Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Price And Drunk Troll Reviews

Once upon a time you could protect a book from drunk troll reviews by pricing it at a level where it would make them reluctant to spend the money.

Sad to say that doesn't work anymore.  Drunk Trolls (trademark pending by now) will either buy the book and return it in order to have a verified purchase at Amazon (writers are not as dumb as some Drunk Trolls think, I know who you are and I saw what you did) and then return it.  No financial outlay and they can savage your work at will.

The other choice is to not go through the hassle of actually reading the book at all, just go straight to savaging it.  The routine seems to be to simply go through the list of everything a writer has written and trash all of them with the same short sentence.  Clipboard is their friend.

What I want to know is what kind of parenting produced children/adults who behave in this way.  I'm not taking personal responsibility away from them but obviously they do not know right from wrong, they have not assimilated the Golden Rule "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" or even something new agey like "Random Acts of Kindness."   Something in these people is so broken, that striking out anonymously on the internet is one of the few acts that can bring them temporary comfort from their psychological suffering.

But you do have to wonder.  What are they doing when they're not on the internet?  Are they in Fight Clubs?  Are they playing the Knock Down Game (hit an old person on the street hard enough to make them fall)?  Are they torturing animals?  How broken are these people?

Kobo And Their Freebies


I got a very nice note from support Kobo yesterday with screencaps.  I don't think you should bother complaining about something (or in their case explaining) without them.  Plus you go on record.  Important.

Here's the first deal with them.  If you're logged into your account, you can't see a buy button on your book's page.  If you're not logged in, you can.

Sorry, I don't get the point of that.  How about if we see exactly what the customer sees.  That would be helpful.

Second deal, they don't keep track of how many free books you give away.  You're just tossing them out the freaking window.  I cannot say how accurate this is.  Kids/teen fiction.  (It's a stupid way, sorry, yes, it's stupid) to categorize two age groups who have as much in common as teens and senior citizens.)

 

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Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Care and Feeding of Drunk Trolls


"The psychologists call it "deindividuation". It's what happens when social norms are withdrawn because identities are concealed. The classic deindividuation experiment concerned American children at Halloween. Trick-or-treaters were invited to take sweets left in the hall of a house on a table on which there was also a sum of money. When children arrived singly, and not wearing masks, only 8% of them stole any of the money. When they were in larger groups, with their identities concealed by fancy dress, that number rose to 80%. The combination of a faceless crowd and personal anonymity provoked individuals into breaking rules that under "normal" circumstances they would not have considered.

Deindividuation is what happens when we get behind the wheel of a car and feel moved to scream abuse at the woman in front who is slow in turning right. It is what motivates a responsible father in a football crowd to yell crude sexual hatred at the opposition or the referee. And it's why under the cover of an alias or an avatar on a website or a blog – surrounded by virtual strangers – conventionally restrained individuals might be moved to suggest a comedian should suffer all manner of violent torture because they don't like his jokes, or his face. Digital media allow almost unlimited opportunity for wilful deindividuation. They almost require it. The implications of those liberties, of the ubiquity of anonymity and the language of the crowd, are only beginning to be felt."

Tom Postmes, a professor of social and organisational psychology at the universities of Exeter and Groningen in his native Netherlands, and author of Individuality and the Group, has been researching these issues for 20 years. "In the early years," he says, "this online behaviour was called flaming. And then that became institutionalised. Among friends, the people who engaged in this activity were actually quite jocular in intent but they were accountable to standards and norms that are radically different to those of most of their audience. Trolls aspire to violence, to the level of trouble they can cause in an environment. They want it to kick off. They want to promote antipathetic emotions of disgust and outrage, which morbidly gives them a sense of pleasure."

Read it all  The Age of Rage.

Do Not Feed the Trolls.  They have their own source of food and sustenance.   They do not live under a bridge.  There is no electricity under a bridge to run their internet devices.  Do not waste your pity on them.  While they are pitiable, they are broken trolls.  You can't fix broken.  They have to go to the Broken Troll Hospital and there is a long waiting list.  Unfortunately, few of them realize they need help.  That is part of the Drunk Troll Syndrome.

Do not fear.  The world works in extremely predictable ways.

In ancient Greek, hubris referred to actions that shamed and humiliated the victim for the pleasure or gratification of the abuser.

