Showing posts with label Amazon. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Amazon. Show all posts

Monday 25 November 2019

Reading, Writing, Learning and Improving...

Only a month to Christmas Day and I've just started thinking about all that I need to do.

Usually that's because November is busy with family birthdays so I don't think about the festive season until they're over.

I'm determined to get the Christmas cards into the post sooner rather than the last few posting days- which usually happens.

Since I received my readers report back from the RNA's New Writers' Scheme I've read it again and analysed what I need to concentrate on this time- I've identified my weak spots...

There are other aspects in the historical that need further thought, so while I resolve those, I'm going ahead with my original plan to do my contemporary romance idea for the 2020 NWS.

So, I've been learning more about character arcs which has helped me understand the issues with my historical romance protagonists- and for my contemporary where I'd gone astray in the first draft.

I've got a better understanding of beats in the three act structure, but need to work on the middle 50% of the story.

Our Uninvited Guests: The Secret Life of Britain's Country Houses 1939-45 by [Summers, Julie]
Image from
As I've been able to set the new story up on Scrivener from the start (rather than half way through) it's given me time to identify changes I hadn't considered before, but need.

The good news is the first 25% of this one is doing what it should do, so I've begun the rewrite on those chapters, while I continue the outstanding research items.

My current reading is Our Uninvited Guests by Julie Summers.

It was pure chance that a Google search led to a mention of it in an article; then I searched for it on Amazon to find the kindle e-book on offer for 99 pence- a definite sign I should buy it! (It's now £3.99.)

An interesting read too.

It does have relevance; indirectly...

Have you ever gone looking for a book and found it's on offer just when you need it for research?

Monday 14 October 2019

When Amazon's KDP Met East Midlands Writers...

East Midlands writers heard from Darren Hardy, manager of the KDP UK (kindle direct publishing) at an event organised via the Society of Authors last Thursday evening.

They held the event at The Nottingham Mechanics- the regular venue for Nottingham Writers' Club meetings, so this was a local and a great opportunity to attend.

This was only the second time KDP had run this session so they're still refining the event and learning from each one.

Though I'm not sure Mr Hardy was quite prepared for the RNA members attending.

Basically, it was KDP promoting and showing how easy it was to self publish with them and generate up to 70% in digital and up to 60% in print on demand royalties.

They provided a helpful A4 handout with relevant details and URLs and examples of royalty calculations.

For those who had not used KDP there was a run-through of the process, though the images on the screen were not large enough to read the text from a distance, it was explained and key aspects highlighted.

Apparently the help button on the dashboard connects to a tech team whose only job is to sort out the technical issues or queries writers may have during the process. There are also webinars, which if you can't watch at the time they're running, you can access later via the video library.

Questions were raised during part one and more again with the part two content.

There were insights into Author Central and how the writer could use their profile. Their suggestion that authors should link all their social media accounts to their Amazon author profile was met with scepticism by some audience members; I raised the question of algorithms and writers losing reviews, or being banned from leaving reviews.

Mr H said this was only when there was a financial connection, a gift card or cash had been paid for a review. He said that if an author contacted them about disappearing reviews, they would look at it. A human would look at it...

Sadly, he did not appear to believe that authors were losing reviews when they'd done nothing wrong, but as they would not tell the writer the actual reason for review removal, and consequently not reinstate them (some are); it was not a satisfactory answer.

But the audience were also told to contact the Society of Authors with the details of when and what had been removed, so the Society could feed that back to KDP. He admitted that there had been a glitch last year, and they had reinstated those reviews but was unaware of any recently.

There were complaints of cover colour inconsistency from the print on demand service, but again there was no explanation, just let the Society of Authors know as well to feed it back.

Four RNA members I know of had received damaged books in the last few months because of poor packaging, including one sent back by the carrier, before it got to the author, because of the state it was in. It appeared Mr H was unaware of these type of complaints.

Another attendee asked about the get 50 reviews and visibility improves. That isn't right, we were told. It's the metadata, so using the best categorisation and effective keywords in relation to the book is the important thing.

There are some promotions that authors can be invited to take part in, but, unlike those occasions when Amazon reduces the price but the author still gets their set royalty rate, the invited promotions will be at a reduced royalty rate...

