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I’ve been seeing a lot of people panicking over the new royalties deal Amazon is rolling out. This article may help straighten out some of the misconceptions a few have out there. I hope it helps…
Originally posted on David Gaughran:
Are you scared yet? Because you should be scared. Something really bad is about to happen. It affects all of us.
Our livelihoods are at risk. The ability to support our families. It’s just over the horizon. It could happen any minute. It’s coming for all of us!
WE ARE DOOOOOOOOOMED.
I’ve been around for long enough to know that authors can be a skittish bunch. Probably something to do with our over-active imaginations, with an assist from that old writers’ favorite: the whiskey brunch.
More seriously, we are going through a period of unprecedented change so it’s perfectly normal for people to be a little fearful. I think the disruption we are all experiencing is greater than that which has been faced by similar industries. In fact, I think the transition from print book to e-book is akin to going straight from vinyl to MP3, with all that…
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Some months back, I talked about Kindle Select and Kindle Unlimited and how I did not feel comfortable about having my e-books available exclusively in Kindle form. For those unfamiliar with what was discussed, here’s a quick explanation. In order to be part of Kindle Select and Kindle Unlimited, your book cannot be available in any other e-book format (Nook, Sony, Apple, etc.). This of course means your the e-version of your book cannot be up for sale through Smashwords, Nook, and other e-formats. This did not rub me the right way at the time, but since then there as been no activity for either of my books through Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, or other outlets besides Amazon in spite of a lot of promoting on my part.
But then another disturbing trend began to appear. I started seeing my books selling on Amazon and I began hoping this meant a growing trend in sales. However, there was a problem. In spite of the sales I was not seeing any royalties, which puzzled me greatly. After waiting a few days and seeing this continue to happen, I delved further into the matter and discovered that ALL the recent sales were returned either the same day or the next day. Wondering how this could be happening I quickly learned that a number of individuals have been purchasing e-books, reading them in one day, and then returning them for a full refund. In short, turning Amazon into a sort of ‘library’ where they could get a good read and then return the book without paying a cent in the end.
Now, I fully understand that sometimes people can buy a book that turns out to be nothing of what they expected and would like their money back. This is something Amazon and other companies do allow. However, to abuse this privilege and claim ‘It’s my money and I’m entitled to a refund…’ repeatedly is a real problem. Every author I’ve seen on Amazon makes a portion of their book available for free so prospective buyers can get an idea if the book is something they’d like to read. I myself make about 16% of my book available as a sample so people can decide if this is something they want to buy or not. Yet, a number of people have instead turned Amazon into a revolving library that they don’t have to pay for.
Having lost out on a number of sales, I decided that if my book was going to be treated as if it was part of a library, I wanted to get something for my efforts. So with no sales happening on all other fronts, I took my books down and enrolled them exclusively with KS and KU. Now once you’ve enrolled in KS, your book is also available in KU where you earn money every time your book is borrowed and people read it. However, starting July 1st, this is changing to paying the authors for every page read, which benefits those who right longer books instead of putting out a bunch of really short works which had been the case before.
Now I’ve only joined recently and have yet to see much activity, but I’m hopeful. I think a lot of people have held back because I advertised a “FREE” weekend where almost 400 people grabbed their own Kindle copy of “The Bridge”. This coming weekend, I’ll be offering “The Ship” for free as well. From there, we’ll see how the ‘borrowing’ goes and if there’s any increase in paid sales. I’m hoping that as a result of all these giveaways will increase the reviews for both books and will lead to actual purchases or paid borrows through KU.
I don’t know if this approach will help or hurt, but sometimes you have to try something different. As for those who do not have a Kindle, I do have e-copies of my books in E-Pub and PDF formats and will sell them to you personally. The price is the same as at Amazon $2.99.
*Final note: Amazon has been starting to flag and shut down some of these serial-returners. But there are a great number of them out there and decent authors are suffering for it. Hopefully an answer will present itself and I can put my novels out there in other formats for you all. In the meantime, my contract with KS and KU is only for three months. If I don’t like what happens I may pull the books out and put them back up on Smashwords and other places, we’ll see.
I hope my experiences here are providing you all with insights of what to watch out for as you decide what format to put your own books in. There are many pitfalls and unforeseen issues, but hopefully being warned about what could happen will help you navigate and avoid them.
Until next time, take care and keep writing.
*FREE TODAY AND TOMORROW FOR AMAZON KINDLE*
“The Bridge”, book one in the Para-Earth Series for FREE for ALL Kindle users through Amazon.
