Friday, 26 June 2015

Pay per Page: Kindle Unlimited

If you're a self-published author, the chances are high you've heard of changes coming to the Kindle Unlimited (KU/KOLL) programme this July. If not, let me break the news. Amazon Kindle stated from July 1st they will no longer be paying a flat-fee per borrow, or per read over 10%. Instead, they will now be paying author per page read.

People are losing their shit over this; it's different, it's a change, and the ever-changing landscape of the self-publishing world isn't letting anyone rest any easier. However, I feel like this is a positive change, still, this is a way for Amazon to get exclusivity of your book, and maybe you will get fewer royalties from the Kindle Select programme's pot of money, which I hear will be around $10,000,000 in July.

However, this will now reward the authors who can keep people reading their longer books. Whereas before, the system had rewarded the authors who got readers to open their book and read past 10% -- often the case for that person who wrote erotic dino books of around 5,000 words to rake in a lot of money. Perhaps this will take away from that person, or maybe they'll become hugely popular and splice them all together into one megabook which will be such a compelling read that it will be read to the end. I promise I'm not judging, whatever you need to make a living.

I like Kindle Direct Publishing -- I don't think it's the be all and end all of publishing, but it's a powerhouse, and I don't think authors should avoid Kindle completely.

Over the past week, or since the news broke, one of the things I've seen crop up, time and time again was that "we hate that Kindle want exclusivity" and "before we know it, they'll force everyone on the system" -- I'll address both of them.

Exclusivity Isn't Bad!
Why isn't it bad? I hear you ask as you niggle your way in at the back of my head. It's not bad because it's a paid service for books on demand, readers get to read all the books they want, as long as they're within the programme. Kindle Select has been described as being a Netflix for books -- and with that being said, Netflix, when it puts shows up, have exclusivity of those shows, just like Sky, satellite service, they currently own the rights to broadcast Mean Girls within the UK, this is why I can't stream Mean Girls from Netflix. Exclusivity.

The only difference is that with TV and Film, they're usually paid a fee to buy exclusivity rights, the money in the case of Kindle Select in order to buy exclusivity comes from a pot of money, and you will be paid per pages read, a bit like a pay per view service, only there's no flat fee, and you actually have no idea whatsoever the amount you'll receive.

I think it's great, for both the author and the reader, the author doesn't have to set their book as FREE, and for an unknown author, this is usually the way into a reader's life, and with Kindle Select, the reader can read for "free" and the author will still get paid.

Amazon will NOT force you!
They clearly state when you go to publish that if you TICK a certain box, you will be enrolled, if you don't enrol, that's okay, you can enrol whenever you like. A period of enrolment lasts 90 DAYS. So you can test the waters, this is especially useful if you have a few titles to your name. Please take your tinfoil hat off.

Taken from their site... >>full post<<

Royalty payments under the new program

As with our current approach, we'll continue to set a KDP Select Global Fund each month. Under the new payment method, the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read instead of their share of total qualified borrows. 

Here are some examples of how it would work if the fund was $10M and 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month:
  • The author of a 100 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
  • The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
  • The author of a 200 page book that was borrowed 100 times but only read halfway through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).
Every time an author does download a book through Kindle Unlimited, that book will count towards your ranking as if classed as a sale, only you will not earn a royalty you set yourself in the pricing page, you will earn from the KDP Select pot of money.

I hope that this post clears a few things up, I have seen a lot of posts about the changes, so I hope this will go with those helpful ones.

As always, keep on writing them words!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Self-Edit Help #1

Editing is crucial to writing. Knowing when and what to cut, and you might be sat there thinking 'but isn't that why I have an editor?' -- to edit for you, yes and no, an editor helps you, they will give your their suggestion based on the knowledge and experience they have. Your editor is not a miracle worker; depending on the type of edit you get that is.

As writers, the ability to edit yourself is a great skill -- know and understand grammar, plot, sentence structure, tenses, POV, etc. and if you don't know a lot about grammar, that's nothing to feel bad or disheartened about. Check out Quick & Dirty Tips: Grammar Girl, it's an informative site with fun content to learn.

ALWAYS leave your work once finished before coming back to it.
TRY not to use the same medium to edit as you did to write.
If you wrote on your laptop, how about print it, read through, get your red pen.
READ aloud your work.
If it doesn't sound right, you'll know.

I totally get that this is your editing face, sometimes; most of the time, editing is a daunting task, you don't want to chop your baby up and stitch it back together in a precise way.

