Café novelist

The trials and tribulations of an indie author

Kindle ‘page-flip’ affecting author’s earnings

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You’ve heard me moan on here before about Kindle’s new ‘page-flip’ reading system. Well, I’m not done yet! After seeing my page reads go from in the thousands to just 1 this month, yes, you heard it right – just 1 page, I’ve decided enough is enough. Whilst Amazon are remaining very tight-lipped about this issue and are refusing to discuss the matter, I’m trying to heighten awareness.

I have recently read an interesting article online about a way to disable ‘page-flip’ by embedding a code in the files that one formats for the Kindle process. Now, it is quite technical and I’ll try my hands at most things, but this is beyond me so I’ve outsourced it to the guy who formats my paperbacks. I’m not sure if it will work yet, but once he delivers my files and I’ve uploaded them I’ll report back.

Anyone else had this issue? Please tell me I’m not alone! 🙂

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Amazon shafting authors!

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Do you notice anything different about the two graphs I’ve included with this post? It’s hard not to miss. I’m referring specifically to the blue line which reports on ‘pages read’ as reported by Amazon for Kindle Unlimited. I had been fortunate enough to have well over a couple of thousand pages read every month for several years. And while not earth shattering for some I was comforted knowing that my books were being read on a daily basis.

And then – bam! Overnight the pages read graph plummeted to only a handful of pages read (refer to graph below). Initially I was flummoxed and disappointed and I began to investigate online, and that’s when I found other authors in the same position as me. But when contacting Amazon to notify them of this discrepancy I received the same pat response as others.

I don’t believe their reply that everything was correct and there was nothing wrong with their reporting system. I also don’t accept that one day I was having thousands of pages read and then just by chance it disappeared overnight and forever. It so happened that this anomaly occurred when Amazon introduced their ‘page-flip’ system on Kindle, which has accounted for reporting issues. It seems strange to me that the ‘higher-ups’ have not become aware of this problem and that authors are opting-out of KDP Select. If anyone has had the same problem then please get in touch with me. We, as authors need to pile on the pressure until they admit that they have in-house issues and that they can’t treat their authors in such a cavalier and casual manner.Screenshot 2017-03-26 14.34.29

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Rewriting an old story

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I am currently working on what will be the trilogy to my first two novels, which are currently published. It is quite a task knowing how much back story to tell without the story becoming bogged down. But readers are clever creatures and don’t need to be spoon-fed erroneous details. But as an author who would cringe if I published a novel with any mistakes I thought I’d go back to my first novel and brush up on certain facts.

That was when I realised that in the ensuing years I had learned a lot more about the writing process and I saw certain things that I could change. I still felt strongly that it was a powerful book with a strong tale to tell. But I had a nagging feeling that I could do it better justice. Initially, I was just going to fiddle around with the opening chapters, but being the perfectionist I am I went through the whole novel. After all, one has to have the same narrative voice throughout. Reading through the first book I find that I now have a better connection with the trilogy.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, I constantly read that when one has published a novel to leave well alone. Yes, that is true to a certain extent. But if, like me, you feel that a rewrite is in order-then, why not? One is always learning the craft of writing and (hopefully) we get better all the time. You know the expression that, ‘a change is as good as a rest’?  Well, if you’re becoming bogged down in a certain project, why not have a go at rewriting an old book?

 

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New Year’s writing resolutions

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I normally don’t hold much store in New Year’s resolutions as I have self-control bordering on being monastic in its nature. If I say that I will do something then I can be as reliable as the Japanese railways timetable! Equally, if I say that I’m going to give up something then I’ll do it, I don’t need a special date like New Year’s Day to achieve it -don’t get me started on the grief I’ve gotten from friends and family on giving up wheat recently.

But one thing I’ve realised is that one can be slightly obsessive about the whole self-publishing arena. I have recently joined several self-publishing forums on FaceBook, but after a couple of weeks I deleted them because all the posts from other authors seemed slightly desperate in the content of their posts. Now, we all want more exposure and would love to sell more books, but it can lead one into becoming distracted and demotivated.

