Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Who Needs A Contract?

The other day, I entered a bookstore--a huge bookstore, in fact. The biggest one in the area. I went up to the manager and demanded that they sell my books for me. Not for the price I'd had printed on the cover, but for a twenty percent discount. I figured that way, they would sell more because it looked like a great savings for the reader. Before the manager could reply, I ran out to my car and unloaded my stock into my grandson's wagon and asked one of the stock guys to wheel them into the back warehouse. I guess he was a little confused because he hesitated and looked at the manager. At that point, the manager asked me what in the world I was doing. As if it wasn't obvious! Duh! I said wouldn't it be a lot easier for them to ship books to my readers if they had the books immediately available?

They said they wouldn't stock them for me, and that if my books were already available in print via their website, they would forward the order to me, and I could fulfill it from my own warehouse. But I'm not very good at that kind of thing. I have another job, and kids and my warehouse, aka, my garage, is kind of messy. It might take me up to three weeks to fulfill an order. But the store--they have a huge warehouse right there! They could just slap a mailing label on that puppy and get it to my readers in a few days!

The manager's face had turned a little red by now. I wonder why? Anyway, he said to me, "Look, I'd love to help you any way I can, but we have to have a contract. What kind of terms are you looking for?"

He might have been really nice and all, but I knew what he was up to. He was trying to get me to commit to something, so I just ignored him and started approaching customers with my book. I told them that the newest one was coming out in a month and they could place a pre-order with the store. Trying to be helpful, I put a little sign on the checkout counter with the title of my book and ISBN, but no sooner was my back turned, than the girl manning the checkout register threw my sign away! (I saw it all in the security mirror. Ha! Busted!)

I couldn't believe how unreasonable this place was! I took a deep breath and tried to stay calm, but the unfairness of it all was really eating at me. If I can't sell these books, how am I supposed to make any money? I sent a quick, angry text off to the president of the store, and cc'd all my author friends so that they would also know what was going on. I was thrilled to see some of them also texted the president. That will show the big bad store that you can't mess with authors! We are united!

As you can imagine, I was through being nice--I shoved all the books off the table in the front of the store and started stacking the books from the wagon--the very same books they refused to take to the warehouse, on a nice prominent table. If they weren't going to stock them, I might as well have them front and center, right? But the manager ran over and said, "Whoa! You can't do that! We have a contract with that publisher to have those books on that table. If you want that space, you have to pay for it. And we really need a contract."

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaatttt?? You mean they are going to promote some other schmuck's book over mine? I made a big stink about it, but the manager still refused. He just wouldn't let up about that whole contract thing, but what does a contract have to do with it? These are books! This is a bookstore! A bastion of culture and all things literate. Do they really want to deprive the readers of the chance to read my books? Oh, the humanity!

The manager must have seen my distress because he said, "Look, we can put your book on the shelves, but if they need to be shipped, you have to do it, and no pre-orders. As far as terms go, we'll give you the deal that we give the other publishers, but we won't discount the books. As soon as possible though, we need to sign a contract. We can't just keep selling your books forever without one."

I said fine, but inside, I was fuming. How dare they tell me what I need to do? Don't they realize how lucky they are to have the chance to sell my books at all?

**********
Okay, if you've made it this far, you think I'm either a lunatic or...well, just a lunatic, I guess. The above is just a vivid daydream that came to me after reading another post about the Amazon/Hachette dispute.
http://www.thepassivevoice.com/09/2014/an-open-letter-to-doug-preston/
If you are confused, please see: http://www.thepassivevoice.com/09/2014/56299/ just one of many posts about the dispute between Hachette and Amazon.

If you're not confused, you've probably spent way too much time, just like me, keeping up with this dispute! ;)

Friday, September 19, 2014

How to Read all of My Books for Free!

And not just my books, but many others. If you sign up for Kindle Unlimited, you get a free thirty day trial. In that time, you can read all the books you want that are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited (KU). Currently, that's over 600,000 books. Yes, there are some big names in KU. Lois Lowry and her Giver Series, The Hunger Games Trilogy and plenty of big name indie authors like Hugh Howey and H.M. Ward. There are also tons of great books by less well known authors. It's a great place to discover fresh new books.

Before you go exploring all those fine offerings, checkout my books--after all, this is my page and I think it's a law somewhere that I have to do at least a little self promo. Speaking of pages, here is my Amazon Author page  where you can find all of my books. The only book not enrolled in KU is my 4 book box set. It didn't make sense to do so since readers can just borrow individual books. Oh, and Mark Taylor: Genesis, but that book is permanently free. Even if you aren't sure about Kindle Unlimited, you can still get a copy of it for free--no strings attached. If you're a fast reader, you could read all of my books in that thirty days, then just cancel your membership. (although I recommend keeping it. I love it as a reader!)

