You Won’t Be Anonymous, And I’m Not Crazy

I’ve noticed that some of you who take the time to leave a comment have become somewhat anonymous. Since WordPress made changes to their comment policy last month, now, unless you’re a WordPress blogger, the avatar that appears next to your comment might not link to your blog. That’s unfortunate because the real reason you bother to comment is in hope someone will click your avatar and visit your blog. Right?

Okay, it’s not the only reason, but it’s a benefit. I don’t mind at all. And I discovered I can help you out. That is, if I know the address of your blog, I can help. I finally noticed that from my dashboard, I have the option to edit the email address or link-back URL in your comment. So from now on, if you leave a comment and it doesn’t link to your blog, I’ll try to correct that.

I’ve said many times on this blog that I find it necessary to edit as I write. It’s almost impossible for me to move on when I’m aware that a sentence is clunky, or I’ve made a poor word choice, or otherwise phoned it in. I’m not saying I never do those things, but when I know I’ve done one of them, I have to fix it before I can continue writing. It’s the same when I know I’m not going deep enough into a character, I fuss and fume until I break through.

But something weird has happened as I write my current novel. I know I’m leaving out things and I’m okay with it. In some scenes, I’ve skimmed the surface of my main character. I know there should be a lot going on in her head, but I’m not exploring it yet. She’s doing things, saying things, but she’s mostly shut me out of her head—if you know what I mean.

That seemed just plain crazy to me because that’s not the way I usually write. Always before, though I wrote the dialogue first, I’ve just as clearly known what my characters were only thinking. This new, seemingly chaotic, way of writing bothered me, but I’d delayed so long already on this book that I had to keep writing.

Then I started to feel excited about these missing pieces of narrative, as if I were waiting to open a gift. Recently, I’ve been hearing passages of my character’s thoughts, and they were worth the wait. I’m not sure where they’ll fit in the book yet, but I wrote them down. For now, what can I do but write and look forward to all my future gift boxes?

FREE BOOK: If you missed getting a digital copy of The Brevity of Roses on the free days in February, you have another chance. Tomorrow and Friday (May 3-4), you can download it free from Amazon. Remember, you don’t have to have a Kindle to read a Kindle book, just install the free reader for your computer or smart phone.

Wow! The KDP Select Giveaway Experience

I’m excited to say my first KDP Select giveaway experience was a success. It thrilled me, amazed me, astounded me, and left me dizzy. If you follow me on Facebook, you might have thought I’d been hitting the wine bottle after reading my frequent updates, but I promise no wine was involved. I was just giddy from following the download numbers for The Brevity of Roses.

I’m excited to say my first KDP Select giveaway experience was a success. It thrilled me, amazed me, astounded me, and left me dizzy. If you follow me on Facebook, you might have thought I’d been hitting the wine bottle after reading my frequent updates, but I promise no wine was involved. I was just giddy from following the download numbers for The Brevity of Roses.

I apologize for the length of this post, but some of you may be considering such a giveaway for your book, so I think it’s important to share my experience. Also, some of you invested your time to spread the word or cheer me on, so I thought you might be interested in the results.

I don’t know why I didn’t think to check the rankings at the Amazon stores in other countries, but I didn’t, so all the action I’ll cite was for Amazon US, and all rankings were for free Kindle books. Here’s how it went. The ebook’s price was supposed to switch to free at midnight PST on Wednesday, but I stayed awake until 12:30 am and it hadn’t changed, so I went to bed.

My promo blitz began when my pre-scheduled blog post published at 5:30 Thursday morning. When I woke about 7:30 I announced the giveaway on Facebook and Twitter. I forgot about Google+ until later. I had not arranged to have the giveaway promoted at any free Kindle book sites.

However, I want to say right here that I have the greatest “tribe” of supporters ever!!! So many of you shared my announcement on Facebook, Twitter, and I don’t know where else, that I don’t think I needed any help from strangers. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Seriously, THANK YOU.

I was afraid to check the stats at first, so I didn’t see them until 8:30 Thursday morning. At that time, Brevity had been downloaded 665 times, and I ranked #30 in contemporary fiction and #60 in contemporary romance. (I forgot to note the overall rank.) I thought those numbers were great. Little did I know.

All day Thursday, Brevity climbed in the ranks, taking a big leap around 2pm that first day. From 6-7pm PST, it reached its peak download speed, averaging 12 copies per minute! By 7pm, 6,623 people had downloaded the book. It ranked #5 in contemporary fiction and #6 in contemporary romance. The overall rank was #25, and it sat at #24 in Top 100 Kindle ebooks, and #20 in Top 100 Fiction.

I was exhausted from all the excitement and last checked the stats at 11pm before going to bed. At that time, it had moved up one notch in all those ranks, and had been downloaded 8,014 times! I truly couldn’t believe that.

