Tuesday, December 27, 2011

A mountain of books and questions answered.

It was Christmas all over again at my house.  UPS just dropped off my book order from Lightning Source.  I had almost sold out of my personal copies of Requiem so I ordered in another round along with my first order of Guardian.  If anyone wants to buy a signed copy, use the buy now links under the cover pictures to the right.

A few blog posts ago I talked about the new KDP Select program and gave my thoughts.  It has been about 20 days now since the program launched.  Much more information has come out.  Several more discussions and a reader posed the following question: "What would a new company have to do to win you and everyone else over?"

The main sticking point on this question is if you use the KDP Select option from Amazon, you have to grant 90 days exclusivity.  No selling your e-book anywhere else (physical books not effected).  Tens of thousands of books got pulled from all other stores and are now exclusively on Amazon.  So how would an existing company like Apple or Barnes and Noble, or a new online retailer "win me over"?  The simple answer right now is, they can't.  It's a numbers game and always will be.  Amazon has a good 75% of the e-book market.  Think about this.  Amazon has three times what everyone else combined has.

There are things in my opinion, every company needs to improve.  Sad thing for competition, Amazon has the best tools right now and they suck.  Here is a list of improvements every e-book retailer needs if they are going to work directly with content providers.

1. Calender tools.  Simple scheduler so I can make adjustments to product descriptions, prices, pictures in advance.  I should be able to set a time and date to make book one and book two go on sale at the same time when book three launches, as well as change the product description to represent the sale, how long it will last and why.

2. Previewer.  This is important in my opinion.  Right now when you upload a new book somewhere, its just a mess of fill in the blanks, submit and hope it comes out OK after a 2-48 hour wait.  Nothing sucks more than finding out your line breaks and carriage returns did not carry over when you cut and paste the product description in.  Great, now I am locked out for potentially two days before I can edit and fix it, because the book is pending or in some other review state.  God forbid you fat finger a price change of 99c and it comes out $99 and you can't fix it for a day and a half.

3. Social media.  Amazon gets this one better than others.  But you should be able to link up Facebook, Twitter, and Blogs.  There is no reason for these not to be there.  Visibility helps.

So even if a new company came along and had all these things right and offered 99% royalties, I would still have to stay with Amazon because that is where everyone shops for books.  It would be like trying to make a social network and pull users from Facebook.  Amazon would have to self destruct somehow first and I just don't see that happening.

Requiem is free to download on Amazon.  If you haven't downloaded your copy yet, click the cover art on the right and grab it now.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Requiem is free for a week and a chance to win book two, Guardian

Christmas is over and there are millions of new kindles and e-readers on the market.  Empty e-readers that need to be filled.  Starting today, Dec 26 to Dec 30, Requiem is available for free at Amazon.com for Kindles, Kindle devices, and other e-readers or PC's using the Kindle app.

You can head over there now and grab a copy by using the following link, or you can click on the picture of Requiem on the right.  http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00572MWYS

The second novel in The Eternal Gateway trilogy, Guardian, was released on Dec 15.  For a chance to win a gift copy of Guardian for your Kindle, all you need to do is send a tweet.  Two things are necessary for your tweet to qualify.  Use the hashtag #sbjones and use this shortened link to Requiem on Amazon's website. http://amzn.to/rQQwW9

The hashtag is where I will be pulling the winning tweets from so don't forget it.  The better the tweet, the more you tweet, the better chance of winning.  You can create your own tweets, or retweet, it doesn't matter.

Good luck.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Requiem giveaway and Guardian contest.

I want to congratulate Steven Black for winning a copy of Guardian.  I also want to congratulate Kathy Jones for winning the Grand Prize.  A signed copy of Requiem and Guardian from the September e-Book a day giveaway.

On Monday Dec 26 through Friday Dec 30, Requiem will be free to download on Amazon.  You can find Requiem by either clicking the cover image on the right or by going to the following link http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00572MWYS

During this 5 day promotion, I am also going to be giving away a free copy of Guardian in e-Book each day of the event.  To qualify for a chance to win, simply tweet, or retweet about the event and use the #sbjones hashtag and use this shortened link to Amazon. http://amzn.to/rQQwW9

Friday, December 16, 2011

The Eternal Gateway: Guardian

Guardian is now available in both paperback and e-book format.  The e-book is only available through Amazon, and the paperback is available through any online store, including Amazon and Barnes and Noble.

I updated the blog layout to include cover images to both Requiem and Guardian.  Clicking on them will take you to Amazon's web site.  Also I added "buy now" buttons from PayPal if anyone wants to buy a copy of the books directly from me for $15.  I will sign and date them and provide free shipping inside the US.  If you live outside the US, we might be able to work something out on shipping, but right now I do not have access to an affordable option for international orders.

Guardian is the second novel in my trilogy that I have published.  It has been very exciting and rewarding to produce this project.  I start on the final novel "Sentinel" at the start of the year with an early May target date for release.

I updated the e-book for Requiem today as well.  I added a table of contents after I found out how easy they were to do as per the instructions in my guide.  Also I added the first nine chapters of Guardian at the end.  If you have already purchased Requiem, you should be able to refresh/redownload the book from Amazon for free to get the updated version.  (update is still pending at amazon atm).

For any of the readers out there, if you have not purchased a copy of Requiem yet, I will be having a special sale from Dec 26 to Dec 30 on Amazon for the e-book. *cough* free *cough*  So set yourself a reminder on your calenders and tell your friends.  My gift to all the people opening up a shiny new Kindle for Christmas.

Right now I feel like I could do anything.  Even ride a buffalo.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

KDP Select, Amazon Lending Library and my thoughts.

Last week, Amazon announced a new program for authors and publishers called KDP select.  You can read all about it from other places, but basically, if an author or publisher opts in for this program, in exchanged for allowing Amazon Prime subscribers who own Kindles the ability to "rent" your book for free. (limit one rental per month).  In exchange, the content provider is compensated for these rentals with a $500,000 a month pool divided equally among number of rentals.  100,000 rentals equals $5 per rental.  A million books get rented then each rental is worth 50c.  Also the content provider is allowed to set their book price as free for a maximum of 5 days.  This all revolves around a 90 day cycle.  Oh, and the part that has the internet's pants on fire is that content for KDP Select has to be Amazon exclusive.  No selling the eBook (paper books are exempt) anywhere else, even your own blog.

I don't want to write a rant or debate about Amazon's business moves to become Skynet or Umbrella Corporation.  But after a week of observing, reading, and thinking about KDP Select, here are my thoughts.

First off, no one is going to be effected by this in the same way, so sweeping generalities about the sky is falling from other companies CEO's to scorched earth tactics is meaningless.

