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Messages - Jonathan C. Gillespie

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1
Writers' Cafe / Re: Feedback on Blurb/Pitch? (new version in reply #10)
« on: September 08, 2019, 08:19:33 pm »
If it makes you feel any better, don't worry. Unless the book is a #1 New York Times Bestseller, you'll still find yourself tempted to tinker with the blurb until the end of time. ;)

2
Writers' Cafe / Re: Feedback on Blurb/Pitch?
« on: September 04, 2019, 08:53:26 pm »
I'd say the key challenge for me here is that the only named character whose plight sounds interesting (just on the basis of word choice) is Ahmose. Nothing stood out for me in the first paragraph. So Hannuruk is worried about his marriage and succession. And? He's ruling in peace, so to tack that on makes it sound like an attempt to drum up tension. Teber is in love with a woman he can't have. Why does it even matter that he's a general if that's the biggest problem he has? Khaia's sentence sounds like an ancient job description, not a character arc.

Not beating up on you... just throwing out my two cents.

Do you have anything spicier that can tear these people apart? I just don't come away with much here that makes me care about them.

Let me ask you this--you mentioned you had a protagonist POV pitch. That might be the way to go. You don't have to describe every major character in your novel up front. If captain protag has a more interesting arc than the others (or at least something we can milk), let's focus on that.

3
Writers' Cafe / Re: Anybody here use kindlesamurai? Keyword refiner
« on: September 04, 2019, 08:46:02 pm »
It's useful for brainstorming keywords, but that's about all I found it useful for the few times I tried it. Granted, this was some time ago.

4
Writers' Cafe / Re: Red Headed Book Lover (MERGED)
« on: October 17, 2018, 02:29:20 pm »
Yeah, the email is really flattering until you get to her pitch. Everything about paying for reviews is skeevy; just stay a thousand feet away from any sniff of it.

5
Writers' Cafe / Re: Anybody know about The Book Circle?
« on: September 01, 2018, 02:51:57 pm »
It occurred to me someone might see this thread as a result of searching Book Circle on these forums. I had done the same thing prior to running a promo with them, and saw no hits. I decided to give them a go on their "professional promotion" for $20 for my permafree title, "Beacon - Part I". The result was no downloads. I have asked for a refund. They seem like nice enough folks, but I don't think the traction is there yet in their subscriber base to justify the price they billed for their service.

6
Writers' Cafe / Re: Do you have a favorite book you've written?
« on: June 20, 2018, 12:22:04 pm »
"The Outlaw Contractions", a humble short story of mine, is my favorite work I've ever written. It tackles a controversial subject in a matter I thought was sufficiently multi-layered, and from multiple viewpoints, and does it all with decent world-building, to boot. I still think it's the bravest thing I ever wrote and I think it challenges the hell out of anyone who reads it. I try to be humble, but I'm legitimately proud of it.

7
Writers' Cafe / Re: Why are Boxed Sets/Bundles/Etc Allowed In Select?
« on: June 20, 2018, 12:19:39 pm »
I think what I find unfair is this assumption that the primary motivation to putting boxed sets in KU is gaming the system.

There's an old adage in site design: "Don't make the user think." Amazon has spent billions on making a storefront centered as much as possible on saving the user time in finding the perfect product and completing the ordering transaction as easily as possible, with as fewest clicks as possible. Boxed sets are perfectly suited for that kind of customer, and I don't see why KU should incur some kind of penalty on a reader looking for that content. Why should they have a worse experience? Not all of us want to necessarily expect the user to track down and borrow all the individual installments, and the user might not to as well.

A "borrow the whole series" button would be helpful, but it still doesn't lead to maximum convenience.

8
Writers' Cafe / Re: Why are Boxed Sets/Bundles/Etc Allowed In Select?
« on: June 20, 2018, 05:45:58 am »
And here I was, thinking I was doing a good thing by my readers and customers, and giving them options in KU. I did not realize there was so much hate toward box sets. It's an interesting phenomenon, this epublishing, and how it is changing peoples' minds about product types that have basically existed since books were scrolls stored together by topic in the library of Alexandria.

