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Friday, December 9, 2011

Amazon KDP Select Library

Hello all. Thanks for stopping by Self-Publishing Central.

Well . . . Amazon has been busy lately. Not long ago, they announced their acquisition of Marshall Cavendish's U.S. book titles. This is really no surprise, since Amazon has been firing up its "traditional publishing" market entry for quite a while.

And their latest offering (just in time for Christmas, by the way), is called KDP Select. If you somehow have managed to miss all the publicity regarding this new service, I'll give you a brief summary.

Summary of KDP Select: Kindle publishers (like you and I) can elect to sell any or all of their titles exclusively through Amazon Kindle. In exchange for this exclusivity, Amazon lets the publishers sign up to place their title(s) in the Select Lending Library, where Amazon Prime Members can borrow the book(s) for free.

Why would anyone want to sign up for this arrangement? Oh yeah . . . I left out the money part. Amazon is setting aside $500,000 each calendar month to be divided between the KDP Select publishers on a pro rata basis, according to a ratio between the number of times one's book is borrowed versus the total number of borrowings of all books that month.

More KDP Select Details: To clarify the above, the following will apply to any titles you may choose to enroll in the KDP Select program:

1) You may not sell that title as an ebook through anyone but Amazon Kindle. The instructions say the exclusivity is for a period of 90 days. If you look deeper, you'll see that the entire Select program runs on a 90 day cycle. In other words, you need to commit to a new 90 day period of exclusivity every 90 days. Or to put it plainly, as long as your title is part of the Select program, you may not sell ebooks of that title outside of Amazon Kindle.

2) Prime Members may think this sounds like a great deal. After all, there is no due date for any borrowed book. Wow! I might consider paying for a Prime membership, if it weren't for the following caveat: Prime Members may only borrow ONE BOOK PER MONTH for free. That's right. You can borrow 12 books per year. Big whoop! Do you think the Prime Members will borrow the 99 cent books? No. They can buy those. They'll borrow the expensive ebooks. It only makes sense. I no longer feel enticed to join Prime.

3) Just which books are going to end up in the Select Library anyway? Good question. Amazon boasts a starting lineup of 5,000 titles - including NY Times Bestsellers. I read "NY Times Bestsellers" as J.A. Konrath and maybe one more. You can bet that the traditional publishers aren't going to restrict their ebook sales to Amazon only. Heck, Amazon is their arch enemy. On the other hand, maybe this opens the door for more indie titles to get a piece of the borrowing pie, and thus, a piece of the $500,000. That remains to be seen. No one has ever tried this model on a large scale before (at least as far as I can tell).

Is it smart to sign your titles up for KDP Select? Here's my take.

The whole thing is a big experiment, which if successful, will allow Amazon to further squash Barnes & Noble and its other ebook competitors. If Amazon has its way, the end of this path would leave Amazon as the sole ebook provider. Oops! Monopoly! All of a sudden, Amazon wouldn't have to compete for authors. So author royalties go down. We're all at the mercy of Amazon (which we know to be a merciful and benevolent non-profit enterprise, right?). No. Amazon will ALWAYS act in ways that benefit Amazon, all others be damned.

Conclusion:

Might you be able to make a few bucks by listing your title(s) with KDP Select? Sure. It's possible. Stick a toe in if you want. That's what I'm doing. I'm signing up a book that I sell almost exclusively on Amazon Kindle already. And this book's sales are a small percentage of my overall book sales. It's a "toe"!

In my opinion . . . and I'm certain many will disagree . . . putting all of your titles into KDP Select risks alienating other sales channels, losing sales rankings in those other channels, and supporting Amazon's predatory bid for an ebook monopoly, in which we will ALL lose.

You should know that, in general, I have a bias against monopolistic companies and in favor of free trade. I think our economy works best that way. So why are all my books for sale on Amazon? No choice, really. B&N sells very few of my ebooks and won't let me shelve my paperbacks at all. Local book stores (with very few exceptions) won't even take a FREE copy of the books for review. iBooks has a proprietary interface that requires you to upload your books using a Mac and Mac software - which is equally anti-competitive, and a pain in the @#%. And my books are listed on Smashwords, but the sales there are meager compared to Amazon.

