even hardware) that I never thought i would buy at Amazon. I think a lot of people are doing that these days if the anecdotal stories I'm hearing are true.

This ^^^^

KU is doing exactly what Amazon wants, which is tying people closer to the entire Amazon ecosystem. The program  is likely to change over time, but it isn't going away anytime soon.

I hope so. It makes sense. This time, if my book is not selected (and I have no expectations it will be) I plan to press the publish button fairly quickly. Last time, I think it took me about a month to get everything ready. Wards and Wonders has already been professionally formatted by Kindle Scout alumni, Mark Gardner, and is ready to go. Normally, I'd publish the paperback well in advance, and I send out my handful of ARCs about six weeks prior to publication. The bad thing about Kindle Scout is it messes up this system. I can't publish the paperback ahead, and there's no point sending out review copies until I'm sure of the outcome. Oh well, I'm still a newbie, and each book launch is an educational adventure.   

That strikes me as a good plan . If I do another Scout campaign, I plan to do something very similar. Good luck on your current campaign.

My take is that you're already bound to catch considerable flak for the portrayal of feminists. Humor is a very subjective thing, and what some people think is funny will make others mad.

Then when you add in torturing a pet into your story, even  only briefly . . .  let's just say I see lots of potential for very upset readers. Maybe I'm ultra-sensitive to harming critters, but I'm a lot more willing to read and write about people being tortured than animals.

As for the possible turning of pets into lunchmeat in the future, yeah that's nasty, but doesn't trouble me as much. Hopefully, your hero is going to keep that from happening. Just my two cents.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is it possible to make a living writing fiction?
« on: January 28, 2018, 03:11:47 PM »
Thanks for sharing your experience!  There was a member of our boards who used to say, "If you want to make a full time living as a writer, you have to put in full time hours."  And I think your Year in Review upholds that truism.

An author recently shared in another group about some price shaming that was going on.  People were complaining that she raised her prices from $3.99 to $4.99.  And it just got me thinking of what an uphill battle greets us indie authors every morning.  If a book only sells one copy a day, we've made... what... $2.37 for our eight hour day?  Years ago, there was a thread where someone was like, "So, my goal is to sell five books a day" and the resounding response was "Good luck with that."  The reality of this gig is brutal.  It's amazing that anyone makes a living. 

But, as you've shown, it's doable.  It's just a matter of doing the work and having a catalog of books where the singular $2.37 sales can snowball into a collective avalanche.  I have to remind myself that I can give myself a pay raise anytime I like.  I just have to frickin' write.

Not to derail the thread, Kate, but I just picked up Maggie for Hire. It's amazing.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is it possible to make a living writing fiction?
« on: January 28, 2018, 10:11:35 AM »
I agree (about the trad authors having difficulty making a living...). This was the first year my indie earnings were 58% higher than my trad stuff...Yet, I still believe the safe road is to be a hybrid author...That could change however...

Being hybrid should spread out the risk, particularly if your rights have reverted for older books, but for younger authors, I doubt that option is as viable.

Edited to add--rights for older books

Writers' Cafe / Re: Is it possible to make a living writing fiction?
« on: January 28, 2018, 09:27:50 AM »
I'm not sure what you're really asking, if anything. Is it possible? Of course, you've proved it yourself, and so have lots of other authors on Kboards. But it's risky. You are subject to the whims of fickle consumer tastes and mindless corporate decision-making. I much prefer my steady paycheck from a more traditional job, but it's a matter of taste. Some people love the challenge of being self-employed and use the uncertainty to motivate themselves to better efforts.

I think the real problem with being a fiction author today is everyone wants to be one, too. There's no significant barrier to entry. Anyone can tell a story, and some folks get along well without understanding the nuances of the craft. I'm surprised and impressed at how many good stories are out there. All those good and inexpensive stories tend to suppress the prices of ebooks, and that makes it harder for someone trying to live off of writing fiction.

That said, there are lots of self-published authors with five figure earnings. I wonder, though, how many traditionally published fiction authors still exist these days. After publishers, bookstores, and agents take their cut, there isn't much left to pay the mortgage.

BUT, if you're like me and you won't be out on the street if you don't "make it" in self-publishing and you don't feel Father Time's burning a hole in your pocket, consider taking the pressure off entirely and just write the best stories you can and put 'em out there in whatever way you find non-taxing and enjoyable and hope they catch on while reconciling they probably won't.

Kboards attracts all kinds of writers, from folks who've taken five years to get a book out to folks who write one in two weeks. I agree with your approach, but in large part because I don't need to publish to pay the mortgage or put food on the table. It sounds like you have an income separate from writing, too. That really frees someone up to write without much pressure, which is great. This is a tough gig if you need a steady paycheck.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Walmart teams up with KOBO
« on: January 26, 2018, 07:24:18 PM »

But then again, I may be severely underestimating the market's appetite for books with covers of people with glowing hands.

God bless the multitudes who buy books with covers of people with glowing hands.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Are Amazon's competitors finally waking up?
« on: January 26, 2018, 05:35:25 PM »
I don't use iTunes for books, so I never noticed that. It seems counterintuitive at best. Why let Windows users buy everything except books? However, if they're trying to capture a bigger chunk of the market, they might eventually rethink that. The stats I've seen suggest that at least 80% of US computer users are Windows users. Some of those will have another Apple device, but a significant group won't. In a real fight with Amazon, why surrender a big chunk of the market.

The answer is that Apple is first and foremost a hardware company. Actually, it's primarily a phone manufacturing company and has been for years. The main reason it got in the ebook business in the first place was to give Ipad owners something else to do with their Ipad. The music download business really took off for a while. I have seven thousand songs on my Ipod, but they never pushed the ebook business as hard for some reason. Maybe because they didn't have a ereader device, just apps on other devices

Times change, and Apple now seems more interested in selling things other than hardware. I hope they will take the opportunity to sell ebooks seriously. If they create an Android app to read their ebooks, or if they allow authors to upload ebooks from a Windows computer to their store, you'll know they're serious about the ebook market.

It is a good price, but remember you need a good microphone, too. I tried using a cheap one, and it was terrible. By the way, I wouldn't bother with the pro version. I bought it hoping it would be better at recognizing my dictation, but I've noticed no difference over the home version. As for Google, I use it all the time on my phone to dictate texts and emails, but dragon seems much better at handling complicated words and punctuation.

There's a very long thread started by Elizabeth Ann West that will tell you all about Dragon. Here's my experience with using it for over a year, both Home 13 and the newest professional version. Basically, when it works, it's like magic. The words flow like water onto the page.

Unfortunately, it's the quirkiest and buggiest software I use. In fact, I stopped using it on a five year old laptop because it kept crashing. When I bought a new HP envy laptop a few months ago, I tried it again, and it works much better. But it still locks up occasionally. I've repeatedly tried to train it to my voice and fed it samples of my writing to customize it to me, but that only seems to help moderately. You can train new words, likes unusual names, but every so often it will forget even simple words with no close synonyms.

The other thing that drives me nuts is it will occasionally mishear your words as commands and do weird things to your precious manuscript, like delete entire paragraphs or formatting them as hidden text or inserting some bizarre tables.

So, for me, it's a love-hate relationship. I still use it often for dictating the first draft, but some words I have to type, and I regularly catch it doing stupid things. It seems to work best on shorter manuscripts, and it sometimes helps to get out of the program and restart it. I hope that helps.

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