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Stone and Silt
by Harvey Chute

Kindle Edition published 2013-08-14
Bestseller ranking: 713665

Product Description
Big Al's Books & Pals 2014 Readers' Choice Awards: Young Adult Nominee

A ruthless murder and a stolen shipment of gold.

At school, sixteen-year-old Nikaia Wales endures the taunts of bullies who call her a “half-breed.” At home, she worries about how her family will react if she reveals her growing feelings for the quiet boy next door.

Those are soon the least of her troubles. Nikaia discovers a hidden cache of gold, and when police find a corpse nearby, her father becomes a suspect. Worse, Elias Doyle is circling, hungry to avenge his brother’s death.

Nikaia desperately searches for clues to save her father. In her quest to find the killer, she learns about the power of family, friendship, and young love....

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Congrats on the excellent feedback! Youd think they could have accepted it and just changed the categories. But I guess they may not have been looking for an adult sci-fi this month or something.

I think a lot of the feedback Scout authors are getting is intended to be helpful but not necessarily to explain why a book was rejected. The editors aren't stupid, and they have to know when a simple fix is available that they could accept the book subject to it being fixed. In my case, the critique pointed out a dozen things that could be improved, and it took me less than two hours to address those issues.

Instead of seeing the critique as an explanation, maybe it's better to see it as a gift to help the author self-publish more successfully.

Writers' Cafe / Re: In Need of Encouragement
« on: January 19, 2018, 03:23:25 PM »
Dear All,

I'm hoping for some encouragement - or just the hard, cold facts. I published some non-fiction books, and without a launch strategy, they kind of withered at the vine. That's fine, re-launching is always possible. Chris Fox has written a book about that. I am getting ready to get serious about writing for a living, hoping to be able at some point to ditch my day job and devote myself full-time. But I'm halfway through Brian Meeks excellent book on AMS ads, and I feel seriously discouraged. It seems you need to be a data scientist to succeed on the Zon. A few years ago I took Mark Dawson's course as well, but since my book was a stand-alone non-fiction, I did not panic when I did not get any positive results from my FB ad experiments. For fiction, I understand the need to write in a series, or at least with the same characters as say, Janet Evanovich does. But with discoverability being the major obstacle (assuming good writing, copy, cover, etc), it appears to me that there is no hope for success as a writer until one is able to master running multiple ads, mastering Excel, constantly measuring data, etc... Seeing that people run 50+ AMS ads at a time, or that FB can wipe out hundreds of dollars, I'm feeling quite down. My plan was to write a series in the middle-grade genre (and I'm still trying to understand if it's a hungry market, as Chris Fox teaches). The upside of that market - writing books in the same category as Diary of a 6th Grade Ninja, who have done so well, is that I can publish multiple books in one year (average word count is only 14k). But even if I write quality stories, am I doomed unless I master FB and AMS? I just don't know if I am capable of becoming good at online marketing. Top authors spend hours and hours on it. I find the prospect of having to master display ads - which seems very complicated - quite depressing. Thank you for any advice.

Andres, you're getting a lot of good advice about how to sell better. I have a slightly different perspective on the dilemma you're facing in trying to find paying readers.

Writing can be a lot of fun, but beware of relying on it to provide a steady income. As you've seen, the competition is intense, and many authors do this as a hobby, like me. We aren't as sensitive to the cost-benefit part of the writing business. That means some of your competition is willing to accept starvation wages for their work, and they make it harder for full-time writers to price their books high enough to make a decent living.

In my experience, writing can be immensely satisfying, and it might even pay for a week in Paris every now and then or a new boat, but most of the time, it's no substitute for a steady paycheck month after month. Best of luck to you in the future.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Been out of the game a while - Free Ads still work?
« on: January 15, 2018, 07:04:48 PM »
The strategy worked well for me last year with an urban fantasy series, so I'm doing a five day promotion right now with the first book of a new urban fantasy series. The book is currently ranked #47 in the free Kindle Store. Who knows how long it will stay high in the rankings after the free period and stacked promotions end, but it seems to be working so far.


Before I go, one of the books I've nominated, when I got the thank you letter, it stated that the author
would make sure that everyone that had nominated would get the book even if it wasn't selected. (Just send an email...)

What do you think about that?

Kind regards from this happy camper!


I did make the offer of a free book to everyone who nominated my book, based on a suggestion by Lincoln. My campaign was for a first in series urban fantasy, Forged in Fire, and I'd give it to everyone if I could. It's in Kindle Unlimited, so that's not possible.

Anyway, I put my email address in the message Scout sends to everyone at the end of the campaign, and I was surprised that several dozen people took me up on the offer. I promptly sent the mobi file out with instructions on how to sideload it.

