Posts Tagged Amazon Kindle

Kindle Direct Publishing Pre-Orders

When an author uploads a manuscript to Kindle Direct Publishing, he is given the choice between publishing immediately or making the book available for ‘pre-order’. Making a book available for pre-order means readers can order it up to 90 days in advance of the book’s release date. It will automatically be delivered to customers’ Kindles on the release date and they will be charged on this date.

Why use the pre-order facility?

  • All pre-order sales are counted in the launch date sales figures. This gives the book an immediate push up the Amazon rankings because instead of starting at zero sales, the book already has some sales ‘in the bank’.
  • Book promotion activities can start before launch date (& even before the book is completed, if you’re brave!), using a link to the Amazon product detail page.
  • The Amazon product detail page is ‘live’ before launch date, giving the opportunity to tweak the description, key words etc. prior to launch.

The pre-order facility wasn’t available last time I e-published and I’m experimenting with it this time around.

So, I’m pleased to announce that House Guests and Other Stories is available for pre-order. Order today and it will arrive on your Kindle on Tuesday September 22. You can be one of the first to get your hands on it. As you can see, people are already stopping in the street to gasp in awe at the front cover – such is the book’s popularity!

House Guests and Other Stories

House Guests and Other Stories is a collection of fifteen short stories, many with a twist and most have appeared in either The Weekly News, My Weekly or People’s Friend. There’s also a couple of competition successes in there plus a special guest story by a prize-winning author!

And that guest author is … Iain Pattison. Iain is a full-time author, creative writing tutor and competition judge. He also writes a very humorous blog. I’ve dropped Iain’s guest story right in the middle of my collection, like the delicious middle in a liqueur chocolate.

So, why not click ‘pre-order‘ and get ready to indulge!

To celebrate the launch of House Guests and Other Stories on September 22nd I will be announcing, on this blog, a competition to win a year’s subscription to Writers’ Forum magazine. So come back then, or use the box on the right to sign-up for email updates.

And I’m also interested to know how anyone else has got on with Amazon pre-orders?

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Amazon Asked Me to Change My Book Title

Regular followers of this blog will know that I published my first Kindle e-book, One Day for Me – 8 Award-Winning Stories, two years ago. It’s a collection of short stories, all of which have either won or been placed in UK writing competitions. One Day for Me - 8 Coffee Break Stories

A few weeks back I received an email about this book from Amazon. It told me that the book’s title contained ‘extra descriptive content ‘ which was not allowed. It said that this extra content could be ‘distracting or misleading to our customers’. I was given five days to change the title of the book or have it removed from the Kindle store.

Initially I was confused about was wrong with the title and queried it. Amazon replied that I must remove the words ‘Award-Winning’. My first reaction was to argue the point because I feel justified in using these words since all the stories have done well in competitions. But I decided it would be a David and Goliath contest and David would probably end up with all his books being removed from the Amazon store.

So, I complied and changed the title to One Day for Me – 8 Coffee Break Stories. Then I realised that I didn’t know how to change the cover image to reflect this new title. The cover was all my own work (following some wonderful advice from many of you about what worked and what didn’t)  two years ago but since then I’ve forgotten how to get back in and edit it. I decided time was too precious to waste trying to sort it out so I’ve had a new cover created by Helen Measures on http://www.fiverr.com. It’s quite different from the first cover so I’m hoping that it will attract readers who dismissed the book first time around.

I post this as a warning to those of you thinking of publishing on Amazon KDP. Don’t put any spurious claims or words such as ‘free’ or ‘best’ in your title. If you do you may be asked to remove them.

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E-Books and New VAT Rules

Last week I (like all Amazon authors) received an email from Amazon about changes in the VAT rules for e-books. This change comes into effect on January 1st 2015.

Previously (i.e. pre-Jan 2015) VAT on e-books was calculated according to the seller’s country but under the new rules, VAT rates will depend on the buyer’s country. Previously, VAT on Kindle e-books was 3% because Amazon’s headquarters (Amazon are the sellers) are in Luxembourg. Now, for UK e-book buyers it will rise to 20%.

Amazon will automatically change all list prices of existing e-books to reflect this change. This means that Kindle e-book prices are on the rise. The British government will benefit but readers of e-books will lose out.

Previously the lowest price possible on Amazon UK for an Indie e-book, with the author choosing 35% royalties, was 77p. From the 1st Jan 2015 this will rise to 99p. The lowest possible price with the author choosing 70% royalties was £1.53, this will rise to £1.99. The Amazon information page on this is here.

The moral of the story for readers? Stock up on e-books before the end of the year, or face a steep price hike! If you were planning on shopping for a Kindle or tablet in the January sales, download the free Kindle app to your PC and buy your books now to read on your new Kindle later.

