How and why to use Paper.li

For those who aren’t familiar with Paper.li it’s essentially a ‘newspaper’ about whatever you want to share and it’s easy to use. Simply go to the site and sign up. There are two versions – free and paid. (More on that later.)
Give it a title but think long and hard before choosing one. Don’t make the common mistake of naming it ‘YourName, Author‘ or ‘RomanticTitle Series‘, because using your author name is a giveaway for ‘buy my book’ promotion and if you go off that series track you have to remember to go back and rename your paper.li.  You want to consider it as part of your marketing plan but you don’t want to be obvious about it or no one will read it.
Since I write self-published fantasy, and that’s usually associated with sci-fi, mine references that. And, since no fantasy writer worth their salt shouldn’t also know something about archaeology (to ground their fiction in reality) and people are interested in that science, I reference that, too.
I’m also interested in giving back to other writers and educating them on the common mistakes many writers of fantasy make. Food, for example, was a lot harder to come by, you had to forage for vegetables and fruit, and it took a lot longer to cook. Say you have a character who takes down a bird or a deer. In some fantasy novels, writers roast them on a spit. A bird will take a fair amount of time. A deer is bigger than you think, it takes half a day to roast that way, with frequent turning.  As another example of a common mistake, do you know why ancient peoples used chariots? Because most early horses couldn’t carry a person. Centuries of selective breeding (evolution) created an animal that could. Even so, a horse will take a long period of time, even with its longer legs, to get from point A to point B. More so if hitched to a wagon. And they get tired.
So, back to Paper.li. You can give it certain parameters to search for and feature, but some come with it.

Anyone who says there is one way to write is almost certainly wrong.

In other words, there’s no formula for success as an Indie writer. There will be plenty of people who will tell you different, some will even offer you solutions, software, or fixes, that they promise will make your book great. They will be wrong.

 

 

Somerset Maugham said,

“There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”

That is the truth.

There is no magic wand (if there were more people would be using it) – the magic lies in you.  In your dreams, in your heart and soul. BUT, there is no substitute for the work, for the actual doing of the writing. As Neil Gaiman says, you sit down in a chair and you write, it’s both as easy and as hard as that. Do it for the love of it, to create characters that speak to you, to make worlds real or magical, or dark and terrifying, but that IS the truest magic – the writing. If you have the vision, you’ll make it happen.

There are many people out there who will say they have the crystal ball for making your book sing. They don’t and won’t. A great editor will help make your prose clearer and offer helpful suggetions. The so-called experts? They’ll tell you to write this way, write that style, write to the market, or write to their formula. They might even have software that will do it for you. And that’s exactly what you’ll wind up with – a machine-generated formulaic novel, boring and uninspired – that will lack your unique voice, your unique characters, your creation. Most of those who write to formula – like Harlequin or Mills and Boon Romances – disappear or are forced to reinvent themselves as writers, with varying levels of success. Romances are popular, but the best ones like Outlander, are unique.

Tell your truth, in your unique way, with your unique voice, and you’ll make magic.

There will be plenty of naysayers, doubt-sowers, and advisors – some of whom will charge a pretty penny with the promise of making your book a bestseller.

Any time someone tells you exactly what they think is wrong and what will fix it, it probably won’t. That’s their story, not yours.

For example, no one, when it was written, would have believed that a story about a reanimated corpse would be popular, but it was. The writer – Mary Shelley. She became the mother of science fiction. The book? Frankenstein.

How about a book about a magical world featuring peoples you almost recognize where a terrible force threatens to enslave them all? The Lord of the Rings series – Tolkien. Only Shakepeare had written anything close, but Tolkien created epic/heroic fantasy.

Or a tale of a angsty teenage girl with an ultra-religious mother and abilities she doesn’t understand. Carrie – Stephen King.

Or a suspense-filled, dystopian thriller about people living in silos. Wool/Hugh Howey.

Or a story about an astronaut stranded on Mars – told primarily from his POV.  The Martian by Andy Weir.

Both of those last, by the way, were originally indie/self-published.

In the end, no one can tell you how to write your story. Only you.

 

We’re back! A new look, a new set of blogs and looking forward….

Happy birthday Indie Author Group!

When Valerie and I started talking about the changes on the site, we realized that we were rapidly approaching seven years as a group.  Seven years is incredible! And we got to talking about how many changes we’ve seen the community undergo, and how much we’ve looked at in the last few years, because we share everything we’ve learned as we learn it.  And then we got to thinking how amazing our community is, that they share too.  So…happy birthday guys!

