Kindle Instant Book Previews

22 June 2016

Along with many others, PG just received a promo for Kindle Instant Book Previews.

We all know how easy it is to share our favorite pictures and videos online. Now you can just as easily share your favorite book with Kindle instant previews so anyone can start reading the book for free.

. . . .

Kindle instant previews can be embedded on the web or shared as a link via email, text and other favorite apps. Anyone can start reading the preview for free by clicking on the link, just like this example. The Kindle instant preview provides:2px-spacer

• Free content to keep traffic on your site

• Free access to a sample of the book

• Adjustable font sizes for the readers’ comfort

• Direct link to book purchase from Amazon

• Download link to get the free Kindle app

Link to the rest at Kindle Instant Book Previews

This appears to be easy to implement.

Here’s an embedded version of one of Mrs. PG’s books (note the buttons at the bottom of the cover):



Here’s a link to a preview of the same book.

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Booklife Prize in Fiction

10 June 2016

From Writer Beware:

I’ve been getting some questions about the BookLife Prize in Fiction, a new award for unpublished and self-published novels. Prizes include a “brief critical assessment” from Publishers Weekly reviewers for all entrants (BookLife is owned by PW), a book blurb from “a bestselling or award-winning author” for semi-finalists, and a grand prize of $5,000 for a single winner.

BookLife claims to “[tap] the experience, integrity, and authority of Publishers Weekly to help indie authors achieve their goals.” It offers a free submission portal for writers who want to submit self-published books for review, along with “editorial content—success stories, interviews, author profiles, how-to pieces, news, and features”.

. . . .

I’ve been skeptical of BookLife since its inception, in part because of the failings of the Service Directory, in part because much of its content is generic info widely available on the web, or else reprints from industry bloggers or PW itself. Also, although BookLife is free, the site promotes PW Select, which charges $149 for a listing in PW and “featured” presence on BookLife.

. . . .

Entering BookLife’s Prize in Fiction requires a whopping non-refundable entry fee of $99.

A big entry fee like this, as many of you know, is one of the signs of an awards profiteer–an organization that runs writing awards and contests not to honor writers but to make a buck (I’ve written a lot about such organizations on this blog). So I contacted BookLife to ask why the fee was so high. I quickly heard back from BookLife President Carl Pritzkat, who confirmed what I suspected: part of the fee goes to cover honorariums for the PW reviewers who’ll be providing the critiques. But he also told me that “in terms of the entry fee we were modeling it after prizes like Forward Magazine’s INDIES ($99 with an early-bird rate of $79), IndieReader’s Discovery Awards ($150 for the first category of entry) and IBPA’s Benjamin Franklin Awards ($95 per category for members; $225 for non-members).”

Link to the rest at Writer Beware and thanks to Deb for the tip.

This Vermont newspaper is having an essay contest. The prize? This Vermont newspaper

9 June 2016

From Poynter:

The Hardwick Gazette sent out a press release Wednesday for an essay contest with a newsworthy prize – The Hardwick Gazette.

The contest winner will assume ownership of The Hardwick Gazette, the historic Main Street building where the newspaper has been published for better than 100 years, and equipment and proprietary materials necessary to operate the business.

It’s real, said Ross Connelly, editor and publisher of the Hardwick, Vermont weekly. He hasn’t gotten any entries yet, of course, since the release just went out, but they’re supposed to come in by mail anyway. “Real mail,” he said.

The cost to enter the contest is $175. The guidelines: 400 words “about the entrant’s skills and vision for owning a paid weekly newspaper in the new millennium.”

From the press release, which you can find here:

“We want to hear from people who can hold up a mirror in which local citizens can see themselves and gain insights into the lives within their communities,” says Connelly. “We want to hear from people with a passion for local stories that are important, even in the absence of scandal and sensationalism. We want to hear from people who recognize social media is not the same as a local newspaper. The winner of his contest will demonstrate this is a business that employs local people, that keeps the money we earn in the communities we cover, that is here week after week because the people who live here are important.”

Connelly, who turns 71 on Saturday, bought the paper with his wife in 1986. She died four years ago, and running the weekly paper by himself isn’t the same, either emotionally or financially, as it was with his partner, he said.

“The newspaper needs more energy than I have to offer now,” Connelly said, “I’m older than I used to be.”

. . . .

The Gazette has one full-time person in production, two people in part-time production, a reporter who recently went part-time, several other correspondents and a courier who picks up the paper at the printer each week in New Hampshire.

. . . .

He previously advertised the newspaper through Editor & Publisher, and people did come and look at it, but they were mostly tire kickers. The conventional way of selling the paper didn’t work, but Connelly felt that this institution that’s served the community since 1889 is still an important one.