The second day, I started tracking stats at 7:00 am. The first stats I recorded were 9,023 downloads, it ranked #5 in contemporary fiction and #5 in contemporary romance. The overall rank was #17, and it was #16 in Top 100 Kindle ebooks, and #14 in Top 100 Fiction. That meant Brevity finally appeared on the first page of free downloads. Yay!

In all, Brevity maintained its ranking at #5 in contemporary fiction and contemporary romance for nineteen—19!—hours! I can’t tell you how unbelievable that was to me. Trying to wrap my little brain around that literally made me dizzy. By 2:30 PST on Friday, the book had been downloaded 10,733 times! And then, in the next hour it took a mystifying leap to #3 in contemporary fiction and held that spot for five hours.

As the timer ticked off the final hours, Brevity descended a bit, settling back in the #5 spot in contemporary fiction, dropping to #12 in contemporary romance, then rising again to #8, and staying there to the end. The final tally for US downloads was 12,604. Add to that 1,184 in the UK, 58 in Germany, 2 in France, and 1 in Spain for a total of 13,849 downloads worldwide!

Since these were free downloads, I earned no royalties from them, but the EXPOSURE, oh my! I feel like Brevity finally got a chance to be a contender. Of course, the lure of FREE means that not everyone who downloaded Brevity will actually read it. But even if only 30% read it, that’s nearly 5,000 more readers! Can you imagine?

One thing I’d been warned about beforehand was that I might see a few bad reviews after the free promo, I don’t know why that should be, but on Friday morning when I saw that my review count had increased by one, I was afraid to look. My fear was unfounded; it was a lovely 4-star review. A bit later, I received an email from that person saying she’d bought the book on Thursday and stayed up until 2am Friday to finish it. Now, wasn’t that just the cherry on top?

The Brevity of Roses is free on Amazon!

Today and tomorrow, February 23 and 24, the digital version of my novel The Brevity of Roses is FREE at Amazon. REMEMBER, you don’t have to own a Kindle to read a Kindlebook. Amazon provides a free Kindle reader app for your PC, Mac, smartphone, or iPad.

If you haven’t read Brevity yet, here’s your chance to get it free. If you have read it, PLEASE spread the word about this promotion. I’m excited. Brevity is all dressed up in its beautiful new cover and waiting to be read. I want to see the book rise to the top of the Amazon ranks in its categories. If you tell your family and friends, on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and anywhere else you can think of about this giveaway, I will be eternally grateful.

Am I being melodramatic? Yes, I am. I really need this promotion to work. There are millions of books for sale on Amazon, so even though mine has a 4.6 star rating, it’s virtually INVISIBLE. With this promotion, I can make its existence known to thousands of readers who would love it.

Deep breath. Here we go!

Bluegrass, Super Secret, and Select

I’m happy to report that I haven’t posted since Thursday because I’ve been writing fiction. If you follow my Facebook Author Page you know that I was working on one of my “down home” stories, with a bluegrass accompaniment to set the mood.

I’m happy to report that I haven’t posted since Thursday because I’ve been writing fiction. If you follow my Facebook Author Page you know that I was working on one of my “down home” stories, with a bluegrass accompaniment to set the mood.

That story is one I’ll include in my story collection (yes, that project is back on the table) and eventually will be part of a larger work, probably a novel in the form of connected stories. The house pictured here inspired the concept. My great-great-grandfather, or maybe his father, built that house. It grew from the original settlement, a log cabin in a little holler beside a crick. I’m imagining the stories of some of the people who called that place home.

A couple of other writing-related projects occupied me. One is Super Secret … and Super Cool. Yes, I know that’s a tease. 🙂 You’ll hear all about it in time, but I’ll give you a hint: it involves a new face … of a sort.

The third writing-related project was researching the KDP Select program recently implemented by Amazon. In short, authors can enroll one, some, or all of their e-books in the program to have them included in the Amazon lending program. In that program, Prime Members can borrow the book to read on their Kindle. Also, through the KDP Select program, the author can mark a book FREE for a limited time.

I think the real benefit of that option is potential sales of an author’s other books after someone downloads their free book and likes it. Since I have only one book published, this program would not benefit me now, but I’m watching how it’s working for others. So far, I’m definitely undecided whether I should take part in the future.

The downside to the program is exclusivity. While your e-book is enrolled in KDP Select, it can’t be available anywhere else—not for sale, not for free. (This refers to e-book only.) So, each author has to consider how this might affect their sales. In my case, so far, 85% of my e-book sales have come through Amazon. Since the free Kindle app is available for PC, Mac, most Smartphones, and the iPad, the KDP Select exclusivity eliminates mostly those who own the Nook reader.

So there you go, my essay on how I spent the last five days. What have you been up to?

Should authors have concerns about e-book lending?

Part One of this article received so little response I’m doubtful there’s reason to post the second, but for the one or two people who might be interested, here you go. As promised, I’ll tell you why I had doubts about two of the e-book lending sites I found. In a word … money.

