Trick-or-Treat: Free books!

Well, book.

Love or Lust coverLove or Lust is free tomorrow through 4 November.

Now, there’re catches:

  1. I can’t make the print book free.  Seriously, I don’t have that kind of control over the pricing.  There’s a minimum, and the price is already not much above that.
  2. I can’t set it free in all eBook retailers.  Sad, but true.  Some will set themselves.  Amazon, for example.  I have no control of WHEN they’ll do so nor when they’ll set the price back.  Weird, but true.  As I recall Nook and Amazon were the only places, though.  Or was that Kobo and Amazon?  Oh well, if it’s 31 October and the price isn’t changed … that’s why.

That’s it.  It’s the same thing you’d pay us$3.99 (or various other prices around the world — I’m in 51 countries, give me a break here) for, just free for the Halloween weekend.  A gift to celebrate Samhain and wish everyone a fun fall, a happy (early or belated depending where you’re standing) Thanksgiving, and so on.

I hope you’ll take advantage of it.  Tell your friends.  Etc.

And Amazon joins the fun

So, it turns out, today, that Amazon decided to price match my Labour Day weekend sale.

So!  Until they put the price back up (I’ve actually got to look up how to make sure they do that) Love or Lust is free for the Kindle!

And this is why subscribing is a good thing

Well, it helps anyway.

This weekend Love or Lust will be free from every retail source I can set it for.

Kindle will, if I have anything to say about it, be included but Amazon’s funny about that sort of thing.  I can’t actually set the book to free, I have to set it to free elsewhere and then report the lower price or hope that their crawler discovers the price and lowers it automatically.

All others should allow a setting of the price to Free.  Exactly how long the price change takes to go through … Well, I’m going to be setting up the prices tonight and this afternoon.  That should have the price fixed starting tomorrow (some will be starting at some point today if it processes fast enough) and I will run it through Tuesday — though some might take long enough to process the change that the free price will be in effect through part or even all of Wednesday.

Before anyone gets too excited, this is only the eBook.  Print copy is still full price.  It going on sale, sadly, is something the individual retailers control, not I.

Happy Labour Day weekend to all my American friends.  To the non-Americans … we’re having a holiday here in the states, so you get a book discount, rejoice.

Now what?

Well, the Now & Forever ABCs are done.  Now what do I do?

First off, probably not have anything daily to say anymore.  I’ll probably cut back to something a couple times a week.  I can’t promise I’ll have anything regularly, but I will try to.  I’m, in fact, considering a rule of one post a week, and if I wind up with two or three then queuing them up to guarantee a post for the next week.  Reblogs, of course, don’t count.

Also on my list of ways to give myself Hell, I’ve finished the first edit run of Ready or Not and … well … I’m happy with it up to the final two chapters, the ones I wrote for CampNanoWriMo.  Those are awful, I think.  I’ve left them in, for now, and handed the thing over to my editor for her opinion, but odds are that those two chapters will need scrapped and a new ending written.  Until this is complete, Book 3 is still “Book 3” and still non-existent.

Færie Patrol is still a dream project.  But I might dust it off and get back to it, maybe give myself a short vacation from Now & Forever for a little bit.  Who knows.

In the mean time, Love or Lust continues to sell — not as well as it did in July, but it’s selling.  I really must say, thank you all who’ve bought the book and/or told your friends and family that they ought to buy the book.  And thank you to any who buy the book in the future.  Publishing a book by any method, traditional or indie, is a gamble; anyone who tells you they’ve the secret to what book will sell, and/or how to make sure a book sells probably will next offer you ocean-front property in Niger.  That my book spend a couple of weeks on a best seller list, was a Hot New Release on Amazon for its entire eligibility timeframe … I’m awed.  I hope, one day, to make writing my living — without the distractions of a day job I can write more, faster, and better, and this is a solider first step in that direction than I’d dared to hope.  I’m in no danger of paying the rent every month with my book, but some months — it would seem — I can.

The Indie Book Buffet — First Edition

The Indie Book Buffet's First Edition Giveaway!A free monthly online magazine (also available in print for a small fee) starting on August 1st 2013 that will feature a Genre-By-Genre selection of extracts from up and coming independent authors. It’s a great way to read free samples of new indie books!