KDP encourage writers to set up their author central profile on each of the Amazon sites, but they have to be done individually, so sign in, apparently using your normal Amazon log-in details, and complete your profile for each one. Cut and paste is the only shortcut for this.

Print & e-book...
There's more but hopefully you'll get the opportunity to attend their future events in other parts of the country, so sign up to the Society of Authors non-members newsletter- if you haven't done so, as this was how I heard the news of this free event and booked.
While I learnt a few useful things, I went away disappointed.

The KDP manager was not as well briefed as he could have been, so when he couldn't really answer the negative issues writers raised, it showed and suggested, right or wrong, that KDP thought everything was rosy.

Hopefully, he'll take back those negatives and get them resolved.

The good news is that one RNA writer who had received damaged books a couple of months ago, received her latest author copies in good condition and better packing. So maybe there's hope for solutions.

If KDP do more of this event, hopefully, they'll be able to answer any difficult questions writers raise.

All that said, any opportunity to hear from KDP direct is to be welcomed...

Sunday 11 December 2016

Not Long To Go...

A gem of a book...

Not long to go has a few meanings.

Christmas is of course fast approaching, and this coming Wednesday it's Awards Night at the writers' club.

I may have a few photos I can share next week...

College and Uni finish this coming Friday so I'll have a houseful from next weekend until early New Year. As much as I love my brood, it does mean any quiet time to write is reduced to a dripping tap that quickly gets fixed.

So there will only be a couple more posts until after Christmas.

Meanwhile I've been considering ideas for both my blog and Serena's.

I've also been catching up on my reading while I've had a spare ten minutes, or while waiting for appointments...

One of my recommended reads that would make an ideal Christmas present is From Story Idea to Reader by Patsy Collins and Rosemary J. Kind. And it's not because I know the authors.

This is a book I wish had been around when I first started writing, as it has a friendly and very comfortable and clear style; but there are sections more experienced writers can dip into that inspire me, and (new to me) techniques to try out. It's available on Kindle and as a paperback via Createspace, either from Alfie Dog (see link below) or Amazon.

I haven't finished reading it yet as I've not had enough free-time, so that's another delight to come over the holidays.

Earlier this year Patsy guest posted about using Createspace to turn her e-book novels and short story collections into paperbacks; and Rosemary is the owner and editor of Alfie Dog Fiction.

If you're in the UK and are signed up to Goodreads then there's an opportunity to win a copy. Click here.

I still have a number of photos to finish sorting and labelling up too, and I want to get a few blog posts written up for those busy times...

More soon...

Thursday 22 September 2016


Admittedly, first thing in the morning my motivation is poor, but once I've had breakfast, and my muscles have warmed up properly, my motivation gets going.

As I've been editing a story for a club competition, I could see what I needed to cut, and asked myself, what was my character's motivation for what they're doing.
Getting Motivated...

I think I've got to the core of the problem.

I'm going to write down the motivations for my main characters in my Nottinghamshire story. Although I think I know what they are, I've never actually written them down.

Reading this useful post on the Writers Helping Writers site, it got me thinking about my current hero and heroine's motivations, and those of my 'villain' too. So I'll be taking time to check that I've not missed any of the points mentioned in that Character Motivation post...

Like any writer I have a few essential (writing) reference books that get regular use: a dictionary and my Cassell Dictionary of Word Histories; and when I'm trying to grasp particular aspects of my characters, but I'm unsure of whether one is more suitable than the other, then I will dip into The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression, or The Negative Trait Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Flaws.

I have the Kindle version of Emotion Amplifiers too- it's a free e-book.

But however useful these books are, it still comes down to me, sitting down at my desk and tapping away at the keyboard to get the stories written.

So I'm off to get on with finishing the short story- motivation on full throttle...

image courtesy of supakitmod &

Sunday 10 April 2016

Coming Up on Tuesday- My Guest Takes the Next Step...

As I've had a very heavy day with computer updates, I'm a little late in sharing some very exciting news.

This week both posts will be courtesy of my guest, blogger Patsy Collins.

Patsy is a wonderful writer with numerous short stories (and collections) to her credit, and a number of novels, including her most recent, (it features a hunky fireman) Firestarter.

