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Messages - Arches

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1
As someone hit in the most recent page read reduction, and still faces the possibility of it happening next month, I have taken all my books out of KU, and are changing things up.

That said, the wide stores are mostly a joke. And a bad one at that. I WANT TO SUPPORT THEM, I want there to be competition, but damn do they make it hard to. You put your book up on their stores, to crickets. They don't help you in anyway, there is no way to promote on most of them (unless it's Kobo, and good luck getting in one of them, or you know someone in the company, like Apple).

I even type my name into some of them, and either don't come up at all, or an erotica writer comes up with my name, but reversed. I don't expect the red carpet to be rolled out, but they can at least throw a new author putting their books up on their websites something. Like, I don't know, a tiny, insy bitsy bit of visibility, or an email telling you how you can promote on their websites. I had to hunt around for how to promote on Kobo, and even then, everything is curated and seems geared toward trad pubs and genres that aren't ones I have written in.

I'm sure if I put up 5 books in a series up on Amazon, even with no promotion, I would still get some sales, or downloads. But in the wide stores, you are 100% invisible. It totally relies on you to get anyone to even know your books are there. Plus, their categories and lack of keywords in some cases is so far behind Amazon, it's not funny.

It's like most of them don't even try. They half A*** everything they do. And we're meant to care about them and hope they succeed when they won't even help themselves...

You have experienced first-hand the main reason why KU continues to grow. There is no good alternative at the moment. Walmart and Kobo are supposed to be creating something that might become an incentive to leave KU, but it doesn't exist yet.
The other current online outlets for self-pub ebooks are terrible, and Apple, B&N, and Google aren't doing anything about that. That's why people are so frustrated with Amazon. Most self-pub genre fiction authors can't simply take their beautiful ebooks to another online retail outlet and get the same results most get from KDP and KU.
It's simply business. The self-pub book market  isn't important enough to justify a company fighting Amazon for market share in one of its core areas of expertise. Hopefully, Kobo and Walmart will come through with a viable alternative, but it isn't here yet.

2
Writers' Cafe / Re: Reputable Cover Designers, anyone?
« on: Yesterday at 09:25:34 AM »
I have decided I intensely dislike my book's cover, :D so I desperately need a new one.

I'm looking for something for the fantasy/paranormal genre. This is only the first book in an eight book series, so if I find a designer I like, I will stick with them for many, many books.

Cost is not my number 1 worry right now, but the cheaper the better would be wonderful as I am a new author and a university student so funds are tight.

My dream cover designer would listen to the image of my cover that I have in my head, offer suggestions, and create a masterpiece that both looks incredible and suits my book and genre. I'm not hugely picky so I doubt a lot of revisions would be necessary, but I would like to have that option in case our thoughts are just not lining up.

If you know of anyone to recommend, please reply here! :)

Check out Natasha Snow. She is particularly popular for her urban fantasy/PNR covers, and she has a thread on Kboards. She made all of the covers below.

3
Writers' Cafe / Re: KU Payout
« on: May 19, 2018, 08:32:56 AM »
Meanwhile, another month rolls along, and KU is in the process of paying out another twenty million bucks to those poor fools who put their books in KU in March.

4
One time while I had too much time on my hands, I did a perusal of the Top 100 writers in the whole store and the Top 100 writers in SFF. Other than a couple of outliers such as the guy who wrote The Martian, all of the writers on the list had at least 25 books published. The average was 45, which was skewed by Nora Roberts and a few others.

Very interesting information. I'm not surprised Nora screwed up the average. She amazing. At 67, she's still writing excellent books and is as productive as ever.

5
Writers' Cafe / Re: KU Payout
« on: May 15, 2018, 03:06:12 PM »
By my reckoning the KU page read payout for .com for April was .0045. Which I'm pretty happy with. Unless anyone else got a different figure.

You should know better than to express any sort of happiness with KU on Kboards. Just keep spending all that extra income in silence.

6
As an unpublished author who is just starting out and will be launching probably next month, this scares me so much. I wanted to do KU, heard great things and I really need the visibility to get started. But if I were by some miracle to have a hit and my rank took off, I'd be in fear of Amazon thinking something suspicious was going on. Still trying to decide if I wanna be in KU or wide. Would be nice to have the income boost, but I'm not sure if it's worth it long term. Also, I keep hearing that readers in KU aren't author loyal and don't really come back for more. They just want the next book as fast as possible and I can't write like that.

