Friday, 13 November 2015

Attention Authors - Check out something new - MineEye offers 100% royalties


This seems such a good deal for authors and musicians. MineEye is very new and offers to act as a retail outlet and to promote your e-books and music. It's a concept which deserves to work - time will tell.

Attention Writers!


Hello all you writer friends! I have great news for you! Robert, our Technical Director has sent the following information:
Momentous News – The Launch of MineEye.
Thirty Authors Needed !
For some while, you will know that we have had the vision of creating a community of writers, poets, musicians and artists in a strong web and social media network, capable of bringing together people from all over the world.
That community is called ‘MineEye’. We want to create a nurturing, positive and supportive environment for people to express themselves, develop and connect with their audience. Getting started as a writer is challenging enough personally without having to understand and engage with multi-national print publishing houses and online bookstores – mentioning no names !
This first phase is an online bookstore with a difference. This will allow writers to publish their books on our website for a small fee to cover our administrative costs. We will not charge percentage commissions from the sale of books on our site – ever. Whether an author sells 5 books or 10,000 books through MineEye, they get to keep every penny, every cent of their earnings.
Most importantly, our community of authors will be actively promoted by us. We have a wonderful, positive presence on social media and we have a powerful voice now – we are a force for good ! No longer will authors’ works be left languishing unknown and unread amongst literally millions of others in the catacombs of a multi-national company.
So now, with the MineEye website ready to launch, we need authors (and their books to sell) and customers to buy them. We will start small and understand that it will take many months to grow.
How can you help ? If you are a writer or you know someone that you can recommend, with a book ready to be published, we would love to hear from you. We went to attract our first “scribble of writers” – precisely 30 of you to start with.
To those 30, we will offer a free subscription for one year and will upload your book onto MineEye free of charge. You will receive 100% of your revenue from book sales. There are no strings, no hidden catches – we want to build our community.
Please note that this is an online bookstore where customers will buy and download your book, then send it to their Kindle or e-reader device. We cannot sell books in print because we don’t have a warehouse – yet ! Also, we ask that your book is complete in every respect – it needs to have been converted to an e-reader format before we can publish it and you will need great looking artwork, plus a few promotional paragraphs of text, so that we can help you sell your book.
We are really delighted to be ready to launch MineEye and look forward to getting our first wave of writers on board immediately ! Authors can sell their books online to customers today.
Please contact us by email at either: gavin@mineeye.co.uk or robert@mineeye.co.uk if you would like to talk to us about publishing your book on MineEye.
This is Gongle again! If you would like to have a look at the new site here is a link:http://www.mineeye.co.uk/
Love Gongle x

Friday, 16 October 2015

Using a Twitter Collection to Promote

Twitter is great but that 140 characters limit is often an obstruction. There are ways to get round it though:

  1. Use a graphic to include the extra text. Remember to get the aspect ratio of the graphic right. Twitter now resizes images to 455x227 pixels and will crop the height if it is more than twice the width. Here's an example:
  2. Use one of a number of services which will split your text and post it as multiple tweets one after another.
  3. Set up a Twitter Collection.

What is a Twitter Collection?

A Twitter Collection is a series of tweets grouped together by users. They may contain tweets by a single or multiple tweeps. Each collection has a name and description. New tweets can be added to it, each appearing at the top. For authors it's ideal for tweeting about a series. The collection can be retweeted as a whole or individually. Unlike normal tweets they appear in the order added rather than by date and time added - you can add an old tweet to the top of the list.
Here's part of an example:

Notice the collection has a title - 'The lighter side of promo' and a description - 'Can you use humor to…'. It also has a button at the left 'Tweet about this collection'.
Clicking the button gets you this:


This can be edited by the tweep or the default message tweeted as follows:


(If you want to see the actual collection it's at https://twitter.com/JChapman1729/timelines/655017052357439488 )

How can authors use this?

