“Obviously You Don’t Care!”

An interesting take on the new KDP Select Program was raised on the Kindle Boards Forum … by a Nook user.

In the past few weeks, this Select program has gone from very hush-hush with secretive terms and confidential phone calls to loud and proud.  We now know the terms of the agreement, the limitations and the benefits.  While no official cheques have been written by Amazon, we have numbers in terms of “lent” books … which are more than just a little impressive.  Some authors are seeing lending numbers garnished from a singular hour match what they did on B&N in an entire year for a single title.  Like I said, impressive.  As for what percentage those numbers will win them from the $500,000 pool … that’s still TBD … but it’s a bright light, and I look forward to hearing from the brave souls who gleefully publish their numbers.

And for me, with this new information, it’s become an increasingly difficult decision to make … spread the love or give it all to Amazon?  What’s a girl to do?

So, that brings us to this Nook User (we’ll call her Nook User for the duration of this post).  What makes her take so interesting is this … she’s not an author, she is a reader — a very brave reader who came out of lurking to write an open letter to the authors who post there.  She is our target market, the reader with the open mind, and rightfully so, she guessed that her opinion would matter.  She clearly stated that she uses a Nook by choice — leaving me to guess no one from B&N has put a gun to her head.  And, as you can probably guess, she has great issue with Amazon’s new “take all” strategy.

Nook User uses Amazon.com and it’s Kindle Store as a shopping tool.  She’ll research the books on Amazon’s much friendlier site, and then — with list in hand — head over to B&N for purchases.  She has a well oiled system to her buying … and when a to-be-bought book that was listed on Amazon fails to appear on B&N she feels like “obviously you don’t care!”

It’s an interesting take, right?  To think that if your book isn’t widely available your actions are perceived as careless … thoughtless … insensitive.  After all, you’re making a business decision … but for others, those that want to read your work, it’s personal.

In my opinion no one single reader is more important than the next … I say that as a reader and as a writer.  That the sum is truly greater than its parts.  Amazon has always been a much friendlier place for authors than it’s brick and mortar counterparts — and even its online competitors.  The lending program is proving to be a valuable tool, reaching new readers who will borrow a book from a new author whereas they may not make the decision to “pay” for the chance otherwise. Likewise, Amazon understands business and the business of writing books and in turn, give the writer a nice compensation.

But still …

I do care.  I care a lot.  Which is why Nook User’s post earned its own place on my blog.

My first eReader was a Sony 505 … or something like that, I can’t remember.  I wanted a Kindle … but Oprah had gone and made it the hardest and hottest grown-up toy of the season.  The backorder log was months deep and I would have had to wait forever for an Kindle of my own.  It was hard decision, but I decided to give up my place in line and buy a much more accessible Sony.

It was a beautiful eReader … a glossy powder coated blue metal device.  The case had a built-in light that, when folded down, covered the whole screen.  I was so excited to have it.

And, like Nook User, I found an easy way to find books I wanted to read … I went to Borders.  I would make short lists, come home, log into my account and try to find the books.  This was still the dark ages of ePub, and 90% of what I wanted to read wasn’t for sale through Sony.  Unlike Nook User, I did deviate from my eReader and simply supplemented my Sony by buying hardcovers and paperbacks.  What I’m trying to say is that, I understand, I’ve been there.

But, I never felted slighted by the authors for not publishing their books with ePub.  No, I understood that businesses make decisions based on what works for them and eBooks, at the time, were still a sluggish yet proven venture.

I eventually popped on the Kindle 2 and sold my Sony after spending some time on the Amazon site and realizing what an opportunity I was missing.  It changed for me then, I started ONLY buying e-editions of books … and rarely would I go for a paper version.  So, in that instance, again … I understand.

My point is … I get it.  I know that, in a perfect world, every book would be available in every format, but it’s not always the sagest business decision to do that.  And as an author I’m half writer half, business woman.  I have to look at the bigger picture to make the best decision … it’s really as simple as that.  It’s not that I don’t care … it’s that I care too much.  I care about everything.  I care about sales and readers and marketing and profit/loss … I care about my image and availability and the economy and the market.

But, there is a happy medium.  There is a solution …

PDF.

My decision in regards to KDP Select remains unmade in this moment.  But, I have scrambled my brain around making it fair … fair for everyone.

KDP lends the books to users for free.  Android users, iPad users … anyone with the Kindle app can pounce on the lending option.  It gives someone the opportunity to take the chance … and I think that paying that forward in the spirit of fairness is the best.