Part One of this article received so little response I’m doubtful there’s reason to post the second, but for the one or two people who might be interested, here you go. As promised, I’ll tell you why I had doubts about two of the e-book lending sites I found. In a word … money.

I won’t name these two sites, or link to them, because I don’t want to publicize sites I have reservations about. If you search out e-book lending sites, I suggest you read their policies carefully and make up your own mind.

One site uses a credit system: each book you lend entitles you to borrow one book. BUT, if you don’t want to lend your e-books, you can buy a credit for $2.99. Wait! Isn’t that an illegal resale? What about the licensing agreement you make with Amazon and Barnes & Noble when you purchase an e-book? Well, you see, the site owners didn’t buy the book, they didn’t “sign” that agreement. They’re just acting as the middleman.

And never mind that thousands of authors, myself included, have e-books priced at $2.99, and by the reader paying the owners of the site for the book instead of Amazon or B&N, the author gets cheated out of a royalty. Hush, silly author. Quit being petty. Just consider the word of mouth potential.

The other site I have bigger doubts about. I’m not concerned about the way they operate the actual book loan, which uses the lending features of the Kindle and Nook, but I have questions about their policy of asking the lender to request the borrower pay for this loan—not pay the lender, but the site owners. The borrower has the option to pay the requested amount, or more, or less, or nothing at all.

The homepage blurb states that “100% of profits in 2011 go to charities promoting childhood literacy” and in one section of their Guide it tells the lender to enter “the amount you’d like to see a borrower contribute to charity for this book.” However, I could find no statement of what percentage of the money they collect is considered profit. What if you pay $3 for the book and only 3 cents of that goes to charity? Would you feel deceived?

Sprinkled throughout this site’s user guide and FAQ are statements that are somewhat misleading, such as these (emphasis mine): “We hope that you’ll be willing to pay something to support our cause, support the authors who bring us such great books, and do some social good!” And, in answer to the question why they don’t set a price for borrowing, they say, “Because it would likely lead to market fragmentation as other markets arose to compete on price, decreasing the benefit of secondary markets to consumers searching for a specific book and authors who deserve compensation for the content they create.

Am I wrong, or does that sound like they are sending the deceptive subliminal message that authors receive a portion of the fees borrowers pay?

If you read their FAQ, you’ll see that their aim is to see Amazon and B&N change their policies to allow reselling of Kindle and Nook books. They say (emphasis mine): “By contributing to eBook Exchange when you borrow a book, you’re helping us work to change that.” My question—how? How would my paying eBook Exchange any amount of money to borrow a book change the licensing agreements?

Again in their FAQ, they state: “Ultimately, by opening up the ebook licensing restrictions that publishers currently impose, we’ll be able to make ebooks available to an expanded number of markets. We’ll be able to reduce ebook prices to many while helping authors earn more.” Truly, helping authors earn more sounds good to me, but I find it hard to believe a third party is interested in helping me earn more. Helping themselves earn money off my work … yeah, I believe that.

Am I missing something? Please, if I’m too dense to see how this is in my best interests as an author, help me understand.

To be clear, I am NOT identifying the above sites as bit torrent piracy sites. For now, they only exchange books through the authorized lending features at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. But the whole issue of e-book lending or selling makes me nervous for one good reason—abuse. How so?

E-books are intangible.

If you buy a print book, you have the right to loan it out. You buy one book, you loan one book. Of course, assuming it’s returned, you can loan it out more than once, but look at the most popular print book you own and tell me how many times you’ve loaned it out over the years. Three, four, ten times? Fair enough. An author would consider that word of mouth.

Now, consider the forums where, via email attachments, people trade files copied directly from their e-readers. Disregarding the licensing statement they agreed to when they purchased those e-books, they say, “I have the right to loan out my print books to as many people as I want, so what’s the difference?”

Let me tell you the difference. If you share your “e-book shelf” on one of these unscrupulous trade sites, how many times do you think you’ll be “loaning” each of those books? Not three or four. Not even thirty, forty. A hundred times? A thousand? Where’s the limit?

Bit torrent (peer-to-peer) sites essentially force e-books into public domain—meaning the authors receive not another penny for their hard work after that initial sale. And yes, people do that with music files too, but most musicians make the bulk of their income from live performances and merchandising. Only the big-time authors make real money from public speaking engagements.

As for reselling books, that’s a bit different. Reselling a print book is still within the realm of word of mouth. Books deteriorate after awhile, so its resale can continue for only a limited time. BUT e-books don’t deteriorate. If sites spring up to resell ebooks with no licensing limits, they could duplicate and sell as many copies as they want.

How is that fair to the author? That goes beyond “word of mouth”. That’s theft.

I perused one of these bit torrent book sites once and read an author’s plea after finding her e-book available for unlimited free download. She asked that it be removed and tried to explain that writing was her career and unlimited “sharing” deprived her of income. The response? They told her to go f**k herself!

What say ye?