Tag Archives: ebooks

Kindlegraphs

Okay, so I know Kindlegraph.com is going to be old news for a lot of you. Even though I’d heard of it, read at least one article about it, probably even dropped by the site, I didn’t “get around” to signing up, chalking it up as one of those things that I’d put on the to-do list to investigate later. I mean, let’s face it, unless Kait says “You must doooo eeeeet nowwww…” it generally doesn’t get done.

But I recently had a reader ask me for a Kindlegraph, and frankly it’s enough that my laziness produces a whole year between books, it shouldn’t disappoint readers any more than that. So I took my virtual butt over to Kindlegraph.com.

Quick and Easy

This was not hard. It took less than 5 minutes to watch the video about what Kindlegraphs are. It took less time than that to read through the author FAQs and understand our part. It took no time to sign in with Twitter and maybe two minutes to copy and paste my AISNs into the system.

However, I tell you this because I searched for some of my friends and I don’t seem to be the only one who hasn’t gotten around to this yet.

What you do

After you sign in and enter your AISNs, your devoted fans, or those collecting Kindlegraphs, will be able to find your books on the site and click a button to request a Kindlegraph. Hopefully they’ll add a message to you so you’ve got something to go on to personalize it.

Once you get a request, it’s just a button click to go to the page to fill it. You type in a message and then add your signature. You can either sign your name by mouse (yeah, that’s hard, but once you do it the site site stores it) or type your sig in handwriting font. Another click and your done.

What they get

A PDF of your cover image with your message and signature beneath it is emailed to the person who requested it. This can be emailed directly to their Kindle if they followed those instructions in the setup, or it just be sent to an email address and saved on their computer. Once it’s on the computer, it could be side-loaded to any device that will read PDF, so don’t be put off by the name.

You can find my books on Kindlegraph.com on this page, and any time you want to find that again, the link will be on my Talent Chronicles book page.

Here’s a screenshot of the one I autographed for my dorky self:

The Hush Money cover with a message and autograph

in which I thanked me very much

So in case any of your readers think it’s fun to collect these, just go. Doooo eeeeet nowwww.

Advertisements

10 Comments

Filed under writing

Blog eMags and You

Okay, so this is my newest plan to keep up with my life. I’m picking some blogs that I definitely must keep up with–the ones that I consistently learn from and recommend on Sundays. And I’m picking a few book blogs to tell me what I should be reading so I can try to keep my head in the reading world, as well as the writer world and up my own–

Anyway, the new plan for not spending all day at this, surfing from one thing to another, was to try reading the blogs on my NOOK Color. I don’t like typing on the device a lot (maybe keeping me from some of my tome-like replies), and the browser is slow which may stop me from surfing too much. Still, must-try book samples are only a few clicks away through the NOOK shop. And I can take my daily news with me if I’m going out. Seems like a plan.

My way of doing that is to use Calibre to make a daily magazine of the blogs I’ve selected. I’ve been an ereading device owner for years now, and I’ve always used the Calibre software for ebook management. I can’t say enough about how awesome this completely free package is. I’m going to take you through how to do this. After I’m done, I’m going to talk a bit about something that may be in your blog settings that makes it harder for your readers to read you this way.

the Fetch News button in CalibreIn Calibre, there is a Fetch News feature. It’s a handy button on the top toolbar. When you click the little arrow beside it, you get a dropdown from which you can select “Add a custom news source.” This brings up the window to create your little digest, magazine, whatever you want to call it. It looks like this:

Window for adding a custom news recipe in CalibreIt calls your new source Unknown News Source. Change that to anything you like. I called mine “Blogs.” Ooh, I know. You could also create different magazines for writer blogs, reader blogs, etc. or Blogs1, Blogs2, so that you could go through your must-reads and move on to the next set of if-I-have-time-reads.

At the bottom of the window there’s a bar for the feed URL. Open up your browser, go to your blogs and start finding those URLs. Most people have the little orange RSS icon at least. When you click it, it will usually take you to the feed page where you see a list of recent articles and the option to use a service to subscribe. Just copy the URL that’s in the address bar and paste it into Calibre. Give the feed a title and click the button to add.

When you’re finished adding feeds, click the Add/Update Recipe button. (A recipe for a magazine is what you just built.) Then close. Calibre may keep asking you if you’re sure, even if you’ve saved everything. Just move on.

Click the arrow next to Fetch News again and select “Schedule news download.” You’ll see a long list of languages with numbers beside them. These are prebuilt news recipes. You’re looking for “Custom.” When you click that, it should drop down and display your new recipe. Select that and you’ll see options to choose how often and when your feeds are downloaded and your magazine is built. You can click “Download now” to see what you’re going to get.