And to kick it off the folks behind the zine are hosting a huge giveaway (in case the giant image to the right here was too subtle).

A lot of awesome books will be showcased — you can, in fact, see Love or Lust‘s cover there next to the I — from a lot of indie authors.

No I’ve no direct part, other than contributing some copies to the giveaway.  I just think this is a pretty great idea and want to help spread the word.  Really some quite remarkable writers have elected to eschew the traditional model for publishing and this is one more way to help people find them.

certainly plan to give it a look.  The info is on Facebook.

OW! My brains hurt!

I don’t get it.  I really don’t.

Looking at my Amazon sales ranks it would seem that selling copies of the books lowers my rank and not selling them raises it.

No I don’t mean my numbers get closer to 1 in the former, and further in the latter … I mean my chart-toppingness decreased with sales and increased without them.

I wish I were kidding, but one example involved going down several ranks after selling four copies in five and a half hours.  Not bad, actually, but has been better.  I wouldn’t have thought anything of it, as I said, could be better.  Except over the course of another six hours I sold zero copies and my sales rank improved.

I’ve a terrible feeling that Amazon’s algorithm for their rankings has a divides where there should be a multiplies or vice versa.  Or an add where it needs a subtract or similar.  That has to be it.  And remember folks, the people doing this math are probably the same programmers responsible for the security of your purchase, account, and payment information.  I know I’m impressed.

Do Amazon and Createspace rip off Indie publishers with failure to correctly report sales?

Outrageous! Sadly, though I can quite believe it. I don’t trust Amazon; I work with them only because I must.

I know I’ve other authors, indie especially, following this blog. Surely you’ve seen this happen as well. Make noise, look at the good it did Ms Hogarth with the Space Marines debacle! We’re writers, damn it, let’s remind Amazon why you treat bards ith utmost respect!


Guest post by John. R. Clark, Managing Editor at AgeView Press

When AgeView Press Indie pubbed the book FLYING SOLO in May of 2012, the author, Jeanette Vaughan  immediately began tracking sales.   She heard from excited friends and family who immediately emailed when ordering their copies.  The first sales were off of Createspace’s e-store with the title ID number given to the author.   Then, through Amazon, a week later, when the book went live on the site.  Finally on Kindle, when the ebook format was completed.

Initially, things appeared kosher.    People exclaiming that they had ordered the book, were showing up within a day or two on the electronic royalty reports with a reasaonable accuracy.    But by June and July, sales descrepencies were noted by the author from customers claiming that they had purchased the book directly through Amazon, not an Amazon affiliate.    Many of these sales were simply not listed.The author contacted…

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How does Amazon work, I wonder

I really must say, the ranking system on Amazon fascinates me in a morbid fashion.

It is, really, the personification of many of the reasons I actually deplore the degree to which digital technology has permeated our society. Only through the advent of complex computers could such Lovecraftian mathematical models and algorithms be achieved on an hourly basis.

Something that has profoundly improved my position on the top 100 lists, or the overall sales rank lists: not selling any copies for nearly 12 hours. This, in one case, increased my rank in one category by something like 12 places.

An example of something that hurt my sales rank severely: selling about 4 copies. This, in one case, lowered me by more than 20 places.

Some things observed by other authors: raising and lowering your price has profound impact directly related to the price change (raise price, improve rank); existence of a film version – an author helping to puzzle out this ranking model had books with and books without movie treatments and confirmed that despite equal or worse sales, the ranks for the movied tales ranked higher; reviews (quantity) – it would seem that no reviews is better than some, but if you have any several is best … number of stars irrelevant, 40 1-stars is better as far as can be determined than 8 5-star.

Something with strange weight within the algorithm: 1-star reviews. They seem to hurt more than a 5-star helps. The fact that rating is used at all in the ranking is unique to Amazon, which troubles many consumers and creators alike since Amazon does not discourage people from reviewing things that they have never used/owned/etc nor take issue with people saying so in the reviews; and there’s no way to flag for removal a review for a radiant heater that reads (regardless of how many stars) “I really don’t like duck sauce” – while I pray that such a review for such an unrelated circumstance is merely the construct of my own strange mind, I do know that people will review things unrelated to the product or its quality.

I’ve actually had to resist the urge to consult astrological charts to determine if ranking trends correspond to any stellar alignments; I’m fairly certain, though, that Mercury’s position relative to Mars has some profound bearing upon the Hot New Releases Top 20 for Mysteries.