That’s right, you can enjoy this 4 and 5 star tale for free as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription. This paranormal/mystery will introduce you to ghosts, psychics, and a whole new vision of parallel realities unlike anything you’ve ever read before.
So grab a copy for yourself and tell everyone you know so they can take advantage of this 2-day opportunity, they’ll thank you for it.
Book 2 in this series will be available for FREE next weekend so you’ll have plenty of time to enjoy “The Bridge” and see what happens next.
Click on the link below and enjoy yourselves everyone:
*IN CASE ONE BOOK WASN’T ENOUGH, HERE’S ANOTHER SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR KINDLE UNLIMITED SUBSCRIBERS*
You can now get “The Ship”, book two in the Para-Earth Series for FREE through Amazon. That’s right, you can enjoy this 5 star tale for free as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription.
This paranormal/mystery continues the story of Cassandra and Julie, two young women who fought alongside Alex and Veronica in my first novel “The Bridge”. The two have fallen in love and have come to Santa Cruz to see if their new relationship can work, as well as bury Julie’s uncle who had been guarding the bridge as part of his duties as the family shaman.
But there are new problems. Julie is finding out that the shaman mantle has been passed to her, but she things there is nothing to guard against as the being that had lain hidden inside the bridge is no more. However, another evil from another para-earth has arisen and has marked Cassandra is its target.
Now the two will have to fight against a new threat that threatens to tear apart them apart before they fully begin.
Once again ghosts, psychics, and shamans await you in this new story, along with a terrifying ghost ship and a familiar white-haired villain from “The Bridge”.
So why not check it out today and enjoy a really exciting summer read. And remember, you can find book one in the series “The Bridge” which is also FREE to Kindle Unlimited subscribers.
Click on this link to start reading:
*SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT FOR KINDLE UNLIMITED SUBSCRIBERS*
You can now get “The Bridge”, book on in the Para-Earth Series for FREE through Amazon. That’s right, you can enjoy this 4 and 5 star tale for free as part of your Kindle Unlimited subscription. This paranormal/mystery will introduce you to ghosts, psychics, and a whole new vision of parallel realities unlike anything you’ve ever read before.
So why not check it out today and enjoy a really exciting summer read. Plus when you’re done you’ll find book 2 in the series, “The Ship”, is also available through Kindle Unlimited.
Just click on the link below to get started, and please help spread the word. Thank you and happy reading…
The band called the All-American Rejects, wrote a song called “Move Along” which has always stuck with me. It did so even more when I saw the video which at one point involves a member of the band falling backwards into what appears to be an empty swimming pool. But just as he’s in mid-air, the scene shifts to a side view where we see a bunch of hands rise up out of the empty pool to catch and support him.
That’s what a lot of you have been doing for me since my last entry and I want to say a huge “THANK YOU!” So many of you encouraged me saying, “You’ll find a way forward…” or “Are you absolutely sure there’s no way to unite the two ideas, it sounds awesome?” These comments came to me here, on FB and over on Google+.
After reading all this feedback and dwelling on the problem I finally realized I was dealing with another “Rubik’s Cube” (For those not familiar with what I mean by this, here’s a link to an entry I did a while back about writing and Rubik’s Cubes: Writing and Rubik’s Cubes).
So I took a few steps back and gave the problem some thought…
Okay, I gave it a LOT of thought…
Eventually, I came to a realization… I thought I had only two paths because both led to storylines that I already had planned. In short, I had become paralyzed by my own vision of what I wanted to have happen in my series. But those stories had not been written yet, nor were they cast in stone. I was still in command. The Para-Earth Series was mine to create, and design however I wanted. The important thing was to make the journey interesting and entertaining for my readers, which many of you have told me repeatedly I do very well.
So instead of choosing either of the two paths I had before me, I did something else…
I grabbed the road I was already on and took it in a whole new direction which allowed me to marry the two ideas and make them work. It took a lot of thinking on my part but I’ve done it. The mysterious carnival people and Nathaniel will be appearing in “The Door”. There will still be many unanswered questions about both, but in Nathaniel’s case a lot of those will be answered in December. As for the strange people from the carnival, their time is coming as well. You will see more of them in upcoming books before meeting them personally. But meet them you will my friends. They’re story may actually become an anthology of short stories written from the point of view of one who will join their ranks because it will be the only place he can be safe. You will also learn how the carnival’s origins are connected to the ghostly Brandon, who watches over Cassandra, and will have all his secrets revealed in “The Door”.
There are plenty of surprises in store for you all within the pages of this novel in progress. So stay tuned.
