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Messages - TwistedTales

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Down? -- Http/1.1 Service Unavailable
« on: June 02, 2016, 04:59:37 AM »
Hope they're searching for books  :D.

It's funny you should say that. During an outage I've been known to sweep through the comments just to understand what they're searching for on Amazon. I can't say I've noticed any complaining that they can't download their latest book, but there's quite a few who say they can't sleep so they're "playing" on Amazon. It appears to be a hobby for more than a few!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Writing = Weight Gain
« on: June 02, 2016, 04:44:29 AM »
I've been a gym nut for well over a decade now. I have my own home gym with weights and cardio equipment, plus I've learned a lot about nutrition. There's not a lot to it.

Muscle burns more calories, so if you can then do some weights. It doesn't have to be anything excessive and a kettle bell will let you do pretty much any move. Working out with weights three days a week is plenty for most people. Anyone who is overweight already has good muscle to be able to move their body weight. Anyone aiming to lose weight should do some resistance work otherwise the body will take the muscle before fat.

Cardio work also raises the metabolism. Walking, running or riding for thirty or more minutes a day does the trick. The more intensity the greater the return, although there is a point of diminishing return so thrashing your body everyday returns less. Better to have a doable and repeatable routine than go crazy and exhaust yourself.

Diet is an 80:20 rule. Aim to eat 80% healthy foods (vegetables, lean meats, healthy oils, nuts, fruit, brown rice/bread/pasta) and the other 20% of calories can be anything you like. If you eat within the recommended daily calorie amounts, you generally can't be overweight providing you do some exercise.

Cutting or significantly reducing carbs and sugar, sticking to healthy fats and protein, does speed up weight loss. Frequency of eating doesn't make much difference providing your blood sugar is stable. Doing more exercise while not exceeding daily calorie intake will result in weight loss if you have any to lose.

There's not a lot more to it than that. The real issue is with discipline. Healthy diets are either a lot of work for many people or they can be quite boring to eat. Exercise is tiring and it takes energy you'd rather use for something else. Fitness fanatics will assure you that exercise gives you energy and that's true if you can gain a high level of fitness, but most people don't. A lot of the fussiness and complexity in the diet and exercise advice offered is for fine tuning of muscle to fat ratios, which most people aren't aiming to achieve.

Finding the balance for you is the key. The rules are pretty simple, but how they're applied is unique to every person. I happen to run and do weights at least three times a week. I'm not that interested in food so it's easy to stay on the healthy side. However, even I pack on extra pounds over winter and have to lose the weight for summer. The trick is to put the effort into peeling down any excess weight each year otherwise it accrues until losing it feels a monumental effort and deprivation.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon Down? -- Http/1.1 Service Unavailable
« on: June 02, 2016, 04:27:34 AM »
Ha!  Check this:

Have you ever read the comments section on there? I never knew so many people search Amazon as a hobby! There's probably a corresponding increase in births nine months after an Amazon outage!  :)

To be honest, it depends on whether your character knows. If there's no logical way they could have found out then I don't see why they have to know. I tend to follow my story and only explain if necessary, otherwise it can be left as unknown or a rumored cause. As for the readers, you never please all of them so I tend to let the story and characters rule.

Thanks, Ann.

I understand now. It was borrowed as part of the Kindle Prime because I'm in KU, in which case I would have gotten pages read. I've never even heard of the Kindle First program, but then all I do is write, publish, sell, repeat. I've not paid any attention to the various programs like Kindle Scout, etc.


So authors will earn something for titles purchased at $2.99 but not for those purchased for free.

So, does that mean Amazon are giving my books away for free even when they're not? Or do you get KU reads?

I have had a reviewer stating they read the book for free as part of Prime, but I didn't realize I didn't get paid because I've never given my books away and genuinely don't want to. No doubt I've signed up to participate in the program without realizing this was part of it.

With printed books costing so much more, the closure of physical bookstores, and the growth in electronic devices such as tablets and phone, how could this possibly be true?

Data is a funny thing - it can be used to "prove" pretty much anything.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon "Follows"
« on: May 30, 2016, 12:44:55 PM »
I don't know if it's true or not, but I haven't had any personalised messages for a couple of weeks now, and they used to come through every week. So it's possible they've stopped. I believe (don't know for sure) that they were split testing the author message notifications and the Amazon-generated messages, so it may be that they've settled on just the one type. So long as they send them consistently, it doesn't matter much either way.