So there you have it. My two cents. For a contrasting viewpoint, check out Jeff Bennington's The Writing Bomb blog.

I hope you found today's post helpful. Thanks again for stopping by.

Cheers!

John

Here's some reading material from Amazon's KDP Select contract, in case you're interested:

5 Your Commitment. Your commitment to these terms and conditions is important, and the benefits we provide to you as part of this option are conditioned on your following through on your commitments. If you un-publish your Digital Book, we will remove it from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library, but you must continue to comply with these commitments, including exclusivity, through the remainder of the Digital Book’s then-current 90-day period of participation in KDP Select. If you don’t comply with these KDP Select terms and conditions, we will not owe you Royalties for that Digital Book earned through the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program, and we may offset any of those Royalties that were previously paid against future Royalties, or require you to remit them to us. We may also withhold your Royalty payments on all your Digital Books for a period of up to 90 days while we investigate. This doesn’t limit other remedies we have, such as prohibiting your future participation in KDP Select or KDP generally.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Tom Drinkard's New Release

Welcome to Self-Publishing Central. I always appreciate you stopping by.

Today's post is a promo for my friend, Tom Drinkard's new novel, V TROOPER.

JOHN: Tom, what have you got to tell us about your new release?
TOM: Thanks for asking, John. Here's a brief intro:

Wil Boyd is a soldier. He’s an MP sergeant assigned to Afghanistan. He is also a vampire.

Boyd’s secret is discovered by a man who sees him as a potential weapon in taking the war to the Taliban.  The vampire is to become the V Trooper, who can terrorize the terrorists.

Boyd’s unique abilities are put to their ultimate test when he is called on to execute a mission, alone—behind enemy lines and far from any support. His task is so vital that failure could change the course of the war and Middle East history.

From the book:

Boyd attacked.
None of the three saw him until he grabbed one who was about to send up another load. The man was bent over his task when his feet were snatched from under him. Before his face hit the pavement, a powerful hand cupped under his chin and pulled his neck back. Before he could yell, something hit him behind the ear. Blinding pain and darkness followed.
The second man inside saw a shadow that was blacker than the rest and stepped back, to run. A gloved hand stifled him and thunder sounded as a red flash in front of his eyes preceded unconsciousness.
The third thief had seen scuffles through the fence and started to pull the ladder back as something moving down the ladder like a soundless desert storm engulfed him.  An eyeblink before he was knocked unconscious, he saw a vision that would have loosened his bowels. Eyes like smoldering coals glowed above a mouth with teeth like a steel viper.

V Trooper – First Mission is a novella (23,000+ words) and is the first in a series

JOHN: Thanks for the heads up on your new release, Tom. We'll have to check it out.
________________________________________

For the rest of you, here's a bit more about Tom:



Thomas Drinkard was born and reared in the Deep South—Alabama. He graduated from the University of North Alabama with a degree in English.  At graduation, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Army and went on active duty eight days later. Within two years, he volunteered and was accepted into the Special Forces (Green Berets) after Airborne and Special Forces school, he’d found a home. With a few other assignments in between, he spent ten years with the fabled unit. He was unhappy with the Army’s plans for his future and left active duty and moved into the reserves.  He is now a Major, retired reserves.

After the Army, he found his way into teaching and writing in the securities licensing preparation business.  His textbooks, articles and CE courses are in use today. His poetry can be found in a number of literary magazines, including Negative Capability, Cotton Boll/Atlanta Review, Elk River Review, Sisyphus and others. One of his Vietnam poems was chosen for inclusion in Whatever Remembers Us: An Anthology of Alabama poetry.

  Piety and Murder was his first novel, and the prequel; Where There Were No Innocents followed. The novella, V Trooper, is a departure for him in both form and genre. It is Tom’s first venture into the paranormal and the shorter format. The book is first in a series.

__________________________________________

Thanks to everyone for stopping in.
Cheers!

John

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Book Giveaways


Hello and welcome to Self-Publishing Central.