  • You can link together a number of tweets with a common theme - in the example - humor. 
  • If a discussion evolves from a tweet the posts could be placed in a collection. 
  • You could also use this to promote a number of books in a series.  
  • It's also possible for a number of authors to create Collections about a common genre. This has great potential. I'm still working out how this would work but my initial idea is as follows

A Tweet Collection Team

Promotion sites such as Bookbub owe their success to their genre specific emails. It might be possible to set up a Twitter Collection Group to do the same thing on Twitter. Tweeps would find this attractive because they see the posts of the genre collection they are interested in and following.

How it would work - Let's suppose you are a romance author but don't write erotica.

  1. You write a tweet for your book and create an optional image for it 455 x 227 pixels in size. You post that tweet as normal in your timeline and get the URL of the tweet by clicking 'Details'
  2. You go to the Facebook group for Romance (no erotica) and post the link to the tweet as is normally done for retweet groups.
  3. You click the group's pinned Twitter Collection tweet and retweet that on Twitter. You undertake to do step 3 on a daily basis until you no longer want to be involved and have deleted the Facebook message you made in step 2
  4. IF you need to make a change to your tweet DON'T edit it. Delete it from the Facebook comment and make it again (Don't do that too often!) You are only allowed ONE comment/tweet in the collection
That's it - you don't have to retweet the individual tweets of group members because they will all be in the collection!

On a daily basis the group moderator/s will:

  • Delete the bottom two tweets and re-post them to the top of the collection
  • Add any new tweets to the collection
  • Make a minor change to the group pinned tweet to allow it to be retweeted again.
Of course if you write erotic romance/ science fiction/ thrillers / paranormal / fantasy / children's books / whatever, you simply use the appropriate group. No group for your genre? Create it - you are the moderator. Don't forget you can add any tweet, not just your own. You could add some tweets from other authors in your genre to get things going.

Promote the collection - not the individual tweets

The pinned Twitter Collection tweet should have an appropriate image associated. Change it often and get the group involved in making new ones.


How do I make a Twitter Collection?

Twitter suggests using either Tweetdeck or Curator - both programs from Twitter. Tweetdeck is probably easier for most Twitter users to access.
If you don't have Tweetdeck, get it at tweetdeck.twitter.com It doesn't require installation but will need access to your Twitter account/s.
If you are new to Tweetdeck there's a beginner's guide to using it at Mashable.

Mashable doesn't mention the new additions to Tweetdeck. Clicking the '+' at the left allows you to add any of these:

There at the bottom you'll find 'Collections'. Click it.
At the top click the -
The'll be a short delay then a new column will appear in Tweetdeck. Give the collection a name and add a description.
Tweetdeck says you can 'Drag Tweets into this collection' - you can, but you'll have to click the tweet then drag its drag icon. If you have a lot of tweets, that can freeze your computer while it catches up. I find it's better to copy and paste the tweet URL into the bottom of the collection.
To get the tweet URL from a normal Twitter page click the 'Details' link and copy the URL. In Tweetdeck you can use the ellipsis to get a menu and click 'Add to collection'

How do I get the Collection link?

At the top right of the collection in Tweetdeck click the 'slider' controls to get a menu. Then click Share and choose one of the options. I like to add an image, so I choose 'Tweet about this timeline'.

Where can I get more details?

You must be a glutton for technical stuff but here you go - https://dev.twitter.com/rest/collections/about

Sunday, 6 September 2015

Getting a Twitter image URL

Ever wanted to get the URL of an image in Twitter so you can use it in a different tweet? In the past Twitter showed this but it's a little more difficult now. Here are two methods of getting it:
Method 1 - this works for any image on Twitter - even if it's not your image.
1. Look for the 'More' link at the bottom of the tweet
2. From the 'More' menu select 'Embed tweet'.

Method 2 - This also works for any tweet but if you have many followers, the tweet may be difficult to find. It's better if the tweet is one of yours.
1. You'll need an account at TweetDeck - https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/
2. In your 'User' column scroll down to your tweet with the picture you want and you'll find the 'pic.twitter…' link there ready to copy and paste.



