Going back to KDP Select

I’ve wrestled with this for a few weeks now and I’m going to go back to Amazon’s KDP Select Program for my first novel and the accompanying short story…why?  Two reasons:  One I’m not getting very far with other distribution channels.  I can’t find my book on Barnes and Noble or any of the other sites without typing in the title…I’m lost in the droves of other books that have been self-published and I don’t like being lost in a crowd.

The second reason is the hot debate on what is a fair price for an ebook.  While surfing Amazon, I discovered many e-books from “the big 6” publishing houses were tagged by customers with categories like “Price gouging” “publisher price too high” and “outrageously priced e-book”.  Now that’s a community I want to be part of – a community that lets the publishing houses know that we now have OPTIONS – we can pay 3.99 (or less) for a good story by an indie author or we can buy at that price from some traditionally published authors who are now self-publishing their back lists or new stories to get a wider audience.  The best part?  Amazon is letting those tags stay up…they’re not taking them down!  Now THAT’s a company I want to work with.

While I don’t write to make myself rich (although that would be nice) I do write so people read my stuff…nobody can read a book that they can’t find.  I work a full time job, have a family, and pursue many hobbies other than writing…I don’t have time in my world to make myself a marketing genius and quite frankly, I don’t really have any desire to do that.  I like my writing blog, but I generally post photos on my other blog because I also like photography – why do I do the photography more than the writing?  Because every time I write a blog post about writing, it makes me feel guilty that I haven’t done any real marketing – but if I’m doing marketing all the time, then I’m not writing.  It’s become a vicious circle.

For me, KDP seems the best option.  I can write, upload, do a free weekend to generate sales (it works for some odd reason, although there are a host of people out there that HATE free weekends and say those of us that participate are hurting sales…that’s a debate for another time).  I can get my books read and do what I set out to do – entertain people with a good story.  That is why I write, after all.

Maybe I’ll feel differently in a few months, but for now I’m taking my books off the other sites and enrolling in KDP Select again.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Yippee!!  I published Destructive Magic…I don’t have the link yet, but it’ll be up by tomorrow.

There’s nothing quite like pushing that “publish” button!

Just when I thought I had decided how to publish…along comes this little gem from a great author with experience in this self-publishing quagmire – what does a girl do now?

M. Louisa Locke

So…

I lasted only a month off of KDP Select. It was an eye-opening experience. I knew that I would lose sales on Amazon without the borrows and KDP free days to keep my books visible on the historical mystery bestseller lists, but my hope was that I would be building enough sales on Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and the Smashwords affiliates, to make up for these lost sales. I even told myself I was willing to accept lower overall sales for 2-3 months in order to test the idea that having my book on multiple sites (even if the sales on those sites were lower, on average, than on Kindle) was a workable alternative to exclusivity on Amazon, which is what KDP Select requires.

But this was predicated on being able to figure out how to get my books, Maids of Misfortune and Uneasy Spirits, discovered on…

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Destructive Magic Descriptions

Here’s the book description for the “short” description:

The struggle for power has begun.  The United Coven and Alliance is rumored to be crumbling from the inside.  Magical practitioners who operate outside the powerful organization are being tracked down.  The Dominion, a powerful Afro-Caribbean relic has been stolen and four people are missing.  Coyote, mythical trickster spirit, believes Dr. Arienne Cerasola is the right person to hunt down the missing artifact and restore the balance.

Maybe Arienne, an unemployed archaeologist and inexperienced witch, is the person destined to save the magical world…or maybe Coyote’s belief that she has a seventy-percent chance of success is a grave miscalculation.

Here’s the back cover version:

It says:

Dr. Arienne Cerasola, blacklisted archaeologist turned magical landscaper, is starting over.  She has the business cards to prove it…until a visit from the magical Coyote stirs things up.  Coyote presents a challenge to Arienne:  Find the Dominion, a powerful relic that can harness the forces of the Mysteries and incite chaos.  Many people are searching for the Dominion, including one of Arienne’s former professors and a scary voudouienne from New Orleans.  Coyote estimates that Arienne has a seventy percent chance of succeeding – but only if she can put the pieces of the puzzle together fast enough.

The Final Publishing Push

The final draft is done for my new book, has been read by the faithful beta readers (and all suggestions have been dutifully noted) and now it’s time to dive back into the complicated world of publishing.

I know everything I’m about to tell you is out there in other formats, but I like the abridged versions of things – then if I need more info I can move onto other sources.  If you feel the same way, then read on and I’ll hopefully enlighten you to some shortcuts.

Step 1:  Download the following documents – depending on where you’re planning to publish to.  You will need to refer to them to complete the process, and they are priceless if you get in trouble:

Smashwords Style Guide (available here: http://www.smashwords.com and search for Smashwords Style Guide)

Amazon’s Kindle Simplified Formatting Guide (available here: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/help?topicId=A17W8UM0MMSQX6)

Create Space formatted template (available when you set up your project at Create Space, it’s under the Interior tab)

Step 2a:  Go through your manuscript and do the following:

Put the same number of returns before and after each chapter heading.  (for example:  Return>Return> Chapter 1 Return>Return)  Make these all match if you find deleting things and counting lines as annoying as I do.

Step 2b:  Make three copies of your manuscript by using “save as” and adding the place you’re going to publish to after the title of your book.  For example, mine are “Destructive Magic Create Space copy”, “Destructive Magic Smashwords copy”, and “Destructive Magic Amazon html copy”   DO NOT FORMAT YOUR ORIGINAL – if something goes wrong you can delete the copy but you don’t want to lose your work or have a few stressful moments (those will come later…).