It was Patsy who encouraged me to finish and send off my cake-related short story to one of the women's magazines- more about that in the summer.

Patsy Collins
Patsy Collins
Patsy is also my writing buddy, and the purple-loving writer behind the very useful womagwriter's blog.

On Tuesday, Patsy will be discussing the advantages/disadvantages of taking your self-published work beyond the kindle e-book and into print, using Createspace.

Then on Thursday, you can discover more about the actual process, with useful tips and links to help you take that next step.

You'll still have to do all the work, but Patsy's experience may help you decide whether it's for you...

And to top it all off there's an offer you won't be able to resist.

So pop back on Tuesday to find out more...

Saturday 12 January 2013

I'm Back...Just.

Hello everyone, I'm finally feeling near normal and my head is clearer, so I can now concentrate to write and hopefully make sense...

I've done quite a bit of reading over the last two weeks, and have to say that my kobo e-reader has been a wonderful companion- thank goodness for the adjustable font size.

If you have your e-book/s on Smashwords then you'll also be likely to find it on the Kobo bookstore- so don't forget to tell your potential readers about it.
Yes, it will cost more than buying as a kindle book, but there are a lot of readers who don't have a Kindle- they want to avoid Amazon, but may instead have a Kobo, Sony or Nook e-reader, or one of the numerous types of tablet devices that you can read e-books on.

With e-books the first few chapters in a preview can make the difference in whether the  book becomes a purchase, or a potential reader is put off for ever.

Basically it's just like your first three chapters having to impress an editor or agent to make them want to read the rest of your manuscript...

I may have said this before, but I've found some of the previews I've downloaded sadly lacking, compared to others. And the lacking ones were not always the self-published e-books.

If the accompanying blurb (whatever the fiction genre) interests me, then I'll download the preview; if I like that, then I'll buy the book. Sadly I've found, in a dozen books so far this month, the blurb promised much, but the writing wasn't engaging- to me personally.

So here's a few of my recent purchases after reading the previews: 'The Real Katie Lavender' by Erica James; 'A Winter's Tale' by Trisha Ashley (I've bought a few of her previous Christmas tales and enjoyed them, but this was a little different ); and an Agatha Christie, Miss Marple short story, 'Strange Jest'.

I've also bought and read a few short stories and novellas by some of my favourite romance authors, and story collections by other blogging writers, and this is where e-books do come into their own.

Short stories, or collections of short stories, and novellas- which wouldn't have been considered by a print publisher unless you were a 'name', are now able to reach a wider (and appreciative) audience via e-books.

Writer Maggie Cobbett has just released her first collection of short stories on the theme of murder with a humorous edge- 'Anyone for Murder And Other Crime Stories' on Kindle. One reviewer said they were the sort of stories you could read in 5-8 minutes when you didn't have time for a full chapter of a book, and they do have a 'twist in the tale'.

Digital has giving writers opportunities that previously they could only dream about.

No, it isn't easy, but nothing worthwhile ever is...

Wednesday 2 January 2013

Amazon Has No Right to Decide "Perceived" "Close Personal Relationship" for Reviews

You'll all remember last year's 'sock puppetry' scandal, when it was revealed that RJ Ellory had been leaving bad reviews on rivals books on Amazon; while others had been leaving good reviews on their books using alternative names/e-mail addresses.

Most writers would not be so unethical as to deliberately give bad reviews to fellow writers' books. Basically they would give an honest review good or bad, or if it's really bad, tell the author privately, if they can.

But now it seems Amazon have applied a sledgehammer approach and are taking it upon themselves to decide writers' close relationships with fellow writers of the same genre.

I think we all thought the reviews that were being removed before Christmas on were aimed at self-published or independent publishers, where friends and fellow writers were likely to post reviews-usually after reading the book.

But it seems 'names' are annoyed too.

Today's Bookseller online has a piece, 'Authors Angry over Amazon review crackdown' worth reading- if you haven't already.

I missed this Telegraph article over Christmas on the subject.

Amazon seem to have decided that they are going to judge whether the writer of a review is "perceived" to have a "close personal relationship" with rivals.

