Posts Tagged Amazon

Birthday Mystery/Thriller Giveway

It’s my birthday, which means it’s time for a book giveaway. I should be reflecting on what this particular milestone means, but I’m too busy. I have a rewrite to finish and a baby granddaughter coming over later. And I’ve had lots of birthdays. This one is only special because I’m finally in a place in my life that feels about perfect.

First up, I’ll give away a print copy of my latest Detective Jackson book, Liars, Cheaters & Thieves to the person who gives me the best nickname name based on a last name. For example, my husband’s name is Steve Hutchison and his friends all call him Hutch. And I need the name to be gender neutral. This is for a character in my next series, and I’m excited to see what you come up with.

I also still need good Amazon reviews for Dying for Justice. The book is now #8 on Amazon’s top-rated crime fiction list, a separate list from the bestsellers, and it’s based on customers’ ratings alone. If I can get into one of the top three spots, Amazon will feature Dying for Justice on all its crime fiction pages—which would be huge for its sales.

So if you’ve read the book and liked it, please leave even a brief review and be sure to click the star-rating system. Anyone who does or who comments here about my name contest gets a free e-book of their choice. Be sure to email me to let me know which one you’d like and which format Kindle (mobi) or epub.

Thanks for all your wonderful support! Without, I wouldn’t be in this perfect place.

Amazon and Amelia

The last six months have been quite busy! In addition to writing a new Jackson story—which seemed to take forever—we’ve been doing our usual daycare for two little nieces, and loads of daycare for our new baby granddaughter, Amelia. She’s a joyful child and I feel blessed to have her in my life. But I’m definitely not writing as much or as fast as I used to. I hope we can all learn to live with that.

The good news is that I have a solid first draft of my next Jackson story! And I’ll send the final version to my editor within the month. The other good news is that my editor works for Amazon Publishing, which bought my entire backlist and my next two stories. For me, this means security, and my readers will benefit too, because I’ll be able to keep writing instead of going back out and getting an office job when book sales get weak. Which they do every summer/fall.

And I’ll have some help with marketing, which will free up writing time for me. I’m very excited to have a publishing partner. It’s been a lot of work and stress making all this happen on my own.

The only sort-of bad news is that this new Jackson book won’t be published until the end of the year. Amazon plans to release their versions of all the Jackson stories at the same time, and they need a few months to produce them. So I appreciate your patience!

Meanwhile, here’s a video of our granddaughter Amelia. She’s the giggliest baby ever, and you can see what I’m don’t get much done when she’s here.

Amelia Hides the Remote

Amelia Likes to Bounce and Laugh

Signing with Amazon

I’ve been sitting on this news for two weeks, and I’m ready to explode. Amazon just offered me an 11-book contract! They’re planning foreign translations, audio books, digital editions etc. It’s so amazing, it’s still not real to me. I was quite happy being a mid-list successful indie author, but this will definitely take my career to the next level. It’s exciting to realize my work will be translated into foreign languages and reach readers I never thought possible.

The only disappointing thing for my readers is that my next Jackson book, which I had planned to release in early July, won’t be published until the end of the year. Amazon wants time to produce new versions of all six of the Jackson novels and release them at the same time the seventh story comes out. It’ll be a grand debut!

They also bought the first book in a new series I plan to start after I finish this Jackson story, and they acquired it on the strength of a one-paragraph description. Which gives me more confidence that the new series is a solid idea.

Even though this sounds like a sudden and unexpected offer, in reality, I submitted two of my standalone thrillers to Amazon last November. I didn’t hear much except to get an occasional email from the editor apologizing for the delay and promising that he still planned to read my work. Then the week before last he emailed to say he was turning me over to a new editor.

Four days later, the new guy called to say he’d read several of my novels and loved them. He also asked a bunch of questions about the Jackson series. That was when it occurred to me that they might be looking at all my work and not just the two standalones. Considering the near misses I’ve had in my writing career, I shouldn’t have let myself think it was possible. But this was Amazon—not Big 6—and Amazon had already changed my life twice. So why not believe it could happen a third time?

The next day my editor—and new best friend☺—took my “project” to an editorial board meeting and it was approved. He called me afterward and made a wonderful offer. I was sitting in my car after dropping off my son, and I managed to stay calm and professional during the conversation. When I hung up, I had to fight the urge to cry.

My greatest feeling now is one of relief—like the pressure is off me for the first time in years. I’m no longer alone in this endeavor, scrambling and writing as fast as I can to stay on top of the competition. I have a supportive and generous partner.

I expect some writers to blast my decision to give up my indie status. Others will accuse me of making a pact with the devil. But I left my small publisher two years ago because I knew I could go farther and make more money if I were self-published. Now I’m making a similar decision. Amazon will take my career to a level I couldn’t reach on my own.

