Adventures in Self-Publishing – 1.2 the Basics cont. KDP.

 

So, your book is written, edited (hopefully), and you have sourced a decent cover. What are your choices?

KDP – Amazon. The biggest slice of the pie BUT they are known to be a little picky and have the usual issues with big business (don’t care about the little guy – you). Some authors don’t like the big bad Zon’s business practices – but they ARE the biggest marketplace. They are also issues with authors getting account bans because of content violations, multiple accounts or other, vaguer issues.

READ THE FAQ and TOS. You can ONLY have one account. ONE. You can have an account for buying things, and a different login and password for KDP but only the single KDP account. KDP is hot on this, they will close your account. I’ve heard of people sharing computers with separate accounts being caught out. I assume it’s done partially on IP address. There’s a regular feature on people forgetting their login, and accidentally set up a new account. There’s a post on the forum about this at least once a week. Keep your original log in safe – if you do inadvertently set up another account, contact KDP and explain, asking them to remove the duplicate.

There are lots of password safe programmes and apps – you can save your logins there and only need remember the one password to log in. I googled password storage and at least 10 pages of links came up.

Watch out for KDP Select. If you want to sell your e-book anywhere else do NOT join Select.

I will talk about print books in another post.

Content violations: This is a vague term but usually means:

The type of smut – (some erotica is allowed but anything ‘illegal’ or ‘dubious’ will end up in the dungeon (pardon the pun). Amazon is a bit foggy about what is and isn’t allowed so erotica authors do get caught out. You have to tick the ADULT CONTENT criteria. On the subject of covers.- Amazon is pretty lenient but they do not allow nipples, genitals or bare backsides on covers. If you write that sort of material then have your images with a bit of modesty,

Public Domain – PD books are allowed but there are strict criteria. Your version has to be substantially different to what’s already out there. I’ve seen ‘authors’ with hundreds of titles get banned – because they uploaded some version and put the odd comment in here and there. Public domain is a minefield – tread carefully.

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200743940 – public domain

https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/G200672390 – content guidelines

Plagiarism  – GRRR don’t get me started on this. Basically – did you write what you are submitting? Do you have the copyright? Yes – good then go ahead. No – then crawl off somewhere and stop stealing other authors work.  Just because it was available on the web, or you found it on one of the plethora of pirate sites doesn’t mean it’s yours.

Complaints – if your work is not up to standard and lots of readers complain you MIGHT get a content violation. Usually, Amazon will contact you about this and let you rectify it/remove the book.

Amazon does usually send an email if a book is taken down, or there is an account issue. Check your spam filters too. Respond to what they say promptly, politely and they MAY rectify the issue.

Uploading to KDP is fairly easy. You can use a Word document. It converts it to mobi (or if you have a mobi generator I think you can use that. Check through on the previewer and fix any issues. It usually takes a few days to permeate the stores.

There will be later posts on SMASHWORDS, DRAFT2DIGITAL and LULU.

Crossing Categories in Writing – Guest Post Jacquelynn Luben

In 2015 I am welcoming a number of guests to my blog, where they discuss all manner of topics. I am sure my regular followers have seen the Fantasy and Literary Heroes in Society posts, which will be a continuing feature but today I am pleased to welcome Jacquelynn Luben who talks about the challenges of writing in multiple genres, her work in a small publishing house, research and the challenges faced by many authors. Over to you Jacquelynn…

Crossing Categories in Writing

Jacquelynn Luben

Over the years, I’ve written both fiction and non-fiction, short and long.  That is to say, I’ve written two non-fiction books and two novels (and am in the process of writing the third) and I’ve also written many short stories and published quite a few articles.

In terms of success, one of my non-fiction books was commissioned and published by a mainstream publisher, while the other was self-published, and of course, my articles were published in print magazines.

My novels, on the other hand, are published by a small publishing house, in which I am a director, with two others – so quite a small concern – which makes it more difficult to achieve the same sort of success as with a mainstream publisher.  However, on-line sales through Amazon have provided me with a very satisfactory income during the last three years, and this specifically applies to my fiction work.