On what basis do they decide that one person appears to have a close personal relationship with the writer of a book they've reviewed?

Do they define it by the other person following and commenting on your blog, or website, or perhaps talking to you on Facebook? Or do you have to actually have met them in real life- and there's online photographic evidence?

Have Amazon never heard of workshops and writing conferences?
A lot of writers become friends at such events and keep in touch, even though they may have never met them before, or never meet them again, merely exchange comments on social media.

If I was considering buying a book on the basis of the reviews, I'm more likely to find the reviews posted are by fellow writers from within the same genre, or genuine fans of the writer's work- who aren't going to say it's good when it really is bad, and can highlight the strengths and weaknesses.

Why should Amazon decide my views on a book/genre aren't valid merely because they could consider I have a "perceived" "close personal relationship" with a writer of the same genre?

If Amazon want to be stupid then they will have to realise, some people will stop posting reviews and will post them on other numerous book sites, and sales may follow.

One writer on Facebook yesterday complained a good review on her book had been removed. It had been posted by the partner of someone she knew, though she herself didn't know the person who'd done the review, the book had been a Christmas gift and absolutely nothing to do with the author in any way. CORRECTION: The circumstances were a misunderstanding on my part and I apologise to the writer involved. It appears the reviewer stated that the book had been a present from his partner.
But the case still stands as the author had no connection with either the buyer, or reviewer.

If Amazon wants reviewers to declare if they know the person whose book they have reviewed, I would have no problem with that.

Publishers send review copies of new books out. Perhaps newspaper book sections should start carrying a warning, 'this review is the result of a free review copy'. But I don't see this happening anytime soon...

Have you found previously published Amazon reviews of your books missing?

What do you think of this situation?

Or just share your thoughts...


Monday 31 December 2012

Not Got an E-Reader Yet?

Yes, I'm back...

E-readers seem to have been a popular Christmas present again this year, but I think Christmas 2012 will have seen the biggest choice of devices available.

In the UK the choice has previously been Kindle or Sony- despite Sony readers having been available first, they couldn't compete with the Kindle once it became available to UK readers.

(You may even have taken to reading your e-books on your smart phone...)

But this year there's been an explosion of devices available from new e-readers to tablets.

Publishers have finally got their act together this year too.
You can buy e-books direct from many publisher now- the big mainstream publishers will likely cost more than you'd pay at Amazon, but buying direct from a small independent publisher is a great way of discovering new writers and supporting these important organisations too.

Tablet devices were selling well before Christmas, as they offered the practicality of reading books and being able to access the Internet (though you are paying a higher price).

In October I bought my kobo glo and I'm really happy with it. (It has much better battery life than the first generation Sony e-reader I had.) With the adjustable font and text size, along with the front light, it's great for reading in the car as daylight fades- I couldn't do that with my previous reader.

How do you choose the right e-reader for you if you're finally venturing into e-books? The answer is as usual, research.

Don't be put off by the variety of technology discussed on the TechRadar website, it has some interesting reviews on Tablet devices and e-readers, so type in the name of the device you're interested in finding out about in the search box and go from there.

There are lots of online reviews available, so compare views.

You can try out Kindles in Waterstones book stores, and Kobos in WH Smith's. In fact wherever e-readers (of whatever make) are sold instore you'll find them on display to try out. (Talking the UK here.)

This Christmas (over 3 days) I read 2.25 novels, and at least 10 previews of books I was interested in. It was lovely to spend Boxing Day curled up on the sofa reading - and my books didn't get bent or creased by something resting on top of them in my bag...

I do still buy paper books- just ask my family - but you can't beat e-books and readers for space saving. :-)

Happy New Year...

Monday 3 December 2012

The Writing World This Week...

Looking at the current book/magazine related news does seem to be popular, so I thought I'd start the week with bringing you a few snippets.

Easy Reads/My Weekly Pocket Novels- look out for more changes in this market. Sally Quilford has an update on her blog today- here. It seems the new Easy Reads are not continuing, but it doesn't appear that everything is going in reverse.

(This news may actually work for both the magazine readers and writers.)

Perhaps the changes that were made were too big. Especially in the current book and magazine markets where everyone is competing, trying to keep costs down and attract new readers. Regular readers can get forgotten about.