So … this is my personal solution …

If I decide, in the end, to make my book exclusively linked to Amazon … in essence shunning myself from readers of B&N and Apple, I will offer free PDF versions of my book for those unable to access it with their chosen provider.  I will set a pre-determined number of “free copies” … and when they’re gone, they’re gone.  Like with Amazon, I will run the promotion for 90 days and reevaluate things at the close.  It will allow me to be as fair as possible while still playing by the Select rules.

So, Nook User, I care.  And I consider your feelings and opinions very important … and you’re right … books are for reading.  So, no matter what I decide … anyone who wants to can read it.

 

 

 

 

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We Have Some Answers!

Rarely do I ever do two posts in one day … however, this is a revisit to a prior post about Amazon and their new incentive program and before it becomes old news, or gets overlooked, I wanted to share this … Enjoy!

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On December 4th I posted a blog about how Amazon was attempting to monopolize the market by taking the lion share of Indie authors, essentially removing our works from the competitors shelves by systematically offering us amazing perks and bonuses.  You can read more about that here.  Very hush-hush in the beginning … the details are now being leaked … it stacked up to almost being an offer you can’t refuse (read: me using my big, bad, mafia voice).

At the time I initially posted, I suspected that Amazon did fear no longer being king of the eReader castle with their beloved Kindle and needed to figure out someway to continue to draw the readers and newbies into their lair.  Whether that’s right or wrong … it does appear that the rumors were true.  Amazon wants you — and they want you exclusively.

Mark Coker at the Huffington Post shed some light on this ongoing issue with his article which can be found here.

Pun totally intended … but man, Amazon has made it a jungle out there.

The brass-tacks are this:

-Amazon is giving up $500,000 per month IF you opt into their lending program … so while you’re not “selling” books, you are still netting a potentially huge profit.  The example given was, if your lent book sums 1.5% of all the books borrowed, you stand to make a tidy sum of $7,500 for that month.  The pool is shared between all authors with no promises … you may do well, you may not.  It’s a gamble.

-Exclusivity deals are signed in 3 month spurts.  You’re not locked for life … but pulling yourself down from other sites like B&N, iBooks and ePub as well as Smashwords, even for that period, can drastically hurt your sales, visibility and really fumble your accurate sales data.

-If you violate the agreement, you may lose the ability to sell through Amazon forever … as in, the rest of your life.

-While the deal spans 3 months at a time, if you fail to opt out at the close of your 3 months, you’re locked in for another 3 … or … read the above dash.

These are things you, as an author, should know.  I’ve always said, when your an Indie — you’re more than an author, you’re a business owner.  All things considered, this must work for you if it is going to work at all.

My reaction to that is this:

I love Amazon.  I own a Kindle, and I do believe it’s kind of magical.  I do a shit-ton of shopping on Amazon, and they are already a monopoly when it comes to me spending my money.  But … that’s me as an individual, as a person … not me as a business woman running my own little thing out here in Indie Land.

Do I think it’s a sweet deal?  Heck yes.  If your sales via Amazon are proven, if they account for most of your business … signing on to this would make you, in the words of Charlie Sheen, WINNING.  You’re selling, you’re lending, you’re moving books, you’re making money … you’re one flippin’ happy ass author.

…BUT…

If you’re new, you stand to really shoot yourself in the foot.  Like, with a 12 gauge shotgun.

I get perpetually stuck on asking myself WWHCD?  WWRHD?  WWLBD?  WWPD?  I doubt they’d be for this sort of business deal. I think they see any limitations as just that … a limitation.

I believe the first 3 months of a new book are so important … especially for a new author.  That’s why PR is so big … the bigger splash you need, the bigger market you allow yourself to breach.  If we’re talking an older book, I might feel differently, but I don’t think Amazon has given that kind of loop-hole.

So my question is …

How do you feel?  Are you going for it?  Thoughts?  Share … curious minds want to know …

 

 

 

All Your Eggs, One Basket Only — Amazon Continues To Muscle The Market

Right now, the hot topic seems to be Amazon’s continual push to become the absolute end-all-be-all of the publishing world … especially when it comes successful independents.

On the forum I frequent an author recently posted about a deal with Amazon she’s been offered.  An exclusive deal where she would agree to not list her books on any other site — no B&N, no Kobo, no ePub, no iTunes — and in return for her sacrifice, Amazon would help boost her sales with special help, the kind only Amazon can offer.

The author, who also happens to be wildly successful, made note that nearly 80% of her sales happen to come from Amazon … with the other sites coming together to create the lagging 20%.  For her, it makes perfect sense.  Amazon is her readership … that’s where people find her and fall in love.  Taking the deal is simply good business … even if it means giving up the 20% in the other realms, Amazon’s muscle will probably more than make up for that on their end for her willingness.