I have never been a professional writer, and have never had to rely on writing for an income.  So from this point of view, I am happy with the way my writing has progressed.  It means I write what I feel like writing and when I feel like it, and am not normally boxed into a corner where I have to produce something to a deadline.

In the past, my non-fiction writing has been praised for its clarity, and perhaps I should have concentrated on that.  However, the truth of the matter is that I do not really like researching a subject.  My first non-fiction book (The Fruit of the Tree) was written from the heart, as it dealt with the death of my baby daughter through cot death.  Having written articles on the subject, I wanted to put the event into context, and so described a period of five years of my married life, including the births of my other children.  No research was needed.  At the time when I wrote it, it was all there in my memory.

I have spoken to writers who say that they love the research more than the writing.  This does not apply to me.  The writing is the part which is enjoyable;  I like using words – as any writer should – and I like editing what I have written, moving words, sentences and paragraphs around.  (Computers have made that aspect of writing so much easier.)  My articles therefore, have, on the whole, been based on my personal experience, the most recent having been published in a ‘nostalgia’ magazine, and have therefore not required much in the way of research.

It was as a result of writing my first book – which in the end, I published myself – that I was commissioned to write a self-help book on the subject of cot death, and for this I had to use my head and try to be somewhat more objective about the subject.  I did, of course, have to research the topic, and I interviewed a number of people, taking notes and using, at that time, a tape recorder, before going to the computer to transcribe the interviews.  I tried to make them wide ranging, including as my interviewees, bereaved parents, doctors and a midwife, a funeral director, and representatives of the charity which gave support to bereaved parents.  The parents, too, were diverse and included, for example, those who had had more children and those who chose not to, and religious and non-religious people.

My motivation for writing fiction is really quite different, the common factors being my enjoyment of writing, and my interest in the structure of any piece of work.  I am a sucker for stories.  If I turn on the radio or TV, half way through a play, I will probably get hooked and want to know what happened.  So constructing a story and living in the world of that story is a different kind of escapism.  Fiction comes in for criticism from my engineer husband, because it’s ‘not true’, but I believe that there is sometimes more truth in fiction than in factual stuff.  In my opinion, whenever fiction writers describe events, they are remembering something that occurred in their own lives, or that they have heard about.  The truth is in the emotion that was experienced, even if the fictional characters do not exist.  So a piece of fiction is a tapestry of true or half remembered events or events that could happen.  Even in fantasy and science fiction, (which I generally don’t write) good writers usually represent their characters with normal human emotions.

I think that writers have to recognise today that it is very difficult to make a living from writing unless you produce a best-seller.  But that doesn’t mean that there aren’t opportunities to get work read and even paid for, particularly in the field of ebooks.  My novel, Tainted Tree, is the piece of work that has provided me with an income recently and is the most read of my current work.  Initially on the Amazon discussion pages, I promoted it a great deal, though this can bring Amazon’s wrath upon your head, so after a reprimand,  I made sure that I was more cautious in this respect.

I made sure that I made good use of the categories on the book’s Kindle page, and was fortunate in that another writer who had created a ‘Listomania’ of genealogical novels, added it to his list.  If you are the writer of ‘literary fiction’, your book may not be too specific, but as I don’t come into that category, and prefer plot based books, it is probably easier to categorise them.  Having said that, I don’t believe that any book fits into one category.  Tainted Tree is a genealogical romance with a bit of mystery and history in the package.  My current novel in progress is a crime thriller, which also has a romantic thread.

My books have in common one thing.  I have read and reread them over and over again and made changes to numerous drafts.  Even if I break the rules, I regard grammar and spelling as of great importance, and, with the help of my fellow directors at our shared publishing house and other writers at my writing circle, I try, to the best of my ability, to sift out all errors.  I also try my hardest to make sure that loose ends are tied up and that there are no errors of continuity.  I am not a professional writer, but I try to be professional.

