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Showing posts from March, 2016

Publishing With Amazon's CreateSpace

Following our Amazon theme this month, I’m talking with critique partner John J. Rust about his experiences publishing with CreateSpace. Welcome to the Blood Red Pencil, John. When you were first ready to publish a book, did you explore other avenues before you came to CreateSpace? (If so, why did you veer away from those choices?) I did go to an ebook self-publishing site for my alien invasion novel Dark Wings . I’ve heard other people have had success with it. The publishing process was not very difficult, but I found I wasn’t making the sort of sales I expected. From that point on, all my ebooks have been done on the Createspace site via the link to Kindle. Was there a substantial learning curve the first time you published? Is this something the average writer can do or does it take some knowledge of layout and formatting? What about cover design? Oh yes, there was a learning curve for the first couple of novels. A lot of it is due to the formatting of the interior, mai

Five Ways to Spring Clean Your Amazon Author Page

So, you have a book or multiple books on Amazon, eh? Great! You’ve probably taken time to head over to the  Author Central page on Amazon  to give readers some information about yourself. And after you did that… …you might have worried more about checking your book rankings on Amazon than providing a little feng shui to your author space. If so, worry not, for below, you’ll find five ways to help you spruce up your author page! #1 - An image can be worth a thousand words. The first thing readers see when they land on your author page is your face. Think about the personality you want to convey to your reader and change your image periodically to reflect that personality. #2 - Well, hello, my name is… Just as your life changes, your bio should change. It’s your HELLO, your WELCOME, your INTRODUCTION to your reader, so it should pop. It doesn’t hurt to do a quarterly check on your bio, cutting descriptions that might detract a reader, adding information that reveals your

Amazon and Oranges

Photos by Cara Lopez Lee An arborist came by our house yesterday to diagnose our ailing orange tree, and he informed me that the aging tree has too much unplucked fruit, too many branches, and not enough food. I never met a citrus fruit or a metaphor I didn’t like, so let’s see if I can untangle my thoughts on Amazon the way I untangled excess branches on my little tree today: When my memoir, They Only Eat Their Husbands , was first published in 2010, I listed more than 50 promotional ideas, all of which one pro or another insisted were musts for authors who craved success. I knew I’d never get to it all, but I did what I’m doing with my orange tree: starting with one task today, scheduling another tomorrow, another next week, and so on. Perhaps the most critical thing I’ve learned about marketing is that if you and your product are not yet famous, your first task is to narrow your targets: target audience, targeted marketing ideas, targeted networking, etc. You cannot

Amazon Dangers

Amazon River image by Jon Rawlinson , via Flickr This month here at the noble Blood-Red Pencil we are writing about Amazon the giant bookstore/publisher. But of course, there’s that other Amazon - the river and surrounding rainforest - not to mention the legendary race of female warriors. More on them later. No one would launch a boat onto the Amazon without preparation - why would you treat the digital publisher with any less respect? Both arenas are home to: Anaconda - the world’s largest and heaviest snake. Can grow as long as 30 feet eating up to 30 pounds of prey a day. On Amazon, the Anaconda would be the newest release by John Grisham or Stephen King. Jaguar - a solitary killer that climbs trees as a vantage point when hunting prey prior to pouncing on their target. On Amazon, the jaguar is the person who hunts new successful authors and gives them one star reviews. Piranhas - Perhaps the most famous danger of the Amazon River, red-bellied piranhas are actually sca

To Scout or Not to Scout

Last July, I submitted my book, Indiscretion , to Amazon’s Kindle Scout program . Paraphrased from their website: Kindle Scout is reader-powered publishing for new, never-before-published books. It’s a place where readers help decide if a book gets published. Selected books will be published by Kindle Press and receive 5-year renewable terms, a $1,500 advance, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions and featured Amazon marketing. If you do not earn at least $25,000 during any 5-year term, you'll have six months after the end of that 5-year period in which you can choose to stop publishing with Kindle Press and request your rights back. Same if you haven’t made $500 in royalties in a two-year period. Amazon’s criteria are for authors to submit their professionally edited books with a well-designed cover, short blurb, and catchy tag line. The Scout people take a few days to look it over, then, if accepted, you have thirty days to do everything in your power to keep you