The great thing about KU is that you don't need to own a Kindle at all! You can simply download a free app for whichever device you probably already own.  If you don't have an app yet, here you go: Amazon.com - Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

If you decide to keep KU beyond a month, it costs $9.99/month. I'll admit that I was hesitant to renew after my first thirty days, but there's just something about thinking about a genre of books--say science fiction--and exploring that category to my hearts content, knowing that no matter the listed price, I'm going to get it for just a flat $9.99 for that month. If I can read a book a day, I can borrow a book a day. But don't worry--you can cancel anytime. It's like Netflix that way. No contracts or anything.

I know that there are thousands of free books offered every day on Amazon, but why wait for them to go free? You can read them right now with the free trial.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Kindle Unlimited Becoming a Goldmine for Scam Artists

**UPDATE**  9/26--I saw Amazon had visited my blog for about the tenth time since I posted this, but as of 9/24, the books were still for sale. I checked yesterday after Amazon's latest visit, and low and behold, the titles have all been removed from the store! Woo-hoo! I can't say for sure this post triggered the removal, but I like to think it helped. 

As an author with books in Kindle Unlimited, I'm extremely worried about the scam artists who have sprung up in Kindle Unlimited like dandelions on a warm spring day. If they continue to spread unchecked, KU is going to fail. Why would anyone pay $10 a month to weed through all of these copycat 7 page books?

The scammers get paid when a reader reaches 10% in a book. With only 6-7 pages, all the reader has to do is basically open to the first page of the actual story. The front matter takes up at least 9%. They do that, and BAM! The scammer gets their cut of the pot Amazon allocates each month. It was $1.80 per 10% read the first month. I wouldn't doubt that it is higher in August--however, these fake books are eating into that pot and taking away from all legitimate authors directly, as well as indirectly by lost readers who give up on KU. 

It would be like if Netflix had hundreds of one minute 'movies' with many of them being the exact same movie but with a different title. Netflix would not stand for that. 

A few weeks ago I reported two of these fake books as plagiarism to Amazon. They have different titles and authors, but the exact same contents in the Look Inside, and the exact same description. From the reviews on one of them, it was apparent they were the same book, so someone plagiarized someone. It shouldn't matter if the authors are one and the same. Nothing was done. Both books are still available and I'll be linking them further down. 

Does this mean I can publish No Good Deed under a different name and title? That would be awesome because then I could have that one for sale in every vendor while keeping the original in Select. Yeah. Right.  If I did that, Amazon would be all over faster than I could blink.  I mean, look what Amazon did to me last spring. I had my book, Mark Taylor: Genesis removed from sale for almost a week when I put it in the multi-author boxed set, Thrilling Thirteen. I sent Amazon the required documents to prove not only was I the copyright holder, but that I had signed a contract for the book to be in Thrilling Thirteen. Somehow, the info didn't get to the right people, and my book was taken off sale. It didn't even matter that my book had been available for 20 months prior to the publication of TT. I was assumed to be the copyright violator, not the book that had been published only weeks before. (Although I'm very glad they didn't take TT down, but that isn't the point. )

So, on to the details, and they get confusing because they are all the same. I'm just going to copy and paste my findings and no, you aren't seeing double when you see the exact same descriptions and opening lines. 

Here are just some of the violators, but I'm sure there are more: 

He Watches Me:  #1 True Murder Mystery Novella 

by John Walker

Opening Lines:
It was a dark and chilly night as I sat on my couch. I was sipping upon my cup of fine Earl Grey tea

Description:
67% OFF LIMITED TIME SPECIAL OFFER! 

When one man is shocked with fear after a strange phone call from an unknown voice, he was taken on a horrific & mysterious journey that would forever change his life. 

When he soon receives a strange visit from the killer, he plots out an intricate plan to stop to the mysterious killer. However, he instead ends up discovering the horrible truth which he could have never expected. 

"The gripping plot of this story sucked me in from the very first page, and it wouldn’t let me go until the last. I love it!" - Mac Nelson 

This is a story of love and death. A binding of terror and an insatiable lust for power, this story will take you on an adventure of horror in detail and depth like you've never experienced before. This tale is guaranteed to capture your mind suck it in, but you will like it. So read on, and enjoy, my friend.


The Mystery Man: #1 Mystery Novel 2014 [Kindle Edition]

John Walker 

Opening Lines:
It was a dark and chilly night as I sat on my couch. I was sipping upon my cup of fine Earl Grey tea

Description:

67% OFF LIMITED TIME SPECIAL OFFER! 

