Monthly Archives: January 2012

Useful Discussions about Amazon Visibility

28 January 2012

Sometimes, it’s easy to miss some of the best discussions in the comments here, particularly once the post scrolls off the first page.

You’ll find a very interesting discussion/polite dispute about visibility for a book on Amazon, among other things, in the comments to

A Number Of Things I Am Confused About

Real eBooks: Are We Still in the Stone Age?

27 January 2012

From James Moushon via Joel Friedlander at The Book Designer:

So when will we start to see REAL ebooks appear on the market? You know the ebooks that take advantage of their digital environment. Ebooks that have been rendered to improve the reader’s ebook experience. As the number of ebook devices explodes into the book reader’s world, the readers are going to expect more. This statement is especially true with the younger generation whose world seems to center around instant access.

I just completed a study of twenty newly released ebooks just to see how far the art of ebook publishing has advanced in the last year. I choose ebooks from well-known authors, from self-publishing authors, some novels, some technical books. I wanted a variety for my study. I would like to share my observations and suggestions for their improvement.

My contention is that REAL ebooks should be a different product than their paper counterparts. They should be formatted differently; sections arranged differently and in some cases they should have different covers. In short, to be a REAL ebook, they should not be just a copy of the traditional book version.

. . . .

2. Author’s References—the ebook must include links to the author’s website, email address, blogs, online profiles and social networking connections (Facebook/Twitter). You need this to get your reader/audience involved.

3. Author’s Other Books—there should be links to the buy pages for other books created by the author. Why miss this marketing opportunity.

. . . .

One of the problems that traditional books have that REAL ebooks can solve is the maintenance of links in the books. As we know we live in an ever changing world. Web and email addresses change on a daily basis, it seems. So there I am with a link to some interesting information and the link is no good. A broken link, if you will

If the REAL ebook is managed properly, you can avoid or limit this problem. You can create an online directory of links for your ebook. Then you setup a link monitoring process and a link maintenance routine and maintain a valid list of links in the directory. I call this the Goodlinks concept. Just include a link to the online directory in your ebook and you won’t lose your audience.

. . . .

I reviewed the buy page on Amazon for each book in my study. I choose one ebook in my study and downloaded the sample, comparing it to the full length version. Here’s what I found.

The ebook sample was in the same section sequence as the paper version. I know there is a traditional way to setup a book. This sample was no exception. It started with the cover followed by the title page, the table of contents, the dedication, the copyright page and a list of the writer’s other works.

So you ask what’s wrong with this. If this sample was going to help sell my ebook, it probably failed. The sample was 80 device pages long but the viewer had to page through 24 pages before they could start reading the book to make a decision.

I believe if you are going to use the sample as a sales tool, there are some slight changes you can make. I would include the cover and the title page with an abbreviated TOC up front along with the author’s other books with buy links. Also I would include upfront the author’s website and contact information. Move the copyright page, dedications and credits to the end of the ebook.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

James provides some provocative ideas, but PG wonders how all this scales.

If an author is writing like a madman/woman as Dean Wesley Smith proposes, is there going to be time to do all this extra stuff beyond getting good words on a screen?

If an author has 100 ebooks in print, what’s going to be involved in maintaining good links for each of them? Do you update Author’s Other Books in each of the prior ebooks whenever you publish a new one?

Recently, Mrs. PG decided the second sentence in one of her books was not right so, supportive husband that he is, PG changed it everywhere. It was not one of the labors of Hercules, but it took some time, including remembering to check back later for any random error messages, skipping proof orders, etc. PG would have been less supportive, or at least slower, if he had been required to change 10 books or 20.

I hope they don’t hang you

27 January 2012

“I hope they don’t hang you, precious, by that sweet neck.”

“You’re not . . .”

“Yes, angel, I’m gonna send you over. The chances are you’ll get off with life. That means if you’re a good girl, you’ll be out in 20 years. I’ll be waiting for you. If they hang you, I’ll always remember you.”

Dashiell Hammett

Does Amazon KDP Select Affect BookBuzzr Authors?

27 January 2012

From BookBuzzr, a company that provides book marketing tools:

KDP Select is an option for KDP publishers from Amazon. Through KDP Select, for an initial period of 90 days your Digital Book is exclusive to Kindle and is included in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library Program where it will earn a share of a monthly cash fund when readers borrow it. Also, you can promote your Digital Book as free for up to 5 days during these 90 days.