Author Interview Fifty-Seven Doug Dandridge Sci-fi/Fantasy Bellator

Welcome to Doug Dandridge

Where are you from and where do you live now?  I am originally from Venice, Florida.  My father was also a Florida native, born in Panama City in 1915.  My mom was from Long Island, New York.  But I consider myself 100% Southern.  Now I live in Tallahassee, in the northern part of the state, what is still considered the South, even as the southern part really isn’t.

 Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.  I write in the genres of Science Fiction and Fantasy, with some past and hopefully future forays into Alternate History.  In Science Fiction and Fantasy my most popular work is the Military subgenre.  Currently I have 21 books out, six in the Exodus: Empires at War series (Military Scifi), four in the Refuge series (Fantasy), and three in the Deep Dark Well series (also scifi).  I also have one Steampunk Fantasy, one High Fantasy, one Urban Fantasy, and five other assorted science fiction, from near future (2020) to eight centuries in the future.  I also have some fantasy and science fiction completed to the first draft novel stage, a total of four, I believe.  Not sure when I will release them, since everyone seems to be clambering for more Exodus, and most of my time is caught up in producing more work in that Universe.

Where do you find inspiration?  Everywhere.  I read a lot growing up, both science fiction, fantasy, and military history.  Also real science, and geography, etc.  I served in the US Army, and learned a lot about what it means to be a soldier, though I never had to face combat myself.  And I followed the Space Program closely while growing up, back in the day when it went from the first orbital flights up to landing on the Moon.  And of course movies and TV shows, from the day when the special effects were pretty hokey, to our modern, almost complete realism versions.  The early scifi I read actually had some science in it, unlike much of what we see today.  So I try to use some of the real Universe in my scifi, though I don’t get tied to it so much that I lose out on a good story.  But things like instant acceleration and deceleration, ships banking in vacuum?  I try to avoid that like the plague.  And dreams.  I have outlined chapters, and once, a whole book during a night of sleep.  I guess I have just accumulated so many terabytes of info from all those sources in my mind, when I see, hear or read something that sparks a memory, the ideas just start flowing and connecting.

Do you have a favourite character? If so why?  My favorite character from my work is Pandora Latham, also known as Pandi.  She starts out as a Kuiper Belt miner, helping to feed the hunger for comets to use in the terraforming of planets.  She escaped her native Alabama, and the father she hated, by undergoing space training.  She really wants to go to the stars, but mining is the best that is available in her sublight culture.  Until the day she has to jump through a wormhole forty thousand years into the future.  What I like about the character is she is a resilient fighter who never gives up.  In situations where most people would curl up in a ball on the ground in shock, she rolls with the punches, learning the whole time how to survive, and even thrive, in her environment. One of my fans called her Bloody Mary, because she is not adverse to killing something to solve a problem. But at heart, she is a good person, one who believes that all sentient life should be free, and judged for their minds, not their outer appearances.

Do you have a character you dislike? If so why?  Heck, I have a lot of characters I dislike.  I put them in the story for others to dislike them as well.  While they may not be totally bad, they all possess some reprehensible traits.  What’s a story without someone to hate.

Are your characters based on real people?   I have done that in the past, but now they are just more composites of people I have known.  I worked in mental health for years, and then for Department of Children and Families in Florida.  I have met a lot of unique personalities, with a lot of unique, not always exemplary, behaviour.  I have had some people tell me one or more characters I wrote were not believable, when they were patterned from some of the people I have really met, that most don’t really see in their day to day lives.

Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources?   I love world-building.  I have all kinds of books in my library, the Atlas of World History, books on Mythology, Star Atlases, just about anything you can think of to help me develop science fiction or fantasy world.  Of course now the internet is a favorite resource, with all of the sites that can give you all the information you need.  I especially like the sites that provide calculators for things I used to have to do by hand, orbits, gravity, luminosity of a certain kind of star on a planet in a certain orbit.  Calculators for the energy derived from amounts of antimatter.  NASA’s interactive map of Mars. Nuke Map.  The list is just too extensive to cover it all.  And computer programs I run on my personal system, like Orbit Xplorer and others.

