Dude, there’s my book!

Yesterday, I blogged about the mysterious invisibility of one of my Kindle Direct Publishing ebooks on Amazon – Legend of King Arthur – which wasn’t in the right place on their website. That blog is here.

Available somewhere!

Today I contacted Amazon and received a prompt explanation for why I couldn’t find my book where I expected. They told me my book was listed under the following categories:

Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Arthurian
Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical
Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
Books > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Adventure
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Historical
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Adventure

You can see that it was listed under “Arthurian” as a book – but not in the Kindle Store, where it mattered. It was also not listed under humorous fantasy, either, which is a category only for books. Since nobody looks for Kindle ebooks in the physical book section, it meant my ebook didn’t show up in relevant search results. For some reason my ebook wasn’t listed in the Arthurian section of the Kindle Store. Amazon asked me to send them the categories I wanted my book in so they could change it, which I did this morning. They were very helpful. My book should soon appear in the categories:

Kindle store > kindle ebooks > science fiction & fantasy > fantasy > humor > arthurian

and

Kindle store > kindle ebook > science fiction & fantasy > fantasy > humor > myths & legends

which are smaller sub-categories where it possible for customers to find it. Hurray!

Choosing Amazon Categories and Keywords

If you have some books published on Amazon via KDP, I’d say it’s worth checking to see your keywords and categories are correctly listed on your book’s Amazon page, because the categories on your KDP bookshelf don’t exactly match the browse categories. (It has something to do with BISAC – the way books are categorised.) Be wary. Your keywords could be doing nothing to help readers find your ebook – so check after publication that you can find it on Amazon in the Kindle Store like a customer would.

For Amazon’s advice on how to select categories, click here.

For more info on selecting browse categories, the KDP help page is here.

Well, I’m glad I emailed Amazon and learnt what had gone wrong. It wasn’t obvious!

(I just checked on Amazon. My book’s now added to Kindle store > kindle ebooks > science fiction & fantasy > fantasy > arthurian, where it belongs.)

Now that my book is visible again, I’ll have to trick some people into buying it. I’ve been reading about hypnotic suggestion and mind control – so look into my eyes.

You are feeling sleepy. Very sleepy.

You want to buy a humorous novel about King Arthur …

 

 

Visions VI: anthology submissions

Visions VI book coverThere’s still time to submit a story to the sixth anthology in the Visions science fiction series by Lillicat Publishers. I’m lucky enough to have already had my story Canyon Falls accepted – but the deadline remains open until September 15, 2016. Payment is $25. The subject for the sixth anthology is practically unlimited. They want futuristic short stories between 3000 and 8000 words.

You can read more about it via this link: Visions VI

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The Visions books can be bought from Amazon US and Amazon UK, as well as other retailers.

 

Inside the writer’s mind #285: One Book, No Choice

cartoon strip

Imagine a bookshop where only one book is sold. In Japan that is a reality. Yoshiyuki Moriaka sells only one title per week. (See Article here.) I assume he has more than one copy of that book to sell – but even so that seems an extreme business model, like a ice cream shop selling only vanilla. He gives his customers no choice. It seems like a crazy idea until you think about what happens when you go into a normal bookshop.

I often browse for an hour or more trying to select a few new books from the thousands on display – but the sheer amount of choice gives me a headache. I can’t choose. I like so many genres that I struggle to pick anything.

I normally end up picking something on sale by a writer I already trust, which defeats the whole purpose of having a good browse. Browsing wastes a lot of time when all I really want is one really good book at a time.

It would save so much time and effort if the bookshop owner had done the hard work of choosing one great book for all customers. Then the only choice for the customer would be to accept his recommendation or reject it. It would require the owner to have chosen wisely – if he wanted to have repeat customers. Just one bad book would ruin his reputation and harm his business.

I hope Yoshiyuki Moriaka has luck making his idea work.

But I wouldn’t pitch it on Dragons’ Den.

Box Sets and Bargain Books – The Cost of Cheap Books

Box Sets and Bargain Books – The Cost of Cheap Books

Five years ago a four-pint container of milk used to cost about £1.80 in England. It was a fairly standard price in all supermarkets, with not much variation, just a few pennies either way. The price was going up steadily with inflation, but I was willing to pay it. Farmers were happy because they got about 40p profit. The supermarkets were happy because they made over £1.00 profit per sale.

Jump to now. Today that same amount of milk costs under a pound. I’ve seen it sold at £0.87 in one local supermarket. It’s great for shoppers – amazing, really – but the cost to the dairy farmers has been devastating. They don’t make enough profit on a pint to keep their businesses running. Some even lose money and go bankrupt. They can’t raise their prices because the supermarkets can buy milk from other sources. The result is the dairy industry is in serious trouble and production of milk will eventually stop being viable. The low price is destroying the business. It makes me feel guilty for buying the milk at such a low price. I never wanted milk to be as cheap as water. I’d be willing to pay more if it meant supporting the dairy farmers.

The book publishing industry is the same, with indie authors and traditionally-published ones struggling to earn enough money to live on. Or for a cup of coffee.