When one man is shocked with fear after a strange phone call from an unknown voice, he was taken on a horrific & mysterious journey that would forever change his life. 

When he soon receives a strange visit from the killer, he plots out an intricate plan to stop to the mysterious killer. However, he instead ends up discovering the horrible truth which he could have never expected. 

"The gripping plot of this story sucked me in from the very first page, and it wouldn’t let me go until the last. I love it!" - Mac Nelson 

This is a story of love and death. A binding of terror and an insatiable lust for power, this story will take you on an adventure of horror in detail and depth like you've never experienced before. This tale is guaranteed to capture your mind suck it in, but you will like it. So read on, and enjoy, my friend.

#116,511 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#30 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 30 minutes (12-21 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense


The Shadow Man: #1 Mystery Novel 2014 [Kindle Edition]

Jack Jeffreys

Opening Lines

'It was a dark and stormy night as I sat in my wood cabin. The wood ached and moaned as I was deep in the forest, all alone--or so I thought.'

Description:
67% OFF LIMITED TIME SPECIAL OFFER! 

When two brothers are shocked at the news of their sister's death, they were taken on a horrific & mysterious journey that would forever change their lives. 

When they get a strange note from the killer, they try to plan a stop to the violence. However, end up discovering the horrible truth which they never expected. 

"This gripping story sucked me in from the very first page until the last. I love it!" - John Keith 

This is a story of love and death. A binding of terror and an insatiable lust for power, this story will take you on an adventure of horror in detail and depth like you've never experienced before. This tale is guaranteed to capture your mind suck it in, but you will like it. So read on, and enjoy, my friend.

The American Shadow Killer: #1 True Murder Mystery Novella of 2014 [Kindle Edition] Jack Jeffreys


Opening Lines: 

'It was a dark and stormy night as I sat in my wood cabin. The wood ached and moaned as I was deep in the forest, all alone--or so I thought.'

Description:
Publication Date: August 16, 2014
67% OFF LIMITED TIME SPECIAL OFFER! 

When two American brothers are shocked at the news of their sister's death, they were taken on a horrific & mysterious journey that would forever change their lives. 

When they get a strange note from the killer, they try to plan a stop to the violence. However, end up discovering the horrible truth which they never expected. 

"This gripping story sucked me in from the very first page until the last. I love it!" - John Keith 

This is a story of love and death. A binding of terror and an insatiable lust for power, this story will take you on an adventure of horror in detail and depth like you've never experienced before. This tale is guaranteed to capture your mind suck it in, but you will like it. So read on, and enjoy, my friend.

A Mysterious Encounter: #1 Mystery Novel 2014 [Kindle Edition]Henry Hawkins (Author)

Opening Lines: 'It was a dark and stormy night as I sat in my wood cabin. The wood ached and moaned as I was deep in the forest, all alone--or so I thought.'
 Description: 
67% OFF LIMITED TIME SPECIAL OFFER! 

When two brothers are shocked at the news of their sister's death, they were taken on a horrific & mysterious journey that would forever change their lives. 

When they get a strange note from the killer, they try to plan a stop to the violence. However, end up discovering the horrible truth which they never expected. 

"This gripping story sucked me in from the very first page until the last. I love it!" - John Keith 

This is a story of love and death. A binding of terror and an insatiable lust for power, this story will take you on an adventure of horror in detail and depth like you've never experienced before. This tale is guaranteed to capture your mind suck it in, but you will like it. So read on, and enjoy, my friend.


The Silent Killer: Murder Mystery Novella [Kindle Edition]Henry Hawkins

Opening lines:
'It was a dark and stormy night as I sat in my wood cabin. The wood ached and moaned as I was deep in the forest, all alone--or so I thought.'

Description: 
50% OFF LIMITED TIME SPECIAL OFFER! 

When two brothers are shocked at the news of their sister's death, they were taken on a horrific & mysterious journey that would forever change their lives. 

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #373,848 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store
Description:
When they get a strange note from the killer, they try to plan a stop to the violence. However, end up discovering the horrible truth which they never expected. 

"This gripping story sucked me in from the very first page until the last. I love it!" - John Keith 

This is a story of love and death. A binding of terror and an insatiable lust for power, this story will take you on an adventure of horror in detail and depth like you've never experienced before. This tale is guaranteed to capture your mind suck it in, but you will like it. So read on, and enjoy, my friend.