Ah me, but the eternal question: if it weren’t for computers and the internet wold my work be published? Frankly, I’m not a fan of computers and the internet as a rule. They’re useful tools in moderation, truly. I’m fond of some of their applications, like email. While I agree with Louis L’Amour regarding people relying on word processors to do too much of their writing for them, leading to sloppiness, I still would be loathe to be transferring my manuscripts to typewriter instead of Pages. Still, I would happily renew my acquaintance with my postman and invest in a big, solid Underwood if I could escape the perversions wrought upon society by the virulent proliferation of computer technologies …I miss simple electronics, such as 1980s and earlier televisions & radios {wistful sigh}.


I can’t sleep. This is not good, I have an optometrist appointment in eight hours. C’est la vie.

Instead I will chatter on, as is my wont.

I’ve always been fascinated and a bit wary of user reviews. Yes this was prompted by my recent reception of one, but not about it. My feelings on that are neutral or confused, this post is just my sleep deprived brain unloading old thoughts. Thoughts from before I ever wrote anything that wasn’t for school.

So, back to what I was saying, I’ve always been wary of them. I’d worked customer service too much. I knew people really do think it’s the cable company’s fault when a show is cancelled, preempted, or a lineup change takes place (programming lineup, obviously, the channels lineup IS the cable company, yes); that people call their ISP when their favouite site isn’t working; or ask for a manager when, standing in a Burger King, they are told “we don’t sell Big Macs, do you maybe mean a Whopper?” – a very important question as a Big Mac and Whopper have few toppings in common. I was worried about anything that ranked products by entrusting this ranking to ordinary people. This wouldn’t be bad if we had a, largely, educated populous; but we don’t, at best we have a rather thoroughly schooled populous with most education being quite accidental – Thomas Jefferson and Mark Twain could and did make far more eloquent comments on that subject than I have the capacity for, I quite recommend reading them.

I do find it interesting how different people perceive the ratings, in much the same way I’m morbidly fascinated by how people use Like buttons. Take, for example, the reviews for a heater I was looking at buying. It actually had a positive review, five star if I recall correctly, for the item arriving intact, and quickly. Sweetheart, you just reviewed UPS, not the heater. Another was a negative review that had something to do with Amazon’s shipping costs. Again, dear, not the heater – take that up with Amazon.

Then there’re reviews for books not even out yet, and in more than one case not yet written (oh, the rant I could make about the unfairness of only select publishers being able to set pre-orders). I find it fascinating that people feel inclined to review products and admit they’ve never owned the product, nor used it, nor bern in thirty kilometres of one!

These are why I was made ill the day I first saw a site with a user review option.

It’s also, though, fascinating in ways that are less train wreck syndrome. Take book reviews.

It’s fascinating to learn, though hardly surprising, that authors tend to (when not being petty and childish – a few have, they were figured out. The internet was not a kindly community to them in many places) have a particular approach to ranking other people’s work. For one thing many authors will not rank a book they do not finish. Secondly, they will not rank below either two or three stars. The exception in the case of not finished or to no 1-star is horrible writing. Examples often given are certain RPG books that seem to have not even got a spellcheck treatment, Twilight, and 50 Shades. Basically they reserve being that hard one someone for no technical merit.

No twos is a matter of taste, though it seems more typical that three is the normal minimum. It would seem that, to an author, not finished because not enjoyed is nothing to criticise … no reason to hurt another writer’s livelihood over it not being your cuppa. They also, essentially, give A for effort. They see merit in good editing, and proper proofreading, as well as prose that doesn’t look written by a toddler. In short they know how much hard work a book is, and so reserve harsh reviews and low ranks for serious transgressors; in short, for those who did not work hard.

It’s so odd to see the reviews of a writer juxtaposed to an armchair literary scholar, and a common joe. The writer will always find something positive to say, and offer technical criticism – something applicable to the next book. The armchair lit geek will generally criticise to no end about various details that no one cares about, often using literary terms incorrectly, acting like there’s One True Way to tell a story, and generally being pretentious … The number of stars in their rating seems to rely on some mystic astrological charts and passed through a complex mathematical structure; the worst part about these reviews is their habit of offering “advice” relevant only to the title in question, a perfectly useless thing since anything short of fixing typos is almost guaranteed not to be changed after publication. The average joe … sometimes the reviews are thoughtful, insightful, and articulate – other times you really have to wonder how much paint they ate as a child, there is rarely advice, but when it is there’s a trend toward armchair lit geek form rather than writer form, and their star choices seem to use a mix of convoluted (but “explained”) logic and a dart (or possible Ouija) board.