If this post has helped or entertained, will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our book 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi
Even if you never read it (but we hope you will) - it will help our rankings.
As to this post - it's part of a forthcoming book 'An Illustrated Guide to Getting Published.' In it, you'll learn how to use those Twitter images.
Look - a FREE e-book

Friday, 21 August 2015

Beware the word 'Bestseller'

Every day my mailbox is bombarded with marketing emails from people who want to help me become a 'bestseller' but what exactly is a 'bestseller'?

"He’s launched 3 books in the last 12 months and each of ‘em were NO.1 bestsellers."  was today's claim - Yeah right. Let's take a look at today's 'bestsellers.'

The overall #1 bestseller in Amazon paid e-books at the time of researching this was 'Grey' (Shame on you readers!)

It's selling 4,000+ copies a day and is #1 Paid in Kindle Store. It's
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Romance
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance
#1 in Books > Literature & Fiction > Erotica > Romantic

Now if the promoter was able to say he'd got 3 books in the top 100 paid sales rank I would be very impressed and he would undoubtedly be a stellar bestseller. He didn't say that though and if his book genre was Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Foreign Languages > Other Languages > Hungarian he could be a '#1 bestseller with an overall rank of 1,287,139. That would mean he's selling about one book every 1-2 months. There a lot of these obscure categories so when you see these '#1 bestseller' claims - take it with a pinch of salt. If the promoter's system really works well they would quote the Amazon overall sales rank.

You'll find many authors claim to be a 'bestselling' author if they have ever had a book in the top 100 of any category, Look for #100 in some genres at Amazon and you may find they stop at #18. That probably means the book in that rank has sold just a few copies.

Here's a few of today's #1 bestsellers chosen from random genres with estimates of their sales:

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Arts & Photography > Architecture > Architects, A-Z #11,301 Paid in Kindle Store (about 430 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Lawyers & Judges #3,744 Paid in Kindle Store (about 2,100 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Money > Taxation > Small Business #32,983 Paid in Kindle Store (about 140 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Crafts, Hobbies & Home > Interior Design > Upholstery & Fabrics #182,406 Paid in Kindle Store (about 4 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Education & Teaching > Higher & Continuing Education > College Guides #23,812 Paid in Kindle Store (about 245 sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Foreign Languages > Other Languages > Hungarian #1,287,139 Paid in Kindle Store (Probably no sales in the last 30 days)

#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Engineering & Transportation > Transportation > Ships > Pictorial #219,700 Paid in Kindle Store (about 2 sales in the last 30 days)

As to me I've been #1 bestseller in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Technothrillers with a best ever overall rank of #540 in paid. I've also been #1 in Science fiction > Genetic engineering and #1 in Science fiction adventure. I don't claim to be a bestselling author even though there are 50,000 of my books in circulation.

Beware the 'bestseller'; it's a word which can mean little and for an author to use it smacks of desperation.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

E-books or print - which do you prefer?

I'll choose e-readers - no contest.