Window to schedule download of news recipe in CalibreTo have this happen automatically, you’ll need to leave Calibre running. In order to really exit Calibre, you have to go to your system tray (that “show hidden icons” thingy with the teeny icons), right click it, and exit it. Otherwise it just keeps running even if you close the window in your taskbar. So that’s not hard. When you use Calibre to move things on and off your device, it’s called side-loading. Before devices had wi-fi or Whispernet, this is how it was done. (You know, back in the day, before the NOOK customer service people were born.)

Device buttons in Calibre toolbarUse the appropriate cable with a USB plug on one end (or however you connect) to hook up to your computer and wait for Calibre to recognize the device and sync. You’ll notice new Device and Send to Device buttons appear on the toolbar. You can see that my SD card also shows up because Calibre will let you move things from the computer to either the main memory or SD card. You can also use Calibre to delete items from your device that you’ve finished reading. If you click the device button, you’ll be able to see the items currently residing on the device. Go back to the library by clicking the Library button.

When your magazine has downloaded, it will be in your library with the title you gave the recipe and the date it was downloaded. I just right-click the entry and select “Send to device–>Main memory.” The transfer takes seconds. Be sure to go to your system tray, right-click the USB icon and choose eject so you can safely disconnect without corrupting the transfer. I dunno, I never had problems with that on the Sony Reader, but yanking out the USB on the NOOK Color seems to be a bad idea.

Once it’s set up, this daily ritual should take you about a minute, and then you can run out the door, catch the train and read some blogs. On a device like Sony Reader, I’m pretty sure it just shows up alphabetically in the title list. On the NOOK Color you’ll find it in “My Files,” “Magazines.” The rest of you are on your own.

Why I Can’t Read Your Blog

If your feed is set to set to show only summaries, summaries are what I get in my magazine. Each entry, whether summary or full text, does have a link to the entry on the web (so you can go read more, comment, etc.), but remember that a) I don’t like my browser, b) I don’t always have wi-fi access when I’m reading blogs, and c) there are still tons of readers out there that aren’t even wi-fi enabled.

To check your feed settings in WordPress, go to your dashboard and scroll all the way down the left side menu to “Settings.” Click “Reading.” Right above the Enhanced Feeds heading there are radio buttons for “Full text” or “Summary.” Make sure full text is selected, save the changes, and I’ll be good to go for reading your blog on the go.

Wordpress page for adjusting Reading in Settings

For Kindle Owners

Kindle owners can subscribe to blogs and have them delivered right to the Kindle. Amazon charges a fee for this convenience, and that fee is shared with the blog owner, similar to the way Amazon pays royalties on books. Not that I expect people have been dying to pay for the privilege of reading this blog, but I have added it to the service.  Find it here or click that link and search for some other favorite blog.

It looks like most subscriptions cost 99¢ or $1.99, but I saw nowhere to set a price so I’m guessing Amazon decides. If you’d like to learn more about making your own blog available for Kindle subscription, check out this article from the Savvy Book Marketer and download the PDF tutorial at the end of the post. (Thanks to Kait Nolan for sending me there.)

5 Comments

Filed under blogs

Thoughts on NOOK Color and Ereader shopping

So it’s Friday, the day when I like to talk about reading. I like reading ebooks. That’s probably an understatement. I’ve had an ereader for a few years now. I have hundreds of ebooks. I’ve finally parted with probably 400-500 of my paperbacks in the last year. (I donated most of them to a women’s prison through a woman who volunteers there.) I am one of those people who will pretty much always choose digital over paper, to the point where I’ll pass on a paper-only book now.

Shopping Considerations

This spring I upgraded from my Sony Reader to the NOOK Color. I had been wanting to do this, and I finally broke down when Barnes and Noble FINALLY opened up their app store. Unfortunately, their app store was pathetic and hugely disappointing, prompting me to root my new NOOK Color to function as an android tablet. Which is pretty freaking awesome.

See, first of all, I get pissy about the being told where to shop. I HATE proprietary formats. I don’t want to be bound to one shopping experience, one inventory, at the mercy of one store’s prices. I know that other places sell Kindle-compatible formats, but I’m very turned off by the fact that Kindle doesn’t read EPUB and when they decided to move forward with their exclusivity, I took them off my consideration list. I knew I wanted a device that would read EPUB.

I loved my Sony Reader, and when the cat knocked it off a table and busted the screen, I got a new (refurb) replacement device  for maybe 1/6th the cost of a new one at that time, with very quick turnaround. Kudos to Sony for that customer service experience. Demerits for the Sony ebookstore which has never been thrilling and, even before the agency pricing model, didn’t have impressive sales and pricing. Tech was getting far ahead of the device I had, and, let’s face it, I’m a serious ebook girl. It was time to start looking around.

