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Writers' Cafe / ACX and online readings.
« on: May 03, 2020, 08:17:45 am »
Is there any way that a recording of a live reading of my audio book could be considered stepping on audible's toes? I'm not worried about small snippets during book launch parties etc, but in these times where people are stuck inside doing extended readings of things, and when distributors are increasingly relying on bots to monitor and enforce, I don't want to inadvertently cross any lines.

The same goes for sharing samples provided to me by ACX. I know how to get samples. I know I'm allowed to share un-approved samples. But is there anything I need to be worried about when it comes to where and how I share and title said samples? For example sharing it on youtube with the book cover as the video.

Writers' Cafe / Who does your 3d modeling?
« on: February 19, 2020, 06:51:20 am »
I think I need a 3d model of a space station to give to my cover designer. These stock photos just aren't cutting it.

I haven't seen this thread in a while so I'm just gonna start a new one. Who is your space ship guy/gal and how can I get in touch with them?

Writers' Cafe / Is Dragon still the best till for dictation?
« on: February 03, 2020, 09:16:10 am »
A few years ago Google docs was outperforming Dragon out of the box, but Dragon excelled once trained properly. What's the consensus in 2020?

Any new tools coming on the market?

Also my version of Dragon is two years old. Has anyone tried the newest version? How does the current version improve on the last few?

Writers' Cafe / It's 2020, how is everyone doing?
« on: January 25, 2020, 10:37:54 am »
Kboards got a little drafty over the winter. But lately I see familiar faces again. I see a little more serious talk (haven't had time to contribute much but I'm lurkin'). Some of the old newbies are starting to sound like they know what they're talking about, and the community in general seems a little more upbeat in 2020. 

I want to hear more about it! At the risk of distracting everyone from the serious talk: How ya doing? What's new in your writing and publishing? What are you excited about?

Bonus points: Any new podcasts worth checking out?  I'm excited (if little sad) about the new Sell More Books Show.
Also, Six Figure Authors has a lot of promise, but I fell behind over the holidays so I haven't listened past ep 8 or so.

I'll go first...then if anyone else chimes in I'll cut and repost this to further down so I'm not hogging the spotlight here. [Done]

Writers' Cafe / worry my fantasy blurb
« on: November 21, 2019, 07:02:40 am »
I know my book is too short. I know the genre is too niche: nautical fantasy. It's a first in series, with no book two until late 2020.
So there's not much I can do to improve my poor ad click to purchase ratio. Aside from write the next one.

But my blurb could use a tuneup.

It was rushed when I wrote it. I like the way it opens, but the ending kind of trails off.  It doesn't really scream epic fantasy at the end. It feels small, and character-centric...when it's really more whimsy and worldbuilding focused. (I was going for a Narnia/Earthsea vibe. Y'know small but dense. Kind of old-fashioned.)

I think it could use a more epic tone and a wider scope at the end. And possibly a call to action.

This is the blurb:

Fireside stories. Strange travelers from far away. Ancient tales of distant dragons and sharks that walk on land.

For as long as anyone can remember the islanders of Brodthrop Atoll have lived in peace. The still airs keep the sailors away and the dance of the whalepike calms the seas. When Phehl's turn came to be pike keeper, she looked forward to long days of watching the ocean for whale spouts and tending the small creatures that inhabit the lagoon. But, when a frenzied shark interrupts the ceremony and a strange girl washes up on Whalegrave Beach, the winds begin shifting and more strangers are quick to arrive. Things turn dangerous and Phehl must choose between disappointing her people and protecting her newfound friend.

That's the whole thing...short. Rushed.  Not much for the eyes. No CTA.

You can see the listing here.
I've been at this a while. I understand why it isn't selling. It was a passion project. Not many reviews yet. Wasn't really designed to-market, so I'm not trying to make money off of this title. I'm just trying to shine it up enough that I'm not losing money on AMS ads.

