Category Archives: Kindle

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.

 

 

 

I Published My (first) Book

'Space Rogues' Book coverSo you may recall I wrote a thing. I’ve spent the last nine months, waiting for feedback from beta readers, tweaking, reviewing, tweaking again.

Oh, and I started on the sequel too.

This past weekend I finally decided to pull the trigger. I’ve been tweaking the story for months, it’s time to get it out into the world. So, it is. You can get it here, if you have Kindle Unlimited, it’s free, otherwise, it’s $2.99.

It’s $2.99 because as tempting as it would be to make it $.99 that doesn’t put a lot of value on my time. I spent a month feverishly getting the story down on (virtual) paper, and nine more months polishing it. I believe we should pay creators for their creations. Whether that’s in the Kindle Unlimited Model (I’ve found several authors via KU, that I now buy their book outright) or buy directly purchasing their work.

I’ve watched so many ‘races to the bottom’ that I can’t contribute to that. Want to read (what I think is) a good little sci-fi adventure? It’ll cost a few bucks. Don’t enjoy it? I’ll buy you a coffee to make up for it.

Space Rogues‘ was a blast to write, I’m enjoying the story that’s developing in the sequel every bit as much as this first story.

I’ve learned a lot about my writing style, and the craft in general over this past almost year. I’ve (re) fallen in love with writing. I’ve found joy in trying out new tools to help take my writing to new levels. I hope you get even half as much enjoyment from reading my work as I get from writing it :)

I hope the wait for ‘Space Rogues 2: Saving the universe, again” (Working Title) isn’t too unbearable :)

Using Dabble to plotline my next story

After finishing NaNoWriMo, I started working on a second story. Same characters and universe. The first story just kind of fell out as I wrote it, it told itself.

The sequel isn’t following suit.

A friend of mine recently released a writing app called Dabble. and while it’s not quite what I want in a writing app (Scrivener sets a high bar), it recently added a feature I’ve fallen in love with .

Enter the Plotline. 

Dabble's awesome plotline viewBeing able to lay out plot points and see the whole story is great!

I already had the first few chapters down, and kept going back and tweaking them, as I wasn’t happy with how things were flowing.

I’ve only gotten about a third or so in, and will likely change much as I go, but so far good.

 

What’s nice is Dabble is a work in progress and Jacob is awesome :) The other night as I was working, I realized I had to scroll up quite a bit to see the title of each column, so I submitted an idea to freeze the top of the screen.

Shortly after I hit ‘submit’ Jacob and I were chatting about the idea.

If you’re looking for a lightweight, straightforward writing app, take a look at Dabble and help craft it into the perfect app.

I often wonder if Amazon even cares about the Kindle

I love my Kindle, it’s packed full of books, hundreds of them. It sucks.

Amazon from the start with the Kindle has been a weird duality. At the same time, making it super easy to buy a book, start reading it almost instantly, and making it nearly impossible to manage your library either on the Kindle or online.

Amazon has never since the launch of the Kindle had what might even be considered a strategy. As a customer, it seems they don’t care how we manage our library. I think they thought, “They’ll just have a virtual pile on their device and dig around for their next book.” Assuming they even thought about it.

Collections

Kindle for MacYou might think you could manage your library on a desktop app, that makes sense, there’s screen real estate, a rich UI, etc. NOPE.

Even collections I’ve created on my device aren’t visible in the Kindle desktop app.

Long long ago, there was a time that the Kindle firmware made managing your books pretty easy. You created collections, and there was a view that consisted only of collections and unassigned books, so once you saw only your collections, you were organized. A subsequent firmware update did away with that, forever. Thanks Obama.

(UPATE: As Mike points out in the comments, this feature is actually present. I stopped looking a long time ago, so maybe it was only missing for a point release or two, but it’s there now, which is awesome!)

Gooddreads shelvesOne might think the acquisition of good reads would make managing your library somewhat easier, or even possible. NOPE. Good reads has ‘shelves’ and you can add books to the ‘currently-reading’, and ‘read’ via your Kindle, but that’s it. Collections aren’t represented in Goodreads at all, nor are your Goodreads shelves represented on the Kindle.

As Kindle owners know, there’s the “manage your devices and content” section within Amazon. You might think you could go there to sort your vast library of books purchased from Amazon. NOPE, you can see them all listed, download them to your computer (handy for using CalibreAmazon manage your content screen to manage your library), re-deliver to your Kindle and just recently assign books to collections. That’s right, the Amazon site knows collections are a thing, knows you have them.

Awesome, except there’s no “collection view” on the site, so you can’t actually take a look at your ‘sci-fi’ collection, see what’s in it. Oh and if you want to re-assign a book to other collections, or add itAmazon manage your content screen 2 to more, once you’ve done that initial sorting, you can’t. Amazon’s site (at least on Safari) basically sucks, and you get a blank dialogue.

Initially, well ‘initially’ being the last 5 or so years I’ve owned a Kindle, I’ve endeavored to just suck it up and manage all my content on my handy little e-ink screen. It was the pits.

There are third party tools, like Calibre, that I love for managing my library, but this solution isn’t realistic for the less technically inclined. I might write up my current workflow which more or less works, until Amazon updates their ebook format, temporarily breaking things, and activating the hacker Kindle community to work on new patches. It’s tedious, but beats thumbing through screen after screen on your device for your next reading adventure.

Amazon and the Kindle

I sort of love/hate Amazon. Mostly love, but still.

