Archive for the ‘Authors’ Category

What do tradpubbed authors really think about their publishers…and about Amazon?

April 16, 2015

What do tradpubbed authors really think about their publishers…and about Amazon?

Huge kudos to

Agent Hunter

for a really fascinating survey of tradpubbed (traditionally published) authors!

You can see the entire dataset of twenty-nine questions (and three more items) here:

http://agenthunter.co.uk/blog/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Data_All_Final.pdf

to get the results from 812 respondents.

This is an immensely intriguing survey!

I hear it a lot: people are surprised that authors stay with their traditional publishers when they could just self publish and get a much bigger cut.

There are a lot of reasons for that…and they don’t apply to every author.

At this point in the evolution of publishing, being with a tradpub is a bigger benefit if you are already a success than if you are just beginning.

That doesn’t mean that a first novelist shouldn’t be with a tradpub…it’s just that people like Stephen King get more out of the deal than someone who doesn’t have a track record.

Think of it a bit like…taking a cab.

A lot of people don’t own cars nowadays. They may use Zip cars, or Uber, or Lyft, or public transit…or cabs.

So, let’s say you don’t take a cab, but you need to drive through a town.

One option is to own the car.

You have to put your money into it.

You have to deal with the legalities (like registration and insurance).

You have to know where you are going.

The cabs get to drive right up to the front door of the hotel, or to the airport…you aren’t allowed to do that and just leave your car there. You have to park…and pay for parking.

When you independently publish, it’s like owning the car.

With a cab, you have to have the money to pay for it. Then, if it’s a reputable cab, the rest of it is done by somebody else. They know how to get there. They pay for gas, tolls, registration, and so on.

If you are already a success, and you know that when you get to your appointment you are going to make a lot of money, paying for a cab makes sense.

If you don’t have much money, and don’t know that the trip is going to be profitable, it may not.

Let me focus for right now on two questions: I don’t want to take too much away from the survey.

Question 24 says, “Amazon and other e-book distributors
pay a 70% royalty to authors (assuming your price is $2.99–$9.99), as opposed to the roughly 17.5% paid by most publishers.
If you did self-publish an e-book, how do you expect you would fare financially?”

The first interesting thing about this to me is that more than half of the respondents skipped the question!

Now, you may guess that’s due to question fatigue (sometimes, the farther you get in a survey, the fewer answers you get), but about 90% of the respondents answered the previous question.

No, I think there are a couple of possibilities.

One is that people are afraid to think about it. They may even have been shocked by the 70% figure…they might have had no idea it could be that high.

Another is that, well, it has numbers in it. ;)

Not everybody who is good with words loves math. That might have put off some people as well.

The most popular answer (besides “I don’t know”) by far was that they would lose money. 23.78% thought that would happen…only 15.14% thought they would make more money.

The answers make it look as though the choice is between an independently published e-book and no p-book (paperbook) version, or a tradpubbed e-book and p-book.

That’s not an unreasonable thing to say.

Yes, you can do a p-book version independently through Amazon along with your e-book, but that’s a tiny slice of the p-book market…certainly, as long as people still buy p-books in stores (and that includes places like Costco and grocery stores).

Question 25 is even more interesting to me:

“If you were to self-publish, you would have control over every aspect of publication. How would you feel about that prospect?”

Even fewer people answered that one…only about 41%.

You might think everybody wants to be in control of the process…but fully 36.63% of respondents were “Horrified/negative” on it. That’s about 12% more than the “Excited/positive” group.

I can understand that.

Can’t you see wanting to be somebody who just writes? Who doesn’t have to worry about proofreading, and layout, and filing the copyright?

You may think you want to be in control of everything…but do you want to do your own appendectomy? ;) In my case, I definitely don’t want to be the person fixing my car!

My Significant Other made a great point to me a long time ago.

We are not good at gardening…we just aren’t. Oh, one of us can get out there with a weed eater and cut down the weeds. I did that recently, at least part of it. The weeds were twice as tall as our dogs (we have short dogs). I bought a new weed eater (they have really improved the technology since the last time I bought one!), and literally did it until I came to the end of the line. ;) When that spool was out, I had to stop…got more through Prime, so one of us will do more of the yard soon.

Anyway, the point my SO made was that, if there are people who are good at doing something and want to do it, and we are bad at it and don’t like it, and (and this point is important) we can afford to pay them to do it…we are keeping them from putting food on the table for their kids for essentially selfish reasons.

One big reason to have money is to help other people, as far as I’m concerned.

We aren’t rich (although that’s always going to be a relative term to people), but we can afford to pay somebody a couple of times a year to trim the trees and cut down the weeds and haul everything away.

For some authors, it may be a bit like that with their publishers. Yes, anybody can try to be a marketer, or a proofreader…but paying somebody (by taking a relatively lower royalty) may be the right thing to do.

Of course, it goes far beyond that.

I’ve helped some people by reading their drafts and making comments.

There is no question that some editors and authors have had terrific partnerships. The editor doesn’t write the book, but helps the author improve it by making suggestions.

I’ve seen it with some authors (who shall remain nameless) where it seems to me that they become brand names…and people stop editing them as strongly, and their work (although not necessarily their sales) suffers for it.

If  you are at all interested in the actual source of the books you read (the authors), I’d recommend you spend some time with this survey. You may also find the anonymous pseudo-tweets they asked people to write (although they have to be shorter than tweets…120 characters)…one set of them is to Jeff Bezos. Some of them are very praising, others are negative…with themes running through both. I have to say, I was a bit perplexed with one accusing Amazon of making “obscene profits”…that’s somebody who hasn’t ever looked at an Amazon financial statement! Many of the comments had to do with taxes, and with treating employees better.

Once again, congratulations to Agent Finder! The questions are entertaining, and the answers informative.

After you’ve read it, I’d be interested in what you think about it…you can tell me and my readers by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Bestselling Kindle authors and social media

April 11, 2015

Bestselling Kindle authors and social media

I recently mentioned that I have a sibling who has a first novel,

One Murder More (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

coming out on June 1st.

We’ve had some discussions along the way, and it’s been interesting to see the process.

One question has been about the amount of involvement in social media, and what kinds.

I can’t claim to be an expert on that, by any means. Yes, this blog is successful (it’s usually one of the top ten blogs of any kind in the USA Kindle store). Sure, I feel like I have a good relationship with my readers. I can also say that my Flipboard magaines, including

 ILMK magazine at Flipboard

are doing well, although I don’t know how they compare to others.