One thing that the blurb does not mention is the narrative poems that serve as chapter breaks. I love poetry in fantasy. Most people don't . So I just left it out. To me, the book is a little treasure trove of fables, poems, and illustrations. But that's just me. I did not try to convey that in the blurb because I don't think the majority of readers want poems. (Or trust an author to not write awful poems.) I will be the first to admit, poems are stupid, especially when they are forced on you. Even the best of poems is like pulling teeth if you aren't in the mood to read one. But there are a few good one-liners in here that might be worth dropping into the sales copy.

And the sky grows light, the feathers shine,
on waters dark and deep,
The Dragon falls, the Eel God rise,
they part clouds and seas.

The wyrmwinds and the weirwinds howl
and the hearts of ancients flutter,
And the two entwined, as the dance resume
and all the waters shudder.

or in here

Beyond the edge of Atoll-Mar
upon the Broodcalm Sea,
the whale lancer Depthsinger
secured a victory.

Imprisoned there on atoll bare
and spoke out from the deep
a warding poem inscribed in bone,
was bound in blood to keep.

But tide does shift on Atoll-Mer
and wierwinds wefting blow
and those that would divine it there
will seeking glory go.

or this chantee the pirates sing

Oh, should the sun
sit bright and high
and the winds blow without end,

I'll tie my line
to the tail of the wyrm
and I'll sail the skies with him

but if the sun
should pass me by
and the winds flee from my ship

then I shall walk
the eel's black road,
upon the sea to swim.

Some excerpts have an epic ring to them...but I'm still more focused on a CTA and bumping up the scope/scale of the ending to bring in epic-fantasy readers. Maybe bump up the action and excitement too?

Also...maybe if I transition into sales copy at the end I can include a quote from a review, or get a fellow author to blurb it. Maybe submit to a few reputable contests, like the fantasy blog-off.  Something less to-market might benefit from the social proof/vote of confidence. Right? I don't expect much out of this little novella, but if I polish it up, it will make later launches in this series go smoother.

Anyone want to pick this apart before I go in and  try to rework it?

Writers' Cafe / Can I create a series page anytime?
« on: November 21, 2019, 05:40:52 am »
I've got one book published and one on preorder. But the cover and blurb are solid, and I think it would help sell book one to have book two show up on the book one page. (By asking amazon to create a series page so the series links show up on the sales page?)

Is it too soon to bug amazon about creating a series page?  Would they refuse to do it before book two is released?

I know there are some workarounds like self-targeted ads and getting book two into the also-boughts. So if you can think of any others that I might be overlooking, let me know.

Writers' Cafe / Lindsay Buroker and Joe Lallo have a new podcast!
« on: October 19, 2019, 11:48:54 am »
I've been waiting all year for this!
I'm not as familiar with the new co-host, Andrea Pearson, but I know they were a guest on the old show. can listen here, but I'm sure they'd appreciate a review on itunes.)

SF/F Marketing Podcast was a favorite of mine, not only because it outlasted other podcasts, but because they continued to dig up new tactics, getting more advanced and granular, while at the same time cycling back to the basics, to make sure they still work, and to help bring new authors up to speed.

I also appreciate their openness, as gracious hosts and toward different philosophies. They defend passion-projects and "going wide," while at the same time testing KU and write-to-market strategies. Oh and their willingness to talk about finances and ongoing projects, even the questionable decisions like books about pizza dragons.

They talk about being introverted, and not liking public speaking; sure it's rewarding, but it can't be easy to drag yourself out into the spotlight again. Its all free and I'm not sure podcast listeners give back enough to deserve another show, but I sure as hell appreciate it.

Writers' Cafe / Three(more like thirty) Dumb AMS Bidding Questions
« on: October 18, 2019, 06:56:19 am »
I've been saving these dumb questions for a few months now. Have done a little research with no luck. If you know which AMD ads book deals with this stuff directly drop a link and I'll read it.

1. Does it matter(help/hurt) if I run a hundred copies of the same ad with the same keywords? Will low performing ads hurt the performance of identical high performing ads? Will ads with higher bids but the same keywords shut out lower bid ads?