I don't see any eBook group reducing the 70% royalty rate they offer.  They all offer it, and the first place to change it will get torn to pieces by the largest group of people who actually know how to write.  Think Netflix when they raised their prices.  These companies are not vested in us in any way.  They don't pay for the cover, editing, advances, print runs, etc.  They provide a download link and take a 30% rake for it.  They even charge the author per download so even that cost is covered.  (10c a book for Requiem).  It's a lot like taxes.  30% just goes to these people and they don't have to do anything.  But 50 million people visit Amazon on a day.  About 35 visit here a day.  Ill give them 30% for that.

I hope to see other companies like Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and others provide better tools and platforms for us to use.  WE make them money, a LOT of money.  We could make them TONS of money if they helped us.  Blogger has better tools than any of these companies.

Tools.  Right now, none of these companies allows someone to upload their book, make sure it's good to go, and then schedule a launch date.  The only day you can let your book go live is the day you upload it.  Try having a launch party for a new book when it takes anywhere from 2 hours to 72 hours from the time you upload your book before it actually goes live.

Price matching across the market is a joke.  Want to put your first book on sale because the next one is coming out.  Easy.  Sale is over and you want it to return to the original price.  Hope you don't mind weeks even months of frustration because Diesel or Kobo is run by dormant vampires and because they still list the sale price, everyone else price matches.

A calender and scheduling tool isn't that much to ask.  If I could properly manage my content, schedule sales, deals, and cross market with Facebook, AdWords, book signings etc.  It would be awesome.  Instead its a huge cluster f**k because 3 weeks after the sale, Kobo finally updates the price, two days later B&N price matches and a week later so does Amazon.  You have lost total control over the pricing of the book.

Amazon, Amazon, Amazon...  You have 6 domains now that have my book, yet my Author Central page is only on one.  I have to manually do this 6 times?  A verified purchase review on the UK site isn't visible in the US?  What if Facebook announced that they had Facebook.de.  Cool, but you now have to maintain and update a separate Facebook page.  Re-upload those "I like to party" pictures etc.  COME ON!  Help me make you money, not create six times the work for me.

Barnes and Noble...  Try finding my book without using my isbn number.  SEO (Search Engine Optimization), hire a 5th grader for a weekend and get with the times.  Its easier to use Google to search your site.  Seriously? look at this picture, where is my first book Requiem?  How did you even get a listing for Guardian?  I haven't even released it yet.  4 results in books.  Amazon has over 200 for the same search in books including Requiem.

Apple.  Sigh.  Every step forward this company seems to sabotage itself back to the dark ages.  You must own a Apple computer to upload a book.  *blink* *blink*.  I guess they are proud to be part of the 1%.  Only 1% of the population uses their computers.  Over 200 million iOS devices out there and everyone uses the Kindle or Nook app.  What is wrong with this picture.

Smashwords....  If your CEO goes on a rant instead of innovating against competition, well...  I wish your company the best of luck.

In conclusion.  KDP Select has shaken things up a bit, but at the root of the issue, fundamental problems remain.  The first company that decides to build a platform of tools for us to use, build relationships with authors, is going to dominate the market.  The first company that takes the time to promote authors is going to win.  I chose to go with Amazon's new program.  It has actually simplified a lot of things.  I don't have to spend hours tweaking my book for each required format or burn extra ISBN numbers.  I don't have to try and herd price matching cats.  I actually, get a schedule-able promotion tool,  My reporting has gone from from 5 reports to two.

Instead of having a fire hose as my only tool.  I traded it for a hammer that came with a carry case.  I wonder what I can do with a hammer...

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

How to create your e-book by SB Jones.

The original guide I wrote in June can be found HERE.  It is still a great guide, but as I have said before, it's time to update it.  The same disclaimer as before, your mileage may vary with this guide and as time moves forward, new devices, programs, and features of e-readers may render this obsolete quickly.

The main change with this guide is the addition of how to create a Table of Contents for your e-book that allows your readers to jump to a desired chapter.  Even if you don't care about a TOC, you should have one.  Every little bit of polish makes your e-book look and feel that more professional.

This guide is for converting a Microsoft Word Document.  If you are working in another word processor, I am sure you can achieve similar results.

First, you need to get the programs that let you do all the work.
Mobi Pocket Creator, and Calibre.  You will also want to have a Nook or Kindle handy to side-load your novel, or use the Kindle for PC or Nook for PC apps to review your book.

First, make sure you are saving your your word doc as a .doc file and not a .docx file.  This is easily done by using the "Save As" feature in Word.  The reason for this is to avoid a lot of the meta data that gets added to the newer .docx files.

Now comes the grunt work.  Cleaning up that Word doc.  First you need to understand that the Kindle will auto indent your paragraphs.  So if your document has a tab indent, you will need to remove these.  You can do them manually or use the paragraph and page setup in word.

Next, we are going to look at some typesetting options.  I prefer to use single spacing with an extra half space after carriage returns.  When converted, the extra half space in my opinion gives it a nice look and makes it easy to read and looks nice and clean.  Remember, some people may read your book on their phone so you want it as readable as possible.  Having a massive wall of text is annoying.

Take your time with this step.  You may find yourself converting your book several times as you make adjustments to get it to look and feel the way you want.  You spend months or years writing the book, you can spend the hours needed converting it for upload.

Now lets create your Table of Contents.  This step is actually quite easy.  I didn't do it for my first novel because all of the information I found was convoluted and unnecessarily complicated.  Some even wanted you to manually code and write the TOC in HTML.

First, just navigate to your word doc and place the cursor at the start of a chapter.  Click the Insert tab, then the Bookmark button and give the bookmark a name.  I used Ch1, Ch2, etc for each of the chapters.

Once this is finished for each chapter, highlight where it says Chapter 1 (or whatever chapter titles you are using) and click the Insert Tab then Hyperlink.  In the popup box, click where it says "Place in This Document" and you should see all of the bookmarks you created.  Pick the correct bookmark and hit ok.  It's as simple as that.

You are going to want to test all of your links and verify that they jump to the correct chapter.  Also if you want, you can make each chapter title, jump back to the Table of Contents as well.  I don't do this because the e-readers have a "back" button already.  Less code means less opportunities for error.

Lets move onto the conversion process now.  Close out of your word document, Mobi Pocket Creator doesn't like it if you have the document you are going to convert already open.

Launch Mobi Pocket Creator and click where it says Import from Existing File: MS Word document.

Browse to your document and click import.

You should see your file listed there now as an HTML file.  Click where it says Cover Image then the button that says Add a Cover Image.  Browse to your cover and press the Update button at the bottom.

This will take you back to the HTML file,  Now click where it says Metadata, and fill out the information.  Metadata is important so take a few minutes and fill out as much of it as you can.  If you don't know what to put, then just leave it blank.  Most of the information you have to give directly to Amazon or Barnes and Noble anyway.  When you are finished, make sure you hit the Update button to save the information. (ignore most of this if you are building test files to view your formatting and typesetting to save time)

Now, Click the build button.  If you wish to add any compression or encryption, this is where you can add it.  Once you have made your options.  Click the build button.

Once it's done building, I open the folder, and open the new PRC file with the Kindle for PC app for review.