And… welcome back to the Indie Author Group Blog.  We’ve been offline a long time, while we planned and plotted and created some really neat new things, which will be rolled out in the coming weeks, plus, we’ll be updating and republishing a lot of advice, so it’s all go here.

Our history

Seven years ago in May, Valerie Douglas put out the call to create a group for indie authors and asked for moderators.  The result was the Indie Author Group.  I was one of the first moderator volunteers, and Valerie and I have gone on to build one of the most popular groups on Facebook for advice on writing.  She’s published over 20 books, and I’m not so far behind 😉  We’ve got an amazing team of moderators, and the site has gone from strength to strength.  We have a Facebook Page, Twitter profile, Instagram (new) and Pinterest.  Plus, we’re restarting the newsletter soon!

But we primarily run IAG on Facebook, and support people with their careers – basically, we share our mistakes so people can avoid them, and news in the indie community and more. So much so that everyone is *off* writing right now, so we’re hoping to kick things up a notch with the blog.  When we founded the group, KDP was in its infancy, as was Smashwords, and we’ve done it all.  Both Valerie and I are hybrid authors, and we have a team of seven other moderators who help out with their expertise, so it’s nice to think that we’re starting a new phase now.

So…what’s new?

I’m glad you asked.  New things include The Writers Information Reference Library (give it a Twirl 😉 ), and we’re launching a new blog on creating and marketing content on a shoestring, so you can save your money for the foundational stuff.  We’ve got a new publishing schedule, new guidelines and some new toys that I’ll roll out later in the year, once we’ve beta tested them.  We’ll be adding a provider database and all sorts of other new bits and pieces very soon too, but the biggest thing that’s new is we’ll be providing new and exclusive content at least fortnightly to the main blog, or Shoestring, and we’ll be constantly adding to Twirl, which is a bit like Quora, except its only one answer.  Though we are looking at adding a Quora-like function later in the year too.

At [email protected] we’ll talk about the things that indie authors should know – review technology and other items that allow people to keep up with everything they need to in the indie author community – it’s not so much about the technology, but about using technology to make the most of the things around them.  We’ll talk blogging software, and the software on blogs, plugins, RSS readers, how to search properly and more.  That launches in September.

Finally, we’ve got a news only blog that takes the most up to the minute news on all things author.  More on that in a bit, but if you’d like to subscribe, then head over to Breaking News.  It’ll have commentary and information on all the things important to writers with a focus on publishing and platform news.  We’ll also link to the best resources we use to research, so you can go straight to the horse’s mouth.  That’ll be launching as soon as we’re settled into the new blog!

And of course, our social media presence will remain.
Finally, Valerie and I want to thank our team and our members.  WIthout you guys, Valerie’s idea, and the work that we both do would never be the same and we’re grateful for our community, every single day.

 

Editing 101 – Self-editing for self-publishers

In the first of a series of articles, Valerie Douglas talks Self Editing – we’re storing them on our pages, so they don’t flow away in the blog stream 😀

One of the first things they should tell you in writing classes or seminars is that in a novel, it’s all about the action. It’s about doing things. Show don’t tell. People don’t ‘begin’ to do things, they don’t ‘start’ to do things, they DO them. For example – ‘Smoke waited until they were distracted to begin nibbling at her hair again’ vs. ‘Smoke waited until they were distracted to nibble at her hair again.’ Which sounds better? (Smoke is a horse, by the way.) Don’t have your characters begin or start to do anything unless it’s the first in a series of actions. When self-editing do a search for begin and start.

Get this and more tips on the article.

Pronoun is unfortunately closing

It’s always sad to see the demise of a platform that supports authors, and I heard (though never personally used) lots of great things about Pronoun.
But it seems like they’re at the end of the road.

Here’s part of the announcement.

Two years ago Pronoun set out to create a one-of-a-kind publishing tool that truly put authors first. We believed that the power of data could be harnessed for smarter book publishing, leveling the playing field for indie authors.

We are proud of the product we built, but even more so, we’re grateful for the community of authors that made it grow. Your feedback shaped Pronoun’s development, and together we changed the way authors connect with readers.

Unfortunately, Pronoun’s story ends here.

While many challenges in indie publishing remain unsolved, Macmillan is unable to continue Pronoun’s operation in its current form.