But the more well-known social media outlets? Not so much. ;)

I have 309 followers on

Twitter

I suspect there may be somebody’s left gym sock with more followers than that. ;)

I do have a Facebook account, but it’s totally stealth…as private as I could make it. I only joined Facebook so I could look at things that family members post.

To be clear, I don’t have anything against Facebook…I just don’t have the social energy to spend on it.

I would feel a responsibility to respond to people there, just as I respond to almost every comment made on this blog. What with my family, an often more than full time job, writing (I told myself I’d average at least 1,000 words a day in this blog, and I do that…plus I have another blog where I write more rarely, and I work on books although I haven’t released one in a while), and the Amazon forums (which helps with this blog…and I just like helping people), I simply feel like I couldn’t add another commitment and keep up the standards I want to meet.

Oh, and I do write reviews on

Goodreads

I have a whopping 28 friends there…and seven followers. :)

However, any new (or established, for that matter) author is going to get a lot of advice to be active on social media.

My sibling was understandably excited to tell me about the new eponymous website

http://www.kriscalvin.com/

which is a way to connect with readers.

I don’t have an eponymous website. The closest thing I have to that is

Bufo Calvin’s Amazon Author Central Page

So, the announcement of the website got me curious. What is the social media presence like of the bestselling authors in the USA Kindle store? Are they on Twitter? Instagram? Do they have a blog? A website?

I decided to take a look.

Amazon does rank authors, but that tends to favor authors with a lot of books, and I wanted to see the potential impact on new authors, who might have only one.

I went to the

Bestselling paid books in the USA Kindle store (at AmazonSmile*)

and just started checking (in order, from #1 to #5).

Paula Hawkins (The Girl on the Train)
publisher: Penguin Random House (PRH)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 1325 followers
Twitter: yes @PaulaHWrites 3809 followers
Facebook: yes PaulaHawkinsWriter 955 likes
Website: yes PaulaHawkinsBooks

Comment: there is another Paula Hawkins, a politician, which is probably why the website isn’t just PaulaHawkins.com.

Sejal Badani (Trail of Broken Wings)
publisher: Amazon’s Lake Union
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 2 followers
Twitter: not found
Facebook: not found
Website: not found

Comment: this book is a Kindle First pick (eligible Prime members typically get one Kindle First book a month free…sometimes it has been two, and other people can get it at a reduced rate). Clearly, that’s been a way to sales success in the Kindle store. The book actually isn’t released yet, so it’s possible some of the other elements will be in place by May 1st.

Orest Stelmach (The Altar Girl)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 1369 followers
Twitter: yes @oreststelmach 7847 followers
Facebook: not found
Website: yes oreststelmach

Comment: this is also a Kindle First pick.

Melissa F. Olson (Boundary Crossed)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 242 followers
Twitter: yes @melissafolson 2656 followers
Facebook: yes MelissaFOlson 491 likes
Website: yes melissafolson

J.S. Scott (No Ordinary Billionaire)
Amazon Author Central (AAC) page: yes
Goodreads Author page: yes 1552 followers
Twitter: yes @AuthorJSScott 8353 followers
Facebook: yes AuthorJSScott 61894 likes
Website: yes authorjsscott

Comment: that’s a lot of Facebook likes!

Looking at these top five, it’s clear that you don’t need social media to be a bestseller on Amazon…if you are a Kindle First pick. ;)

Excluding that factor, might sense here is that Goodreads (which is owned by Amazon) matters. I don’t have an author page there, and perhaps I should (I’m just on it as a reader).

I’m impressed with how J.S. Scott has done it, in part by creating the reasonable online “handle” of JSSCott. That’s consistently applied, which I think is a good thing…Facebook, the Website, and Twitter all use it.

Everybody in the top five has Amazon Author Central pages…I do think that gives you a legitimacy.

Interestingly, I’m not seeing that having a blog (separate from Twitter or your website) is a big thing. I do think that’s a danger for some writers…that they can put a lot of time and energy into the blog, and not produce books.

Certainly, I thought my focus would be on books, and it’s much more on this blog. I don’t think that’s a problem for me, though. I’m not trying to make a living just doing this, and the blog is fun, is a good creative outlet, and lets me connect with people, which I like.

However, I am starting to try to take a day a month off work as a writing day.

I’d like to be getting more books done.

I remember years ago when my Significant Other asked me what my retirement plan was and I said, “I plan to die at work.” ;) I do like my job that much…as a trainer, I wake up on a weekday and say, “Oh boy, I get to go to work today!” As I’m fond of saying, though, I have a genetic abnormality: I’m an optimist. ;)

My Significant Other would like to retire some day, and I’ve started to get myself into that mindset. One thing that would be attractive to me about that would be writing more.

I would budget part of my time and energy into the social media part (assuming it exists in some semblance of what we have today…not planning to retire soon). I’d also just flat out write more.

I guess the advice I would give writers is to figure that you have a finite amount of time, energy, and creativity. You have to budget it: if a particular bit of social media is an investment where you’ll profit (that might be in more time, more energy, more creativity…or yes, money), then go for it. If not, you don’t need to be there…Amazon could always pick you. ;)

Let’s also do a quick poll:

What do you think? If you are an author, do you feel pressure to be on social media? As a reader, have you ever discovered an author on social media, and then become a reader of their works? Does having, say, a Goodreads Author page give someone more credibility for you? Do you feel like you have become more emotionally invested in an author because of reading their tweets? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Do we have an editor to thank for To Kill a Mockingbird?

February 5, 2015

Do we have an editor to thank for To Kill a Mockingbird?

In today’s shifting landscape of publishing, there is a lot of talk about what value the traditional systems bring to it.

Certainly, authors succeed nowadays with none of the elements of the tradpubs (traditional publishers).

Oh, without a doubt, the vast majority of them don’t.

Undeniably, though, there are books which sell well which have never had the benefit of a professional proofreader, a marketing department…or an editor.

Some people have even wondered why all authors don’t just self publish…why does a brand name author, like Stephen King or Anne Rice, even need a tradpub?

Well, if the narrative we are being given behind the upcoming release of Harper Lee’s “new” book

Go Set a Watchman (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

is true, we wouldn’t have had

To Kill a Mockingbird (at AmazonSmile)

without an editor.

I don’t just mean it wouldn’t have been the same: it probably wouldn’t have existed at all.

Go Set a Watchman can be pre-ordered now for its first publication on July 14th, but there is a reason I put “new” in quotation marks.

It was written a long time ago…before TKaM, in fact.

According to this

The Guardian story by Alison Flood

and other sources, Lee had first shopped Go Set a Watchman to a publisher.