So, as from now I’m just concentrating on writing for myself and let things happen as and when. I think there’s too much emphasis on being busy all the time on social media and the like, but really, where does that get you? I believe that it drains one’s creative energies, which can otherwise be utilised more creatively.

So, be bold and do absolutely nothing but write for a while, and see how liberating it feels.

 

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The power of social media

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As some of my followers might be aware already, I have become an over-excited new convert to Instagram. I have only recently discovered how very effective it can be. There is a social platform for everyone, I believe. As I have stated before, you never know who’s browsing on the internet and looking at your content. With hundreds of thousands of self-published authors out there it’s hard to get one’s voice heard.

Increasingly I grow tired, thinking of new ways to promote my books, which can quickly drain my creative energy. So, that is why I have taken to Instagram, whereby I can design my own images to pique people’s interest, and hopefully engage with me on my page. It allows me to post original content and exercise my creativity at the same time. This gives me a break from writing and allows  me to connect with people from all over the world.

So, there was I last night, creating my own version of a famous quote by Eckhart Tolle  ( see above ) and I posted it off into the ether, chortling away to myself. I had quite a number of comments and likes from that post, which was very satisfying. Then I literally had to do a double-take as I spotted a ‘like’ from the very man himself. This is a man who has sold million of books, most notably, The Power of Now. These are thought-provoking books and quite empowering; but it just goes to show that he is not without a sense of humour – luckily for me!

I couldn’t believe it. He has 166k followers and he still managed to spot my post and take the time to like it. It just goes to prove my original point that you never know who’s looking. I’ve posted a little screenshot below just to prove my point 🙂

Thank you, Eckhart!

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Eckhart Tolle

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#Hashtagging with Instagram

 

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Until recently I’ve eschewed utilising a lot of social media platforms, considering them a bit of a waste of time for me personally. But one can’t ignore it and live in the stone-age, especially if like me, you have to maintain an author profile. But I find Facebook uninspiring, and I just can’t think of what to say. And as for Twitter, well, let’s not go there!

But then I rediscovered my Instagram account, which had lain dormant since I absently signed up for it months ago. After putting up a few random photos I had stored in my phone I wondered where else I could go with it. Then through a friend’s recommendation I signed up with Canva.com. With recommendations such as “Canva enables anyone to become a designer.” – I’ve since found that to be true, as I have no experience whatsoever.

Well, I must admit, I’ve become hooked! This has allowed me to redesign my own take on famous quotes that people share and repeat, which quite frankly get on my nerves! I’ve now found my social media niche as it allows me to be creative and use humour, and it is almost immediate. Take a look at my Instagram account and see if you agree! Heath Shedlake on Instagram.

After seeing a few other posts, I noticed their use of hashtags, and was intrigued. After all, I’d never really been aware of how powerful they could be. See this article on their usage – Instagram Hashtagging. Since utilising them in my posts I’ve seen a marked increase in the number of likes and followers I’ve received. Which is most comforting to my #fragile ego!

Here’s a nice comforting one to end with 🙂

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#PoweredByIndie – Why I love being an indie author

 

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I just received an e mail this morning from Amazon informing me about their celebration of great self-published writing in the month of October. They said to share via one’s blog why you love being an indie author, using this hashtag #PoweredByIndie. Click on this link for more information #PoweredByIndie

The thing I love about being an indie author is the feeling of complete freedom it provides.

Freedom to spend weeks not writing anything, without an editor breathing down your neck. Freedom to dream about being discovered as ‘the next big thing’. Freedom to publish books that nobody reads. Freedom to write content on social media that nobody comments on. Of course I’m jesting! 🙂

But sometimes it feels like it, doesn’t it? Being an indie author is a bloody hard slog and very lonely. It can also be very frustrating when, like me, you’re not so fond of social media, and then you read of someone who says something like, ‘Oh, I just posted a picture of my cute little kitten sitting on my laptop on FaceBook and I got 100,000 followers and my book became an overnight sensation!’

Where’s a kitten when you need one?!