New Cover, New Opportunities

The Gauntlet Assassin
After changing the name of my futuristic thriller to The Gauntlet Assassin and seeing the uptick in sales, I decided a new title needed a new cover. It took me a long time to find an image I liked. I wanted to represent Lara and the competition, but there’s nothing appropriate out there. I considered paying an artist to create an image, but I realized that the title focused on the antagonist and so should the cover. So here’s what I came up with.

As soon as the new ebook is back from the formatter, I’ll do a giveaway on Amazon and see if I can push sales to a new level. This novel has garnered some of my best reviews.

In other news, I’m struggling to find an affordable Spanish translator for my Jackson series. I thought I had one, but when I had the work evaluated, I decided not to continue with that translator. I haven’t given up, but the search is time-consuming, and I’m way behind on my newest Jackson story. But I’m still hoping to have it published before July.

Another update is that I’ve submitted four of my scripts to Amazon Studios for consideration. Three are comedies, and it would be so much fun to see Addictions or Lost in Hollywood come to life on the screen. It was fun just reading back through the stories.

I also submitted a script for The Baby Thief, which is currently a bestseller on Kindle, ranking at #3 on the medical thriller list. That story was the first publishable novel I wrote, and I worked on it for years. I also landed a major agent for it, then failed to sell it. So it’s gratifying to final have thousands of readers enjoying the story.

Since you folks write to me everyday, asking when my next Jackson story will be available, I’d better get back to work.

PS: Do you like the new cover? Do you know an inexpensive translator?

Amazon May Not Be the Bad Guy

The recent news about the IPG-Amazon struggle has people saying all the same things. “Amazon is flexing its muscle and hurting the little guys.” “Big bad Amazon.” Shelf Awareness ran the story with quotes from authors and publishers all complaining about Amazon’s tactics.

My understanding of the dispute is that IPG wanted better distribution terms for its ebooks—I believe it requested no discounting—and Amazon said no. Which the company has the right to do. Amazon already capitulated when the Big 6 publishers colluded to set their own high prices—a collusion that is now the subject of lawsuits and investigations.

So like all other retailers, Amazon wants to control the sale price of its inventory, and since it couldn’t get Independent Publishers Group to agree to its terms, it took IPG’s products off the shelf. (Caveat: There may be more to the issue than I realize, and if you know more, please leave a comment.)

The people hurt most by this are the authors whose ebooks are no longer selling at Amazon. But it’s important to remember that these authors have a choice. They chose to publish their work through a small publisher, which in turn, contracted with IPG for distribution. Or maybe some authors are working directly with IPG. Either way, these authors have chosen to hire middlemen for publication and/or distribution. Middlemen that take a chunk of the profit, and in this case, refuse to meet Amazon’s terms.

But this is the new age of publishing! Authors don’t need publishers, or distributors for that matter. Anyone can upload their ebooks to Amazon though Kindle Direct Publishing and to Barnes & Noble through PubIt. Granted, if you want to sell on Kobo and Sony, you need a distributor. But Kobo and Sony’s market shares are almost insignificant, and at the same time, they are the ebook retailers doing the discounting that, in turn, triggers Amazon to drop its price.

I pulled my books down from Kobo and Sony for that very reason. They caused me to lose far more money at Amazon than I ever made from either. And Amazon has never discounted my books except to match another retailer’s price.

I understand authors wanting to control the price the book is sold for, and thus, maximize royalties, but if your book is not selling on Amazon, you’ll never maximize your profit. From my perspective, it makes far more sense for IPG to pull its books from Kobo and Sony, and thus eliminate the discounting issue, than to give up its authors’ opportunity to sell on Amazon.

What is IPG offering its authors—besides getting their books pulled from the biggest retailer in the marketplace? I realize distributors may be able to get some print books into bookstores, but what can they do for ebook-only authors that those authors can’t do for themselves?

Of course, some—or many—may have signed contracts with small publishers (that in turn signed with IPG) and therefore, they no longer have the right to control their own work. But instead of complaining about Amazon, they should be contacting their publishers about finding a new distributor. Or if they work with IPG directly, maybe they should terminate that agreement and either find a new distributor, or better yet, simply join the indie revolution and upload their books to Amazon, B&N, and Apple themselves.

Another blogger has offered some excellent alternatives for IPG as well. I expect to take some heat for this, so tell me, what do you think?

 

First Book in Series Is Free

Secrets to Die ForI wanted to let everyone know that Secrets to Die For, the first book in the bestselling Detective Jackson mysteries, is free Wed. (22) and Thurs.(23) on Amazon. Grab one while you can.