Don't lose perspective. When you see the various threads where real people report real problems, it's easy to get the wrong impression about KU. It's a massive program paying out tens of millions of dollars a month to authors. Of course, there are occasional problems as there would be in any massive program. But the vast majority of KU authors are doing fine. If they weren't, the Kboards thread about the problem would be a thousand pages long overnight.

Whether or not you should put your book into KU depends much more on your genre and overall plans as an author, not the limited problems people have experienced in the past. As for my own experience in KU, I've never had a problem, and all my books have been in it from the beginning.

7
Writers' Cafe / Re: Quitting Your Day Job
« on: May 08, 2018, 02:52:07 PM »
The short answer is virtually no self-pubbed author should quit their day job in favor of full-time writing because the income stream from writing is so variable. The longer answer is Amanda's answer, but very few self-pubbed authors are as successful as Amanda.

8
Hello,

Published my first short story ever on Thursday morning, it brought in a small amount of KU pages on Thursday and Friday.

Today, both Book Report and the KDP Report page say I have made my first 2 sales (priced at 0.99 US or international equivalent) along with another full read in KU.

My confusion is, Book Report is saying I have only earned 55 cents for today off of those 2 sales and 48 KU pages. I think it might have something to do with the sales being international but I'm not sure.

According to KDP dashboard, one sale is from Amazon UK and one sale is from Amazon.CA. The royalty rate for those two countries seems to be 0.29 and 0.60 respectively. (UK is priced at 0.99 but includes VAT, CA is at $1.27)

Not sure if there is some kind of screwy conversion going on here or if it's just bugged right now, so just asking. Thanks.

Book Report provides several kinds of data, and sales often seem inconsistent with the income being reported. This is usually because sales have been made, but the payment hasn't been processed yet. Over time, everything tends to straighten itself out. The money attributed to page reads is particularly subject to change because Amazon doesn't decide on the price per page in a given month until midway through the next month. Until that number is announced, Book Report guesses as to how much the page read will pay. I hope that clarifies instead of confuses.

9
Writers' Cafe / Re: Ups and downs of a long self publishing career
« on: May 05, 2018, 10:35:27 AM »
A very interesting and honest read.  But when I went to look at his author page, his scifi series (which has excellent reviews) has dated covers.  And he's not published anything since 2015.  So I don't think it's hugely surprising that he is no longer making the sort of money he once did.  Good books are simply not enough in 2018, you need to get to grips with the publishing world as it is now.

You might be seeing the effect of his downward slide rather than the cause. He's obviously discouraged, and that makes it difficult to put all the elements together just right over and over. Plus, it's easy for an author to see mistakes others make, but not always as easy to see our own. And it's even harder to recognize those mistakes that matter to readers and which don't. When I look at the best sellers in my main genre, urban fantasy, they're riddled with "mistakes," some of them laughably so, but sell extremely well nevertheless. That's where the magic or luck comes in.

10
Writers' Cafe / Re: Ups and downs of a long self publishing career
« on: May 05, 2018, 09:49:07 AM »
I've seen a lot of these kinds of posts lately by self-pub authors who easily hit home runs years ago but somehow lost the magic. I think it's particularly frustrating for those who quit their day jobs to write full time. Being self-employed has never been an easy road, and it's particularly difficult in the creative arts where success comes and goes so often.

For me, writing is a fun hobby. I don't have any trouble motivating myself to write for several hours every day, but after those several hours, I'm mentally spent. I can't imagine how so many of the authors on Kboards write for a full day, repeatedly. Maybe it takes a special kind of person, or maybe I'm just lazy. But for me, slow and steady is the right answer. I'm semi-retired now, but when I finally give up the day job, I don't expect to write more. I just hope I continue to enjoy the process.

11
Writers' Cafe / Re: Writing Two Series at Once
« on: May 04, 2018, 04:23:06 PM »
My experience has been that if a series catches on, readers will want more faster. When you're writing two series, it becomes twice as hard to keep the books coming quickly enough to satisfy readers.