Weekly papers fly under the radar of the mainstream press, who swoop in when big news hits, he said. But there’s still a lot going on that residents have the right to know about.

Link to the rest at Poynter and thanks to Dave for the tip.

PG has a soft spot for tiny newspapers in tiny towns that originates from his high school days when he was the unpaid sports editor for the local paper. Aside from learning all sorts of synonyms for “scored”, he listed the editorship on his college applications and was accepted everywhere he applied, so perhaps there was a tangible benefit other than seeing his name in the paper every week.

Authors Are Paying for Ads and Their Books Aren’t Being Seen

6 June 2016

From Indies Unlimited:

Several authors have reported to IU that they’ve had disappointing sales after paying for an email advertisement, only to find their book didn’t show up in emails sent to recipients using a few of the big web-based book promotion services. Why not? Because companies like Gmail cut off emails they consider too long. So, here’s a typical scenario an author has reported to IU:

I was all excited because I got accepted by one of the advertising sites for discount books. On the day my book was scheduled to run, I opened up the email, scrolled all the way to the bottom and didn’t see my book. I was really mad as I paid money and was told I was scheduled for that day. I was about to email the site to find out what happened, but I decided to look at the email again, just to make sure I hadn’t missed my book. Then, I saw something I’ve never noticed before. At the bottom of the email, it says: “Message Clipped” and indicates to click here to “View Entire Message.” I clicked the link and it opened a new screen where I saw my book listed as one of the last few books in the email. But, my heart sank as I realized I was probably the only one who clicked that link. I didn’t even notice there was a link until I realized my book wasn’t there. And the resultant sales — or lack thereof — confirmed my suspicion. Very few people clicked to view the entire message. Most people didn’t even know my book was advertised, even though I paid money to be advertised in the email.

It’s a very frustrating situation for the author. It’s not entirely new in email marketing though. Mail services like Gmail have been truncating long messages for several years.

. . . .

So, if you’re an author and you’re about to advertise on a site, what do you need to do to make sure you don’t pay for an ad that gets clipped? Well, there are no guarantees, but here are a few suggestions of things to do to lessen your chances:

1.    Subscribe to the book promotion services you plan to advertise on (using a Gmail and/or Yahoo address) and check the emails for a week or two. Are their emails getting clipped? If so, that may not be a site you wish to advertise on.

2.    Ask the book promotion service how they combat the problem of truncated emails. If they can give you an answer, it means they’re aware that this is a problem and are actively striving to make sure you are getting what you pay for: an appearance in their email ad.

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited and thanks to Melinda for the tip.

Having signed up for approximately two zillion email addresses, most of which he has forgotten about, PG has multiple Gmail, Yahoo, etc., addresses. He has addresses for personal emails, business emails, old business emails, accounts likely to be spammed, etc. The number of email addresses is exceeded only by the number of free news, updates, etc., email lists he’s signed up for that become less interesting over time.

One tweak to suggestion 1. in the OP is to use a descriptive username for the Gmail address you use for your truncation test and other email checks so you immediately know why you’re receiving the email – might not be an email address you want to use for friends and family, but it’s easy to see when emails to that address show up in your inbox.

If you don’t want to check lots of different Gmail accounts for new mail, you can set your test account to forward a copy of incoming emails to your main email address. Over time, you’ll gain a collection of various promotional emails in the test account so you can quickly scan through the emails to check formatting and other changes over time, how other authors word their book promos, etc. When you don’t want test account emails showing up in your main email address, just stop the forwarding.

You can accomplish something similar by creating one or more Gmail filters to sort and tag incoming email arriving at your main Gmail account. Here’s a link to Gmail filter information.

So far as PG is able to ascertain, Google will be happy to collect and store email for any number of Gmail addresses forever at no charge. And spammers will discover any Gmail address you create.


The Complex Psychology of Why People Like Things

17 May 2016

From The Atlantic:

In the time of the Facebook thumbs up, what does it mean to “like” something? What is it that makes humans decide they prefer one thing over another, so that you click replay on one song all day and cover your ears whenever you hear another in public? And how do Netflix and Spotify and other recommendation engines seem to know your taste as well or better than you do sometimes?

What determines people’s preferences is a fuzzy, hard-to-pin-down process, but Tom Vanderbilt takes a stab at it in his new book, You May Also Like. He examines the broad collection of likes and dislikes that make up “taste,” and how they come to be. Sometimes, people just prefer the familiar. Sometimes they like what their friends like. Sometimes they pretend to like movies they never really watch or music they don’t actually listen to. A lot of the time, they can’t say why they like something, they just know that they do.