And that was that. As far as I can tell, only one of those folks left me a review. But as I said, my main purpose was to introduce as many people as possible to the series, so I don't regret giving the first book away at all.

For those who followed my Scout campaign for Forged by Fire, I wanted to provide a follow-up. The campaign ended at the beginning of December, and because of some confusion within Scout, they had to kill my book twice. By then it was mid-December, and I published Forged by Fire on KDP and put it in select.

That was obviously right before Christmas, and I opted for a soft launch, which turned out to be ultra-soft. The book debuted with a ranking of #4.8 million. Thanks to some love from Kboards and a small mailing list, it zoomed up to the low five figures. It bounced around the 20K-50K range with almost no promotion for a month until I launched the second book in the series on 1/12/18. I put the first book free for five days, and by the way, if anyone wants one who didn't get it earlier, the link to Forged by Fire is in my signature.

The current launch is going great. I arranged for five days of email promotion through Book Rank, which is on Kboards, at a cost of $400. Forged by Fire is currently ranked #59 in the free Kindle store and is #1 in both free Dark Fantasy and Paranormal.

Some of that success in the launch I attribute to the visibility I got from my Scout campaign, so thanks to everyone for their support. And best of success with your efforts.


The strategy is one of volume. When you give away a prize that has monetary value, and then team up with other authors, you naturally attract more entrants. A lot of these will be cold leads or totally uninterested in your work. Some of them, however, will be big readers and looking for new work in your genre. So if you get 1,000 people and, say, 300 stick around, and it cost you $25 to enter, than each lead cost you less than $0.10. Which is pretty good. Where it all breaks down is if you get 30 spam complaints, too, which is what seems to be happening.


Okay, I get the idea that some of these people maybe are big readers, but don't those people already sign up for emails about free and discounted books with BookBub, Freebooksy, and a hundred other companies who compile genre reader mailing lists? Is this giveaway approach supposed to be a cheaper way to reach those big readers? It would seem to be more likely to clog an author's mailing list with a lot of folks who don't want to be there.

I'm afraid I don't understand how this works. Somebody sends out an email campaign offering a gift card or a Kindle in a drawing where people send in their email address? Then some lucky person gets a gift card or a Kindle, and all the emails for everybody who joined the drawing are given to authors who add those email addresses to their mailing list? How is that helpful in finding new readers for an author's book?

I nominated the top three. Good luck to Colin, Joseph, and Debralynn.

Welcome, RE.

Writers' Cafe / Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« on: January 13, 2018, 10:00:42 AM »

What's frustrating is that the competitors actively seem to not want to upset amazon. I mean, marketing 101, there are TONS of people in the world who HATE amazon. They should be promoting themselves as a company that "cares about books"... because that's where zon's achilles heel is... they are the big, faceless, 2,000 pound gorilla that doesn't care about anything other than taking over the world  :P

It's not that any competitor is worried about upsetting Amazon. The self-publishing market is not worth the effort it would take a competitor to win away market share from Amazon. Authors can waste a lot of time developing alternative business models that make no sense because they don't have the marketing muscle Amazon has. Almost nobody is going to buy from your website, no matter how you configure your payment options. It's a waste of time.

The only viable non-Amazon marketing approach is what David VanDyke mentioned at the top of the thread, namely an aggressive effort to market through existing online outlets. The problem is the biggest non-Amazon entity is Apple, and they could hardly care less about selling books. The next biggest is Google, and they care so little that a new author can't even get an account without going through a third party. B&N has been extremely successful in destroying what was once a viable online bookstore. That leaves self-pub authors with Kobo as the only non-Amazon outlet which actually cares about ebooks. Unfortunately, they have almost no presence in the good ol' USA.

Like it or not, most self-pub fiction authors are stuck with Amazon as their most likely largest outlet. Yeah, it sucks to be so dependent on one company to sell ebooks, but the basic problem is that we have a niche product very few businesses actually want to sell. That's just business.

I learned yesterday that Lost in Atlantis didn't make the cut, too.

I'm not too bent out of shape, other than all of the people who nominated it now thinking it's not up to snuff because of Kindle Scout's rejection (for those people that don't know enough about how the system works). I would say that's probably one glaring negative to the whole experience, with the upside being them notifying people it's available (when available). However, I don't see those people biting unless it's a cheap pill to swallow at 99 cents.

I'm now thinking of listing it immediately using Draft 2 Digital. Does anyone have experience using them, and what are some cost-effective ways you promote?

P.S. Here are some takeaways I noticed from my Kindle Scout experience:

1. You need to have an existing fanbase.
2. You need to have a track record of success.
3. You need to use paid promotion.
4. You need to have more than a few books under your belt.

