Runnin’ Down a Dream: RIP Tom Petty

Just before going to bed last night, I heard that Tom Petty was in the hospital. Then this morning came the sad news that he was dead.

Tom Petty is one of those artists where I have almost every album. When I started listening mostly on my computer or ipod, I ripped all of my favorite songs and added them to my mp3 collection. Sometime after attending the Clarion West Writers Workshop, I deliberately chose “Runnin’ Down a Dream” as my theme song — because hey, if you want to be a writer, or any kind of artist, it certainly isn’t going to come to you. 🙂

I saw a snippet of an interview earlier today where he said that many people had told him his songs provided a soundtrack for their lives — and it couldn’t get much better than that. How right he was. He certainly provided a number of songs to the soundtrack of my life.

And so he lives on.

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You Can Win Without Cheating FFS

Another great post by David Gaughran.

David Gaughran

Most self-publishers will agree: it’s getting tougher out there.

If you are in KU, then you’re pretty much dependent on one income stream and if Amazon sales dip or you run afoul of the Hall of Spinning Knives for whatever reason then you are totally boned. And it’s getting so competitive in KU that it seems to take more titles and quicker releases, along with multi-pronged marketing campaigns – which can be complex and/or expensive – to get any real traction or stickiness.

If you’re not in KU, hitting the charts on Amazon is increasingly difficult and holding on to position is near-impossible – especially when your book is being leapfrogged every hour by thousands of borrow-boosted KU salmon running all that mad marketing. And you can’t even advertise to the same level because they are getting reads on top of those sales to make ROI easier.

Getting visible at…

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Ygerna Available for Pre-order!

I am thrilled to announce that Ygerna has been approved for pre-order on Amazon — in record time! It will be available for a special launch price of only 99c through October. After that, it will go up to $2.99.

Ygerna

Uthyr destroyed her life. Now she wants revenge.

When young Ygerna first meets Uthyr, Pendragon of Britain, she is dazzled by the handsome and famous warrior. But when Uthyr interprets admiration as consent and takes her by force, Ygerna’s hero worship turns to hatred.
And she will do anything to get revenge on the man who got her with child and ruined her life.

It will officially be published on Amazon on Oct. 2. I did that to have a bit more time to arrange for some additional publicity in October, since it would be cool to have a Hot New Release again. 🙂

Strangely enough, other venues have been much slower publishing. The only other one I have so far is Kobo:

https://www.kobo.com/en-us/ebook/ygerna

I have not yet done the extra work to make it available for print — which also involves getting a new version of the wraparound cover from my cover artist once I have the PDF done. I have to see if it’s possible to test the Vellum print add-on — otherwise it’s cut and paste into my print template …

I would be very grateful for shares and tweets and reblogs! There’s too much going on at the moment for me to invest the time in anything like a Facebook launch party, so ads and word of mouth are all I have to rely on.

But one very nice thing — before I even noticed that it was already available, Ygerna had its first pre-order. 🙂

Ygerna

Creating Aliens by Deborah Walker

A nice article about creating alien species for science fiction!

milfordsfwriters

When I first started writing, I read Orson Scott Card’s advice about creating aliens in How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy. Card discusses developing the evolution of the distinct biology of an alien species, and how that imagined evolutionary process informs both an individual’s thoughts and actions and the aliens’ culture.
That was advice I could really sink my teeth into. I’ve written a fair few aliens since then, always thinking about that advice, but with an added aspect: stealing blatantly from Mother Nature

My aliens are based on the reality, the science we currently understand. The starting point for one of my other races is often an earth creature, sometimes more than one as I pick and mix. The diversity of Earth’s species is astonishing. There are, to my mind, some truly strange creatures out there.

Adult Vampire Squid attribution © Citron / CC BY-SA 3.0

Adult vampire squidEarth Organisms I’ve Used…

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Yseult on Sale for 99c through Oct. 20!

In anticipation of the upcoming release of the Pendragon Chronicles prequel novel, Ygerna, I have lowered the price of Yseult to 99c through October 20.

Yseult

Amazon
B&N
Kobo
Apple
Smashwords
Google Play

And no, I still do not have a release date for Ygerna. My editor’s computer died, which has set her back several days while she transfers data and sets up the new computer.

