What’s the Deal???

In the “Deals in Kindle Books” section of the Kindle Store, you can find many different kinds of  “deals.” 

If you want your book to be a Good Deal or a BIG deal,  check these out:

Kindle Daily Deals-  These run for ONE day and get maximum exposure from Amazon. Usually, authors running these deals see a huge spike in sales/downloads.

Kindle Monthly Deals- These run for a whole month, but get much less exposure from Amazon.

Kindle Exclusive Deals- A grouping together of daily and monthly deals for books enrolled in KDP Select and those made available to Kindle Unlimited readers.

Kindle Countdown Deals- Only KDP Select authors can run these deals. They can be run on any given book every 90 days. Kindle puts a clock on the book’s product page which counts down until the deal is “off.”

**There are several other “Deals” which are limited time promotions . They are invite-only from Amazon’s editorial team. These are the most lucrative for authors—offering the most exposure online, so watch your IN-BOX.

A Little Advice

Did you miss my blog last week?

There wasn’t one because my computer died.

It was sudden. It felt no pain.

But I sure did!

My computer had asked me to update my system. I clicked “OK.”

It froze at about 90% and remained that way for 24 hours. That’s when I called for help from Apple Care. Hours on the phone resulted in an in-person appointment at the Genius Bar and leaving my computer with them for two days.

When I heard back from them, they informed me that all of my data was lost and gave me a couple of options for what I could do–going forward. None sounded good.

No data? No memory? Years of work gone?

I consulted a man I consider to be a computer guru. Turns out, he is a PC guy. However, he did give me a phone number to call. My “best chance” at recovery.

I followed his advice and took my computer to The Apple Exchange. They guys are trained in data recovery. And they didn’t disappoint.

After several more days–and many prayers–the good news of data recovery came.

I was amazed, grateful, and praised God and Charlie (the super-hero technician) who helped make this all happen.

So, here’s the advice I promised. Always have a back-up system THAT IS WORKING. Check it once in awhile to make sure it is really backing up your work.

I had an external drive (Passport, it’s called). However, I had purchased a new computer about two years ago and simply plugged the old Passport into the new computer and went on my busy way, ignorant of the fact that it needed to be reconfigured for the new computer.

The result? I have been working/saving for almost two years without backup. (Yes, there is the CLOUD and TIME MACHINE, but somehow these problems became interrelated when I did system updates…)

My point is this: don’t take anything for granted. Ask questions if you don’t know how to do something. It will save you time and a lot of headaches.

I was fortunate, but some glitches cannot be fixed. Some memories cannot be restored. And so they become just that…

distant memories.

What Energizes You?

We writers have been told to write every day—no matter what. I would agree with that, but I think it really doesn’t matter what we write, as long as we stay in the habit of writing.

Letter writing, blogging, answering emails, writing Thank-You notes, and so on. Let’s not forget the occasional magazine article or Letter to the Editor. The important thing is not to get lazy. Writing is just like any other habit. If it isn’t cultivated, it dies on the vine.

The only way out of the forest is through the trees. And the only way to get a book written is to write!  

I’ve formed the habit of writing in the mornings, taking a break for lunch and a short walk, then coming back to my computer in the afternoons. I switch gears completely on the weekends by helping  my husband with his renovation projects. It rejuvenates me and gets me ready for another week of writing.

Care to share what energizes you?

Multi-Author Boxed Sets

Here’s an idea I am going to propose to a group of my author friends. It is a variation on what I recently blogged about creating boxed sets: Have each author submit one of their recent books to be included into a multi-author boxed set.

This marketing idea speaks to the recent trend in which authors put their individual works into boxed sets. However, those who may not have enough books for a boxed set of their own, may discover commonalities between their writings and that of other authors. 

They might be writing in the same genre or on the same subject. For instance, all of the books in the proposed boxed set might be of a broad group, say, FANTASY. Or, the grouping might be narrowed to just stories about Grizzly Bears. I suppose you could even group them by “firsts” (the first books by new authors). You may be even more creative in finding complementary aspects of each book.

You will need to write “back cover” copy for the set, and perhaps give it a TITLE, but I was told that KDP support staff will actually help you through the process of getting them into the set. 

It could be just that simple. And, you might find your book garnering increased sales.

That means more of your books in the hands of readers!

Four Essentials In Writing a Successful Book

Have visions of your book literally flying off the shelves? You can do four essential things to make this happen:

The first three are all on the outside.

First is the title. It must be catchy, exciting, edgy, and unique. It needs to capture the essence of what the writer is trying to portray. It needs to give the reader a hint at what’s inside without giving everything away. (I am speaking of FICTION books. Non-Fiction books need to hit on the very topic to be covered. Non-fiction readers have a certain bit of information they are looking for. The title is their first clue they have found what they are seeking.)

Dave Barry’s BIG TROUBLE is probably one of the funniest books I have ever read. The title had me hooked from the “get-go”.  The spine told me just enough to get me to pluck it from the shelf. 

Then I saw it—the second essential—one of the most creative and unique covers I’d seen up to that point. The closeup of a crocodile’s face, bumpy and wild-eyed. Who wouldn’t want to read a book about a crocodile that caused “Big Trouble”? 

I turned it over and then I read it—the third essential—the back cover blurb.  Amazing. Captivating. Hilarious. Irresistible.

The fourth essential is inside the book— the writing. And, Big Trouble did not disappoint.

If a book’s cover, title, and back cover blurb can get me to shell out my money, THE WRITING HAS TO DELIVER. PERIOD. If it doesn’t, it is just a big promise not kept. It’s a marketing ploy and nothing more.

If the book doesn’t live up to the hype, a reader won’t feel satisfied. And an unsatisfied reader will NEVER PURCHASE A BOOK FROM THAT AUTHOR AGAIN. 

