Archive for amazon

A Cold Black Wave now available in paperback!

Posted in Book Insight with tags , , , , , on January 23, 2013 by Tim Scott

bookphysACBW is now available to have and to hold in your dear hands.  It will keep you warm at night, share a cup of coffee with you as a coaster, and possibly be used as kindling for your wood fire after the apocalypse occurs.  It’s only available through the Createspace store at the moment:

It will be available through Amazon in 5-7 days.  In the meantime, I’ll be setting up a Goodreads giveaway and will post when that begins.  I’ve also humbly submitted this through the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award, which occurs in a series of rounds.  If I happen to make it through even the first round, I’d be happy as a clam in a wine broth.

2 Day sale for “A Cold Black Wave”!

Posted in Book Insight with tags , , , , on November 10, 2012 by Tim Scott

Starting today, Saturday Nov. 10th to Sunday Nov 11th, I’ll be reducing “A Cold Black Wave” from $3.99 to $1.99.  Get some!  A Cold Black Wave

The Wild West of Indie Publishing

Posted in Book Insight with tags , , , , on November 5, 2012 by Tim Scott

I call it the Wild West because the self-publishing of indie books is in its early, westward expansion.  Companies like Amazon launched their KDP Select program to bring the bees to the honey, and away from their competitors.  Anyone with a computer can write and publish something, even a ten page document you can charge for $50.  Formatting, proof reading, and editing are all over the place.  There’s no standard because there are no gate keepers for quality assurance anymore.  We are all gold miners hoping to strike it rich.

Just like those early years in California, the first miners could pluck gold straight out of the riverbeds.  As more prospectors flooded into the state, the gold became harder and harder to find.  You had to dig deeper, it took longer, and eventually you had to work together with other miners to get at the gold.  Who really made the money during the gold rush?  The lucky few who did strike it rich, but primarily the merchants of the time.  Those supplying the miners with tools, supplies, and whiskey (don’t tell me you never wrote while a little buzzed!).

The Amazon Community boards are rife with personal vendetta’s, as I’m sure other indie boards are, with indie author’s giving one-star reviews out of spite.  Or, more often than not, an indie author gets a one-star review and is flabbergasted that someone would think their story isn’t worth the digital pixels it is written on.  They lash out at Amazon, at the person who reviewed it, and to anyone who will listen.

Amazon recently culled thousands of online reviews of books, and in the process, wiping out a lot of legitimate reviews as well.  Fake reviews, poorly rated reviews with barely an explanation, and even vague positive reviews that add nothing but a “star” to the book rating, are not new problems.  I used to write on Fanstory which suffered, and to some degree, still suffers from those exact same problems.  Fanstory alleviated the problem by creating its own author/reviewer ecosystem, which allows both sides to properly reward the other for good writing and good reviewing.

What we’re witnessing right now is the formation of a new, organized publishing/reviewing experience for the Indie author world.  From the chaos of the Wild West, stability and organization will slowly form.  I have a distinct feeling it is going to come from the established publishing houses that the indie world has enjoyed circumventing.  Random House and Penguin, for example, have recently merged in response to the digital book explosion.  Self-published works have increased by 287% since 2006.  This doesn’t even count a lot of the Amazon KDP books.

Let’s face it, most indie authors would welcome a publishing contract with Random House or any other big name to legitimize their work.  I’m not talking about the big sellers in the indie market, who are making plenty of money and don’t necessarily need Random House’s or Penguin’s stamp of approval anymore.  One of the biggest draws of indie publishing is being able to get your work out there now, and not waiting a year to hear back from the publishing houses.  I think more potential authors would attempt to send their work through the mainstream publishers if it were easier, and the turnaround time to find out whether you were accepted or not was much faster.  It still wouldn’t necessarily mean you would have to take whatever deal they offer, if they did, but it would open up a legitimate route other than automatically going straight to self-publishing.

As the indie world swims in free and cheap books, we will all cry out for a way for us to crawl out of the slush pile and have a greater opportunity at being noticed without feeling as if we need to give our work away for free, or cheap.  I am more than willing to sell my book at what the market value is, even if that ends up being .99 cents, but determining that value isn’t easy without hurting potential sales (or underselling a well written book).  Maybe indie books could have the option of doing an e-bay like system, where the price starts low and “floats” higher as people purchase it, until it hits your “max price”.  So I could start off selling it for .10 cents, but each purchase would increase the price by x amount, until the price reached $5.99, at which point the price would lock in (or begin to drop once sales slow, to a pre-determined “stop” point like $1.99).