One thing that I really looked into were digital comics. And let me tell you, those guys are still a mess. But they’re working on it. So far there’s an been an issue (with the WORLD) of forgetting that there’s life beyond Apple, and I’m not about to buy and iAnything, but there are plenty of Android peeps screaming at them and hopefully they’re going to get their acts together. But anyway, with reading that includes comics and magazines on my agenda, a color device was definitely a draw.

Great Things about the NOOK Color

It is beautiful. I am not one of those people who are bothered by looking at the screen. But then, I don’t always have the brightness turned all the way up and I change the text depending on the my environment. The NOOK Color even has a setting for reading in bed where the text is white against a dark background so there’s less light to keep your partner awake.

Basically what I tell people is that it’s bright and beautiful. Everything is very clear and crisp. I can read in any light and I can make the text as large as I need it. (I’m about to be 40 remember.) And the range of sizes is much about twice what I had on the Sony.

I really enjoy the touch screen and turning pages with swipe or just by tapping the edge of the screen. I like being able to highlight text and make notes, especially when proofreading my own work.

The size works for me. It’s a little tall, but not outside purse-carrying size. I don’t WANT anything bigger than this. It’s also a little heavier than my Sony Reader–it’s bigger and the screen is longer by probably 1.5 inches. I do get tired holding it in the same hand for extended periods. I’ve also had severe carpal tunnel and have lost a lot of muscle, so factor that in. I’ve got it in a third-party leather cover that latches and has pockets. I think the cover is actually made for e-ink NOOK and this one just barely fits. But it’s the size of a planner or trade paperback and easy to tote around, holdable with one hand, and not ungainly to whip out on the checkout line.

With basic NOOK you get Library, Shop, Apps, and Web.

Library and Reading

The library, the reading application on the NOOK Color, is very nice and I’m happy with the way it functions. It also uses real page numbers which I vastly prefer over the Kindle’s percentage/location system. It may take me 2-4 screens of text to read one page (depending on the size I’ve made the text), but it just makes more sense to me, personally.

The NOOK Color has this awesomely impressive kids function: read-aloud books. They’re basically enhanced picture ebooks with an option of having an audio track read on each page. The bummer is that it seems to be hard for kids to get the pages to turn, so you’re having to sit there and turn the pages and you may as well be reading the book yourself. And then some people don’t want a preschooler to touch their pricey ereader. (Not me, mine’s insured.) However, other people are putting out enhanced ebooks as individual apps, so NOOK Color hardly has a corner on this.

Shop

The NOOK book Shop is well integrated with the Library and buying a book or getting a sample is relatively quick and easy. Because the browser is a little slow, I’m not a good thumb-typist, and because I like to shop around, I do tend to do more shopping on the laptop, but the NOOK Color updates with my new purchases or samples right away.

Apps

Maybe the BN App Store has gotten better since I looked at it. When I first got my NOOK in the spring, the selection was pathetic. It was clear that BN would allow no apps that might compete with its own sales. So even though they don’t sell digital comics, no Comixology app, for example. (There were a few graphic novels available as apps. I think of individual book apps as just ebooks in a different format. Not quite the same thing and selection is poor.) And at the rate BN moves on anything, it was just damned depressing to think about having to wait for them to develop these things on their own.

Web

Web browsing is okay. Slow and I’m not good at the virtual keyboard, so putting in addresses and searching is annoying for me. I don’t use it much.

What’s on my rooted NOOK

I don’t actually know how to explain what rooting is and get it right. Basically, after @techsurgeons and my husband defined a few terms for me, I followed a set of instructions, downloaded some stuff, and now the NOOK is half what it was before and half Android tablet. So I have this whole other menu of stuff I can add whatever I want to.

Unfortunately, many apps are only “conventionally” available via the Android Market, and because I have a device that’s not supposed to be able to get this stuff, Android Market often tells me my device is incompatible and won’t let me download stuff. I use the Amazon App Store a lot, and I look other places to find work-arounds.

Reading

Kindle app– If I want to buy something specifically to increase someone’s Kindle rank, I can buy it on Kindle. Or if it’s only available in ebook on Kindle. Or if the price is less on Kindle. And I have to say that I do enjoy just the mischief value of it.

Interweave Knits Magazine– Interweave has had digital back issues for a while now, but when they finally made new issues available by subscription and said it was available for Android, I jumped. Unfortunately I then found that Zinio, the company actually handling the digital version, did not provide their Android app directly and it was one of those Android Market said was incompatible with my device. After I had already bought the subscription and customer service wouldn’t let me have the app to even try it on my device and had no solution for me at this time, I went around them and got it myself. Incompatible my ass. Interweave Knits looks BEAUTIFUL on the NOOK Color, and I can refer to those patterns when I’m actually in the yarn shop now.