#144,643 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
#43 in Kindle Store > Kindle Short Reads > 30 minutes (12-21 pages) > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense

So, am I crazy to be worried? I think KU is a great thing, both as a reader and an author. I renewed my membership in it as a reader and hope to continue with my books in Select, but if Amazon continues to allow these kinds of scams to continue, I'm afraid of being locked into 90 days of my books being lumped in with all of these fake books. There have been fake books before, but the difference was people actually had to buy them. They they could return them when they found out they were bogus. KU subscribers would have no incentive to report the books or get a refund. They would just roll their eyes and find another book. But what if they get tired of finding nothing but this garbage?

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Sidelines: Life Between Kickoffs

Like most writers, I have various short stories stashed in files on my computer. Some were written in response to writing challenges or contests and so had to fit some kind of criteria set by the contest. In fact, The Mark Taylor series was born out of a 1000 word story for a challenge, so you never know what will happen with a short story--so I never completely delete them.

Until Kindle Unlimited came along last month, I really didn't have any good way of publishing them. I had one posted here on my page for a long time, but I took it down and made some changes to it that I've been meaning to do for a long time. It was in second person because that was the challenge criteria. It worked, but it sounded distant. I have to say that the re-write in first person makes it much better. I didn't bother fixing it before because collections of short stories are a hard sell--most readers want more than thirty minutes worth of reading for their money. I don't blame them as I'm the same way. However, for readers in KU, the obstacle of price is negated because they are paying the same price every month regardless of the length of the work. That means a short story can finally find an audience. I really think that at least two of these stories have some of my best writing, and I was thrilled to finally have a chance to publish them as a short story collection.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Keyword Changes for Perma-free


I stumbled upon Nick Stephenson's blog post that mentioned how keywords can help with sales and discoverability. I've tried keyword changes before, but never noticed much difference. However, as this graph clearly shows, it made a huge difference in downloads of my perma-free book, Mark Taylor: Genesis. I went from less than ten downloads a day, on average, to four to five times that. As you can see, the increase was immediate. I made the change last Saturday morning, it was live by mid-afternoon, so even with just a partial day, I had nearly doubled my downloads from the day before.

Ireadereview posted the book on their site a few days in and I have to wonder if the tweaks I made in the keywords had something to do with them finding it so they could list it. The book has been perma-free since early May and never had a mention before. It's too much coincidence to think it just happened a few days after making keyword changes. Other than ireaderreview, I think I tweeted it as a freebie once or twice, but I did that before too. Prior to the changes, I also posted it on several Facebook groups for book promotion. Obviously, tweeting and the FB groups did very little to increase downloads. 

Also, a note that the last day showing there still has three to four hours of reporting to go.  I expect the graph will show even more downloads for today.





I have already noticed an increase in sales of my second book, No Good Deed and hopefully, that will continue with the other three books in the series. 

I've tweaked keywords on my romantic suspense, Seeking Vengeance, but haven't noticed the same results. Maybe I just haven't hit on the keywords, or maybe it's just that I couldn't use the word 'free' in the keywords since it's not free. Or it could just be that this is generally a slow time for book purchases, and so needs a little more time. I'm going to leave it as for now and see what happens. 

 Everyone keeps saying that perma-free of the first book is key to selling a series, but I was never able to get visibility for MT: Genesis. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this improvement continues and I'd like to thank Nick Stephenson for sharing his knowledge with other authors. 

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

New Cover Reveal for The Merry-Go-Round by Donna Fasano


The Merry-Go-Round
by Donna Fasano
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Release Date: December 2, 2009





When Lauren divorces her husband, she has one thought on her mind...stepping off the merry-go-round. However, her life quickly turns into a three-ring circus: her hypochondriac father moves in, her ex is using her shower when she’s not home, and her perky assistant is pushing her out into the fearsome dating world. She also has to decide if the dilapidated barn and vintage merry-go-round she was awarded in the divorce settlement is a blessing or a bane. As if Lauren’s personal life isn't chaotic enough, this slightly jaded attorney is overrun with a cast of quirky characters who can’t stay on the right side of the law. What’s a woman to do? She can allow life to spin her in circles forever. Or she can reach out and grab the brass ring.













What are you working on now? 
I’m currently writing two projects at once. I've never done this before, and I can’t decide if I love it or hate it. I’m writing a Christmas Novella entitled Almost Perfect Christmas, the story of man who enlists the help of a woman in giving his daughter a perfect Christmas. Unbeknownst to him, his little girl has every intention of playing an angelic matchmaker. The other project is the first book of a 3-book series called Following His Heart, the story of a man who is eerily drawn to a woman, and after they fall in love, they discover what brought them together, and it just might tear them apart. Yes, the description is vague, but that’s just the way it has to be for now. I’m chuckling as I type this. Both books are contemporary romance novels and are due out this fall.