If you stopped in last week you probably saw that I was offering to give away Kindle copies of my very best-selling book, THE 19TH ELEMENT. All you had to do was check this blog last Friday and email me your request for the book, providing the email address to which I should send the book.

Pretty simple, right? No need to Follow my Blog, comment, buy anything, advertise for me, kiss my sister, etc.

So . . . how did the giveaway go?

I gave away NINE copies. I had offered FIFTY. I would consider it to have been a BUST!!! But then, that's just me. In any case, the results of the giveaway have raised new questions that every Self- or Indie-Publisher needs to answer, to wit: (They teach us to write "to-wit" in law school. I think it sounds dumb. But there you go.)

First of all, why did I do this giveaway?

I had a couple reasons.

First of all, everybody seems to be doing giveaways these days. Maybe they know something I don't. Why not check it out and see?

Second, I hoped to boost the Amazon Sales Ranking for the book for one day. Sure, I'm buying the books. But after my royalty, it only cost me a buck a book. Pretty cheap advertising if those folks actually read the book.

And third, I wanted to see if my social media Followers overlapped with my target audience for the book.

I guess I answered my questions with a new one, to wit: 

Why did so few people want FREE genuine Amazon Kindle copies of my book?

Email Privacy. I'm hypothecating here (not apothecating; that would be pharmaceutical), but one reason may be that they didn't want to give me their email address. Okay. That's valid. You don't know me personally. Just because I SAID I wouldn't spam you doesn't mean that's true. Maybe a free ebook isn't enough to tempt readers out of their email privacy.

Failure to get the word out. Maybe there weren't many readers of thrillers who heard about the giveaway. If true, that's a platform problem (for a guy selling thrillers, at least). I tweeted the heck out of this giveaway to my 5000+ Twitter Followers, and placed an announcement on my FaceBook page several times, for at least four days before the giveaway. I also announced it here at Self-Publishing Central. If my target audience didn't see that the book was available for free, I need to work on building a new social media platform.

Maybe it's just a bad book and nobody wants it. I suppose this is possible, but I doubt it for several reasons. First, how good does a book have to be to warrant the selling price of ZERO. Second, the book has won awards which are referenced on Amazon and on my author pages. Third, the book has had 23 reviews with an average of something like 4.7 Stars. It's not WAR AND PEACE. But it's not awful either. And four, in the two days after the giveaway, I sold four copies of the exact same Amazon Kindle book -- through Amazon -- for $6.99 each.

Fellow authors may have felt obligated to give me a quid pro quo. I know that I like to support authors, and taking their books for free doesn't seem like much support to me. Maybe some authors felt guilty taking the free book without offering me one of their own? This isn't a great explanation, since it applies only to authors and I don't know why they should feel guilty accepting my book on the terms it is offered. But I suppose it needs to be considered.

People were suspicious of my motives? I don't know. Maybe the saying that "if it seems to be too good to be true, it probably is" got in the way of this giveaway. If so, that's unfortunate, because there were no strings attached.

Conclusion.

Other than the explanations above, I'm at a loss to explain the failure of the giveaway. I'm hoping some of you wise folks will make comments and provide answers. This blog is all about learning. Usually, I share what I have learned. Today, I'll let you educate me.

That's it for today. Thanks for stopping by.

Cheers!

John

Monday, October 10, 2011

FREE KINDLE BOOKS

***CONTEST ENDED***

TO CLAIM YOUR FREE KINDLE BOOK:


-- Email me at betcherjl@q.com
-- Put FREE BOOK in the subject line
-- Make sure I have the correct email to which your Amazon Kindle book should be gifted.
-- I will let you know within a day or so whether you have won.
That's it. I'm giving away 50.

Go for it!!!

PS. I won't spam you or give away your email address.
***CONTEST ENDED***

______________________________________________

Hey, gang. Thanks for checking in.

I've got a special offer this week . . . something I've NEVER DONE BEFORE. On Friday, October 14th, 2011, I will be giving away 50 FREE Kindle copies of my best-selling book, THE 19TH ELEMENT.