Step 3:  Write your front material and save it in a document called “(Book Title) front material” – this will include the title, your author name, copyright date, the standard blurb about “All rights reserved, etc. (you can get a great example from the Smashwords Guide),  and finally a dedication.  Save this document because you’ll be copying and pasting!

Step 4:  Write you back material and save that.  This is your About the Author, more books by this author, author website information, preview chapters from your next book (if you have one) and samples from your other books (if you have them).

Step 5:  Write two descriptions of your book.  1.) A brief synopsis that’s engaging and describes the main plot  2.) A longer version that can be used for your back cover as well as your long description on the sales channels.  Take your time with this!  This is the introduction to your book for readers who have never heard of you.  Mine will be posted under “links” on this page if you want to read them.

Step 6:  Format your Amazon KDP file first (I think it’s the easiest).  Open your “Book Title Amazon html copy” file and do this:

Insert your front matter in the order you want it (copy and paste away!).  I do Title, Author, Copyright, Dedication, and Disclaimer.  Put two returns between each one (I never use more than three because it looks like a lot of blank space when you do that)

Go to File:  Save As: and select webpage under the file type.  Other people will tell you “filtered” or some other format, but I’ve used “webpage” twice with really good results.

Step 7:  Open your Smashwords copy and copy and paste your front material there.  Make sure that you add the “Published by (your name) at Smashwords” and “Smashwords Edition, License Notes”   You can get the License notes right on their site (I think they even encourage cutting and pasting of that portion).  Next, type a list of all your chapters (Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc.) and whatever you’re planning on putting after the story (About the Author, Connect with the Author, etc.)  You’ll need this to build your ToC.  For that portion of the adventure, I refer you to the Smashwords style guide which does an excellent job of making it simple.

Step 8:  Open your Create Space file and prepare to spend some time…It’s not hard, but the mistakes are instantly apparent and it can get frustrating.  Open your Create Space Formatted Template (you might have downloaded it in step 1) and take a deep breath.  Copy and Paste your masterpiece into the appropriate sections.  Click on the Headers and add your Author Name on one side and the Book Title on the other.  If you have more than 10 chapters, or you wind up with Author Name or Title on a page that starts a new chapter (the top of those pages should be blank) you’ll need to manually format the header by doing the following:  Go to the page before the new chapter and click Insert>Break, select “Section Break”, and that should fix the problem for just the first page of each chapter.  If the preceding page (the last page of the previous chapter) is then centered on the page instead of starting in the normal place at the top, you’ll have to go to Format>Reveal Formatting and look to the right of your document at the little sidebar.  Look under Section and Layout and if it says “centered” you’ll have to click and manually change it to “top”.  Yes, you have to do it for each final page in every chapter past chapter 10…I just spent 1/2 hour doing this…but it’s worth it and it’s not hard once you know what you’re doing.

My recommendations:  Pick one format to work on at a time.  Do it start to finish with the handy reference guide at your side before moving on to the next one.  You still won’t be done, but you’ll be closer to uploading and clicking that publish button.  If you find anything I’ve said here to be untrue, please leave me a comment and I’ll try to figure out why it didn’t work or if I left a step out.

Happy Publishing!!!

Review of Bridesmaid Lotto (McMaster the Disaster) by Rachel Astor


I was looking for a little light reading and stumbled across this little gem on Amazon.com.  The premise sounded good so I bought it figuring for a rainy day read it would be a few fun hours.  I loved this book and didn’t put it down unless I absolutely had to.  Josie McMaster is a wonderfully written character who manages to give the reader “yeah, been there; done that” cringe-worthy moments and then she carries on with such style, grace, and humor that you can’t help but fall in love with her.  The supporting cast is equally great and the plot is fun, light, and every girl’s fantasy (big society wedding, rich & famous moments, etc.).  It is well written and humorous and you’ll flip pages (or press the button  on your e-reader quickly) just to find out what happens next.  It’s not a book full of existential dilemmas and it won’t leave you soul-searching, but at the end you’ll hope that when confronted with a crisis you will handle it with the same down-to-earth perseverance that Josie would.  I would recommend this be read in your favorite fuzzy pajamas with a cup of hot cocoa on a rainy day – it would be a day well spent.

Review of Dangerous Talents by Frankie Robertson


As I’ve posted before, I’ve been reading a lot of Indie fiction – yet maybe you’ve been wondering why there aren’t many reviews posted on my site…well, I’m not recommending anything that I’m not absolutely in love with – and I love, love, love Frankie Robertson’s book Dangerous Talents.   The story unfolds quickly with an incident that changes Celia’s (our heroine’s) life.  From the get-go, the story unwinds with believable, interesting characters that you will both recognize and find strangely unfamiliar.  Woven throughout this tale is Norse Mythology and Legend (I’m not telling you how, you’ll have to read it to find out) and it’s masterfully done with well written dialogue and artfully crafted scenes that let you glimpse the inner lives of the characters.  The motives are clear, the scenes fluid, and all of the loose ends are neatly tied up in nice little packages with pretty ribbons that leave you completely satisfied and gratified.  I highly recommend this book for a wide variety of reasons – memorable characters, a strong plot, nice blend of myths/legends and contemporary characters and (naturally) a liberal dose of magic and a villain that keeps you on the edge.   LOVED it – and will definitely read the next book Forbidden Talents – as soon as I read the other books that are on my kindle!