Her editor reportedly really like the flashbacks about a main character, and recommended that Lee focus on that.

So Lee wrote a book about that character as a child…a child with the nickname of “Scout”.

Now, it’s possible that Go Set a Watchman is the superior book, but I doubt it. People talk about a “Great American Novel”, and I don’t believe there can be just one…but certainly, To Kill a Mockingbird would be in the competition.

No, it seems more likely to me that the editor was right. The editor recognized the strength in the original book, and made a suggestion to the author…which improved things.

That’s what editors should do…and why some bestselling authors love their editors and wouldn’t want to leave them.

Some indies (independently published authors) hire people to be their editors, but honestly, I don’t think that’s the same.

I think an editor who is employed by a publisher has a different outlook.

It’s their job to make books better (and to make them sell better)…and their continued success depends on, well, their continued success.

I know some people are thinking that means they need to steer people away from art and towards commercial writing. I joked about that myself in

Lose the lion

However, I think that a book’s artistic merits can be enhanced by having more than just the author involved in its creation.

Some people use beta readers or writing groups to critique their works.

That’s very different from a professional editor…I’m not saying it doesn’t work, but it’s not the same.

I’ll be looking forward to reading the book! I’ll also be thankful to the editor who made the original suggestion to Lee, to Harper Lee for acting on it so beautifully (when the author could have been stubborn and not taken the advice), and to the lawyer who found the manuscript and recognized it for what it was.

Join thousands of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #281: Arthur, Hugh, and John

January 7, 2015

Round up #281: Arthur, Hugh, and John

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Hugh Howey: Where Do We Go From Here?

There have been a lot of posts looking at publishing in 2014 and where it might go in 2015 (I’ve done them myself).

Author Hugh Howey (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*) has one of the most interesting reviews in this

blog post

Howey was in the news, even in the mainstream, as one of the leading author defenders of Amazon during what I call the Hachazon War (the dispute between the retailer Amazon and the publisher Hachette). That can be a difficult position: everyone understands when you are a defender of the weak, but they can be less sympathetic to a defender of the strong.

That particular issue is an example of why this is a strong article. Howey says:

“2014 was the year the first of the major publishers was able to resume its squabble with Amazon over the price of ebooks. Hachette drew the short straw…”

Yep…all of the traditional publishers were going to negotiate with Amazon this year, and it happened to be Hachette that got into the public over the fight. It wasn’t necessarily something intrinsic to Hachette, something that made them different from the rest of the Big 5. It was even more public than the dispute Amazon had with Macmillan some time back.

I strongly recommend the article, for some of the best observations on issues including subsers (subscription services).

I will say that Howey doesn’t answer the title question, but that doesn’t lessen the value of this piece.

Well done, Hugh!

Dish will offer Sling TV on Fire TV and Fire TV Stick

There is a lot of buzz over Dish Network’s announcement of a new service…one pretty good analysis is this

Washington Post article by Brian Fung

but there have been many.

In this

press release

Dish calls it a “game changer”, and it’s certainly an interesting move.

For $20 a month, users will get the following networks (initially):

ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, TBS, Food Network, HGTV, Travel Channel, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, ABC Family and CNN

The big one, in terms of draw, is ESPN: live sports without a cable contract (there is no contract for Sling TV).

They will also offer “add-on packs”:

  • “Kids Extra” add-on with Disney Junior, Disney XD, Boomerang, Baby TV and Duck TV for $5
  • “News & Info Extra” add-on with HLN, Cooking Channel, DIY and Bloomberg TV

A “Sports Extra” add-on pack is also coming.

I’ve mentioned before that we are largely using a

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and a

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

for our TVs at this point, and are looking at dropping cable video altogether.

One channel I would really miss if we did that was CNN, which is part of this…but I don’t think we’d pay $20 for it at this point.

For under $20, we have both Netflix and Hulu+, and that works pretty well.

However, many people will buy Sling TV for the sports…and they are really trying to attract the New Millennial generation (born roughly from 1982 through 2004, but different people define it differently). Adult Swim is probably also a draw for them.

One thing this doesn’t have is the big four broadcast networks. You can get quite a bit of that through Hulu+, but not live. Oh, and you do have ads on Hulu+ (but not on Netflix).

CBS has “All Access” for $6 a month, although it isn’t everything.

The perfect “cord cutting” solution isn’t here yet, but it seems clear that more flexibility in TV programming options is coming.

John Scalzi on Kindle Unlimited

One of my readers, Peter Willard, alerted me to this

blog post by John Scalzi

Scalzi is a good writer. We have seen things differently in the past, and that is still the case here, but I think it is worth reading the article.

This is not a flat condemnation of

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

as one might guess. I do think it will be good for some authors (many, actually), not good for others…just like any other distribution channel.

One place where we disagree is this statement by Scalzi:

“That said, the thing to actively dislike about the Kindle Unlimited “payment from a pot” plan is the fact that it and any other plan like itabsolutely and unambiguously make writing and publishing a zero-sum game. In traditional publishing, your success as an author does not limit my success — the potential pool of money is so large as to be effectively unlimited, and one’s payment is independent of any other purchase a consumer might make, or what any other reader might read.”

As a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager, that’s a bizarre concept. One author’s sales don’t affect another author’s sales because there is such a large pool of money?

That certainly wasn’t my personal experience, or my perception of what my customers thought.

Customers generally had only so much money they could spend (although they might exceed it, of course). Certainly, there were a lot of people not spending much money on books, and they are hypothetically a potential audience, but I don’t think that’s what Scalzi is suggesting.

Let’s say there were ten alternate history books available in my store. Customers chose which one or two to buy, usually…they didn’t buy all ten. That wasn’t because that customer didn’t want to read all ten: it was because they had to be selective due to budgetary restraints.

I don’t see how that means that if they bought Author A’s book it didn’t affect whether or not they bought Author B’s book.

Yes, there is a difference with Kindle Unlimited…although, I’d say it’s less about one author being chosen over another than traditional publishing is.

Take those ten alternate history books, and say they are all in KU.

It seems much more likely to me that a KU member will read all ten…or at least, will read at least 10% (the payment threshold) of all ten.

Why not? It doesn’t make a difference in what they pay if they read one or ten…unlike traditional publishing.

However, the more borrows there are, the lower the individual payment.

If the pool of funds is one million dollars, and there are a million borrows that month, each borrow gets $1.

What this does do, I suppose, is mean that it is a benefit for authors/publishers if people read less. That’s new. If there were only 100,000 borrows, each borrow would be worth $10, not $1.