I try to cover all aspects of the world I am building, and in fact overdo it.  That works out really well when I’m working on a series, as eventually most of that stuff will come in handy.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?  Do you feel this is important in a book?  I like to have a message of hope, no matter what.  The characters may find themselves in a horrible situation.  In fact, many of them might not come out the other side. But there is always a chance.  I think some message is important in writing, but not the beat the over the head every paragraph till they either get it, or start bleeding from the ears, kind.

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…)  Great World Building, Solid Plot, Great Characters, Technically Perfect.  The way I see it, the thing that really separates speculative fiction from what I term Mundane fiction is the setting.  It has to be some fantastic world, from the past or future, or today gone horribly wrong.  After that a plot that keeps the action moving.  I write action packed novels, and without plot, it’s easy to get lost.  Characters to me are mostly important so people can identify with them, and slip into the world and the plot.  Nothing is Technically Perfect, so I don’t even care about that one.  I try to make my work as good as I possibly can. But perfection is for people who will never publish.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio). Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason?  I sell ebooks and print on demand paperbacks.  I just released my first audiobook, Exodus: Empires at War: Book 1, my best seller of all time.  I’m hoping to do all the books in that series eventually, but it will depend on how well that first book sells.

Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited?  I do self-edit, and yes, a book can suffer, though it can also suffer from an editor that doesn’t get it.  Would my books be better if they were professionally edited?  Maybe, but over a thousand reviews across all the books with a 4.45 average says I must be doing something right.

Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be?  I think there is still some prejudice against self-published authors.   If you are traditionally published, people tend to think you passed the standards of the gate keepers, and so of course have produced something of quality.  I find that the view is slowly changing, but it all depends on sales.  When I tell some of my professionally published writer friends that one of my books has sold almost nineteen thousand copies, with two more selling over ten, their jaws drop.  Tell the same to a professional editor and the business cards come out.  One of my friends, who has sold millions of books, seems to be very impressed by my ebook sales.  And then you have Hugh Howie, with over a million sales, and not many traditionally published authors in his range.

Do you read work by self-published authors?  Some.  I used to read a lot, but now I only read those recommended by my own fans, or well-reviewed.  I have just read so many that were so poor I couldn’t finish them, and I used to pride myself on finishing everything I started.  Then again, there were some books that were excellent.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews?  I think reviews are important, though I really couldn’t tell you how much so. I have one book with 8 five star reviews in the US, and almost that many in the UK, which has only sold about three hundred copies.  By the ‘that reviews are very important’ rule, it should be selling thousands by now.  As far as commenting, I refrain from getting involved in that battle.  The only time I will reply is when someone says something about my science that is just wrong.  Then I’ll comment, with a link to the science.  One time it was a comment about relativity and mass, another about nukes.

What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot?  An in-depth look at a world seen through your own imagination. Movies and games show you what everything looks like, and the actions of the characters, without providing an in-depth look inside.   A book allows one to see things through their own interpretation.  They make you think.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?  Be persistent and don’t give up.  When you finish one project, start on another, without delay.  And write what you love, not what you think is going to be the next big thing, because it probably won’t be.

What are your best marketing/networking tips? What are your worst?  Go to Cons and to the author tracks, and workshop.  You meet people who have already made it, and you never know what will come of that.  I have met some people in the last year who are really helping me out in my career.  The worst. Watch out for the lure of advertising.  I spent $500 last year to advertise a vampire book on a site and saw no increase in sales.  Advertising might look good, but often amounts to no gain.

Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it?  I recently read the first three books of Larry Correa’s Monster Hunter International series and really enjoyed them.  I can see how he became a best seller.  Am currently reading Trial By Fire by Chuck Gannon, also a great book.  After that I will track down the next R A Salvatore or Jim Butcher book and get into them.