These things hold true for the last five selections, anyway.  ;)

I'm sorry about the result, but I wouldn't worry about the possible stigma. Scout is such a tiny niche in self-pub that most of your potential buyers will never even realize you did a campaign. You have a terrific cover, and exciting blurb, and a great start to your story. Best of luck to you.

Writers' Cafe / Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« on: January 11, 2018, 01:25:18 PM »
The best way to be less Amazon dependent is . . . don't quit your day job. Self-publishing is a crazy way to make a living, but it can be lots of fun as a hobby.

Thank you so much everyone for your congratulations! I appreciate your support so much!
I received my editorial feedback yesterday at around noon and then I got my "official" acceptance email at about 8pm last night. Now the fun begins! Implementing the editorial suggestions and creating a new cover.
For those of you who may be interested, the editorial feedback they provided is quite detailed and extensive. It includes developmental editing, line editing and copy editing suggestions. (The new cover suggestion was "highly recommended.")
I wanted to once again say how much I value this group and the wealth of knowledge that you are all so generous to share. It helped me tremendously!

Nice job, Karen. I'm looking forward to reading the book. The cover didn't strike me as sci fi, but I loved the way the woman stared at me like I was prey.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Book Report
« on: January 07, 2018, 01:57:11 PM »
I've noticed a weird "bug" on book report occasionally that when I publish a new book, it won't automatically be captured in the "historical" tab. So every day, it will show up fine on the main page / current day, but when I go to the historical tab in BR, I see nothing for it. Could NOT figure out what was going on until I realized the grey box said "7 books" instead of "all books". I just had to open up that little drop down and click select all. Then the box changed to say "All Books ( 8 )" and sales from my new release were displayed.

Not sure if that could be the issue here but I figured it was worth mentioning just in case!  :)

A great point. Every so often, one of the "glitches" I experience is not knowing all the features of the software I'm using. Like anybody could know it all.


Good to see you're back!

I was going to reference your campaign in my above post. Didn't Forged By Fire have close to 9K views? Or am I thinking of a different campaign?

Forged by Fire got about seven thousand page views and hundreds of H&T hours, which I appreciated. Scout is a terrific way to gain exposure for a new story.

I was wondering if anyone has any advice on how to promote a Kindle Scout Campaign.  I submitted mine ten days ago and it started off with 300 views, then it slowly dropped down to four views as of yesterday.  I don't have many followers on social media and only have a handful of friends and family members (who have already checked it out).  So, I could really use some advice on how to promote my book for free. Here's the link, if you have any ideas: https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/1DM8E9JSHPS3S

Free promotion is tough, particularly if you don't have a large social media presence. Low cost Scout promotion is available. Check out Readper, Author Shout and Melrocket's Fiverr deal. Lincoln Cole is also a frequent poster here, and he had promotion options available through his website. He also has a wealth of information about Scout promotion alternatives. https://www.lincolncole.net/author-services/
Best of luck.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Book Report
« on: January 07, 2018, 12:00:57 PM »
Mine is working fine. One thing you have to get used to in self pub are glitches. They happen all the time for no apparent reason. You do what you can to fix them and move on. And they almost always get fixed eventually. Best of luck.

Hello All,

Long time lurker here and a follower of this thread. Talked to Joynell and will be continuing the reviews list. The last one was months ago and to make things current, please reply here or pm me if you need reviews so I could put up a fresh list.  ;D

I'd appreciate reviews for Forged by Fire, in my signature. Only two so far. Thanks.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Prawny successes! :)
« on: January 06, 2018, 07:48:42 AM »
I've been floating around the 800-500 mark in the overall paid store. Page reads have nearly doubled what I initially reported here a couple of days ago, which was already insane. I'm waiting for Amazon to call me up and tell me it's some cruel prank.

RD, if you're really looking for reassurance that all is well, you're going to have to tell us the name of the book so we can judge for ourselves whether it seems legit. I haven't seen any reference to the specific book that's launching like a rocket, but I could easily have missed where you mentioned it earlier. The thing is, new folks pop up all the time on this forum claiming to have hit something out of the park, but most such claims don't hold up for long. That's just the way things go.

On the positive side, the longer your success continues without any apparent marketing effort, the more likely it is to be real. And the more books you sell, the better. It's harder to manipulate sales than page reads. Best of luck to you.

If it helps, I've not seen any examples featuring what I'd call 'normal' schedule C's either. Like the people who have a side job or even their main job but they're not making huge amounts of money. Those are the sorts of schedule C's I see most often as a tax professional.