But I do the best I can and I live in the hope that my books will finally reach a wider audience. That is why I am determined to remain an indie author as one never knows what could happen. But the thing is not to get caught up in the future and just keep on writing for today.

And to my fellow authors, remember to use the hashtag #PoweredByIndie so that Amazon might share your experiences of being an indie author. And just in case Amazon are reading this I LOVE being an indie author. Got it?! 🙂

 

 

 

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How to maximize your book sales

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As everyone knows, the largest player in the e-book industry is the mighty behemoth, Amazon. They offer indie authors the fantastic opportunity to self-publish their own books, thereby cutting out the middle man. Indeed, this is a great opportunity, and you press that ‘publish now’ button with great enthusiasm – me included. Thereafter follows the little known misery of being a self-published author – how to maximize your book sales.

Amazon have a clever marketing strategy of allowing you to enroll in KDP Select, whereby readers are able to borrow and read your book and even lend it to others for a period of time. I have been reluctant to change the status quo as I have been sucked in by the allure of Amazon’s KENP service. KENP stands for Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read. This means that an author receives royalties for this also, and it affects one’s sales rankings also. But the payments really are peanuts, unless you are one of the lucky authors who are seeing thousands of pages read every day.

I must admit that I have seen my royalty payments increase a little, but what could I be missing out on by publishing exclusively with Amazon? There are other players in the market, notably Barnes & Noble, Kobo, ibooks etc… Luckily there is a company out there that allows you to self-publish with them all, including Amazon.

That company is Draft2Digital. One can only register and publish with them if you are not currently enrolled in Amazon’s KDP select programme, otherwise you will fall foul of Amazon’s terms and conditions.

Now, I’m never one to follow the easy path and am more likely to follow the road less travelled. So that is why at the end of my KDP Select enrollment I will be giving Draft2Digital a try. After all, it’s all about how to maximize your book sales.

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How to get your blog noticed

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As I was driving back from town this afternoon I tuned into Jeremy Vine’s programme on BBC Radio 2. I listened with interest to two of his guests who had a lot of experience and success with blogging. Let’s face it, all of us who blog want to find out how to get your blog noticed. So I thought I’d phone in and ask for advice and hopefully get a little exposure.

Incredibly I got through first time as there are normally hundreds and hundreds of callers trying to get through. That was the first hurdle, and then they decide whether it’s worth your while to be put through to the studio. Well, for those of you who heard me, I did get through and I put my questions to their expert. She was very polite and helpful, and it all boiled down to the fact that I need to blog more.

Now, for those of you who have kindly followed me, do not fear, I shan’t be blogging every day! The purpose of this post is to keep an eye out for every opportunity you can to gain more exposure on how to get your blog noticed.

You never know who’s listening!

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Embracing solitude

 

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QUOTE BY OSCAR WILDE

“I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!” – Oscar Wilde

In my ‘day job’ I’m forced to fly around the world with people with whom most of the time I have nothing in common with. The one solace that I have at the end of a very busy day or night, flying to God know’s where, is that I’m supplied with a lovely hotel room in which to relax in.

I’m constantly amused by my colleagues when they gather at the front-desk on arrival, and then ask who wants to meet for breakfast and then go shopping. Now, why on earth would you want to subject yourself to such torture? Do you normally ask half a dozen people you hardly know to sit around your kitchen table at home and share breakfast together? When I reply, ‘I’d rather spoon my eyes out and suck them dry with a straw!’ I must admit I receive a few strange glances.

But, hey – I’m a grumpy old bugger and I freely admit it.

I’d be interested to know if other authors feel the same. For me, if there’s a crowd I’ll do everything I can to avoid it, and if most people are turning right, then I’ll go left. I know people mutter that I’m a bit of a loner and I just do my own thing. But if I just gave in to peer pressure, then I’d be wandering around the streets of Mexico City with my colleagues, getting more and more wound-up. Instead I’m sitting in a lovely little coffee-shop on a tree-lined avenue, working on my third novel and telling you what a miserable bugger I am! 🙂

But on a serious note, it’s taken me a while to have the self-confidence to ignore the comments and just get on with what makes me happy 🙂

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