. . . .

Julie Beck: I’m going to start really broad. What’s the point of liking anything? Why do humans as a species have preferences for things in the first place?

Vanderbilt: Taste is just a way of filtering the world, of ordering information. I use Michael Pollan’s phrase, [from] The Omnivore’s Dilemma—when humans do have this capacity to eat everything, how do you decide? I felt like the sheer availability of cultural choices is similar. We all face this new kind of dilemma of how to figure out what we like when the entirety of recorded music, more or less, is available on your phone within seconds. What do I decide to even look for now that I have everything available to me?

. . . .

Beck: Sometimes the things that we say we like and the things that we actually like in our secret hearts don’t match up. Is that a matter of lying to ourselves?  I was thinking of Netflix specifically; you mentioned in the book that people never watch the foreign movies they say they’re going to watch.

Vanderbilt: I think a lot of people are, in many ways, always striving for improvement. You want to eat the food that you think is best for you; you want to consume the culture that you think is best for you. That depends on who you are, of course.Just to segue a little bit to the concept of the guilty pleasure—this is a very interesting and complicated dynamic. I do think it has been used culturally as kind of a cudgel to try to shape people’s behavior and influence them and rein them in. You can find intimations going back to the emergence of the novel, for example, that the novel was a guilty pleasure enjoyed largely by women. I do think there has been this tendency to try to reign in guilty pleasure behavior when it comes to women. As a weird example here, if you go to a stock photo site like Shutterstock or something like that and type in the words “guilty pleasure,” what you will see is a page of women basically putting chocolate into their mouths.So that’s kind of the social aspect. And then for the personal aspect, maybe we’re just reflecting that cultural anxiety and trying to be those people that we’re supposed to be, those better people. The key to deceiving others is the ability to deceive yourself. That helps the lie. So I create these playlists and reading lists, and I orchestrate my bookshelves very carefully to have nothing but the finest tomes. How many of those I’ve actually read is another question.

. . . .

Beck: So it’s easier to like things if we’re able to fit them into some kind of label or category that we already understand and if it’s too new, too different, than it’s more baffling.

Vanderbilt: Absolutely. We like to sort things into categories to help us filter information more efficiently about the world. The example I like that’s been used in talking about what’s called categorical perception is: If you look at a rainbow, we read it as bands of color rather than this spectrum that smoothly evolves from one color to the next. Many things are the same way. In music we will discount things out of hand or be attracted to things because of the genre they fit in. But when you actually mathematically analyze that music, you might find something similar to that rainbow effect. You say, “This song by this artist, that’s an R&B song.” Well if you actually put it on a map, it might be closer, musically, to rock than most of the other R&B songs, yet it gets classified within R&B. When we classify something I think all those things tend to [seem] more like one another than they really are.

There’s this processing fluency argument out of psychology that comes up too, which I really subscribe to quite heartily. As with a foreign language the more we hear something, the more we begin to know what to listen for, the more familiar it becomes, the more we actually begin to like it. The less it sounds like pure noise. The argument is that what we’re really doing is beginning to become fluent [in understanding that thing]. We feel good about our fluency and we almost transfer some of that good feeling onto the thing itself. You may like French more because you can speak it, but what you might really like is your ability to speak French.

Beck: Thanks to the Internet, not only do we have easier, cheaper access to the stuff, but we get to hear everybody’s opinions about all the stuff. Do you think that has changed what people like and why they like it?

Vanderbilt: For certain things, it’s great. Just take If you’re looking for, let’s say, a remote control for your television, you can pretty much intuit right away what is the best remote control by sheer aggregation of star ratings. Because the remote control is a pretty functional object, people aren’t going to have a lot of quirky personal preferences on there.

When you go to something like a novel, it’s harder to arrive at that same robust conclusion, because you’re going to start to read comments like “I just couldn’t relate to the main character,” and that is not an empirical statement. We don’t know who that reviewer was that said that, or whether we can relate to them. So what you’re getting there are potentially unwise crowds.

Link to the rest at The Atlantic

A New Way to Promote Your Ebooks to Millions of Goodreads Members

17 May 2016

From the Goodreads Blog:

With the launch of Goodreads Deals in the U.S., we’re now offering authors and publishers a new way to amplify ebook price promotions to our millions of members. The Goodreads Deals program comes with built-in personalization options based on members’ Want to Read shelves, the authors they follow, and the genres they prefer—all designed to help your deals reach the readers with the highest interest in buying your books.