Take your time and scroll through the book.  Verify all the links work for the TOC, the cover is embedded properly and note down any mistakes you find.  If you find anything you don't like or isn't working.  Go back to your word document and correct them and reconvert the book.

Once your book for Kindle meets your standards.  It's time to convert for Barnes and Noble.

Open up the Calibre program, and click on the Add book icon.

Navigate to where your newly created PRC file is and hit open.

Once you see your novel, select it and hit the convert icon.

You can browse through some of the menus if you want and change a lot of the meta data, add to it etc.  The inportant thing is to make sure in the top right corner under Output Format, EPub is selected.  Once you are satisfied, click the OK button and let it do its thing.  There will be a progress wheel in the bottom corner. When it stops, the conversion is complete.

Navigate to where the Epub file is and open it with the Nook for PC app, or side-load it to your nook for testing.  You may have to search for the file, but Calibre by default saves the file in its library folder.

Drop it into your Nook for PC and like before, verify that everything works, check the links again, and scan every page for errors.

If everything looks good, take it over to Amazon and Barnes and Noble and upload them and start selling books!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Guardian has been sent to the printers.

I just finished uploading Guardian to Lightning Source today.  I spent all of Monday tweaking the pages, headers, styles to fit the proper format.  Even adjusting the lines per page.  Today, I sat back down and went over it all again to make sure I hadn't missed anything.  I have learned a lot about typesetting after launching Requiem.

When I went through the same process with Requiem, I had missed a few things and it cost me around $100 and delayed things by an additional week.  Lesson has been learned so hopefully when I get the proof copy of Guardian next week, it will be ready for approval and distribution.

On a side note, I would like to thank everyone who went to my Facebook page and hit the like button.  I was able to secure a unique Facebook URL.  www.facebook.com/sbjonespublishing

I can use this new URL on promotional items and the like, and it makes it easier to remember and post.

I am going to keep today's blog short.  If anyone has any questions about Lightning Source or the process of uploading your title to them. Ask in the comments section.  Also I have a bunch of new screen captures of the conversion process to make your word doc kindle and nook ready.  I think I will post that guide in a few days, or next week so look forward to that.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Gearing up and Kickstarter

November only has a few days left and I am getting ready to start all of the formatting and converting of the second novel.  I am awaiting feed back still from two beta readers is all, however regardless come December, I will be moving forward with the book to meet its Dec 15 release date.  Be on the lookout for an updated "How to Convert Your Manuscript" post in the next few weeks.  The first one I did in June has been viewed almost 1,000 times since I posted it.

Part of me still wants to take December off, but over the Thanksgiving holiday, each day that I didn't do anything with writing, promoting, or marketing the books just felt like a wasted day.  Next week will be busy with polishing Guardian, but the rest of December...  I don't know.  I think I will get a jump start on re-outlining the final book in the trilogy titled Sentinel, and if I have time, start writing the first 10,000 word short story  for Hyperion.  Its current working title is "Girl in the Clockwork Dress".  We will see, there is still a lot of Skyrim to play and World of Warcraft just put out patch 4.3 and I am looking forward to the Well of Eternity 5 man.  Distractions distractions distractions...

There have been a couple of interesting posts on KindleBoards the last week.  Both involved the website Kickstarter.  One thread quickly spiraled out of control, and the other thread was much more productive.  This got me to thinking about a way to setup and generate pre-sales of your book.  Unfortunately PubIt and Amazon's KDP do not allow a way for you to launch early, set up a pre-sales site or even set a release date other than the day you upload your files and that is sketchy at best.  You could use Kickstarter for this.  I have not spent too much time on the site, so I am not aware of all of the nuances, but if you were getting ready to launch a book, Kickstarter might be something to try.

Lets look at Requiem hypothetically for a moment.  There are a lot of costs involved in setting up a title.
Two ISBN numbers: $50
Cover Art: $300
Paperback setup, proof, catalog: $200
First run of 50 books: $310

There are more costs, but I won't count them for this example, like ink, paper, photo licences, vendor fees, postcards, costs of editing and time.  So just the basic setup fees to get a print run of 50 books ran well over $800.  The good news is by selling these 50 copies, I recouped my out of pocket money, but that was about it.  A lot of people don't have a lot of money laying around, so this is where Kickstarter comes in.  Set a goal, say $1,000 minimum.  For a $3 donation, you will receive a zip file containing the e-book.  For $15, you will get a signed and dated copy of the paperback as well as the e-book. And for say a $25 donation you get the e-book, signed paperback, and your name will be listed in the book under acknowledgments.  If you don't reach your goal, no one is charged and your project fails.  If you reach your goal, people can still donate until the project deadline launches.  So if you raise $3,000 you might just do a larger print run if more than 50 people want the book.

I didn't know about Kickstarter for Requiem, it's too late for Guardian, but I might try it as a pre-sales tool for Sentinel.  Seeing how it will be the final book in the trilogy, it leaves a lot of options for donations.  Say a discounted $5 for all three e-books.  $15 for the e-books and a paperback of Sentinel.  $60 donation for all three e-books and a signed matching set of the trilogy in paperback with an acknowledgement by the author. Too many options confuse people however.

Anyway, check out Kickstarter and see if its a tool you might be able to leverage.  Also if you haven't checked out my Facebook page, do so now and become a fan.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Moving to Facebook and other projects

Feedback from beta readers of Guardian are starting to trickle in.  So far it has all been positive, and it appears we have done an excellent job of editing, two commas and a missing word is all that has been noticed.  Everything is still ahead of schedule for a Dec 15 launch of Guardian.

I have started a page for SBJones Publishing on Facebook.  To get a unique Facebook URL, I need a minimum of 25 fans.  If you are a Facebook user please check out the page and become a fan.  It's a lot easier to upload and find photos there as well.  Click the link here to be redirected to my Facebook page.

When I originally outlined The Eternal Gateway trilogy, I had the intentions for it be movie ready.  I have had people tell me that it is very visual and reads like movie.  About half way through writing Guardian, I was asked several times if the trilogy was going to be it, or would there be more.  Right now, as far as the main story with this set of characters, the trilogy is it.  They say the best way to ruin a good trilogy is by writing a fourth book.  However, there is enough material for countless projects set in the same universe.  There is the five year gap between books one and two.  The War of Antiquities is referenced several times and could be its own series.  The Keratin Nation from 1,000 years ago when Angela Atagi was born can be its own series as well, and other character spin offs like the Mastersons..  And finally, the ultimate cheat is Mr. Eleazar and his time traveling days.

Anyway, the idea that the trilogy would be movies, morphed into the idea of an episodic writing project.  The first place I looked was doing a 10 short story project for The War of Antiquities.  I have the characters already like Therion, Vincent, and Duke Falconcrest.  What I ended up going with is a five short story project called Hyperion.  In the second book Hyperion Industries plays a minor roll, and in Sentinel the final book, it plays a much larger one.  I recall reading on several forums and blogs that unnecessary back story and detail needs or should be cut from a lot of books.  More often than not it just gets in the way of the story, slows it down, and pads the word count.  Do you need to know the background of Hyperion Industries to enjoy or understand Guardian?  No, so there shouldn't be 50,000 extra words of back story.