Check out the book to see if you're interested by viewing my IAN Member Page here -> John's IAN Member Page. Remember, it's THE 19TH ELEMENT, I'm giving away. I normally sell this book for $6.99. So this is a real opportunity, if you're interested.

Check back here on Friday. I will post instructions for how to claim your FREE BOOK sometime during the day on Friday. The first 50 followers to follow the instructions for claiming the book will get this FREE DEAL. (Don't worry. I'm not going to make you follow my blog, kiss my sister, change the oil in my car, etc. to win. It'll be a simple, one step process.)

To help you prepare, here's a TIP:

When you check this blog on Friday, make sure you have your email address ready. (Use the one that is linked to your Kindle device if you have one. The email address should be the one at which you would want to receive your FREE BOOK.)

Got it?

See you this FRIDAY!

Cheers!

John

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Pete Morin Gives an Interview


Greetings and thanks for stopping in to Self-Publishing Central.

Today I am pleased to welcome author, Pete Morin, who has just released his new book, Diary of a Small Fish, in multiple ebook formats.

I've known Pete in a virtual sense for a couple years now. And I ha
d the rare privilege of reading a beta version of Small Fish last year. It was a terrific read back then. And I hear it's even better now.

Pete's got an agent who has been working diligently on his behalf to place this book with a major publisher. But as we have learned, even having a great agent doesn't guarantee you will find a home for your book in these turbulent publishing waters.

Pete's going to share with us today parts of his road to publication. I hope you enjoy it. I know I did.

John: How about a brief introduction, Pete?

Pete: Okay. My name’s Pete Morin. I live in a money pit on the south coast of Boston wit
h my lovely wife, a young adult son and a flock of overbearing, diarrheic wild turkeys.

John: How old were you when you wrote your first story?

Pete: The first time I tried, I was about 10. I’d just finished reading Goldfinger. I proceeded to write my own spy novel, titled Silverthumb. I quit after the first page.

John: When were you first published?

Pete: A short story was published in the Vermont Cynic, the University of Vermont newspaper, in 1976, as the winner of its first short story contest. Soon after, I became its copy editor and arts/entertainment editor, which got me front row seats and backstage passes to concerts.

John: Why are you passionate about writing?

Pete: I really have no idea. A few years back, I visited an energy healer who read my energy and told me I should be writing. Sounded good to me. (That’s a true story.) I think it’s Karma.

John: Tell us about your ‘writing life’ to date?

Pete: Since I re-started fiction writing in February of 2008, I’ve finished one novel, started 12 short stories and finished 8, and completed most of a second novel. I spent too much time on Authonomy years back, but earned what little acclaim it offers and received a positive review from a Harper Collins assistant editor (I assume). The experience convinced me to continue. That manuscript garnered representation from the first agent who read it, the fabulous Christine Witthohn. Most of the shorts have been published in one place or another, and one is due for a rather auspicious honorable mention that I cannot disclose.

I spend anywhere from ten minutes to ten hours a day staring at work in progress.

John: What are your goals for the next five years?

Pete: Besides seeing my current two novels in print, I just want to be involved when writers come out on top of the publishing revolution. I want to learn how to write a whole novel in nine months. I want to: watch my wife stay as lovely as she is, my son become a successful fantasy writer, and my daughter become a successful New York food writer (and marry a rich man); preserve my health and sanity; and keep my handicap below 10 and my weight below 220.

John: All admirable goals. Tell us about the books you have out?

Pete: At this time, I have self-published one short story, Giving It Away, and a collection of six short stories, Uneasy Living. These are stories that are best described as literary fiction that deal with man’s reaction to good fortune, bad luck, sorrow, abandonment, alienation, loss and betrayal. They were written at a time when I was grieving the loss of my father and the imminent loss of my mother, so they are uncharacteristically somber and maudlin for a man of my usual exuberance and good cheer. Still, I know that they get inside the people who read them and make them laugh and cry, so I think they’re pretty successful.

John: What do you say to new writers?

Pete: Be yourself, keep your day job, read everything you can get your hands on, and pay attention to craft!