Goodreads Deals is unique because we’ll enable you to reach existing fans andintroduce your ebooks to new readers:

  • Existing Fans: Every second, our members add 6 books to their Want to Read shelves—that’s 15 million books per month that have captured the interest of readers. With Goodreads Deals, you can now tap into that interest. We’ll email members when a book on their Want to Read shelf has a price promotion. We’ll also email any members who follow the author on Goodreads.
  • Prospective Readers: At the same time, members can choose to receive even more deals by opting in to daily emails featuring books in the genres they prefer. For many of our members, their hunger for books often outpaces their wallets, and they are interested in hearing about price promotions that will help them read more books. With Goodreads Deals, you can drive discovery and sales of your ebook with a broader reader base in your genre.

Finding out about book deals has been a popular request from our members.

. . . .

I’m a publisher—how can I get my ebook deal featured by Goodreads Deals? We hand-pick deals on ebooks that will most appeal to the Goodreads community. Publishers who’d like to nominate their ebook deal should reach out to their Goodreads Account Manager to get started, or send an email to

I’m an author—how can I get my ebook deal featured by Goodreads Deals?
We haven’t opened up deal nominations to authors as we are in beta, but we’re working on it. Our plan is to have something to announce very soon, so stay tuned.

Which genres will be featured at launch?
At launch, we will offer daily emails for the following genres:
• Bestsellers
• Romance
• Mystery & Thrillers
• Fantasy & Sci-Fi

If you don’t see your book’s genre, don’t worry. Our readers love a wide variety of books and our goal is to increase our range of genres in the coming months.

Link to the rest at Goodreads Blog

Are Amazon Ebook Giveaways a Scam?

14 May 2016

From author D.L. Orton at Query Shark Bait:

On March 1st, 2016 announced that Kindle ebooks would now be eligible for Amazon Giveaways, and the Indie Publishing (aka Self Publishing) World cautiously celebrated (i.e. we drank our morning coffee with a bit more zest.)

After running a handful of ebook giveaways (seven as of today), it turns out that the initial caution was warranted. If you’re an author, publisher, or book publicist planning to use Amazon Giveaways to get more ebooks into the hands of avid readers AND increase your Amazon sales ranking, set that coffee cup down and read on…

. . . .

[M]y Amazon Giveaway book sales had no effect on either “bestseller” list ranking: “Paid in Kindle Store” OR “Free in Kindle Store,” and ALL the websites that track book sales (including, Author Central,, ebookTracker etc.)  show NO sales reported for the giveaways.

Amazon does not address the sales ranking issue anywhere in their official How It Works for giveaways or in the FAQ, nor could I get a straight answer from KDP about WHY my sales were not being reported.

. . . .

Here’s what KDP Support (read the email) had to say about that:

I asked:

1) Is this correct: NO book sales from giveaways show up on the dashboard “Units Ordered” until ALL OF THE BOOKS in the giveaway have been claimed? i.e. NONE of the books will show up until ALL of the books in the giveaway have been “redeemed”?

The reply:

“1. Yes, that is correct.”

Link to the rest at Query Shark Bait

Here’s a link to D.L. Orton’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

Which Is Better: Self-Publishing Or Traditional Publishing?

6 May 2016

From Forbes blogs:

I get queries from potential clients who want to write books all the time and the first question they often ask is, “Should I self-publish or try for one of the traditional publishing houses?”

. . . .

First of all, the view is very different if you are a fiction writer or thinking about non-fiction. I occasionally help out fiction writers, but most of my clients are interested in non-fiction.

For fiction writers, the answer is increasingly pretty simple: Self-publishing is the way to go. That’s because you can keep 70 or 80% of your book sales revenue, as compare to 20% under the traditional model. Simple decision, right?

. . . .

Actually, the math is the simple part. The rest is more complicated. Here goes: All books, fiction or non-, need to be marketed heavily in order to stand out in a field of something like a million books published every year in the United States alone. While many authors assume that getting a traditional publisher means that publisher will take care of the marketing chores, the truth is that a traditional publisher will only put real marketing muscle behind the one or two books per year that it truly believes has a shot at becoming a bestseller. If a publisher brings out a hundred books per year, it’s expecting that one of those will outsell the other 99 – combined.

. . . .

Failure to be honest with oneself about this set of facts – secretly believing, for example, that your book will be one of those one-in-a-million bestsellers – is the single biggest cause of depression among writers, after writing itself.

. . . .

Both fiction and non-fiction writers typically need to be prepared to market their own books, but fiction writers seem to get the idea more readily than non-fiction writers. And – ironically, because everything about writing in the 21st century is ironic – non-fiction writers typically seem to have more ways to market their books.