Are you referring to the new release personalized messages? I've just put another book out so I guess I'll find out shortly. To be honest, I never had much to say other than the book was available so an automated message will probably do just as well.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Amazon "Follows"
« on: May 30, 2016, 11:48:44 AM »
Give it a few days. My last book was published about three weeks ago and the email arrived after two days. I read on another forum today that Amazon aren't offering authors to write a personalized message anymore, but if that's true it wasn't three weeks ago because I wrote one. Does anyone know if that's true or not because if it is then it's a very recent change in policy.

According to what I read, they're sending a notification to followers, but not allowing authors to add a personalized message.

Same characteristics that make anyone succeed in small business - adaptive, learning profile, self motivated, self challenging, hard working, willing to fail and try again, wilful, determined, ever so slightly fanatical & whole lot of crazy!

1 review for every 200 - 300 sales/borrows on Amazon.
1 review for every 150 - 200 sales/borrow on Goodreads

I used to get 1 review for every 100 sales/borrows so I thought it had dropped considerably, but it hasn't compared to what I've read on this thread. Maybe it's something to do with the genres. I also find I get less reviews, but more consistently positive ones from book two onwards. Judging by what I see on other author's series that's normal.

I don't do anything to get reviews, so I guess they're all what you'd call "organic". I don't give any books away and this year I haven't done any discounting, so I have one series that's never been discounted.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Many list sign-ups from same domain
« on: May 28, 2016, 01:44:15 PM »
This article has some suggestions about cutting down on fake signups (and the ones you describe do sound fake):

It appears that .top is more or less from China:

Very interesting and useful. Thanks, Betsy. I don't have a large mail list by any means so I've sort of been ignoring the sign ups, but they've been on the increase lately. If I get to many dodgy ones I'll look into double opt in.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Many list sign-ups from same domain
« on: May 28, 2016, 01:34:16 PM »
.lv is Latvia.

Thanks, Rex. Any idea about .top? Also, I suspect that's not a real subscriber for my books, but I guess you never really know.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Many list sign-ups from same domain
« on: May 28, 2016, 01:19:13 PM »
I've had a flurry of sign ups in the past two weeks, but only one today I didn't know that was Russia. The rest are .com except for .top Does anyone know where .top and .lv are from?

I think it varies by demographic and country for your genre. Based on reviews and contact, my first series seemed to attract forty plus readers in the US, so evenings, Friday to Monday were good and Wednesday for some reason. My latest series attracted a younger audience group, which seems to have made the rest of the week better, but Friday and Saturday are not as good by comparison.

But then you get weird days where the numbers shoot up on some random day and that blows my theories all to hell.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Am I the only one not using a mailing list?
« on: May 27, 2016, 10:41:11 PM »
I see a lot of posts here about mailing lists. You can call me stupid, but I don't see the benefit. It seems to me anyone who signs up for a mailing list already has the intention of buying more of your books. When a new one is released, Amazon will notify them. Or, after reading the last in your series, they can check and see if there are any more. It seems to me it's best to focus marketing efforts on attracting new customers. That being said, I wonder how many people some of you have on your mailing lists?

I have a website and mail list, but not many subscribers. I haven't used a free book to attract them. I did get about 20,000 people visit the website (via Twitter) last year and I chat to a lot of people on Twitter. Amazon do send a lot of emails to people who have visited my product pages (I get the emails as well, so that's how I know).

Sometimes I wonder about the conventional wisdom that say we need lots of subscribers, but I think quality of engagement counts as well. It's sort of like having a lot of Twitter followers, if they're all authors or you don't ever engage with them then what's that worth? Same thing with subscribers - are they looking for free books or do they like your books so much that they're fans?

I think there's a risk that you can end up chasing numbers (ie number of subscribers, followers, reviews, etc) and forget about the quality of what makes up those numbers. I suspect like all things there's no "fast track" way to building a quality fan base whether that's through subscribers, Twitter/FB followers or reviewers. It just takes time, so I have all of the "tools" in place and at the moment I'm just allowing it to grow organically.

Maybe I'll change my mind later.

Thanks for the explanation, Gator and Anma. I always keep business and personal separate, so it's not something I've ever had to deal with.

If you're in the US, then it's better to use a business bank account rather than a personal bank account for your author income and expenses.  The reason is that the IRS can retroactively declare your business as a hobby, which disallows all those business deductions on your tax returns, costing you a lot of money in back taxes and penalties.  If you use a business bank account for your business income and expenses, set up a DBA, LLC, or corporation in your state, get an EIN, business licenses and permits, and otherwise conduct yourself as a business, then it's much easier for you to prove you're running a business, not throwing money into a hole for your favorite hobby.