The Beacon Saga was written as a series of serial installments. I bundled them all into a boxed set, primarily for the convenience of readers, so they didn't have to go back and forth through the store grabbing the installments as they were originally written. I have a clear TOC and product description; I don't see how a reader could be confused, and I'm certainly not trying to scam or mislead anyone.

I just don't get why the angst isn't centered on the bad actors, as opposed to the format as a whole :-/

If Amazon ever dropped boxed sets unilaterally from KU, I'd drop select and go wide.

9
Writers' Cafe / Re: GDPR
« on: May 15, 2018, 01:24:03 pm »
I'm not trying to freak out or anything, and I appreciate the call to step off the ledge :) For me it's just a question of balancing risk.

I'm not going to go into major detail, because I wasn't doing anything nefarious anyway, but since the EU wants an audit trail of signups, including which methods were used and the like, I felt it made sense to re-authorize. I don't see or agree with that being an indication of guilt as this is all being done prior to the May 25th implementation of the law anyway. Further, I've seen this recommended as the approach if one needs to have a documented "paper trail" on hand; Mailerlite has an entire article about it. So in my case, at least, this had less to do with permission to contact my mailing list--because I know folks had already given it; and I've had a lifetime zero spam reports as a result--and more about being absolutely sure the consent trail was in place in case the EU came knocking.

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The bottom line is that very little of this is knowable at present. Legislative bodies pass laws, then the courts tell us what they meant, often some years later. There'll be no certainty about what things like "informed consent" mean in the context of GDPR until somebody gets taken to court for an alleged breach. The good news is that it'll almost certainly be someone like Honda Motor Company, Ltd., before it's Jonathan C. Gillespie.

I agree. The problem is the *cheapest* you'll get off should you actually get dinged in court is 10 million, if I'm interpreting this properly:

https://www.gdpreu.org/compliance/fines-and-penalties/

10
Writers' Cafe / GDPR
« on: May 14, 2018, 02:32:49 pm »
So after reading through the GDPR guidelines, I am rapidly approaching the point where I am just about ready to cease using a mailing list and stick solely to Facebook. I'm not a prominent author and my mailing list was only 500 people deep before--now about 130 after sending the re-validation campaign related to GDPR--and the new requirements are an absolute pain. I don't have my own counsel or lawyer available because I can't justify that expense for a tiny little mailing list. I've never had a publicly-stated privacy policy and I've never auto-checked signup consent boxes or anything like that, and I've always made it clear (and stuck to) not swapping newsletter subscriber info or spamming.

It's like there was no thought in this legislation for a small business or micro-business user, though.

At this point I can't see how I could make a GDPR-compliant signup form short of writing up my own policies, and why on Earth would those stick? I'm not a lawyer. Am I overthinking all of this? Are any of you just dumping your mailing lists and walking away over this legislation? I know everyone says mailing lists are the way to go, but I'm seriously debating if they're worth the headache or legal landmines now.

11
Writers' Cafe / Re: How do you structure your life around writing?
« on: April 21, 2018, 08:06:35 pm »
We have three small children, and at times I beat myself up for not having put more material out there at the rate I have, since I started self-publishing back in 2012. It's all discipline, after all. I used to do 5k a day, and my longest track was 30k in one sitting. The past few years it's been harder, and my output hasn't been as high. But then I remember I somehow fit in publishing three novels around this, which is a record of oddities our home has recorded the past three years:

1) Welcoming two more daughters into the world, one of which followed a high-risk pregnancy.
2) Losing my brother at age 35.
3) A nearly-debilitating health condition that required me to lie on my side for several months.
4) A full-time day gig in Sys Admin/DBA.
5) The onset of stress-related atrial fibrilation.
6) The need to repipe our entire house and gut the downstairs, one project being preventative, the other project being reactive to a flooded dishwasher.
7) A health scare in which I really thought I was getting ALS (yeah, it's different from #3).
8 ) An invasion by bird mites.

