Tuesday's Tools: Amazon Descriptions
I realize that HTML formatting might be intimidating for some...but here is something you can dabble in for the betterment of your book. I'm assuming you know (kinda-of) what HTML code/embedding is--if not--HERE is a good description. It's a computer language that lets you do things like bold, itaclic, etc. type of text formatting.
Looking at Amazon book descriptions, I see so many that don't have any kind of formatting. Amazon does actually allow some HTML formatting in the book description. If you've ever read a product description in Amazon that looks awesome with the orange coloring, italics, bold, bullet points and neat formatting -- like this:
And you want to do the same for your books...I have the HTML list that Amazon will allow so you don't have to guess ╚► RIGHT HERE ◄╝
So for those who know a little about HTML and want to try it on their book descriptions...try it out!!
ACTION ITEM: Redesign your book description!!
The end of the week (Friday) begins NaNoWriMo ~ National Novel Writing Month ~ and here's why you might want to consider signing up for it.
1. It's something to post about on your social media, giving you a month long campaign to get readers exited about your novel.
2. It allows you to meet other authors, collaborate, find a crit partner and have the encouragement you need to finish.
3. You get to promote participation and if you finish it's a reward for finally getting your draft done.
But why is it important to join & participate?
Because it gives you the opportunity to PROMOTE yourself EVERY DAY.
Remember the difference between Marketing and Promoting?
Marketing = anything that deals with the book or buying the book.
Promotions = anything that allows readers to get to know the author.
Getting to know the author sells books.
I know what some of you professionals are thinking...I've got deadlines for my next novel--I don't have time to start a new project.
I understand. That's why I might cheat...I've started a novel and have been working on it, but I think NaNoWriMo is what I need to finish it. They want you to write 55,000 words, right? Whose to say you're book won't be 95,000 words and you make your goal 55,000 words in the month of November? Effectively "winning" NaNoWriMo.
You have something to talk about on Facebook, and you get your work done. Sounds like a win-win situation to me. If it's the kick in the pants you need to go for it, do it!!
ACTION ITEM: Register here for NaNoWriMo and participate ~ if you dare!
It's A Montague...
Those Books...Are Out There
With the latest traditional publishing against indie authors disguised as the latest of in the censorship issue, I'd like to explain how a micro-publisher deals with NOT being the distributor and suffering the consequences.
You see, I don't see this latest mass purge of Indie eBooks as *necessarily* a bad thing. Not because I think shutting Indies up is good, not that I think censorship is good--I just know that when these things happen, Indies rise to the occasion.
Being a micro-publisher, I'm no different. We will survive. We will prevail. Because the truth is out there...and Google will find it.
I have yet to find traditional authors screaming they've had their books pulled. Even the ones that sell erotica.
I've collected data and I'm finding that the recent WH Smith freak-out was really a way to get Indie books off the market. What I've seen is it mostly affected Kobo. Please tell me if I'm wrong, though.
But the reason why this is not a bad thing is because it creates opportunity. I can see some companies already sweeping in and taking advantage. Of course there are brave souls that see this for what it is and seek the truth to what some call the Dark Net ~ I feel we are living in Nalini Singh's Psy/Changeling Series. How 'bout you?
What rises is the true meaning of Indie. If you pull the merchandise out, sellers are forced to find a way to sell their goods. This means, Indies selling their books through their own websites. It makes sense to me. It's a logical step.
So, what you might find is ~ large publishing retailers not able to quantify how much they're loosing by not having a very large chunk of a growing market. (Okay that made more sense in my head).
What I mean is...if you're selling your book out of your website, how does Amazon know what they're missing? One click buy is an awesome feature. But there are those who would click two buttons for your book. The possibilities have me thinking. All because someone decided that one bad apple means the rest are
ACTION ITEM: How hard would it be to sell off your website and direct traffic there? I'll be exploring that in the coming weeks.
How To Murder Your Inner Critic
I can handle constructive criticism. From others it's helpful. From myself? It's paralyzing.
It's unhelpful mostly because the inner critic id jumping down my throat to fix this right away. Conversations go like this:
Me: I only did 500 words yesterday so I just really need to get things on paper, can you like, take a nap?
Stephon (the inner critic): You should really edit before you start.
Me: No. I really just need to get this scene down.
Me: *type, type, type*
Me: That's okay.
Stephon: No, you should fix that.
Me: *type, type, type*
Stephon: Why are you having him do that?
Me: Just typing...
Stephon: Guys don't really think that way, your making him too girly.
Me: I just have to get it down, I'll change it later.
Stephon: Well, why do it twice when once is good enough?