12
Writers' Cafe / Re: Thank you to everyone here in the writers cafe
« on: April 29, 2018, 09:04:29 AM »
Great cover. It makes me think of Minas Tirith. Good luck with your launch.

13
I think it all comes out in the wash. While I've had one star reviews that seemed flat wrong, I've also had five star reviews that were simply incoherent. For all I know, the reviewer thought my book was someone else's. Focus on the part you can control, namely the story, and let the rest go.

14
Everyone gets negative reviews sometimes, it's part of putting your work out there for other people to experience. And there can be a million reasons why your story just didn't gel with that particular reader. Ideally we'd all want our negative reviews to be constructive in a way that can help us improve, but what to do when a review is so negative the only message in it seems to be that you as an author should just quit writing entirely and go life in a cave somewhere because you're so much trash. It's not just that they didn't like the story, they hated it, your characters and you as an author so much, the entire review seems to be an attack against you personally for even existing. What do you do with reviews that are not just negative but so negative it makes you start questioning yourself?

Do you worry when you get a really bad one early on, that its torrent of abuse for everything the story and the author stands for will drive other potential readers away? Or do you try and brush it off, hoping it will be offset by more generally positive reviews later on, so the angrily bad one looks like an outlier? Do you feel offended when a review makes claims about you and insults you directly instead of talking about the book? At what point would you consider the wording in a negative review to be actual harassment, if at all?

If it's any consolation, reviews are vastly overrated. Out of eleven books, I only have one with lower than a four star rating. It is also, by far, my bestselling book, and it's the first book in a very successful series. It happens to the first book I wrote, and those bad reviews hurt at first. But they don't seem to have had any impact on my sales. Breathe in, breathe out, and move on.

15
At the top of every KDP author page, Amazon should put a banner in bold headline print, "DON'T QUIT YOUR DAY JOB!"

The simple truth is that writing novels can be a lot of fun, but it's one of the least reliable ways to earn a living. Everybody knows how to tell a story, or thinks they do, and an astonishing number of people are pretty good at it. This is a business with extremely low barriers to entry, and although writing well and self-publishing can be complicated, quite a few people have obviously mastered the basics. That's why KDP is publishing around four thousand books a day, at least they were the last time I checked. And there's no falloff in supply that I can see. A shocking number of those folks actually tell good stories, so the competition should continue to increase not lessen.

I agree with the comments about some genres being more popular with authors than others, but this is an inherently unstable business. Maybe your old boss is interested in getting you back. Because the economy is generally good, finding a steady paycheck is easier than ever. Good luck.

16
I hope you exercised a lot of literary license in your list because while it was very funny, it was also painful to think someone suffered that much for their art.

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Writers' Cafe / Re: Wow, anyone not rorting the system???
« on: April 14, 2018, 09:03:21 AM »
The industry is in flux and everyone is squawking :) It's an amazing time to be a writer, and an even better time to be a reader. Lots of good advice here, lots of knowledgeable people. Ignore the more sensational threads about scammers and KU page reads and this place is an amazing resource. Anything you want to know about self publishing can be found here, from cover artist recommendations to marketing tips.

And if you ever need a break from writing, get yourself some hot buttered popcorn and jump into some of the more dramatic threads.


I agree completely. Self-pub is amazingly complicated whether you are in KU or wide, and real problems exist with both approaches. Nevertheless, if you sales are extremely low (less than one a week), and you are doing a little promotion of new releases in some defined genre, I think the odds are good that the problem is the author and not the system.

Certainly, when one of my books has disappointing sales, I prefer to focus a lot more on how I should fix it rather than on how I should promote it using some sneaky approach.

18
Writers' Cafe / Re: Justified text or not
« on: April 12, 2018, 03:21:53 PM »
I don't think I've seen an ebook on my Kindle with ragged right text. I assumed it was an automatic text flow thing hard-wired into the Kindle.

In my experience, Jim is right. Even if you put an ebook in KDP with ragged right text, it comes out justified, but the look inside doesn't. So if you want the Look Inside to be justified, put the book into KDP that way.