Comixology– I finally got the Comixology app. Again it’s one that I had to track down because Android Market hates my device. I haven’t done a lot of reading with it yet, but, again, it looks beautiful.

Organization-

Cozi– I think I’ve mentioned before that I use the Cozi Family Planner to remind me about stuff. It reminds primarily through texts to my phone (my not a smartphone yet), which is good. But having the app in the NOOK allows me to use it as a date book. I can pull it out and add things offline, and then sync later.

SpringpadSpringpad is something I find hand for making notes for myself on the go. I thumb-typed most of the structure of Heroes Under Siege in the car one day when a song particularly inspired me. (No, I wasn’t driving.) I can never find a working pen in those moments, so had it not been for the NOOK in my bag, I probably would have forgotten half of that by the time I got home. Again, the kind of thing you can work offline and sync later, which is great for wi-fi only devices.

Dropbox-I was already a Dropbox user because of Kait. We trade manuscripts and stuff like that through Dropbox often. She uses it heavily for transferring between work and home computers. Taking my cue from her, I’m finding it’s great for transferring things easily from laptop to tablet. It’s also all but essential for installing some apps. (I need to point out, btw, that nearly all the apps I use are free. I never go looking elsewhere for an app to avoid paying for it, and don’t install apps without paying for them if there’s a charge. There’s no reason to, and honestly it’s too much trouble to go hunting something down if I can just pay a few dollars and install right there.)

Fun and Useful Stuff and Things

Chuzzle– Yes, we’ve covered that I’m Pop Cap’s bitch. I try not to put too many games on NOOK, but this is my fav.

Pandora– I think Pandora might have been part of the original NOOK Color setup. But whatever. Who doesn’t love Pandora? Speaker on the device isn’t great, but whatever. I’m not picky. (about that)

Stopwatch and timer– because sometimes that’s damned useful.

Netflix– !!! Is finally here. Another one I had to go hunt down because it’s incompatible, and another one that seems to work just fine.

Final thoughts

Battery life is an issue. I don’t know how well it works as just the basic reader. Running apps drains a battery and the fact that some of them are running when you don’t it can be problematic. A task manager app with a kill function is a must. I rarely have a problem, but when I was reading The Tipping Point like a mad woman over the weekend, I did have to read with it plugged in for a while.

There are some apps it would be cool to have that will never be compatible with the NOOK Color. No camera, no GPS, etc. I often think that, for the way I’m using it, as a date book through which I can also read books from anywhere, magazines, comics, proofreading and annotate my documents, IM my bestie from the McDonald’s playland… for all that stuff a genuine tablet might have been a better choice for me, especially if it meant that the Android Market would play nicer, though there’s certainly no guarantee of that–rooted NOOKs aren’t the only tablets tohave these issues, I believe.

I would have paid less for an e-ink device, but I’ve had one of those. I like this better and I’m getting a ton more use out of it. I paid less for this than an actual tablet. I’m getting a lot of use of out it, but also a lot of hassle.

I’d say that if you’re just going to use it for reading, you should consider your reading needs. Do you like e-ink? Is color a big part of your reading?

If you’re more like me and have the shop-anywhere issue, or the I want one device to rule them all issue, then it’s partly a matter of cost and what you can afford to put into it. The NOOK Color is definitely an less expensive alternative at this time.

But it’s also a matter of tech savvy, confidence, and tolerance for frustration. Rooting the NOOK Color isn’t hard, but if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s pretty freakin’ intimidating. I’m the kind of person who likes to learn stuff, and the kind who finds it rewarding to make things work that weren’t supposed to. So after the hair-pulling frustration, I get a lot of lasting satisfaction out of having made the world bend to my will. I’ll enjoy Interweave Knits more because Zinio’s customer service wouldn’t help me. (Which is very wrong.) However, if you don’t have that thing that I have, then it might not be worth it.

This is a pretty non-standard ereader device review. If you have any questions about the device, please feel free to ask me. I’m sorry that I’m able to provide info on everything I’ve read or a clear understanding of what I did. But perhaps knowing that understanding it all is not required may be helpful. I can no longer find the exact link(s) I used (I’ve changed computers since then), but I believe that everything you’d need can be found here.

5 Comments

Filed under book review

The Hero Had a Certain Owenocity About Him…

Whenever you have an Oweny character named Owen, some blog titles are just moral imperatives. Nuff said.

I finished reading Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia. This book was originally self-published, then picked up by Baen, which seems to be a division of Pocket/Simon & Schuster. Excellent book. I said somewhere, while I was reading this 700+ page monster (in paperback!) that it’s not exactly romance. I really find I have to take that back. It actually really was.