Me: Because you're parlaying.
Stephon: God knows you need to slow down with all the crap going in your head. Why not just do both at the same time.
Me: Arrrghgghhgh! Shu-up Stephon!
Stephon: No. No I don't think I will. Oh--change that.
Me: Fuck you.
Stephon: Anytime, baby.
From there there's a lot of inward shoving and juvenile language. What my imagination draws up to kill my inner critic he edits down. But I've found Stephon's weakness. He's male, so he's visual. I'm a 60 WPM typist that does not hunt and peck my keys, so all I have to do is close my eyes and type, thus not giving Stephon the chance to see what it is I'm typing. When I open my eyes, he immediately goes into critic mode and from there, we clean up the text. He hasn't seen it twice and I get my thoughts down. It's a great combination.
ACTION ITEM: If you've tried to conquer the inner critic and have failed, try closing your eyes and typing. I realize this doesn't really work for those that hunt and peck, but it could be a great excuse to learn how to type. I find closing my eyes helps me dive into the world I'm trying to bring out and helps with world building and word count. Stephon still protects me from many a "tell" and he seems to be happy with the arrangement.
The Best Solar System Simulator
If you write about alien worlds or even if you just are very curious about our universe...Eyes on the Solar System is a MUST HAVE.
When I went to NASA/JPL's open house, I got to see this phenomenal simulator program on NASA computers. It was like I left my body and went exploring the universe on a computer.
I could write this entire post in CAPS because seriously...if you have any interest at all about the solar system NASA/JPL has created this simulator for you--FREE.
I can't give it justice. It is the most epic simulator of the entire universe that will ever be. Ever.
Yes, you have to download an app. Yes, it will suck every bit of memory on your computer. Yes, the lights of New York city will dim when you run this program, but...it's like being in SPACE. Want to see Haley's comet? It's there. Want to see Jupiter in awesome graphics...yeah...easy. Would you like to explore beyond the milky-way? Well, there's that too. Looking for an out-of-the-way planet that could be your next alien love palace...bingo.
I don't advise this for older computers (anything past 2 years) but it is mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, eye-pealing beautiful and you have the power of God to find out we are tiny, tiny dust particles in a very large sky.
ACTION ITEM: Check it out...if you dare. http://eyes.nasa.gov/
Marketing Monday Blues
Sometimes marketing feels like a wash. It's because there are some methods to marketing that you can't quantify.
If you're only doing things that give you metrics, you lose out on some of the wonderful opportunities that you really can't tell if they work or not.
One of the things I use in trying a marketing method is how it works on me and my friends. This past year I found the more exposure you have to something, the more you think about it. Makes sense. But...I'm not going to specifically buy a Pepsi just because I see an ad. I have to like Pepsi.
Here's a statistic that might depress you. I used myself and my friends as control subjects. It takes an average of 6 years for us to find a book. Ouch. Yes. Six years. Every time I get a book I really enjoy like...Natural Law: 2 (Nature of Desire) I realize...it took me oh...9 years to find it.
For a writer it might seem depressing. But that's nine years of Joey Hill writing tons of books every year to give me more of what I want!! I'm not going to forget Joey or Natural Law anytime soon, and I'm willing to buy what she's got. Oh...I think I'm going to skip books 3 & 4 for right now and jump to #5 I want to see Jonathan Powell go DOWN!!! And I'm glad I didn't find Joey Hill until now...I have so many books to catch up now :)
Okay, so as always I'm going to tell you the bright side of the story...
That's six years of books you've been writing for your readers. Somewhere between books 6 and 10 your readers find you. Call it funnel. Call it tenacity, but that's six years of books that can be bought...as long as the publisher doesn't take your stories down. Grrrr.
Sorry, I'm still a bit grudgey. <-- yes a Stephanism for I'm not holding a grudge, but I won't forget your poor handling of a past situation...Kobo. Anyway...
That's six years of happily writing, or six years of misery because "nobody's buying your book". Take it how you see it. Drive hard and burn out OR steady, goal-driven work. I don't really have deadlines for my own writing because it's not a race for me. I do have goal dates, and it gets the work out there, but I know that the more books out there the more likely my readers will find me.
And readers really do find their authors. But as you can see, it does take time for them to find you. Even when you have an outstanding product.
So what's the ACTION ITEM? I could say write more or write faster, but today I really think it's time to pull back, take a look at the marketing you've done and realize, it all works. People don't always react that fast in buying something that's necessity. Heck, even when it is necessity, sometimes people DON'T buy.
There was a lot of "Combat Brownies" going around the home of Patricia A. Knight this past Wednesday.