The moral of the story for Indie writers? I’m not sure. We’ll have to wait and see if the new, higher prices send the customers running back to print books. Let’s hope not!

Another word of warning – if you sell e-books directly from your own website, it is your responsibility (whether you are currently VAT registered in the UK or not) to implement the new rules i.e. you must charge VAT according to the buyer’s country and then pay the VAT to the relevant government. I’ve found two interesting links on this topic Rachel Andrew has written a blog post  and Juliet E. McKenna has put together another useful post.

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How’s The Writing Going?

“How’s the writing going?”

Since I’ve started declaring myself to be a writer this is a question that family and friends often ask – and one that I find difficult to answer.

Perhaps if I was a ‘proper’ novelist it would be easy. I’d say that I was working on the edits requested by my publisher for one book and drafting a synopsis for the next bestseller with my agent – all quite simple and successful sounding.

But in reality I’m more likely to be still smarting from last week’s womag rejection, wondering why I didn’t make the shortlist of that competition I entered, trying to decide whether or not I can turn the anecdote I heard about someone’s long-lost cat into a short story for People’s Friend and toying with the idea of having a go at a serial – if only I could think of a strong enough idea.

None of that sounds very professional, so I could give them the sales spiel about my latest Kindle e-book (click here if you’re interested) but then they’d probably exclaim that they didn’t have a Kindle. And their eyes would glaze over if I tried to explain that anyone can read Kindle books on a PC or laptop if they download the free Kindle app.

So before I say anything I try and guess what they want to hear. Are they just asking out of politeness in the same way that acquintances you meet in the street ask ‘How are you?’ and expect no answer, other than ‘Fine, thank you. How are you?’ Or are they genuinely interested?

If it’s the former, I’ll be brief and positive, ‘I had a story published last month and have just submitted a couple more so, fingers-crossed, I might get some more good news.’

If it’s the latter, I’ll start slowly trying to explain how I’m trying to lengthen a ‘twist in the tale’ that Take a Break didn’t want in order to make it fit the bill at The Weekly News. But as soon as I sense I’ve lost them, I change the subject and remark on the weather.

Is it me, or is it very difficult  to talk about writing to a non-writer?

What do you answer when people politely ask, ‘How’s the writing going?’

 

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Proofreading and How to Send Documents to the Kindle

Does anyone else use their Kindle for proofreading?

I find this very helpful if I’m writing something longer than just an ordinary short story. It means I don’t have to sit staring at my computer screen for ages whilst I work my way through the whole manuscript and nor do I use large amounts of paper and ink printing the thing off time and time again (although I do use this method when I think I’m almost there).

Proofreading on the Kindle means I can curl up in an armchair with a mug of coffee and pretend I’m reading a ‘proper’ book. I find it lets me judge my writing in a different way and I’m less likely to skip over words.

The disadvantage is that I can’t edit as I go along and I can’t scribble and cross things out either. But depending on what stage you’re at, this can be a good thing because it forces you to read the whole manuscript from beginning to end without wasting time trying to perfect a single sentence. This makes it easier to see the whole story arc and judge whether or not it works.

But in order to be able to proofread in this way, the manuscript needs to be sent from PC to Kindle. There are a couple of ways this can be done. You can either email the document to the Kindle (yes, every Kindle has its own email address!) or plug the Kindle into the PC and ‘drag and drop’ the file across.

There are detailed instructions on how to use both of these methods over on Molly Greene’s Blog so I won’t repeat it all again here. In her post Molly doesn’t specifically mention that Word documents can be sent in this way but I know from experience that they can and there are comments at the end of the post which confirm this. Molly also gives some instructions for the iPad too (I’m not lucky enough to own one of those).

This method of sending stuff to the Kindle can also be used for PDF documents – but I’ve never worked out how to increase the font size of a PDF when it’s on the Kindle and so end up having to use my reading glasses.

And it’s useful to be able to transfer files in this way if you’re ever asked to beta read someone’s work before publication or if you get sent an early review copy.

Please do let me know if you’ve got any proofreading tips or experience of sending stuff to the Kindle.

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A First Birthday

One year ago this week I published my first short story collection, One Day For Me, on Amazon Kindle.One Day For Me

The book has amassed some great reviews on Amazon and Lee Ashford of Readers’ Favorite said, “Sally Jenkins knows how to build a story. She takes the mundane, and makes it intriguing. She hooks the reader, and reels him in. She proves her talent in each of these eight short stories, making this collection one you will be glad you read.”