For traditional publishing, the more somebody buys to read, the more money is going to authors/publishers…not necessarily more to a specific author or publisher, but more altogether.

With KU, the more people read, the less goes to individuals, although the pot is the same.

That is, of course, unless Amazon raises the pot.

That’s what I think may happen…if KU proves to be a good way to get people to become and stay Prime members, or in other ways integrate more deeply with Amazon.

That’s where the money is from consumers: “diapers and windshield wipers”, not e-books.

I also think Amazon is going to make an increasing amount of money from suppliers.

I could even see a scenario where they charge big publishers to be in KU or to have their books featured in it, as another revenue stream.

Interesting times…

Marc Brown’s Arthur e-books on Kindle for the first time

Seven of Marc Brown’s Arthur the Aardvark children’s books are available on Kindle for the first time.

Arthur in the Kindle Store (at AmazonSmile*)

These are very popular books which have been around for years…you may also be familiar with the TV series.

Note that text-to-speech is unavailable on these books…not, I believe, because it has been blocked by the publisher (in which case I  would not be linking), but because these are picture books and the text is part of the image, inaccessible to the TTS software.

Yes, they are available through Kindle Unlimited.

Bonus deal: I know this is late in the day, but Amazon is continuing to offer many more than four titles in the

Kindle Daily Deals (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

They have “15 First-In-Series Mysteries and Thrillers, $1.99 or Less Each”, and there are some good titles there. I added Eric Van Lustbader’s The Ninja to my Kindle Unlimited wishlist. :)

Amazon Echo update

More invitations have been going out, but nothing for me yet. Still waiting patiently. :)

What do you think? Are authors talking more about the publishing business because they are becoming more in control of it with the additional power of indie e-distribution? Do authors generally want other authors to succeed, thinking a rising tide raises all boats, or is there competition for readers? Do you choose between similar books when you buy? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

An ILMK interview with The Behrg, author of the Kindle Scout winner Housebroken

January 2, 2015

An ILMK interview with The Behrg, author of the Kindle Scout winner Housebroken

When I recently wrote about the first books being selected in Amazon’s Kindle Scout program, I was pleased when one of those authors, The Behrg (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*), commented on it. I arranged through The Behrg’s blog to do an e-mail interview, which is below. The Behrg’s Kindle Scout winning title, Housebroken, has not yet been released: I will update this with a link when it becomes available.

Bufo: Congratulations on your novel, Housebroken, being selected in the first round of the Kindle Scout program! I also want to thank you for sharing with my readers your experience as an author in the program. What was it like when you found out your novel was chosen?

The Behrg: Thanks so much!  It was a bit surreal, especially as this was the first round with Kindle Scout so no one knew how many books they would be selecting or what criteria they were looking for.  I’m humbled to have been chosen alongside many other authors I respect and admire.

Bufo: Tell us about your past publication history. I believe this is your first novel in the Kindle store: what else have you had published?

The Behrg:  You’re correct, this is my debut novel.  I’ve had various short stories published in online magazines and print anthologies.  Most of my writing time over the past decade was spent on screenplays.  The difficult thing with screenwriting is compacting your ideas into such a tight framework.  As I moved over to prose I felt immediately liberated — there was so much I could explore!  While I strive to keep pacing tight I love roaming through people’s heads and getting those inner thoughts that make someone who they are.  I still love the art of screenwriting but will be sticking with novels for awhile.

Bufo: Have you felt like you’ve been pretty much in control of how things have gone with your works, or have there been goals you’ve struggled to reach?

The Behrg:  I’m a very cautious individual when it comes to putting my work out there, something I learned from screenwriting.  You don’t want to submit a work until it’s 110% ready.  Being the perfectionist I am, this means umpteen drafts and a slower writing process than many other authors I know.  I look at authorship as a journey not a destination, so each little step and success along the way isn’t something to check off on a list of goals but rather a part of the experience.  Viewed in this light I think authors have complete control over their works and what they want to do with them.

Bufo: How did you hear about Kindle Scout? What was it about the program that convinced you to try it? What concerns did you have?

The Behrg:  It’s interesting because I had been sitting on my novel for over six months, not really knowing what I wanted to do with it — submit it to publishers? Self-publish?  Bury it in my backyard?  Then I heard about the Kindle Scout program on Twitter through a few fellow writers.  One of the things that convinced me to submit my novel was the backing of Amazon’s marketing behind the selected books.  Let’s face it, Amazon is a beast when it comes to marketing.  Very few companies do it better and to have the #1 seller of ebooks backing and promoting your product?  It’d be hard to lose.  I’ve been in the entertainment industry for years and don’t mind giving a piece of the cut to someone (or some company) for a larger percentage of the pie.  With this being my debut novel, it made the decision even easier.  

Bufo: How have other people supported you in this effort? Friends, family, fans?

The Behrg:  That’s a great question because to have a successful campaign with Kindle Scout you have to rely on others.  I’m a big believer in not spamming people with my own promotions.  There’s nothing worse than seeing your Twitter or Facebook feeds clogged up with the same message being delivered from the same person twelve times a day asking you to buy their book.  So I asked my family and a few close friends if they would help in promoting my novel once the campaign began.  They responded better than I ever could have imagined and were an integral part of my book remaining on the Hot and Trending list for so long.

Bufo: Did you have a strategy for Kindle Scout? Was it your primary goal to actually get published in it, or would you have considered it worthwhile to have participated? Were there other efforts that you had to put aside or de-emphasize to do Kindle Scout?

The Behrg:  Great questions.  I didn’t come into the program with a built-in audience or fanbase seeing as this was my first real novel.  In fact I was surprised when my novel hit the Hot list and stayed there for so long.  There were, however, some things I put in place which I feel helped tremendously in the process.  I actually put together a post on my blog for authors who are looking to submit to Kindle Scout, offering some tips. (Not to toot my own horn, but you can find it here:  http://thebehrg.com/2014/12/10/how-to-create-a-successful-kindlescout-campaign/).  One of the key things is to remember your campaign is a marathon not a sprint.  Be sure to spread out your promos to your fanbase or marketing or whatever means you’re utilizing to promote your work and get those nominations.  If they all come in at once, that’s great but where will your book be weeks 2-4?  As far as the efforts that went into promoting the campaign, I purposely chose not to allow it to interfere with my writing time.  I really didn’t do much other than blog about my experience and do the occasional post on Facebook or Twitter.  Luckily fans, friends and family did the grunt work for me and kept that thing humming along.