What’s more, while I rarely read books by male authors because I so often find myself disgusted or insulted (and this is probably because I tried to read “classic” SF/F), I found this author delightful. Which may be a strange word to use for a fic that’s got a gun culture following due to lots of weapon specifics (and the author is so good that my eyes didn’t even roll back in my head as I read those), and is just packed with scenes of super violent, gory, monster-slaying action. It’s also well-constructed, really well-written, highly imaginative, and this guy’s got a great sense of humor.

What really endeared the book to me was the portrayal of the first-person protag, Owen Pitts. Yeah, there’s a heroic name for ya. And Owen Pitts is an accountant. He’s a big, awkward, self-described oaf of a man, who doesn’t get a lot of chicks, and, in the absolutely fabulous opening scene of the book, is unhappily working as an office drone for the nightmare boss that most of us have felt we’ve had to put up with at some point. And then he throws the boss out of a window.

But he had a really good reason. Trust me.

The character of Owen is brilliantly done. He’s confident in the skills that he has, but not proud, in the sense that he would brag about them. Because a lot of the things he can do haven’t been doing him much good. His military vet father trained him up to be a great shooter, and Owen loves the hobby, but that’s all it is. He’s a good brawler, and while that earned him some cash in the past as a bouncer and at other things, it seemed to be more bad than good and he’s trying to put all the violent stuff behind him. So he sets about trying to use his brain, and he’s very smart, but then he ends up in the shitty job with the shitty boss from Hell. And all this makes for a character who’s not dark, damaged, and tortured, but sees himself as tends to see himself as sort of socially awkward and oafish, pushed around by life in general.

My Mary Sue warning sirens were going off like anything (not that I’d want to have to call this big guy with all the hardware Mary Sue). He’s got all these skills, and some pretty interesting stuff starts happening to him–this thing was obnoxious wish-fulfillment waiting to happen. But it did not go there.

Instead, the author kept it fully in check. Kept the hero challenged. Let him make bad decisions. Let him fail. Let him want to curl up and die after a hard workout, and have to stand there, trying not to throw up, while talking to the girl he liked. Somehow, as badass as Owen kept becoming, as his importance to the events of the story kept building, he managed to keep both the confidence he needed, an amount of self-doubt and anxiety that made sense, and a humility that made him endearing all the way through.

Probably the most endearing thing for me, though, was the way he thought about his love interest. This guy showed so much respect for his lady that I wanted him to date my daughter–not now when she’s six, but you know. When his ardor for her increased, it was never due to the way her boobs wanted to spill out of the barely there dress she was wearing. It was because of things like courage, competence, brains. (Kind of like “just the way you look tonight” except “just the way you wielded that spear against the undead.”)

Suffice it to say that I really enjoyed it. This book was a great package, a book outside my usual reading zone that delivered on a lot of levels. Recommended.

Now this is interesting. I carried this paper monster around in my purse for the last few weeks–which really shows my devotion. Since it wasn’t even on Kindle, I figured it wasn’t available in E (plus, we had the paperback in house, so it was easy to pick up). While investigating for this post, I FOUND E! Not only did I find it, I found in cheaper than paperback, in multi-format, and they seem to be DRM-free–at least, I was able make sure the EPUB I downloaded would convert for future unknown device. Everything we want. Plus PayPal option. (Yes, you’ve figured out that even though my husband had already bought the paperback and I’d already read it, I had to buy it again in eformat. Is that wrong?)

The only drawbacks I see are that they play this subscription thing out so that you have to wait until they’re done serializing a book before you can read it as a whole. I don’t even watch TV series that way, so hopefully that’s more a sneak preview thing that comes before the actual release. The other is that they don’t also sell the books in e on other sites–like it’s not in the Kindle store–and I think that’s a big loss of browsing customer sales for their authors. I just stumbled across this because I was looking for info about the author, and that only because I had heard he was an indie-to-contract story. At least now I know that if I’m intrigued by a Baen-published book, I can probably actually buy it instead of going through the library. Yay for that! /tangent

12 Comments

Filed under Superheroes, Heroism, and Romance

Amazon, Censorship, and DRM

I freaking hate DRM. Hate hate hate. DRM absolutely affects my buying decisions. Absolutely. I’ve been an ebook fan for a while now. My device was pretty expensive, because the technology was newer when I bought it, but before agency pricing I was able to save enough money on my book-buying habit to make it worth the price, because back then you could get a lot of good deals on ebooks. (And you still can, if you stick to cheap, DRM-free indie reads.) What really made the decision for me to embrace ebooks at the time was how much I love getting digital books from the library. So my choice of ereader was the one that worked with the library’s DRM.

I’m going to want a new device down the line. I’m already looking. But in purchasing a device, I want to concentrate on device quality and features–not the quality of the store to which the device is virtually tethered. A main reason I don’t buy DRM-encumbered books is because I want to be sure my library is as future-protected as possible, and that I’ll be able to read all of those books on my next ereader.