In Greek mythology, Nemesis (Greek, Νέμεσις), also called Rhamnousia/Rhamnusia ("the goddess of Rhamnous") at her sanctuary at Rhamnous, north of Marathon, was the spirit of divine retribution against those who succumb to hubris (arrogance before the gods). The Greeks personified vengeful fate as a remorseless goddess: the goddess of revenge. The name Nemesis is related to the Greek word νέμειν [némein], meaning "to give what is due".

Saturday, July 28, 2012

More Random Thoughts

How is Pinterest going to keep going when you know there is "copyrighted" material being posted?



There are sites that tell you "rights determination is your problem" whatever warning they give.  I don't know how you track down something from 1923 or 1912.  It could be PD or might not.  It's an old technology mode of thinking for 21st century reality. 

I was trying to find a mystery series I read a couple years ago and after about 40 min I realized how impossible it was since all the search terms were so common.  Publishers really like the same stuff but the characters should have different names and different hair color.

Since I don't go to the library anymore, are cozy mysteries still a big deal?  They probably are.  The rules for writing one of those make you feel like you just got sent to a reform school.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Discoverability

New buzzword.  You can't be found by price alone.

Konrath will say social media doesn't work.  Someone else says it will.  

Okay then how are we going to be found.  That write rinse repeat thing in order to get shelf space, I have 21 books on Kobo and more at Amazon.  I can tell you taking up shelf space don't help me none.

I have no answer.  There's a Jewish saying "He who has nothing to lose can try anything."  That's my advice.  Try anything, try as much as you can.  Try blog tours.  Try interviews.  Try freebies with excerpts attached.  Try to broaden the audience that might be interested in your book. 

Amazon gives you 7 keywords.  Don't say catering and pastry.  It's repetitive.  Throw your net wide.
Find books like yours--what keywords did they use?

Have a logline.  Once upon a time I came up with an idea for a movie.  I don't remember it exactly but it was something very close to this "Kinship--One sister was high class, one sister was no class."   I think I wanted Whoopie Goldberg and Goldie Hawn to play the sisters.

The description of the book?  1 medium length paragraph.  Under 100 words.  Lead with the logline.  Give 'em the sizzle not the steak.

First, before any of this, write a good book.  That won't sell by itself but at least if you manage to get people there, they won't/shouldn't be too ticked off.

That said ALL my books are good and my sales are flatlined.  So you have to write stuff someone wants to read.  I don't know how you do that.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Text Only Cover Design

J.K. Rowlings' new novel has only text (and a check mark) on the cover.  I won't bother posting the image because everyone is freaking about copyright though you'd think it would be publicity.  If you want to see it The Casual Vacancy.  And let me say that this book costs $19.99 for the kindle edition and $20.93 for the hardcover so I'm not buying it any time soon.

(I need to go off on a tangent.  If she's worth more as a writer than I am because she made a billion dollars, and my books are priced at $2.99, why stop at $20 for her book?  Why not charge what she's worth?  Price the book at $5000.  She's worth more than Picasso, right?)

This seems to be a popular way to go and I thought about it for a while then decided to see what it would do for a cover I didn't particularly like.  Ever.


I had to look at this for a while and came to the conclusion I liked it enough to abandon the headless torso of a doctor which I always hated.  I never liked the woman and the broom thing either.

Done properly, I think using text only is quite effective.  We'll assume you choose a readable font, something plain and bold.  It's clean and uncluttered.

The argument against is that it tells you nothing about the book itself.  And I'm at the point of "Who cares?"

What?!

I've seen the vector women with the shopping bags.  I've seen the prone female, legs in the air, with panties dangling off her high heels on at least 3 different books, I've seen the sweaty couples clutching each other.  It's a relief to just see the title.  For me.

Billboards are created so that if you drive past at 60 mph you still understand them.  That's an ebook cover.
People are scrolling past at speed.  These moody, dark, settings with designed fonts do not read well in thumbnail size.  (I'd love to hear the argument that they do read well and I'm wrong.)  As beautiful and as evocative as they might be, are they successful at 1) being easily understood in thumbnail size 2) different from 1500 other covers.

Being different is not always a good thing.  That's a choice one needs to make.  How different do you want to be and when does being so different stop helping and begin to hurt.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Random Thought Day

Cake Balls.  Bake a cake, crumble it up.  Stir in frosting.  Form into balls.  Cover with more frosting or chocolate.
WHY?

Note to self--Shut up today.  Whatever I say, I get in trouble.

