Sunday, August 31, 2014

Amazon and Why It's Awesome

People love to pile up on Amazon, suggesting it's the Evil Empire and Jeff Bezos is Darth Vader. I disagree. In fact, I tend to think of Bezos as the best thing to happen to authors since Google.

My story:

Carolyn and I wrote a book called Letters From Greece.
We published it with Lyrical Press, our publishers at the time. It sold poorly except for family. 

Lyrical sold itself to Kensington, we got rights back and we self-published the book. It sold a few copies. And when I say a few, I mean like 2 or 3. That's what sales are like.

Caveat:  most self-pubbed authors are not making money. We are not making money. If I see royalty payments for more than $10 a month I feel like a self-pubbing millionaire. Oh yeah. Eat me Courtney Milan! Ha!

So my file is messed up for Letters and I can't get it on Nook so right now it's Amazon only. And yes, I know about Smashwords and Kobo and All Romance and my sales there have been nil. Nada. Not worth the trouble of formatting. Amazon and B&N are the only games in Lori-town.

So Letters in Amazon only and signed up for KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) which means it's Amazon only and one can run it free or play with it and Amazon loans it out in the KDP library. That's my only book that's KDP by the way. 

And Amazon did a soft promotion on it this summer (it is a good summer read). I have no idea what they did actually. But I did get an email from Amazon suggesting I might like to by it. And I imagine it's showed up in a few "If you like that, you might like this..."

How do I know this? Sales. Our sales have picked up. Again, not in the hundreds. More like 30 - 35 books monthly. But for us that's huge. It's outselling our other books and for once making the numbers fun. 

I'm still not going to put my books Amazon only because seriously, Yesterday's Headline, my favorite book, sells better on B&N. And I want people to read it.  But I do love me some Amazon.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Agnes and the Editor

I am so pissed right now.

I decided to reread Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie because I wanted a fun Crusie reread and this is one of Carolyn's favorites.

It was the worst formatting for ebook that I've ever seen.

Despite the problems with italics and quotation marks, the book has a rather important scene near the end where the bad guy is trying to kill Agnes and then the scene cuts out in the middle and is right in the next chapter... finishing the fight scene a chapter later after the end of the book!

Someone must have been drunk.

Did nobody edit or even read the book when they released it?

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

His Furriness

I leave for Hawaii tomorrow and my life has been in a stage of panic and relief. Mostly panic.

To cope I've been reading the Kate Daniels series by Ilona Andrews. Carolyn has been begging me to read these books for years and the perfect time came and they've been a life saver.

I don't have the brain power to write a summary of the books or even too much detail: I am truly fried right now. But there's a few things I want to say:

1.  Kate is a kick-ass heroine who doesn't lose her kick. Even in love she's still a kick-ass. She loves him but it doesn't make her soft.

2. There is serious laugh out loud humor in these books. Every one of them has moments that I literally have cracked up.

3. The story will never go to the place you expect it to. Unless you have a mind that doesn't go to ordinary places. I don't. I'm always surprised.

4. Curran is cool. But I like to read about other male characters in this world. I mean, His Fuzziness is perfect for Kate. But I want me a piece of Raphael, thankyouverymuch.

Okay, my brain stopped working. I'm going to go watch Bachelor In paradise since that is a guaranteed no brains allowed kind of show.

Talk to you all next time from Paradise.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Amazon Versus Hachette

Lee Child Vs Amazon: The Passive Voice

Carolyn found this link and it's a wonderful read. There's a huge wall between the successful trad. pubbed author and the rest of the world. Fascinating read.

And I thought I'd wade into the waters with my own opinion.

I'm not a lawyer, a scholar or a mathematician. I don't own stock in amazon and as an author I appreciate my royalties from them but I'm not buying a yacht anytime soon. Usually I can buy a fast food meal from KFC for me and Mollie monthly after I get paid.

I own two specific reading devices: a Kindle keyboard and a Kindle Fire. I have the kindle app. on my computer and on my phone. I NEVER read using the app on my computer, I just use it for publishing reasons. I rarely read on my phone but I have out of necessity (long wait and nothing else to do).

My Fire is under my Amazon account and I primarily have used it to watch Netflix and play games. The Kindle keyboard device is under Carolyn's account and has an embarrassing number of books on it. I won't say or guess how many books Carolyn buys in a month but it's no secret that it's a lot.

I've begun buying more books on my account for the Fire. These are books I don't share with Carolyn because they're either books I hope to share with Mollie, cookbooks (the Fire is an awesome way to use a cookbook) and titles I want that I know Carolyn won't read because they're specific to my tastes. (I can access her Amazon account and download possibly 3 - 5 books monthly. We have very differing tastes sometimes.)

I almost never spend more than $4.99 on a title for myself. If there's something higher and I must have it, then I might buy it as a gift to Carolyn for our shared account. That happens maybe twice a year. Most of the books I buy are from .99 to $2.99. Most of the free books I've downloaded I've since deleted and I almost never bother with them anymore unless there are trustworthy reviews.

Lost Lake by Sarah Addison Allen is currently retailing on Kindle for $10.49 (I think). I love her writing. But I haven't yet bought the book. If it was priced at $9.99 I probably would. But I can't go over that price.

My budget is extremely limited and to pay over $5. for a book is a commitment for me. It has to be worth it and worth it means that the book has to transcend for me, it has to be something I want to share with Carolyn and it has to guarantee that I won't be kicking myself thinking that I could have used that money to buy cupcakes.

I agree with Amazon.

On the other hand, I disagree with what Amazon is doing. I believe they should let Hachette price their books however they wish. And they should refuse to offer any discounts. No price matches. Hachette wants to put an ebook out for $20.00, let them. If they expect Amazon to discount the books and eat the difference, Amazon shouldn't. Let the books sell at publisher chosen price and move the hell on. Then when the authors like Mr. Child see their sales statements and realize how much less money they make, they might get an idea of how their publisher is pricing them out of sales.

