It’s Hard to Tell Who’s Side Amazon is on

Ok, it actually isn’t, at all. They’re on their side and much like Apple, the rest of us are just being pulled along in the wake, and if we’re successful, great, but if not, ain’t no losing any sleep from Apple or Amazon.

This is basically episode 3.. or 5 or whatever, of “Wilker Learns to be an indie Writer”

So you have a book to publish, yay! You hop over to Amazon because you know you can self-publish there in both paper and ebook formats. You go through all the steps and get your books set up. You see the KDP select option, which puts your book in the Kindle Unlimited program, which is awesome, folks can read your book for free! You get paid a few fractions of a cent for every page that’s read, neat! Not overly lucrative, at least for a new author, but neat.

Then you learn about Createspace (which Amazon owns, but doesn’t advertise at all) where you can also create your book in both versions, as well as make it available in other markets. Except you can’t once you’ve done it in KDP unless you want to unpublish your book and republish. GRRR

ok, so you’ve missed out on that, but that’s ok. You can keep going with the KDP tools and make your way.

You go about your business and want to do some free ebook giveaways. AH! You can’t because you forgot KDP select prohibits any ebook distribution outside Amazon. No giveaways, no iBooks, or Google, nothing. KU or purchase from Amazon, that’s it for ebook distribution. Drat!

Good thing KDP Select is only 90 days.

You can opt-in again of course if you like.It’s good that Amazon, in exchange for this lock-in they demand gives you some options for promotion. You can do a week of free on your book, that’s cool, it drives some serious readership (I picked up 200+ copies in people’s kindles). You can also do a Kindle Countdown, which lets you start at a price lower than your normal price, and increment up to full price. Oh wait, you can’t do one if you’ve done the

Amazon KDP Select Promotion optionsIt’s good that Amazon, in exchange for this lock-in they demand gives you some options for promotion, not amazing ones, but at least options. You can do a Free Book Promotion (one week of free), that’s cool, it drives some serious readership (I picked up 200+ copies/readers when I did it for ‘Space Rogues’).

You can also do a Kindle Countdown Deal, which lets you start at a price lower than your normal price, and increment up to full price. Oh wait, you can’t do one if you’ve done the other until you re-sign for another 90 days of KDP. huh, that sucks, you have two options, you get to do one.

Amazon KDP Select Promotion option limitations

I’m torn on the value of all the above. At this point, I’m about halfway through my KDP select term. I’ve sold a handful of copies, given away quite a few more, and Kindle Unlimited readership seems ok. But I can’t distribute ‘Space Rogues‘ anywhere else. I can’t participate in giveaways that could increase readership and reviews. Right now while making money would be ideal, my main goal is getting copies in hand to get more reviews.

Of course, there’s also Kindle Unlimited, which as a reader I like quite a bit. As a writer I’m … meh. The payout for your book varies based on things you have no control over. Page reads (vs. ‘finishing a book’ because scammers were gaming that) and overall pool size. For July, the payout for Kindle Unlimited is $0.00403472 per page read. There’s an equation at play to dictate what a “page” is so that scammers don’t put two words on a page, etc. Fucking scammers.

 

Thinking I might do a freebie deal a week or two before the end of my KDP term, to drive some interest.

Writing wherever you are

I’ve had some form of writing app installed on my mac or iPad pretty much forever (which isn’t as long for the iPad of course). Whether that was Word, Scrivener, Ulysses, copywrite, Storyist, Pages, or any other app that someone released to ‘revolutionize writing.’ Back when I was first working at Spire Digital I had an old white MacBook that I used for an online writing class I was taking, and worked on various short stories.

I’ve Always had an eye out for the latest and greatest but also the most useful. Finding something that fits isn’t easy.

For me, the big things are these; ease of use, portability, reliability.

Easy of Use

It’s all too common for app developers to start throwing feature after feature into an app. “Hey what if it also had a todo list?” Those are great, I have an app for that, and don’t want it in my writing app. You get my point here, more isn’t better and so many apps get bogged down in features, just sitting down to write is a chore. Scrivener teeters on the edge of this. It’s feature packed but only takes 2 clicks to start a writing project.

Portability

This is a big one for me. When I travel I have some combination of Mac and iPad. Rarely do I not travel without my iPad, but sometimes I do travel without my laptop. My most recent trip to Munich was laptop free. Not to mention short trips around town when I just grab my iPad and go. That being the case, being able to use whichever device is closest to me to write, is a big deal. I intentionally left my iPhone out of the mix because I’m not a sadist.

Being able to open my iPad and have my writing projects update from the cloud is awesome. I can open Scrivener and get to work right away. I can load Dabble in my browser (or the app on mac) and see what I need to know for my next chapter or scene.

Space Rogues‘ during NaNoWriMo was written at home on the couch on my Mac and in coffee shops on my iPad.