Kindle Book Pricing - came across an interesting couple of blog posts that will interest writers who are putting their work on Amazon's Kindle.

Do you have to keep your selling price low to get sales?

The Luzme blog looked at the top 30 Kindle best sellers and compared to there lowest price the previous week. See this post here.

Today's Luzme post looks at the paper copies and cost. Read it here. You will certainly understand why publishers seem to be having pricing issues of solid books vs e-books.

Don't forget VAT is charged on e-books, and not on solid books.

Which leads into a brief mention about e-book VAT  challenges on the Bookseller. Following up a few links I found an article from late October that sets out the consequences if the challenge to the UK's HMRC (HM Revenue and Customs service) succeeds- solid books may cost more.
Read the article here.

I'm sure that's enough to be going on with for now. :-)

Friday 10 August 2012

More Waterstones, 'Dear Agent' and an Agatha Cristie Moment...

You may remember that's my post last weekend mentioned that book seller Waterstones were changing their store guidance on events in response to complaints, and also 'handselling' authors.
If you missed the item you can read it here.

Well today the Bookseller website has an article saying that the Society of Authors (SoA) and Waterstones are "engaged in dialogue" about creating a list of guidelines.

(Sadly the article is only available to subscribers (with a subscription cost of £186) so we'll have to wait for public release of information at some point in the future, either by Waterstones or the Society of Authors.)

Unfortunately I'm not yet within the eligibility criteria for even Associate Membership of SoA, but it's an organisation worth joining if you're eligible...

*   *   *

If you've bought and read any of Nicola Morgan's books, or e-books ('Write to be Published'; 'Tweet Right'; and 'Write A Great Synopsis') then you'll know her books are invaluable for the serious writer- and worth every penny.

Well today (Friday) is the publication day of her latest e-book, 'Dear Agent'. For this weekend it is only 77p on, so a great opportunity to get a helpful advice in clear language that we can all understand and act upon.

It's also available on here.

Agents better watch out, because they're going to be receiving some sharp submissions as a result of this e-book.

I've only had enough time for a brief scan, but I'm looking forward to having some quiet to read it and absorb the advice.

*   *   *

E L James may be selling million of her 50 Shades trilogy, but she can't compete with the Queen of crime fiction, Agatha Cristie- she's apparently sold 4 billion books, and not only is it in Braille but in 50 different languages...

"Westminster council this week granted planning permission for a statue, designed by sculptor Ben Twiston-Davies, to be erected. It will be placed in the heart of Covent Garden, between Great Newport Street and Cranbourn Street. The location, in the middle of London's theatreland, was chosen to represent Christie's contribution to the stage." (The Guardian Books)

Good to hear of a statue being put up to celebrate a writer, rather than some strange obelisk of modern sculpture.

Have a good weekend.

Friday 13 April 2012

Agency Model Revisited...

It's been quite difficult to keep up with the almost daily changes going on in relation to Apple, the big name publishers, e-books and the 'Agency Model'.

At the moment there's no final news on the results of the investigation being undertaken by the European Commission (on whether any competition laws have been infringed by agency model pricing).

But earlier this week the US Department of Justice filed papers alleging conspiracy, by Apple and five US publishers, over fixing e-book prices.
Obviously the publishers refuted this and Apple's spokesman denied any collusion.

Now, I'm inclined to accept they didn't actually get together and agree to fix prices- after all they're competitors in one way. But obviously once one publisher does something major, the others are bound to look at it and quickly follow suit without reference to their fellow publishers, just to avoid being put at a disadvantage in the market...

And they probably all share the desire to get one up on Amazon, just to get a little control back...

Three publishers quickly settled with the DoJ and agreed terms- read this piece in the Bookseller explaining.

Meanwhile four publishers have apparently offered a deal to the EC.

While there's a split between those publishers who've agreed to their agency terms being modified, and the remainder who are holding out, surely Amazon will take advantage?

You can read Alison Flood's concerns in the Guardian, 'The Apple ebook price-fixing lawsuit has terrifying implications'.

If your head is spinning from all those links, then you'll find this extensive piece, 'Agency is dead, long live new agency' by Phillip Jones rounding up all the information, with essential quotes and links, plus the implications of these changes, useful.