Remember that writing is a job, use the finished product as a motivator. When I'm doing a round of self-edits, or a draft, I will tell myself to buckle up, because I'm not letting go of this until it's pried from my filthy corpse.

Do NOT rely on your "spell check" or the squiggly lines of death; they come in three colours; red, green, and blue. Of course, pay attention to them, but don't rely on them to tell you that you've done a swell job at making your manuscript all neat and tidy -- because you haven't.

"The only kind of writing is rewriting."
— Ernest Hemingway

In the writing profession, we're somewhat lucky, we can come back to our work time and time again. If at first you don't succeed, try and try again. If you're still in doubt, ask for help. There's a lot of help out there. Ask friends, subscribe to services like Grammarly, etc. but always remember to power through your "editing face". *I do recommend Grammarly, they have this neat extension for web browsers so you notice errors before posting! HAZZAH!

Go forth and write your daily word count goals!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Planning a Series of Novels!

I'm not sure if this is the coffee speaking, but don't do it, don't start a series, it's bad for your health and you'll thank me in the long run. People who set out to write a series are troubled people, they need the reader to fall hook, line, and sinker for the books and the characters. It's really a form of narcissism.

Oh, you're still there! In that case, you'll be looking for answers or something to tide you over. I am only kidding, planning is something I love to do, so if you're a pantser "writing by the seat of your pants" then this might not be for you.

If you're serious about your series, there are a few things you will need to know about your series before you begin:
  • How many books will be in this series?
  • How will the series end?
  • Who are the main/central characters?
  • Themes present in the book(s)?
  • What do you want to happen to your characters? Any arcs?

If you know how it begins, and you know how it ends, you're already on your way to having yourself a series of books. All you need to figure out are the middle bits. For me, when I say begins and ends I usually look at this from a few different angles;
  • How each book begins and ends?
  • How the series itself begins and ends?

You might want to think about cliffhangers, because if your book is a huge success and you've killed the protagonist off, you may kick yourself because you can't go back to the series. So always have in mind what your plan is for the series. J. K. Rowling is doing more Harry Potter, why? Because it was a huge success! (*be warned, there's a lot of hate for cliffhanger endings!)

Depending on the type of series, you'll definitely want to be thinking about scene and setting, for my Grayson Ryker thriller series, the main scenes and settings where Grayson's office space at the newspaper, his apartment, the restaurant they frequent, and landscaping the setting, as it is set in real-life Chicago, I've done extensive research on the littlest things; weather, traffic, closest park to Grayson's apartment, the route he runs, the brand of cigarette he smokes, etc. This is set in the real-world, where real-world rules apply.

If you're planning a fantasy, depending on where it's set, you can go about creating your own culture of people to populate the world. The key to a good series is breathing life into it. Be inspired by real life people, situations, etc. and make sure to keep down everything you know or have thought about this series in a folder or binder, and not where it will be easily lost. If you're on the go, perhaps a software like Evernote would be useful. (Great free program also w/avail paid service.)

Writing a series is different from writing a standalone novel. Writing a series means being able to keep the characters and the voice for several books, and cliffhangers are often forgivable if it's within a series because you know you'll be getting the answer soon enough. If you're writing a standalone, the reader expects everything to be wrapped up and ready to go once they've reached the final few chapters, they don't expect a cliffhanger that may or may not have an answer.

Immerse yourself in the series. I have several binders for several series, and before I can write within a world, I have to immerse myself in that binder. As I usually write one of a series, and then another before coming back to the first series; I'm not sure if I'd recommend this, but it's what I've found works best for me.

Develop minor characters, you can't afford to have some 2D cardboard cutout of a character you've seen over and over. Make sure they all have a voice, because if you've introduced them, they're most likely coming back at some point.

I've never used any writing software like Scrivner, etc. but if you have and it's worked for you, please feel free to mention in the comments below.

Like with in general, you must be willing to put in the time and effort to handcraft the world for your characters, even if it's set in the real world, you must still describe the places like no-one has been there before, and the chances are, if you're from a small town in the United Kingdom, very few of your readers or potential readers will have been there.

Go forth and procreate... or create professionally your series of novels!

Thursday, 29 January 2015

10 Top Tips to Boosting Blog Traffic!

This post is a re-post from 2012! (3 years ago!)