Link to the rest at Forbes blogs

Goodreads Introduces Kindle Ebook Giveaways Beta Program (U.S. market)

5 May 2016

From The Goodreads Blog:

Last year, Goodreads helped authors and publishers give away more than 300,000 print books in our popular Giveaways program! Thanks to this success, authors and publishers have been clamoring for the option to run ebook giveaways with Goodreads. Today, we have the news you’ve been waiting for! The beta launch of our new Kindle ebook giveaways program is now underway.

Here’s how it works: The author or publisher of an book – whoever controls the digital distribution rights to the book – can now offer up to 100 copies of the Kindle ebook in a giveaway. The author or publisher chooses how long the giveaway will run, and Goodreads does the rest. At the end of the giveaway, Goodreads randomly chooses winners and automatically sends the Kindle ebooks to their preferred devices and Cloud accounts. Winners receive real Kindle ebooks, complete with all the great features and security that Amazon’s Kindle platform provides.

. . . .

Kindle ebook giveaways will initially be open to Goodreads members in the U.S. During this beta period, Goodreads is working with Amazon Publishing to host Kindle ebook giveaways, but once out of beta, the program will be open to any author or publisher – whoever owns the digital distribution rights for the book – who sells their ebooks on Amazon.

The cost of listing a Kindle book giveaway is $119, which allows you to offer up to 100 Kindle ebooks. Listing a print book giveaway will continue to be free.

. . . .

How are these giveaways different from Amazon Giveaways?
The two programs are completely separate. With Amazon Giveaways, you purchase each copy of whatever book you want to give away. With Kindle Ebook Giveaways, you pay a flat listing fee to give away up to 100 copies of your book. Additionally, Kindle Ebook Giveaways are available for pre-publication titles, while Amazon Giveaways are not.

Link to the rest at The Goodreads Blog

The End of the Human Publisher? Introducing the First Novel to Be Chosen by an Algorithm

3 May 2016

From Flavorwire:

[Y]esterday, the Berlin-based company Inkitt announced a partnership with Tor Books that will bring about the first ever book chosen by predictive data.

The novel chosen by Inkitt’s “artificially intelligent” algorithm is Erin Swan’s Bright Star, a young adult fiction submitted to the publisher through a writing contest called “Hidden Gems.” Part of a multi-book “Sky Rider” series, it tells the story of the “fantasyland” Paerolia, “where war and conflict has created strong divides,” and where a a rebel leader named Kael helps a slave named Andra “discover the strength that has always been within her” and “fight to win back what Fate kept beyond her reach” — namely a dragon “that should have been her own.” Bright Star is expected to be released in 2017.

Inkitt, the company responsible for discovering the novel, is an online writing platform where “budding authors” share their work with “inquisitive readers.” It relies on an “artificially intelligent” algorithm to bring the two together with the purpose of uncovering “blockbuster books.” This description calls up a number of questions. Did Inkitt invent artificial intelligence? Should we be surprised that the first artificially intelligent being prefers genre fiction? If you put aside Inkitt’s overheated claims about artificial intelligence, you’ll find a publisher that just wants to do the write thing: “Inkitt’s goal is to remove the middle person so that a blockbuster book is never rejected by a publishing house again.”

. . . .

“This book deal sends a clear signal to the publishing industry that predictive data analysis is the way of the future,” says Albazaz. “Inkitt is at the forefront of the movement to use predictive data in publishing, and this deal shows that our business model works.”

. . . .

Still, it’s hard to say whether Inkitt’s first major deal is a function of its algorithm or its status as a thriving online world, which “stretches from the US to Australia.” By its own account, Inkitt has a community of half a million loyal readers. And its business plan – now seeing its first moments of success — is to bring the “future bestsellers” validated by this community to publishers, like Tor. It also plans to independently publish ebooks of selected novels from its own platform, “with supporting in-house marketing campaigns.”

Link to the rest at Flavorwire and thanks to Dave for the tip.

“Inkitt’s goal is to remove the middle person so that a blockbuster book is never rejected by a publishing house again.”

For PG, Tor is a classic example of a “middle person” which stands between a book and its readers. Is a literary agent a middle person? Or an acquiring editor employed by Tor? If Inkitt is going to “independently publish ebooks,” it’s a middle person as well.

Suspecting that the awkward “middle person” terminology might be a poor translation, PG did some brief Google research on the German term for middleman (he knows it’s politically incorrect, but nothing came up for middleperson) and found Vermittler,  Mittelsmann and  Zwischenhändler. Similar terms appear to be used for the English word, intermediary.

PG also discovered that a person who would be called a real estate agent in the US is a  Grundstücksmakler.

In preparing this comment, PG has approximately tripled his knowledge of the German language.

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