I have a Kindle Paperwhite, I’ve had a Kindle since the 2nd version was released. I’ve liked them all, loved really. They’re my go to reading devices, but most of the time it feels like Amazon is just pushing them out the door ( a new one just dropped last week!), without actually caring what anyone wants. Sure they add a new font here, and finally integrated goodreads a few firmware versions ago, now there’s a really expensive ‘luxury’ one, but look around the internet at an eReader or even Kindle specific forum, you’ll find lots and lots of discussion around the minor things that would vastly improve the kindle for many owners.

IMG_0982Content Management. When you end up with a library of hundreds or thousands of books, managing them on device is a bag of hurt. Especially if that device has an Epaper screen! Managing them on the amazon site isn’t even an option. So what works? Surely there’s something, oh no there’s nothing. The Kindle for mac (or PC I assume) seems like it’d be the right place, plenty of screen space, etc. to allow for easy sorting of books and managing of collections, generally managing your Kindle library. Nope, Collections are a mix of device and cloud, essentially making them useless on both, because what changes you make on your desktop, won’t reflect on the device, and vice versa. Side loaded books aren’t synced so the desktop and mobile app versions, don’t even know about them.

There used to be a nice view on the kindle that showed books and collections together so you could see books that weren’t assigned a place to live, making it easy to manage. Once your kindle screen was just collections, done. You’d sorted all your books. That view went away a few firmwares ago. You can see above that now there’s no telling. The three books at the bottom, are in the collection above, yet there’s no way to see just one. You can see only collections, but then books not in collections are gone. You can see everything but then collections are pretty pointless.

Screen savers. I admit this is a huge one for me (and anecdotally a huge group of owners). I don’t know why, but Amazon thinks we want to see some random ass images (previously it was dead authors) instead of the cover of the book we’re reading, or our own images. Why? beats me. Sure if you have the “special offers” version it makes sense you only see the offers. But if i’m not running that version, why wouldn’t I want to see what I’m reading? instead of one of like 6 rotating images. Why wouldn’t I want to customize that experience?

IMG_0981I know some folks don’t care one way or the other, I’d argue even not caring, none would object to seeing the book cover. It seems like such a low hanging fruit that Amazon could please a vocal subset of customers, please others who don’t care but wouldn’t oppose seeing the cover of their book, and in no way harm anything at all. In fact it’s not even like it’s not possible since one of the biggest reasons people jailbreak their kindles (myself included) is to gain access to book covers as screen saver.

Even if a book doesn’t have a cover, the system that renders it could make a generic one. I know this because the creators of the Screensaver hack have done it. The Side loading app Calibre, has also done it.

To my knowledge Amazon has never said why they don’t offer this, the jailbreak works so well, doing it officially seems like it’d be easier/cleaner.

Unlike Apple who seems to at least pay attention to the jailbreak community to see what’s popular, Amazon seems to ignore it completely, focusing on other things. Other things that no one is asking for (at least based on the last few firmwares, and subsequent roll backs).

None of this keeps me from owning a Kindle, or enjoying mine, but I’ve never understood when businesses seem to ignore their user base so completely as to be seen as hostile towards what are the most active and vocal of their supporters.

¯\_(?)_/¯

My Thoughts so far with Kindle Unlimited

tl; dr; I like it.

If you’re not familiar Amazon launched Kindle Unlimited a month or less ago (Less for sure since my 30 day trial hasn’t ended yet). The premise is, for $9.99 a month you get unlimited access to something like 500k eBooks.

That number is a little misleading, yes there’s 500k books to be read, but other than a few token high profile titles/series (Hunger Games), it’s largely smaller indie writers work. That’s not a terrible thing, but an observation, and warning, if you’re looking for the big publishers stuff, it’s not here (yet?).

If you like to read, and don’t necessarily care if the writer is famous, etc. You’re in the right place.

I’ve read several books so far (trying to make the most of my free month to see if it’s worth it), and have enjoyed them all.

What I like best:

  • Unlike the Lending Library, you’re not limited to 1 book a month. You can load your Kindle up with several books, from Kindle Unlimited. This is great for stocking up before a trip when network connectivity may not be an option. It’s also nice to not have to remember to come back for a book when you can borrow next. Just add as you come across them.
  • It’s a great way to discover new writers
  • Normally I’m not a renter (don’t like streaming music services, prefer to own TV and movies that I enjoy, DRM free and on my own hard drives) but for books, so far the idea of just borrowing, reading and returning isn’t that bad. When I find something i love, I’ll likely still buy it, but so far knowing the book would go back hasn’t been a big deal. Granted so far I’ve read good books, that i probably wouldn’t have bought, so…

My big issues/questions about Kindle Unlimited are:

  • Other than getting more money from me, why isn’t this part of Amazon Prime? Video streaming is lumped into Prime, why not Kindle Unlimited? To be clear I know it’s likely a legal thing, contracts, rights, etc. but still, I’d like it to be part of my already $100 spend. Heck I’d be happy if it was part of Prime and you had to choose, video or books. I know that sounds like “Gimme more shit for no more cost”, but I’d even be happy it prime was another $10 more. Really it’s just the notion of a separate service, that feels like it shouldn’t be separate.
  • What happens to the Kindle Lending library? This is mostly just a curiosity, but it covers a different selection of books, so I’m curious if they’ll merge or will i still be able to get some bigger name books that way?
  • For now reading more ‘unknown’ writers is totally cool, but at some point I’ll likely want to read something published by the big five, etc. I hope that’s something that works itself out sooner or later. Hopefully sooner, but not holding my breath.

I don’t know the economics, but hope that amazon is treating those who participate in Kindle Unlimited well. I had read somewhere (I hope it was true) that in the Kindle Lending Library model, writers got more when a book was loaned, than they did when it was sold. I find that sad, but hope it’s also true here, in so far as i want to reward those writers I’m reading.