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Messages - ilamont

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There should be two-factor authentication for all Amazon sign-ins. However, I just checked and couldn't find it on CS. Odd. I know I have two-factor for my other sign-ins.

CreateSpace does not have 2FA ... confirmed with customer support last week.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Createspace account hacked
« on: April 19, 2018, 11:42:15 AM »
Not reassuring that there is no mention of two-factor authentication on any of the help pages. Emailed customer support to see if this is an option.

Writers' Cafe / Re: POD hardcover recommendations?
« on: April 17, 2018, 07:27:29 AM »
There is a very sharp difference in costs for POD hardcover. My 100-page 6x9 book that has a production cost of $2.30 paperback shoots up to nearly $8 using Ingram's Case Laminate option for hardcover. This impacts cover price and potentially the wholesale discount offered. For the books I publish, paperback ends up being far more profitable. 

Do you do it once when the hardcover is first published, or more than once over time? Curious. Thanks!

Just once.

I've heard Robin talk about the "priming the pump" trick before. I do it now for hardcover POD editions.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Chinese numbered chapters & wrap-around advice
« on: April 15, 2018, 09:13:09 AM »
The first one is "13th chapter" while the second is what you would get if you changed each word in English into Chinese characters.

BTW your last name in Chinese pretty cool ... something like "reinforced moral character" or "added virtue"


Writers' Cafe / Re: Have You Posted to Your Blog Recently?
« on: April 11, 2018, 10:31:22 AM »
What do Amazon Music family subscriptions and cat trees have in common? (and an open letter to Jeff Bezos)

Hi Jeff,

Check out the attached message I got from Amazon over the weekend! My mom purchased a cat tree using my "shared payment method" for my Amazon Music Unlimited family plan.

What does a cat tree have to with Amazon music? Absolutely nothing. But somehow, starting this weekend, Amazon has decided ...

Read the rest of the post here.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Have You Posted to Your Blog Recently?
« on: April 09, 2018, 11:48:09 AM »
I blogged about the sudden and unexpected death of my ex-husband. It's one of those bits that are almost physically painful to write, but I' m grateful for the chance to put my feelings into words.

So sorry to hear of your loss. Your tribute to him and your children is beautiful.

Foreword INDIES is a reputable, established competition (by the publisher of Foreword Reviews magazine) with judging by librarians and booksellers. There is a historical category:

Books that are set in the actual past. They may include real historical figures and events, but most characters and plot lines are fictional. Credible research and attention to detail are of top importance.

Independent Book Publishers Competition (see disclosure in my sig) Ben Franklins award competition is also well-established (30+ year history, judging by "librarians, bookstore owners, reviewers, designers, publicity managers, and editors"). It too has a historical fiction category.

Some regional publishing orgs have also begun to offer competitions with independent judges (for instance, IPNE turns to local librarians) but there may not be a dedicated category for historical fiction. It doesn't mean you can't enter the book in the catch-all "fiction" or "genre fiction" category, though.

Good luck!

Writers' Cafe / Re: Have You Posted to Your Blog Recently?
« on: March 22, 2018, 01:25:49 PM »
Received notifications from IBPA Ben Franklins and Foreword INDIES that my book Lean Media is a finalist in both competitions! I gave thanks to the many people who helped make it happen. including fellow Kboarders who gave feedback on the cover. Here's the blog post:

Lean Media book is a finalist in IBPA and Foreword Reviews competitions

Writers' Cafe / Re: Diving head-first into self-publishing paperbacks
« on: March 22, 2018, 04:20:57 AM »
You can also generate bar codes at Not sure if they'll have the price, it's been a while since I looked. They'll make you a cover template, once you know the number of pages and paper type (white or cream).

Bookow allows you to include the price in USD, but I don't see an option for GBP.

I chose a private service because I didn't have much time and I wanted to be able to make it easier for librarians to process the book. IIRC, there are bureaucratic hurdles to use the official LOC CIP service and I didn't feel like dealing with that.

Could you share where you found someone who will do it for $60?

Yes, it is -- as long as the quality is good. There's a degree of precision in terms of the format, as well as some creativity when it comes to specifying the topic areas.

