Monday, December 31, 2018

Misinformation From Someone Trying to Sell You Something

One of the blogs I follow had an article from Authorlink that was just so inaccurate that I have to comment here. I've copied portions of the article and my comments are in italics.

"Let’s say you uploaded your masterpiece and put it on sale for a month before you discover a dreadful typographical error. And while the book was on sale you had 100 sales. When you deactivate that book from displaying on Amazon, any sales ranking you have accumulated will be lost and to accumulate ratings and reviews you’ll have to start over from zero. That means it is important to get it right on the very first try. We have known authors who spent weeks trying to replace faulty files in the Amazon upload system.

Even when you have corrected the errors you must start the whole upload process over again. You can’t simply overwrite the file. You must delete the bad file before you upload the corrected version, a time-consuming task."

Both of these are incorrect. You simply upload the new file to KDP. I’ve done it dozens of time just this year. Nothing is lost – no reviews, no ranking – nothing. Obviously, the author has never worked with KDP – ever.

"First, to sign up for the 70% plan means you are giving up your right to sell the book anywhere else except Amazon. That means you forfeit the chance to sell to another 20%-40% of the English-speaking market."

Not true. You have to price the book between $2.99 and $9.99. That’s it. The exclusivity arrangement only applies to KDP Select and some of the promotional programs.

"The retailer, too, can choose to sell your book at a price below your list price, minus delivery costs and any applicable Value Added Tax. Add-on costs can eat away at your earnings."

Not normally true. True, Amazon can choose to sell your Kindle or printed book for whatever they choose (just like Barnes & Noble), but the royalty, with only a couple of exceptions, is based on the LIST PRICE.

From KDP Digital Pricing page: 70% Royalty Rate x (List Price – applicable VAT - Delivery Costs) = Royalty

This is only for books under the Kindle MatchBook program or the Kindle Countdown Deals program: 70% Royalty Rate x (Promotional List Price – applicable VAT - Delivery Costs) = Royalty


Are delivery costs that big a deal? Sometimes. Delivery costs for the US market at $0.15/MB.

Based on the last two projects I did:
  • 91,351 word novel - the delivery cost is $0.18 cents.
  • 130,328 word non-fiction book with 113 images, covering 72 pages, (which formatted perfectly in Kindle Previewer from the source Word file!) - the delivery cost is $4.68.

So, delivery cost can be significant. But, how many books have 72 pages of pictures and 113 images?
"Amazon devices have very limited support for such rich media. Its KF8 device supports text or region magnification and that’s about all."

From the Kindle Create User Guide: You can add audio, video, and image plug-ins to your eBook as icons. Kindle Create accepts the following file types: Video: .mp4 Audio: .mp3 Images: .jpg, .jpeg or .png.

If you are technically talented enough to create a multi-media extravaganza for your ebook, you will figure out how to get it into the Kindle. Personally, I'm not interested. I like to read books. I don't need, or want, all the whizbang gizmos to distract me. 

My final word:

Not all books are suitable for a Kindle. Not all genres sell well on a Kindle. If you have a book with a lot of highly formatted pictures, illustrations, tables – it might not be suitable for that platform. If you are writing a novel, or a non-fiction work, it probably will be worth your time to put it on the Kindle platform. But, this article paints an extremely inaccurate picture for all types of books. Don't believe everything you read, especially when the author has something to sell!

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Thoughts on Publishing and Facebook Privacy

Today’s blogs had some interesting articles.

First, a missive declaring the semicolon evil! I found this entertaining and somewhat true also. Someday I will write my own piece about the evils of the em-dash and ellipses!


There is nothing really all that new in the next article, but this does bear repeating:

Stop Looking For Secrets!
Finally stop looking for insider tips, even like this. The secret to writing success can be summed up in two words: perseverance and hard work. Focussing on these two aspects for success, you will see progress in your chosen profession.”


One of the ways to succeed on Amazon is to be in the top-10 of your publishing genre. One way to do that is to write a book in a genre with very little competition. Do any of your books fit into these new categories?