Bufo: How has participation in the program been? Have things gone smoothly? What was the best surprise you got about it?

The Behrg:  I don’t think the program is for everyone, and that’s okay — it’s not meant to be.  But I would highly recommend anyone who has a completed novel that is ready to go to give it a try.  Even if you don’t win, there’s so much you learn from the process … plus you’re picking up fans and new readers who wouldn’t have known about you any other way.  One of the best surprises to me came from comments on my blog and people sending congratulatory emails about my book’s acceptance, all from readers I don’t personally know.  I’ve also made some great contacts with other authors who were in the program, some who were chosen and some who weren’t, who I’m now speaking with about future projects or helping as a beta-reader with their new works and vice versa.  None of these contacts would have been made had I not given the program a chance.

Bufo: What else would you like to tell my readers about Kindle Scout?

The Behrg:  I think Kindle Scout is very much in its infancy and we’ll probably see a lot of changes to it as it continues.  Many authors are waiting to see how it works out for those who were selected in the first go-around.  I’m happy to say, from the contact I’ve had with the Kindle Scout team, they’re taking it very seriously and are providing even more than I had hoped for.  For readers, I think it’s a fantastic program.  You’re able to discover new authors and talent you might not have heard of and also help support those authors in reaching their dreams.  Plus you have a chance of receiving free copies of the books that are chosen if you nominate them.  There’s really no downside.  A few of the books I nominated were not chosen, but I’ve taken the opportunity to reach out to those authors to let them know I’d be interested in purchasing their book once they are released (whether self or traditionally published).

Bufo: Would you put another book into Kindle Scout? How would you change the program if you could?

The Behrg:  I’m not sure if I would put a second book into the Kindle Scout program.  I’m wanting to try several different methods of publishing to see what works the best.  I don’t think there’s one magic bullet that will put an author on a fast-track to notoriety, it’s just a constant stream of activity and work and eventually all of those parts add together to hopefully an impressive sum.  As far as changes I would make to the program?  I think it would be in everyone’s interest for the authors to be given a way to communicate with those who nominated their works.  For instance, the books I nominated that weren’t chosen, I would love to hear an update from the author on when they might be publishing them.  Amazon would win as it would lead to more sales, the authors win as whether or not they’re chosen they’re picking up a wider audience, and the readers win by finding great new books.

Bufo: One more question about Kindle Scout: did you participate in it as a reader?

The Behrg:  Absolutely!  It would be a shame to only be in a program like this for myself and not support other authors.  In truth, I’ve discovered new authors and have gone on to purchase some of their backlists.  Most of the promoting I did during my campaign was for the program itself, telling people about Kindle Scout and sending them to the home page rather than my own link for a nomination.  We need programs like this to succeed, ways to sift through a lot of the noise and help great books rise to the top.

Bufo: Finally, tell us about the book. How would you describe the genre, and your writing style? What type of person would find Housebroken especially appealing?

The Behrg:  Housebroken is a dark psychological thriller, a home invasion story with a twist.  The basic premise is about a family that is taken hostage in their own home yet their kidnappers have no demands — all they want is to observe the family for a week, following their every day activity.  As you can imagine, that’s a recipe for disaster.  Add to it that the kidnappers create rules for the family that when broken, cause the kidnappers to break their own rules — rules that include no one getting hurt, the family’s son staying with them, and the observation lasting only a week.  There are a lot of twists and turns and surprises along the way.  Anyone who enjoys Dean Koontz, Gregg Hurwitz, or Stephen King novels would enjoy this.

Bufo: Thanks again for doing this interview! Books are at the heart of it all, and they don’t exist without authors like you. Time may be the most valuable resource for a writer, and I appreciate you sharing yours with us.

The Behrg:  I appreciate the opportunity to share a piece of my journey with you and your readers!  I myself am an avid reader and to me there’s nothing more exciting than discovering a new author whose voice just speaks to you.  Some of my favorite authors today are writers I hadn’t heard about a year or two ago!  Gregg Hurwitz, Michael Sears, Ted Dekker, Joe Hart, Blake Crouch, Douglass Clegg; there really is so much talent out there.  It’s a great time to be a reader!  Ten or twenty pages in, when you’re reading with a smile, already lost in the world that’s been created — partly in print but mostly in your own imagination — that’s an amazing experience.  My aim with my own writing is to facilitate that journey and join you on the ride.

Update:

Housebroken (at AmazonSmile*)

is now available for purchase for $3.99, or to read as part of Kindle Unlimited at no additional cost.

Join over a thousand readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #278: Goodreads winners, favorite authors

December 6, 2014

Round up #278: Goodreads winners, favorite authors

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Amazon improves author tracking

It’s nice to me to see that Amazon is working on improving the customer experience.

The ability to be notified when a new book is published to the Kindle store from an author you like seems like it would be a no brainer.

The customer is happy, Amazon gets a sale, the publisher is happy, the author is happy…it’s just a question of getting the infrastructure and user experience to be simple and robust enough.

In the past, we’ve had a kind of clunky way of doing it…and I would hear from people that it didn’t really work (they didn’t get notifications).

I don’t know if they’ve fixed the latter part yet, but they now have a much more elegant and sophisticated way to request updates:

Amazon’s Favorite Authors page (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

From there, you can just tap an Add Favorite button.

Not only that, but it recommends authors for you, both ones that are similar to what you’ve favorited, and ones that you’ve reviewed positively.

I found that its linkages were very good: when I favorited an author, it made suggestions that made sense. Even in the case of authors I didn’t know, there were book cover thumbnails which made it clear that the connection was logical.

You can search for an author, or choose from popular ones.

You can decide whether or not you want your favorites displayed on your profile.

You can also edit your favorites here: and interestingly, those include books, movies, music, and others.

They also suggest more features are coming to this in the future.

The one suggestion I’m going to make to them first is that they add a place for us to comment on our favorites, which displays on the profile. That would make it much more social.

Ideally, they would make it that if someone went from your favorite on your page and purchased the book, you’d get an advertising fee or other credit of some kind, but I don’t expect that right away.

Almost whole-heartedly recommended a Kindle First book

This is what I recently wrote about this month’s Kindle First books:

Prime members, don’t forget to pick up your

Kindle First books (at AmazonSmile*)

You can get one of the four books to own (not borrow) for free…these are books which will be actually released next month. The choices this month are:

  • Marked (Servants of Fate Book 1) by Sarah Fine (romantic fantasy)
  • The Last Passenger
    by Manel Loureiro, Andrés Alfaro (suspense)
  • Fatal Puzzle (Zons Crime Book 1) by Catherine Shepherd, Julia Knobloch (thriller)
  • Guardians of the Night (A Gideon and Sirius Novel) by Alan Russell (mystery)

I’m going with The Last Passenger, and it was an easy choice. Loureiro is the author of the Apocalypse Z books, the first of which is the most reviewed book I listed above. They classify it as a suspense novel, but it involves time travel…one of my favorite subjects.