I used another private service last year for Lean Media and the price was around $180.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Double Opt-In: Yes or No?
« on: March 20, 2018, 10:38:45 AM »
Mailchimp turned off double opt-in at some point last year. The rationale wasn't stated, but it wouldn't surprise me if the reasons included A) what you've described above - i.e. excessive and confusing verification process for double opt-ins and B) pre-existing ability for list owners to manually add emails without using mailchimp forms. Turning off double opt-in addresses issue A while also encouraging list owners to rely on the form rather than manual additions to the list.

To your question: I use the Mailchimp form as well as a Wordpress plugin that integrates with Mailchimp.   

Bookrazor was one, but it is no longer in operation. 

Explanation of what happened.

I'm in B&T. As I recall, the first time I applied to B&T (there is a process listed somewhere on their website that involved filling out some .doc forms and emailing them in) I was rejected but after improving the In 30 Minutes covers and expanding the catalogue a few years later I got in.

B&T is not as easy to work with as Amazon or Ingram. Lots of manual processes and outdated technology - FTP, spreadsheets, etc. Some staff are unresponsive, too. It's also frustrating to deal with small orders - sending 1 copy of book X to a B&T warehouse in Reno translates to lost time and money, after the mandated 55% discount and shipping costs. B&T makes up for it on some large orders but it's inconsistent.

If you have a strong catalogue and hardcover editions I would look into it, but for many people it may not be a good fit.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Alternative to PayPal?
« on: March 11, 2018, 12:15:17 PM »
For accepting payments, there are a bunch of options. Stripe, as Lexi noted, requires some tech skills. Amazon Pay has its own problems - for my WooCommerce shop, it basically took over the page. I've also used Gumroad for PDF sales, which works pretty well, and you can also use it to sell physical goods, such as an autographed book. 

I've used Payoneer to send payments overseas, but there are lots of headaches. I used to use Dwolla for domestic payments, but they did some underhanded things which made me switch back to PayPal. 

Amazon has apparently removed the email addresses from the reviewer profiles of Amazon customers. This happened sometime in the past few weeks. I heard about it from a service provider, and blogged up my own analysis here.

Having access to the email addresses was one way to connect with potential reviewers (permitted by Amazon, as long as its rules were followed). But people also reported being hit up for five-star reviews, or being added to newsletters they didn't sign up for.

Aside from reducing bogus reviews and irritated customers, Amazon may have had other reasons for the change, including driving more publishers, brands, and manufacturers to paid marketing programs, such as AMS and Vine.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Your thoughts on a new cover please
« on: March 06, 2018, 12:45:00 PM »
Looks good -- the storms of war, or hints of dark, brooding story inside the cover!

Two minor suggestions:

1. Bump up the size of the title font, or use a heavier font
2. Make the title a little brighter

I think both will help it read better at thumbnail size.

Good luck,


Writers' Cafe / Re: Have You Posted to Your Blog Recently?
« on: March 01, 2018, 10:05:22 AM »
Posted on the Lean Media blog about Amazon Marketing Services metrics, specifically ACoS and why it's a terrible metric:

... I created two other metrics to evaluate the success of my campaigns. The first is ACoN, or Average Cost of Net. ďNetĒ is the net revenue from Amazon, or the amount remitted from Amazon to your companyís account for the sales of products. For example, if you sell something on Amazon for $10 and Amazon takes a 30% cut, your company (assuming you donít have a distributor) will net $7.

Letís break down ACoN, using the same example from earlier. ...

Read the post here: Why you canít trust ACoS metrics in AMS (and two alternatives)


Writers' Cafe / Re: A theory for why the Zon is killing CreateSpace
« on: March 01, 2018, 07:21:43 AM »
Amazon KILLED mobipocket, and when it did it killed almost a hundred small retailers that used Mobipocket to obtain inventory for their e-stores.It was a deliberate act to destroy the competition for the emerging Kindle.

That's right, they killed mobipocket to protect the fledgling Kindle platform. They had a pressing reason to do so, and they didn't care about a relatively small number of early adopters and small e-stores who would be affected.   

I think CreateSpace is a different animal. It has more accounts (and different accounts, including people who don't publish ebooks), more titles, is more profitable and growing, and has hooks into other distribution ecosystems.   

So, yes, I completely believe they will kill Createspace because they want to starve the competition. I sell more books through other retailers than I do Amazon. And I don't think I am the only publisher in that position. Amazon could effectively deny other publishers THOUSANDS of titles by killing Createspace, effectively making all of those books exclusive to Amazon.

I get the competition part, not only when it comes to killing publishers, but also when it comes to sidelining Ingram and other channels.

