Posts Tagged Old Friends – 13 Coffee Break Stories

A New Look For My Website!

I’ve been blogging for almost five years and have never given myself a makeover – until now!

I’ve made three changes:

  • A brand new ‘theme’ (i.e. the overall ‘look’)
  • The initial website ‘landing page’ is now the ‘About Me’ page, so that anyone searching for me on the internet (unlikely, but you never know – it might happen!) will immediately see ME rather than a spurious blog post about a writing competition or someone else’s book
  • A new domain name. An acquaintance told me that they never visit websites with ‘wordpress’ in the URL because it flags up ‘amateurism’. I don’t want to give an amateur impression so I’ve paid for the domain http://www.sally-jenkins.com (hyphenated because sallyjenkins.com wasn’t available).

So, I hope you like the new professional look!

In other news:

If you are planning on entering either the Flash 500 competition or the Writers’ Bureau Short Story competition then you might like to take a look at this blog post by Iain Pattison. He is judging both these competitions and talks about his likes and dislikes in short story competition entries.

Kobo are offering e-books for half-price until Monday August 31st. If you have a Kobo e-reader or fancy downloading the Kobo App, simply key in the code SALE50 (can be used as many times as you like over the weekend) when you download a book. This is a chance to buy Old Friends – 13 Coffee Break Stories for 75p – less than half the Amazon price!

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E-Publishing with Kobo Writing Life

This week I’ve done something I’ve been meaning to do for months – I’ve finally branched out to another e-book platform. Old Friends - 13 Coffee Break Stories

Old Friends – 13 Coffee Break Stories is now available on Kobo as well as Amazon Kindle.

This collection is my Kindle ‘best seller’ and hasn’t been enrolled in KDP Select for a long time meaning I’m free to publish it elsewhere.

So, how did I find the Kobo publishing process?

The hardest part was creating a Kobo login ID to allow me to start the process.
If the email address entered into Kobo is registered to a Facebook account then Kobo requires you to login with your Facebook credentials. I didn’t want to do this and went round in circles until I discovered that the only way to keep my Kobo and Facebook accounts separate was to login to Kobo initially with my Facebook account and then, within the Kobo ‘My Account’ page, un-link Facebook from my Kobo account.

Complicated or what?!

Kobo accepts manuscripts in a variety of formats, including Microsoft Word .doc and .docx, and then converts them to .epub. Initially I uploaded my manuscript as .docx but when I checked the finished product using the Kobo previewer (which isn’t as good as the Kindle one) the line spacing seemed very wide.

So, I downloaded the free conversion software Calibre and converted my .docx file to e.pub. Then I uploaded the .epub file to Kobo and the result looked much better.

This all sounds very complicated and technical – but it’s not! There is a guide available on the Kobo website full of tips about how to format your Word document to ensure the best results. I used the same manuscript that I’d formatted for Kindle according to the instructions in Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide  and, once I’d discovered Calibre, had no further problems.

Having said that, if anyone downloads the Kobo version and finds the formatting isn’t up to scratch – please let me know!

Next, I have to work out how everything works on the Kobo site …

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Win a critique (from me)!

A pair of fresh eyes looking at your work is a wonderful thing and can be especially beneficial when those eyes don’t belong to your other half, best friend or anyone else who is very close to you.

My husband never reads anything I write and it’s probably just as well. If he told me it was excellent, I’d accuse of him of just saying that to keep me in a good mood. If he told me it was rubbish, I’d accuse him of not knowing a thing about writing short stories and then I’d probably storm off.

It’s much better to ask someone who’s ‘at a distance’. That’s why I value my fortnightly ‘swaps’ with Helen. We both know that we can trust what the other says and we don’t take any criticism personally. After all it’s just this one story that is being pulled apart not our total writing ability. Other people often comment to me that they could do with a ‘Helen’ of their own.

So, I’ve decided to put my experience, gained over the last few years, to good use and offer a critiquing service. It’s still in the planning stages at the moment. Sharon from A Quick Read bravely put herself forward as my first guinea pig and she’s given me some very useful feedback on the critique that I sent her and the sort of price that I should charge (we also had a mild disagreement on the number of words required in stories for The Weekly News – can any of you confirm whether it’s 1200 or 750/800?)

Before I open for business, I’d like to make sure that I’m offering what people want (and are willing to pay for). So I’d like to critique a story of up to 2,000 words (for free) for a reader of this blog.

So if you would like me to look at your work and, in exchange, you are willing to give me feedback on the service that I’ve provided – please leave a comment below. Any comment will do and I’ll pick one at random. The competition closes at midnight (UK time) on Saturday June 1st 2013. (By the way I’m going to be tied up with other things for the next day or so – so don’t worry if your comment doesn’t appear. I’ll moderate them all as soon as I get a minute).

And finally, many thanks to those of you that took the time to review Old Friends during its recent free offer; Anne, Parlance, Julie and Pip.

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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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Old Friends – 13 Coffee Break Stories

Coffee, cake and a chance to unwind for a few minutes with an absorbing story – who can say no?Old Friends - 13 Coffee Break Stories

So choose your favourite caffeine fix – latte, cappuccino, mocha ….

And which cake do you fancy? Lemon drizzle, chocolate fudge or fruit cake?

If you’re sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin.

Or I would if this was a ‘real’ instead of a virtual book launch. Then I could have the pleasure of meeting you all in the flesh and thanking you for all the support and positive comments about my first e-anthology. Plus I could read you one or two stories from the newly released Old Friends.

Instead I’ll just tell you about my second book and then you can visit Amazon and ‘Look Inside’ or download the sample to get a real flavour of it…

Old Friends contains 13 short stories that have previously appeared in My Weekly, People’s Friend and The Weekly News. I’ve included tales with a twist, stories about the ups and downs of family life plus, of course, a little romance.

I hope this collection will bring a little escapism to your coffee break!

It’s available from Amazon.UK and Amazon.COM at the introductory price of 77p/$1.19.

Or find it on all other Amazon sites by searching for ASIN B00BJIKIBI.

I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.

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