The details of this deal remain super secret, Amazon is contacting authors privately to discuss the inner workings of their proposal, so the exact terms are unknown and they are asking those approached to keep quiet until a later date … but the floating conversation seems to swirl around the fact that signing on doesn’t mean forever and always, giving authors the back door if they ever need to escape.

It seems to me that Amazon is continuing to push the boundaries of becoming a monopoly.

When Amazon launched the Kindle, it was absolutely the best of the best of the best, and it held its place as King of The E-Readers for a good, long time.  But, B&N has seemingly caught up … along with Kobo, Apple and Sony all trailing not too far behind.

My guess is, if Amazon no longer feels they can beat them in the device market, they will attempt to outwit them in the library department by offering better books with a larger selection for a lower price.  But … they can only do that if we agree … because, lets face it, Random House, Harper Collins, Penguin and the like would never polarize their readers by making titles exclusively available through only one online resource.  Amazon … they need Indies.  We are all sort of like the wild cards, the ones that will take the crazy chances … getting an author to agree to only sell through one online source when so, so, so many are available with the simple click of a button … that’s pretty much a wild idea.  But, who better than us to take a different path?  After all, isn’t that what we do?

Amazon has always been the warm light in the Indie world.  Self-published authors will tell you, with very little prompting needed, that Amazon cares more about them, takes them more seriously, supports them more vigorously than any other outlet combined.  KPD is a true doorstep, once passed an author will find advice, a real person and someone who will help them if they need.  That alone allows them to be the front-runner for those going it alone into publishing.

But … all of your eggs?  One single basket?  I’m not so sure …

I think this it is a brilliant idea for the already published author who has a strong readership on Amazon and knows exactly (as in dollars and cents) what she would be giving up by giving up B&N, ePub and Apple.  For a new author, like myself, it’s probably not a smart business move.  My market remains untested, unknown.

Independent authors have to be more than just writers … they have to be business men and women.  When I think about this deal, I think about traditional publishers.  I think about how they conduct themselves in this literary web … which is almost as new to them as it is to us.  Would they limit themselves simply because Amazon would give them more muscle?  I doubt it.  They understand that the key to selling books is giving the reader — all readers — the opportunity to buy them.

Think about whole hoopla surrounding the release of the Fire.  Amazon was able to ink that exclusive deal with DC Comics, and B&N fired back quickly that they would no longer sell DC Comics in-store because they are all for equal opportunity.  If their Nook Color readers couldn’t buy DC Comics on their tablet, then f-it, they wouldn’t do business with DC at all.  Period.  Done.  Kaput.

When I consider self-publishing, I think of eBooks as only one avenue of sales in a city full of them.  I do want to be carried in brick and mortar stores.  I do want to give readers the chance to find me wherever it is that they find their books.  I simply could not, at this point in time, go along with Amazon.  But, that doesn’t mean I don’t support or understand how others could, nor does that mean I won’t ever reconsider when I’m working with brass-tack data.

I think the bottom line is this:

Independent authors are starting to have opportunities.  Some will help us, others will hurt us.  But, we’re being taken seriously enough by big brands that they want us all to themselves.  We’re absolutely doing something right …

**Please feel free to share your thoughts and opinions below**

 

 

It’s Worth What? — An Exploration of Pricing

I’ll soon be facing the conundrum of deciding what my book is worth and where to effectively price it.  Do I go free and drive up the sales?  Do I slip quietly into the .99 cent ghetto … I mean … bin?  Do I price myself to challenge the market at a rousing $2.99?  Or, do I plow headlong into the $4.99 bracket and practice a little patience because other “literary fiction” sells for at least that much and often times much more?

These are real questions … depending on where I fall will directly correlate with how well I sell.  It’s a seriously strategic business minded move.

The schools of thought on this various from professional to professional and author to author.  Some think, hey, go free–get the reviews and then up your price, because hey–everyone likes to get something for nothing.  Some think, no way is free is the way to go, it screams INDIE and polarized potential customers.  The under the buck mentality is referred too as the “ghetto” … an obviously sad term when you consider the love that an author pours into a book.

The fact is … my book is worth something … but what that something is remains unknown.

I was sitting down this morning trying to figure that out … and I’ll share my thoughts …

I bank with Bank of America.  I use my debit card more than anything else.  But, sometimes I need cash.  BOA has a lot of ATM’s in high traffic places, but they aren’t on every single corner.  Sometimes I have to visit another banks cash station to do a withdrawal … and each time I’m pinged $2.50.  I never spare a thought on that … paying the nominal fee is part of life as far as I’m concerned.