So the reason why you clicked the link to this post is to read "10 Top Tips to Boosting Blog Traffic" so I assume that you have a blog and if you do then leave your link in the comments below! If you don't I think that a blog is a must for all writers. (For more points on raising your writer profile click here -- 10 Top Tips to Raising Your Writer Profile)

These tips are in no particular order because you need to be doing ALL ten of these points.

1 // Target an Audience!
This might seem pretty obvious but you need to know who your target audience is and you need to show this in the content. If your posts are all over the place with nothing in common with each other people will be less inclined to follow you. If you're a writer you might want to document your journey with an informative post about what you've learnt about the industry here and there. You NEED to aim it at a group of people, and you need to have something that interests them.

2 // Use Your Social Ties!
Facebook and Twitter are used differently by different people, as a writer you might use them to document your word count and share with the rest of the world in hopes that they will encourage you to "keep up the good work" and a lot of people will. Another use is promotion! Promote your blog, sell your blog with your words and make people want to read THAT post you've just posted. (See above link on how to raise your writer profile)

3 // Do Guest Posts!
Guest posts are a great way of getting to a new and broader audience, the audience of whoever blog that you're guest blogging for. You might want to exchange, so you provide them with a guest post and they will provide you with one. There are a lot of writers out there who allow authors to submit blog posts like Chuck Wendig and Joe Konrath. (I mean, if you don't ask anyone, you won't get anything. Nobody is going to offer to host you out of thin air.)

4 // Blog About Popular Topics!
By this, I mean that you should blog about the popular topics in your area. When Borders was closing down there were so many people blogging about it and trying to get their opinion out. It's also a great way of driving traffic to your blog. Another example would be when Amazon introduced KDP Select -- there were a lot of opinions on this, some good and some bad. I didn't get involved with this, but I did read a lot of posts on the matter.

You need to be involved with the community, if you're not involved and you're just going about your own thing, then you'll never know what's happening in the world. So stay informed and inform your readers as well.

5 // Reference Your Own Posts!
You see what I did above, right at the top, I referenced my previous posts! There is also LinkWithin that is how some authors get those little thumbnails at the bottom of their post. Make sure that what you're referencing is relevant and/or ties in with what you're blogging about.

6 // Allow Email Subscriptions!
I think that all bloggers should have some tie with FeedBurner because it's one of the most useful sites on the internet that allows you to see how many people have clicked on your posts etc. and it's free! They also offer to email people every time a new blog post goes up! My FeedBurner email subscription box is just below on the left.

Feedburner is easy to use. Just sign up and it will walk you through the rest. Have a play around with some of the widgets. It's fun.

I also think that having an email list that people can sign up to, perhaps MailChimp so that you have something solid in case your page or blog is deleted and you have no way of getting in touch with your readers.

7 // Add Pictures!
I used to add pictures to my blog and a lot of people have said that the picture I have used originally attracted them to my blog. I get my images from Google and I don't ask for permission, which someone should slap my wrist for, but it is a lot of effort to go through and most of the time the picture has circulated the internet realm for so long that nobody knows who it belongs to.

There are picture hosting sites like Flikr that will allow you to embed photos to your blog post and that's so much easier to get a hold of the person who owns the photo. This also serves as a great way for them to get noticed. Also, with any picture you use, if you know who the artist/author/photographer is, you can always add a link to their profile within the image.

8 // Use SEO!
SEO is an abbreviation of 'Search Engine Optimization' and that is the process of improving the visibility of your blog in the search engines. These means that you need to use the titles of your blog and use keywords! If you use titles that mean nothing then you're going to get nothing. So being upfront, as with the case of "10 Top Tips to—"

Another part of SEO is getting indexed by search engines and all that means is your page will come up in the list of searches. To be indexed you need to go to Google Webmaster and it will index your pages. It explains everything that it does. But have a play around with it and familiarise yourself.

9 // Social Network Buttons!
You might have seen that I have little like boxes and tweet boxes or "tweetables" attached to my posts and embedded on the actual page. You can find super easy tutorials online, and it can take a matter of minutes to get it done if you follow them accurately enough. Make sure that the guide you're looking at is tailored to the host that you use. I use Blogger, so I know they have them for that, but I'm pretty sure they also have them for Wordpress as well.

10 // Interaction is Attraction!
Everyone loves comments. I follow a lot of blogs and you should follow a lot! You should also read their posts and leave comments that interact with the post. Don't spam! If you spam then they might block you or unfollow you. When I do leave comments I also include my blog URL because I like to leave long comments that interact with the post etc. and that's what you should do as well!