But for now I want to say, “Thank you everyone, for supporting and believing in me and my abilities as a writer.” I will always do my best to create stories that will take you places you never expected, and make you laugh and even cry along the way. But always, I’ll try to deliver a good product that leaves you feeling elated and full of wonder at the end.
Until next time… take care of yourselves and keep writing.
And one more thing. For those who are interested in checking out the music video for “Move Along” I’m adding the link just below. I find the song very helpful and uplifting at times and I hope you do as well. Enjoy…
University is done so I’m free to write once more, my computer is running nicely, and I’m full of ideas. “So what’s the problem?” I hear you ask. Well… remember that blog entry I recently did about a certain ‘whale’ I had to let get away… (For those who missed that entry here’s the link: https://akrummenacker.wordpress.com/2015/04/26/the-tale-of-the-whale-who-got-away/ ). Well, I’m finding myself in the same position once again. And since it’s happening in the here and now, I thought I’d share my thought processes and reasoning with you all, in the hopes it might help you should you find yourself in a similar dilemma.
So I stand at a crossroads, trying to weigh my options about whether or not to cut a scene I truly love and think is totally amazing? I have this wonderful scene where one of my four lead characters is involved in a wreck down in the subway tunnels of New York City. She was targeted by a mysterious stalker who has been following her through “The Bridge” and “The Ship” and is now finally making his move. But even after slaughtering an entire train of people, he manages to incapacitate her only to lose her to a mysterious ‘carnival troupe’ whose old-fashioned train and cars are somehow appears on the scene inside those same subway tunnels. Driven off before he can take his prize, the mysterious folks of the ‘carnival’ take his prey to safety under the watchful eye of the girl’s ghostly ancestor. Sounds great right? Plus it raises so many questions like “Why would an old-fashioned circus train (without animals) be traveling on the subway lines in the first place?” Furthermore, we would’ve seen these strange folks who look more like relics from an old-fashioned “Freak Show” demonstrate unusual abilities and talents.
So why would I want to remove such a powerful and intriguing scene? Because this would be the only time they show up in the book. I didn’t have anything else for them to do later on. Furthermore, they would not show up again until 2-3 books from now. What good would that do my audience? I’d be leaving everyone hanging and I don’t like that idea. Oh I could easily beef up their role and have them reappear several times in this book, working behind the scenes to aid our heroes, but it would wind up being a more complicated story to follow, unless I was very careful.
That is one path at this crossroads that I could follow. The other path, would lead directly into my next novel “The Vampyre Blogs – Coming Home”. How would this happen you may ask. The answer is simple. Last December, I wrote a short story in my other blog “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition”. It was a six part story (I prefer to use small installments on blogs) which added up to a novelette which I may release one day down the road. Within that story I took several characters who appear in my first two books (namely Veronica, Julie, Roy and Julie’s uncle Jason) and set the clock back some fifteen years ago. In that story they met two men who aided them in finding a very young Julie who had become lost in a snowstorm and was menaced by a strange creature. One of the two men was Nathaniel Steward, my vampyre, who as you all know will have his own book coming out this December. Since he is already known to several of the characters in “The Door”, I started thinking about introducing him in this novel to play a supporting role to my heroes. This made more and more sense to me since I could see him helping from the shadows at times, as well as having a scene in the epilogue which would lead him directly into his own story. This is something I’ve done in the previous two books. I always have a plot that leads directly into the next book, so this idea makes more and more sense to me.
However if I used Nathaniel it would mean…
…cutting the train scene beneath the streets of New York City.
Why is this so hard? Because I put so much research into laying that scene out. I checked time tables, routes, where the nearest hospital would be in relation to where I had the action taking place… the works. Yet, try as I might, I could never reconcile those mysterious carnival people with the rest of the story.
You see, I actually started “The Door” two years ago BEFORE I started “The Ship”. However, I kept running up against problem after problem with the story. Which was why I put it aside and decided to explore what happened to Cassie and Julie over in Santa Cruz. That story came fast and easy by comparison and produced good results. But even after coming back to “The Door” with a whole new load of information from what happened in “The Ship”, I still couldn’t really see a clear path forward.
But then I thought of Nathaniel and things seem to be clicking into place. Not everything is perfect mind you. By adding him in I have to create entire new scenes, but I feel like the road is a little more clear for where the story should go.
