New Release: Visions VI: Galaxies – science fiction anthology

New Release: Visions VI: Galaxies

Visions VI book cover
Includes “Canyon Falls”

The sixth anthology in Lillicat Publisher’s series of science fiction books is now available to buy on Amazon and other major retailers. Visions VI: Galaxies contains thirteen short stories, including my story Canyon Falls.

Visions VI: Galaxies is the latest anthology from Lillicat Publishers edited by Carrol Fix – a collection of thirteen science-fiction stories. They include Forecasts by Bridges DelPonte, involving a research station beset by the psychic trauma released by a genocidal event. It’s an interesting story with some great ideas. There’s also an alien abduction story called Shidee by W.A. Fix, which reveals the disturbing activities of the so-called Grays. I also enjoyed reading an intriguing aliens-meet-humans first contact story called Cloud Marathon by Gustavo Bondoni.

Visions VI contains a diverse selection of SF – a mix of hard and soft SF, some space opera, some military SF, some dystopian, some not.

From the publisher:

Edited by Carrol Fix, the sixth anthology of the Visions Series features: Bruce C. Davis, W. A. Fix, J. Richard Jacobs, John Moralee, Sharon Kraftchak, Gustavo Bondoni, Mary Madigan, Al Onia, Thomas Olbert, Sidney Blaylock, Jr., Bridges DelPonte, Doug C. Souza, and Amos Parker.

You can check out Visions VI: Galaxies on Amazon via these links:

Amazon US: Paperback/Kindle version

Amazon UK: Paperback/Kindle version

or at Smashwords

Amazon Sponsored Adverts on an Indie Author Budget

Amazon Sponsored Adverts on an Indie Author Budget

Amazon adverts have been a feature available from Kindle Publishing for a while, but they had to be either product based or interest based. This month Amazon added a new way of reaching customers, through keyword-sponsored advertising. Now authors can have small adverts for their books listed whenever a customer types in their keywords – if they are willing to compete in a bidding system for ad placement.

I decided to try out keyword sponsorship with one of my books, my horror collection The Bone Yard and Other Stories.

boneyardamazonad

First of all, authors need to know there are differences in the way sponsored ads work. Unlike product and interest adverts, you have to set a daily minimum budget instead of a maximum one. Also, you can set an end date or leave the ad running indefinitely. You still compete in a bidding war for ad placement, but the new rules mean there is no limit on the cost of an advertising campaign.

Amazon recommends you bid the maximum you are willing to spend. They suggest $0.50 per click – but I’d not do that for a Kindle book unless you are a billionaire. If you were advertising a television or expensive laptop, it might make sense to pay so much. For a book costing $0.99, with a profit per sale of $0.33, you’d be losing out on every click, even if the customer bought your book. The minimum figure is $0.02, which would give you a far better chance of breaking even. There isn’t a good reason for bidding high.

After selecting which title you want to advertise, Amazon gives you a list of supposedly relevant keywords. Unfortunately, the keywords suggested are produced by an automated system. Most are irrelevant. You’d be better off choosing your own keywords, which you can do by entering them into a box. You can choose up to 1000. That’s a ridiculously generous number. I can see some authors will try to swamp customers with ads using keywords like “novel”, “book”, “Kindle”, “the” and “and” – resulting in chaos. I hope I’m wrong – but I fear I’m not.

You can add or delete keywords after a campaign is running – so don’t worry about forgetting something. Add what you think it relevant – then complete the process.

After your campaign has been approved, you’ll soon get a report on impressions and clicks. You only pay for clicks – but the impressions data is useful. It tells you how many potential customer saw your advert and tells you how well each keyword is doing. You can see the success of each keyword, which is a great improvement. In this screenshot for a horror story collection, taken a day after a campaign was started, you can see some keywords have good impressions and others don’t.

The first day results of a sponsored advert.
The first day results of a sponsored advert.

It is clear “dark fiction” is not a popular keyword, but “horror anthology” and “scary stories” are. It is also clear “horror fiction” hasn’t received many impressions. I was surprised, since that must be a very popular search phrase. The data suggests I underbid for “horror fiction” because it applies to so many titles. I could increase my bid – but I won’t. I don’t want to spend too much running my ad or competing against authors with bigger budgets. It’s a lose-lose strategy bidding high.

I like this breaking down of the sales information. It doesn’t just help target ads. It also shows if my book’s keywords are good search words. “Dark fiction” is not a successful keyword – so I will delete it and replace it with something else.

I don’t know if running a sponsored ad will produce more sales – my ad hasn’t been running long enough to learn the answer – but I think it is an improvement on interest-only ads. Interest-only ads have become too expensive for the ordinary indie author trying to reach an audience. Keywords are cheaper – for the moment. I just wish Amazon would let customers put a sensible limit on their campaign cost. Without that safety net, authors could end up in serious debt, especially if they follow Amazon’s advice for bidding.

You can find out more information on this subject here.

KENPC: Amazon’s New Payment System For Writers

KENPC: Amazon’s New Payment System For Writers

Amazon changed things recently.

They introduced KENPC. (Kindle Edition Normalised Page Count.)

Now Amazon pays an author an amount proportional to the number of KENPC pages read – not the number of books downloaded.

This is a radical change.

Under the new system, authors receive a share of a global fund based on the number of KENPC pages read.

That means a reader can download a book today – but the author receives nothing until they start reading it.

Then they will be paid only for the number of KENPC pages read, not the number of books downloaded onto Kindles.

Each KENPC page is worth a tiny percentage of Amazon’s global fund, currently 11 million dollars.

Amazon states the total number of pages read in a month is about 1.9 billion.

That makes each KENPC page worth approximately eleven million divided by 1.9 billion, making equal to $0.00578 per page.