This week I checked out what was in the Top Ten in a category on a popular internet retailer. At number one was a box set of four novels for £0.99. (Over 900 pages.) At number two was another box set of four novels for £0.99. (Also over 900 pages.) At number three was a box set of ten novels for £1.99. (About 3000 pages.) That last book would no doubt been at number one if it had been £0.99. Absolute bargains for readers. But I can’t imagine the ten authors published in that box set are happy to have their novels sold for about twenty pence. By the time the publisher pays them, if they do get paid, I doubt they will earn a penny. For a novel.

As a reader I’m tempted to buy those books – but as a writer I am appalled. I want to know the writer earns something for their hard work. You just know a box set sold at a bargain price earns them nothing – so buying it would not be helping them financially. I’d like to see authors refusing to let their book be sold in cheap box sets.

Their books are worth more than that.

 

 

Inside the writer’s mind #231: Royalties

Cartoon about writing. The writer buys a new car.
More cartoons are on mybookspage.wordpress.com

Some previous blogs:

How to Use Kindle Comic Creator.

Ten Things You Can Do With Short Stories

Using CreateSpace to Publish a Book

A sneaky advert for one of my horror books:

Bone Yard picture
A collection of fifteen horror stories.

The Bone Yard on Amazon US

The Bone Yard on Amazon UK

Books on Demand

Books on Demand

I was in the mood for buying some new books last week – a few Hugo, Nebula and Bram Stoker Award winning books that I missed reading when they first came out. After making a comprehensive list of titles from 2000-2015, I decided to visit my not-so-local local bookshop, where I wanted to see physical copies of the books before buying them. I looked for the books on the shelves – but I could not find any of them. Not one. Dismayed, I queued up to speak with an assistant.

ME: Hi. I’d like to order some books, please.

ASSISTANT: Yes, sir. What are the titles?

ME: I’d like BLANK by BLANK.

ASSISTANT: I’ll look it up on the computer. Just a sec. Yes – that’s a great book. It won the Hugo Award for best science fiction novel. A great read.

ME: Yes. That’s why I want to read it.

ASSISTANT: Oh. That’s odd. It’s out of print.

ME: It only came out five years ago.

ASSISTANT: I know – but the publisher only printed one edition, which sold out. They didn’t reprint it. We could order a second-hand copy for £99.

ME: What? How much?

ASSISTANT: £99.

ME: Uh – that’s a bit out of my budget. Besides, I wanted a new copy. And I didn’t want to pay that much for a used one. Are you sure you typed it in correctly?

ASSISTANT (stone-faced): Yes, sir. Anything else?

ME: Well, you must have BLANK by BLANK. It was last year’s winner of three prizes.

ASSISTANT: Sorry, sir. Out of print.

ME: It’s the first book in a series. You have the other parts on a shelf over there!

ASSISTANT: Most people have already read the first part. You could buy the second part.

ME: That makes no sense. I want to read it from the beginning.

ASSISTANT: We could order you it from our specialist online bookshop for out of print titles.

ME: And how much would that cost?

ASSISTANT: £4000 plus delivery.

ME: No, thanks. Why is that so expensive, anyway?

ASSISTANT: Well, I suppose it’s because it’s rare. Blank’s fans will pay a lot for a copy of his book because there aren’t many.

ME: So, there is a demand for that book?

ASSISTANT: Yes. We get asked about it every week. We get loads of disappointed customers in here.

ME: Why doesn’t the publisher reprint it?

ASSISTANT: It’s not a new title. They like new titles.

ME: But it’s a classic!!!

ASSISTANT: Don’t use three exclamation marks on me, sir.

ME: Sorry. Uh – do you have any of these titles?

(The assistant studies my list and types each into a computer, shaking his head as each one flashes up OUT OF PRINT.)

ME: Don’t you have any of them?

ASSISTANT: No, sir. But we do have sixty-thousand copies of Fifty Shades of Grey.

ME: Yes, I noticed that. I waded through them to get into the shop. It looks like there are copies of it on every shelf. There are even copies balanced on your head.

ASSISTANT: Well, it is a popular title. It sells like crazy.

ME: It doesn’t leave much space for other books, does it? What do you do if someone comes in looking for a book that isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey?

ASSISTANT: We tell them to go somewhere else.

Exasperated, I flee the shop with none of the books I wanted to buy.

It made no sense for those award-winning books to be unavailable to buy new – but traditional publishers have not adapted the evolution of the book industry with Print On Demand publishing. If those titles had been POD titles, I could have ordered them all, had them printed in the shop, then gone home happy.

If a reader can’t buy a book because it is no longer available, the publisher makes no profit on the writer’s work.

I think traditionally publishers have to rethink their business model. They must keep all books by their authors available for the length of their contract. If Amazon can print individual copies of a book and make a profit, I’m sure traditional publishers could do it, too.

No books should be unavailable to read when we have the technology to reprint them.

The phrase “OUT OF PRINT” needs to be consigned to history.

Related article: Using Create Space to Publish.