So for all of you who had your books taken away without warning, without review and without warrant from Amazon, Kobo and WH Smith...may these brownies fight off the blues.
Keep writing. I'll find a way to publish.
When Books Go Sour
Everyone has their right to their opinion. But nobody has the right to be offended. Point in question ~ Three years ago complaints were made about non-fiction kindle books being too...markety? Is that the right word?
Well, a whole bunch of marketers were producing books of the public domain variety that gave readers no value.
It was regurgitated out-dated information.
Hence when you kindle publish it asks if this is public domain or original work. That's why you have to answer that question, punishable by death if you give the wrong answer.
But also, what I've learned is the books were pulled because of the tags used. So if you want to tag your book as "this may be a little bit hot--read with caution" you got punished for being honest.
Is the answer to lie?
Back to having no right to be offended. Here's what I mean: Everything can be taken as an offense. You can be offended by the mother breast feeding her child. You can be offended by the line cutter or the place holder in line. You can be offended by a joke. You can be offended by a word. But demanding that you NOT BE offended is just not possible. Because offense taken is like opinions. Everyone has one some time.
Have you ever tried to please everyone? It doesn't work. Neither does trying to NOT OFFEND everyone. There's always going to be an Jesse Jackson screaming at you because hell and damnation ~ you offended God.
My goal is not to offend you. It's okay to hate me. I don't mind. I'm going to pay attention to those who love me. I'll be listening to those people. The people who understand that I'm not here to offend them and those not looking to be offended, and those who forgive me and ask me questions as to why I offended them are going to retain my focus.
What does this have to do with the publishing process?
When you publish you will have to take a stand. Even on cookbooks, you have to be able to know what your genre is and where you stand on subjects. Vegans will boycott your Meat Master's Barbeque book. Schools will boycott your YA because somebody kissed a girl on the cheek. Inspirational books will be called "a bunch of metaphysical bull honkey".
Are you going to stop publishing those books? Are you going to try and please everyone? Are you going to back down when someone gets offended?
I'll be publishing another three books by Patricia A. Knight. Anyone who says her stories are just erotica with no substance, didn't read it.
You would think a power such as Amazon has the ability to take a stand. Looks like they fall for anything.
ACTION ITEM: Reassess what you stand for. If you have a back-bone, join us--we have brownies.
The Pandora's Box of Erotica
I find it a bit difficult to articulate my thoughts about the recent events where Amazon, Kobo and other retailers selling erotica got complaints and tore down all the indie publishers books down.
Even Luke's Tale: A STORY OF UNCONDITIONAL LOVE got torn down. I suspect they were thinking unconditional "love" -- as in sex with animals. Hey, it has a dog on the cover, it MUST be about bestiality!! Wow, get your minds out of the gutter!
It's the music industry, the film producers and the Serial TV writers industry all over again.
But I have a different take. This is an opportunity.
It opens the doors to storytellers and an opportunity for marketers to do as indie musicians and indie film makers are doing.
People are incredibly micro-minded in this macro world. What I mean is, people who are interested in niches are able to find them. People have this whole world of the internet to search.
Those who want to live life by drinking from the fire-hose of the internet have their wish. Yet others wanting to find their "thing", their niche, have an easier time of it.
The good think about the niche is people want their niche to be small enough to know everything yet large enough to never run out of material.
More micro-publishers are going to pop-up, like Troll River Publications. And we will find our audience.
These micro-publishers will find a niche in celebrating and marketing books.
This is their chance to rise and make a living doing what they want to do. This book tear-down mishap isn't going to force indies out, the indie spirit is hard to kill.
Indies will find a way. They always have.
Indies are waking up to believing they are Small Businesses and Small Business is agile, creative, innovative. We will find a way.
I'm proud to be a indie publisher. And I mean a publisher who publishes others books, not just my own, but stories I love and believe in. I'm at the stage where publishers began. I don't see this banning of books as such a bad thing. It clears my mind to action.
I like how Nate Hoffelder asked: "Now might be a good time for indie authors to go completely indie and start supporting the truly indie ebookstore platforms like Gumroad, Indiro, and others."
He's got a great article on the subject. It's like anything else. What I think this all equates to are people who fear the world. When you fear the world, you make everything a fear tactic.
ACTION ITEM: It might be time to sell your books through your website. I've got a plan in the works for TRP. Go ahead, ask me what it is.
My efforts are to make this a learning blog where writers can see the flip side of publishing. If you have comments that will improve your experience or have a certain topic you'd like discussed, please contact me through email - HERE.
~ Sincerley, Your Editor
Troll River Publications
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