I can see 2012 is going to prove very interesting...

Saturday 3 March 2012

Infidelity and 'Forced Seduction' in Historical Romance Novels...

I decided to blog about character behaviour after reading a couple of items on the Heroes and Heartbreakers website- they came up on Twitter links; then today I was in my local Waterstones branch glancing through a couple of new romances, and one of them brought these articles to mind.

The issues of infidelity, and 'forced seduction' (so wrong, in so many ways) have more relevance to historical than contemporary romance fiction. And perhaps mostly related to books produced for the US romance market.

A romance novel doesn't have to have a sex scene- or more than one of them- to make a good story with believable characters. But some of those characters will do it- it's part of who they are and it would be daft to deny it.

Personally I consider it's up to the individual  author whether they show that aspects of their characters. In my stories, sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. My characters are usually quite clear about that point in their developing relationship.

Women today have freedoms and advantages that their sisters in earlier centuries didn't; so I don't feel it's right to apply modern day thinking to stories set in the past.

So let's start with Infidelity.

Here's Limecello's piece on the H&H website: 'When Going Strange...Isn’t: Adultery in Romance'.

Read any social history of the aristocracy covering 200-300 years ago and you'll quickly discover that infidelity was accepted if it was carried out discreetly. A number of  younger aristocratic children were actually fathered by other men- not the man whose surname they carried through life.

The ideal is fidelity within marriage- I believe in that myself. 

But in the circumstances of the two novels mentioned in the article, I could understand and agree it's not infidelity- when both partners know and agree to the situation for their own reasons.

Yes it goes against my personal view, but I can't impose my morality on another writer's characters/story.
If a storyline offends me, or just doesn't appeal, then I won't buy the book.

'Forced Seduction' is another thing entirely... It truly belongs in the past of the so called Bodice Rippers- horrid description.

Here's a list on Amazon that gives you an idea of some of the titles from the last thirty years- and yes I can confirm that over the years I've read a few of them- especially those by Johanna Lindsey...

Sexual violence against any woman is wrong. Sexual coercion is wrong. Seduction is not coercion.

( I'm not including erotica, bondage and associated preferences in this category, as it's legal and it's between consenting adults.)

I have to say that the line between coercion and seduction can be very thin for some writers. As I saw today when I was looking through the improved romance section in my local Waterstones.

I picked up a book by a US author whose name I recognised (but her stories have not appealed to me previously) and after reading the blurb on the back of the book, I did my standard routine of opening the book a couple of times at random pages and reading on.

Unfortunately I found myself on part of the story where this very thin line between coercion and seduction was on show. Perhaps it was tied up with the author's word choices in that scene, but I decided not to buy it.

Fortunately there are still a lot of good books from both the UK and US on the romance shelves that don't see the need to walk that fine line...

Thursday 26 January 2012

New source of E-Book Romances...

More publishers are expanding their market for romance novels in e-book form.

Last September Random House's Ebury imprint launched Rouge- their digital romance list. Books went straight to digital rather than the traditional print copy first.

Now Piatkus is launching Entice, their digital romance list with some books moving to print versions later.
Other romance sub-genres will follow, so there will be something for everyone who loves 'romance'.

A number of popular romance novelists whose books are published in the US, have had UK editions with Piatkus- they're the larger size paperbacks you see in the Romance section shelves of Waterstones. Among them authors Stephanie Laurens (who was a Mills and Boon historical author for a number of years), Jayne Ann Krentz and Mary Balogh.

Besides reissues, it looks like it is going to be an influx of books by American authors, but just as it seems to be difficult for a UK romance author to get their books published in an American edition, it's probably just as difficult the other way round too.

The romance reader is certainly going to have a lot to choose from. But is it neccesarily going to be good for the unpublished romance writers in the UK?

It will be interesting to see what happens...

Saturday 21 January 2012

KDP Select- Is it For You?

I know a few writers who have put their Kindle Direct Publishing books into this scheme and have seen a good response to their fiction and have recommended it.

But is it worth signing your KDP book up to the lending scheme?