So in a nutshell, structuring my writing follows this One Neat Trick (in the parlance of every other spam add on the internet): I accept that writing must happen amidst, and even feed off of, chaos. As chaos is something I abhor and yet has inter-threaded itself into my life, I have decided to accept its presence, and even harness it as subject matter for my next book. They say "write what you know" after all. That's point number two, by the way. Try incorporating your own experiences or interests, and watch the words flow.

12
Writers' Cafe / Re: mandatory opt-ins are out
« on: April 10, 2018, 07:07:45 pm »
So what about the double opt-in requirement? I use Instafreebie with Mailerlite integration, and all I've ever done is optional opt-in giveaways. Am I meeting double opt in requirement already?

13
Writers' Cafe / Re: Sales reporting: getting a little concerned.
« on: March 24, 2018, 09:22:50 pm »
Flat-lined since around March 16th. I mean, I wasn't going like fangbusters, but things were at least consistent.

14
Writers' Cafe / Re: Public suggestions for the almighty 'Zon
« on: March 02, 2018, 09:45:07 am »
Correct. I find the hubris of some of these topics cringy. It's usually presented in a very condescending way as if a couple self-published authors know more about business than one of the most successful companies on earth.

I'm struggling to wrap my head around this. Now you're strawmanning *me*. I never implied I know more than Amazon does about running their business. But there's some obvious areas of improvement to some of their interfaces, at the very least. Honestly, I've been sticking to issues like descriptions in one panel overriding the other, and that sort of thing. Source: 20 years working in I.T.

It's not hubris to provide feedback to companies. You seem to think Amazon's practices are sacrosanct just because they have more zeros on their balance sheet than we do. You're welcome to your take, if that's it, but it's not mine. There's always room for improvement, and oftentimes folks outside can see things in a different way that is valuable.

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You make it sound like there is no one looking after their platforms. They have hundreds (thousands) of people working on just the book side of things and there are well trained in the know managers finding ways to improve their systems.

Great! Let's help them improve those systems.

That's just my take.

15
Writers' Cafe / Re: Public suggestions for the almighty 'Zon
« on: March 01, 2018, 01:54:11 pm »
Quick question. Are you guys worried about the international income sources (I.e. Amazon storefronts) for tax purposes, or just general bank balancing?

16
Writers' Cafe / Re: Public suggestions for the almighty 'Zon
« on: March 01, 2018, 01:21:37 pm »
You suggested he really shouldn't trouble himself with the "likes of self-published authors" on "HIS Platform". Seems a suggestion that he should be insular in his approach on these matters, and since it's his company it makes sense that the company culture would follow suit. At least that's how I read it. I'm not strawmanning you.

17
Writers' Cafe / Re: Public suggestions for the almighty 'Zon
« on: March 01, 2018, 10:08:50 am »
Does the richest man in the world who has increased his company's value tremendously really need so much advice (and snark) from the likes of self-published authors on HIS platform? :o

Bezos got where he is by being forward thinking and embracing innovation. Making the company insular and monolithic, as you seem to suggest he should, doesn't seem to be a viable long-term strategy.

18
Writers' Cafe / Public suggestions for the almighty 'Zon
« on: February 28, 2018, 02:17:37 pm »
Look, Amazon folks. I know you read this board. Help me help you sell more books. Figured I'd post here since this is so author-centered, as folks might have different ideas...

1) Merge your control panels for adds, books, and author page maintenance into one dashboard and URL.
2) PLEASE fix the description control interface. Stop changes made to descriptions in Authors Central from being overwritten by the originally-created description over in KDP when someone changes something as simple as pricing in kdp. If I add a line break, please stop making me guess if it will show up or not in the description preview. I'm good with HTML; my background is in IT. PLEASE either make the WYSIWYG editor 100% reliable, or make the HTML editor 100% reliable. I shouldn't have to spend this much time making simple changes. Do you know when I get ready to make a change to a title in KDP I have to make a backup of my Author Central-based book description?
3) Please fix AMS reporting data. People have written books, excellent books, about how to compile AMS add reporting data so that trends become more easily accessible. That's been the biggest surprise I've had as I've begun learning about that add system. Are you sure you want metrics that obscured? I don't know how the other outlets, such as Facebook, record metrics, but I think you guys can probably do better.