But aren't there easier ways to do it? For instance:

* Make Amazon Advantage terms even more onerous for small publishers
* Kill or demote publisher-supplied titles or Ingram-sourced titles on Amazon
* Demand exclusivity for CS titles

Another question: Why didn't Amazon rebrand Createspace years ago, and set up true integration with KDP? Instead they've created a separate POD operation for KDP while continuing to let CS grow, and set up a really expensive and potentially harmful situation if the two are eventually merged.

Is it a situation like Zappos, where strong growth, brand equity, company culture, and back-end operations so good that it justifies having parallel operations with the regular Amazon shoe service? Or something else? 


Writers' Cafe / Re: A theory for why the Zon is killing CreateSpace
« on: March 01, 2018, 04:45:23 AM »
I'm not on board with the idea that Amazon is killing Createspace. It's not only a huge business for them, it's still growing:

Companies don't kill off profitable lines of business or attempt to migrate millions of accounts to a new, unproven platform unless there is a pressing reason to do so. I just don't see it.

Consider also the huge investments in POD hardware, front-end and back-end account management, supply chains, distribution, and systems integration with the Amazon ecommerce engine. Transferring all of that to another business unit is will take up huge amounts of staff and management time and cost many millions of dollars, and may not be a success -- what if 10% of active accounts decide to bail because they don't like KDP print features, or even worse (from Amazon's POV) thousands of customers don't get their books on time because of some problem with the changeover?   

What we did see a few months back was Createspace getting out of low-margin, high-touch, resource-intensive areas. These were paid professional editing, design and marketing services. It's not a core strength, and is not something that can be easily automated. It doesn't seem too shocking that they bailed from that while forging ahead with a growing, profitable business - printing up paperbacks on demand and shipping them to customers.

Just my two cents.

Writers' Cafe / Re: Public suggestions for the almighty 'Zon
« on: February 28, 2018, 02:37:22 PM »
On point #3, the ACoS metric is very misleading and should be replaced by Average Cost of Net (publisher's net revenue, or amount remitted to publisher).

I actually think we will see lots of changes to AMS in the next three years, as this is a big growth area for Amazon and growth areas is where they like to focus their software development efforts.

I'm less hopeful that Amazon will spend much time fixing some of the other issues you highlighted. Looking at the universe of outdated Amazon interfaces, Createspace, Amazon Advantage, and some lesser-known marketing tools like A+ detail pages are way behind the times yet Amazon seems satisfied to keep them rolling along as is, as they can still perform their designated tasks.   

Writers' Cafe / Re: So now we know what the 50% royalty option is....
« on: February 27, 2018, 05:25:42 PM »
Eliminating the download fee is huge (and, as I've written before, bogus - most people now download over Wi-Fi, costing Amazon nothing). On some image-heavy books the fee turned the 70% royalty into mid-sixties.

Writers' Cafe / Re: My sudden insight about music and writing
« on: February 12, 2018, 11:23:57 AM »
It resonates with me, although my perspective is a little different.

I never studied music other than some tutoring in high school, and both during and after that time always saw it as a fun activity and creative outlet. There was a social component to collaboration, which was important to me, as well as the opportunity to create and record new works. There was almost no money in any of it, other than beer tickets and some a very small degree of revenue from CD sales.   

Writing started a bit differently. I learned mechanics and basic formats in high school, and attended a communications program in college where I learned newswriting, scriptwriting, and academic writing styles. I was able to get a series of professional writing and editing jobs in my 20s, but also did a lot of writing for fun, including travel journals and short story writing. Later, I took up blogging in a big way.

I never saw those fun activities as allowing me to lose focus. It was more like a compulsive urge that I have to fulfill, and in the back of my mind I realized it was helping me develop my "voice" even though on the surface it would seem that the casual and professional styles have little in common. Stylistically, my main book brand, IN 30 MINUTES guides, owes a lot to the early travel journals and blogging experience.

For me, it's not the urge to write for fun that's the problem, it's the availability of so much to read. I usually let myself go wild when the urge strikes to blog, but I have installed timers on all of my browsers to head off the urge to spend half the day reading interesting stuff, whether it's a forum post or a long-form article.

I wonder if social media and forums like this serve other writers as an outlet for experimentation. In the same way that letters and journalism experience shaped the writing of many 20th century authors, what will prolific experience on blogs, social media platforms, Reddit, and elsewhere do for the next generation?

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