You can read the whole piece here.

Indie/Self-Publishing 101 – Vendors, Writers, and the Business of Self-Publishing

In the beginning, there were the bards, the storytellers, and the spoken word.

And then, language was written down.  Books became rare, hand-copied treasures.

Gutenberg changed that by inventing the printing press.

With the printing press came a new way for storytellers to share their tales. As time went by, multiple venues grew for those stories.

And an industry was born.

Publishers eventually sprung up; businesses who decided what stories would be printed, and then agents who sold those stories to those publishers.

And then, lo, there was self-publishing. First as vanity ‘publishers’ who would take advantage of those who could not pass the publishers’ gatekeepers, to fuel the dreams of those who thought they had wonderful stories to tell and a few who might have had those wonderful stories, filling their garages with their hopes and dreams. Only to watch them turn to dust.
Most, though, still though of traditional publishing as the only legitimate way to publish.

Then came Smashwords offering true self-publishing. However, there was one drawback – one had to read those first books on your computer or laptop. E-readers were few.

Smashwords was followed by Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble, who saw the limitations (and freedom!) of reading on the computer.  Thus was born the e-reader in truth as Amazon’s Kindle, the Apple iBook app, the B&N Nook, all of which helped bring about the tablet.

As with all good things, though, times changed. The Nook was the better e-reader at first but B & N wasn’t certain what to do with it or Indie writers and so Amazon came along with the new, improved Kindle. Amazon gave Indie writers a true home. And they all lived happily ever after…or mostly.

Here the fairy tale ends and so it should because it is a fairy tale.

Publishing, whether traditional or self-publishing, is a business like any other. Despite its reputation for being the big, bad wolf of self-publishing, Amazon, like Apple, is a business. But it’s not primarily a self-publisher, any more than Apple is. You could look at Amazon as a mall while Apple is more like an electronics store. Only Smashwords, D2D (Draft to Digital) and Kobo (primarily Canada) are true self-publishers. And what do they owe authors? In truth? Nothing, absolutely nothing. They are ultimately responsible to their customers – readers. All they do is provide authors a venue, a method of getting their work in front of readers, in exchange for a varying portion of the proceeds. That’s it, and nothing more.

Is Amazon sometimes draconian? Yep. They’re a business, and not primarily a self-publishing business. As a business, they owe their customers and only their customers. Like all the other vendors, that’s how they make their money. So, when any supplier pays for reviews – rendering the review process untrustworthy – the company cracks down on reviews. When authors on another site misrepresented the content of their novels and/or had covers that many found too revealing, all but Smashwords cracked down on erotica. When an author gamed the system to make it appear as if they’d sold more books than they had, they started looking at the sales and reviews of other authors.

Did they warn authors they were going to do that? No. Amazon – and other vendors – don’t have to. They are responsible to their customers, not their suppliers. And that’s true across the industry. Despite their avowed democratic and egalitarian outlook, even Smashwords had to bow to their distributors/customers – there are limits to what some distributors will permit when it comes to covers and content. In the one case, a father with his child on his lap looked for books about Daddies – and got an eyeful of content not suitable for small children. All because a few writers decided they didn’t want their books relegated to a separate corner.

Even vendors aren’t pure as the driven snow, though, one particular company colluded with traditional publishers to raise the price of e-books, primarily to cut another company off at the knees. This is why many traditionally published e-books are priced above the cost of paperbacks, even though e-books cost pennies to produce compared to the expense of printing paperbacks.

What do Indie authors owe vendors, whether Amazon, Smashwords, iBooks, B&N, D2D or Kobo? In a lot of ways, they owe everything. Where else can they go to print their novels, their way?

Authors owe an understanding of the rules of the site. They should then follow those rules. If you notice one thing about the example given, it’s that in many cases it was an author or authors who pushed the limits, and a lot of innocent authors who followed the rules paid the price along with them. With hundreds of thousands of new books added every day, sites like Amazon and Apple must rely on their algorithms to detect problems.

How can we decrease the likelihood that we’ll be impacted?

First, read and follow the rules of the site.

Second, get legitimate, organic reviews – not from friends/family, not from review ‘exchanges’, but from sales and ARCs (advance reader/review copies). Third, be professional – have a professional attitude, purchase a professional cover, have your book professionally edited. And, on the be professional front, stop complaining and don’t talk badly about a vendor. What business wants to deal with a vendor who complains about them all the time or talks badly about them in public or social media? If you don’t like them, take your business elsewhere. You might take a pay cut, but you’ll do yourself and the provider a favor.