19
Rejection received from Kindle Scout. Waiting for editorial letter.

In the meantime, I was contacted via my website as follows:

Will you be publishing WORSE THAN WICKED independently? You can make
the Kindle Scout system work for you even though they expired without
picking your book. Just arrange a free period (say, five days), then,
once it's live (Check first, since there are sometimes glitches.),
tell KS that it's available. KS will inform the voters (although some
authors have reported delays of up to several days.), who will
hopefully click on the link, see it's free, and grab it.

Not only is this a nice way to thank the voters for doing what they
could to get WORSE THAN WICKED chosen (After all, it isn't their fault
that KS collapsed.), but it also gets "verified purchase" ARCs into
the hands of those most likely to rate WORSE THAN WICKED highly.


I'd thought to set a price of at least $.99, but now I'm wondering if free is the way to go.

Thoughts?

I'm pretty darned sure that to get free days you'll either have to put the book into Kindle Unlimited or go wide, set it free elsewhere and get Amazon to price match. Best of luck.

20
Writers' Cafe / Re: Can I use the Navy SEAL logo on my book covers?
« on: April 11, 2018, 03:29:02 PM »
Discussion boards are confusing to me. A person can post a document straight from the source, and people will still argue as if it somehow doesn't count.

America is a big, diverse country with lots of competing interests. Usually, when a government agency sets a policy or issues a regulation it's not controversial. I think that's the kind of "source" you were referring to. But when somebody feels that the agency has made the wrong call, the agency's policy or regulation can be challenged.

In the field of trademarks, litigation is very common. And in this instance, the Navy trademark office is handling some controversial issues of trademark law and First Amendment rights. So the agency isn't the last word, and judges could decide how to balance competing interests. In short, I don't think the "source" you were referring to in this case is particularly definitive.

21
Eden can't actually use weapons (magically barred from using them). That's the main reason she doesn't look like she's fighting - she sucks at it (another creative choice, lol). She has a switchblade, so I could use that, but I wanted to differentiate, since it is a little less action-heavy. I forgot to mention that in my breakdown of "things that are deviating from normal UF tropes and reasons why this book may not be resonating." She also has one (mostly useless) spell. All of these are bizarre choices that I probably wouldn't recommend replicating.


I laughed out loud when I read that paragraph, particularly the ending sentence. Just out of curiosity, what does she do besides collect dead bodies?

22
Writers' Cafe / Re: Cover feedback on a humorous thriller please
« on: April 09, 2018, 05:59:50 PM »
Greg, I'm glad DOD has conceded that its trademarks don't apply to novels and you can proceed with both your cover and your story . That's one less headache in the already too complicated publishing process.

With regard to DOD's claimed authority to review and approve every non-fiction book written about SEALs, let's just say the issue remains disputed. I'm a practicing lawyer with considerable intellectual property law experience, but I'll keep any further opinions about an author's right to publish to myself. No need to not argue over unnecessary issues.

Lastly, I like the latest cover you put up and wish you the best of luck with the book.

23
Hey Nick, just wanted to say thanks for laying out your thinking in so much detail. There are so many aspects to writing an successful urban fantasy series, and I always learn a lot from your posts.

Having struggled with many of the same questions, I've come to the conclusion that figuring out what types of stories will sell well is too difficult for me. These days, I prefer to focus on stories I enjoy writing and hope some of that joy makes its way onto the page. Fortunately, this is a hobby , not my prime source of income, so I can be more relaxed about self-publishing than someone who needs the income. I hope the changes you discussed pay off for this new series and for your other writing in the future.

24
I'm sure it doesn't get said often enough, but thanks to everyone on the forum who's working to understand what's going on and explain it to everybody else.

25
Thanks Arches. I read your post and it makes sense and then I read OhMo's right after it and I'm back to being unsure. I'm amazed there is no consensus on this issue. And doubly amazed that such diametrically opposite positions are offered. If the strict position is followed, how could we write about anything without getting a license/authorization from the person/company/military we're writing about?

All I can tell you is what I'd do. There's definitely nothing wrong with asking the Navy what they think, and they might admit their licensing program is designed for commercial products, not written works. That said, even if they tried to stop me, I wouldn't hesitate the use the phrase "Navy SEAL" on both the cover and inside the book. But then again, I can fight back without paying high legal fees if the thing every went to court. Best of luck.

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