Lastly, I have been thinking about social media lately. I saw Guy Kawasaki on CNBC recently talking about Facebook’s latest privacy issues. He said that we have to stop being so naive. The social media companies (Google, Facebook, and Twitter primarily) are giving us tools without asking us for money. But, of course they are getting something out of the deal. How else could they become some of the most valuable companies on the planet? I feel I get value from Google. I get world-class email, Google Drive, Google Docs, Google Photos, Blogger… I use them all and appreciate them. So, they get some information from me – it’s a trade-off I’m OK with. Facebook? Less so. I get some value, but far less. I’ve deactivated my account a number of times, but have so far gone back and reactivated it every time. I feel I need it. I need it to promote causes and organizations I care about. But, I did go in today and adjust my privacy and security settings to give them as little information as possible, knowing that they still will garner some data from my presence. The following article takes a stronger stance, claiming that given what we now know we should delete our Facebook accounts.

PS - Odds are good that I will once again deactivate my Facebook account, maybe this time for good. I made a comment on a friend's post. I was agreeing with the post, sharing what I thought was a different angle on the issue. He unfriended me! And he wasn't pleasant about it at all. Obviously I did not explain myself well - it's on me. But, it just reminded me that Facebook and Twitter are not good places to discuss issues, especially in the comments section. It's more frustrating than it's worth.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

This Just In: Now Judicial Activism is OK!

This is from the Washington Post:

“Late Friday night, a district court in Texas declared the entire Affordable Care Act unconstitutional — lock, stock and barrel. That includes not only the individual mandate and the protections for people with preexisting conditions, but also the entire Medicaid expansion as well as a host of other ACA rules without any connection at all to health insurance.”

Republicans are giddy! The party that decried judicial activism, lecturing to the rest of us that the courts should not be overriding Congress (or the state legislatures), are now OK with it. It's only judicial activism if the courts do something Republicans don't like.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Writers: Avoid Getting Fleeced!

Here is another article imploring writers to avoid the hype of so-called "gurus" who tell you they know the secret to self-publishing success:

"Sometimes the hype is designed to get newbie writers to buy the not-quite-newbie writer’s system for promoting books. There are a lot of indie writing gurus out there with two years’ experience, five books under their belts, and lots of sales on one platform (usually Amazon). Those gurus then stop writing fiction (for the most part) and make their money on webinars and selling their system for getting rich off writing."
Read the entire article from Kristine Kathryn Rusch's excellent blog!

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Self Publishing Isn't For Sissies

I read yet another article today about the pitfalls of traditional publishing by an author who has more than 100 titles with the big 5. The more I read articles like this the more I wonder why authors bother.


It sure is difficult to get noticed in the self-published realm. I decided to experiment with Goodreads ads. I picked one of my clients for the experiment (the author does not know, nor will the author ever know). I wrote 3 ads with the help of an experienced copywriter, and targeted the ads by both subject and genre. I took the Goodreads default for the maximum bid per click (50 cents). So far, the ads have been shown 1,536 times and not a single click. None of the people that viewed my ads have seen the great cover or read the scintillating book blurb. Nor would the price of the book be an issue. People just didn't respond to my ads and give it a chance.

Maybe my ads suck, or the targeting is all wrong. I'll try new ads, tweak the targeting -- maybe I'll eventually find something that works. If I do, rest assured that I will be on this blog letting you all know! Wish me luck.

Self Published? Own It!

I uploaded a book for one of my clients today and she elected to use the free ISBN provided by KDP Print, as I did for my printed book. There are two alleged downsides: this ISBN can only be used at Amazon and your online listing on Amazon will say "Independently Published" as opposed to showing some fake, made-up publishing company.

As I thought more about this today, I realized that these are not downsides at all.

So what if the ISBN is only good at Amazon? Seriously, where else would you want your self-published title? Amazon is where the action is - for both print and ebooks. You have to be on Amazon. If you do decide to put your work elsewhere, you will have to pay the fee (but you would not have to pay the fee twice in any case), but putting your book elsewhere will not generate more sales than Amazon. If you can't sell it on Amazon, it's not going to sell.

As to the second issue: if you are an indie publisher - own it! Be proud of it! Don't try to hide that fact behind some fake publishing company. It isn't going to help. You won't fool anyone. My books are listed under Voice of Doom and Gloom Publishing. Cute. How many readers think that is a real publishing company? Does putting a fictitious publisher on my work actually make me more pathetic than just admitting it's self-published? I'm starting to think yes. Plus, it would cost me $99 (or more) for the privilege and since I'm cheap - that would hurt.

Beautiful Fall Day

It's a beautiful fall day here in Illinois. Seen on the Fox River Trail