If you haven't heard of the scheme or have and aren't sure if it's for you, then you'll find this article by author Caroline McCray (on the Publishing Perspectives website) a useful introduction.

Basically you are taking part in a lending scheme. US Amazon Prime members can borrow a book once a month and if it's your book you will get money from the Kindle Owners Lending Library Fund-you need to read how this is worked out.

But like everything, with advantages there are also disadvantages...

You have to offer exclusivity to KDP Select. So if you sell your e-book via your website, Smashwords or any other place, you'll not be able to for the 90 days you're signed up to KDP Select.
If you are selling your book in a hard copy, or any other (non-digital) format, you don't have the same restriction on selling elsewhere.

I can see that the scheme would mean your work would reach a wider audience- and we all know how word of mouth can sell books- but you can't absolutely guarantee it will result in more sales. For many it has, but there are probably books that don't or get very few.

It could be seen in some eyes as Amazon having found another method of dominating the book market.
But, when even agented (new) writers are not being taken on, because publishers seem to be wanting 'exceptional' books, you can't blame a writer for doing whatever they can to get their books to willing readers...

Friday 16 December 2011

If You Use Amazon Community Forums to Promote- Read This Now...

A few months back I mentioned the problems some writers were having with promoting their books on the forums- where even a mention of your book within a discussion could get you banned.

So this announcement from Amazon is very important. Read the statement here. It applies from the 15th December- yesterday. Thanks to Carol Arnall for bringing it to my attention.

"Shameless self-promotion activity will be limited to the `Meet Our Authors' community. Promotional threads outside of these forums will be removed. " (Extract from the statement from the Amazon Community Team.)

Now forgive me for being naive, but how will you make readers aware of your books without shameless self-promotion?

You can add your views here.

Will potential buyers arriving at Amazon be given the option to go to the Meet Our Authors section? Probably not, until Amazon see a large section of their market not performing to their calculations, or they get complaints...

Will readers realise that it is for them too? Not every reader is aware of how much information there is available beyond the main information pages.

As Amazon haven't distinguished between the different genres some wise writers have started posts for specific genres, which should help any readers who venture in looking for book information.

But I have to say this really is the wrong time of year to make a major change like this.

Writers do have lives beyond writing and promoting their books, so having to begin updating one of their promotional outlets in the week before Christmas is not good.

If you know of fellow writers who use Amazon forums to promote their books then spread the word, as I'm sure there will still be a few writers unaware.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

The OFT Decision on the Amazon/Book Depository Merger is a Disappointment...

I think there are a lot of readers and writers who will disappointed today; the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) has cleared Amazon in its intention to take over the Book Depository. They will not be referring the take-over to the Competition Commission.

You can read this article on the Bookseller website that explains some of the reasoning for this decision.

The Booksellers Association, one of a number of organisations who sent representations to the OFT during the consultation period this summer, are concerned that Amazon could put its competitors out of business, now the take-over has got the go-ahead.

"Tim Godfray, chief executive of the BA, said: “ Amazon now has even more power to put its bookseller competitors out of business and, having done that, it will be in an excellent position to increase prices and/or reduce choice.” "
The BA website didn't have anything about the OFT decision in the news section of their website at the time I posted this, so here's to The Bookseller again.

I'd be very surprised if Amazon hadn't been preparing for the merger in the meantime, so I don't expect its completion to take too long now.

Amazon features in the financial news today, with the announcement that their third quarter's profits have slumped (that's July to September) - likely due to their investment in the new Kindle devices, Fire and Touch.

This time next year it may be an entirely different situation.

So for those book buyers who don't want to buy from Amazon, now is the time to support small booksellers, or go to the publisher and buy direct from them- a lot of them are offering this now.

Friday 2 September 2011

Ever Had One of Those Days?

Finally I've got some time to post.

It isn't just me that has been having one of those days- when things just don't go as you planned.

A few days ago The Bookseller announced that the expected result of whether the OFT (Office of Fair Trading) will refer the merger of Amazon and The Book Depository to the Competition Commission  was being delayed until Friday 2nd September, rather than the end of August as expected.

Then on Thursday further delays were announced. No reason has been given and the list of merger cases on the OFT's website just shows the date as to be confirmed (TBC). They generally state that
" the timetable of a given case may change during the merger assessment process due to different reasons."

