Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Things You Should Know About

There are a lot of things going on this week, so I'm (v. quickly) linking some articles that may be of interest.

First, Amazon introduced its new "Pad" this morning. It's called the Kindle Fire, and it appears to be v. Amazon-centric. You can download books, movies, shows, music, and other apps. The price tag? $199. The device starts shipping November 15.

I'm not a "Pad" kind of person (mostly because I can't justify the expense), but I've got my eye on this one. 

Also, Trident Media Group announced earlier this week that they have launched an ebook division.

Lisa Desrochers weighed in here, and Dean Wesley Smith has a similar (if not more candid) opinion.

I tend to agree with them. I still can't see how "agents acting as publishers" isn't a serious conflict of interest. Smith goes as far as to recommend not signing with ANY agent for the next two years, or until this mess is sorted out.

Remember that, before I epubbed Cross My Heart, I was rejected by 75 agents. Maybe they were right, and CMH wasn't worth publishing (some reviewers have told me so!). But then . . . what if I would have signed with someone whose agency introduced an ebook division? Would that agent have pushed my ms hard to editors knowing that there was a "back-up plan"? How many editors would have seen the ms? Would they have pushed for revisions/changes (as most do)?

The fact is, at this moment, a lit agent with an ebook division can't do ANYTHING for me that I'm not already doing myself. The only way a lit agency could help me now is by securing print rights. Right now, I'm not sure I would be willing to give up 15% of my ebook royalties (forever!) to an agent to upload my book for me when I can do it myself, or pay a flat fee for someone else to do it.   

Finally, I thought this article (written by David Gaughran) was worth a look. He talks about the losses in sales indies have suffered, and how he feels the changes Amazon is making will better benefit authors (and readers!) in the future. Definitely gives this gal some hope.

If you missed it, I talked about some of the changes he mentioned in this post.

So . . . inquiring minds want to know: what do YOU think of the new Kindle Fire? 


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Nerds and . . . Football?

On our wedding day, when the minister said "for better or for worse," I had no idea that "for worse" would come to include the Redskins football season.

I'm not a huge sports fan (I know you're shocked, right?). It's not the sports I mind so much. It's the getting the millions of dollars to PLAY them that bothers me. This is probably because I never played sports. Because I am not athletic. At all. I hit a baseball once or twice. Tried basketball in PE, but lacked the hand/eye coordination to actually make the shots. I wasn't fast. Dodgeball frightened me. 

I was the drama queen. I danced behind closed doors. And I was really, REALLY grateful when guys like this . . .

. . . made it cool to be a Nerd.

I like to think it worked out okay for me in the end.

Unfortunately, I married a guy with the heart of an athlete, who takes every fumble and incomplete pass personally. He is a former athlete. I'm sure football season would be much more tolerable (for both of us) were he one of the guys who gets paid millions to play it.

It's all about perspective.

The Redskins lost, by the way. 

And with that said . . . please remember me this fall and winter. Especially on Sundays. And Monday nights. And Thursdays. And Saturdays.

That is all. :)


Thursday, September 22, 2011

Everybody's Changing

Truth Time!

Things are changing in the Indie World. 

We all know that the algorithms are the mysterious force behind sales at Amazon. What we don't know is how they work. I did an Algorithms post a few months ago (my speculations only). There, I documented what happened in April, when Cross My Heart hit a few of the bestseller lists. My conclusion? The Amazon algorithms are designed to slowly introduce you to the world, and, if there's interest, keep you there.

There are quite a few factors involved: ranking, sales, reviews/ratings, tags, etc.

BUT . . .

Things changed over the summer, and indies are seeing a decrease in sales that we can no longer blame on the summer doldrums. The Self Published Author's Lounge discussed this in a blog post last week, and quoted Modwitch (from the Kindleboards forum) who analyzes the Amazon algorithms as a person from the outside. The original thread can be found here.

Among the changes Modwitch noticed: books only get 30 days on the hot new releases list instead of 90. They also seem to be pushing books with the growing sales, and pushing back books with dwindling sales. Numbers are falling faster, and, even with the "also boughts" list, it's harder for books to gain traction. 

A few tweaks have been made to the publishing process, too. For instance, you're now only allowed to select two categories for your indie novel (I believe it may have been five when I first uploaded CMH and The Guardian). You're also limited to only seven key words (I had double that on all of my books before the change).
The flood of backlist titles now available may also be a factor in diminishing sales, and a lot of indies are trying to set their prices to free. (Seriously: there are entire threads devoted to this on the Boards.) This means readers have more titles to choose from and may be filling their Kindles all at once (only to play "catch up" later).