That's just my two cents.

And I will also state that I got the letter from Amazon asking me (and all KDP authors) to email Hachette and fight the fight. Um, no. It ain't my fight.

I love you, Amazon. I love you for many many reasons. And as long as my books have any sales, I'll continue to publish my books with you. But seriously, step it down. You're right. They price too high. Let that be on them and just do what you do. They're fighting to survive because they still don't want to adapt. Let them.

Sometimes you have to let others fail so that they learn.

Monday, August 11, 2014

RIP Robin Williams

We can't ever know what's going on behind another person's eyes.

The world just lost a lot of laughter today. Find freedom Robin, you've made many lives better through laughter.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Anne Bishop, My New Love

Well, my debit card has been, and will continue to, take a beating. I have discovered a new-to-me author and I have been inhaling her books.

Ms Bishop writes dark fantasy, some of it very dark. I discovered her when I bought Written in Red. Don't remember how I found it but I'm so glad I did. This is the first book of a new trilogy - The Others. The last book of the trilogy is coming soon, but her website says she's signed a contract for three more books in this world, to which I say yay.

In these books, humans are the weaker race and only survive because the Others let them. There's a parallel with our world in that humans came to the Other's land and, of course, tried the same shit they tried with the Native Americans. Only this time they were very badly beaten and at best are tolerated. The wilder Others don't want them around period, so there is a very delicate balance.

The blurb:

 No one creates realms like New York Times bestselling author Anne Bishop. Now in a thrilling new fantasy series, enter a world inhabited by the Others, unearthly entities—vampires and shape-shifters among them—who rule the Earth and whose prey are humans. 

As a cassandra sangue, or blood prophet, Meg Corbyn can see the future when her skin is cut—a gift that feels more like a curse. Meg’s Controller keeps her enslaved so he can have full access to her visions. But when she escapes, the only safe place Meg can hide is at the Lakeside Courtyard—a business district operated by the Others.

Shape-shifter Simon Wolfgard is reluctant to hire the stranger who inquires about the Human Liaison job. First, he senses she’s keeping a secret, and second, she doesn’t smell like human prey. Yet a stronger instinct propels him to give Meg the job. And when he learns the truth about Meg and that she’s wanted by the government, he’ll have to decide if she’s worth the fight between humans and the Others that will surely follow.

The next two (I think the covers suck, but you know the saying ...):

Sorry, can't make the images get on the same line.

So, after reading the first two in the Other series, I looked for more Anne Bishop stories and I hit the mother lode.  I'd heard people saying how good the Black Jewel trilogy was but for some reason never tried it. So, now that I knew the woman could write and build worlds and create characters I care about, I bought the Black Jewel trilogy.

The world building is intricately layered and detailed, and so, so original. There is everything in these books: humor, pain, love; there is torture and abuse but not detailed, at least not as much as it could have been. It is an epic battle of Good vs Evil and I couldn't put the books down.

The first part of the first book was a little confusing until I sorted out the class levels and names. I'm glad I didn't give up. I closed the third book with a happy sigh.

There are other stories of this world. I loved the duology, The Shadow Queen and Shalador's Lady, a rags to riches story - sorta - and there are collections of novellas and short stories.

Best of all, there are at least two other series I'm going to check out.  I'm in reader heaven.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

What Lori's Read Recently

Once Upon a Winter's Eve by Tessa Dare

I usually love Tessa Dare whereas Carolyn can't read her. This was a Spindle Cove story and well, it was dreadful. I think I finished it only because Tessa Dare usually delights me but this ... well, no. It was a story that took place one night with a ball being interupted by a stranger who might be an enemy or a spy and only one woman can translate his speech...
and he's her ex-lover and he came to find her and he is a spy and needs to escape and well, the story was ridiculous and silly and not fun to read.

Brazen  by Kelley Armstrong

From the Underworld series this was a novella centering on the pack but not with Elena and Caleb and anyway, it didn't matter because I couldn't get very far into it before I stopped. Just uninteresting. And any character who's described as being super sexy and better than the average man is just boring to me.

Omens: A Cainsville Novel by Kelley Armstrong

OMG! You'd think I wouldn't try another Armstrong after Brazen but I opened this novel and once I started reading I was pissed anytime the world pulled me away.
The heroine is a spoiled heiress who discovers (in a bad way) that she was adopted and her parents are serial killers. Wow!
And her possible love interest is a total nutball lawyer who'd sell his mother for money. Seriously, the man cannot turn down money at all. It's an obsession.
And there's magic. And mysteries. And the writing was so good...  Book 2 (it's a trilogy) comes out in a week and I'm sick with happiness waiting for it.

Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews

Carolyn has been bugging me to read the Kate Daniels series like forevah and I just haven't gotten around to it. Well I finally did and I liked it. I like Kate because she's a hard ass warrior who knows she's a hard ass warrior but there's a little envy and longing for femininity but not enough to make her not want to be who she is.
The world building is good although admittedly I skimmed a lot of it. I like the future love interest. I especially like that I've started Book 2 and they aren't doing the nasty. In fact, they dislike each other greatly. Which is the beginning of their dance so I'm enjoying that a lot.

In For A Penny  by Rose Lerner

This one started my reading binge and I have to say it's a really good book. An interesting historical which has a marriage of convenience between two rather young people with sudden responsibilities regarding land ownership and tenants and the issues of the day.
There was a feeling sometimes that too much was happening and I would have love the H/h to catch a break and have a little time to enjoy each other before the next issue came upon them, but again it was hard to put down and I really liked all the characters.