What are your views on authors offering free books?  It worked for me, so I’m all for it.  As of this interview, I have sold 92,000 books, and given away 16,000.  A giveaway of The Deep Dark Well, over 4,000 books, kick-started the Exodus series.

Do you have a favourite movie?  Too many to count.  I love Avatar and the Star Wars/Star Trek films.  Not because of plot or character, but because of the visuals.  For a boy that wanted to grow up to visit other worlds and see other forms of life, they are as close as I’m ever going to get.

Do you have any pets?  Four cats.  Bobbie, Angelina, Espresso and Molly.  All different, all wonderful, and all little pains in the butt at times.

Can you name your worst job? Do you think you learned anything from the position that you now use in your writing?  Working for Florida DCF had to be the worst job among many bad ones.  Too many contradictory standards, too many politically motivated changes that really helped no one.  It taught me I better keep producing as a writer, since I do not want to return to that life.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself?  I love women’s college sports.  In Tallahassee we have a lot of college sports.  Our football team won the Division I National Championship, which was great.  Our women’s Soccer Team lost the National Championship last year in overtime, which disappointed me more than the men winning theirs excited me.  I go to every soccer match I can attend.  And that made the World Cup really fun this summer, because I actually knew what was going on.

Book links, website/blog and author links:

Blog:  http://dougdandridge.com

Website: http://dougdandridge.net

Twitter: @BrotherofCats

Amazon Page:  http://www.amazon.com/Doug-Dandridge/e/B006S69CTU

Exodus: Empires at War: Book 1:  http://www.amazon.com/Exodus-Empires-Book-Doug-Dandridge-ebook/dp/B009TZSBJO

The Deep Dark Well:  http://www.amazon.com/Deep-Dark-Well-Doug-Dandridge-ebook/dp/B006S3GOKS

Refuge: The Arrival: book 1: http://www.amazon.com/Refuge-Arrival-Book-Doug-Dandridge-ebook/dp/B00830A0QI

Afterlife:  http://www.amazon.com/Afterlife-Doug-Dandridge-ebook/dp/B00909YF94

 

Synopsis of Bellator.

Private Benito Benny Suarez was a slacker, the kind of Marine that did as little as possible, whatever he could get by with.  The Lodz was the perfect ship for such as he, an old battle cruiser delegated to diplomatic transport duty.  On the run from the Empire to Margrav, she was out of the way, in what was considered a safe sector.  Until the Ca’cadasan battleship found her.  The huge aliens boarded, and Benny found himself in combat.  He woke in agony, floating in zero g, his legs gone, only his battle armor keeping him alive.  His course was clear.  Hide, get off the ship, survive at all costs.  Until he discovered that the youngest passenger aboard the ship, the daughter of the Ambassador, was still alive, and in the hands of the Cacas.  Then the decision was no longer so easy, not if he wanted to live with himself.  Be what he had always been?  Or be the hero, and risk his life to save that of a child.

Author Interview Forty-Five – Yawatta Hosby

Welcome to Yawatta Hosby

Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc.

I enjoy writing books in different genres. I’m better at creating novellas and short stories more than novels. Probably because I love reading fast-paced stories.

My short story, Room For Two, was published in an online literary magazine. My debut novel, One By One, was published as a mystery thriller. Some readers have considered it as a horror read. The story is about a killer stalking a group of friends in an isolated cabin.

My second book, Something’s Amiss, was recently released as women’s fiction with romance. Two exes reunite at a close friend’s funeral. I’m currently working on a story called Trapped: A Novella. An obsessive man will do anything to get the family he deserves. I’m also working on a rough draft involving a love triangle between three celebrities.

Are your characters based on real people?

I’ll never tell…hee hee. I plead the fifth, so I don’t get sued.

In all honesty, I take bits and pieces of acquaintances, strangers, family, and friends, putting different aspects into my characters. There’s even a bit of me in all of my characters, villains included.

