Sunday, September 16, 2018

REVIEW: How to Revise and Re-Release Your Book: Simple and Smart Strategies to Sell More Books Kindle Edition by Penny C. Sansevieri

I was pleased to be given the opportunity to review HOW TO REVISE AND RE-RELEASE YOUR BOOK. I have been tinkering around on Kindle Direct for a while, but also putting off re-releasing about a dozen books that had reverted to me after the publishers closed.

Any book on a ‘do it yourself’ topic is going to have a certain scope that determines who it will be useful to. In my case this book was a bit hit and miss on that front. For example, the focus is very much on Amazon, which is fine because I am currently Amazon-exclusive – but it is very much as open debate as to whether that is the most profitable choice. In any case most self-publishers are likely to want to start with Amazon. In the majority of cases where the book made a recommendation it was one I agreed with or was inclined to believe. However….

On the other hand the author really only address one option in relation to a lot of other choices that don’t match my situation. For example: always formatting for paperback first. In my case e-books are a heck of a lot easier to start with and sell better so I always start there. The days of most authors coming off print publishing and just starting to enter e-publisher are probably pretty much over. The publisher that reverted my rights were both primarily e-publishers (Samhain and Loose Id). Also: use a freelancer for all internal formatting and cover design. Not a bad rule for a beginner but formatting e-books is not that hard, especially if you use a cheap generic service like Liberwriter. So I don’t really see why directions couldn’t be on how to embark on that part of it yourself. After all, the author does not hesitate to endorse specific fee-charging formatters and cover designers. Why not also point to good pre-made and automated sites and let the reader decide if they will risk cutting that corner. After all, whomever provided these services for this book missed a number of cases of misplaced punctuation marks and typos (example “TThis is next-level bonus content. “) and in the pdf format created a book with two blank pages in the middle . Hopefully I saw a pre-pub version and further proofreading occurred before release.

Somewhat ironically given the topic some of the topics seemed out of date. Considerable space is given to book bundling which is a less effective method since it was over-exploited by for-profit bundling companies. Use of bold and header font is mentioned when Amazon no longer permits this in blurbs. There is a strong push to contact Amazon top reviewers. I am an Amazon Top review—at least enough to get a dozen emails requesting reviews every day. And I ignore them all because Amazon’s rules, as of last year, would penalize me for reviewing free samples and give any such review a low value “non-verified” status. And publicly thinking people for spontaneous Amazon reviews is something many reviewers now consider intrusive and creepy—because the review is not for the author. The suggestion of rewarding people for proof of reviews is particularly dangerous as it is directly against Amazon policy—reviews that are incentivized before or after posting is not allowed. And the value Goodreads giveaways (let alone monthly) is very different now.

And overall the advice is not put in a wider context of the commercial value of books of different types and therefore an appropriate budget to spend on packaging them. It is also with some unease that I read they author promoting their own fee-charging services in some parts of the book. It feels overall like the focus is on things a professional book promoter would be good at and focus on, and neglects the things a profession writer might be better equipped to tackle on their own.

Ultimately if you are planning to outsource book production and rerelease on Amazon to maximum effect this book is likely to be extremely useful for you. And it is very important for self-publishers to open their minds on this topic. The KDP forums are full of people who devoted decades to creating a book, and then just threw it together and jammed it up on Amazon—and are now sad and disillusioned because they have literally zero sales. Many would never even think about re-categorizing, strategic pricing, or effective promoting without advice such as this book provides. But if your focus is (or possibly should be) more on evaluating your books commercial potential and budgeting accordingly, producing your own book, carefully balancing the value or time spent writing versus time spent promoting, or going wide -- much of it will not apply.

Thursday, July 05, 2018

Austin Appalling

Given that Austin Macauley is a vanity press that charges thousands of dollars, has a terrible contract, and throws threatening letters from lawyers around like confetti, I have one question....

...What does that say about so-called indie publisher groups that they are officially "associated with"?
  • Independent Book Publishers Association (IBPA) -- "IBPA's MISSION is to lead and serve the independent publishing community through advocacy, education, and tools for success."
  • Independent Publishers Guild (IPG) -- "The IPG helps publishers to do better business and become part of a real community"
  • The Publishers Association -- "Our objective as an association is to provide our members with the influence, insight and services necessary to compete and prosper."

Thursday, September 07, 2017

Unofficial Kinde Help FAQ #1: Why are my sales not showing in my reports

Zhao!
I have been asked this one enough times that I thought it might be time to write a standard reply.

Authors often feel they have had Amazon sales that are not appearing on their sales reports, and  perhaps a suspicion they are being deliberately short-changed in some way.  In my experience this is not the case. Here are some of the things that might explain the apparent discrepancy.

1) Make sure you are looking at the right place in the reports, after the sales has been shipped and charged.
2) If it is an e-book you cannot buy more than one copy.
3) If it is a CreateSpace paperback, those sales are reported on your Createspace  account reports, not your kindle account reports.
3) If it is a gifted book the sale occurs only when the the recipient uses it, and they have the option to use it on something other than your book--in which case you are out the money and do not get the sale.
3) Friends and relatives lie more often than you would think. If they say they bought your book don't assume it is true unless you actually saw them do it.
4) Occasionally there are glitches and reports of sales are delayed.  If you can document the sale occurred and have waited about 2 weeks, ask Kindle Support for assistance.

If you know if other reason why people see these issues, please let me know and I will add them to the list.


Tuesday, August 01, 2017

Update

Things have been a little quiet around here.  I have been busy at work and also developing a lifestyle where I just hang out and enjoy myself quite a lot.  That's turned out to be the upside of being a woman of a certain age.  I have a sufficiency of money and have more-or-less stopped giving a flock about a lot of things, so I spend more time just enjoying myself. That said, I do plan to  spruce things up and post some new reviews soon.

If you happen to have any interest in reviewing, we are always open to people joining in on a one-off or ongoing basis.  Just drop me a line at veinglory at gmail.com

There is one thing I would like to mention regarding authors who request reviews.  Please don't spam us.  I am getting increasingly bogged down in mass mailings and newsletters from authors.  A recent one ended with the statment:

"You are receiving this email either because you are a personal acquaintance or you because you have read and/or reviewed one of my novels. My intent is not to overwhelm you with emails but to keep in touch with updates. Thanks so much."

Just: no.

Reading or reviewing a book does not constitute agreeing to be put on a mailing list.  Going forwards any more emails of this type will be reported as spam. This means, among other things, that any future requests for reviews will be blocked.

Edited to Add:

Re: Instafreebie--this is a service that requires provision of an email address and adds the user to a mailing list.  As such, Instafreebie is not an acceptable method for offering review copies.


Monday, March 28, 2016

Court Rules: Amazon is not a Publisher

An unfortunate couple found that their engagement photo had appeared, without permission, on the cover of a book suggestively entitled “A Gronking To Remember”. Recently a court ruled that they could not, as a result, sue Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or Smashwords. The reason being that these websites are not publishers... they are shops. Which is a reminder that when we self-publish in these venues we alone take on all the liabilities of a publisher, and should be correspondingly careful abut the choices that we make.