When I fill up my SUV with gas, I pay all sorts of fees I’m unaware of.  But, that doesn’t stop me.  It’s part of the price per gallon … and I just do it without thinking about it.

This holiday season, when I was buying gift cards, I bought Visa branded ones.  And, I paid an extra $5.00 a card.  Why?  I don’t really know.  But, I did.  It didn’t really bother me … it’s just what you do.

I heart Starbucks.  I will willing pay $5.00 plus tax for a swanky cup of coffee just because I like frothed cream.

I adore the movies, and when we go, we pay $20.00 for tickets and about $30.00 for a popcorn and two sodas.

My point is … all the time I have money going out on things that I need or enjoy and I never give it a second thought or backwards glance.  I realize that … you know what … these companies (be it the bank or the gas station) are businesses with overhead and they’d like to turn a tidy profit.  Am I really that different?.

No, actually, I’m not.  While reading is a little luxury for most people, it just so happens to be my business.  I’ve invested in the start-up cost of publishing and I’ve worked my ass off to make sure what I’m sending out into the world is a pretty, easily enjoyable read. I should be … at least in my mind … rewarded for my efforts.  I don’t think free is for me.

I think when you’re starting out, you’re setting a bar.  You’re introducing yourself and the quality of your work.  If you’re free … what does that mean?  How can you possibly go from nothing to something and not expect someone to shake their head in confusion?

Writing is art.  It’s entertainment, designed to provide pleasure.  Is $5.00 really too much to ask for that?  Not in my mind.

But…I’m posting for opinions.  What are your thoughts?  Where did you price and what was the result?  Share and share alike 🙂 your wisdom’s are rewarded with gratitude!

 

The Author’s Guild…The Gatekeepers Gatekeeper

If you’re a writer, you fall into the niche of being the “talent”…you join the ranks along with actors or singers, comedians and musicians and now even reality television stars.  You use your gift to entertain the public.  You’re not in the background–although writing is more solitary work than performance art– you’re in the forefront.

In most talent driven industries, there is such a thing know as a guild.  A guild is basically an association that offers benefits to those who do what they do in the name of entertainment, it’s similar to a union for carpenters or ironworks.  Believe me when I say…guilds are everywhere and the perks are as deep as they wide.  The word itself evokes connection to the well know “screen actors guild”–which is one of the big award shows.

When I worked as a makeup artist I belonged to one, although it was called a “union” it essentially worked the same way.  The membership earned me lower insurance premiums, guaranteed wages for work and the chance to be part of “union only” jobs.  Naturally, I had to reach certain levels to meet the threshold of eligibility–to join in the fun…but, as a freelancer, I was able to earn my place in my past professions esteemed society.  I was able to write a small cheque annually and be ranked and counted.  Doors opened simply because I was a member.

Did you know there was an Author’s Guild?  An organization that allows it members–authors–free legal reviews of contracts, insurance discounts, website building, e-mail and domain name registration.  Oh, it also helps authors get on literary panels to discuss the inner working of publishing.

Yes, my friends, it’s all that…to the tune meager of $90.00 a year in dues.

But wait…before you rush off to sign up, there is something you should know….if you’re an Indie Author, you needn’t apply–they don’t want you there.  We, the unsigned masses, are outcasts of the inner circle.

The Author’s Guild is a subjective, members only club of traditionally published authors.  And, wait, it gets better– even if you’re traditionally published by a small house, there is a solid chance you’ll be turned away at the door.  Only small presses with national coverage are allowed into the inner sanctum of this guild.

NOT FAIR…you’re probably screaming at me through the computer.  I WROTE A BOOK–I AM AN AUTHOR!!!  Believe me folks, I’m right there with you, I know you’re an author, and I believe you’re entitled to same perks as anyone else in this profession.  But the fact is, in the eyes of some being an “author” means something totally different.  It’s not simply a matter of writing a book…you need far more than just that.

Writer and president of the Authors Guild, Scott Turow, recently did an interview with a local online periodical in Chicago, The Oak Park-River Forest IL Patch, that caught my attention.  It was toting the unfairness of Amazon, the way the business is “cheating” by becoming a publisher as well as a marketplace with it’s huge draw of readers.  Going so far as to likening the company we adore to villainous Darth Vader.

Scott did the interview at Brothers K Coffeehouse, a small indie joint (can you all but hear the sarcasm and irony dripping from my tone?) on the shores of Lake Michigan in my old stopping grounds, Evanston Illinois.  Yes, I lived there…and yes, I’d had my fair share of “The Count of Monte Crisco” lattes in my day.