2. Broad vs phrase vs exact targeting
Up until now I've only been targeting Broad. Will more precise targeting result in higher cta and does high cta get more love from algorithms? Any sense in running both "broad" and "phrase" but bidding higher for one?  Any reason you would choose "exact" over "phrase"?

3. Auto targeting has been under performing. My new book just launched in a new genre. I had hoped that a few high-bid auto targeting ads would help me to get quick sales and find some winning keywords. Almost zero impressions, just like their manual targeting counterparts. Is the fact that my manual targeting ads, which have small # of keywords and low bids are somehow giving my book a bad mark against the algorithms and preventing auto ads from delivering?

Writers' Cafe / Categories versus keywords
« on: October 07, 2019, 03:49:04 am »
My new book is ranking in two keyword categories: coming of age and sword and sorcery, but it isn't ranking in the categories I chose in the book creation process: high fantasy and epic fantasy.

Is this simply because the latter are so much larger that I'm not ranking high enough to mention, or are keywords so essential to category placement that I won't show up in my chosen categories unless I have the right keywords too?

There's a good chance I'll be moving to Newfoundland Canada for the next four years. My fiancee would be in a doctoral program there so it would be easy enough for me to get a spousal work visa.

But what about the money I'm already earning? Book royalties and freelance editing are likely to continue. Most of my clients are international and all of the transactions go through credit unions in the US.

I'll know more after a few weeks of research, but maybe you can point me int he right direction. (The other half of my income comes form making and selling art in local galleries. That raises a whole other set of questions better suited to the artist forums.)

Writers' Cafe / Cover font question for designers.
« on: June 03, 2019, 10:01:54 am »
Save the spiel, I know authors shouldn't design their own covers.  But I'm an artist and I'm committed to practicing.

So I'm playing around with photoshop and I'm wondering what is the best cover font package.

I've got the basic 9.99/mo version of photoshop but I know the 20/mo version has additional fonts, and of course there are other font plugins out there on the internet.

Is there a tool that you like better than photoshop for cover fonts?

I know this is the K boards, but we print a lot of paperbacks too.

I sell a few poetry books and I'm trying to get mine printed smaller.

Right now the smallest books I can order are from Lulu. Roughly an inch smaller wide and tall, than what createspace could do. But they cost a little more than the cheapest createspace book.

Are there any printers out there that specialize in pocketbooks?  Does KDP Print have any new options I might not have heard of?

I suppose if I used an outside printer I wouldn't be able to run AMS ads for the book. Any good workaround for that?

Writers' Cafe / Remind me what resources we use to distribute books.
« on: April 11, 2019, 01:37:47 pm »
I'm finishing up this presentation that I'm supposed to give about self publishing.
But I haven't been in the game much this year and things change so fast.

I know Draft2Digital is still a big aggregator.
I remember smashwords, and I have heard they got rid of the meatgrinder.
Is there new one now, a third big distributor that works with multiple platforms?

Then when it comes to things like giveaways you have: Instafreebie, who recently changed their name to something.
Bookfunnel is everyone's favorite. Was it them who just implimented a buy button or was that bookstoread? and does that make them another distributor?

Also, I was never too familiar with vellum, but I hear Vellum is going through some changes, and there are some other vellum like services popping up.

I could look this up, but it might be quicker for someone to just dump some names on me, than to dig around on FAQ pages and old threads for an hour.

I'm doing a talk on self publishing at a local writing conference.

I'd like to put together a brief history of modern self publishing as I know it.
But everything moves so fast I barely remember the details.