"drinking milk carries potentially severe health risks."  (link at Time.com, somewhere)
Note to Government--Stay out of my refrigerator.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Copyrights, Threats and Lawsuits

I understand intellectual property.  I'm a photographer and a writer.  I understand the need to be paid for my work.
I also understand that the internet is not the place to put anything and expect it won't be used/borrowed/appropriated either without malice or with intention.

Now there are "companies" who go around looking for "violations" and they sue to make money.  This is a little like crashing a junker into someone's car for the insurance money.  Apparently one blogger is being sued by a photographer because she used his photo.

If you have a blog where you talk about selling your books and you one day post a photo of a clown, then you can be seen to be using that image for commercial purposes and can be sued.  Of course you can be sued for breathing, too, but are you going to get a judge nutty enough to see merit in that case?  Lots of judges seem to be out of their minds now, just like all too many people.

So a lot of neat images that were once here are not anymore.  You're stuck with my photos and vintage images in PD.  Please feel free to use them, I won't come after you because my life is not that small.  Just be careful anywhere else.

Now I have to remove all my youtube videos if I can figure out how.

There are some people who will not be happy until we're all living in mud huts in the dark.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Goodbye Legacy Publishing

We Have Turned Some Kind of Corner

I made my first sale on Kobo today.
Nice, great.  Somehow they found me, and bought this book that doesn't even have a price on it.
So what's so cornerish about that?
It was to someone in Singapore.

Goodbye Legacy Publishing.  You can't do that for me.  You never did, you never wanted to, maybe you never could.

What book?  Flash.  About a teen photog in LA.  Undoubtedly unpublishable traditionally.  I can't (or can all too easily) imagine the rejections I could stack up with these 2 books.

Kobo gives a writer far more marketing feedback than anyone else.  In that regard, they have the other guys beat by miles.  Maybe I sold books in Australia by Amazon in the past but never knew.  The point being is with Kobo now I know.  I don't know what I do with that knowledge--I guess I wait for Joe Konrath to tell me.  But all knowledge is power.  Or is power just power.  I don't know anymore the way things are going, but that's what they used to say and data is valuable.  People do pay for it.

Amazon.  I had that falls-flat-on-its-face freebie last week.  Unspeakable Desirable has sold a couple copies since and that was one of the excerpts in Fly Away.  Very hard to say if that's the reason but it should be pointed out.

Inhibitions/Waiting For You sold a copy after the title change.

I changed the cover for Just Kate.  It was time.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Kobo First Five Days

You can get things live with remarkable speed.  That's fantastic and lovely.  You won't get all the changes you put in. 

I have 2 books for free download.  I have no idea how many, if any, have been downloaded.  Where do you see those stats?

Where is the contact information for Writing For Life Support?  I can't find that.  I contacted Kobo by email and got a confirmation email.  Never heard back.  I called them.  They said they would send me up a level to Tier Two.  Doesn't that sound promising?!  I got a confirmation email.  I never heard from the Tier 2 people.

I haven't sold any copies.  OTOH, about half of my books are listed with no price.


Ari and the Doctor is ranked #1 in Screenwriting!!  Yay me!  It's a fantasy.  You go to the screenwriting list and I am not #1.  Ditto for all the other rankings--totally unrelated to reality.

Periodically there is a small box between the fb icon and the Pinterest icon.  It had a number in it.  I thought that could be downloads.  Maybe page views.  It disappears.  Sometimes it's there, sometimes not.  There is no explanation for it.  I mean when you hover over something, sometimes you get a clue what it is.  Not with this.

Not great to have a large preview flag on top of my cover.  It either covers my name or the title.  How'd they think that was a good idea?  Even Amazon gave that practice up long ago and moved whatever it said below the image.

So personally I'm disappointed in the results, as a writer I acknowledge it has great potential but maybe they should have kept it in Beta a while longer.  Price?  I'm there to sell books and there's no buy button?  I didn't go to Wharton Business School but you'd think that would have been the first thing worked out.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ah Sweet Mystery of Formatting Life


I have uploaded everything important to Kobo and I can be pretty sure the formatting is acceptable to terrible.
I started with docs.  It seemed fine.  Then it wasn't.  Most of the rest were downloaded mobis and they're not perfect either.  They look fine on my Kindle.