When I started reading

The Last Passenger (at AmazonSmile*)

I was quite pleased with it. It reminded me of the pulp hero Doc Savage (without a hero like that), and from me, that’s a compliment. ;) I was already seeing how it would be a good movie.

It was a great high camp set up, had interesting characters including the lead…and it was an excellent translation from the Spanish.

Unfortunately, a character was introduced who is so thunderingly stereotypical in a negative way that now I don’t know if I can even recommend it.

This book was published by AmazonCrossing, which gets books from other countries…so we may not be able to blame the Amazon editor for not saying, “Um, don’t you think you want to tone that down or give that character more depth and complexity?”

I (eventually) finish every book I read, and I’m liking the book except for this one element.

It’s unfortunate, and I do think it’s something an editor could have affected.

Fire TV Stick means cutting the cord

I will write a review comparing the

Fire TV Stick (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

and the

Amazon Fire TV (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

(I have and use both), but I thought I’d mention that the Stick may mean that we finally “cut the cord” and eliminate TV services from our cable company (we’ll keep their internet…we have Comcast, and it works well for us).

Interestingly, part of what happened was that we bought a new TV:

32″ TV HDTV LED 720p Element Electronics (at AmazonSmile*)

The Fire TV Stick was coming, and we had a paleolithic Sony TV without an HDMI input. ;) I mean, seriously, Fred Flintstone would have felt at home with the old one. Both of us were grunting and groaning when we had to move it…and we are reasonably strong.

So, when we saw the Element on sale for under $150 on Black Friday weekend at Target, we got one. We have an Element TV already, and I like it. One thing I like is they are super light…I have taken our old one to work easily for a game night there.

However, our recorded Tivo programs looked quite muddy on it (while the Fire TV Stick looked fine). That might be a matter of recabling the Tivo (we also are using an old one of those).

So the question became: could we do without Tivo and the programs it records?

One element of that: Hulu Plus.

We haven’t had it. My Significant Other doesn’t want to watch TV on a mobile device, so Hulu couldn’t be a replacement for us easily until we had a TV that could show it…simply.

The Fire TV Stick and the new TV makes that combination work.

I still have to go through and compare our season passes and see what we can’t do (although mirroring my Kindle Fire HDX or my Fire Phone to the Fire TV Stick might solve some problems, if new episodes are available on network/studio websites…for free, of course) through Hulu to decide.

We aren’t heavy duty TV watchers, I’d say, although I have the CBS app running in the other room and I’m listening to it as I write right now.

Let me revise that: we don’t follow a lot of current TV shows. I watch Survivor live, usually, to avoid spoilers in the apps I use in the morning (Flipboard, CNN, Washington Post). Otherwise, seeing things as they happen is not that important to us…I’d say we could generally wait until the next season.

The exception would be that I have CNN on…a lot. However, I now have some other news apps that could take that place. Watchup, CBS, BBC…oh, I should mention: my BBC news app works on our Fire TV at this point but not on the Fire TV Stick. I assume they’ll work that out.

We’ll probably make the decision this weekend…well, before the next time we pay a cable bill, at any rate (rate…so to speak). ;)

goodreads CHOICE AWARDS 2014

The Goodreads Choice Awards 2014 (I went with their capitalization above) have been announced:

https://www.goodreads.com/choiceawards/best-books-2014

First, I have to say: why isn’t there an easy page for this at Amazon in the Kindle store?

There is a page

Goodreads Choice Award Winners (at AmazonSmile*)

but the 2014 ones aren’t there yet as a sub-page…and I didn’t see any link from the main Kindle store.

This is where I’d like a bit more synergy, Amazon. :) As I’ve said before, SMMSA (Sell Me More Stuff, Amazon). ;)

Here are the winners:

Enjoy! These might be safe gifts, as well…there are a lot of Goodreads users, so if you were looking for the mainstream choice, this might be a good way to go. You recipient (and you can delay the delivery until the appropriate date) will have the option to exchange it for a gift card.

What do you think? Have you ever had a situation where you found one element of a book offensive, but liked the rest? What did you do…did you read it? Do you have alternatives to suggest to the Goodreads winners? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

 Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) By the way, it’s been interesting lately to see Amazon remind me to “start at AmazonSmile” if I check a link on the original Amazon site. I do buy from AmazonSmile, but I have a lot of stored links I use to check for things.

** A Kindle with text-to-speech can read any text downloaded to it…unless that access is blocked by the publisher inserting code into the file to prevent it. That’s why you can have the device read personal documents to you (I’ve done that). I believe that this sort of access blocking disproportionately disadvantages the disabled, although I also believe it is legal (provided that there is at least one accessible version of each e-book available, however, that one can require a certification of disability). For that reason, I don’t deliberately link to books which block TTS access here (although it may happen accidentally, particularly if the access is blocked after I’ve linked it). I do believe this is a personal decision, and there  are legitimate arguments for purchasing those books. 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Harlan Ellison has had a stroke

October 14, 2014

Harlan Ellison has had a stroke

I wish Harlan Ellison the best, and am saddened to hear of this acute health situation.

Harlan Ellison (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

Ellison is an important writer…period.

That’s not just in the case of science fiction, or TV, or however you choose to define this unique voice.

No, we don’t approach the world the same way. Harlan Ellison is famously confrontational, and I’m not.

That doesn’t mean I think any less of Ellison’s writing.

If you needed no other reason to join

Kindle Unlimited (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

the Ellison books available there would be enough.

According to this

Oregonian article by Douglas Perry

visitors report that the author’s mind and will are still strong…that not even a stroke and partial paralysis will stop Harlan Ellison from thinking you under the table…and making sure that you know it. ;)

If you are a fan, you may want to visit

the author’s official site

and leave a comment in the Art Deco Dining Pavilion.

Thank you, Harlan Ellison, for all you have done for us so far…and may the future give you at least as much as you have given us.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Who doesn’t have this e-book thing figured out?

October 14, 2014

Who doesn’t have this e-book thing figured out?

Some authors do very well in both e-books and p-books (paper books).

I was curious if there were authors who were doing very well in paper, but not so well in e-books.