Pre-kindle was interesting, but too scattered to talk about.
Then kindle came. I remember there were a few authors who made it big in the early kindle gold rush, but I can't remember who or what strategies they used.
I remember after the initial rush there was a 99c goldrush.(I think this was the wave Hugh Howey rode on.)
Then a permafree goldrush. After which selling wide became a big thing. I can't remember if this coincided with the write publish repeat model.
Somewhere in there bookbub became absolutely essential along with writing in series and box sets.
Then writing to market, even faster production, and early KU meant 2.99-5.99 books became more profitable.
Cue newsletter exchanges and book bundles. (We started calling ourselves indie authors instead of self published.)
Then we saw more people going all-in to KU. There was a lot of talk about the importance of craft last year, writing good stories and having perfect covers to stand out in an increasingly competitive market.
Then AMS ads were the only way.'s all over the place imo. I see people going back to wide, or people who went wide originally still holding in there. I see AMS ads still working for some. I see newsletter and series still working for some. Bookbub is still a thing. Seems like these days, everything works a little, but nothing works as well as it used to. Well established people are even having luck with paperbacks. Audiobooks are in. Some niches are still voracious. (Edit: To be honest, I still listen to podcasts but I've lost touch with the forums since I began spending more time editing other peoples books than writing my own. So it may just be that I'm not well informed when it comes to the prevailing strategies.)

What big events am I missing? Anyone care to guess at approximate dates? Anyone have a link to a good article on this?

Remember I'm painting with broad strokes for people who don't know much about self publishing. Will probably shorten the whole history to a 30 second soundbite and include the list in the handout for people who are interested. I might cut it from the presentation altogether. But I still want to make the timeline, if only for my own amusement.

Writers' Cafe / You ever wish we did more for Kobo and Overdrive?
« on: February 27, 2019, 07:58:14 pm »
When I first published, I heard about this little company called Kobo that had partnered with some indie bookstores association of America.

Kobo devices were in all the indie bookstores around 2013. (This was before most self published authors called themselves indie, but the term already applied to non-chain bookstores.) I thought "Yes! this obviously is the way to go. Every time I tell someone about my book I will say: 'Oh by the way, if you want to read my book you should check out KOBO!'"

Not only would I be helping myself, but I'd be helping this new ereader company +app to get established in the market, ensuring a diverse and author-friendly future for digital publishing.

Of course the deal with indie booksellers fell through somehow. I got really busy, and barely have time to lift my nose from the grindstone to write this post. But I still think about it from time to time. I still remember putting "available on Kobo" on the back of my business cards. And honestly if I were spending more time on my own books, instead of editing other folks, I'd still be pushing Kobo and Overdrive hard, even if I had a few titles in KU.

Because once those suckers die out. Bye bye 70%

And y'know, it's nice to feel like you're a part of something. (Not that a tiny grain of sand on the banks of the world's largest river isn't a part of something...)

Writers' Cafe / AMS Auto Targeting Question
« on: February 08, 2019, 05:01:45 am »
I'm pretty sure the answer is no, but maybe I'm missing something. When I get sales from an auto targeting ad, is there any way to see which keywords the automatic got that hit with so I can add it to my regular ads?

Obviously the community is the biggest thing were losing here, with so many people deleting their accounts.

But those of us who promote author services on kboards are also losing an income source. I'd say 70% of my editing clients come from here.

I'm not sure I'm in a position to delete my account because I have come to rely on that income. But I expect a real slowdown in new clients, so my question to my fellow editors is: where else have you been finding clients lately?

I've tried some professional work for hire websites and there's just no indie author presence there. Facebook groups are alright but the format is not great for visibility, and most have had to heavily restrict author services posts to cut down on spam.

Sorry if I don't respond right away. Looking forward to reading all of your responses when I get home this evening. You know we editors and cover designers really don't chat often enough.

Writers' Cafe / Necronomicon Tampa, anyone going?
« on: August 28, 2018, 06:03:56 am »
It's a small con, but let me know if you're going. We'll get lunch.

Writers' Cafe / Writers' breakfast. Google hangout anyone?
« on: August 19, 2018, 07:04:23 am »
Anyone want to do a hangout?

I've been doing these for the last year and a half. We bring our breakfast/coffee and sit down in front of the webcam for an hour. It's not recorded, there's no theme, just chatting about writing goals and throwing ideas around.

It's a good way to practice for podcasting too, test out your equipment, get used to the format. Usually I do it on Wednesday at 10am EST.

Genre doesn't matter, you'll find there is plenty to talk about regardless of what you write.

We use Google hangouts. Pm me your email and I'll send out the invites, if I get enough interest.