I have Sweet Tarts for free and I think Her Cold Kiss or maybe Murder Is Exhausting.  I like the flexibility.
And I know that there have been people who put something on Smashwords for free forever and did really well once Amazon price matched (so reluctantly I'm sure).

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Monkey Doodle Doo and Kobo Writing Life Open

First Dessert--The Monkey Doodle Doo

Irving Berlin was one of the great geniuses of  20th century popular music AFAIC and you can't be grumpy after listening to this wonderful interpretation by Scott Lasky.  Composed in 1913, it's 99 years old and better than anything today.  IMHO.  This piece of music was used in the 1929 Marx Brothers movie, The Cocoanuts.



And Kobo's where I was all yesterday afternoon getting books uploaded.  It's a very attractively designed site, easy to navigate, the speed is excellent, the process streamlined.  The Kobo team obviously studied BN and Amazon closely, found all the problem areas then avoided them.

While Kobo is a small market share now, I suspect that will change quickly.  It's also good for Amazon to have some competition,  Real competition, not BN, which doesn't innovate, doesn't change anything and is nearly impossible to navigate.  Maybe Amazon will think of another way for people to promote books.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Sweet Tarts and High Heels

This short story has a history as long as the story itself.  And I won't bother you with it.

The main character, Tierney Reed, has had a complicated and troubled life and winds up in Los Angeles and uses the skillset she has.

If I was a smart marketing girl I would do a haircut on 50 Shades, I would throw in a couple scenes with whips and shackles and have Tierney wind up being the recipient of fame and fortune by the end.  But I think you know me better than that.

We were talking about loglines a couple days ago and here's the one for Sweet Tarts.

Will a Beverly Hills call girl tell the truth about her life?  If it’s Tierney Reed, you bet.  But duck when the bullets start flying.

Here's the description


"Noel Adrian, Ph.D. wants to know how young and beautiful women become escorts in Beverly Hills. Of course, they meet Miss Doucette and are recruited. The money is great, the lifestyle moving among the rich, powerful and attractive is even better. But as a sociologist, Dr. Adrian wants the oral history for a clinical study.

Tierney has no reluctance to sharing her story. She’s not proud of her life but she’s not embarrassed either. Her new world is much like her old one but now she’s not scraping by and she knows how to punch back. But the past is more difficult to shake off than it looks and under pressure, Tierney reverts to what she knows best. Will this time be any different."

I tweaked the cover a bit  and may again try with the text but this is what's live now.


Fly Away Freebie.  Well under 1000 downloads although it was the the top 100 contemporary romance for long enough for me to lose count.  Not impressive numbers at all.  I have no explanation, and surmissions would be factless things.  

FA came with excerpts of Not Low Maintenance and Unspeakably Desirable and overnight 2 copies of NLM sold.  I'd say nothing published now should be without an excerpt to something else.  You're losing the only billboard you have if you don't.

Then you take the logline and the Amazon address of the book and you go around Facebook and post on all the pages which allows promoing of indie kindle content.  Like this.  FB will go to Amazon and bring back the cover and the description.  But you need the logline to catch attention.

Will a Beverly Hills call girl tell the truth about her life?  If it’s Tierney Reed, you bet.  But duck when the bullets start flying.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006YHIHJO

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Do Freebies Work


They don't work for me.  Okay.  The numbers we see here, I say success.   If you're in the top 100 of a category that's excellent.  You have a good chance of being found.  Top 10, then that really changes the dynamic.

Here's the thing.  I have not gotten 1000 downloads on this book.

Last weekend my pal, Mona, got 10,000 downloads on her book.  This weekend is dead.  Nothing seems to be doing so extremely well.

So let me put it to you this way.  I just tied up my book Flying Away to get the benefit of Amazon's wonderful freebie tool and it essentially fell flat on its face.  Now for 87 days my book is dead to me.  Oh yeah it's for sale but I can't put it at Kobo.  I can't make it live on BN.

Was this worth it?

I don't know.  If people read the excerpts at the back of FA and buy NLM or UD, then sure, it was worth it.  But do we see that?  I haven't.  And other people say the same thing.  Readers horde free books for the Zombie Apocalypse, they don't read them, review them or act on them.  Only a small number of very high concept books create that reaction.