Another reason I chose to go with Hyperion Industries is more of a business and growth as a writer choice.  First is the idea of entry points.  With a trilogy, the only entry point for readers is the first book.  This means you have 3 books for sale, but they all hang on that first book.  If the customer doesn't like it, they will not be buying the other two.  So one entry point.  Doing a series of short independent stories gives me more entry points as well as a larger presence on the bookshelf.  The next business decision for trying some short stories comes from Joe Konrath.  His blog post about writing 2 novels and 3 short stories a year is all it takes to make a living if you can muster up 5-10,000 fans to buy your work.  Basic math and Amazon royalties will give you $5 if someone bought all 5 items.  $2.99 for the novels and 99c for the short stories will give you a $25,000-$50,000 in annual income.

Next is growth as a writer.  The Eternal Gateway is a sci-fi fantasy action book.  There is some comedy and romance, but about the same amount as what you would expect from an action story.  There is a lot of debate about changing genera's and confusing your readers, but I don't think anyone would feel that I betrayed them as an author with a short romance themed story, set in the same universe as the trilogy that involved the time traveler Mr. Eleazar.  Or a murder mystery involving ties to Vincent and Mr. Eleazar.  It's still steampunk, Sci-Fi and Fantasy.  Some of the best episodes of Star Trek were episodes that did not involve epic space battles.  The Inner Light episode from The Next Generation where Picard is trapped in the probe and lives the life of a dead society and City on the Edge of Forever where Spock and Kirk go back in time and fall in love with Joan Collins.  Another idea I am toying with is writing one or more of these short stories in first person, instead of a third god's eye view that the trilogy is.

Let me know what you think of the idea about entry points, short stories, episodic writing or anything else.  If you haven't clicked on the Facebook link, go ahead and do so now.  Even if you're not a fan, you can still take a look at the development pictures.  Lastly, happy Thanksgiving everyone.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Barnes and Noble results and Guardian cover debut

Where to begin?  Saturday's book signing at Barnes and Noble was a huge success.  I would be lying if I said I wasn't nervous.  Having been a trainer for Dell, speaking and getting up in front of groups of people doesn't scare me or make me all rubber legged.  However, that was years ago.  Public events, crowds, and talking is a skill.  A skill I haven't used in a while so it was a bit rusty.  I met a TON of great people, and handed out close to 130 signed and dated postcards.

It's very interesting the dynamics of the people who walk into a Barnes and Noble.  The biggest surprise, but once you think about it, it kinda makes sense, was that very few people that I talked to owned an eReader.  The down side to this, is secondary online sales I expect are going to be low.  The last book signing had a nice spike in Kindle and Nook sales in the weeks following the event.  Regardless the exposure was priceless.  The staff of the store was great and impressed with the results.

So how well did the signing go?  Well...  Here is a picture of me acting all cool.  Some of the reactions people give are entertaining.  It's almost like there is some preconceived image of what an author looks like and I apparently don't fit the bill.  Even when I asked people if they would like to take a look at my book, they would still ask if I wrote it.

Book two: Guardian is just about finished.  There have been three complete edits and the book cover is finished as well.  I am ahead of schedule, and the manuscript is going to be sent to a few lucky beta readers.  So without further delay.  I present to you the full cover of The Eternal Gateway Book Two: Guardian.

I'm very pleased with it.  It was commissioned by JR Fleming.  And the book signing.  I sold out of every copy they had.  Achievement unlocked.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Countdown to Guardian and Barnes and Noble

This entry is a day later than normal, but I had the momentum going and I did not want to interrupt it.  Today, Guardian has been through three rounds of editing.  My editor and I finished up reading the last chapter out-loud only a few hours ago.  The only thing left for Guardian is to polish up the blurb and synopsis that goes on the back cover and hand out a beta copy or two for fresh eyes to experience the story without editor glasses on.  I had to spoil a bunch of book 3 for my editor as well.  At first she was content when I explained that the parts she wanted me to change or didn't make sense would be 'explained in the third book'.  But yesterday I had to let her in on everything.  As expected, everything made sense then.  The idea is that you can read through the trilogy and it will be a very good story.  But after the third book I want my readers to go back and re-read them and be totally shocked that they didn't see it earlier.  One of the original goals of the trilogy is 'replay value'.  Linear plots don't lend themselves well to this.

The most popular post on my blog by far is the entry in June about my eBook conversion guide.  I plan on rewriting it in the coming weeks when I convert Guardian to the Kindle and Nook formats.

This Saturday the 12th, I have a book signing at Barnes and Noble in Twin Falls Idaho for my first novel Requiem.  It starts at noon and I will be there until closing.  This is pretty cool because most self published authors never see their book on the shelf in a chain store, and even fewer have a book signing in one.  I didn't get any pictures of the last book signing so I will put fourth effort to get some this time.

Here is a closing picture.  It's not the greatest with the suns glare, but that is what I woke up to on Tuesday morning around 7:30am after the time change.  The water is warmer than the air so the river and waterfalls give off steam.  I wonder what story ideas this might inspire someone?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Guardian is in the editing phase.

So last week I wrapped up the first draft of Guardian.  I printed out the last 30 pages before heading off to my editors place who already had 4/5 of the manuscript red line edited and waiting for me.  It took a little over 20 hours to apply all of the edits.  I was a little concerned with the amount of simple syntax and grammar editing there was.  Requiem on its first pass only took about 14 hours to edit for syntax and grammar.  Having been through this process once, I assumed there would be less grammar edits not more.  Apparently according to my editor when I asked, I write my sentences backwards. For example.

Original sentence.
"Arrow," she said, pointing at the dead guard's body.

Edited sentence.
"Arrow," she said, pointing at the guard's dead body.

English was never my strongest subject in school, but math is.  To me this is like saying 5-4=1  Not -4+5=1.  Honestly I see no difference between the two.  It was not limited to possessive nouns either.  Every page was like this.  So if any of you more experienced authors or editors could explain I would be grateful.

With the first round of editing finished.  My current itinerary is to spend two weeks on revisions.  The beginning of Guardian is a bit weak and I have a list of items I need to clarify.  One thing I dislike is having to repeat myself in my writing.  Take the movie Star Trek Generations.  The first movie for The Next Generation group.  They spent half the movie making sure that we know Data is a robot, Geordi is blind and the thing on his face is a visor that lets him see, and that Troi can sense other peoples emotions.  After 7 seasons on tv, we know this already.

So when I started cranking away at Guardian, I did not retell what to me was obvious.  Kail is a mage, Angela can fly and was born a thousand years ago.  Suki can heal, and Camden can turn his skin into the same material he is touching.  So I have to add these things back in, as well as reminders about what happened in the first book, Requiem.