Writers' Cafe / Advice for a beginning children's book illustrator.
« on: August 09, 2018, 04:41:40 pm »
My artist sister just finished illustrating her fifth children's book and has started to illustrate books for others. Since then she's had a number of offers.

Seems everyone has written a children's picture book and just needs an illustrator to put it all together.

It's a big undertaking and she knows that ground rules should be laid down and best practices should be adhered to. So any advice from the illustrators on kboards would be much appreciated, re best practices, pricing, contracts, anything else that comes to mind.

 I was hoping to scrape together some good advice on here, pass it along to show her how much value kboards has to offer, and help her set up her own author services post later.

What do you think? (Edited: for brevity because I talk too much)

Writers' Cafe / Stats in Litrpg: how few is too few?
« on: May 24, 2018, 08:55:53 am »
I'm helping a friend to edit their litrpg series. I am not overly familiar with the genre, but I'm really getting a taste for it.

Most surprising is how much I LOVE the combat stats. Personally, I prefer a blow-by blow with damage and hp numbers throughout. I also don't mind when the author summarizes a battle saying something like: The swordfight went back and forth, with each combatant landing a few blows. When the dust settled MC was down to only 15hp, the evil wizard, still at a healthy 45hp, but MC's debuffs had worn off and he could feel a critical strike coming up.

But after talking to a few litrpg readers, I learned that they expect combat stats to disappear halfway through the book and for the fights to read like normal fight scenes, once the mechanics have been established. That doesn't seem right to me. Am I just talking to the wrong group of litrpg readers? (So far, all the litrpg readers I've talked to have been over 40, and that doesn't seem like a representative sample. Would younger litrpg readers share my love of excessive combat stats or am I totally off base?)

(I know the obvious answer is: there are different subcats of lirtpg, but if you want to point me toward series that exemplify each flavor or litrpg, that would actually be a great help.)

Writers' Cafe / Achitectural maps/ illustrations.
« on: April 22, 2018, 12:37:11 pm »
I've seen a number of posts about mapmakers, but I'm looking for something in the style of old architectural drawings for my scifi world, as well as a map of the space station.

Not looking for an architect, or someone who is good with autocad. I've already looked into that and I don't need anything nearly that precise. Prefer someone who is artistic.
Not looking to do it myself. I've tried that trick in the past, better to outsource.
I'm hoping to find a professional illustrator/mapmaker who already does this kind of thing.

Any suggestions?

Followup question: who does your fantasy maps? I'm looking for my fantasy series as well. I have searched a few threads on here already but haven't found anything that is a good fit.

Writers' Cafe / Is this company legit? Author Incubator
« on: April 08, 2018, 09:16:27 am »
Anyone familiar with Angela Lauria's company "Author Incubator"?

Edited: They are hiring staff and editors. (I don't live in the area but I'm looking for a friend.) So I'm curious what kind of business they run, not whether I should publish with them.

Writers' Cafe / Bookbub Minimum Book Length
« on: March 15, 2018, 08:21:11 pm »
Bookbub wants 150 page books and over. My latest book is 126 pages and therefore does not qualify for a bookbub.

Three questions:

If write one more chapter to increase the length, will amazon update the details as soon as I upload a new manuscript of will I have to contact them?

Does amazon count back matter (like sample chapters) when it makes this calculation? (I'm pretty sure it does.)

Does Bookbub use amazon's count when they make their decisions? If yes, then surely they know that many 150 page books are <150 with a sample chapter at the back, and by that logic would not mind if I did the same.

Writers' Cafe / How to make the most of the Nebulas?
« on: January 30, 2018, 08:42:31 am »
I'm going to my first Nebulas this year in Pittsburgh. I'm excited that it is Pittsburgh, because I'm from around there.

Who else is going, and what can I do to make the most of it?

I'm not planning on going to the dinner. I did offer to be a volunteer and help with whatever the administration needs, handing out badges, setting up tables whatever. I'm a great talker, but probably not qualified to be on any panels. I am certainly open to the idea of meeting publishers and agents, even though I don't actively submit to trad pub.


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