They feel CHEATED, BETRAYED, CONNED.

You’ve probably heard that you only have one chance to make a good first impression.  That statement was originally said about face-to-face meetings, but it is never truer than when said in reference to a book.

So, target all four essentials. Make sure that the writing on the inside lives up to the title, cover, and back cover blurb on the outside.

Because you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!

        

Does Writing Make Authors Gain Weight?

Writing and dieting definitely do not mix..

When writing something exciting, or if I am having trouble working out a plot, I find I often wake up in the middle of the night and cannot get back to sleep.

However, the latest research says that getting a good night’s rest helps with weight loss. The reverse is also true. Not enough sleep results in weight gain.

Secondly, writing something exciting causes me to snack. The faster I type, the faster I shovel it in. The more suspenseful the writing, the more I am likely to go for something small and easy to pop into my mouth, like popcorn, nuts, or M&M’s.

Finally, writing is a sedentary activity. We writers need to get up and move around every hour or so to clear our brains, stretch our muscles, and burn a few calories.

I’ll never write a cookbook. 

Just imagine what might happen if I focused on yummy recipes all day long!

Make It A Real Page Turner!

If someone says you should “Milk It,” when they critique your work, they are saying to give the scene

MORE ACTION

MORE EMOTION

MORE INTERNAL THOUGHTS

MORE DESCRIPTION

MORE CONFLICT 

Because that’s what makes a story exciting and satisfying. If you want your book to be a real page turner, then a writer has to deliver ON EVERY PAGE.

DON’T SKIMP. 

Use rich vocabulary. Lots of adjectives and verbs. Paint a visual picture. 

Furnish the details. Let them get inside the characters’ heads by revealing their emotions via DIALOGUE, ACTIONS, AND THOUGHTS. 

PLUMP UP the plot. Make the content EXCITING. Compel your reading audience to keep turning the pages… all night long!

So if you have a nice little story lacking PIZAZZ, why not make it a page turner?

Spice it up. 

Change it up. 

Shake it up. 

MILK IT!!!!

What NOT To Write

I love to read. 

I read a couple of books a week.

However, for the past six to nine months, it seems like I am reading the same book over and over.

Oh, the name of the town in which they live and the characters’ names change, but the stories… the plots are almost identical.

Writers should be more creative than this!

Please don’t join the hundreds of authors who write about:

  1. Mailorder brides.
  2. Couples who marry because of circumstances in their lives and not because of love. (For instance, they need to marry by a certain date or lose their inheritance.)
  3. Ladies, mostly, who inherit a hotel, bed and breakfast, or ranch and find a handsome cowboy or business-type who helps them learn the ropes.
  4. Mysteries involving cats.
  5. Let me just interject here a plea of a different order. Please refrain from including overused phrases in your writing. Here are two I find in almost every book: “He reached forward to tuck a wayward curl behind her ear” and “She let out a breath she didn’t realize she’d been holding.” 

Resist the urge to write on someone else’s coattails. Spend some time brainstorming to come up with unique stories of your own that will please both you and your readers alike.

Kindle Vella

What follows is a brief overview of the new serialized fiction reading program released to the public in April of 2021. For more detailed information, please see the full description for readers and authors on Amazon.

I recently received a couple of emails from Amazon about this new opportunity for writers, so I finally took the time to dive in and find out what Kindle Vella is all about.

It all boils down to this: readers can access stories which authors release in short episodic installments. 

They read these using the Kindle Vella app (for ios or Android) or the KV website on their computer desktops. 

The first three episodes of any story are free, but readers need to acquire and use tokens to unlock future episodes. They can give their opinions of the stories in the form of follows, likes, and faves.

Authors create new, original stories in their KDP dashboards. After the stories have been on Kindle Vella for at least 30 days (and are at least 10 episodes long), the author is allowed to publish them in a book format if they wish.

Authors earn 50% of what readers spend to read their episodes on the app in the form of tokens purchased from Amazon, plus certain bonuses. Note: Amazon retains the right to price the episodes originally and to change the token pricing at anytime.

I’d be the first to tell you that I haven’t delved into the compensation model, but it is explained on Amazon for those of you who are further interested.

This doesn’t seem to be geared toward getting authors more money. However, if you consider that the episodic release model might be a good fit for your writing, it may be worth looking into.

The big plus, as I see it, is that this is an innovative way to reach and grow new readership.

Are there other episodic installment platforms out there? Yes. Two others you might consider are Wattpad and Radish.

Confessions of a Hybrid

A “pantser” is a person who writes by the seat of their pants. He writes with little to no advance planning of plot, characters, and so on. A “planner” does just the opposite. He/she plans out the plot, the scenes, the character arc—all of it—in advance. 

I suppose you could call me  a “hybrid.” I have a definite beginning and ending in mind for my books. I even have a rough idea of how I am going to get there. However, as my characters develop, I really do listen to them. If they can argue a good case for any given action, I can be swayed.

I am always willing to use the delete key any time they bring a better idea forward.

Case in point: In Runaways: The Long Journey Home, Charlie and Claire convinced me to allow them to remain at the “Summer House” longer than I had anticipated. They had valid reasons why this would be essential to the plot.

I caved. They stayed.

In Will’s Last Testament, I allowed Will to remain healthy longer than I originally had written because he defended his reasoning so well. The resulting timeline is much more satisfying.

I also listen to my critique partner and writing group. If they say they are confused by a scene or they don’t understand a character’s motivation, for instance, I reread my submission to myself and usually decide they are absolutely right. They are my “voices of reason” when I get so caught up in the story and so close to the characters that I cannot be impartial.

I’m a self-professed hybrid: a “plantser.” How about you?