There may be some of you who are confused about what I’m saying here, so let me pause to explain. But do keep in mind that I’m not a technician and I don’t play one on TV, so my understanding and explanation may be technically flawed. An ebook is a file. When you purchase an ebook with DRM, that file is locked by the DRM. You need to have a program that contains your (or your device’s) individual license in order to unlock that file and enjoy your purchase. That program and information is contained in your device, and you may or may not also have that on your personal computer as well. As long as the DRM encumbers your purchase, you will need to rely on that program and license info any time you want to experience the media you bought. Depending on how much you buy, that can start to require a lot of faith on your part. Faith that your license will always be honored.

And the fact is, a lot of people just don’t think about or care about actually owning what they buy. But I’m not one of those. Books have never been throwaway purchases for me, and I don’t have a different attitude toward ebooks. All my ebooks get saved to my hard drive, backed up, and the selection I want to keep on the device gets side-loaded (moved from PC to device by cable) on and off.

So guess what’s not going to happen to my DRM-free books. And here’s where the inspiration for today’s post comes from: I’m not going to wake up tomorrow and find that the willy-nilly Amazon censorship committee has dicked with my personal library. Unless I very much mistake how the world works, if it’s DRM-free and I’ve backed it up, they can’t take it away from me. And, of course, I can convert it to any format I want, to read it on whatever device I choose to purchase going forward.

It’s my money and my purchase. I deserve that security and that freedom to be able to own what I buy. And my readers deserve it.

All the DRM has been cracked. The amount of effort it takes for a pirate to strip a book of DRM and fileshare it is about as much effort as it takes you and me to check our email. Yes, DRM will prevent casual sharing. It will prevent Sally from telling Jane, “OMG, I just read the greatest book. Read it nooowwww,” and attaching the file, in the same way she, and probably you, have lent out paperbacks in the past. And yes, I agree that there are no controls on the number of copies the enthusiastic Sally can fileshare, and that’s a problem inherent in digital media.

But at the end of the day, I trust Sally, my reader, more than I trust the corporate entities that are currently screwing around, back-room dealing in DRM to control my purchases and spending. And I’d kind of rather be a little dicked over by Sally’s enthusiasm than dick her– and my other readers, scrupulously honest readers– over by not allowing her to take my book with her to her next device purchase or to find it no longer available to her when the retailer from which she purchased it decides to remove her access.

Want an example of the controlling bullshit going on with DRM? Sony Reader reads EPUB, and DRM’d content for the Sony is “protected” by Adobe. Wow, same with NOOK! So that means Sony owners have a whole new store to shop! Um…no. Notice how Sony’s not on the list of supported devices. Why? It makes no sense. Same file format, same program for licensed content. What’s the deal? I NEVER got a straight answer out of B&N customer service. At first I think they wanted to talk about the wireless stuff. Um, I don’t CARE abut the wireless stuff, my device is pre-wireless. Why can’t I just purchase the content, open it in Adobe Digital Editions, and side-load it? And I actually think that customer service just wasn’t educated enough to answer my questions.

A lot of Googling finally informed me that just because both devices go through Adobe Digital Editions, doesn’t mean it’s the same DRM. I read somewhere that NOOK DRM is a variation on the previous Adobe DRM, and that’s why it won’t work for the Sony Reader. Why? Or maybe because they’re following Amazon’s model: if you want to shop our store, you’re going to have to buy our reader (we’re just not even going to talk about smartphone or PC apps because who wants that?). Maybe because everyone else who’s been dealing with Adobe got together and pressured Adobe: No! Don’t let them have the same DRM as us or we’ll lose all our ebook customers to B&N! Who knows?

But what’s any of that got to do with piracy?

Nothing.

Indies have the choice to DRM or not to DRM with some retailers. Many DRM without even thinking about it. Oh yes, protect me from the dreaded pirates! when it’s got so little to do with piracy and so much to do with controlling the market. We can’t always control what happens to our uploaded content at all retailers (I’m sure Hush Money is DRM-encumbered at Kobo, Sony, and Apple, for example), but we can give our customers choices.

My readers don’t deserve to be encumbered by bullshit DRM, and I won’t choose it.

PS. Everyone who commented yesterday was a winner. I’ll send those prizes out today. Thanks, guys!

23 Comments

Filed under rant

For Indies: Get your print and ebooks linked

My rankings are really sliding the last few days. I hope that means some of my buddies are getting some traction and selling lots of books.

To that end, I come to you with a quick post of hopefully helpful indie info.

My print and Nook versions of Hush Money are finally linked on Barnes & Noble. Moreover, when they linked the two listings they also copied ratings and reviews from one edition to the other. This does give me a couple duplicates from a few people who were kind enough to find both listings and leave reviews for me, but it also means I now have 70 ratings and 17 reviews that people can see when they find the print version. Yay credibility.