I'm saying it's not worth it.  I want my books to be available to all readers not just kindle readers.
But I did learn how to clumsily navigate Facebook and now I can post my other books
which may or may not do any good but it's what everyone does.  I would prefer to continue to not be like everyone else and would if readers were finding my books without help from me.  The more I have to do this, the less I write.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Friday Non-News

Start with dessert first


Kobo may be opening next week.
Kobo Writing Life To Be Launched "Soon"

So whenever that happens, Amazon will be backburnered for a while as I get myself situated there.  I'm sure I will be missed!

Fly Away was #2 for a while in Contemporary Romance.  I have no idea where it is today and I'm not going to go look.

I should maybe redo the cover of Missed Wish.  I like that couple very much but maybe some polo ponies would be better.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Fly Away Freebie

Right?  It's a Gimme Cap.  It is totally legitimate to try a giveaway of a novella with excerpts of NLM and UD with the proviso that I'm being coached this time.  I was given a list of Facebook pages guaran-damn-teed to increase visibility.  Which of course if I had been on FB at all before 4 weeks ago I could have searched for myself had I even thought of it which I wouldn't but I was a FB virgin and quite liked it that way.

In preparation for this big day, I got everything all perfect.  I had the cover.  I wrote a blurb.  I asked for input.  It was tweaked.  The description was tweaked.  I was so good to go.

Then I had a nightmare about 6 hours ago--no this is true, why would I invent something so stupid to say to you--that ALL my books were free due to some horrible computer glitch.  I woke up and hauled myself to the computer to ascertain it was not true.  It was not.

Okay, start the process.  About 1/2 way in I realize --Wow.  The cover is wrong.  It's imperative to move the title.


It was an artistic choice to leave the text off the wing.  But as I was looking at it in thumbnail, it wasn't doing me any favors.

So here's what's being posted on various Facebook pages.    If you include the link, FB will automatically go to Amazon, get the cover and the description and post it on the page for you.  Everyone besides me probably knew that already.

Yes, most of it actually happened to me and "Jake" was a pilot for American Airlines.  That should make you all kinds of comfortable next time you get on board a commercial jet.  (After being groped by the TSA, of course.)


FREE.  FLY AWAY. July 12-July 14.  Lis wanted to fly away but didn’t mean it so literally until meeting daredevil flyboy, Jake, who redefines the phrase "turning your world on its head".

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Drive-By Shooting Reviews

It's all Drunk Trolls.  Apparently some kind of hallucinogen has been introduced into one of the popular reading sites and the drunk trolls are going nuts.  Wilding behavior.


Long time readers know I've been going on about this for the past year.  Writers are very vulnerable to "readers" with a blow fly up their nose.  These people might not even read the book and give it a negative review--which explains so much about how dumb some of the reviews are.  I think my personal fav is the one that whines "this book is so cunfusing!"

The problem is when the sites refuse to police their own sites.  Malicious reviews are not removed.  It took over a year for me to get a couple reviews removed from BN and they were complaints that the book wouldn't download.  Now I have another issue BN is unable to deal with.

Didn't I say it would get to the point where authors would start shrieking before anything happened?  We're not there yet because some writers are having a really good time.  When that stops, when Joe Konrath is outed, or someone stupidly picks on Barry Eisler once too often, then we'll see movement.

Until then we'll just have to accept being abused.

Just as a reminder Fly Away will be a freebie tomorrow at Amazon.  I'll make a nice post about it but this is freebie eve.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Self Pub At Project Gutenberg

From Project Gutenberg, the first producer of free eBooks, now comes the free Author's Community Cloud Library, a social network Self Publishing Portal.  This portal allows authors to share their works with our readers as well as allows readers to provide comments, reviews and feedback to the authors.  Every eBooks has its own detail page with ratings and Wall for displaying reader comment.


Mission Statement: "The Purpose of Project Gutenberg is to encourage the creation and distribution of electronic books."  Until now, Project Gutenberg has focused mostly on the re-creation of paper books rather than the distribution of new authors and material, and we have spent as much of our time on finding books and doing copyright research as on eBook creation and distribution. This is our first attempt focused on solely on distribution rather than creation.  Project Gutenberg

I'm not quite sure what writer would do this.  You can make your books free at Smashwords.  Theoretically, so Kobo told us, you can make your books free at Kobo.  Why would you throw away your work at Gutenberg unless, of course, you are independently wealthy and writing is just a hobby?  The likelihood of good books being given away in a closed system seems improbable.  Crummy books, sure. 

This brings us back to free.  Readers are being conditioned to think books should be free.  That would be great but how do writers earn a living?