John: Anything else you'd like to offer? Maybe a plug for your brand new book?

Pete: First of all, thanks for hosting me on your blog, John. Decent of you. Then, of course, I'd appreciate it very much if everyone ran right over to
Amazon, BN, or Smashwords and grabbed a copy of Diary of a Small Fish.

John: Thanks for stopping in, Pete. Best of luck to you in your continued
writing endeavors.

Here's a cover pic of "Small Fish" and some further background you'll want to know about Pete.



Bio:

Pete Morin has been a trial lawyer, a politician, a big government general counsel, a lobbyist, and a grand jury witness. He is now a trial lawyer, a writer and a blues guitarist. He is represented by Christine Witthohn of Book Cents Literary Agency. His short stories have appeared in 100 Stories for Haiti, Words to Music, Words With Jam, and NEEDLE, A Magazine of Noir.

You can find Pete, if you want, here:

www.petemorin.wordpress.com

http://www.facebook.com/pete.morin2

http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/smallfish

@petermorin on Twitter

Monday, September 5, 2011


WANTED

On Dead Tree Paperback or Alive in EBook!

For Having Way too Much Fun

Name: Tom Ryan

Age: 10

Physical Description: Too big for his britches, too tough for his own good

Distinguishing features: a scar in the shape of your nose on his right hand

Aliases: “The King,” “Tom Terrific,” “Hey Ryan,” and “Big Trouble”

Known to frequent: The Cherry Tree Hideout, Isaly’s, The Harris Theater, South Park Drive-In

To report a sighting, to read a sample, or purchase please contact A King in a Court of Fools

REWARD

Hours of enjoyment reading stories from the Book of Tom

Statement from Tom’s brother, Harry who chronicles Tom Ryan’s exploits

It’s been a while since I’ve seen it, but that’s how I remember the chicken scratch from the cover of Tom’s journal. Tom Ryan — he’s my big brother. He was in sixth grade at the time he started keeping it. He was ten and I was five. Sister Jeanne Lorette made him do it, he said. Tom thought it was punishment for constantly misbehaving in her class. He would say that. That’s how he was. I think she was just trying to help him express himself in ways more productive than his usual tough guy act.

Speaking of tough guy acts, I’ve always imagined that if Tom had the room on that composition book cover, he would have added:

You’re still reading, aren’t you? I warned you, but you couldn’t stop, could you, you nosey-baloney? Well, it’s too late now. And don’t bother wiping your prints off the book. I have my ways. And don’t try to hide either. I’ll find you.

Go ahead, keep reading, but once you know the secrets, it will be the last thing you ever read.

Tom was big on threats. That was his modus operandi. He was under the impression that it was the only way to get anyone to do what he wanted. So he picked on us a lot, but we all knew he was a softy deep down — all talk, no action. You know the type. I honestly don’t remember him doing anything really nasty to anyone, except kids who were picking on us. And I’m sure he felt totally justified in those cases because he was doing it for a good cause.

Of course, I can’t speak to his behavior once he moved on to high school. I saw less and less of him and the gang had, by then, disbanded. But before that, we were all part of his gang and under his protection, whether we wanted to be or not.

Tom’s journal is long gone. It’s unfortunate in a way. It would be much better hearing his story in his own words rather than from my memory of the events that took place that year. It seems like so many years ago. But I imagine like all the other evidence he wanted “lost,” he covered it with Testors cement and burned it when he moved on to the seventh grade. Or maybe he buried it in the side yard. We’ll probably never know. I’m sure he’ll never tell, and I doubt Mom and Dad will be digging up the yard any time soon to find it.

That leaves you with me to piece this together. You have to keep in mind that I was only in first grade at the time, so my reading skills were limited. Simple chapter books were easy, but not sixth grade Tom-ese. He used words I’d never heard of, words I found out later I was better off not knowing.