Mr. Turow’s interview can be found here

But the cliff notes read like this:

Amazon is the equivalent of Darth Vader in the mind of Mr. Turow.  Amazon stands to break the hull of the ancient ship known as Traditional Publishing with its conglomerate publisher meets seller moniker.  Amazon is working with an unfair advantage, and is essentially on the cusp of becoming a full-blown monopoly, the likes of which are illegal.  With it’s vertical integration (described as management control) Amazon’s move of  becoming  not only the seller but also the publisher is an unwelcome, ill received, dirty move in the eyes of some.

To that…I laugh.

Nothing about Turow’s stance on Amazon makes sense to me–and I like to believe I’m a very sensible person.

Every book publisher, for as long as the internet has stood to host their individual sites, has had a shopping cart neatly posted in the corner of their respective page–encouraging visitors to browse and buy directly, essentially cutting out the middle man from the sale of their books.  Is that really, really, really all that different from the platform Amazon operates on?  I…don’t…think…so.

If you doubt me, I encourage you to visit Random House or Harper Collins or Hachette Book Group or MacMillan or Penguin Group or Simon and Schuster … they all offer a direct buy option for the book they publish.   Touche, Mr. Turow.

But, perhaps the greatest inconsistency I noted was one he never even mentioned.  One that probably wouldn’t have come up in an interview like the one he hosted.  One that is glaring and bright to my eyes…

If Mr. Turow truly stands on the side of lawful, righteous business practices…why is he the president of an organization that neglects to include thousands–if not multiple thousands–of authors?

An author is described as someone who writes books for a living.  Well, isn’t that what we do?  Maybe not full time–maybe we just wish it was full time–but if we write books, even in the wee hours of dawn or dusk–we are still authors.  And that little guild he presides over should be an inclusive place, no matter who does or does not publish our books.

P.S: You can buy Scott Turow’s books at Amazon.com …if you’re interested 🙂

What We’re Up Against

Lately I’ve been reading about these amazing flukes of luck in Indie Author Land–multi-book deals, movie options, agents querying the author.  It’s all very motivational and it feels so hopeful.  These stories are a portal to the realization that, without doing anything other than being the best author you can be, beautiful things can happen to you all the time, at any given moment.

But there is a darker side to being an Indie Author.  Some may call them haters…others may associate the hate speech with the guillotine that hangs above every Indie Published book and the reputation that proceeds each new title…I would say it’s a pinch of both…but still…it’s darn good to know what we’re up against so we can arm ourselves accordingly

Amazon offers “Kindle Forums”…where real Kindle readers cluster to discuss.  I don’t frequent it often, but in passing I noticed a thread entitled—How To Avoid Indie Authors (ouch, that hurts!).  Yet, I decided not just run from the topic–but to consider their “take” as a master class on the isolated opinions that would polarize me from my dream.  Frankly, I’m always eager to learn from the ignorance or experience of others…to design what I do to prove them wrong–so wrong it hurts.

Here are a few sample quotes…

When Amazon opened up self-publishing for the kindle, everyone and their dog has suddenly become an “author,” and every rejected manuscript resurrected as a kindle “book.” I have no problem with amateurs posting their stuff to share online in a writer’s forum, but must their writings be intermingled with real books in the kindle store? Is there some way to hide them or weed them out when browsing and searching. It’s annoying to have to wade through all that garbage which has multiplied like a rat infestation in the Kindle store. courtesy of : Greg

Dear Greg,

I wrote a “book”.  It’s 100k words, and I wrote it in 4 months.  It was long process and it required every inch of self-control, dedication and deep love that a traditionally published book requires.  It’s real, and despite what you may believe to be a universal truth–it is, very much, a book, no quotations required.  You are under no obligation to purchase it–and I’d probably prefer if you didn’t.  No sense in subjecting you to my literary “garbage”.  I believe my feelings are probably shared by the others you harbor so much contempt for as well.

Greg, we do what we love.  We share what we love.  We pour over the words and characters and world we create with enthusiasm and joy–sometimes with heartbreak and frustration.  We intend the book to be enjoyed…so if you can’t or won’t simply because we’re not “traditional”…then it’s genuinely your loss–and for that, you have my sincere condolences.

Kindle and Nook ought to flag books that are self-published. At least then we think to check the book out a bit more closely. For me its the copy editing that makes me gnash my teeth and use words my mother would not approve of! courtesy of : KesterGayle

Dear KesterGayle,

It’s good to always check a book out–you might find something you’d enjoy.