 

If you thought The Sex Club was the first book, you’re also right. Here’s blog about that change.

All Amazon!

I finally did it. I pulled all my books from B&N and enrolled the rest of the Detective Jackson novels in Amazon’s Select program. My apologies to Nook owners! But the royalties from Kindle Owners Lending Library (KOLL) are too good to pass up.

In December, Amazon paid $1.70 per “borrow.” I made more money in one month from KOLL, with only half my books enrolled, than I’ve made from B&N in the last year. Sorry again to Nook owners, but I just can’t sell books there. Which has always been puzzle to me…because I sell so well on Amazon.

So it’s done. I’m exclusive. The move is not necessarily permanent, but I have a feeling my Amazon KOLL royalties will continue grow along with sales. And as I mentioned in a previous blog: Amazon already owns me. I might as well profit as much as I can from it.

The hardest part will be not giving away ebooks from my blog…or through LibraryThing or Goodreads. The exclusivity clause prevents it, and I’ll miss that interaction with readers. I love giving books away! But I can still give away my print books, and more important, I can give away ebooks through Amazon. And I have to remind everyone that Kindle apps are available on almost every device, and you can read Kindle books online, directly from Amazon now in the “cloud.”

So my ebooks are still available to nearly anyone with a computer, mobile phone, or tablet. And I’m sleeping better at night, knowing that as long as Amazon is doing well, so am I.

Moving Toward Amazon-Only

And the craziness continues. Yesterday The Sex Club, which is now selling well again, was suddenly being discounted on Amazon from $2.99 to $.99. Which means, I was suddenly making a third of the money. After cursing loud and long, I tracked down the culprit. Kobo was selling the title at $.99—even though I requested they take it down two weeks ago.

I requested the takedown because I enrolled The Sex Club in the Kindle Select program and it requires exclusivity. So the fact that it’s still selling there could also get me kicked out of the program. I’m doing everything possible to correct this, but retailers are notoriously slow about taking down books, especially if they’re selling.

I distribute to Kobo, Sony, and various other retailers through INgrooves, and this is not the first time I’ve had to deal with the discounting issue. For those not familiar, here’s the short version: Amazon will not be underpriced. If a competitor puts an ebook on sale, Amazon matches the price. This can be a serious problem for authors who make most of their money from Amazon and need to control what price their books sell for on Amazon.

When I starting losing money on Amazon, I see my mortgage payment for the next month disappearing. Which leads me to strongly consider withdrawing all my books from INgrooves. The small amount of money I make from other retailers is offset by the profit I lose from the discounting issue.

My only hesitation, as always, is readers. I want them to have full access to my books, regardless of their e-reader device. But I’m running a small publishing business (Spellbinder Press), and I have to make smart business decisions. I have to be able to track and predict profit.

Also, I have to remind readers that my ebooks are available for purchase from my website.

Other writers tell me I should upload to Smashwords as my distributor, but that doesn’t fix the discounting issue. And I’m tired of continuously having to scan the other retailers to ensure they’re not undercutting my ability to make a living from Kindle sales.

Pulling my books from INgrooves would leave me with ebooks available on Kindle and Nook only. But what I sell on B&N/Nook every month won’t even pay my cell phone bill.

After I see my first bonus payment from Amazon for enrolling in the Select program, I’ll have to decide whether keeping my Detective Jackson books on B&N is actually worth it. I predict I’ll be exclusive to Amazon by the end of the next year. Some people may see this as a sell out. But I have to make a living, and I’m worth more than minimum wage.

Readers: Can you sympathize with this decision?

Writers: How do you deal with the discounting issue?

Writers as Salespeople

sales chartA question from my ex-publisher stimulated me think about the pay structure in traditional publishing. The question she asked was: Why couldn’t you sell all those books when you were still under contract? Many factors came into play at the same time to quickly boost my e-book sales. Pricing strategy, volume of books, and massive effort all played a part. But one of the biggest issues Read more

E-Book Self-Publishing Roundup

With Borders getting into the act, there will soon be four platforms on which authors can self-publish e-books directly to readers. I summarized them for comparison and thought I would share my findings.

Amazon: Digital Text Platform
This venture has been around the longest, has a reported 76% of e-book sales, and publishes content directly to the Kindle bookstore. Read more

Five-Time Readers Favorite Award Winner!

LATEST REVIEWS

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. The characters were compelling, the procedural work was dead-on, and the story was enthralling. Definitely recommended.”
~Michelle Gagnon, author of Boneyard
The author expertly intertwines multiple story lines, presents readers with fully realized characters that readers will feel they know, and keeps the action and suspense levels high. That’s a lot to expect from an author but L. J. Sellers delivers.” ~OverMyDeadBody
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