. . . .

If your book is on the KDP Select program, you are perfectly within your rights to market and promote your book through other sources. For example, you can go ahead and tweet about your book on Twitter. And you can talk about your book on your blog. If you use BookBuzzr technologies to market your book, you are not distributing your book through BookBuzzr or selling your books through BookBuzzr. Therefore, you are not violating Amazon terms of service. So go ahead and continue with your BookBuzzr subscription. It may even help complement your efforts on the KDP Select program.

. . . .

The KDP Select FAQ Page states: “When you choose KDP Select for a book, you’re committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP. During the period of exclusivity, you cannot distribute your book digitally anywhere else, including on your website, blogs, etc. However, you can continue to distribute your book in physical format, or in any format other than digital. See the KDP Select Terms and Conditions for more information.”

. . . .

However, when you provide your book excerpt it DOES NOT constitute a violation of KDP Select terms of service. Book excerpts have always been a valid form of book marketing for authors. The BookBuzzr Flipper Widget and Book Sampler is best-suited for book excerpts. If you are part of the KDP Select program, please do not upload your ENTIRE book. But feel free to put up your excerpt.

. . . .

Putting up an excerpt of your book is different from putting up your whole book. Amazon does not restrict you from promoting your own book via a book excerpt. They don’t want you to put up your entire book on places other than Amazon as it will affect their sales. However, putting up a book excerpt on the BookBuzzr widget will actually help Amazon by driving traffic to Amazon.  Having your excerpt up on BookBuzzr does not cause loss of revenues to Amazon since the final sale or distribution of the book happens on the Amazon – Kindle platform itself. If yousell your book on your site then you are in violation of KDP Select terms of service.

Link to the rest at BookBuzzr

Passive Guy hasn’t analyzed the issue BookBuzzr discusses, but this story illustrates some of the challenges small companies face working in the shadow of Amazon and Apple.

Indie authors aren’t the only ones who need to be watchful and agile.

Twitter Faces Censorship Backlash

27 January 2012

From Paid Content:

The social network Twitter is facing a storm of criticism from users, after revealing that it has implemented a system that would let it withhold particular tweets from specific countries.

The company has insisted that it will not use the gagging system in a blanket fashion, but would apply it on a case-by-case basis, as already happens when governments or organisations complain about individual tweets.

The new system, which can filter tweets on a country-by-country basis and has already been incorporated into the site’s output, will not change Twitter’s approach to freedom of expression, sources there indicated.

. . . .

But some users have been critical of the move, which has already seen an update to Twitter’s API, the means through which programs access and show tweets.

Every tweet includes fields such as the user’s name, time of the tweet and the tweet’s content. But now it will also include a “withheld_in_countries” field.

Terence Eden, a London-based mobile developer, complained on Twitter: “I don’t want to develop on an API which contains a ‘withheld_in_countries’ field. What’s next, a ‘for_your_own_good’ field?” He added: “I helped develop a Twitter client that Chinese pro-democracy activists used. Guess that’s dead now. Thanks, Twitter.”

Eden, who describes the move as censorship, said it would be difficult to work around because Twitter will identify which country a user is in by their internet address. “You can spot the censorship, but it’s hard to route around it,” he said.

Link to the rest at Paid Content

The 5 Emotional Stages of a Book Launch

27 January 2012
Comments Off on The 5 Emotional Stages of a Book Launch

From romance author Roni Loren:

Week One: Book Release Euphoria

You’re so damn happy, you can’t feel your face anymore because you’re smiling so much. Your book is out there! People are talking about it, blogging about it, authors you’re a fangirl of are tweeting congrats to you. You walk into your local bookstore and there it is–your book on the freaking shelf! You vacillate widely between wanting to cry and wanting to break out into song in public. You’re so busy, you’re lucky if you remember to eat and sleep.

. . . .