I'm curious how the IRS can do that if you also earn revenue from your "hobby". Are there specific scenarios where they're more likely to do that?

Just curious if it's better to use a basic account until making a substantial amount of income.

It's not the bank account that matters providing you're tracking costs and earnings for tax purposes. The tax man doesn't care what bank accounts you use. Also, you can always change your bank accounts at a later date if you feel your earnings warrant it. The only disadvantage of using your personal account is it can make claiming bank fees as a cost a little messier.

If you're planning to make writing your primary income stream, you'll also need to think at some point about the legalities of this. Will you need an accountant or to set up a company? This wasn't something I thought about for at least a couple of years, but (in my particular situation) I would have saved myself quite a sizeable chunk of money if I'd started the ball rolling earlier.

Very good advice. This is one I'm prone to forgetting to mention because I already had my own companies before I started publishing and I rolled the earning and costs into their tax structure. Every country is set up differently tax wise, but the gist is that you're allowed to deduct the cost of a business from its earnings which reduces the amount of money you pay tax on. Even if they take the tax out upfront based on revenue, if you do the paperwork properly they'll give it back at the end of the financial year. Some countries will let you set up a "trading name" versus a full "corporate" structure. It's definately worth researching the tax rules for your own country before you start. When it comes to tax management set it up in the assumption you'll succeed.

Every business starts with some analysis followed by a healthy dose of learn as you go. In the book business you need to assess some basics:
- How much time and money you can afford to invest.
- Target audience and how to reach them within your budgets.
- Price break for your audience and reputation with the market.
- Basic tools such as website, FB, Twitter, Goodreads, bloggers, various related forums.
- Access to marketing tools such covers and other packaging (ie flashcards, business cards, web images, etc).
- Use of available publishing platforms (go wider or Amazon only).
- Additional reporting above and beyond what the platform(s) provide, including revenue/cost tracking.
- Security and privacy preferences (pen name, email addresses, exposure to suppliers/public/forums)
- Frequency of publishing, preferred book length, etc.

Once you have an initial answer to these questions you can start planning. There's not a lot to it. Eventually you'll load up a book and start testing the promotions tools. Some will work better than others and every person's experience tends to be different. In fact, results can vary for the same book, it just depends on the day you hit the readers. However, through the "doing" you'll learn as you go what works for you. With even the best of plans there's a lot of fine tuning to be done, plus as you succeed or fail you have to adjust until your find the right formula for your books.

Best of luck to you!

Writers' Cafe / Re: On Refunds
« on: May 25, 2016, 11:15:31 PM »
1% is nothing to worry about.

I know and I don't, but I do find it annoying to watch someone buy and return every book in the series. I just saw my serial returner in Germany buy book four (I sell very few books there) and I know they'll return it. I don't bother reporting them, but it is a bit irritating to watch.

Whenever a reader contacts me to say they would like to read the books and are waiting until they can afford them I always gift them a set. If that person just contacted me then I'd give them the books anyway.

I have no idea how BB's system works, but I know even with my free MailChimp account, I get stats on how many people opened any given email and clicked on any of the links in it, as well as which specific links. So I'm sure they have a way to track how many people opened the email including any given ad (though not whether people scrolled down far enough to see it) and also how many people clicked on that ad.

I don't think ads aimed at getting people to click paying per impressions are all that unusual either--you can opt to do that with FB, certainly, and many other advertising venues I've seen operate only that way--though I prefer to pay per click.

Thanks for the explanation.

Charging based on opening of an email is where I came unstuck with the offer. There's no way to know whether the person even looked at your ad, so being charged by the "opening" doesn't make sense to me. I thought it would be more viable if they charged by the clicks on the ad.

I haven't tried paying per impression. Click pay might cost more, but at least I know the person looked at the ad, otherwise it's the same as buying ad space in a newspaper, but at a variable and unknown price. You never know whether anyone even looked at it.

I'm not convinced by their charging model, so I think I'll pass on Bookbub's offer for now.

Thanks again!

Writers' Cafe / Re: On Refunds
« on: May 25, 2016, 09:30:21 AM »
Thanks for the information.

I noticed earlier this year that there were about 1% returns even in later releases in a series I've been putting out. I'm always skeptical of returns on any book after the first and particularly on book three and beyond. Maybe Amazon are now strictly tracking serial returners.

Good to know.

How do they track "impressions" on an email? Also, I've never seen a click ad that charges based on "impressions" and not clicks, but then I don't know how you'd get "impressions" or "clicks" through an email so I don't understand how they calculate the cost.

Am I missing something?

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