I am pretty confident that it will NOT apply to someone who just provides a service. You have to be selling something somehow that's more than just your brain power. Consultants won't count, nor lawyers, accountants, etc. Which also makes me not entirely sure that AUTHORS will count for the deduction. We'll have to wait and see how the IRS interprets it -- some industries are specifically named, but some are not.

Why? My understanding -- and, like you all, I've had limited time to read and really think about it -- is that they don't want to give an extra deduction for work that is akin to W2 work -- which is just wages for service. The deduction is replacing the Domestic Production Activities Deduction which had been in place for a few years and was specifically for businesses that do manufacturing. It's hard to know if this is meant to apply only to the same sorts of businesses, or expand the deduction so more people are eligible. It is meant to make it easier to claim; the DPAD was a bear to calculate.

So, again, it's not inappropriate to think about it and ask your tax professionals (and/or do your own research) but there are a LOT of details that are not nailed down yet and may not be before next filing season. And, as I've said before, don't be surprised if there's some sort of corrections bill that comes out next year to fix some of the outright contradictions in the current bill.

Thank you for a professional's perspective on this issue. I understand how the IRS might perceive some authors as service providers, particularly those who write for hire and are paid by the hour or by the word.

In the case of most nonfiction and fiction authors, though, we're producing a product, a special kind of widget called a book. It doesn't matter how long it took to write/research/build. The price is usually set by market forces, and it doesn't matter to the reader whether someone produced the book over weeks or years. Hopefully, the IRS will see that distinction and classify at least some authors as entitled to take the 20% discount.

Please help. I don't know what to do. I've posted nomination requests everywhere I can think of. Asked people in person also. For the past two days, I've fallen off the hot and trending boards. The book is down to eighteen days. I'm willing to reciprocate with anyone who nominates my book.

So you know, most folks on Kboards aren't likely to nominate your book until much closer to the end. If they nominate a book with eighteen days to go, they can't use that slot to nominate a book closer to the end of its campaign. We will nominate your book but later. You might want to consider some promotion alternatives. Best of luck to you.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Prawny successes! :)
« on: December 31, 2017, 08:18:18 AM »

I'll check it out, another thing is my subscriber sign up rate is probably 10x-15x my previous releases rate, so there's that.

Hopefully, everything is fine, RD, and you've written a helluva story. Time will tell, but you should realize that KU can pose unique issues. I personally love KU, but KU page reads are particularly subject to click farm manipulation because clicking on pages is free for KU members. That has led to some nasty blowback from Amazon in which there's lots of collateral damage.

These problems have been discussed extensively on Kboards, but the search function for threads isn't the best. Here's a recent tread that covers the issue in detail: www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,257088.0.html
The fact that this page has over five hundred posts is an indication of how serious the problem can be. Best of luck with your book.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Kindle Scout experiences & Nomination Requests (MERGED)
« on: December 31, 2017, 07:50:21 AM »
I nominated the top three on Steve's list, including Jerico. That's a great name, by the way, Karen. Good luck to all.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Prawny successes! :)
« on: December 30, 2017, 09:40:04 PM »
My new release is hovering around 3k-1.5k overall on the store for over a week. $30 invested in ads total.

My pages reads were always what brought in the bacon for me, never sales. I paid a lot of bills with page reads. Now, I'm getting sales, but my page reads are blowing my mind. In six days I totaled half of my all-time page read total. This is one book versus everything else. Six days versus 8 months and it keeps going up. I keep thinking it might be a glitch.

This would never continue, but if it did, I could quit my day job if HALF of this stuck. I want to make a thread and tell people and maybe someone can analyze why its happening. It shouldn't be in my opinion.

I've been in a situation where a series took off, but not in the way you describe. In my case, sales and page reads built over a couple of months, hit a plateau, and then gradually declined.

It's possible that your book got some huge boost from an unknown legitimate source, but the kind of explosive growth you're talking about is very unusual for a book with no marketing push behind it. To be honest, in the past when I've heard about this happening, its usually been the result of some kind of sales manipulation. I'm not suggesting you are the least bit guilty, but sometimes the businesses that try to manipulate page reads promote legitimate books to hide their nasty activities. This could be happening to you, and you should be aware that if Amazon notices market manipulation, it tends to come down hard on the guilty and innocent alike. A lot of innocent authors have suffered as a result.

If you do a search on Kboards for threads about loss of sales rank, you will find several examples. In addition, David Gaughran's blog  covers these problems extensively. E.g., https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/10/20/amazons-hall-of-spinning-knives/

Writers' Cafe / Re: Prawny successes! :)
« on: December 30, 2017, 01:18:07 PM »
I didn't know if I was going to make it, but I just sold my 100th paperback copy for the month of December. First time I've cracked three digits in paperback sales in one month.
You go, girl!

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