Link of the Week – Kindle and Clickfarms, WTH?

August 8, 2017

Clickfarm employee

I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon. As a consumer, I love the ease of shopping with them. As an author, I am in no way happy with their changing book-selling landscape, their elusive algorithms, the near impossible discoverability on their search engines, and how difficult it is to make sure I’m getting paid correctly. I’m very much aware of pirate sites and scammers hanging around on Amazon and stealing MY money. And I am aware Kindle Unlimited is flawed. But I had no idea just HOW flawed. I have been apparently (and blissfully) clueless of scammers that are also authors. Clueless of clickfarms. Clueless of the unethical manipulations of popular Amazon lists—the coveted lists that also help spread author names and titles to more Amazon readers. This not only affects hard-working (starving) authors, it affects readers, too. So why isn’t Amazon doing anything about it?

Read more (in detail) here on this post by David Gaughran and what we can do to make changes (she says with only a shred of hope).

https://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2017/07/15/scammers-break-the-kindle-store/


Link of the Week – Smashwords + Overdrive

June 3, 2014

smashwords-logoFor those of you who are Indie authors or are considering going indie…

Smashwords has now teamed up with Overdrive. Overdrive is the distributor of ebooks to 90% of the libraries in the US. For someone like me who has taken the long route to get into my local library, this is a big deal. 

http://blog.smashwords.com/2014/05/smashwords-and-overdrive-to-bring.html


Cherry Popping and Fizzle

May 22, 2014

Song of the Day: Shine by Sevendust

My cherry has been popped and I can’t help but feel, well, screwed. Last week, I attended the Romantic Times Booklovers Convention in New Orleans. I’m no longer a RT virgin. Don’t get me wrong. I had an AMAZING time. The workshops, panels, socials, and meeting readers, had palpable energy and excitement, and all in the heart of New Orleans. It was crazy, fantastic. (Pictures of shenanigans coming soon!) I’m looking forward to attending again next year in Dallas.

SI ExifBeing a reader’s convention, I attended to meet and connect with readers. And I met some wonderful readers both young and old. But one of the focuses involving readers is the Giant Book Fair. This is where I feel cheated.

Let me explain. The Book Fair was split up into two rooms—one for the traditionally published and one for the digital first, small press and indie authors, such as myself. In a way, the separation made business sense because of administration. The traditional published books fall into the returnable category, meaning books sold could be returned to a bookstore—in this case Barnes & Noble, being the bookstore handling the fair. The indie, small press, digital first authors were selling their books on consignment. So in one room, B&N handled the sales, while in the other room the sales were handled by RT staff. I had no real beef with the set-up except that it made for long, nightmarish check-out lines for readers.

Call me naive, but the separation of authors didn’t become apparent to me until I actually arrived at RT and looked at the brochure. Being a virgin, I didn’t immediately recognize the problem. Not until the first few minutes of the signing did it become painfully clear.

From my vantage at my itty bitty table space, I could see hordes of people being ushered into the “main” ballroom, stuffing them in, really. No one, save a few friends and business associates, meandered into our room.

It was awkward. It was dismal. Questions of failure and suckiness flitted through my mind (and I wasn’t the only one). But not more than the shitty feeling of insignificance. This was compounded by the constant announcements reminding readers to visit the indie room, and the ill-informed volunteer who, bless her heart, explained to readers which ballroom to find the traditional authors and which to find the “aspiring authors”. Yeah…  I’ll let that sink in. It was even suggested (IE announced overhead) the indie authors needed to be patient as we wanted it that way, meaning we chose consignment thereby choosing separation.

So for 3+ hours, potential new readers and fans never made it to my table. Or by the time they drifted in, they’d spent their money in the other room. Frustration and disappointment abounded.RT book signing

The money spent on any conference or convention—registrations, travel, meals, incidentals and dollars spent on promo and swag—will garner no ROI, return on investment. It’s a truth. What I do expect from a readers convention is connecting with fans and discoverability. Hard to do when relegated to the kiddie table.

So what’s the solution? I’ve heard many opinions. One suggestion was to separate authors by genres only, not publishing criteria, making it easier for readers of that genre to find books they’d love. They do it with YA, after all. Another suggestion was to have the traditional published books and the consignment books held at different book fair time slots. And yet another approach I’ve heard several times is to have consignment authors sell their book directly from their table using a mobile point-of-sale tool like Square. I, personally, don’t like the idea of using a Square. From a consumer standpoint, I wouldn’t want to do this kind of buying with every author I’d want to purchase from. Human nature dictates that I’d feel like I’m spending a lot of money and I’d limit myself. All these ideas have their pros and cons, and they ultimately still separate the authors.

There doesn’t seem to be one right way that wouldn’t be without problems. But perhaps a page could be taken from the Romance Writers of America’s literacy book signing. It’s alphabetical regardless of how the authors are published, all the authors are in one room, and all payments are handled by the staff. Surely a compromise in payment administrations could be reached.

All that said, I wholeheartedly appreciate the hard work put in by RT volunteers, staff and organizers. With 700 signing authors and swarms of readers, pulling off the book fair was no easy feat. Let’s just hope lessons are learned and faulty judgment are not repeated. Otherwise, my cherry may find somewhere else to get love.

Thoughts? Comments?