I decided to make this simple, and just look at the authors of the bestselling books at Amazon.com.

The authors (and their agents) do have an impact on this decision, by the way. The author owns the e-book rights, separately from the p-book rights, and can sell them separately. Hypothetically, they could sell the hardback rights to a tradpub (traditional publisher) and keep the e-book rights for themselves…even sell them to a different publisher, if they wanted.

Most likely, the publisher of the hardback would frown on that, and might even have a clause against it…but the author/estate would most likely need to be compensated for not using those e-book rights.

  1. Rick Riordan: #8 e-book
  2. B.J. Novak: #2,450 e-book
  3. Gillian Flynn: #3 e-book
  4. Cary Elwes: #71 e-book
  5. Bill O’Reilly: #23 e-book
  6. Thug Kitchen: #915 e-book
  7. Rush Limbaugh: #861 e-book
  8. Atul Gawande: #173 e-book
  9. Jeff Kinney: #386 e-book
  10. Walter Issacson: #65 e-book

Interesting! I think this might confirm what some people would think. With the exception of Rick Riordan, I think the books intended for children are doing worse in e-book. There is a reasonable argument that a lot of the books bought for kids to read are bought as gifts (even if the gifts come from within the immediate family)…and that p-books might seem better as a gift, literally more substantial.

I also think there might be some negative impact on digital with a book being a pre-order. It may be that people feel it is less necessary to pre-order an e-book. They aren’t going to run out of it, and you can typically have it within sixty seconds of deciding to buy it.

However, you can pre-order e-books (and I know many people do), so it’s not as simple as that.

I suppose it isn’t surprising that Walter Isaacson, who write on tech related subjects, does well in e-books. I should be clear, I’m not convinced that the e-book market is really techies (I think that’s what Amazon did differently that made the Kindle go mainstream when many other EBRs…E-Book Readers hadn’t managed it in the USA…they designed them for readers, not techies).

Still, there is a significant minority of people who just read e-books…I think as an author going into the future, you’ve pretty much got to make that market work for you. That is, of course, unless you are selling relatively expensive books, where you don’t have move as many units.

What do you think? Could an author live by paper alone? ;) Are some authors just a better read for you in either digital or paper? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Round up #269: how Amazon spent the summer, AmazonShack?

September 16, 2014

Round up #269: how Amazon spent the summer, AmazonShack?

The ILMK Round ups are short pieces which may or may not be expanded later.

Should Amazon buy Radio Shack?

Several articles are talking about Rob Peck of SunTrust Robinson Humphrey’s suggestion that Amazon could buy Radio Shack if the latter declares bankruptcy. Here’s one that I thought had a good discussion of the idea:

MarketWatch article by Jennnifer Booton

I don’t really see it. They certainly don’t want the name or the operating strategy. Generally, when Amazon takes over a business (IMDb, GoodReads, Zappos) it keeps the name and the business runners…and the basic system.

Would owning the physical stores do them any good? Well, first, that would depend on the leases, but let’s skip that.

Many Radio Shacks now are tiny, and they don’t seem to me to have a good layout. I don’t think people would go to an old location out of habit, and then shop at an Amazon store.

They are in expensive malls in many cases.

I suppose they could become lockers, where you can pick up your Amazon orders in your town, but it doesn’t seem like the most efficient place to do it.

Would a strictly Amazon hardware place work? Kindles, Kindle Fires, Fire TVs, Fire Phones? Nope, I don’t see it…maybe as a pop up store at the holidays, but not year round.

It’s not to Amazon’s advantage to encourage you to go to physical stores. They live online…it would be like a shark trying to stalk a New York alley. ;)

Who had a bad summer?

I think you’d be hard pressed to find another three month period that was so negative for Amazon, in terms of public relations. Yes, people didn’t like it when Amazon removed a George Orwell book from their Kindles, and they are still having some repercussions from that, but generally, they got past it.

Recently (in the September 5th issue), Entertainment Weekly did a Summer Winners & Losers piece. In the books category, they classified Amazon as a loser, saying in part that they had made enemies of “…book publishers, the German Government, George Orwell’s estate, and Stephen Colbert — to name a few.”

The

Amazon Fire Phone (at AmazonSmile)

is being pegged (prematurely, in my opinion) as a loser. I have one myself, and there are some real attractions to it. I’ve recently used Firefly a few times to identify TV shows: worked great! Within about ten seconds, it could tell me the name of the episode, who the actors are, and so on. I suspect Amazon will give it three years…if developers start really building for Firefly and dy-per (dynamic perspective), I think it could be a solid 15% player in the SmartPhone market…and a much bigger moneymaker than that for Amazon.

However, Amazon’s success (in terms of sales and market share, not profit) has depended to a large extent, in my opinion, on good will with customers. It doesn’t help that many of the customers’ favorite authors are part of Authors United, which is about to send a new letter to the Amazon boardmembers. You can read the letter here:

http://www.authorsunited.net/

It’s worth reading. They make some important points, including that many of them are not Hachette authors, and are therefore not directly impacted by what I call the Hachazon war.

I think this short excerpt from the letter sums up the argument:

“Since its founding, Amazon has been a highly regarded and progressive brand. But if this is how Amazon continues to treat the literary community, how long will the company’s fine reputation last?”

Going to the Board (and publishing their contact information) is an interesting tactic. The Board could pressure the company to change a position.

That’s not to say that I agree with everything in the letter. Amusingly, they suggest that Amazon can’t be forced into doing anything. I say that’s amusing, because Amazon has in the past always lost when they’ve gone up against the big publishers…text-to-speech and the Agency Model are two good examples. In the latter case, it took the Department of Justice to make a change.

That history might be part of what may have convinced Amazon to do an “end around”…to try to keep customers without being so reliant on the tradpubs (traditional publishers). We now see that many of Amazon’s bestsellers are not published by the tradpubs. Would it take a long time to get people to make that switch? Sure, but Amazon is famous for taking the long view.

That can’t possibly do it if the customers aren’t on their side, though…

Checking in on my free Flipboard magazines

I continue to be amazed at the growth of my free Flipboard magazines.

The main idea is that you can use the

Flipboard (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

app, which I read every morning anyway on my

Kindle Fire HDX (at AmazonSmile*)

to “flip” articles into a magazine of yours, which you make available to other people for free.

To me, it’s a different medium, in the way that Twitter is.

I doubt I’ve had anything else which has reached more people…although I don’t make any money directly from it, and it certainly doesn’t satisfy my creative nature like this blog does.