As you can tell, I’ve pretty much made up my mind where I’m going. It’s just really hard to let go of that “train wreck scene”. But I’m going to anyway. I thought about combining Nathaniel and the carnival people, and have him appear on board that mysterious train, but his presence there is too much of a coincidence. It makes more sense to have him appear at Jason’s old house since he has a history with the deceased and has come to pay his respects. Plus it gives me more room to have him interact with Julie who has known him since she was little and is now wondering why he hasn’t aged at all in fifteen years. Will she learn the truth that her late uncle knew about Nathan’s true nature? If she does how will she react to this revelation? And what part will he play in this story before all is said and done? You’ll have to wait and see.
And for that matter so will I. The thing about writing is sometimes there’s not a road or path before us. So we writers have to make one ourselves, one that is right for us and our creations, which makes the journey so much more interesting. So until next time, take care of yourselves and keep creating those roads that have not yet been traveled my friends.
P. S. : If any of you missed that short story involving Nathan, Julie, Jason, Veronica and Roy, here’s the links:
I’m sure most of you will remember that I got some business cards for “The Vampyre Blogs” which I will be releasing in December of this year. I know a lot of people wished me luck and were curious to find out whether or not I’ve seen any difference in the traffic to the ongoing blog that goes by the same name.
So today I’m taking the opportunity to tell you what’s happened in the two weeks since the cards arrived. As you can guess, I began handing out cards up at the university the very next day. I left some lying around in the coffee shop area, as well as in the lounge where students hang out to be found by anyone who happened to sit down in either of those areas. I also handed cards out personally in my classes saying, “Here’s some free reading you can enjoy during the summer break, especially if you like vampires…”
Very few people declined, while others asked for extra cards. They became even more excited when I explained that what they would find at the blog site were basically short stories by the characters who would appear in the novel itself. You should’ve seen the smiles on their faces widen when I assured them that the book was going to be a brand new story in and of itself and not a compilation of the short stories they’d be finding on the site. One person smiled and shook her head saying, “Too bad you went with vampires and not zombies…” At that point I smiled back and told her, “Well, actually there will be a type of zombie involved that the vampyre will be battling…” and that was as far as I got because she was already trying to bring up the blog site.
As for actual views on the site, in the two weeks since I first started handing out the cards I have seen an increase in the traffic already. Normally the site averaged around 200-225 views per month. April ended with 340+ views and this month is coming along nicely as well. There would be days in which no one would visit the site, but now I’m seeing double-digits on practically a daily basis. Whether or not this will continue, I cannot say. But I’ll keep posting new material and updating you all again in the near future.
I’ve also created a FB page for “The Vampyre Blogs – Private Edition” site which has already broken the 100 mark for likes and followers. I’ve been posting the links to the earliest entries on the blog since there are over 40 short stories to be found there. I’m also giving everyone some insight into what thoughts were in my head when I made each post. This is something I do not do on the blog site itself, since I try to let my ‘Characters’ do all the posting there so they can share their thoughts and experiences.
If you’re on FB and would like to check it out here’s the FB page link:
My next step will be to start mailing out small stacks of the cards to friends who offered to hand them out to family, friends, and coworkers. I’ll be making a list of all the people who offer to hand them out for me, so when the book comes out I can give them a signed paperback copy as a way of saying “Thanks for all your support and help.” If anyone here would like to volunteer to distribute my cards, please let me know, I’ll be happy to add you to the list and get a stack out to you.
Remember, getting the word out about your books is sometimes way harder than actually writing the story. So make sure you start letting people know about your book, a few months before it actually comes out. But make sure it’s a book that you’ve actually got done, and not one your thinking about writing one day. People hear that kind of thing all the time and think, “Yeah, right. You’re going to write a book, I’ll believe it when I see it.” Let them know it’s done and is just going through some final editing. Maybe even show them some cover art so they can see you ARE serious. Which reminds me, I need to get my art easel set up. I’ve got the first drafts done, but no cover yet.
So until next time, take care and keep writing everyone.
…Or making hard choices while revising your novel
Whenever I write a novel, or short story, so many ideas come to me that I immediately write down as I’m going on along. I have so much fun with my characters I sometimes wonder if I’m getting enough interesting scenes into the story. I start to worry that I’m having too much of a good time listening to my characters bantering back and forth to make them feel more real and alive, that I start to wonder whether or not there’s enough action going on in the book. When that happens I start coming up with more scenes that help get the readers’ pulses pounding.
But then when I go back to start the second draft I look back over the entire story and find that word count is much higher than I originally planned. I try to aim no higher than 120,000 words, which by industry standards is still pretty long for a novel. Mind you, even though I’m an independent author and don’t have to abide by what most publishers want, I try to keep within certain guidelines such as length. Why do I do this? Because, I don’t want to wind up boring my audience by not letting them get to the final climactic scene. If you take too long letting all the events you’ve been building up to finally happen, you could start losing their interest. PLUS… you could wind up using too many good ideas and confusing them along the way.
