Tag Archives | Kindle

Why Give a Book Away?

Blue Sky WEBSITE USEI sent out a notice to my mailing list that my short story, Blue Sky, is available free on Amazon this weekend.  (And now I'm telling you.  You can download it here.   For free.  And please tell your family and friends.  And enemies. Or the mailman and all your coworkers, and everyone else you know.)

But a client/friend emailed and asked me, essentially, why I was doing this.  And that made me realize that not everyone has studied the theory of indie publishing with Amazon as I have.  (Why would you? I never thought twice about it until I started hearing other author's success stories.)

So, why would you give away a book for free?

Let me be the first to say that I'm not an expert on this whole thing, so all I can offer is why I decided to do it.  Here's the deal.  When you publish a book exclusively with Amazon in their program called KDP Select, they offer you several sales tools.  One of the most-used is the freebie.  For every 90-day period you are exclusive with them, you get up to 5 days where you can offer your book for free.  

And–this is its own little mini-industry.   There are numerous sites that will list your freebie for free, or a small fee.  Some of them list it for free but then say they can't guarantee your book will show up unless you pay them that small fee (anywhere from $5-$50, at least on the sites I saw).   If you're interested, I found a page on Author Marketing Club that listed a bunch of such sites.

All this being said, why do it?

For me, its a matter of exposure.  I hope that people will read my short story, like it, and decide to buy my novel.  I also hope they will come visit this site (hello to you if this is your first time here) and keep an eye out for future releases.  And maybe keep coming back for more scintillating posts on writing and the writing life.  One of the great things about formatting a book for Amazon is that you can put anything you want to at the end of the book.  So, of course, I put a link to this page.  

I'm not sure how effective a free promotion would be if you had only one book or story up.  There's a whole school of thought that indie publishing is a numbers game and that the more books you have up, the better you'll do.  Hugh Howey, the poster child for indie publishing, said at a panel at AWP that he didn't do any promotion until he had five or six titles published.

So, I'll keep you posted on all this.  I'm approaching my foray into indie publishing as a grand experiment.  Why not try offering a book for free?  Of course, it helps that what I have to give is a short story, not a novel I slaved over for years.  (Though I did write the first draft of this story when I was doing my MFA back in 2002.)

Here are a couple of posts about publishing with Amazon:

So You Want to be a Kindle Author

Amazon for Authors, Part One

Amazon for Authors, Part Two 

Would you consider giving a book away for free?

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My Foray Into Indie Publishing

Blue Sky WEBSITE USEI've been writing so much about Amazon and indie publishing lately that I figured I better try it out myself.

And so I have.  As of last Wednesday, my first indie project, a short story, is for sale on Amazon for 99 cents.

Blue Sky: A Nell Malone Story

Here's the blurb (which I will no doubt rewrite a million times): 

Nell Malone's life is changing, big time. Still grieving over the death of her husband two years earlier, she grapples with the empty nest syndrome as her daughter leaves for college. But a visit to Santa Fe yields new insights into herself–and the tantalizing prospect of a relationship with an intriguing artist. A short story about loss and love.

And here's the inside scoop:  Nell Malone is a character who has been with me practically since I started writing.  She's a newspaper reporter and columnist with an artistic daughter and a husband who died two years earlier.  He was a cop, shot while on the job, and his killer has never been caught. I've got a novel about her all laid out and ready to write when I finish the book I'm working on now. (I'm thinking it will be a great project for Nanowrimo this November. )

But this particular story has been on my computer since my MFA days (and I graduated in 2003). Since Nell seems always to lurk on the edges of my brain, I pulled this story out, drastically gutted it, updated it, and edited it.  Then my writing group read it and commented and made more edits.  And I went back through it again until I was happy with every word.  And then the real fun began.

The Process

Let me just say, there are a few obstacles to the process of publishing a book.  

First of all, you've got to find a cover.  Now, let me be clear: this is a short story, as in short, not a lot of pages, not a novel.  I'm very proud of this story and I love that Amazon gives me a venue to publish it. All that being said, I didn't feel I needed to invest heavily in a cover, because, well, its a short story. And I knew a custom cover would be expensive, or at least more than my budget.

So I did what one always does in such circumstances: I asked the Google.

And I found Melody Simmons.  She does good work for reasonable prices.  I purchased a pre-made cover on her site which happened to suit my story.  It also happened to be on sale, which was a lovely bonus.  Melody has a good selection of pre-made covers on her site, and she also will do custom work. I recommend her.

And then after you get the cover, you need to figure out formatting.  Gee-zus.  It's actually an easy process to submit the file to Amazon.  They check it for spelling errors and send it back to you and then you preview it and realize that everything is wrong: tabs are wonky and things look awful.  So you go back over it again, trying to figure out what you did wrong.  And submit it again.  And it looks worse.  Finally, I got a writing friend with experience to help me with this and that solved the problem. There are also formatters that will do this for you. So that I don't have to rely on friends for help all the time, I'll probably buy this one.)

After you get all the wonkiness out, you submit it, et voila!  Your book is up on Amazon.  You can create your own Amazon author page, which I highly recommend, and feed your blog and Twitter onto it.  You can also create author pages for their UK, German, and French sites. (A tip: keep your English composing page open and you'll be able to figure out what they are saying.)

