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. 🙂

Two More Days and These Will be History

Mybookcave.com is running a free promotion for just two more days. Thirteen historical novels – no money. What could be better. Check them out HERE. We’ve got some pretty fascinating times and places – Ancient Egypt, Byzantium, the Middle Ages, the American Revolutionary War,Antarctica at 1900 and more. Love, war, betrayal, triumph. We’ve got it all, baby! Come have a looksee:

Page from the Past reduction

As of Saturday they’ll be history, so click quick.

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What I Do When I Take a Break From Writing, Part II

A couple weeks back, I shared some sewing projects I did to reward myself for sending Ygerna off to beta readers. Strangely enough, one of those projects has already had over 30 repins on Pinterest. 🙂 I know that’s not exactly earth-shattering, but since it’s something I just threw together and posted, without any intention of making any waves — even small ones — I found it rather interesting.

I have since gotten back to writing, and am working on putting together a complete draft of Facets of Glass, the the second book in The Glassmakers Trilogy after Island of Glass. But during my week long vacation from writing, I lasted about two days before I started brainstorming something new, based on this:

Snow queen story cover

I don’t remember anymore how I stumbled on this lovely premade cover during my “writing vacation”, but I thought it was so cool, I had to have it. And once I bought it, I had to start brainstorming the story to go with it. I have a pretty good idea now what the basic plot arc will be, but I still haven’t decided on a title. I like Winter Solstice, the title already on the cover, but here are some of the others I came up with:

Stealing Ice From the Snow Queen
Stealing Ice
The Cold Blade
Blade of Ice

Since I’m not that far along in the brainstorming department yet, I could tweak things depending on the title I choose. For this project, though, I am definitely intending to go more in the direction of fantasy romance, to try and create a book that is more marketable than what my imagination usually comes up with. 🙂

Let me know what you think!

A Wrinkle in Time as a Movie!

I am probably way behind everyone here, being in the outbacks of Central Europe and all, but I just learned that A Wrinkle in Time is being made into a movie! It was one of my all-time favorite books as a kid, and probably one of the main reasons I became a science fiction and fantasy addict — and eventually a science fiction and fantasy writer. 🙂

This is what I remember checking out from the Eugene Public Library in the sixties:

A Wrinkle in Time
Here the trailer:

I can only hope they do the book justice. On the other hand, I can hardly believe it took so long for the award winning book to be picked up by producers. I know I’m not the only one in my generation who regards the Newberry Award winning book by Madeleine L’Engle as a little less than a revelation. As a child in the sixties, it blew my mind, opening it to huge possibilities.

After which I became addicted to mind-blowing. 🙂

Scammers Break The Kindle Store

Sigh. More evidence of how clickfarms (and those who use them) win.

David Gaughran

On Friday, a book jumped to the #1 spot on Amazon, out of nowhere; it quickly became obvious that the author had used a clickfarm to gatecrash the charts.

The Kindle Store is officially broken.

This is not the first time this has happened and Amazon’s continued inaction is increasingly baffling. Last Sunday, a clickfarmed title also hit #1 in the Kindle Store. And Amazon took no action.

Over the last six weeks, one particularly brazen author has put four separate titles in the Top 10, and Amazon did nothing whatsoever. There are many such examples.

I wrote at the start of June about how scammers were taking over Amazon’s free charts. That post led to a phone conversation with KDP’s Executive Customer Relations.

Repeated assurances were given that the entire leadership team at Amazon was taking the scammer problem very seriously indeed. But it was also stressed that the…

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What I do when I take a break from writing

The beginning of this month, I sent Ygerna off to beta readers. If you follow this blog, you know that it ended up WAY longer than I intended, and I decided to reward myself with a short “vacation.”

I did some sewing.

Our place isn’t big enough that I can have a dedicated craft room — or it might be if I tossed half my books, I guess, but I’m not to that point yet. 🙂 Anyway, to do any sewing I have to haul out the machine and take over the dining room table. A bunch of mending had piled up that I couldn’t do by hand, so I got that finished first.

Then I started on the fun stuff.

For a while now, I’ve been collecting ideas on on Pinterest for upcycling projects — making new out of old. I’ve also been saving favorite garments with tears and holes rather than throwing them away, hoping I might be able to find the time to play with them a bit and possibly give them a new life. I’m pretty pleased with the results. Here’s a jeans skirt that had a serious tear combined with a VERY old maternity dress I couldn’t throw away because I loved the material so much:

Upcycled jeans skirt

And matching top:

Upcycled t-shirt

A couple more where the pictures turned out *g*:

Upcycled long shirt

Upcycled t-shirt

I also taught myself how to make roses out of fabric, and attached one to a skirt I made my granddaughter out of pants she’d grown out of:

silk rose

I also made a set of Barbie dresses for my girls out of a thrift store top, and saved a couple more t-shirts by sacrificing others and adding a bit of lace here and there. It was huge fun. I think I have come up with a suitable reward for myself for getting a book ready to kick out of the door.

I couldn’t leave off writing completely while I was concentrating on sewing — I managed that for about two days before I had to get back to something, even if it was only brainstorming.