Oh, and stop complaining about how unfair it all is. It is unfair that a few unscrupulous ‘writers’ created the problem. Go to another site if you don’t like it. Indie writers are a drop in the overall bucket of a vendors offerings, however great some of us think our ‘great American novel is’.

Stop biting the hand that feeds you, or it will stop, and then where will you be? Nowhere. And while you’re at it, you’ll squash the hopes and dreams of thousands of others.

Self-Editing 101

  1. Spelling – Even the best spellers make mistakes. Use a software program like Grammarly or WordWeb (both of which have free versions.) Both may catch other errors in word usage – like affect vs. effect – and both do offer a thesaurus so you can find a better word or correct one that’s overused.
  2. One of the first things they may or may not tell you in writing classes or seminars is that in a novel it’s all about action. It’s about doing things. Show don’t tell. People don’t ‘begin’ to do things, they don’t ‘start’ to do things, they DO them. For example – ‘Smoke waited until they were distracted to begin nibbling at her hair again’ vs. ‘Smoke waited until they were distracted to nibble at her hair again.’ Which sounds better? (Smoke is a horse, by the way…) Don’t have your characters begin or start to do anything unless it’s the first in a series of actions. Do a search for begin and start.
  3. Ditto feel and felt. Which sounds better – When he kissed her it felt like she tingled all over -or- When he kissed her she tingled all over? For #2 and #3, a professional editor will often scribble “SDT”. This is not a disease, it means “Show Don’t Tell”. “The best “show don’t tell advice” came from Anton Chekov: “Don’t tell me the moon is shining; show me the glint of light on broken glass.”
  4. Very or Really. They’re not very happy or really happy, they’re ecstatic or delighted. Use a better, more descriptive word. If nothing comes to mind get a thesaurus.
  5. Search for contractions. For some reason, many writers don’t write in contractions. Especially with ‘had’. He had, she had, rather than he’d or she’d. Be very careful not to do a universal search and replace to correct this or you’ll hate yourself in the morning because once it’s saved you have no other choice but to search the entire document for the awkward mess you made of things. (Always start a new copy when editing, just in case. It’s a lot easier to start over that way.) For example, a universal search and replace for ‘had not’ to ‘hadn’t’ will also change ‘had noticed’ to ‘hadn’ticed’. (This is a personal choice, in a more casual voice like dialogue in fiction, it works, but in more formal writing, it may not.)
  6. ‘There was’. Sometimes it’s justified. Look at each sentence to see if you can rephrase it to make the sentence clearer.
  7. Speaking of there – their (possessive), there (in that direction), and they’re (they are).
  8. *aargh* The dreaded ‘that’. That she, that he, that they… In most cases, the use of the word ‘that’ is completely unnecessary, but we use it in speech so it can sound correct when you write it.
  9. Try not to use that when you mean who. “The man that…” should be “the man who… “
  10. Just and only. Always make sure you really need to use them and that they’re next to the word you want to modify. For example – only costs vs. costs only or it just costs or costs just… Do you really need either?
  11. Was. Jim was shaking his head. Jim shook his head. Always watch for those ‘ing’ words. If you see a lot of them in your writing in conjunction with was, you need to change that sentence to a more active voice. Active voice describes a sentence where the subject performs the action stated by the verb. In passive voice sentences, the subject is acted upon by the verb.
  12. As if/like. Make sure you know which of them you really mean. Do a search for like, and in each place see if ‘as if’ doesn’t sound better.
  13. Watch for split infinitives. Not all of them are bad – to boldly go where no man has gone before, where boldly splits to and go – is generally accepted. “I decided to not go” sounds awkward.
  14. Of…. is another sneaky little beggar. ‘Inside’ works as well as ‘inside of it’ in most cases.
  15. ‘Then’ and ‘and then’ are telling words, don’t use them. For instance: Then he went to sit down. Just say: He sat down. Or…. And then she set a bowl on the table. Just say: She set a bowl on the table. Using then or and then is like a narrator in your book telling us a story, it slows it down. Show, don’t tell.
  16. Do not use really, very, or like. He’s either hot or he’s not. He’s not really hot, or very hot, he’s roasting, burning up, or he’s gorgeous, sexy, etc. She’s not ‘like’ that, she IS that.
  17. Commas. If you have more than two it might be a good idea to look at the sentence and decide if it would work better as two separate sentences. This is DEFINITELY true if you have more than three. For more information on commas and their proper use – http://grammar.about.com/od/grammarfaq/f/QAoxfordcomma.htm