Putting in these reminders will make Guardian a better book.  My editor's most compelling argument was that I do not know how much time has passed for someone who reads book one before they pick up book two, and the possibility that they start with book two.  I disagreed with argument about someone reading the trilogy out of order, but what sealed the deal was when she said, "You have one book, not seven seasons of Star Trek."  Point made editor, point made.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Connecting with your fans.

I have to give credit to Sarah Allen for the idea to do this blog post.  Originally I intended to today's blog to be brief as I am almost finished with the first draft of Guardian.  I have about 5k words left to go by wrapping up the final chapter and epilogue.  So if I disappear from the blog world for a week, it will be from being out of town editing.

So lets talk about connecting with your fans for a minute.  I have not made it a secret that I am a gamer.  I play World of Warcraft, I watch the GSL and decades of pen and paper games have influenced my taste in books and movies.  This last weekend was Blizzcon.  I watched the convention online and it was awesome on a whole new level.  Attending Blizzcon is now one of my goals.  As cool as the announcement of the new World of Warcraft expansion was, or what changes Heart of the Swarm for Starcraft 2 is bringing and even better than Diablo 3.  None of these were as epic as the October GSL finals held at the end of the first day.  HOLY CRAP!

First off Blizzard is an anomaly in the video game world.  Every game they have made is pure gold and they are making bank from it.  They are not the gold standard, they are far past that, the Hope Diamond standard in the industry.  One of the main reasons for this is their connection with their fans.  I have been to CES in Vegas.  The hacker con DefCon for 6 years and seen the Star Trek conventions and others.  What I saw that Friday night was pure insanity.

The GSL or Global Starcraft 2 League is based out of South Korea.  Starcraft has been their national sport for more than a decade.  These kids play for prizes of up to $85,000 for first place each month.  I can hear some of the snickering stop after that.  Yes, some punk kid in Korea just won more money than you make in a year or two years from a single video game tournament.  Blizzcon this year was the first time that the GSL finals were played outside of Korea.  This is big, huge, and insane.  What if the Superbowl was played in Ireland this year?  And what if, more people from Ireland went to watch the Superbowl than any other Superbowl in history.  You will have to watch it, there is just no other way to describe it.

Back on topic, Blizzard has gone out of their way to connect with their fans.  As authors we try to spread the word about our books.  Most of us use social media like Blogs, Twitter, and Facebook.  Its simple numbers as these mediums allow us to reach the most people possible with the smallest and cheapest efforts.  The downside to this is that even though you can interact with your fans, it's distant, and impersonal.  It becomes like a TV commercial.  I am not suggesting that we abandon these, but you need to connect with your fans.  I have seen comments of mine deleted from peoples blogs.  Other blogs only allow comments after their approval.  This really bugs me and I have stopped following blogs and forums because of it.  It's hard to explain why, but as my own career  moves forward, my time becomes more valuable and scarce and I have no choice but to spend it where I feel welcome and appreciated.

So with that, I encourage you to watch the GSL October finals, even if it's only the first ten minutes when they introduce the players, or the last ten minutes when John the Translator almost breaks down and cries because of the crowd reactions.  This is connecting with your fans.  What have you done to connect with your fans?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Ordinary vs the Extraordinary

First I would like to make a trio of announcements.  First, the local news paper did a small write up about Requiem.  It can be found by clicking HERE.  Second, Rachna from Rachna's Scriptorium posted a blog interview.  What I like about this interview is that it isn't just a interview to plug my book.  She asked some very specific questions regarding marketing, plotting, and the writing process.  Finally if you can see a glimpse of Guardian.

Today I want to talk a little bit about the Ordinary World vs the Extraordinary World.  I am going to shorten these terms to OW and EW.  There are countless examples of using the OW and the EW.  Most established writers know this, and probably don't have to think about them too much.  For example, Star Wars, Luke's OW is living in the desert, whining about power converters.  The EW is space, the rebellion, and everything that is not power converters and sand.  Because Luke is the hero, the story revolves around him.  However, don't forget other characters.  Take Han Solo.  His OW is one of crime, smuggling, trying not to get killed by Jabba the hut and keep his ship running.  This may not sound very ordinary, but for him it is.  In stumbles Luke and an old man and he finds himself thrust in an EW.  Battling the Empire, rescuing a princess, blowing up Death Stars.  Everything you wouldn't find an out for himself smuggler doing.

Knowing these details about your characters and where you want your story to go can make your writing much richer, and your characters much more real.  Also the OW and EW can be the opposite, or very abstract.  Take Princess Leia.  Her OW is everyone else's EW.  Politics, fighting the empire, getting shot and tortured is what she does every day.  So what is her EW?  We really don't see it until the second and third Star Wars movies, but it is her falling in love.  That is her EW.  She is so used to being in charge, knowing what to do, and leading the rebellion that when Han Solo with his scruffy looking grin and charm walk into her life, she doesn't know what to do.

The reason I bring up the OW vs the EW is because I watched a couple of good shows this last week.  The Walking Dead and Breaking Bad.  If you have seen these shows then you should have seen these transitions from the OW to the EW.  In The Walking Dead, we have the cops doing their normal jobs, complaining about marriage and girlfriends.  Everyday life for them.  Something happens and 15min later the hero wakes up in a zombie filled EW.

Same goes for Breaking Bad.  A high school chemistry teacher who is down on his luck, turns to a life of cooking meth to pay for medical bills and hopefully a nest egg for his family.  Breaking Bad has a nice polarity with the main guy and his brother in law who is a DEA agent.  They have opposite OW's and EW's.  Catching and dealing with meth heads is the DEA agents OW.  Home and family is his EW and he flounders here.  The exact opposite of the Hero.

But I don't write action or adventure I can hear you say.  Lets take a look at one more movie.  A romantic comedy that I like called The Proposal.  The two characters are Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.  The primary focus is on Sandra.  Her OW is being head bitch at a New York publishing house, she gets in trouble because she is from Canada and decides to fake marry Ryan Reynolds to avoid deportation.  Still ordinary world for her until she has to go to Alaska.  This starts the EW for her.  Alaska is not New York.  Dial up modems and dog eating eagles run rampant in a world where warm hiking boots are in style over stilettos.  Very obvious.  Where it gets better is that we don't realize until later that family is her EW.  Sprinkled throughout we learn that her parents are dead and she lives alone.  Being there in Alaska surrounded by his family is more difficult than dealing with no cell reception.

With some creative thinking you can begin to see how the OW vs the EW is used all over the place to enrich the environment and characters we write.  So the next time you watch a tv show, movie, or read that next best selling book, keep a lookout for these things.  And if you haven't opened the interview at Rachna's Scriptorium you can do it now.  I will be checking the comments there and answering any additional questions people may have.  Have a productive week everyone.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Outline writing.