But more on that in my next blog post. 🙂

I’m at #55 in the Kindle Store! (Not alone, unfortunately *g*)

As of this writing, the awesome anthology Galactic Empires, edited by Neil Clarke and containing my novella “Looking Through Lace” — alongside such greats as Greg Egan, John Barnes, Robert Reed, and Ian McDonald — is #55 overall in the Kindle Store!

Galactic Empires

Here’s the description and the complete lineup:

Neil Clarke, publisher of the award-winning Clarkesworld magazine, presents a collection of thought-provoking and galaxy-spanning array of galactic short science fiction.

From E. E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman, to George Lucas’ Star Wars, the politics and process of Empire have been a major subject of science fiction’s galaxy-spanning fictions. The idiom of the Galactic Empire allows science fiction writers to ask (and answer) questions that are shorn of contemporary political ideologies and allegiances. This simple narrative slight of hand allows readers and writers to see questions and answers from new and different perspectives.

The stories in this book do just that. What social, political, and economic issues do the organizing structure of “empire” address? Often the size, shape, and fates of empires are determined not only by individuals, but by geography, natural forces, and technology. As the speed of travel and rates of effective communication increase, so too does the size and reach of an Imperial bureaucracy.Sic itur ad astra—“Thus one journeys to the stars.”

At the beginning of the twentieth century, writers such as Kipling and Twain were at the forefront of these kinds of narrative observations, but as the century drew to a close, it was writers like Iain M. Banks who helped make science fiction relevant. That tradition continues today, with award-winning writers like Ann Leckie, whose 2013 debut novel Ancillary Justice hinges upon questions of imperialism and empire.

Here then is a diverse collection of stories that asks the questions that science fiction asks best. Empire: How? Why? And to what effect?

Table of Contents:
– “Winning Peace” by Paul J. McAuley
– “Night’s Slow Poison” by Ann Leckie
– “All the Painted Stars” by Gwendolyn Clare
– “Firstborn” by Brandon Sanderson
– “Riding the Crocodile” by Greg Egan
– “The Lost Princess Man” by John Barnes
– “The Waiting Stars” by Aliette de Bodard
– “Alien Archeology” by Neal Asher
– “The Muse of Empires Lost” by Paul Berger
– “Ghostweight” by Yoon Ha Lee
– “A Cold Heart” by Tobias S. Buckell
– “The Colonel Returns to the Stars” by Robert Silverberg
– “The Impossibles” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
– “Utriusque Cosmi” by Robert Charles Wilson
– “Section Seven” by John G. Hemry
– “The Invisible Empire of Ascending Light” by Ken Scholes
– “The Man with the Golden Balloon” by Robert Reed
– “Looking Through Lace” by Ruth Nestvold
– “A Letter from the Emperor” by Steve Rasnic Tem
– “The Wayfarer’s Advice” by Melinda M. Snodgrass
– “Seven Years from Home” by Naomi Novik
– “Verthandi’s Ring” by Ian McDonald

It is currently on sale for only $1.99, but since I’m not the one in charge here, I have absolutely no idea how long you can get it for that price.

I actually hadn’t even been aware that the book was already published — it was only the announcement by Bookbub that one of my books was on sale that clued me in. 🙂

In any case, looks to me like you can hardly go wrong if you like stories of far flung, future worlds.

Lots of free and 99c SFF eBooks for June!

After a bit of a lull in my promotional activities, I’m participating in several group promos this month, for Looking Through Lace, Chameleon in a Mirror, and Mars: A Traveler’s Guide. Here’s the breakdown for you:

Big 99c Science Fiction and Fantasy Sale: over 70 books to chose from, many of them boxed sets!

http://sffbookbonanza.com/99c-books/

I’m in this one with my award-winning novella, Looking Through Lace, about a xenolinguist who finds herself having to decipher more than just the language on a foreign planet.

But if 99c is too much for you, I’m also in a free promo via Instafreebie.

http://sffbookbonanza.com/freebooks/

My book in that one is my short story, Mars: A Traveler’s Guide, which was nominated for the Nebula Award. It used to be free on a number of sites, but that wasn’t resulting in sales of the collection it’s in, so I stopped giving it away — except for promos like this where I can entice a few more readers to sign up for my mailing list with it. 🙂

Finally, we have a special promo for readers who are subscribed to Kindle Unlimited. You can check out some titles available for free through KU here:

http://sffbookbonanza.com/kindle-unlimited/

This promo includes my time travel, Chameleon in a Mirror. Some of you might remember that a few months back I pulled all my books from KDP Select because pages read weren’t being counted anymore. But folks on Kboards are reporting that this has improved, so I decided to test the waters again.

Hope you find something you enjoy!

World Reading Habits

The reading data here is quite fascinating!

One Writer's Journey

As of Wednesday afternoon, I was half way through my rewrite – 4 chapters done and 4 to go.  Woo-hoo!

I took some time off to read a few blogs and found this oh-so interesting info-graphic.  What did I find interesting?  That 40% of American readers read print only.  I have to admit that when it comes to relaxation, I read print and only print.  I work on a screen so I’m not really very interested reading on it.

Then there was the list of best-selling books world-wide.  How many of them have you read?  I’ve read 13 of the 21.  Not bad but there are definitely a few on that list that I should pick up.  Like Don Quixote.

I was also pleasantry surprised to see that books have a larger share of the US media market than games.  Not what I expected, but an oh so pleasant surprise.

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