If we lived in a world where everyone got their financial allotment then sure, writers could make their books free because they'd be on the government dole just like readers and doctors.  And Amanda Hocking and E.L. James and Joe Konrath wouldn't make the windfalls they did because of their popularity.  Everyone would be the same schmoe.  Running contrary to reality, everyone would be artificially forced into being equal.

Is Amazon going to price-match Gutenberg?

I don't see the point of this at all from my side of the fence.  But from the other side, yeah, I understand how in a utopian world everything should be free and I want a 1936 Bugatti.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Loglines and Why You Need Them

What's a logline?  It's a word Hollywood uses to describe a sentence that distills the entire story into something anyone can understand.

You see the problem with that already, don't you?  Too bad, keep going.

This is not a new technique.  A hundred years ago David Belasco the great Broadway producer said you should be able to write your story on the back of a business card.  90 years later some wag in H'wood said it should be something you can shout across a parking lot and still have it understood.

That's why entertainment keeps being simplified and the ability for the audience to understand complications is progressively diminished.  You make things simpler, the audience expects simpler, simpler is rewarded, more simple is offered, the audience approves so even more simpler is concocted.  You know the routine as well as I do.

Why do you need this?  Because space is limited on some internet sites--Twitter comes to mind--but if you post a notice for your book on some Facebook pages,  only the first half sentence is visible unless the reader clicks on it.  Make it good.  Make it succinct.  Make the reader scrolling past at speed want to stop.

What's a good logline? It gives you the basics and the primary basic is the conflict.  What is going on, what's the main character struggling against?  Do that in 30 words or less--less is always better--and your description or blurb will be improved.  Don't try to tell the story.  Give them the sizzle not the steak.  It's all Hollywood now.

Nothing Serious--Life and love was nothing serious for Paige.  Then life decided it had other plans for her.

What does this tell us?  There's a woman named Paige who has been skating through life, not making commitments.   Then things happened she has no control over and she has to find a way to deal with them.

How do I know that?  Maybe she didn't deal with it.  Maybe she didn't and then I didn't write that book.  There are elements we assume.  A story has a beginning middle and end, there's action and we hope there's conflict.
We don't have to say these things, we're acculturated to this form of storytelling.  The best advice I can give anyone about how to write a book is to read a couple books on screenwriting.

Here's a script-based approach and I would disagree with none of it.  But hey, I'm a former scriptwriter myself.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Gimme Caps, Freebies and Joe Konrath Is Bummed?

The blush is apparently off the relationship between Joe and Amazon.
So...what, now he sees how the rest of us are treated?
No he's still treated better than that.  But he's still selling power drills from Amazon's perspective while Joe thinks he's an artist selling intellectual property.
A book is not a power drill.  China can endlessly churn out power drills but there's only one Joe and he can only create so many new books in his lifetime (a lot more in number than most people but still limited).  Each book is unique.  Each power drill is not unique even if some have special features.
Has ever before in the history of mankind it seemed reasonable to compare a mass produced, manufactured object (not objet) to intellectual property?
Yet Amazon does it.
Amazon isn't the first.  On some level every publisher does.
But Amazon was supposed to be different.  (Still please publish Nothing Serious, I love you lots!)  They said they loved writers.

Let me tell you about loving writers.  I was in a situation in television where I pulled a producer's butt out of the fire and my agent called and said "Joe Smith (not his real name) really loves you" and I wisely said "In 6 weeks he'll hate me."  It wasn't 6 weeks it was 6 months, but he did come to hate me.

The minute anyone says they love writers, I know they're lying.  (Sorry Amazon, I love you lots, please publish Nothing Serious, this is business, not personal.)

I think Amazon had the intention of this nebulous loving of writers, but when business entered the equation, hey--money or love.  Not a hard decision for a big corporation.

So now that Joe sees how it works, and the rest of us would be thrilled to be forced into those terrible conditions, he thinks that being exclusive to Amazon is not that great.  Okay, I understand that.  I wouldn't put all my eggs in one basket either especially if I was as popular as he is, even if I wasn't I wouldn't give Amazon all my books.  UNLESS they switched to epub compatible or something.

I don't mind that a reader has to go to Amazon to buy my book for their Nook.  That's fine.  But I don't want them to be forced to ditch their Nook just to read Dream Horse.