Since publication lots of things have happened in my life including a health scare (early stage breast cancer – make sure you go for those mammograms, ladies!) and a complete upheaval in my day job (I was transferred from one company to another under TUPE legislation – don’t ask, it’s complicated!).

I’ve also learned a few things during the past twelve months, such as a book of short stories, all written by the same person is a collection. But a book of short stories, all written by different people is an anthology.
Am I the only person who didn’t know that?

I’ve discovered that I’m not much good at book cover design and also that writing stories is much easier than marketing them! But over the last few months Amazon KDP have introduced a couple of features that make both of these difficult tasks a little bit easier:

  • Amazon Cover Creator, which I’ve talked about previously here, makes it very easy for anyone to create an eye-catching cover for a Kindle book
  • Kindle Countdown Deals which allow authors to discount the price of books for a limited period

So, to celebrate the first birthday of One Day For Me, it will be half-price (99p) from now until Saturday 25th January.

And those of you in the US can buy One Day For Me for only 99c until 12pm (PST) on Wednesday 22nd January and then at $1.99 until Saturday 25th January.

I hope you enjoy it!

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Amazon Reviews – Is This Ethical?

I’ve gone on before about how important Amazon reviews are to authors. They help to ‘sell’ the book to potential readers and they may also help to push a book up the Amazon rankings and make it more visible to the buying public.

But getting reviews is a battle. It just doesn’t occur to many of us to bother writing one – even if we’ve really enjoyed the book. And to be honest, until I got into Kindle publishing it wouldn’t have occurred to me either.

Bearing all this in mind you’ll understand why an email I received this week got my immediate interest. The sender was suggesting that we do a ‘review swap’ and they included a link to their book on Amazon. I assumed that we would each read and then independently review the other’s book. That seemed acceptable – like ‘proper’ publishers sending out review copies in the hope of getting a positive response.

But further correspondence with the other author made it clear that I’d got it wrong. The idea was that we each write the other’s review ‘to speed the process up’ – meaning that I write a review of my own book for my contact to post under their name and vice versa.

I had a look at this person’s book on Amazon – they had many more reviews than me and their book appeared to be doing much better than mine. It seemed this author knew the secret of garnering reviews and thus growing sales!

I was sorely tempted to go ahead with the swap – perhaps lots of people are operating and making money like this? Why should I miss out?

But then I thought how would I feel if anyone discovered that I had written some of my own reviews?
I would be ashamed and unable to look them in the eye.

So I didn’t go ahead with the swap.

What would you have done?

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KindleFever, the Lancashire Authors’ Association and a Freebie

KindleFever

If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of publishing a Kindle book but never quite got around to it, Nick Daws’ KindleFever might be just the push you need. KindleFever is a challenge to publish a Kindle e-book in the month of June.

Nick says, “You can either write and publish a Kindle e-book from scratch, or else format and publish an existing work. All types of Kindle book are welcome, including novels, short stories, anthologies, nonfiction books, poetry, and so forth.”

The challenge is being run via the writers’ forum My Writers’ Circle and there will be lots of chat and advice on there for e-publishing newbies. There’s already a useful resources thread on there.

There might also be post-publication benefits from taking part in this challenge. “We hope and intend that everyone taking part in KindleFever will help other participants promote their newly-published books, by reviewing them, “liking” them, tagging them, and so on,” Nick explains. “This should help to ensure that they all have the best possible chance of making it into the Kindle best-seller lists!”

I had the pleasure of meeting Nick Daws on Saturday when he came to talk to Lichfield Writers about e-books. He was very generous with his advice and I think this will be a challenge well worth taking!

It’s free to sign-up – simply register on the forum and scroll down the list of topics to KindleFever.

Lancashire Authors’ Association

Peter Jones has been in touch to tell me that the Lancashire Authors’ Association are keen to welcome new members. Their next meeting is in Lytham on June 1st. Details are here.

But Peter points out that you don’t have to live in Lancashire to join them.

“We have members in various parts of the country and as far afield as Canada and New Zealand,” he says. “We have annual competitions only open to members with prizes plus a trophy.”

They sound a friendly lot and membership is only £15 per year.

Freebie – Last ever chance to get Old Friends for free!

I’ve unchecked the box in Amazon KDP and Old Friends will drop out of KDP Select in a couple of days. For me the benefits of offering books for free don’t seem to be materialising (after my last promo I noticed no rise in sales and only received one review – thank you so much, Carl) and so I’m going to experiment by making the book available on other platforms too (KDP Select requires that the book be exclusive to Amazon).

However, I have got two free days left so I thought I’d give you all a final chance to get it for free on May 21st and May 22nd. In exchange, I’d be most grateful if you could leave a review (doesn’t have to be 5 star – as Nick Daws said at his workshop, books with only 5 star reviews can look a bit dodgy, so even 3 star reviews are OK too).