  18. Singular and plural pronouns. When speaking about an individual, the pronoun should be singular, when speaking about a group, it’s plural. Ex. It brought him to their feet. Wrong.
  19. (Although this is primarily a grammar document, it is about writing and this has been seen too often to go unremarked.) Don’t ‘Slug a Nun’, as a well-known writer once said. In other words, when opening a chapter, any chapter, get to the point. Don’t say “Mikey slugged a nun” and then take ten pages, eight of which explain the history of the Catholic Church before you explain WHY Mikey slugged the nun.
  20. Another very common mistake – Her eyes wandered. Please put them back in her head, that’s disgusting. Her gaze might wander, but not her eyes. She might glance at him, their gazes may meet, or lock, etc., or they might stare at each other, but his eyes will never wander over her breasts unless it’s a zombie movie and they’ve gained legs. Some editors might let this go, but you should be able to find a better way to say it.
  21. Watch for sentences that start with the same word or the same type of beginning. He did this, he did that. Change it up so the reader doesn’t get bored.
  22. Too much use of “it” as a subject can make writing weak. Delete the vague pronoun and identify ‘it’ with a solid noun. Not – It felt good to dress up. Try – She enjoyed dressing up.
  23. Do not mix dialogue of one character in the same paragraph as another. Ever. Even if, or especially if, you’re using omniscient point of view. And always identify the person speaking or thinking.
  24. Action and reaction. Sentences need to relay information about the cause before the effect or result. Not – She jumped as the door slammed shut. Try – The door slammed, making her jump.
  25. Eliminate unnecessary words. In the above example – few doors slam open, so it must have slammed shut or closed. So, the door slammed.
  26. Try to avoid prepositional phrases (to her, at him, for her, etc.) that can be implied. Not – Seeing him proved what a distraction he was to her. Try – Seeing him proved what a distraction he was.
  27. Stephen King said, “The road to hell is paved with adverbs.” Try to evaluate each adverb (words that end in -ly), especially in conjunction with speaking tags. Replace with stronger words. Not – He leaned close and spoke softly. Try – He leaned close and whispered.
  28. Repeated words: There’s a function in Word that shows words you overuse, but a beta reader or editor can be a better choice. Sometimes it’s justified – a character tic.
  29. How often do you use ‘look’? Try variations like glanced, gazed, stared, their eyes met, saw.
  30. Said, but don’t get too caught up it. Studies have shown that said is a word that readers eyes pass over, registering only who is speaking.
  31. Starting a sentence with But when you could use However.
  32. Starting a sentence with And. Can you rework it? It’s acceptable, but too much or too often is a bad thing.
  33. Redundant actions: stood up. How else would you stand? Sat down – try sat. Nodded his head – just use nodded, if he’s nodding anything else it’s just weird.
Also, consider picking up The Elements of Style. It’s a small, thin book, perfect to keep beside your laptop or desktop computer. It answers some of those pesky grammar questions.
For style suggestions, try Hemingway Editor, a software program that highlights lengthy, complex sentences, common errors, and passive voice. Always be careful taking the advice it or other programs offer – you don’t want to sound too mechanical or lose your authors ‘voice’.
One last little hint. By not doing a read-through sentence by sentence but using search instead, it forces you to look at each sentence individually, in isolation. It makes it much easier to spot errors you might otherwise have missed or to question the wording of the sentence. Try reading it aloud, or use text to voice to read it back, that may help you pick up errors in flow.

 

A Tale of Self-Publishing – How authors slayed the dragon

Once upon a time, there was only traditional publishing and in traditional publishing there were gatekeepers. A gatekeeper’s job was to filter out the unedited, poorly written dreck that opened not with action, but backstory or prologues. Then their function changed from being mere gatekeepers to arbiters/purchasing agents and so the reading public was forced to read endless variations of Twilight with its moody, angst driven hero and wistful, victim heroine to 50 Shades of Grey, to use a few comparisons we hear from readers of the current cookie-cutter genre (which is a whole other readership in itself). But some were dissatisfied. Writers were becoming discouraged. This made a lot of people very angry and was widely viewed as a bad move. Justifiably so, since it kept a lot of good authors out of publishing.