I am an outline writer.  When I look back I can see this was the case long before I ever decided to try my hand in the writing/publishing world.  Lists, numbers, and outlines have been at the root of everything from school to my eight years working for Dell.  My test scores when I graduated from high school placed me in the top 98 percentile for math and mechanical reasoning.  When I taught newhire's for Dell, I created weeks of content and had everything planned down to a 15min window.  Regardless I have said it before in my blog and made several comments on other people's blogs that I have a fairly set method to how I write and some rules that I follow. (never edit or revise until the first draft is done)

There is no right way, or wrong way to write.  But writing is a skill first and art second.  Most everyone learns to write from their parents and their first few years of school.  Everyone can write, but not everyone can write.  Writing for others entertainment and asking people to pay for this is totally different.  Now I am not going to go into what writing method is better than another.  I am hardly qualified after four months to even think that I know all there is about creating a good story.  Here is a glimpse.

Many people have seen this picture.  I posted it on my Facebook page on March 22. 2010.  It is the first outline of The Eternal Gateway trilogy.  All 105 chapters of it.  Each card has nothing more than the names of characters and one or two words of what the chapter is about.

Ch1 :Confusion, who's bad, who's good.
Ch2: Fight
Ch3: Intro Hero

Requiem consisted of 35 chapters in note card form.  When it was finished, it had been condensed to 30.  Nothing is set in stone, not even an outline, it is a guide and it's my solution to avoiding writers block.  Jumping to book 2: Guardian, I am currently on chapter 19.  Chapter 19 is special for Guardian because it is about a quarter to a third of the book.  It has been broken down but looking at my original notes, all it says is "Big Ass Fight Scene".  I should finish chapter 19 this week.  I only have three parts left to write.

This picture is the outline for chapter 19.  The yellow paper is the first half that I had already written.  The white cards are what I had yet to flesh out before writing.  Before you roll your eyes and think that this is too much work to do for each chapter, remember that this is a third of the book.  Right now chapter 19 is 17,010 words long with another four or five thousand left to go.  Normally each chapter after it goes from being a note card, gets anywhere from half a page to a couple of pages when fleshed out for outline.

Now back to chapter 19.  The yellow notes were easy, I had two groups to keep track of.  group A doing their thing and group B doing theirs.  It was simple to bounce back and fourth between them to advance the story.  The second half (the white cards) things got much harder.  Both groups were now together and I had to weave them together and have some cool interactions.  Each card at the top says "Train" or "Air".  Then I lined them up and moved them around until I had it in an order that I liked.  Picture how a movie bounces around in a chaotic action sequence.  Heroes ducking for cover; Evil laughing; Starship Enterprise rushing through space; Random explosion; Eviler evil shoots laughing evil; Sad Keanu becomes happy. etc. etc.

It was much easier to outline what I wanted each group to do by themselves and then come back and mix it together like this instead of trying to do it in my head or on the fly writing.

So without making this blog post into its own novel.  I hope you enjoyed this glimpse into the madness of my writing method.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011


I am sure everyone and anyone who has any level of access to news media has heard about the new lineup of Kindle devices.  The only one that means anything in my opinion is the Kindle Fire.  The others are just more of the same with shiny new packaging.  I think Tychus Findlay said it best.  Hell, it's about damn time.

The only concerns I have with the Kindle Fire is it's marketing.  First is do not try to become a tablet iPad competitor.  It needs to remain an eReader first and a tablet second.  The last thing Amazon needs to do is piss Apple off and they pull the Kindle for iPod/Pad app and force everyone to go to Apples iBookstore.  With over 250 million iOS devices out there, this would be a serious blow to Amazon.  As far as self publishing goes, most of us won't be too effected because our works are already on the iBookstore.  The exception being that Amazon is king of the eBook and it would take quite a while for sales to migrate.  Amazon should focus on doing what they do best only better, not try and take on Apple who since the invention of the iPod and the iTunes store has single-handedly crushed all attempts at trying to compete.

So what does this mean for us?  My prediction is this holiday season, bad economy and all, Amazon is going to have a mega year.  There will be millions of new Kindles sold.  Some will be replacing older models, but a lot of them will also be new owners.  Nooks and iPads also will be unwrapped come December 25th.  This is something that you will want to leverage for yourself if you can.

My advice is to have something ready to go this holiday season.  If your current book is ready, consider delaying to December.  If you are almost done, put in some extra hours so it's ready to go for December.  Have a series already out?  Create an anthology.  Have a sale, something.  There is going to be about a two to four week window after Christmas that has everyone playing with their new eReader and you will want to take advantage of this.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Taxes, Interviews, and Positive Thinking.

First I would like to let everyone know that Action Adventure Inc Blog has a short interview posted about myself and my first book Requiem.  It is interesting to read it myself even though I answered the questions only 21 days ago.  When you are learning and growing as an indie author, your perspective changes almost daily with each new experience or lesson learned.  At the one year mark, I will have to go back and re-read my blog and comment about what I see and how I changed as an author and person.  I found this picture to be funny after searching Google for "interview".  The desk lamp looks like it has been stabbed into the guys neck and the girl reminds me of MTV's Daria trying to figure out what is going on with her classic strait face.

Taxes taxes taxes.  Well, the bright side to taxes is that if you have to pay them, then you made money.  So I should look forward to the time every quarter when I have to sit down and do taxes.  The taxes today is for sales tax.  When I set up SBJones Publishing, I needed a sales and use tax permit number and one of those tax exemption numbers you need to buy things without tax.  This was something that was required when I set up my Lightning Source account for the paperback book.  This lets me order my own book and not pay taxes on them, but I have to collect it from my customers.  I purposely priced my book to $14.15 so it comes to an even $15 when I sell it online through my blog, or in person at a book signing or other encounter.  I don't have to worry about sales tax on books sold through B&N or Amazon because they are responsible for sales tax and all I get is a commission subject to income tax.  I know some of you are wondering how much taxes I have to pay.  Are you ready?  I have to send in a total of $31.45 of collected sales tax this quarter.  Between my two book signings, blog sales, and other paperback sales, I personally sold 37 paperback copies of Requiem.  If you want, you can always hit that "Buy it Now" button on the right and add to my tax burden if you want.

So the other day I was drinking beer with my editor and she was complaining about the fee's involved with having a VISA machine.  I had to agree, they were depressing and that is why I am a big fan of Square.  Then there were the complaints about banking fees.  Again I had to agree.  Once the rant was finished I said.  I can only hope one day that the fee's and limitations become an issue.  In fact, they should be goals you try to attain. For example, if you exceed $5,000 sales in a single day.  Square will only deposit a maximum of $5,000.  You will have to wait a day to get the rest.

Oh darn.  The day I sell 334 or more books in one book signing or event to break the $5,000 mark and I have to wait an extra day to see the rest of my cash is one I can't wait to happen.  And if it becomes to big of a hassle, you can call Square and explain and they will raise this limit.  The day I have to call Square because cash is so backed up that $5,000 a day just isn't enough to get caught up is another happy day.