Friday, 16 January 2015

10 Top Tips to Raising Your Writer Profile!

I've been asked quite a lot over the past couple of weeks how I've managed to build my internet presence, so I compiled a list of 10 top tips! Some of these I've done myself, and others I haven't #7 and #8.

So I figured that I would repost this from 2012! There's a few comments below from 2012 as well. Woo! Time travel!

Not a tip: be passionate about writing and if you are, it will show!

I have compiled a list of the 10 things that you can do to raise your profile as a writer.

1 // Facebook
Facebook is by far the largest social networking site, full of writers and authors, oh my! Here, you can join groups, create pages, and build relationships with other writers and you may even find some people who will beta read your work. I would also suggest creating a Facebook page, although a personal page is fine, you can connect with more people through a page. There are also groups on Facebook, so if you search for "aspiring authors" or "writers" you are sure to find a group full of people who are just like you--trying to raise their profiles. I too have a page, it's on that sidebar, or inside this link > Facebook page.

2 // Blog
I tell everyone to get a blog, and I tell everyone to use Blogger. I've never used any other blog hosting site, but Blogger is fairly easy to navigate and use. I suggest getting a blog because you will be able to show people that you can write. You must decide on what you want your blog to be about, although saying that, my blog has some personal posts, some creative posts and some critical posts. So decide on your mix. I would also suggest blogging to a set schedule. However, I've been known to set them and not stick to them, but when I did stick to them, it was a great feeling of accomplishment. 

3 // Twitter
This if a very useful places to drum attention to your Facebook page and your blog, and you can also foster new relationships here as well. I would recommend using hashtags, the '#' symbol as this is one way people can find you. I use hashtags when promoting blog posts with such hashes as '#writing' '#amwriting' or keywords that the post is about. See--it's useful, not just a drain on your time. (Since writing this, Facebook have also introduced hashtags!) I'm on Twitter too! @Joe_Eastwood

4 // Member of Goodreads
Become a member of Goodreads. I think that is an important one, especially if you're going to be self-publishing. Goodreads indexes all books and it is up to you to put your book up on Goodreads, you must first change your account into an Author account. Once you've posted your book up there people may choose to add your book to their 'to-read' list or if they've already read it then they may choose to rate it and leave a review.

5 // Write Guest Posts
One way of getting your name out there is to guest post on other people's blogs. The owner of the blog will then allow you to promote yourself at the end of the post, that is if the reader made it all the way down to the bottom. This might be a reciprocal thing where you post to their blog and they post to yours.

6 // Post Your Writing
Nothing says that you are a writer more than a post with some of your writing. I don't mean start posting work that you're building up into a larger piece, but finished pieces, maybe a short story or some poetry. Something quick and easy to read, or maybe you're wanting to post something to whet the appetite of your readers i.e. a teaser. There is a notes section on Facebook, or you could post it as a blog post, and there's even a section on Goodreads where writers can post their writing.

7 // Magazines
There are a lot of magazines out there that are aimed at writers, these magazines might be about writing, or they might focus on one part of writing, such as poetry, or within a certain genre. If you can get published in a poetry magazine then you can add that to your CV of writing achievements and it will most certainly raise your profile as a writer. As a magazine is something that is traditionally published it may even help in finding a publisher when you try and get that novel burning on paper published.

8 // Anthologies
There have been a lot of anthologies going around in the indie publishing world, this is partly for the publishers to gain more capital or contribute to a charity; I say this because a lot of anthologies do not pay, but if you're okay with exposure then go right ahead. Like I said above, it is something that can be added to your CV of writing achievements. All you need to do is submit work and if they say no, then at least you tried.

9 // Professionalism
Make sure to be professional on your page. In your blog. Your tweets etc. because when you're out there looking for readers, and they come across you and then they see the bitterness in you, they will probably run a mile. Readers love to see humour and positivity, they don't want someone that they look up to, essentially, to be a drain on them emotionally. Be a nice person, it comes back three-fold.

10 // Be Current and Consistent! 
You need to always update your blog and your Facebook and your Twitter, if you don't then your reach or momentum will start to dwindle. Once you've got a bit of momentum going then don't stop, keep on going, keep posting to that set schedule and updating your Facebook with the progress that you're making with your novel, or even writer quotes that have inspired you. 

Read this >> "How to: Be a Popular Author" but DO NOT do anything inside it, just because something is commonplace it does not mean that it's right. However this post will help you >> "How to: Brand Yourself".