I agree that the covers are a major clue. Indie book artwork and graphics are usually abysmal. But an even better clue is the absence of professional reviews. If all you see is a product description and/or quotes from anonymous sources you know it’s an indie. courtesy of : Danica

Dear Danica,

Since artwork and graphics tend to be one in the same…can you really take issue with both?  Or, did you mean font but simply fell victim to your own bad, confusing writing?  Maybe? If so, welcome to the party–writing what you mean to say can be a tricky skill to master. But, all of that aside, yes, I’ll agree with your point, covers are important.  Did you realize most covers–Indie or Traditional–are purchased from similar places?

I suggest we petition the federal government of the United States to create an Independent Author Advisory Board to decide for us what books can be published. This will weed out all the “undesirable” content from being sold. We need to censor all this garbage. Think of it like exterminators for infestation of freedom of press. courtesy of : New Girl!!

Dear New Girl!!

Your ideals fascinate me for the simple ignorance of them.  Amazon is an American owned and operated company…and in America, dear New Girl, we have this wonderful thing called Freedom Of Press–which, thankyouverymuch, doesn’t practice extermination.  Obviously you’re new…but look it up, girlfriend 🙂

Even calling them ‘authors’ is pushing it. Yes, wipe them out. 🙂 courtesy of : Greg (again)

Oh Greg,

It saddens me to see that–despite how simple it seems–you’re unfamiliar with the definition of an author…here, let me help you Greg.  An Author is defined by someone who has written a book, article or report.  Indie is simply a catch term given and used…but, it’s all the same…an author is an author is an author.  Cheers to all the wordsmiths out there!

Psst: You may want to buff up on the proper use of quotations–you use them in all the wrong places.

**names removed for privacy of the innocent** … Stop the self promotion please. That is the problem with indie . They just cannot help but promote their more often than not unreadable/boring work. Either use their friends or gang up together to self-promote covertly passing as unbiased readers. courtesy of : athenadsb

Dearest athenadsb,

Per chance you don’t understand that promotion–in many forms–is part of the job?  Even traditionally published authors promote their work, day in and out.  Your favorite author?  I’m sure has trudged the path of self promotion.  And, on a side note, I didn’t realize our friends weren’t allowed to enjoy our books?  News to me…but I’ll make sure to promote that in the future.

Indie writers: stop being so pathetic, even that Norwegian neo-Nazi killer had the decency of not publishing his 1500 + mein-kampf-ish jibber jabber to Amazon Kindle, learn to be as decent as him, that’s not too much to ask, or you’re just tooo needy and want to poison us with your venom. courtesy of : Brandenberg

Dearest Brandenberg,

Adolf Hitler wrote “Mein Kampf” (the title should be capitalized, by the way) in 1925 with a second edition published in 1926.  Amazon.com was founded in 1994 and went live in 1995.  Obviously, as you can see, there was no cross over.  However–I believe had Hitler been given the chance…he’d pushed that hate speech out at every turn–he was nothing if not self indulgent.

And…since I can’t let this slide without saying something…

To liken an Indie Author to Hilter is disgusting, it’s wrong, it’s vile and you should be embarrassed.  Nothing you say; before, during or after, will ever be relevant again–it was a nonsensical baseless comparison.  What Hilter did was exactly the opposite of what we, as authors, do.  We sell stories–not hate.  We believe in freedom to say what you want and be who you are–clearly a different agenda then the above mentioned.

I’ll be waiting for that apology, Bradenberg.

***

I think we’ll close the quote portion of this entry with Brandenberg ranking us below Hilter on the decency scale–seems like a good place to me…you?

What I walk away with (after seventeen plus pages of that full on bashing) is that in every dismal compliant there is a spark of truth (save for Bradenberg–but he’s his own man).  And that spark of truth is how we crawl from under the stigma of “just Indie” to be taken seriously as contenders, as good writers and good people.  It’s what we learn from the bad comments that earn us the good comments–the one’s the are listed below the title of our books.  People don’t hand out gold stars and stickers on effort when you’re a grown up doing grown up things–you have to work for it, and if you put in the energy and the money and the balls-to-walls effort…then–and only then– do the accolades come in droves.

Let’s put their objections to good use…they are just readers after all…

-Book covers.  Apparently they matter–a lot.  The age-old saying of “don’t judge” needs to be trashed.  Our covers are judged, probably to higher standard.  Effort needs to be outgoing and the product needs to be outstanding.

-Editing.  Just do it.  Hire an editor, find a beta-buddy…pause yourself, cool your heels…take the time to make it right from jump street.  If you publish a error-ridden work, it’s just that–error ridden.  Stop expecting anyone to read through your clumsy phrasing, and mistakes…they won’t and you lose.  It’s of paramount importance.  Raise the bar–and then rise up to meet it.