Link of the Week – Indie Vs. Trad Publishing

January 28, 2014

smileyThere was quite an exchange last week On the blog A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing between  mystery, horror, thriller author Joe Konrath, who just so happens to be a huge advocate and pioneer for self-publishing, and Kensington CEO and President Steve Zacharius. It was an open, polite, matter-of-fact, Q&A about indie publishing versus trad publishing, including candid talk of sales numbers,  marketing, success or lack thereof in both markets, Amazon, pricing, cover art, and necromancers and muppets (you have to read it to know why), to name a few. Though they agreed to disagree on so many of the topics, Zacharius seemed to be genuinely curious as to the appeal of the rising tide in self-publishing and Konrath, in his usual wit, answered solidly.

No matter how you publish, this post is a great source of information. Just be prepared. The post was updated four times. Get your favorite beverage and curl up. It’s  a long read.

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2014/01/questions-from-steve-zacharius-ceo-and.html

Jenn!


Link of the Week – Gumroad

January 21, 2014

I admit, I find this week’s link intriguing. But I have no experience with the site.

Gumroad is “for independent writers, designers, game developers, musicians, artists, filmmakers, and anyone in-between.” It is a web service, a site for selling directly to your audience, a social toolkit, and is user friendly for both the vendor and the consumer. It’s a one-size fits all, including users Bon Jovi and Coldplay.

gumroadLearn more about Gumroad here.

https://gumroad.com/

https://gumroad.com/guide/basics/is-gumroad-for-me

https://gumroad.com/guide/basics/your-first-product

https://gumroad.com/features/customers


Talk Back: Does Facebook make you an unhappy writer?

August 19, 2013

On my Kindle: Stay by Candi Wall

Talk Back – Tell us how you write!

There was a French research that came out not too long ago which showed that people who spent a lot of time on Facebook tended to be less happy and satisfied with their lives than people not using the social media site.

People tend to show only the best side of themselves on social media, and admit it, beside cat memes, there are a whole lot of pictures of exotic holidays, family graduations and other milestones, adorable babies and luscious meals from various eateries on people’s feed.

Seeing those constantly, made it seems as if our friends have these perfect glamorous and successful lives when ours is just, well, normal.

When it comes to writers, I wonder if the same is true. Seeing series of beautiful cover reveal, news of new contract sales, positive reviews and pictures of writers frolicking with cover model may seems to us as if all our writer friends are having this wonderful party of success to which we are not invited.

Personally, with almost 5000 friends, a big chunk of them writers, it can seems at time like that. While I toil away at writing my little chapter, Facebook makes it sound like everyone is having successes after successes with nothing but exciting news.

And seeing those statuses, I find, is both good and bad for my spirit. I noticed that when I limit my time on Facebook to a few minutes a day, seeing my friends happy news makes me happy and super motivated.

However, scrolling down for over an hour will see me frustrated that my career is stalling.

It’s all a question of balance.

What about you? Are you on Facebook? How do you react to gazillions happy news from all your friend? A tiny wee bit jealous? Frustrated? Or needed to keep you on track?

I’m curious, let me know!

Much love,
Marie-Claude xoxox

Location:Seattle


To DRM or Not To DRM?

July 3, 2013

Song of the Day: Almost Easy by Avenged Sevenfold

To DMR or not to DMR? That is the question.

DMR, Digital Rights Management, is technology used to limit the use of digital material and the devices that material is viewed, listened to, played, or watched. Bear with me here, it’s like an encrypted code that padlocks books, movies, music, and games from being shared, copied, printed, or resold illegally. In other words, it is supposed to prevent piracy.

In theory, controlling the use of digital material after the initial sale can be a good thing. In theory. The problem lies with the fact that it is easy to strip these access controls from a book. Thus not slowing down those who wish to share or pirate a book. Don’t ask me how. I’ve no experience with technology in these matters. In fact, a group of acrobatic trained monkeys are typing this post for me.

RF getty monkeyDMR proponents argue that these locks protect the intellectual property from being copied. It keeps the content from being altered and converting it to other formats. All in effort to curb illegal activity and maintain revenue ends up where it belongs—in the author’s pocket.

Opponents call foul, saying that it limits activity between stores and devices. Those who lawfully purchase a book are restricted from doing things that are legal under the fair use laws, including making a book readable on a e-reader that may not have supported the format it was purchased from. This inconveniences many consumers. More importantly, legitimate customers might be surprised they don’t actually own the book, DVD, music, or game they bought.  Remember when Amazon remotely deleted in mass George Orwell’s 1984 and Animal Farm from every Kindle with the purchased books without the owners’ consents? Yeah, well, that’s the case in point.

Now, there is a new DRM meant to allay both sides of the debate. Well, only part of the debate. Small changes are made within each book sold—a varying punctuation mark, an alternate word replacement—and serve as a ‘digital watermark’. You can read more about this new DRM here in an article from Wired Magazine.

It’s all very interesting. I am glad to see proactive measures are taken against piracy. But there is so much more to this story. There is so much more to DRM, both good and bad. In my opinion, if a criminal wants something bad enough, they get it no matter what safeguards are in place.

What are your thoughts? Are you for or against DRM? What do you think of the new DRM changing your words, your story? As a reader, would this bother you?