Frankly, I do advise you all to rank and/or review books you read. Even major publisher published authors. Those rankings and reviews are important to the author’s visibility, and their chances of that publisher picking up their next book. Do be considerate, though. Remember – ask yourself who is responsible for your beefs. If it’s a publisher produced work, the author had little to no say in the cover and/or blurb – forgive them those, and redirect those complaints to the contact link on the publisher’s site. Print quality and physical flaws? Printer error. Few authors print and bind their own work. Excise taxes? (Yes, I’m serious, an author got a 1-star over this) This is something to take up with your government. Is the book something you simply couldn’t get behind the premise of? Why? Maybe, not absolutely but maybe, the book is fine … no story is likely to resonate with everyone. Take Twilight. If your beef is simply that the vampires sparkle, but the narrative didn’t bother you – and your only complaint is vampires sparkle, that’s a poor excuse to rank low. Four maybe, three if it bothered you that much. If, like me, you’re fine with the vampires sparkle, but the prose itself is grating … Well, probably a good time to look at that 1 or 2 star button.

Remember, video games, movies, books, art of any sort (and yes, programming is as much an art as a science – especially in games) are people’s blood, sweat, and tears presented to you with trembling hands and heavy hearts. Consider how you would feel if your hard work was blasted over UPS’ drivers, or a glitch in Amazon’s ordering system. Consider if the trouble with the product is simply that you don’t dig what it is – so long as it is what it claims. Movies are tricky in this regard: do you hold it against the movie, and thus the actors and director as well as the studio that the trailers for Stealth and SWAT were terribly misleading, and thus review them poorly (or worse than you otherwise would) for it Or do you review the movie on the cinematic merits, thus leaving studio out and focusing on actors and director, imply leaving in the TEXT that the trailers were deceptive (maybe an angry email to the producer, too)? That’s up to your own conscience, because it’s a legitimate point either way you see it.

Yes I’m disappointed in my one review, but I promise, I’d have said all of this the day this blog appeared (and possibly have said a lot of it here and there in other posts). This is just a point I felt I should make in general, and to the mind of someone ho was sleepy at four and crashing at dinner but now finds itself unable to get to sleep … this was a sensible time to say all of this. I concede it probably is a bad time, actually – for reasons other than how ashamed I’ll be of the typing and English quality in the morning.

I won’t deny I’ve had these items on my mind because of the review, but any post directly related to it wold target the reviews points. Anything less is uselessly passive-aggressive and petty (which is probably redundant … I tend to see passive-aggressiveness terribly useless and rather childish in the first place).

Maybe I’ll make a rebuttal someday. It could be an interesting exercise. Though here – arguing with reviews of ones own books on Amazon’s site is agreed to be bad form, and I can perfectly understand why.

My eyelids are starting do as they’re meant to at half-bloody-past two. So I will say good night to you all.

Well … that’s depressing

Well, the one star on Goodreads was updated to include a review. They posted it on Amazon too.

I must say, it’s odd to see someone posting a one star review of something they say they didn’t finish. It’s typically considered bad form – unless the review was: This book wasn’t even spell checked, it’s unreadable. Technical merit, or more to the point a lack thereof, being a quite valid exception.

Still, it’s far less that which bothers me. It’s that it criticises the story for being what I say in the blurb. There’s something troubling about this. I know I can’t expect to please everyone, but I never expected it to come in the form of a complaint that the book couldn’t be finished and the elaboration on why was that it was a love at first sight story about high school freshmen … as stated in the description.  There’s also criticism of Lauren being both gay and Christian which I cannot comment on politely so shan’t try.

I think I could have been amused, but some people have said the review was helpful, and this was one of the worst sales days since it launched.

And that’s what awaited me when I woke up this morning … on my birthday. (Really, today was my really for real birthday – I thought of putting the book on special sale or something, but thought of it too late, sorry).