The merger attracted widespread opposition from many writing and publishing related organisations. I'm sure many individuals would have voiced their concerns too.

* * *

Meanwhile high street bookseller Waterstones (now under new ownership) announced that they will no longer be running their 3 for 2 promotions.

Seems a lot of people, me included, only ever found two books they wanted. I found that less of a problem with the 3 for 2 in children's books.

The scheme that will replace it sounds interesting, but whether it is good for all writers or just some, time will tell...

* * *

I've spent today looking at washing machines. Our current one finally packed up yesterday and it did it with my swimming costume and a number of large towels inside.

My dear other half rescued my costume and hung it up so it would be ready for my aqua class, but there are now a lot of very wet towels to dry, and my new machine will not be delivered until next week...

Sadly the tribulations didn't stop there. I'd just got on the bus (to go to my aqua class) when the traffic ahead slowed to a halt. A flat-bed wagon loaded with large bales of hay had stopped just off the roundabout and partially blocked the slip road my bus had to use.

The bus was going nowhere- too wide for the remaining gap- and as I wasn't going to get to my class in time I got off and went home- that was when I saw the bales on the path and others hanging off the wagon...

The wagon is gone but the escaped hay is now in a big heap, on the top of the banking which runs along the edge of the road, waiting to be retrieved. (If it's still there tomorrow I'll take a photo.)

So at least it wasn't just me having one of those days...

Monday 8 August 2011

Social Networking for Kindle Users...

I'm having difficulty getting onto the computer these past few days- school holidays and the novelty of all the things my family can now do on the computer. I haven't even been able to do any writing!!!! :-(

So I've only just seen this Kindle item on the Bookseller website. Apparently has launched a social networking site for Kindle

Now how useful this could become to both readers and writers is yet to be seen, but it apparently allows users to set up a profile and review books they've read and see public notes made on the book.

We all know how valuable word of mouth recommendations are- even if they are digital and not face to face.

So it will be interesting to see how this progresses and if it spreads further...

Tuesday 5 July 2011

Further News re: Amazon and the Book Depository...

The OFT (Office of Fair Trading) has issued an 'invitation to comment' on the acquisition of The Book Depository by Amazon.

Written representations about any competition or public interest issues can be sent to the OFT- details here. This is open for comment until the 18th July. (They apparently expect to have made a decision on referal by the end of August.)

You can read more on the website.

Obviously the 'invitation to comment' does not necessarily guarantee an investigation, but it's part of the process that leads up to it.

This acquisition could take a long time to occur...

Monday 4 July 2011

Amazon To Acquire the Book Depository...

Amazon is one of those companies that you can choose to avoid, but not anymore...

Yes, they've been a great boon to writers wanting to get their work out to readers via Kindle- but let's not ignore the fact that Amazon benefits from this too- they make money on every sale.

But I was dismayed to read on the website that Amazon " has reached an agreement to acquire The Book Depository". Having seen some of the tweets showing on the BD home page many of their customers weren't too happy either...

Many book buyers choose to use The Book Depository rather than purchase from Amazon- I'm sure many of them refuse because they don't like Amazon's practices.

Amazon has it's place but even I can see this is a liberty too far. There is now no longer (or seems not to be)any real alternative to being able to buy a wide range of books online. They have stopped the serious competition.

Even major booksellers can't compete on price or range when they're up against Amazon.

Perhaps now is the time for publishers to consider their responses to Amazon's cut of the profits. After all if the publisher doesn't have much choice anymore in who they can supply, nor the terms they can agree to sell on, then the readers and especially the writers both suffer...

Hopefully the OFT will look at this. But I doubt it will qualify for investigation by the Mergers Commission as their criteria requires three things and this won't qualify on the "two or more enterprises must cease to be distinct." Amazon will still be Amazon at the end of it...

"In exceptional cases where public interest issues are raised, the Secretary of State may also refer mergers to the CC."

So perhaps the Secretary of State covering arts and the media needs a deluge of letters...

So what do you think?

UPDATE: After I posted the above and went offline the Bookseller website got more information. The Book Depository are saying they will continue to trade independently of Amazon. Read more here.