I’ve noticed some small-time review sites are popping up.  I think this is a great idea, but many of them are people working out of their home and they can only review so much, and eventually get tied up in real life and stop reviewing altogether.  Indie authors even consider, and sometimes do, pay for reviews because they are so desperate for them.  Having a review from a 3rd party is a great way to place some authenticity on your book description.  Having it from the LA Times is golden, but no “slush pile” indie author (slushies? haha) will ever get a book reviewed by them.  We need some middlemen, who are willing to take on the slushies’ work and review it, and review it honestly and in a timely manner.  These are the merchants who stand to make more than the gold miners.

As authors have shootouts with each other in the forums, and attack each other’s work with poor reviews, and slushies desperately try to fight for recognition and revenue, I’m convinced order will arise from the chaos that will not only keep the indie world strong, but it will accelerate the process in which “popular/good” books will rise to the top, and the truly undeserving ones will disappear into the nether regions of the world’s electronic library.

My experience with self-publishing through Amazon.

Posted in Book Insight with tags , , , , on November 3, 2012 by Tim Scott

My first book was self-published in June of 2010, a non-fiction book titled “The Case for a New America“.  I had put a lot of time and research into it, which I had done for quite a few years before I even decided to organize it into a book.  In 2010, Amazon did not have their KDP Select program in place yet.  So, you published a book, and then had no resources to promote it.  All promotion began and ended with you, the author/publisher.  Just because it’s on Amazon doesn’t mean anyone will find it though.

Until KDP Select started in December 2011, The Case for a New America, sold anywhere between 1-10 copies a month.  I’d say closer to 1-3 copies on average, and this was with very little promotion.  I did a bit on Facebook, and even created a page for it.  The first month KDP Select started, I signed up for it and did a 3 day “free” promo which was part of the new program.  I had roughly 1,200 downloads by the end.  Also with KDPS, your book is added to the Kindle Lending Library, and you get paid for anyone who “borrows” your book (which has been between $2-$2.50 per borrow since its inception).

My sales/borrows exploded once the free promo ended.  I made $300 the first month, and about $50 on average in the months after, doing no further promotion.  I was happy, considering I didn’t expect to make more than $50 on the book.  I wrote it because it was an important subject matter for me, and I just wanted to get it out there, free or not.

My friend Brent Kim, who also did the art for “A Cold Black Wave“, did a cool cover for “TCFANA”.  I mention this because it’s definitely important to have a unique cover for your book when you publish.  It’s already hard enough to stand out, and using poor quality or generic covers won’t do you any favors.

Amazon and other website have made it impressively easy for anyone to self-publish, but don’t be fooled.  It’s very easy to upload your document, choose a generic cover, and let it out into the world.  But in order to really sell, you have to be more than an author, something I’m also learning as I go.  Editing, formatting, and proofreading your document needs to be done by a professional, or as close to it as possible.  Your book needs honest feedback from people, especially your immediate friends and family since they will likely be the ones you’ll punish by forcing them to read your horrible story. 😉  If you’re not getting negative feedback, you have dishonest people reading your work!

I recently did a 1 day free promo for ACBW to test the water, and because I’ve had success doing it with TCFANA.  However, times have changed since Dec. 2011.  Back then, there were far more downloads of free books.  I decided to run another 1-day free promo with TCFANA today, and have received nearly the exact same number of free downloads as I did with ACBW.  I’ve downloaded some free books in the past, but have yet to read them, which apparently is fairly common.  There is something about getting something for free that makes it seem less valuable than had you purchased it.

It seems the general rule is, you get 1 review per 1500 free downloads, and 1 per 500 paid.  I’d say that’s about true based on my experience with TCFANA.  Reviews are nice, but what really drives sales is…sales.  As people buy your book, your book climbs the rankings.  I believe Amazon calculates the ratings every hour.  Obviously, once you crack the top 20 in a genre category, you’ll start getting even more exposure as people see your book on the first page.  This is where the “free” promo can be useful, as alongside the paid books, you’ll see the rankings for the free ones.

But what truly drives sales?  I received a lot of sales/borrows for TCFANA for weeks and even months after doing a free promo, but I’ll never actually know where they came from, or why.  Was it recommended by word of mouth?  Did people see the book under Amazon’s “Customers who bought items in your recent history also bought:” advertising at the bottom of a book page?  Probably a little of both, but I think the fact remains that, the more people who have read your book and/or see it, the more likely it will be recommended/purchased.

Exposure is key.  Finding websites to showcase your book, or possibly even review it, provides more avenues towards revenue.  This is the part where you have to play publisher, and not author, and do your best to get your work out there and exposed.  There is no formula for success, and sometimes we may never know why or how a particular book reached critical mass, but all we can do is try…but now?  We don’t need to wait years to possibly get published.  You can do it right now, and the possibilities are endless.