What are you reading now or what do you have in your TBR pile? 
I just finished Learning to Swim by Sara Henry. I’m currently reading Love Me Tender by Mimi Barbour. On my TBR pile you’ll find A Reluctant Hero by Jackie Weger, Creatus by Carmen DeSousa, The Neighbor by Dean Koontz, Three Junes by Julia Glass, One Way or Another by Elaine Raco Chase…should I go on?

What flavor is your writing style?
I always tell people I write cotton candy for the mind. Think back to when you were a kid and you took a bite of that delectable confection. What did you do? You smiled. That’s what I’m going for in my romance novels.

Was writing always the first thing you wanted to do in life?
No, I wanted to be a teacher, but then I met and fell in love with my husband. We married and began raising a family. It wasn't until my children started school that I started writing.

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters? 
I believe there’s a lot of me in my protagonists. I write about women who are strong, yet vulnerable. My main characters and my secondary characters have flaws and make mistakes (don’t we all?), but then most of them do all they can to learn, grow and become better people.

Do you have any advice for other writers?
One piece of advice I often give to writers is to READ. Don’t just read in the genre in which you write. Read everything. And then figure out what you liked and what you didn't…and then think about why. Reading and analyzing the writing of talented people can help you perfect your own skills.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers? 
I bow down to readers! I am so appreciative that they spend their hard-earned money on my books and then take the time to read my stories. I am so blessed to have a job I love, and I wouldn't have this job if there weren't readers who love romance novels.

What inspired you to write your first book? 
I came to writing through my love of reading. I spent many a Saturday as a kid in the local library. I loved books, but I never imagined I would ever write one. My husband gets the credit for my becoming a writer. When my children started school and I decided to find a part-time job, he looked around at the piles of romance novels in our home and said, “You've read a lot of those. Why don’t you try writing one?” So, you see. It’s all his fault.

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book? 
Not my latest book, but one of my titles—Where’s Stanley?—features an ending that I didn't come up with. I handed in the completed manuscript, and my editor suggested a different ending. I wasn't happy, but I did as she asked. Personally, I think the book suffered for it, but readers seem to enjoy it.

What books have most influenced your life most? 
Old Yeller, Sounder, The Bell Jar, To Kill a Mockingbird…how can people read these books and not be influenced? There are so many titles that inspired me and moved me, molded and shaped me, there isn't time to name them all. The characters in these wonderful books help young readers to decide what kind of individual they want to be.

Do you ever experience writer's block? 
There was a time when I’d have said no. I have a plant-your-butt-in-the-chair-and-the-words-will-come attitude. But I did suffer writer’s block while my dad was battling cancer. It’s difficult to write feel-good happily-ever-after when your beloved father is dying.

Do you write an outline before every book you write?
I do, yes. I equate an outline with a road made; how do you know where you’re going if you don’t have a map? I might write the first chapter or two on the fly, but I always take the time to plan out where I want the story to go. Now that’s not to say that the characters are going to stay on the straight and narrow. They decide to veer off the highway every now and then, and that’s when I have to do a quick reroute.

Have you ever disliked something you wrote? 
I've never published anything that I disliked. I have started projects that haven’t seen the light of day, either because I couldn't figure out where to take the story, or I couldn't make the protagonist sympathetic or likable. It’s a rare occurrence, and when it happens, I just set the story aside and hope I can someday come up with a solution.




USA Today Bestselling Author Donna Fasano has written over 30 romance and women's fiction books that have sold 4 million copies worldwide. Look for Ehefrau auf Zeit (German Edition) due out September 16th, published by Amazon Crossing, and the first novel of the brand new 3-book Ocean City Boardwalk Series called Following His Heart, due to be released at the end of October.











Sunday, August 10, 2014

Are you a #KindleUnlimited member?

Read a great book in Kindle Unlimited? Are you an author with a great book in KU? Fantastic! Come and share the links with us in the new Facebook group: Kindle Unlimited Facebook Group 

There are tons of Facebook groups dedicated to cheap and free Kindle books, but I haven't seen any for Kindle Unlimited books. There is overlap, but with over 600,000 books available to KU subscribers, finding something can still be daunting. If you're like me, you went in like a kid in a candy store, downloading books willy-nilly, only to stop reading some around 8% or less. They don't cost anything except time, but I'd rather spend the time reading something I like. 

All of my books except for my box sets are in Kindle Unlimited at least until October. I hope it works out! If you haven't read them yet, here's your no risk chance. :) You can click on the book images or find them on my Amazon Author Page.

So, happy reading!