KDP Select

I opted to participate in the KDP Select program, which means I'm selliing it exclusively on Amazon for 90 days (and probably forever, most likely).  In return I get marketing tools such as the Kindle Countdown, which I haven't quite figured out yet, and the chance to offer my book for free. I'm still studying the best way to handle this promotion–when to offer it for free and so on.  

The Part Where She Asks for Reviews

Anyway, the story is available for purchase, and at the price of 99 cents, who can resist?  If you do buy it, I would SO appreciate a review!  Reviews rule the world, as far as the kings of Amazon are concerned, and I've not been good about asking for them.  (If you've read Emma Jean and feel like leaving a review, that would make me happy, too.)  So if you do decide to buy the story (and bless you if you do), writing a review would be awesome, too.  It's a really easy process!

Previous Posts

Here are some of the other posts I've featured about Amazon:

Amazon for Authors, Part Two: Tools and Thoughts

Amazon for Authors, Part One: Opportunities

Derek

PS

I've got a wee little book on writing about to come out, too.  I keep getting hung up on that one, for reasons to complex to list at the moment, but I'll keep you posted on it, as well.

And now, do tell: are you interested in leaping into the indie publishing process?  

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A New Wrinkle on a Lifelong Love Affair

School-study-person-10504-lI've been a reader all my life.  I'm sure you have, too, since if you're reading this blog, it's because you're interested in writing.  And if you're interested in writing, odds are good that you came to your love of writing through reading.

Maybe you, like me, usually have something like five books that you're reading at one time.  (I always have at least one novel going, maybe two.  And probably for sure something on spirituality.  Maybe another on self-help, and often a business or other non-fiction book as well.)

Perhaps you, like me, enjoy nothing better than an afternoon spent reading a juicy novel by the fire, or a late night when you're kept awake turning the pages of a mystery.

I wonder, too, if, over the last few years, you've not had as much time to read.  It's been the case for me.  Life got busy with children, then grandchildren, career, friends, housework, you name it.  And my lifelong love affair with reading was threatened.  It wasn't that I wasn't reading, because I always, always, always have a book going.  It was just that I wasn't reading as much.

But all that has changed.

Because I bought a Kindle. And it has revolutionized my reading world.  Already, since just last week, I've finished one full novel and am halfway through a second.  Plus, I've read sample chapters of two others and begun another one.

I've done more reading in the past few days than I've accomplished in the last month.

There's something amazingly simple about picking the little tablet up, turning it on, and reading a few pages when I have a spare five minutes.  The device makes me read faster.  I'm a visual scanner, meaning I take in a whole paragraph or sentence at a glance (which is why I'm worthless if someone spells a word or reads me a string of numbers–I need to see the whole), and something about the size of the Kindle's screen enables me to inhale words in huge gulps.

I love it.

And it is good for my writing, as well.  Reading is part of the job description for any writer, and it is an excellent way to teach yourself to write.  You could do worse than to begin your education by sitting down and reading 100 works in the genre you wish to write in.  When I read, it's almost as if the words I inhale rearrange themselves inside me and spit themselves back out on the page.  I think I've written more on my novel in the few days I've had the Kindle than I have this entire year.

Words in, words out.  It's magic. 

It puzzles me why the publishing world is so threatened by the digital revolution.  Anything that makes people read more should be considered a good thing, right? One would think so.  Another benefit to the Kindle or its pals is the ease with which you can order books.  One click and there you are, ready to read.   This is a fantastic, thing, people.

I bought the absolute cheapest Kindle available, the one with special offers and ads on it, because I wasn't sure I was going to like it.  Turns out I even love the ads, which have introduced me to a new author already.  For the record, the special deals generally feature classic authors like Paul Bowles or C.S. Lewis, so its not a bunch of crap by any stretch of the imagination.

One caveat: think hard about what you want your tablet to do.  After much thought, I realized that what I really wanted was to read on the device, period.  Which is why, despite the siren song of the Ipad, I didn't bite.  And now I'm glad, because if I had a full-fledged Ipad, I'd be checking my email or reading HuffPost.  I know myself.  I am weak.  I succumb to such temptations easily.

So that's my story about my new love affair.

How do you read–on an Ereader or with a traditional book?

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Kindle-ing

It has come to my attention that this blog is now available for subscription on your Kindle. (I hope that you, unlike me, are lucky enough to have one.)  Not only that, but yesterday this very blog reached best seller status, achieving a rank of #16 on the Lifestyle and Culture Kindle Blog list.  As my daughter used to say when she was a small child, exigun!  (That's "exciting" for those of you who do not speak small-childese.) It gives me the merest hint of what having a best-selling book must feel like.  Note I said merest hint.

Of course, by today Wordstrumpet was down to #30, alas.  And no, I'm not checking the stats every half hour.  Only every hour.

I have absolutely no idea how the blog got picked up by Kindle or how long its been available or what the true sales figures are (for all I know having one subscriber could make it a best-seller). At the moment I'm trying to figure out if Amazon has connected my blog with my Associates account so that I can collect royalties.

Just as with regular books on Amazon, readers can write reviews of the blog on Amazon.  Poor little ole Wordstrumpet has no reviews yet.  Nary a one.  So if any of my loyal readers want to post one, I'd be very grateful.  The link is here.

And for anyone reading this on a Kindle, give me a shout-out.  I'd love to hear how the text and images come through.  And thanks for subscribing.

Stay tuned for my end of the year wrap-up and look forward tomorrow.

PS.  Don't know what a Kindle is?  Check it out here.

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