Reliability

This one is a bit vague, but for me, it’s two things; app updates and general not-crashyness. Has your app been updated in the last 6 months? Have you released a new major version? While I’d love super-frequent updates, I understand that’s not really feasible for most developers. But if you haven’t updated your app in a year? Two years? That doesn’t make me want to give your app my time, or you my money. In looking back to make the list of apps at the top, one of them likely hasn’t been updated in 10-15 years. It’s minimum required OS is Mac OS 10.3, released in 2003. It’s still available for download and sale.

Not crashing is kind of a big deal. Whether that’s full-on App crash or (to me even worse) backend stuff going bonkers like sync, it’s no bueno. If I can’t trust your app one hundred percent with my work, I can’t trust it at all. It comes down to “fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me” I’ve lost writing before to crashes that happen before an auto-save, or to sync conflicts, and that’s too maddening to deal with.

 

 

Are you a writer? What do you use? Love? What app can you not live with?

Nothing moves books faster than free

So in this week’s episode of ‘learning to be a writer.’

Last week was Denver Startup week, I knew I’d be busy and not have a ton of time to promote ‘Space Rogues‘ so I decided to try something. Making it free.

A Sale!

Amazon only has two built-in methods to promote your book. A countdown deal (More on that later, when I try it), and a free ebook deal. The free ebook deal basically makes your book free for a week.

Free ebooks move fast

I’ve no frame of reference for what a ‘success’ is in this case, but I moved over 200 books during the week, which is not a terrible number.

Since money isn’t a factor in a sale like this, my hope is that some, even a quarter of those free ebook readers, leaves a review.

A quarter may be far too optimistic, but who knows. Realistically any new reviews will be good (assuming they’re favorable, LOL). Since I think that’s my next big hurdle.

Since ‘Space Rogues‘ isn’t free, I need lots of people reviewing it to make potential buyers feel ok with spending the whole $2.99 I’m asking for.

Free definitely ‘sells’

Free is definitely easier than not

I like that Amazon breaks free and for sale into two colors. Clearly free moves. While I sadly didn’t crack the top 10 (or 100 or 1000) free ebooks, I did get close(ish) around top 1800 :)

As far as I know, I never made it on any Amazon emails or anything like that so the bump was just by virtue of suddenly being free. I’m assuming I at least made it to a front page view somewhere of ‘new free’ or something.

I also have an add running to show on the Kindle store, so that might have helped, I’ve been keeping an eye on it, and it spiked a bit during the free promo. Prior to that and even now, after, the ad hasn’t generated a purchase yet. Hoping that turns around as well (back to needing some more reviews)

Stay tuned for more fun! Oh and if you haven’t yet, you can sign up for my newsletter. It’s only about my writing and where I’ll share snippets from upcoming work, and other goodies.

Learning a new business (writing) is fun… ish

Ah learning new things. Always fun.

The other night I was sitting in my chair, reading about being a writer and realized that just as I was thinking ‘Space Rogues‘ was done, locked in, I’d made a huge mistake.

Most ebooks, at least those I read have a page at the end, after the “The End,” that thanks the reader, asks nicely for a review and offers up ways for readers to connect with the author; Facebook, website, etc.

I had nothing. D’oh!

So I opened Scrivener real quick like, whipped up a cute little ‘thank you’ final page and recompiled the book. A few minutes later the updated file was uploaded to Amazon, and by the time I got up the next morning, the updated book was live.

My new thank you page.Thankfully as far as mistakes go, it wasn’t that huge, especially since I could correct it. Still, though, the people who’ve bought or read ‘Space Rogues‘ via Kindle Unlimited weren’t thanked and weren’t invited to connect with me. Missed opportunity for sure!

Major bummer.

Tough learning aside, I’m glad I’m getting to learn a pretty much new industry. It’s been interesting to see what works awesome for an indie author and what makes you scratch your head. Looking at you Amazon for treating an ebook like a paperback.

 

Anyway, That’s this week’s episode “John’s Adventures in Indie publishing” :D

Space Rogues final Kindle tablet cover

Adventures in book design… A.K.A ‘Space Rogues’ is complete.

And …

Fin!

Well barring anything nutty happening, that is. I’ve uploaded the final covers to Amazon for both print and ebook, both formats are updated. This marks what I hope is the last update for this book.

Sadly the biggest lesson I’ve learned (so far) is that you can’t update your existing customers with new versions (Even though, you know, ebooks are like software, grr) so, unfortunately, or fortunately, depending on how you look at it, everyone who’s bought a copy prior to this past weekend has a more collectible version. Especially the print book. That’s certainly not bad I love cover version one a lot since it started as an “Oh crap, I need a cover to submit it to NaNoWriMo” and has evolved over this past year.

If I had known that, I probably would have waited to publish, though I’m certainly glad I didn’t since it’s been super exciting to watch people not only buy my work but like it.

Anyhow, yeah final covers.

I’m excited! For one thing, this lets me put ‘Space Rogues‘ more or less to bed, and focus on the next adventure for the crew of the Ghost. I’m about one-third into the first draft of Space Rogues 2, so likely sometimes early 2018, unless I get really ambitious this fall/winter.