And then, lo and behold, there was born a new industry (resurrected really – though in a new format) called Self-Publishing.

In the beginning, there was Smashwords, run by Mark Coker. He wanted to democratize publishing, and so there was and is no cost, no frills, it was (and still is) a quick way to get your e-book into production and distribution, and you could do it in a day. It deliberately allowed writers to appeal directly to readers without having to deal with gatekeepers such as agents and editors. In keeping with this mission, Smashwords applies no editorial screening. (This has turned out to be not necessarily a good move, either. More on that, later.)

Now authors who want to publish had a home.

The first to truly achieve success – by getting noticed – was Amanda Hocking. She virtually created YA – Young Adult, aka, what had once been known as ‘Coming of Age’, with a dystopian or paranormal twist. From that came NA – New Adult. Her sales took off and then a traditional publisher signed her.

(This doesn’t discount Chuck Wendig or JA Konrath or a handful of others, who were hybrid traditional/self-publishers and are now primarily self-publishers.)

Thus was created new venues – Amazon & Kindle, Barnes & Noble with the Nook (not managed very well), Apple & iBooks, Draft to Digital and Kobo.

Now, anyone who wanted to write a book could…and many did.

At first, a decent author with a decent cover could actually make money from their work.

And then, the hordes descended.

Like any other Indie/Self-publisher I hate the idea of gatekeepers, yet now there are none and, increasingly, it shows. And, weirdly, self-publishers have turned into their own worse enemies. Writers actually insist that they don’t need editors or cover artists. (Every author does.)

As the creator/admin/mod of the Indie Author Group, I constantly hear ‘woe is me, my sales are non-existent’, and variations therein.  And while I have sympathy, I can see why – sometimes when I look at their book, the cover is awful, the editing is worse, or the books they’re writing are in the most popular, most glutted genres. I can’t, however, say that to them or face the wrath of the angry author. Suggest they try a new or different take and all the mods have come to expect fireworks. Suggest that they don’t write to the tropes – the ‘romantic’ motorcycle alpha male, the hero’s journey/quest, the hard-boiled detective – and you’ll get, as I did, the one-book wonder or instant expert who will object. Strenuously.  Then, that one book insta-expert tries to hijack the group entirely and things get difficult for all of the team when all we want is to do what we love – write and support.

Yet, that’s how the most successful writers did it.

When Stephen King started writing horror, they said there was no market, but he practically reinvented it. J. K. Rowling created fantasy novels for middle-grade to YA. Hocking gave YA street cred. Wendig does mysteries and science fiction. As much as Twilight gets bashed – the author reinvented the vampire story with her angst-ridden characters. And E. L. James ponied onto the back of that, to write a Twilight fan-fic without the supernatural and with a twist, and brought erotic romance from a niche into the mainstream. Hugh Howey recreated dystopian fiction, sold the print rights but kept the e-books (at first), creating a new hybrid market while he was at it. And Andy Weir recreated accessible science fiction.

Hocking, James, Howey, and Weir all started as Indie writers. All signed contracts with Big Five publishers.

Okay, so that’s the good news, here’s the reality. The self-publishing industry has to change. You can change with it or be left behind.

Some venues are closing or have closed, others are teetering. Despite the Amazon bashing, with its international reach it’s still the publisher of choice for most Indie writers, and with all due apologies to Smashwords, Amazon does require some editorial screening (although it can’t do much about those grammatical errors and really bad covers). Bad spelling, editing, and cover art harm all of us. Few of the other vendors offer any marketing/support assistance, which makes publicizing books there difficult. But Amazon DOES take onboard specific reports – we’re seeing more and more of these books that people say ‘I’m not selling’ pop up with a yellow triangle under its name that says ‘issues found’, then details reports they’ve received, and lets folks know that the publisher has been informed. In other words, Amazon is pushing for a bit of crowdsourced control and DO check before they flag things. It’s a gatekeeper in the hands of readers, in other words.

You, the writer, have to decide whether you want to stay a midlist writer and disappear like so many others, or innovate, try new things and find your niche.