How did we get our hands on Tom’s secret journal? My other brother, Sam and I found it. We used to sneak into Tom’s bedroom despite the threat of the “Keep Out or Die” sign on his headquarters door. Or maybe it was because of that sign and the inherent danger involved in tempting fate. In any case, we’d play with the toys he never let us touch, we’d look out his window at the Ioli’s house across the street just like he did when he was preparing for a mission, and we’d rifle through his drawers looking for his secret stuff. That’s how we found it. He kept it hidden under a pile of shoes in his closet. It smelled like old shoes, too. That was cool, but the coolest thing? The journal was about us.

Tom was chronicling the adventures of his gang for Sister Jeanne Lorette. Every chance we got, we would sneak in, and Sam would read it to me or I would try reading to him. We had a blast with it. The way Tom described his adventure we couldn’t believe it was about us at first, but there was no doubt after several pages that this story was our adventure as seen through his imagination. And did he ever have an imagination.

So, if you’re willing to accept it on that basis and for what’s it worth, I invite you to enjoy the story of A King in a Court of Fools.

H. Ryan

About the book: A King in a Court of Fools, originally published as a serial novel, is Larry Enright’s second published work. It is humorous, nostalgic fiction about kids growing up in the 1950s and has been already enjoyed by ages ten through ninety-one. It is available in both eBook and paperback from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.com. Click for details to Purchase or sample A King in a Court of Fools.

About the author: Larry Enright was born to Irish Catholic first-generation immigrants and raised in Pittsburgh. After college, he moved to the Philadelphia area where for the past 40 years he has filled his life with many careers including musician, teacher, programmer, researcher, and writer. He has written three other novels, including the best-selling Four Years from Home. Visit Larry Enright's site.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

#100blogfest is at Self-Publishing Central


Self-Publishing Central welcomes Martin King's #100blogfest. This is what it's all about:


#100blogfest

“100 blogs as a child” August Tour. I am attempting to write 100 blogs as a guest at 100 different websites in the single month of August. You can stop whistling now. This works out at roughly 3 a day (Okay Mr. Mathematics nerd, 3.2258… to be exact). What am I going to blog about? This is an interesting question you’ve just posed. After a lot of thought about this, I decided 100 different things I got up to as a kid. So many people tell me they cannot believe how much I can remember about my childhood. It doesn’t matter what age you are, we all have fantastic memories about ‘the good old days’. And for the younger ones who are still, young (jealous), they will be able to go ‘Hey I did that only last week.’ Each and every site is connected with writing in some way or another, be it an established author, or an author wannabee, book reviewing site etc. A few of the authors have decided to write their own fond memory too, which should be fun!! Thanks for taking the time to look.

And here is today's post from Martin:

Did you ever want to play an instrument? Do you remember taking a comb and some tracing paper to make a crude form of one? We were so inventive back in those days. If you were lucky then your parents might have bought you a Rolf Harris (wrong – I’m not going to say didgeridoo) Stylophone. Now that was a great invention.

Then in music class you got to play with the maracas or the triangle. Then there were instruments with weird sounding names such as the xylophone or glockenspiel.

I remember having a recorder and going to recorder lessons. I think I learnt the two classics, London’s Burning and Three Blind Mice that every child seems to learn. And perhaps you may have had a piano; a lot of houses did back then before they ended up at the local gala being smashed to bits by the local strongmen in a piano smashing contest.

I did try to play the guitar and the drums in my later years, but I think I was destined never to play an instrument. But it was when I was about twelve at High School that my main memory takes me. I was desperate to play an instrument in music class. But because it was so long ago, I cannot remember the reason I received the instrument I did.

Maybe I was the last in the queue or our music teacher, Mr. Powell had figured out I wasn’t very talented. But can you guess what I was privileged with learning? The Tuba!

Can you believe that? And to make matters worse, we live miles from school and I had to walk home. So every week I would have to lug this great box full of the wonderful metal, musical delights of a contraption that wouldn’t even work. No matter how hard I blew into that thing, it wouldn’t play me a single, beautiful note.

These blogs are all about fun and sharing. Thank you for reading a ‘#100blogfest’ blog. Please follow this link to find the next blog in the series.

Thanks for stopping in, Martin. Best of luck to you in your blog travels!

That's it for today.

Cheers!

John