My bank has a similar setup.  Cash deposits of $5,000 or more are subject to a fee.  Guess I will just deposit $4,999 and come back the next day to deposit the rest.  What a rough life it would be to have to visit the bank every day to make a $5,000 cash deposit.

So with that good news, I have to do some self promoting here.  That spike in sales I talked about last time after I had my book signing.  Requiem came so so close to breaking into the top 10,000 of the Amazon ranking. 10,630 is where it topped out at.  My bingo card has a square on it that says its under 9,000 on it.  (a joke for the it's over 9,000 meme).  That square is going to get crossed off!

Congratulations to the latest winners of the Requiem eBook a Day Giveaway.  It's almost over with only three more to give out so time is running out if you haven't signed up.

Sept 23 Mav
Sept 24 Kathy Jones
Sept 25 Andy Maestas
Sept 26 Kim Miller
Sept 27 Purna Thanandabouth

Friday, September 23, 2011


First I would like to point to ML Stewart's blog.  I have been following and commenting on his blog almost since he started it about his The Facebook Killer series.  I find his blog to be highly entertaining and the best way to describe it is with a 'You're doing it wrong" picture, but it's working for him if you check out his rankings.

Next, I want to chat a bit about success.  There has been a lot of articles, blogs, and forum posts regarding that the Kindle gold rush is past us.  If you don't sell a million eBooks you're not successful.  You can't make a living as an indie author, so don't quit your day job.  A lot of negativity, and the impression I get is that lately there have been a large influx of people rushing for the Kindle gold who don't even have a book finished yet, or only have one book and can't figure out why their book doesn't sell.  The obvious answer is they are wanting Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath success with one book where these authors have tons of books available and they have tons of fans buying them.  This is fool's gold.

Konrath's latest blog post says it best.  If you have two $2.99 novels and three 99c short stories for sale, all you need is 10,000 fans and you are making $50,000 a year if you continue to produce a novel every 6 months and a short story every four months.  This is much more realistic and attainable than superstar success.  For me, half of this would be what I need to pay all my bills and live comfortably.

Lets break this down.  For myself my novels are going to average roughly 80,000 words and a short story would run about 10,000 words.  This means I need 190,000 words a year for two novels and three short stories.  Let's just round that up to 200,000 words.  That puts me at a minimum of 3850 words written a week or a whopping 770 words a day for 5 days a week.  Slow typing at 30 words per minute this should take you a half hour to complete.

A more realistic number is 1000 words a day five days a week.  This gives you 260,000 words a year, but also lets you miss a lot of writing for book covers, editing, promoting, etc.  However, in two weeks you can have a 10,000 word short story complete.  Another week for editing and that fourth week to format, put a cover and in a month's time you have a 99c short story ready to sell on Amazon.

If you don't have an hour a day to devote to your writing, then you need to make the time.  Once the kids are in bed, instead of watching some reality TV show on your DVR, sit and type for an hour.

Getting fans of your work is the hard part, and easy part.  Like the doing it wrong picture, I think most people go about this the wrong way.  Authors tend to be introverts to begin with and you need to get past this.  If it takes a shot of tequila to open up then do it, but no one will get you fans faster than yourself.  Most of us already have a lot of fans but we don't even know it.  Start small. 10 fans, 50 fans, 100 fans, 1,000 fans.  Don't be afraid to ask your family and friends to help.  The trick here is these people need to be real fans, not some mass add me to your twitter account crap.  Also you need to get over your fear of asking for the sale.  You can blog, tweet, and Facebook your book all day long and never get a sale, but if you shake someones hand and become a real person, you will sell books, and you will make fans.  Best part is these fans generate referrals.  Online fans can work, but it's a lot harder to shake their hand or have a couple of minutes conversation.  Replying to comments, emails and forums helps, but they need to be fans, not other authors, editors, publishers.

Asking for the sale is hard.  It took me about an hour to warm up at my last book signing and about two hours after that it dawned on me what I was doing wrong.  Don't start a sale with your genera or book, start with yourself the author.  When people were walking by, I was asking them if they liked Science Fiction or Fantasy novels.  Overwhelmingly the answer was no, or that they don't read.  If they said yes, I engaged them and either sold a book or gave them a signed postcard.  What made me realize this wasn't working was the number of people who did stop to talk, did not grasp that I was the author of the book.  I figured the sign that said "Local Author Signing" in front of my booth was enough, but it wasn't.  When I started asking people if they would be interest in taking a look at the book I wrote and published.  Almost everyone now stopped and engaged.  The people who didn't read, still did not buy the book, but about a third of them took a signed postcard because their kid liked this stuff, or had a friend or relative who did read.  Those who did read but dislike Science Fiction were better at around half of them knew someone who would be interested.  I sold a few copies to non Science Fiction readers because I the Author was sold, not my book.  These people also had friends and family who read and took postcards.  I attribute all of my 15 secondary sales this week from this engagement that would have been completely missed if I hadn't changed my approach.  In one afternoon, I sold 22 books, handed out over 50 postcards, and talked to about a 100 people in a real conversation.  When you're starting out, this is the type of thing you need to do.  Become a real person, sell yourself, get over your fears, and write consistently and constantly. When it comes time to measure your success, be sure to have a realistic idea of what success is.  I sold 22 books, I made about $115, I am a successful author.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Second Book Signing Results.

I missed my normal Tuesday blog day due to an illness so I am making it up today.

On Saturday the 17th, I had my second book signing for Requiem down in Hagerman Idaho.  As I mentioned before it was at a flee market that is held every Saturday.  I'm pretty sure that most people who have had book signings have them at book stores, libraries, or maybe a coffee shop.  Well, I would have to say this signing was a huge success.  I sold 7 signed copies of Requiem when I was there.  That might not sound like a lot, but remember the post cards I had made?  I gave away over 50 of them signed and dated.

I need to go on a tangent here about the postcards.  One of the nice things about them, and this is goes double when you sign and date them.  People perceive them to be of value.  First, this means that people are unlikely to walk away and toss them in the trash, or worse on the ground somewhere.  Think about it. How many times have you seen cheap paper fliers of some sort being handed out at an event or fair, only to see them filling the trash cans or blowing around the ground.  Next, they turned everyone who carried them around, into a walking advertisement for me and yes, I had people stop by to chat because they had seen people with the post card.

Back to the book signing results, I had an abnormal spike in online sales.  To be specific, Lightning Source reports five paperback orders in the last 7 days, and a spike of an extra ten e-book sales from Kindle and Nook.  Now its possible these are unrelated, but I highly doubt it.  So now from this one book signing at a flea market resulted in 7 signed copies, 5 paperback internet sales and 10 e-book sales.  That's 22 sales!

Let me say it again.  22 sales from a book signing at a flea market.

Congratulations to the following people in the Requiem e-Book a day Giveaway for September.  If you haven't signed up, there are still 8 chances to win.