KDP Select and Instafreebie – a caution

I’ve been talking to people a lot about the new promotional methods out there while we revamp the blog (you’ll notice that all bar a few articles are still up on the site for now – they need updating, to the point that we’re actually setting up some new projects and doing something new for y’all.  It’s a huge revamp, but I’ll talk about that in a separate post later in the week.).  For now, let’s talk about Instafreebie and how it could get you into a lot of trouble with Amazon.

Amazon’s KDP Select/KU rules are set up that they’re supposed be the only place your book is available from – bar those that you personally supply to reviewers.
I’ll repeat that.  The only place you should be sending your books out are personally FROM YOUR EMAIL or from a site such as Netgalley (for now, that may change), through your blog tour team if you’re using one and KDP select.

What’s the difference between KDP and KDP Select?

KDP allows you to publish to the KDP platform, gives you lower royalties on certain territories, and no promotional tools.  It also allows you to go ‘wide’, that is, publish on every existing writing distribution platform.

KDP Select means you’re ONLY on Amazon.  It gives you access to KU, which allows people to borrow your books (which is paid for from a subscription pool), and you earn a set amount per page, which they announce monthly.  It gives you promotional tools.  And it means that you don’t drop royalties from 70% to 35%  in certain territories.  KDP select is a rolling unless opt out 90 day period.  You can enroll, run for a few days, then tick the box to leave after 90 days, but many authors don’t, and frequently notice after 90 days have passed.

Well, what about Instafreebie?

Until recently, I thought Instafreebie was fine, but I’ve recently had to look into it when it was asked on a page and I was available to answer.
Believe it or not, Instafreebie says no. They’ve ALWAYS said no.  KDP select was introduced in 2011 (late 2011, I believe, possibly as late as November and December), and Libboo, which later became Instafreebie’s first archived terms and conditions page shows up in March 2014.

Here’s the clause in it’s entirety.  It exits on the current site, but for the purposes of research, I went through the Way Back Machine to look up it’s terms and conditions. (May 2nd, 2014)

3.7 Amazon KDP Select and other Exclusive Programs. By creating a Freebie campaign or giveaway on InstaFreebie, you represent that you are not forbidden to do so by other Programs in which you are enrolled, such as Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. InstaFreebie holds no responsibility for parties who violate the Terms and Conditions of other Programs by using the InstaFreebie service. Please check the Terms and Conditions of other Programs in which you are enrolled before creating a Freebies campaign on instaFreebie

Here are the current terms.

Libboo owns Instafreebie – note that the orange site is Instafreebie by Libboo, while the Green site appears to simply clarify the brand to Instafreebie, and acknowledge Libboo in the terms and conditions.

What does this mean for me?

It means that if your book is in KDP Select or KU, it’s important NOT to use Instafreebie.  Instafreebie has always had that clause in and while  it’s possible it’s just a protection, it’s equally possible that it’s not allowed.  Everything I’ve read in fact suggests that it’s completely not advised, so if you’re in the position of doing an Instafreebie right now and you’re in KDP select/KU, I would recommend removing the Instafreebie immediately.  The only way around this is to change it to 10% or less of your book and then give away it as a sampler, because that is within KDP’s rules surrounding exclusivity.

What do you think?   Does this affect you?

 

StoryBundle – Writestuff 2016

We don’t often feature these products on the group blog, but this is one designed for indie authors, and it doesn’t have affiliate links AND you can donate 10% to charity, so we thought we’d see how it went.

Storybundle and HumbleBundle feature products in ‘bundles’ at a significant amount of money off, and if you’re looking to study or intake information, this bundle is a great one for at least one or two perspectives to give you something to think about in the indie author community. Plus, it’s something that the mod team talk about a lot – making sure that the advice we’re listening to isn’t from people just recycling information or not sharing from experience.

Here’s the blurb:

From curator Kristine Kathryn Rusch: Hundreds of writing books get published every year, and most of those books are written by people who have written…a book on writing. I kid you not. These people have a method or a scheme or they teach a writing class—even though I have no idea how they get those gigs. (Okay, I do. They get an MFA, which universities seem to think is more important than actual writing experience.)

Those writing books have nothing in common with the writing books in this bundle. Together, the authors of the books in The Write Stuff 2016 Bundle have more than two-hundred years of writing experience, and have contributed more than five hundred award-winning and bestselling books (fiction and nonfiction) to the world of literature.

We know writing, the writing life, and what makes a writing career. And we want to share it all with you.

You can grab your bundle here.  And keep checking back on the blog as we talk about the advice we’re working on for you guys ourselves!

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