In addition to turning my attention to the sequel, now I turn my attention to really marketing the book. I’m kinda excited about this part too, as it at least a little taps into my experience running 360|Conferences. I hope to really kick sales into high gear now!

 

If you’ve finished reading ‘Space Rogues‘ please, PLEASE leave a review. Also if you want to get sample chapters, character ideas and more, subscribe to my newsletter. I’ll blog my adventures, but the newsletter will get stuff either before it hits here, or exclusively.

My First Month with Grammarly

So after publishing ‘Space Rogues‘ I decided to pay for Grammarly and run it through the service. Several early readers remarked about the grammar offenses, so I decided to take a look at what I could do (can’t afford an editor yet) to fix it up.

Talk about tedious. Lesson learned, now I put each scene through Grammarly after I finish it! Two days of monotonous copy-pasting and I had what I consider a whole new (or at least dramatically improved) book!

ApparenGrammarlywords uploadedtly, you get an email each month with your Grammarly use, and I thought it was interesting.

I started with Grammarly as a Safari plugin so have been using it for roughly two weeks, before committing to installing it, and passing ‘Space Rogues‘ through it. So, about 52,000 words of this 97,809 are my book, the rest, sort of shockingly, are just things I’ve typed in Safari. Holy cow! I mean there are a few conference emails and blog posts, but really, 40,000 odd words… wow. YOu can clearly see the day I spent pasting each scene of ‘Space Rogues‘ into Grammarly. I hope Scrivener 3 integrates Grammarly.

I did think this little bit was kinda neat, I don’t know what this says about me, or the other 99% of Grammarly’s users, but I’ll take it as a compliment.

 

 

 

This, however, was not at all surprising. Honestly, I am a bit surprised it was this high.

 

 

 

 

So the funniest part of the email I got, basically captured what I’ve known for some time, and has been driven home since reawakening my writer self. It’s something I’m actively thinking about now as I write.

My top 3 issues that Grammarly fixed

This renewed journey into writing (and publishing) is an exciting adventure! Thanks for following me on it! Remember you can also get non-blog post stuff from my newsletter. It’s 100% dedicated to writing, so sample chapters, character insights, etc.

 

 

 

My Book, One (ish) Week in.

So, I put ‘Space Rogues‘ up for sale a few days ago, well last Tuesday to be precise. (BTW, join my newsletter if you want to stay up to date on what Wil and the crew are doing, and get sample chapters of the next story!)

It’s selling. I won’t be retiring on writing money anytime soon, but holy crap, people (presumably not all ones I know) are buying my book.

In fact, I know it’s not all people I know because the first review is in and it’s a stranger (I think). Better than that, it’s a 4-star review! Unfortunately, I bet the update that I released this weekend, would have gotten five stars. I ponied up and paid for a year of Grammarly (MONEY WELL SPENT) and spent all day Friday feeding each scene through it and cleaning it up, as our President says, ‘bigly’. Ah well, despite my playing fast and loose with commas, she liked it.

Anyhow, back to my main point in this post, DATA!

 

Space Rogue sales since launchSo this shows the first five days that ‘Space Rogues’ was available.

 

The 29th is when both Nicole and I really made noise about it. I posted here on the blog, we both shared on social media, etc.

Then, understandably buzz started to wear off. Surprisingly to me, things didn’t just drop to zero.

That cute little gray box on Friday, that’s a print book sale. Interesting, that on Friday no ebooks sold though.

I’ve been holding off doing too much marketing since I’m waiting for an improved cover. While I’m happy-ish with mine, it’s without a doubt, ‘developer art’. A good friend is working on a cover for me, so when that’s done I’ll be pushing the book harder.

I hadn’t really thought about the cover when I put it on sale, but once I saw it there, I knew that cover wasn’t sufficient.

Kindle Unlimited

Space Rogues Kindle Unlimited ReadershipWhile I’ve been a Kindle Unlimited (Seriously, give it a try if you haven’t. 30-day trial and a great way to discover new writers!) Subscriber since it launched, I’ve only followed how it works from a high level.

My understanding is that this graph is showing the “Kindle Edition Normalized Pages” which is how they determine your slice of the KU pie. Once your book is processed, they figure out the pages (discounting TOC, cover, etc) and then you get paid for each page that’s read.

I assume from this graph, two people got and finished the book in one sitting, while at least a few others have begun reading. OR a whole lot of people got it and started reading it. Either is ok with me.

I’m very interested to see how the whole Kindle Unlimited thing pans out. I’ve seen other (far more successful) writers say they make more than from books sales. I find that hard to accept, but hey. Maybe once the crew of the Ghost has gone on twenty adventures, who knows.

 

Anyhow, I’m really stoked. Especially now that I feel like ‘Space Rogues’ is at a place I can let Vol. 1 do its thing and focus on the sequel.