Sept 14 C.S.
Sept 15 Amy Andrews
Sept 16 Clark Edwards
Sept 17 Mike Bingham
Sept 18 Robert Callen
Sept 19 Antonio Del Toro
Sept 20 Reed Doyle
Sept 21 Dirk Walker
Sept 22 Jerry Guinn

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

One Success at a time.

One of the nicest things about being self published, is the fact that your success is directly related to the effort you put in.  It's also not tied to anyone else's time tables or agendas.  When I look back to March and remember the things I had in mind for The Eternal Gateway trilogy, having my book for sale in a book store was a listed goal.  Knowing that I would be taking the eBook route it wasn't very high up on the list.  When I made the paperback version of Requiem, I went with Lightning Source.  I liked that it was tied to Ingram and they were the POD company cutting out all middle men like Create Space or Smashwords.  Well, over the weekend after a few weeks/months of hard work and social engineering, Requiem is for sale at Barnes and Noble.  Not the web site.  The brick and mortar store you have to walk into.

It's not the best photo of me, but that's not the point.  No major publishing contract, no years of rejection letters.  Just hard work and my book is right there, on the same shelf.

This coming Saturday I will be having my second book signing in Hagerman.  There is an Arts and Crafts show and a Car Show going on at the same time so hopefully the increased foot traffic will result in more exposure and sales.  Vista Print offered 100 postcards for free (I had to pay for shipping).  I had them made up to sign and hand out to people who own eReaders and would still like something signed from the author.  They look great with the cover on one side and the back has the blurb, isbn, website, email etc.

Last week I made good on my writing goals as well.  Guardian more than doubled in size from 16,000 words to 35,000 words.  It felt really good to see it grow.

Congratulations to the following winners of the September Requiem eBook a day give away.  The month is almost half over so if you haven't signed up yet. There is still time.

Sept 7, Philip Brennan
Sept 8 Luis Stands
Sept 9 Jaime Winterwerb
Sept 10 John Russell
Sept 11 Bart Webber
Sept 12 John Leavitt
Sept 13 Steven Black

Amazon's Digital Library and why this is the worst idea of the century.

There are a few things I want to discuss today.  First is the rumblings in the news about Amazon's Digital Library.  Basically if you don't know, its a book version of Netflix.  You pay a monthly or yearly subscription fee and you have unlimited access to the library on your Kindle (no print books).  It appears that this offering will become part of Amazon's existing Amazon Prime.  I have posted my opinion of it on the KDP forums already, but I want to talk briefly about it here as well.

This is a huge step backwards for indie authors, traditionally published authors, the Big 6 and Amazon in my opinion.  Amazon has taken the sledge hammer to the traditional publishing world by allowing anyone to publish their work through KDP.  Barnes and Noble followed and so did Apple.  As much as the Big 6 try to convince us it isn't so; digital publishing is the norm and paper is the exception.  Amazon and authors are making big bucks this way.  Even the Big 6 are making bank as they transfer back list and out of print titles to the e-format.

The greatest advantage this gives authors is that an eBook is forever.  In traditional print, assuming you even got the chance to publish a book, you had 30-60 days to sell and you either made it, or your books were returned or burned to make room for next months new books.  If the guy in New York passes on doing a piece about your book because there was a similar one last month, you failed and so did your career.  Here comes Amazon and  eBooks.  Now your book has a shelf to sell from until it takes off.  Visit Kindle Boards and other forums and you will see.  There are a lot of good books out there that took six months, a year, two years before they found their stride and started selling in hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands.  Numbers that make people drool and the best part is everyone wins.  The readers win because the book costs $2.99 instead of $27.99.  The author wins because they get paid $2 instead of $1 and Amazon sits back with arms open arms as the savior of the writing world raking in 30-65% of every sale without having to do a thing other than host a website.  Amazon didn't write the book, they didn't edit it, buy a cover, isbn number, market, promote or anything.

Now, Amazon wants to offer books as a rental subscription?  Screetch!  What!  Its like 7:00pm and your stopping the party?  The Kindle only came out in 2007.  Give it a decade for christ sake.  I pray that the Big 6 say no to this and I fear if they don't.  Why?  Because rental just doesn't work.  Look at libraries.  They run on donations and government funds.  Video rental stores have all gone belly up.  This leaves Netflix and Red Box.  Only reason Red Box works is there is no overhead, no store, no employees to pay, it's a frigging vending machine!  Even Netflix tried to push everything to streaming, and recently they lost the Starz library and raised all their prices.  Why?  Because $9 a month can't pay anyone for new content.  Rental is where things go to die, there is no life left, no money to be made.  The end.

I worked for Dell for 8 years and I saw them do some really stupid things to make something look good when it was a bad idea to begin with.  There is an Amazon exec who is in charge of Amazon Prime and this is nothing more than a way to boost Prime's numbers so he can look good and make his assigned metric and try and boost sales when they launch their iPad rival.  This will cost everyone money.  You, me, Amazon and the Big 6.  If you want to rent a book.  Support your local library and go there.  Your tax dollars already pay for this.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Missed Goals and Catching up.

Labor Day is past and everyone is finally back to school.  Collage football started as well.  I enjoyed watching Boise State defeat Georgia.  It has been a fun five years watching a team from Idaho stomp the nation.  If you are not familiar with the Boise State Broncos, here are some little facts.  Since the 2006 season they have a winning record of   62-5.  Two of those seasons, 2006 and 2009 they were undefeated and won their BCS bowl games.  I don't care what the pundits say about Boise, they are a fun team to watch and they win.

Last week I set some aggressive goals for myself.  I wanted to write 10,000 words last week and 10,000 words this week.  Unfortunately I only reached 9,000 or so words last week.  I had intended to get those last thousand words done on Saturday, but the night before I got a phone call and helped a friend who had thrown out his back move.  We didn't finish until 2am.  When I woke up around noon, I just bailed and headed out for the weekend sore and tired.

To make up for missing the goal, I set Monday's goal to be 3,000 words to keep on track for this week and to make up the thousand missed words.  I want to give a big shout out to DJ Fresh and his Gold Dust Remix.  I set that song to loop, put the head phones on and when I was done for the day a cool 4,669 words were added to Guardian. My goal was not only caught up but blown out of the water.

It feels really good to get a lot of writing in.  It's the same feeling I had the last two weeks when I wrote Requiem.  The momentum has returned and baring any delay, I feel I can get the initial rough draft of Guardian finished by the end of the month.  The first week of September has passed us now, how are your goals shaping up?

Lastly, the September eBook a day giveaway for Requiem is still going on.  It's not too late to sign up and there are still 24 chances to win.  Congratulations to the following winners so far.

Sept 1, Walt Lamberg
Sept 2, Diana Langvin
Sept 3, Duane Hunsaker
Sept 4, David Anonymous
Sept 5, Ranae Rose
Sept 6, Carmon Colette