Ok, so if the listing for your print version states that there’s no Nook version available, you’ll want to email BN at corrections@barnesandnoble.com and let them know that you do have both formats. Provide them with the links to both listings, and especially the ISBNs for each edition. When I did this, they took care of it VERY quickly (but if there’s a small flood of them they might slow down).

If you haven’t done this on Amazon, you’ll want to take care of that too. When your cheap Kindle version is climbing the charts, sometimes it gets onto “Books” charts, not just Kindle charts. So when those non-Kindle readers find your awesomeness, you’ll want to make sure it’s easy for them to see there’s an edition they can buy too. (Not that mine are flying out the door, mind you.)

When I wrote to Amazon, a very nice CSR told me that if your titles are exactly the same for both editions, this usually happens automatically. This may be the same for BN, I’ve no idea, as I think the format of my title is a little different (like one is Hush Money (Talent Chronicles) and one is Hush Money: Talent Chronicles #1, or something like that). When they’re not identical, you’ll need to email these guys and give them a heads up. I contacted DTP customer service for this at dtp-support@amazon.com, and it was taken care of within a few days. Make sure you send them the ISBN for the print, the ASIN for the Kindle edition, and send them links to both listings in case that makes it easier.

Don’t put it off. It’s Christmastime. Go and sell some books.

And hey, don’t forget that a shiny new copy of Hush Money would make a swell gift. If anyone’s interested in autographed copies for gift-giving, I’ve got some copies here and would be happy to send those out for you, though I’m not promising next-day order fulfillment. Email me with any personalization details you need and don’t forget to include your PayPal address so I can bill you. I think I can match Amazon’s $8.99 with no shipping fee and break even.

4 Comments

Filed under Hush Money, self-publishing, Talent Chronicles, writing

Increasing Your Kindle Rank: Pricing

Yeah, I don’t like to talk about money. Like politics and religion, it can ugly. That’s why this post is longer and rantier than usual. But it’s part of this whole series I’m taking you through this week, and it’s my opinion. I’m keeping it. If you don’t like it, just go do your own thing, ok?

Ok, so the series, if you’re just joining us… Last Saturday I talked about reaching the Kindle top 1000 and some things I think were helpful,  and now I’m going through and expanding on those ideas.

When most of my friends put out their first books, everyone was all about 99 cents. It’s the lowest price an indie can set on Amazon. And there were a lot of 99 cent ebooks out there, competing for space. At the time, it was even harder for the 99 cent books to get found because, when searching by price, you had to start with the freebies that the trad publishers are allowed to run, pages and pages of freebies, many of which were merely excerpts from books.

The two things happened: first, Amazon broke the freebies away from the rest of the Kindle store so that they could be searched and ranked separately (yay!), and they went to the 70% royalty rate for books priced between $2.99 and $9.99.

Since that time, $2.99 has been on its way to becoming the new 99 cents, possibly in the same way it seems that just yesterday a regular sized Milky Way bar was under 50 cents and the “fun size” was a whole lot funner. /accidental chocolatey tangent.

And I’ve certainly got no beef with anyone who wants to make $2 off their book instead of 35 cents. What I do have a problem with is people implying that I am doing something wrong by pricing my book at 99 cents. That I am undercutting other authors, devaluing my own work and books as a whole, and somehow behaving as a bad citizen of the indie author community. In a sense, reading (SOME and not all of) these articles on why we should all move on up to $2.99, feels a lot like reading some of the not so nice things the trad authors have said about the indies.

Last month I sold over 300 books through all channels. This month I’m on target to sell that many by halfway through the month. But I’m making 35 cents per book, or a bit over $100 when I could, in theory, be making $600. OMG, why don’t I raise that price.

Because there is no way on this Earth that you are going to convince me that, as an 8 week old, baby author with NO name, NO ad budget, and one title, that many people are going to buy my book at $2.99.

But Susan, it doesn’t matter if 300 people buy your book. At that rate, fewer people can buy your book and you’ll still be making more money. Great. If making money were the most important thing to me right now, I’d be all over that. Would I like to be able to make back what I paid my cover artist, the copyright registration, the paper copies I’ve sent out? Would I love to be able to give away more paper books, t-shirts and other swag, do the Kindle Nation sponsorship thing, have contests that give away Kindles? Hell yes! Am I there yet? No. I haven’t earned that yet. Would I love to be able to pay some bills, figure out what’s wrong with my car, and not have to roll down the window to open the door from the outside? Yes. But I haven’t earned that yet either.