In my case, my first drafts usually come in at about 130-160,000 words. So I often wind up with plenty of trimming to do, which I actually don’t mind. A fair amount of those excess words come from scenes where I repeat the same idea that I used earlier or later in the book, in which case I get to decide where in the story it works best and delete the other sections where it appears. Other times I’ll find a scene that while extremely interesting and exciting, does not really add anything to the main story. In fact, it serves more as a distraction than anything else.
That’s what happened with the fellow in this photo…
This is a whale skeleton located at Long Marine Lab in Santa Cruz, a location I used in my second novel “The Ship”. As you can imagine it’s quite large and has been out in the sun and rain for many years. But where it was located, really got my imagination going. You see, this fellow stands not more than fifteen yards away from a cliff that looks out onto the ocean. Mind you, there is a fence so no one falls in, which is a good thing because it’s a sheer drop down onto some nasty rocks far below.
In fact I was standing one windy day looking out at the waves when I heard a metal creaking noise behind me. Immediately my imagination went into overdrive and I could see clearly in my mind that the whale skeleton, perched on its metal poles, had begun to move. I’ll admit that I quickly whirled around and saw that it of course had not moved. And while I stared at it, half expecting it to do so, I heard the sound again. This time I realized it was coming from the de-salinazation plant off to my left. But still, the idea of the bones moving and coming to life was stuck in my head and I knew I just had to use it in a story. Especially when I went to leave and took one final photo and wound up with this image
My mind was on fire. I kept picturing those bony jaws clamping down on someone and shaking them like a dog chewing on an old shoe. I had already begun work on “The Ship” and had been working on a scene that took place at Long Marine Lab, so I immediately added to the scene. I’d created a nosy reporter who was following Cassandra, my billionaire heiress, and her new love-interest Julie Cloudfoot around and decided to have the reporter be the victim. She was a tabloid journalist who was going to expose Cassie’s coming out of the closet unless Cassie bought the photos showing her and Julie kissing on the beach and other places. But one of my other antagonists intercepted the journalist near the fence overlooking the ocean after the woman had issued her ‘business offer’ to Cassie who had just left. My villain had not wanted Cassie threatened and used some of his abilities to animate the skeleton and killed the journalist. It was a fascinating scene that I really loved, especially after the journalist was dead and the whale skeleton flung her lifeless body over the cliff and into the sea.
Yet, when I started the second draft I saw how crowded the book already was with characters who really mattered. Plus, there were already so many good scenes that were more relevant, that this scene became a distraction. So I copied and pasted it into a separate file where I keep other fragments of work, and saved it. (Does this sound familiar to everyone? It should, I keep telling you all to save any scenes you remove from your stories because they might prove useful in another story with other characters)
So the other day I came across these photos of the whale skeleton again and started thinking about how I had to let that scene go. I still wanted to use it in another story, but I couldn’t imagine how I’d make it happen. Julie and Cassie, along with most of my characters were back on the East Coast and I had practically no one left out in Santa Cruz, then I remembered Julie’s younger brother Johnny. Johnny had been introduced in “The Ship” and had played several crucial roles in that book. By the end of the story he was still out here in Santa Cruz, because he was a student studying marine biology and sometimes helped out at Long Marine Lab as part of his studies. He also had gotten a girlfriend named Michelle who had a secret or two of her own (those who’ve read “The Ship” know what I’m talking about… hint-hint). So now I’m starting to think about their story and I’m planning on recycling the whale skeleton scene with a new villain and victim. The overall tale itself will be a love-story in the vein of Beauty and the Beast, only I’ll be reversing the sexes and making it more of a Handsome and the Beast tale. That will probably see the light of day in 2016 or 2017 depending on how much writing I can do and how fast I get things done.
So now you understand why I keep telling you all to save scenes that you need to remove from one story. They can come in handy down the road with a bit of reworking. It’s been almost w years since I wrote and removed that scene and I had no idea if and when it might prove useful. But now I have the characters and a storyline where it can come into play. There are countless other pieces of story I have saved that I will be sorting through which might come in handy too. I’ll have to root through them and see what I’ve got. But I’ll keep you posted.
You can find out other interesting things about what went on when I wrote “The Ship” on the new Facebook Page I made for that book. You can find it at:
That’s al;l I have for today. Until next time, take care everyone, and keep writing.