It may be that, while ebooks are "forever," they also take on a sales pattern similar to their print counterparts: good sales within the first few months of release, and then a gradual decrease.

This is obviously speculation, but tweaks within the Amazon system would explain the mass casualties in the rankings/sales dept. after July. Modwitch also notes that these changes aren't necessarily permanent. Amazon is obviously going to make the changes that best serve the company's interest. I can't imagine they're thrilled with this. Fact is: when we lose money, they lose money. There does seem to be a higher turnover rate now, though, and Amazon seems to be pushing as many books as it can to keep the same titles from hogging the lists week after week.

The bottom line?

Indies will have to work harder to find an audience. Amazon isn't going to do all of the work for us, anymore. 

What can we do as writers? 

Stay connected to readers. And (duh) Keep Writing!

Repeat after me: Marathon, not a sprint. Marathon, not a sprint.

P.S. Since I was featured in the KDP newsletter earlier this week, I promised I'd post the effect this had on sales. The answer: none. It was clearly not my target audience, though I'm grateful for the exposure, just the same. Tuesday resulted in a slight increase in blog hits, and Wednesday sales were up a tiny bit. Rumor has it KDP reporting was down/slow around the time the newsletter released, so I don't know if this is the system "catching up," or an influx of new sales. There's also no way to know if anyone sampled CMH to buy at a later date. Still, it was v. cool to see. :)

Friday, September 16, 2011

Amazon Updates

A few links that might be of interest for your Friday/weekend. 

Amazon seems to be v. close to releasing a Kindle"tablet." It may be that they plan to capitalize on the upcoming holiday season, so keep your eyes open.

In its quest for world domination, Amazon also opened an online store in Spain. I've heard nothing as far as what this means for ebooks, but, with several countries already in its grasp, more foreign KDP stores could open (which means a 70% royalty rate on ebook sales as opposed to the 35% foreign sale royalty rate). 

There is also this, which I have plenty of opinions about but will choose not to air until I have more information. :)

Have a great weekend, everyone!


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Publishers Behaving Badly?

A quick post because (wouldn't you know it!) the work week is kicking tail.

In case you've missed this, Kiana Davenport (a traditionally pubbed writer recently turned indie) claims her publisher is demanding their advance back because she epubbed a short story collection after she signed their contract.

There is a discussion about it here, and a response here.

I'm sure there are others, but I lack the time necessary to hunt them down. 

I haven't formed a solid opinion about this story, yet. I just think we're going to have to wait and see how this plays out. Could something like this happen? Absolutely. But I don't think there's enough information out there, and I'm left with some lingering questions, especially "breach of contract"-related questions. Since I have no clue what Kiana's contract states, I'm not sure how she is or isn't in violation of it (which, I'm assuming, is what the disagreement boils down to).

(Is it sad that the English major in me wanted to fix that cliché to: "to what the disagreement boils down"?)

Anyway, I would love to see the publisher make a statement.

If nothing else, it's a great reminder to always, Always, ALWAYS read the fine print. If you don't understand it and your agent can't explain it, hire an attorney who can.

We're all still feeling our way around this "indie revolution." Traditional publishers are re-thinking their strategies (or should be, at least), agents are trying to figure out what role they play, Amazon is expanding its reaches. . . . I think it's a really great time to be a writer, but the landscape is changing faster than anyone predicted, and we're going to have to be vigilant as we ride out the "learning curve."


Friday, September 9, 2011

YA Indie Spotlight: Jennifer Snyder

Hi Everyone!

I have a new YA Indie Spotlight for you today (as promised). Today, I'm featuring Jennifer Snyder's YA contemporary novel: Shattered Soul.


Hellish Nightmare...

If seventeen-year-old Seth Bradson were to describe his life in two words, those would be the two he’d choose. Seth prefers to cope with his crappy existence by spending his days in a drug-induced haze. But when Ali Carson steps into his life, Seth finds something he’s subconsciously been seeking—a new drug, one that consumes his mind unlike any other.


In a moment of unforgivable weakness, Seth allows Ali to try crystal meth, his most addictive temptation. This single event begins the unraveling of both their lives and forces Seth to learn the definition of regret the hard way.

Jennifer Snyder writes Young Adult Edgy Contemporary novels as well as Young Adult Paranormal Romance novels. She resides in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina with her husband and two children. Jennifer finds great joy in blank notebooks and a smooth writing pen.


"An extremely intense story." 

"Raw and truthful."

"A wonderful story about the cost of addiction and the struggle to win free of it."

Shattered Soul is priced at $2.99 and can be purchased for Nook and Kindle. It is also available through Smashwords and in paperback.

You can find Jennifer on the web here!

Happy Friday!