This kind of thing is why I really don’t like doing much pre-release promotion. Not everything is in my hands, and if an editor has computer problems and can’t deliver on time, if I have set up a pre-order with a specific launch date, then I’m out of luck. I’m not setting a definite publication date until everything is in my hands. Then all I have to worry about is getting the corrections into the manuscript and the formatting — which I do myself.

Once I have the edited manuscript back, then I may do a short term pre-release. Or maybe not. 🙂 Might just publish as soon as I can and throw everything I have at it then!

A Good Resource for eBook Sale Sites

I haven’t had a lot of time recently to update my various pages for places you can advertise eBook promos, so I thought I would share this site I found:

https://blog.reedsy.com/book-promotion-services/

It has an especially nice feature that you can click a button to only show free sites.

I should soon have news on the publishing front regarding Ygerna. Just waiting for the file back from the editor. 🙂

Ygerna cover

The Visibility Gambit

David Gaughran

Kindle Unlimited has received a fair bit of bad press over the last couple of years – some of it from me – but I want to balance that by looking at the positives.

Most pertinent is KU’s popularity with readers, meaning there can be huge opportunity for authors. Especially so if you make full use of the tools Amazon gives you, and understand that it’s all about visibility.

Enrolling in KU comes at a well-documented cost: exclusivity. But it’s the potential benefits I want to focus on today because some of that might be getting lost in the (well justified) complaints about scammers, transparency, and falling pay rates. Even though those rates have dropped by around 20% this year alone, KU is still paying out more dollars to indie authors than all non-Amazon retailers combined. And I think indies need to be selfish and do what’s best for them…

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Group Promos for August: Free YA Books and 99c SFF

These days, the ROI for paid advertising seems to be getting worse and worse, so I’m trying to put more of my energy into group promos and building my mailing lists. Plural because I’m still experimenting and haven’t settled on a provider yet. OTOH, I may eventually stick with multiple newsletters to keep readers with different interests apart. I had so many unsubscribes from my main mailing list earlier this year when I announced the publication of Starting Out as an Indie Author that I got a slap on the wrist from Mailchimp.

But anyway, on to the current deals. yes? 🙂 The book I like to refer to as my literary time travel, Chameleon in a Mirror, is currently on sale on Amazon through August 27 for only 99c!

Chameleon in a Mirror

I’m afraid it isn’t available anywhere else right now. I’m mostly out of KDP Select, but I want to keep at least one book in at any given time to give Kindle Unlimited readers a chance to discover my books.

Along with Chameleon in a Mirror, you can discover dozens of other science fiction and fantasy ebooks on sale for 99c until August 27 here:

The other group promo I am presently participating in is a back to school Free YA Book Promo. To get these books, all you have to do is sign up for the author’s mailing list. My book for this one is my YA alternate history with magic, Island of Glass.

Island of Glass

In the spirit of experimentation, I have set up a new mailing list for this promo, since I am hoping to publish the second and third books of the Glassmakers trilogy by the end of the year. The readers who sign up for this list will get news specifically tailored to the series. I’ll be interested to see how it works out.

But please remember, if you like to fill your eReader by signing up to mailing lists, when you get the newsletters you have signed up for, don’t mark them as spam. That’s even worse for the writer than too many unsubscribes and can get their mailing list accounts suspended.

Hope you all find something you enjoy!

The Only Rule Amazon Truly Cares About

Another case of Amazon unresponsiveness. :/

David Gaughran

On Monday, I found out that some bug hit a German e-book site causing the reactivation of long-dead listings, including one of mine, putting myself and some other authors in breach of KDP Select’s exclusivity rule.

Amazon pounced into action and cancelled my Countdown deal which was scheduled for this week, screwing up a carefully planned promotion. And despite pledging to resolve the matter and restore the promo, Amazon has not done so.

I’m going to go through what happened in detail so you can be sure that I acted correctly at all points – because there is a lot of shadiness going on at the moment – but feel free to skim some of the details if you wish.

Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible had never been in Select, so I decided to throw them in for one term as an experiment at the start of July…

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How Amazon continues to do its best to piss off its writers: The odyssey of establishing my rights to Looking Through Lace

I’m sitting here listening to a yellow jacket determined to commit suicide in one of my wall lamps, and wondering why Amazon seems so hell-bent on annoying its authors these days.

This weekend, August 5-6, Patty Jansen is hosting another big 99c promo with 100 books in various science fiction and fantasy genres. I entered my boxed set of Looking Through Lace, Books 1 & 2, and was accepted. Only now it looks like my book won’t be on sale — at least not on Amazon. And it’s anyone’s guess if I will have to take the book down or not entirely (on Amazon), for reasons no one has seen fit to provide me answers with.

But let us start at the beginning, shall we?

Early this week, I lowered the price of the Looking Through Lace boxed set everywhere it was available, just like I always do for a promotion. Price changes went through fine — except on Amazon. Instead, I got this:

Hello,

Thank you for publishing with Amazon. Copyright is important to us – we want to make sure that no author or other copyright holder has his or her books sold by anyone else. To publish your book, please respond with documentation confirming your publishing rights within four days:

Looking Through Lace Boxed Set: Books 1 and 2 by Nestvold, Ruth (AUTHOR) (ID:7106553)

Acceptable documentation can include:

– If you are the author and you are republishing your book after your publication rights have been reverted to you, a signed reversion letter from your former publisher
– If you are the author and you are publishing under a pseudonym, a copyright registration using the pseudonym
– If you are not the author, a signed contract between you and the author granting you the rights to publish the book in the territories, languages and formats you have selected
– If you are not the author, an e-mail from the address listed on the author’s (or their agent’s) official website confirming that you have the rights to publish their book in the territories, languages and formats you have selected
– If you are a literary agent, a signed contract between you and the author or an email from the address listed on the author’s official website granting you the right to act on the author’s behalf with respect to the book

Documentation we cannot accept includes:

– A statement by you that you have the publishing rights without verification by the author/copyright holder
– A copyright application for which registration has not been confirmed

If you publish books for which you do not hold the publishing rights, your account may be terminated.

Thank you,

Amazon KDP

I wrote back, asking why they were requiring confirmation of publishing rights for a book that had been published with them for over a year and a half. I listed some of the publishing credits of Looking Through Lace and explained why I still had the rights to my own novella, which was originally published in Asimov’s in September 2003.

Instead of any answers, I got almost exactly the same email, with one small change at the beginning:

During a review of your KDP submission(s), we found that content in the below title(s) has been previously made available on Amazon. Copyright is important to us – we want to make sure that no author or other copyright holder has his or her books sold by anyone else. To publish your book, please respond with documentation confirming you have the necessary publishing rights within four days:

Looking Through Lace Boxed Set: Books 1 and 2 (ID: 7106553)

Please provide any documentation or other evidence that proves you have retained rights for the book(s) listed above.

This, of course made me even more frantic. I could hardly imagine that anyone was trying to steal my novella, since it wasn’t exactly selling like gangbusters. Most of the time it just sits there, selling a few copies a month, except when I do some kind of promo. But why would Amazon keep insisting I prove my rights to my own work if someone hadn’t tried to steal it? And why wouldn’t they respond to my questions and tell me what was the specific problem so that we could clear things up? None of what they required as “acceptable documentation” applied to Looking Through Lace or the boxed set.

Every time I tried to write them to try and find out what was going on, I got one of the above canned responses, about a half-a-dozen in all — and me becoming increasingly aggravated.

Finally it occurred to me (no help on Amazon’s part) that this weirdness regarding Looking Through Lace might have to do with the fact that it was recently reprinted in a new anthology, Galactic Empires. I sent them the PDF of the contract with Neil Clarke, and pointed out the clause indicating non-exclusive rights.

They haven’t sent me any more stupid canned emails since. But they also still have not gotten around to lowering the price of the boxed set for the promotion. I used to be a huge proponent of Amazon, but since the page flip controversy, I’ve changed my ways — more and more with each passing conflict.

I feel like I’m in a Kafka novel — which, incidentally, is not by me. 🙂

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