Conquering the Amazon Giant to Sell Your Books

Today’s interview with Tom Krantz explores the various programs Amazon offers to writers  Hello, Tom. Welcome to Blood Red Pencil. You promote and market the works of fantasy writer S. K. Randolph , right? Hi, Linda! Yes, I am privileged to assist my spouse in our “afloat business.” (We are retired and live on a boat cruising amongst the islands along the coast of Southeast Alaska) This month at BRP, we are featuring all things Amazon — all things pertaining to writers, that is. Few would argue that any marketplace in the world is larger or more diverse than Amazon. How have you taken advantage of the various avenues available to authors? When thinking of Amazon one must remember that it is a large family of international organizations and businesses. Revenue from the sale of books (printed, digital, and audio books) is a small sliver of the business. Some suggest Amazon is “out to get” self-publishers. The reality is we have a wonderfully flexible and encompassing partner in

Amazon Self-Publishing on a Budget - Dos and Don'ts

You’ve written a story, and want to share it on Amazon, so the whole world will see it. Before doing so, you need to make sure everything is up to speed. There's lots of ground to cover, but here are a smattering of helpful hints to get you rolling. Do a title page with your book's name, then skip down a few lines and add your author name. Speaking of titles - Don’t choose one that’s been around the block. Readers get confused easily, and if someone recommends a title, the reader might go to the wrong book, instead of yours. Do single space your document. Do indent the first line of your paragraphs, instead of tabbing. Do make page breaks for each chapter and number the chapters. Don’t repeat certain words, especially unusual ones that readers will remember. Do use a Thesaurus or Google to find synonyms. Don’t begin every sentence the same way. Vary the structure. Don’t tell the reader too much backstory. Sprinkle it in a little at a time. Don’t let the cat out of the

Twelve Fascinating Fe/male Spies

History is written by the victors, mainly male victors, leaving the tales of heroic women buried in the sands of time. A simple search for female spies led me to a hundred different heroines whose stories deserve to be told.  I present a few of the most fascinating. 1. Mary Bowser and Elizabeth Van Lew Mary was born a slave on a plantation in Richmond, Virginia owned by the Van Lews. Upon Mr. Van Lew's death, Mary was freed but remained as a servant of the household. She was sent to the Philadelphia School for Negroes by Elizabeth Van Lew and learned how to read and write. That would make a riveting literary tale, but it gets better. Elizabeth was unpopular for her Union sympathizing and pretended to be crazy to deflect from her efforts to aid a spy ring and hide escaped soldiers on her estate. Mary adopted the pose of a feeble minded servant to spy on Jefferson Davis in his own home. These two actress activists deserve at least fifteen minutes of fame. 2. Belle Boyd Be

Top 10 Reasons to Publish Through Amazon

Whether you love or loathe shopping on Amazon (I love it) and whether you agree with all of their tactics (I don't), it is still the single best platform for self-publishing. They have more tools and outreach than any other entity can offer you. 1. In addition to e-books, you can upload a print copy through Create Space for those readers who prefer paper over plastic. I cannot recommend this highly enough. I only read print books. Tweet this:  “Textbook makers, bookstore owners, and college student surveys all say millennials still strongly prefer print for pleasure and learning, a bias that surprises reading experts given the same group’s proclivity to consume most other content digitally.” @mikerosenwald 2. Their upload process is extremely easy as opposed to some of the other e-book platforms. They accept multiple file types: PDF, Word® .doc, docx, or .rtf. They offer free templates that make formatting an interior (print), e-book, and cover easy. A Step By

The March to Amazon

Amazon is the search engine of buyers. I recently read this statement online and after giving it some thought, agreed wholeheartedly. Think of all the times you've needed to buy something, and how often you've sought information about a product, or checked prices and availability online. Amazon was probably one of your targets. For authors, whether traditionally or indie published, Amazon is a must to generate advertising and book sales. A few years ago, I experienced first-hand the power of KDP Select, and the incredible reach of this platform for e-book publishers. Since that project, Amazon has added new tools and opportunities for writers. One recent change is the enhanced author page that allows readers to click a follow button, and receive new information direct from Amazon when the author adds books, giveaways, and other notices about their products.  Encouraging readers to follow your author page is akin to building a mailing list without all the p