Totally Random & Tons Of Swag

With the Holiday’s now behind us, I can focus totally on another season of giving … the launch of my book!

I am really excited to announce that this blog and my website will be hosting “The Milestone Tapes Giveaway Extravaganza” … I kind of feel like Oprah right now — or a much smaller scale, of course!  The only thing better than getting free stuff is giving free stuff.

How It Works:

Over the next few weeks you (and others) will have the chance to enter this really fun giveaway before the release of The Milestone Tapes.  It’s all about the build up to actually going live and the release of my first book … it’s a big celebration!  At the conclusion, winners will be chosen at random.

Who Can Play:

Anyone and everyone.  I encourage you to tell your friends, family and coworkers.  But, before you do … please read the rules and fine print.

How To Enter:

Entering the contest is fairly simple.

1. Visit my website, www.ashleymacklerpaternostro.com … from there, go to the link “contact me” … in the subject field write CONTEST ENTRY.  Fill in the body of text with your full name and e-mail address, Twitter handle and Facebook name, as that’s how I’ll contact you if you win and keep track of your entries.

2. “Like” me on Facebook, you’re entered again!

And there is more still!

3. By tweeting #themilestonetapesnovel and my name @AshMP you’re eligible for another entry*****

That’s a lot of chances … but let’s talk about what you’ll be winning, shall we?

What You Win:

There are two tiers of prizes in this giveaway totaling 10 great prizes!

Runners Up

9 winners will be entitled to an advanced signed copy of The Milestone Tapes in print.

The Grand Prize

1 lucky person will win …

-1 advanced reading copy of The Milestone Tapes in print–signed of course.

-Copy in eBook format for their …

-Brand new Kindle Basic WiFi with special offers (US version).

Okay … now we’ve talked about what you can win, let’s discuss the terms and conditions.

The Fine Print

-The giveaway contest will run from January 9th until February 9th, beginning immediately once this post goes live.  All entries must be submitted by 11:59pm CST February 9th to be counted.

-Your first entry MUST be done via my website … it’s the way I will keep track of entries and the people who submit them.  If you opt not to register with my contact form you forfeit the opportunity to win.

-Each entry (website, Twitter or Facebook) earns you ONE chance to win … the more you enter, the better your odds.  Winners will be selected at random using Random.org and contacted by me within 1 week from close of contest.

-Twitter entries are limited to one per person per day.  If it is found that one user is accessing multiple accounts, that user will forfeit all potential prizes and be pulled from the drawing … no ifs ands or buts about it.*****

-Prizes will be awarded by me within 1 month of closing the contest.  This means, expect your haul by March 9th.  In case of unforeseen delays, winners will be contacted.

-Prizes have no cash value … this means, if you win a copy of the book and don’t want it I can’t just give you cash instead … same goes for the Kindle or eBook.

-Winners will be contacted by me following the drawing.  If the winner does not reply within 5 days, the winner forfeits his or her prize and another winner will be picked at random.

-Amazon is not sponsoring this contest and is held harmless, whatever that means.

-E-mail addresses will not be stored nor sold.  I do solemnly swear not to junk mail you at all, ever!  Literally nothing is worse than junk mail, agreed?

-If you win a copy of The Milestone Tapes you are not required to leave a review … though, it would be nice … 🙂

-The winner of the grand prize will receive the e-version of The Milestone upon publication (mid March) via Amazon as a “gift” through e-mail once their new Kindle is registered.  I will not be mailing out unsecured PDF versions at this time.

-By signing up, you give me permission to use your real name (Facebook, Twitter) in the announcement of winners … should you win.

-The Kindle being given away is the $79.00 US version — this includes the WiFi and valuable special offers.  If you’re entering from another country, please contact Amazon prior to entry to ensure that you will be able to use the device in your region or that you will be able to exchange it for the model that will work.  I am not responsible for ensuring the device will work where you live, nor do I take on the responsibility of working out an exchange on your behalf.

So …

That’s that.  Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns about this giveaway!  Good luck and enjoy!

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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**

 

 

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

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