Week Three: Burning Out

This is when the flip side of weeks one and two rears its ugly head. In all your obsession, you’ve realized not everyone thinks you’re made of awesome and sugar cookies. It’s inevitable. We anticipate that. Hell, we’re writers. We’re built on rejection. How much did we see to get to this point? But anticipating it and seeing it on the interwebs are two different things. Rejection up to this point hasn’t felt personal. It’s been more like structured feedback or the general “no thanks” from the agent. But online, people have no qualms about making it personal, saying mean things, or even making assumptions about what kind of person you are. Maybe one day that stuff just rolls off, but at least for me, I found it affecting my mood and distracting me from whatever I was supposed to be working on. (I’ll blog about this in more depth another day.)

Link to the rest at Fiction Groupie and thanks to Elizabeth for the tip.

For $2 a Star, an Online Retailer Gets 5-Star Product Reviews

27 January 2012

From the New York Times:

In the brutal world of online commerce, where a competing product is just a click away, retailers need all the juice they can get to close a sale.

Some exalt themselves by anonymously posting their own laudatory reviews. Now there is an even simpler approach: offering a refund to customers in exchange for a write-up.

By the time VIP Deals ended its rebate on late last month, its leather case for the Kindle Fire was receiving the sort of acclaim once reserved for the likes of Kim Jong-il. Hundreds of reviewers proclaimed the case a marvel, a delight, exactly what they needed to achieve bliss. And definitely worth five stars.

As the collective wisdom of the crowd displaces traditional advertising, the roaring engines of e-commerce are being stoked by favorable reviews. The VIP deal reflects the importance merchants place on these evaluations — and the lengths to which they go to game the system.

Fake reviews are drawing the attention of regulators. They have cracked down on a few firms for deceitful hyping and suspect these are far from isolated instances. “Advertising disguised as editorial is an old problem, but it’s now presenting itself in different ways,” said Mary K. Engle, the Federal Trade Commission’s associate director for advertising practices. “We’re very concerned.”

. . . .

By last week, 310 out of 335 reviews of VIP Deals’ Vipertek brand premium slim black leather case folio cover were five stars and nearly all the rest were four stars. The acclaim seemed authentic, barring the occasional indiscretion. “I would have done 4 stars instead of 5 without the deal,” one man bluntly wrote.

VIP Deals, which specializes in leather tablet cases and stun guns, denied it was quietly offering the deals. “You are totally off base,” a representative named Monica wrote in an e-mail.

But three customers said in interviews that the offer was straightforward. Searching for a protective case for their new Kindle Fire, they came upon the VIP page selling a cover for under $10 plus shipping (the official list price was $59.99). When the package arrived it included a letter extending an invitation “to write a product review for the Amazon community.”

“In return for writing the review, we will refund your order so you will have received the product for free,” it said.

Anne Marie Logan, a Georgia pharmacist, was suspicious. “I was like, ‘Is this for real?’ ” she said. “But they credited my account. You think it’s unethical?”

. . . .

Even a few grouches could not spoil the party. “This is an egregious violation of the ratings and review system used by Amazon,” a customer named Robert S. Pollock wrote in a review he titled “scam.”

He was promptly chastised by another customer. This fellow, himself a seller on Amazon, argued that he had both given and gotten free items in exchange for reviews. “It is not a scam but an incentive,” he wrote.

. . . .

Amazon, sent a copy of the VIP letter by The New York Times, said its guidelines prohibited compensation for customer reviews. A few days later, it deleted all the reviews for the case, which itself was listed as unavailable. Then it took down the product page itself.

Link to the rest at the New York Times

IPad down to 58% of tablet sales as Android catches up

27 January 2012

From the Los Angeles Times:

When asked if the emergence of new, lower-cost tablets was affecting the success of the iPad this week, Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook said he wasn’t seeing it.

“I looked at the data, particularly in the U.S., on a weekly basis after Amazon launched the Kindle Fire, and I wouldn’t — in my view there wasn’t an obvious effect on the numbers plus or minus,” Cook said.

But one clear minus was Apple’s declining share of the growing tablet market. Despite gang-buster sales last quarter, the iPad has lost more than 10 percentage points of market share to rival Android tablets since the fourth quarter of 2010, according to a new report from research firm Strategy Analytics.

The iPad dropped to 57.6% of the tablets sold during the most recent fourth quarter, from 68.2% a year earlier, while Android rose to 39.1% from 29.0% a year ago, the report said. While Apple shipped 15.4 million iPads during the quarter, Android makers shipped 10.5 million tablets, more than tripling the 3.1 million they shipped a year earlier.

Link to the rest at the Los Angeles Times

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