-Promotion.  Do it where it should be done.  Put your energies towards the places where you’ll be rewarded.  Every author promotes–interviews, press releases…but bite your tongue at the times where you’d appear to be selling snake oil.  The best promotion is the one that allows your reap the benefits of it…everything else is just clutter.

-Quotes.  If you’re going use them, let them stand for something.  Find reviewers and capture the best phrase of praise and use it!  Be proud of what’s being said–give credit where credit is due.

It can all be done.  Like I said before–prove them wrong.

I’m going to hand off the blog clincher  to Doobie Doobie who will say it better than I ever could….

All of the following were self-published…recognize any of the names?

Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn
John Grisham, A Time to Kill
L. Ron Hubbard, Dianetics
Irma Rombauer, The Joy of Cooking
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Richard Paul Evans, The Christmas Box
Jack Canfield and Mark Hensen,Chicken Soup for the Soul
James Redfield, The Celestine Prophecy
Beatrix Potter, creator of the Peter Rabbit Classic Series

Also, here are some more self-published authors:
Thomas Paine – Edgar Allan Poe – T.S. Elliot – Carl Sandberg – Gertrude Stein – Deepak Chopra – Upton Sinclair – D.H. Lawrence – George Bernard Shaw – e.e. cummings – Henry David Thoreau – Virginia Woolf – Margaret Atwood – Tom Clancy – Stephen Crane

December First…I’ll Be Reviewing

Starting on first of December, I will begin taking on a small number of Indie books to review.  Authors, you can use me!  I’d love to read your words and give you honest feedback–honest, being the keyword (please read that word carefully and understand what it means before going any further).

Writing reviews is always something I enjoy.  I love to read–I have a reaction to reading, and yes, it’s a wordy one.  Sometimes books are salt of the Earth good, sometimes they stick in the middle, and others are just bad.  But, every story leaves a mark.  I want to give that back to you–let you know what your writing evoked.  You’ll be free to use the review in publicity campaigns and I will publish the review on both Goodreads, Amazon, B&N and right here!

I’m interested in the following genres:

-Young Adult

-Women’s Fiction

-Chick Lit

-Literary Fiction

-Biographies/Memoirs

-Horror/Ghost Stories

I’m not interested in the following genres:

-Erotica

-Epic world adventures (think steampunk, sci-fi, and the like.  That’s pretty vague, I know, so if you’re stuck wondering if you fall in this category, e-mail me)

-Fantasy

This is nothing personal, I like to read what I like to read, right?  To give this the best effort possible, I’ll stick to the comfort zone.

In order to submit your book, please e-mail me labellanovella@gmail.com.

Please include the following:

1. Your Name

2. Genre of book

3. Title

4. Length of book (pages or words will do)

5. A blurb about what you wrote, tell me your story…

6. Is your book currently for sale?  Please include the vendors…

How I decide which books to take on:

If your book is for sale on Kindle, I will order a sample.  I’ll read it.  Then, and only then, I’ll decide.  It goes back to being able to find myself drawn to your story.  Let’s face it, you want good reviews and I want to give you good reviews…so we should start on a high note.  If, for whatever reason, I don’t take on your book–it’s nothing personal.

If your book is accepted to be reviewed, the following things will happen:

1. A copy (Kindle version only, please!) will be provided to me by the author.

2. I will e-mail a series of questions for an interview after finishing the book–they will be book relevant questions…that’s right folks, you get the spot light on my homepage!  Not only will I review your book, but I’ll feature you on the La Bella Novella blog as well (win/win…right?)

***

The fine print (’cause there is always fine print):

*Reviews will be written and submitted to author prior to publishing on any format (including, but not limited to the above listed outlets).  If you’re unhappy with what I have to say–we can part ways.  You are under no obligation to use my review if you feel it doesn’t capture the best of you and your book, by doing so you will opt out of any publishing on this blog.  I will, of course, respect that and in turn, please respect the fact that I read with an open mind–where it goes, it goes.

*I make no promises of bigger and better sales.  I’m one person. I will publish the review in the above listed sites, I will also entertain publishing in other locations in accordance to requests.  Your interview/review will receive an outgoing tweet to my followers on Twitter as well.  I encourage you, the author, to do your own marketing–including Facebook announcements, Twitter, blogging and the like to let your readers know where you’ll be.

*Please be understanding that I am not a professional reviewer…I have a job, I write, and I have a family.  Unforeseen circumstances and life may delay the review process or halt it all together at any time.  I’m a good communicator, and I will let you know if anything stops me from pushing through to the end.