Old Friends is available on all Amazon sites by searching for ASIN: B00BJIKIBI

Or grab it from Amazon.uk by clicking here or from Amazon.com by clicking here.

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KDP Select – Is it worth it?

Enrol your e-book  in Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select program and you get two advantages:

  • Amazon Prime members are able to borrow the book for free and this will generate a royalty payment for the author
  • The book can be offered free for 5 days in every 90. Offering a book for free is supposed to generate large numbers of downloads which will then convert into reviews of the book on Amazon, which in turn will drive an increased number of sales.

There is also a downside to joining KDP Select – the e-book must remain exclusive to Amazon i.e. it cannot be sold on Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Kobo etc.

Many e-book authors swear by KDP Select and its advantages. They don’t see exclusivity as a disadvantage because Amazon is by far the biggest retailer of e-books.

I’m not sure. I’ve had e-books available in KDP Select for just over three months now and I’ve had only one Amazon Prime loan (it was in the US). So that doesn’t seem a massive benefit. Are any of you Amazon Prime members? I don’t know anyone who is.

I’ve run one free promotion. In the five days that One Day for Me was free, I had 135 US free downloads, 93 in the UK, 2 in Germany, 1 Japan and 1 Canada. As far as I can tell, only one review (it was in the UK) was written as a result and I noticed no increase in sales. This was despite spending an age adding my book to the many websites and Facebook pages that offer to list free e-books.

But I didn’t remove that book from KDP Select after the first 90 days, mainly because whilst I was dithering about what to do, the Amazon automatic re-enrol swung into action.

Looking on the bright side – maybe next time I’ll do better!

Which brings me nicely to my next KDP Select Promotion.

My second anthology Old Friends is free on all Kindle platforms for the next three days. Old Friends is a collection of 13 short stories. There are tales with a twist, stories about the ups and downs of family life plus a little romance. Perfect to enjoy with a cup of coffee and a biscuit! If you’re in the UK click here or in the US click here, otherwise search for ASIN B00BJIKIBI on any Amazon platform.

And as a special treat, One Day for Me is half price for the next three days too. One Day for Me is a collection of 8 short stories that have either won or been short-listed in UK writing competitions. If you’re in the UK click here or in the US click here, otherwise search for ASIN B00B4XCYJC on any Amazon platform.

I look forward to the reviews rolling in, followed by a tsunami of sales!

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Getting to Grips with E-Publishing

Last week I went to an E-Publishing seminar with the lovely ladies (and one gentleman) from the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association. It was run by one of our members who has been successfully publishing her erotica in e-book form for the last 12 months (unfortunately we didn’t have time in the seminar for her promised session on erotica – so that treat is still to come!).

I came away with my head buzzing with jargon such as .mobi, .epub, Smashwords, US Tax Identification Numbers and lots more. I was tempted to throw up my hands and pay a professional to format, design a cover and distribute the modest project that I have in mind. But I’ve decided to have a go myself for three reasons –

  • I doubt that I’ll earn enough from the book to recoup the costs of a professional
  • E-publishing is definitely the future and therefore as a writer I ought to get to grips with it
  • I’m a computer programmer by day, so if other people can master e-publishing – why can’t I?

So the other day I started. The first thing I did was download the Smashwords Style Guide to my Kindle. This is the e-publishing ‘bible’ and, as well as giving lots of background information, it describes how to format a Word document so that it is acceptable to Smashwords. This is supposed to mean that the format will be acceptable for Amazon Kindle too.

Although Amazon still has the largest share of the e-book market, it’s important to make your work available on Smashwords as well. Smashwords sell e-books directly to the public and they also distribute to many of the other e-book retailers such as Barnes and Noble, Kobo and Apple.

I found the Smashwords Style Guide very useful. It shows how to get first line paragraph indentation correct (get rid of those naughty tabs and spaces if you’ve used them), how to ensure that the whole document is the same style and how to do a linked table of contents . One thing slowed me down – the Guide gives instructions for different Word editions up to 2007 but doesn’t mention 2010, which I am using, so sometimes I had to play around for a bit until I found what I was looking for.

Now I have my document formatted (I think – I won’t know it’s right until I try to upload it), so it’s time to do the cover. I’m feeling nervous about this. The Guide recommends hiring a professional cover designer (and will even send you a list of low-cost cover designers) because first impressions of a book are important. But our wonderful seminar leader does it herself and gave us lots of tips.

So that’s my next step …

By the way, if anyone’s got any e-publishing tips, I’d be most grateful!

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