Right now we're at the point where freebies don't quite work anymore and Amazon isn't taking action to replace that so-called tool with another shiny tool.  With the result that writers are starting to abandon Select because most of them get nothing out of it.  What have I been saying all year?

Free but not exclusive would be a positive step.  But Amazon needs the exclusive thing.  Amazon needs product/power drills to sell.  What if tradpub cuts them off?  Then their supply of power drills is dramatically decreased.  Except the flavor has been chewed out of the Select gum for writers and wait till Kobo gets its act together.  I think that's a big problem for Amazon.

So we're in a lull.    I had someone give me a very good argument for doing freebies.  I still don't know if they work anymore, but it was a good argument.  The game needs to change, though.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Let's Talk About Building A Cover

I needed (I didn't actually think so but I was advised) a new cover for Waiting For You.  Why?  Because some thought the clockface was SciFi.  So then you have the question what freaking stock photo can I find and afford that somehow has something to do with this book.  For some books this is impossible or nearly.  Police Procedurals, thrillers.  Very hard.  Steamy romance novels--pretty easy.  There are lots photos of nude people in a clinch.

What does that have to do with waiting?  Well, nothing.   After hours of looking I found this


I thought it was better than okay but I'm still stuck on the clockface.  The problem with this photo is either easily cured or not so easily.  The first issue is that it's landscape and a cover is portrait.  Unless you make it quite large you're left with white at the top and bottom of the cover.  I've done that a number of times and that's fine but somehow that didn't seem right.

The photo was sold in a number of sizes, usually you can get away with small but I knew I would need more resolution if I was going to enlarge it to fit on the cover template.  Bigger size required.  $5.

Ok.  I buy it and stick it on the template.  Problem.  The girl becomes huge if I enlarge the photo so that it covers the template.  I don't want the girl huge.  I don't want to see her that much.

I have another problem the photo is sold as sunset but while the sun is always setting somewhere I don't see it.  I agree that it's taken in the magic hour before evening but still I'm not getting any tonalities that appeal.  The sky is still blue and it would have been better if they waited a while longer and it softened/became pink.  Maybe they did and that wasn't for sale.  The bad news, I never got the sky right where I wanted.

My first issue was really to make more sky and more grass.  I had to artificially extend the top and bottom of the photo without stretching so that it would cover the template.  Photoshop has a function called Content Aware Fill. I watched the tutorial a number of times.  You need the image on a raster layer (I know, way too technical for some).  A raster layer is just blank, no color no nothing.  It's not the background because that is by default white.  But since this isn't stated, I came to that after too many attempts.  The sky was no problem, the grass was more difficult because the program extended past where the girl is standing  and picked up where you can see that yellowish area so I wound up with two of those.  Didn't want that.

So I never could get rid of that and wound up dropping the whole photo down further than I wanted but still that wasn't that much of an issue.

My next issue to deal with was the sky/color/tone.  This is obviously in focus but I wanted to soften it.  After a couple hours (yes really) of fiddling with various filters and techniques, I abandoned trying to change the color of the sky and instead accepted that increasing the warmth of the image was going to be acceptable.  I tried various fog filters and eventually settled for everyone's first choice of the Gaussian blur.


I picked up the color of the hill in the background for the text color.  Yeah okay.  Still not there for me.  Too blue.  Fiddled some more.  Warmed it up.


 This is the point where you have different but maybe not better.

My rationale for uploading the last is pretty simple.  I think people prefer dramatic, bold saturated colors.  That's all the explanation I have.  The blue does nothing for me.  This is a little dreamier.

So that's an abbreviated explanation of this cover.  It's the image I found/what I had to work with and maybe on a different day I would have wound up with something else.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Schtupid Cupid New Cover

And new title.  Someone has been making suggestions and I've been listening.  Nothing is chiseled into granite like in the old days.


I guess Schtupid Cupid worked but it didn't work that well.  Without being a marketing genius it's hard to know what people are glomming onto.  Are they confused by the word Schtupid?  I'll bet some are. 

Is it a romance or is it a comedy?  What's a romantic comedy?  Then what do you focus on?  Jake the fly boy or how chaotic things are when cupid shoots a zinger at you?

Mona Ingram is telling me how she makes KDP Select work for her so I'm being tempted to try again with her tutelage.  I also recommend any of her romance novels as they're very well written entertainment.

Between that and the rest of life throwing me curve balls, that's why I haven't been around.