Therefore 100 KENPC pages read should earn the author 57 cents if the numbers are accurate.

You can find out what your book is worth in KENPCs by going to your bookshelf and clicking on Promotions and Advertisements. It’s hidden there.

For example: my horror collection The Bone Yard and Other Stories is 290 real pages – but it listed as 390 KENPC, which would pay me $2.25 if a reader read the whole thing.

Since I was receiving only $0.33 under the previous system, that is a welcome improvement.

Clearly, the new system is better for writers of long works, but seriously bad news for short story writers. Now a single short story will earn the author much less than the 33 cents paid previously. A 10,000-word short story will now earn about 15 pence.

Under the old system, which paid a fixed sum no matter the length of title, it was advantageous to publish short ebooks.

Under the new system, it encourages authors to produce longer ebooks.

Much longer ebooks.

I predict you will see an explosion of ebooks sold in box sets – but that will just be the beginning of the change.

Authors used to cutting their work during the editing process will start adding extra words wherever possible, making sentences longer and longer and longer and longer because the longer and longer they write them, the higher and higher the KENPC. Authors will add unnecessary pointless irrelevant adjectives to every sentence to make them longer, larger, bigger and lengthier. Short stories will disappear. Stories of epic length will become the new normal. In a few years War and Peace will seem like a very short novel.

I’ve just finished writing a short story. The first draft is 3600 words. I was going to trim that down during editing. But now I’ll have to rethink that. Every penny counts.

I’d love to hear your opinions on this subject.

Is the new payment method a good or bad thing for you?

Inside the writer’s mind #264

Cartoon about writing and instant success.

More than 100 Inside the Writer’s Mind cartoons are compiled into one Amazon Kindle ebook, free for KU/KOLL (Kindle Unlimited) members, at Amazon US and Amazon UK.

An article about how to make your own comic using Kindle Comic Creator is here.

Inside the writer’s mind #229

comic strip inside the mind of a writer
More cartoons about writing are on this website.

A collection of these cartoons is in the Kindle Unlimited program – free for downloading from Amazon. (But I’d still get paid!) Amazon US/ Amazon UK.

My other books on Amazon can be found at John Moralee’s Author Page. That’s the US link. The UK link is here. Here’s a blatant advert for one of them:

Acting Dead picture
Acting Dead – a crime novel.

Acting Dead US

Acting Dead UK

 

 

Inside the writer’s mind – new review

inside the writer's mind comic strip
More cartoons at the weekend.

Like the writer in my cartoon, I do check to see if I have some new reviews and try to see the positive in them. If a reader takes the time to write a thoughtful review, even if it is critical, then I think it serves a purpose. It’s not possible to please everyone. We all have different tastes.

A thoughtful review will often help sales even it if contains criticism because it tells potential readers what the reviewer liked or didn’t like. It might even boost sales because it gives readers a clearer idea of what the book is about and its intended readership.

I have a book out under a pen name that started selling after receiving a three-star review describing in detail what the reader thought of each story. It really helped sales more than some short five-star reviews because it helped readers decide if it was their sort of thing before buying it. I really appreciate the time that person took to write a thoughtful review.

Unfortunately, a thoughtless review can just as easily ruin a book’s sales. Here’s a three-star review for the same book: “I haven’t read it yet.”

They hadn’t read it – but they left a three-star review? I suppose that’s better than not reading it and giving it a one-star review – but it was a pointless thing to do. That review helps nobody. It damaged sales of my books by shaving a point off its star rating for no good reason. Other Amazon customer voted it down – but it still stands there on my book’s Amazon page. I really hope that person will eventually read my book and post a more useful review because every review matters when you are a writer like me publishing your work through KDP Select.

Other posts you might want to read: 10 Things You Can Do With Short Stories, Using Kindle Comic Creator.

Using Kindle Comic Creator

web banner for inside the writer's mind

Using Kindle Comic Creator

Kindle Comic Creator is a free software program tucked away on an obscure webpage on Amazon. It’s useful in the creation of comic books and graphic novels for anyone wanting to build their own illustrated Kindle books. Having previously tried to make my own comic using a word-processing program, inserting each picture into a document separately, only to find out the result didn’t upload properly to Kindle Publishing, I was happy to try out their software to see if it made the process simpler. It did. If you are interested in making a comic book, here is what you have to do:

Visit this page on Amazon to download the free software, available in PC and Mac formats. (The file is about 250 megabytes and uses 500 on your computer.)

Run the program. Enter information about your new book like the author’s name and book title. You’ll need to have a cover ready or you can’t complete this section.

Next you’ll be asked to add pages to your book. It really helps if you have all of the pictures gathered into one folder, listed in the order in which you want them to appear in the book. Grab all of the pictures and OPEN them. The program will turn your pictures into pages in your book. Then go to the menu and click on BUILD. That will make the program create a mobi file suitable to loading onto KDP. Building a book took about five minutes on my ancient computer – during which the ominous words ‘VALIDATING BOOK’ appeared on the screen – but the creation will probably be faster on a newer computer. Save the resulting mobi file before exiting the program. You can then upload the mobi onto KDP or export it to Kindle. It’s that easy!

More advance features are available if you want to make comics with multiple panels or add text and a table of contents. The help information guides you through that quite well, though it does become technical and expect you to know how to add hypertext. You would need to have those things ready to upload before you create your book. If you don’t need those things for your book, the book is done just once you’ve uploaded the pictures.

Large mobi files have a higher minimum selling price than an ordinary book because they contain a lot more data (nine megabytes in my own example) – so please be aware of that before setting your price.

Please note: Kindle Comic Creator is not an art program to make comics – just a formatting one to help build a file for uploading.