Is there a message conveyed within your writing?

I tend to usually create self-deprecating main characters who have to learn to love themselves. I love showing inner-conflicts and personal dilemmas, hopefully resolving the drama by the end of the book.

Mariah Carey’s “Butterfly” is my favorite song, so I always have a situation involving a character pushing someone away. The other person stays free or fights for their friendship, family bond, or romantic relationship.

In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these? 

My books are available as E-books and paperbacks. As E-books: EPUB, MOBI, and PDF.

I haven’t done large print, but I’m not against it. I would have to do more research on the topic first. Audio books sound cool, but I don’t know if that’s in my budget right now. I’d have to pay for a narrator because I’m sure people wouldn’t want to hear my country accent from start to finish hee hee.

What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews?

I think it’s okay for an author to say thank you if a book reviewer followed through or if a reader surprisingly writes a review that the author stumbled across.

But absolutely, positively never respond to negative reviews. Reading is subjective, so the readers’ opinions should be valued no matter what. If an author says thank you, it could be taken as sarcasm or an intimidating factor. So just vent to friends or family members if need be. Do not write a blog post. Do not comment in online forums. Do not harass the reader’s social media sites. Just leave it be and appreciate that someone was passionate enough to say anything about your book.

I think reviews are very important. They show that readers are actually finding your book and that it’s good enough (or bad enough) to comment on. If you get a certain number of reviews, then you can start submitting your book for advertising on popular reading sites. Some require a minimum number of reviews and at least a 4 star ranking.

What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?

  • Self-publishing is a marathon, not a race. There’s no guarantee that your books will find an audience unless you learn to market yourself. And even then, it may not amount to anything. Don’t give up. The beauty of self-publishing is that your books are available online forever unless you choose to take them down. Build your platform. Get a following. You may not get noticed until your 4th or 5th book.
  • Just because you start publishing one way doesn’t mean that will be your entire writing career path. For example, if you self-publish, you can try the trade route. If you trade published, you can try self-publishing in genres your agent doesn’t want to work with. Research whatever you decide. Weigh the pros and cons. Then take it from there.
  • Protect your writing time. Non-writers don’t understand the importance of when you’re jotting down things in your notebook or when your eyes are glued on the computer screen. They don’t think that’s working, but it is. You’re creating stories. Or editing. It gets old really fast when someone keeps interrupting you or keeps making plans during your writing schedule, forcing you to choose between them or your writing. Let your friends and family know your writing schedule, so they know when to respect your time. Trust me, they’ll test you. Just stay firm.

Most authors also like to read, what books do you enjoy? What book(s) have you just finished?

My favorite author is Agatha Christie. I love mysteries because I enjoy using my brain to collect clues in figuring out things before the big reveal. I love thrillers and horror because they make me tap into my emotions. I love scaring myself, especially in October to celebrate Halloween. I also love tear jerkers.

Don’t bore me, and we’re good. I love tension between characters, usually enjoying the villains more than the heroes. I love a solid plot with fast-paced sentences. I hate when a book drags and drags. A book that’s 80,000 words with a lot of info dump and backstory, when it could have been reduced to 50,000 words or less.

I’m a book reviewer, so I’m constantly reading new books. I just finished James Raven’s Malicious and Michelle Grey’s Unspoken Bonds.

Do you have a favourite movie?

Stand By Me with River Phoenix, Kiefer Sutherland, and Corey Feldman. It was fascinating that a group of young men embarked on a journey to find a missing dead body. I loved their bonding moments.

Do you have any pets?

No, I’ve never had any. As a little girl, I’d ask my parents for a pet. They always told me no, so one day I went outside and found a pet rock. Can’t remember its name though hee hee.

Can you give us a silly fact about yourself?

If I’m scared, I’m doing everything in my power to make you scared too. When there’s fear involved, your senses heighten. Don’t get me started on ghost stories because I’ll never stop…

Book links, website/blog and author links:

 

 

 

 

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