I’m pretty sure I once read where Holly Lisle (who has many smart and helpful things to say to writers) said that you shouldn’t quit your day job until you have 11 books published. Because that’s the point at which your royalties may be stable enough to support you writing full time. Now that was a few years back, and the industry has changed boatloads in that time. I have no idea what she’d say about that now. But that has really stuck with me.

So what do I think I’m getting at the 99 cent level? Sales and rank. Rank comes from sales. Once I started to push up from the middle of the category lists I was on, sales increased. See, I had trouble figuring this out because, remember all those reviews I had? Well, things had a been really quiet on that front. And then sales, like, doubled. Not that that was totally crazy, because it wasn’t a huge number either way. But I’d Google myself and no one was really talking about the book. I wouldn’t be able to put my finger on what prompted someone to check me out. But the thing that had changed was my placement in the Kindle rankings, which was moving me up those category lists.

The biggest hurdle is visibility, the second is credibility.

There are some people out there saying that people who buy books for 99 cents are then not motivated to read them. That’s their loss. It’s a fun book. I believe that plenty of people do read it and are then unmotivated to tell others about it. So in that way, as far as sales of this book are concerned, non-reader and reader have done me the exact same service. They’ve registered a sale that has increased my rank, and therefore also my visibility. When they come across another blogger talking about it, maybe they’ll move it to the top of the TBR list.

I know people are searching me by price, and I’m pretty sure some are choosing free reads over mine. And this is because, on my Kindle page, I can see What Do Customers Ultimately Do After Viewing This Item? Most of them are still buying me. That percentage, often referred to as “conversion rate” has gone down a lot since I started. That’s because, in the beginning, people were going to my page via direct link because of me, a tweet, a review, etc. They went with the purpose of buying my book. As I got out of that, and browsers became a bigger part of my sales, that rate goes down, because some browsers by you, and some pass you by. The browsers who do not buy Hush Money generally buy other free reads or other 99 cent ebooks. So far, I don’t have a lot of people looking at my book and walking away to buy a $5 ebook instead. Because I’m only 99 cents, so why not try it?

When people come across me, unknown, under-vetted, baby indie author, it’s a lot easier for them to throw 99 cents at Amazon than it is $2.99. It just is. It may very well be that $2.99 is no big loss for lots of people if the book doesn’t suit them, but it’s still more than 99 cents, and any increase in price has the potential to increase customer resistance of the Buy button.

Yes, there is more to marketing than just a low price point. We need to learn to market effectively, build a brand, build a readership. But it has to start somewhere, and I think new authors who start higher are denying themselves some perks of the 99 cent slot.

I said on the Indie Reader blog recently that I don’t devalue my work. That makes no sense to me. I don’t have an ad budget, so a discounted price for the work is what I have to trade with right now in order to develop an audience for my future work. If my work had no value, that wouldn’t work. It wouldn’t net me anything. I’d get no word of mouth, and no one would come back for the next book. If I didn’t believe my book was going to earn me some loyal readers, and if I didn’t believe in my ability to produce good work in the future, I’d set a higher price, take the money and run. Wouldn’t I?

Authors talk about all the work they put in. The years they spent honing their craft, the months they put into this book, the planning, the writing, the editing, money they put into producing and marketing. They deserve to get paid for that. Well yeah. And so do all the artists selling over at Etsy who have done the same thing. And a lot of them realize that they have to sell at a break-even point for a while to build a brand and a business.

That’s all I’m saying. I believe in my future work. Hush Money is an introduction to my writing and my world, and it comes at a discounted rate. I earn very little on it in cash terms, but that gets made up to me in other ways that I hope will help me in the long run.

Will it be 99 cents forever? I don’t know. I’m still feeling my way through. What I do know is that the first books in Amanda Hocking’s My Blood Approves series and Imogen Rose’s Portal Chronicles series are both currently priced at 99 cents and both have been very high on their category lists for quite some time. I’ve also seen new printings of first books of some series, like Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series, reprinted with $2.99 on the cover as an incentive to draw new readers into the series.

To review:

  • Your share of your 99 cent price is more than 35 cents. It’s just not all in cash.
  • Despite what others are saying, a low price does not mean “lack of faith in the work” to all people. Don’t be bullied. Do what’s right for you.
  • Biggest hurdles? Visibility and credibility. Think of those when thinking about pricing.
  • Remember that, in many professions, it can take years to begin to earn what your work is really worth. We may do it faster, but maybe not right of the gate.

My recommendation to other new indies is to price at 99 cents. I feel it’s been very beneficial for me, and plan to leave the price at this level at least until after the release of Heroes ‘Til Curfew, if not longer.

No matter how much I really want to buy six seasons of Supernatural on DVD.

19 Comments

Filed under books, Hush Money, Increasing Kindle Rank, self-publishing, Talent Chronicles, tips, writing