Just some suggestions.

19
Writers' Cafe / Series Spotlight on Author XP (Formerly Book Basset)
« on: December 29, 2017, 10:36:58 am »
I searched and found nothing pointing back to this...

Can anyone point to any results of running the series promotion/spotlight at:

https://authorsxp.com/for-authors/sunday-series-spotlight-feature

I just pubbed Ascendant Army, the last book in The Tyrant Strategy, my mil-scifi series, and I'm looking for whole-series promo ideas, and went back to Book Basset as they've always ran a good shop. But this is $75, so it had better do more than just bring in a few tire-kickers.

Thanks, all, and Happy New Year!

20
Writers' Cafe / Re: AMS Ads Question
« on: December 21, 2017, 02:17:04 pm »
I'd be interested in the response to this too, as the first two installments of my Beacon serial are perma-free.

21
Writers' Cafe / KDP sluggish on a single machine?
« on: December 21, 2017, 02:16:10 pm »
Guys,

Is it just me? For some reason KDP loads and moves between pages sluggishly literally on just one of my machines, and it's the beefiest machine in the house. Windows 10, SSD, etc etc. Anyone run into this before? It's no other websites or apps.

Thanks!

22
Writers' Cafe / Re: Sci-Fi Weapon Preference: Energy, Bullets, What?
« on: August 28, 2017, 12:42:40 pm »
Anyone every play Shadowrun? I used to love what they did with energy weapons. Yeah, they're available, chummer, but they're even more cumbersome than the setup in "Ghostbusters". Hard to sneak around with a mini-fridge on your back. So I guess another aspect to ask here is: what kind of ops are your folks running? If they're running the shadows, they might stick to conventional weapons, but if this is big capital-on-capital engagements out in the "open", perhaps they bring the big tech out to play?

23
Writers' Cafe / Re: Sci-Fi Weapon Preference: Energy, Bullets, What?
« on: August 28, 2017, 05:10:51 am »
Heck, I don't know how ship-to-ship combat works in your universe, but if you think about it, there's an argument that flechettes and bullets and stuff are way more dangerous in space than lasers and the like. Yes, lasers move at light speed, but you don't have to be accurate with something like a swarm of flechettes. And they'd keep traveling until they were swayed by some kind of gravity field.

The only X-factor in all of this is how enlightened your warring parties are. In my Beacon books, there are whole layers of wrecks around Beacon that are basically death zones, because whatever you shoot off in space doesn't just settle to the ground if they're solid objects. So it's possible for a massive space battle to render an area of space prohibitively dangerous to enter. I mean, we've seen massive damage to satellites and such in our own orbit, and it's been caused in some cases by particulate matter smaller than grains of sand.

So if there is some kind of Geneva convention in the future, it might read "energy weapons only", because even though can't destroy matter, if you're firing energy as opposed to sabots (or something), at least you're not crapping lead all over the spaceways.

24
Writers' Cafe / Re: "The Book Machine" website / membership (?)
« on: August 28, 2017, 05:03:49 am »
I'm going to conduct a little thread necromancy here, if that's OK. I got an email from these folks a few days back and googled about them, and came across this thread. The reason I'm reviving this thread is the email still touts "25k" Facebook followers, which indicates to me the "reader base" hasn't really grown.

I don't have anything against these folks, but just FYI it seems things likely haven't taken off over there.

25
Writers' Cafe / Re: May Ku payout .0043?
« on: June 15, 2017, 07:01:25 pm »
The contrarian argument here is that if you're patient and wait for the mass exodus out of KU, you'll get a bigger share of the pot that's left. Perhaps Amazon will go through a period where they have to up the amounts again just to attract exclusive content back.

And believe me, Bezos sees us all as content providers, and nothing more.

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