Don’t worry…I still love you best. ;)

The Measured Circle

“A geeky mix of pop culture, tech, and the weird world”

The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard

  • 2,278 readers
  • 5,630 page flips (by other people of my article choices)
  • 6,124 articles

ILMK (I Love My Kindle)

“The long-running blog about the world of e-books and publishing, which is one of the most popular blogs of any kind in the Kindle store, brings you related news stories”

ILMK magazine at Flipboard

  • 654 readers
  • 35,590 (!) page flips
  • 3,607 articles

The Weird Old Days

“Has the world always been weird? These news stories from the 19th and early 20th centuries bring you tales of lake monsters, the Hollow Earth, ghosts, and more! Edited by Bufo Calvin, of The Measured Circle blog. Note: these articles reflect the culture of their times. As such, they may use terms and concepts which some modern readers will find offensive”

 http://flip.it/ZtmYw

  • 112 readers
  • 381 page flips
  • 269 articles

Doc Savage Fanflip

“Doc Savage, the forerunner of Superman and Batman, has been one of my fictional heroes for a very long time. Thanks in part to Doc, I try to better myself to help others, and to do so with “…no regard for anything but justice.” A “fanflip” is my new term for a Flipboard magazine by a fan, dedicated to one topic. I will bring you not only Doc Savage news, but Doc stories and resources from around the web. Think of it as a scrapbook with news.”

http://flip.it/HJShc

  • 100 readers
  • 272 page flips
  • 89 articles

As you can see, The Measured Circle has the most readers…but ILMK has by far the most article flips by other people.

For more information on them, see Update on my free Flipboard magazines.

What do you think? What would Amazon’s best strategy be to get public opinion back…or do you think they haven’t lost it? Do you think Amazon is working to make the tradpubs irrelevant to their success strategy? Should Amazon buy Radio Shack? Would that be like Futurama coming back after it was canceled? ;) Should Amazon even have brick and mortar stores? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

 Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Their other books

June 9, 2014

Their other books

Amazon has an interesting

Amazon Author Rank (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

page (it says it is in beta…test mode) where they rank their most popular authors (and update it hourly).

I thought I’d make a game out of this!

I’m going to give you one of the books that the author wrote…but not that author’s most popular book. It will be one of the more popular ones, though (top four)…that’s the easiest way to do this (and it keeps me from going deliberately obscure).

I’m doing these in order: the most popular author wrote the number one book on this list.

Without looking it up, let’s see how many authors you can identify…

  1. Looking for Alaska
  2. Revival
  3. Insurgent
  4. A Feast for Crows
  5. Middle School: Get Me out of Here!
  6. Dark Witch
  7. City of Lost Souls
  8. The Space Between
  9. Slow Burn
  10. The Finisher
  11. The Chase
  12. A Halflings (sic) Rescue
  13. Obsessed
  14. Letters to My Daughter
  15. Quarry
  16. Grave Peril
  17. Never Go Back
  18. Deadline
  19. The Little Friend
  20. The Mark of Athena
  21. Three Wishes
  22. John Grisham’s The Partner
  23. Sharp Objects
  24. 4 fer au feu
  25. The Racketeer
  26. Hold On My Heart
  27. Happy Birthday to You!
  28. Ring in the Dead
  29. When We Met
  30. The Death Cure
  31. The Quiet Game
  32. Where We Belong
  33. The Eye of Heaven
  34. Castle of Sand
  35. The Atlantis Gene
  36. Steelheart
  37. The Elite
  38. I Want to Hold Your Hand
  39. The Way Life Should Be
  40. Catching Fire
  41. A Dark Mind
  42. White Lace and Promises
  43. The Proposition 3
  44. Club Prive Book 4
  45. X-Men: Messiah Complex
  46. Heart Stealers
  47. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
  48. The Black Box
  49. Surrender
  50. A Tap on the Window
  51. The Snake Handler
  52. FaceOff
  53. Earth Awakens
  54. This Regret
  55. Shadow Kiss
  56. Clockwork Angel
  57. The Chance
  58. Thankless in Death
  59. Deeply Odd
  60. Wonder
  61. A Kiss of Shadows
  62. Just One Day
  63. Innocent Blood
  64. Beyond Desire
  65. The Last Letter from Your Lover
  66. I Am the Messenger
  67. La ladrona de libros
  68. The Great Divide
  69. The Economies of Rising Inequalities
  70. Magic Tree House Boxed Set #52
  71. Reaper’s Legacy
  72. When the Heart Waits
  73. Autumn in the Vineyard
  74. Gone for Good
  75. Killing Lincoln
  76. Killing Patton
  77. Hidden Order
  78. Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends (only one book listed)
  79. Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends (only one book listed) (co-author)
  80. The Lost Symbol
  81. The Cold Truth
  82. The Longest Ride
  83. Night Shift
  84. King for a Day
  85. When Day Breaks
  86. A Tragic Wreck
  87. Dark Wolf
  88. Good Omens
  89. SuperFreakonomics
  90. SuperFreakonomics (co-author)
  91. Maid of Murder
  92. The Back Road
  93. First Sight
  94. Living History
  95. Cockroaches
  96. Out of Breath
  97. The Great Hunt
  98. David and Goliath
  99. Other People We Married
  100. Doggies

Wow! That was a lot harder than I would have thought! I’m a former brick-and-mortar bookstore manager (although it’s been some time), and I would not have done well in this game. Better than a lot of people, I’m sure, but I don’t think I would have gotten twenty of these.

There are also some weird things in their algorithms: the same author may show up more than once, for example. I guess it’s reasonable that if there are co-authors, they show up separately. One person is listed as an author, but isn’t, exactly…

I’ll be curious to hear how many you got! I’m hoping this also leads you to some discovery of additional books to read.

Update: one of my regular readers and commenters, Lady Galaxy, correctly pointed out that I didn’t say I was going to give you the answers. :) I will…I’ll probably give it a couple of days.

Join hundreds of readers and try the free ILMK magazine at Flipboard!

My new free Flipboard magazine, The Weird Old Days features vintage articles on ghosts, sea serpents, psychic phenomena, and more http://flip.it/ZtmYw

* I am linking to the same thing at the regular Amazon site, and at AmazonSmile. When you shop at AmazonSmile, half a percent of your purchase price on eligible items goes to a non-profit you choose. It will feel just like shopping at Amazon: you’ll be using your same account. The one thing for you that is different is that you pick a non-profit the first time you go (which you can change whenever you want)…and the good feeling you’ll get. :) Shop ’til you help! :) 

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy  Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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