*Not every book will be queued, I cannot take all submissions for multiple and various reasons.  I reserve the right to kindly say “no thank you”.

*I will not read through your mistakes.  I’m not an editor.  I’m not even a beta reader.  Consider me among the hordes of readers clamoring to read your story.  What you’d expect of them, expect the same from me.  If the book is full of errors, just like any other reader, I’ll close the cover and return it.  I’ll, of course, let you know that I can’t continue.  If you choose to make the corrections, you’re more than welcome to resubmit. No bridges burnt here.

*I’ll read as quickly as possible, but I am aiming for one book every two weeks (give or take–sometimes more on the take side).  I will not continue to queue into the great abyss, forever and ever amen.  Once I reach a daunting number of “to-be-read” books, I’ll close for submissions until I can catch up.  During that time, you’re encouraged to send me feelers to blimp on my radar, but I make no commitments.

*One review will not break your book.  My opinion is just that…only my opinion.  It doesn’t really mean anything–so if I don’t review favorably, remember…I’m just one person–and many, many more will love your book!  Don’t be discouraged!

OOOKKKKKAAAAYYYY…

Now that we have all of that out of the way…I’m excited to get to interact with you all.

Check out my previous reviews and my style at:

www.goodreads.com/AshMP

The New Kindle Family

My life on Kindle goes like this…

I first was introduced to “THE KINDLE” on Oprah.  She loved and, of course, had to do an entire show on it.  I was sold–it looked like honest-to-God magic.  The key to the city.  The world of literature in the palm on your hand.  I was all over that.  I charged downstairs and said:

Me:”Mark, honey, Oprah was just talking about this Amazon Kindle thing.  You read books on it.  It’s very, very cool.  I love to read, I think I should buy one,”….

Mark: “How much is it?”….

Me: “Only $399.99″….Mark: “::laughing:: You could just buy a lot of books for $400.00″…

Conversation over.

But, the Kindle haunted me.  I still read, all the time, but it was different… I couldn’t help but to just picture myself like the ad…with the ergonomically (read: clunky) designed Kindle cradled in my hands.

Flash forward to Christmas, of the same year, talking to my Mother-In-Law:

Me: “Mom, have you seen this Kindle thing?”

MIL: “Oh, yes, I almost bought you one…but I didn’t know if you’d like it”

Me: “Oh my God!  I have been dying for one since I saw Oprah”

MIL: “You should get one…MARK!”

Mark: “Ya, Mom?”

MIL: “Ashley want’s a Kindle”

Mark: “What’s a Kindle”

::insert a long conversation about the Kindle the pro’s and price point::

Mark: “Oh, yeah, okay, order one if you want”

Me: jumping, hugging, kissing, ordering

Long story short…I ended up with a Kindle 2 after months upon months of waiting.  It has, in every single way, revolutionized my reading.  I moved on to the Kindle 3 when it was announced…and yes, I have pre-ordered the Kindle 4 and the Fire.

Why?

Because Kindle inspired me.  It, kindled me.  And for that, I will upgrade and keep promoting Amazon until my dying breath, it means that much to me.

Look at it like this:

If this was 2003, and I was sitting here trying to get published without a nibble of interest from The Gatekeepers, I’d be wallowing–big pity party for one, please.  All kidding and cute phrasing aside…I’d be miserable, looking at this huge book I wrote thinking no one will ever read this, what did I do?!?!…but, thankyouverymuch, this is 2011, and we have “THE KINDLE” (not to overshadow the Nook, or Sony or Kobo or iRiver).

It’s true, of course, I could have self pub’d in 2003…ran a few to Indie book stores and hoped for smoke (you know: where there’s smoke, there is fire–and so on).  But now (thank you Amazon and ePub), my audience is wide and tall.  I still have to work hard–pound the pavement and promote the you-know-what out of myself and my book in equal measure, but it’s easier and the distance my efforts will go are vast.  I’ll still run around the Indie Bookstore circuit, Kindle has given my book a chance–a huge one.

With the edition to the Kindle family, the lowest eReader running a meek $79.00…the audience will boom.  All those people (like my husband) who choked on the price tag can finally look past the dollar amount and see the value.

There is something for everyone.  Not a fan of eInk?  Buy the Fire.  Not a fan of LCD?  Buy the Kindle.  Is $200 too much?  Get the basics for under a hundred.  Everyone can unlock the world of reading for a reasonable pocketbook friendly price.

I’m excited, thrilled, tickled and looking very much towards the future of reading.

Check out Amazon.com to see the models