  • Whilst I too love the smell and feel of a book, we buy them for their content not their smell and feel. If the lack of 'paper smell' bothers you you can buy a 'book smell' perfume to spray on your e-reader.
  • "I prefer real books" is a phrase I often hear. Usually I hear it from those who have not yet got an e-reader, Every time I hear it I imagine those people who first came across bound books. Did they think "Nice, but I prefer scrolls."?
  • My mother has just had her 92nd birthday and spends a lot of time reading. She finds it easier to read large print and prefers thinner books since she finds these easier to hold. You can change the text size in an e-book and they are much lighter.
  • I'd much rather carry an e-reader than the complete Encyclopaedia Britannica. I think my library of 3,000+ paper books probably weighs about a ton. Most of them could fit on my ancient Kindle Keyboard e-reader.
  • About a year ago I finished reading a hardback book I've had since 2009. Stephen King's 'Under the Dome.' I had not read it because it weighs 1.3 kilograms (2.3 pounds) - too heavy to read unsupported. (Enjoyable book if you want to read it) I'd looked for it as an e-book but due to the Amazon/Hachette dispute couldn't find it. In the end I read it in bed before sleeping with it supported on my knees.
  • Putting another book on the bookshelf may satisfy some people but I have trouble finding a space for an extra book on my shelves. I've used up all the normal space (two books deep) and have run out of space between the book tops and the next shelf! 
  • I like to read relaxing in a bath. I may fall asleep and a soggy book is not easy to salvage. Your e-reader may not like water either but you can read it inside a ziplock plastic bag far easier than a paper copy! 
  • My e-readers play music and can read my book to me. The only paper book I have that does that was bought years ago for my children. 
  • Can you get Internet on a paper book? Maybe this will be possible in the future when flexible screens become available. My Nexus 7 has full Internet, plays movies, makes video calls and takes pictures also. (OK - not very good ones)
  • Do you feel the author needs rewarding for the time they spent writing your book? If you do then be aware that authors earn more money from e-books than from paper books.
  • Price? In general e-books cost less than a new book. Second-hand paper books may cost even less but your choice may be limited.
  • When you buy an e-book you buy a licence to read it. Most people are not keen on this but if you face a disaster which destroys your library - a fire,  your ebooks will still be there in the cloud whereas your paper books will be in the smoke.
  • The 'wicked bible' error.
    Few books are perfect. They contain typos, spelling mistakes, grammar mistakes, timeline errors, sentences which could be phrased better. Once you've bought a paper book - you're stuck with the errors but ebooks can be updated.
That's my choice. What about you?

Sunday, 26 July 2015

Are some book marketing sites cheating authors?


If you pay for promoting your book through Twitter and website posts; how do you feel about these sites having fake Twitter followers and no website traffic?

What is a fake follower?

A fake follower isn't a real person - just a name  They will never read your tweets, interact, retweet posts and will certainly never follow links or buy anything.

How do you tell if a Twitter account has fake followers? 

There are certain clues:
  • people who have an egg profile image or a scantily clad female image
  • people who don't have a profile description or one which don't describe the personality or profession of the person
  • people who don't tweet in your language
  • people whose tweets are protected
  • people who don't interact or interact nonsensically/aggressively
  • fake accounts will have a disproportionate follower and following count. Far more people are followed than follow back. A real account will have a more balanced ratio.
  • people who have not tweeted in the last 3 months. These may be genuine accounts but if they are they will be of little value to authors
  • people who tweet the same limited number of tweets endlessly
All of these are indicators only. If a Twitter account has several of these clues it's an indication but not proof of a fake account.
It's all too easy to buy Twitter followers. Software exists which generates Twitter accounts. It would be immoral for promotion sites to purchase such followers and unethical to knowingly allow such followers to remain. There are sites normally available which will check for 'fake' followers for you.
https://www.twitteraudit.com/ and https://fakers.statuspeople.com are two of them. Neither claims to be 100% perfect in that they may wrongly identify genuine followers as fake and fail to detect others which are fakes. You can also use Twitter management tools such as ManageFlitter to help you identify fakes.

What about website traffic?

No matter how attractive a book review on a website is, if the website doesn't get traffic and the pages are not discoverable by searches then the review will never be seen. You can use
Alexa.com to examine the website traffic. If you are using Chrome as your browser you can install a toolbar icon to quickly gauge a site's traffic. (http://www.alexa.com/toolbar) A site with an overall traffic rank of more than 2 million is unlikely to be of much help. A website with an Alexa rank of more than 1.5 million will be little use.

Paid advertising

What about paying for your book ad to be displayed? In a recent case Facebook suggested that an ad would be displayed to 420,000 people within a 50 km radius of the advertiser. Yet the total population of the area was only 320,000. You also have to factor in your advert being shown to 'bots' rather than real people. Watch the video at http://www.bloomberg.com/features/2015-click-fraud and for 'soap' think 'book'

I'm making a list of who's naughty and nice...

Here's an example of a group of sites which charge $99 to promote your books by posting them on websites, promoting on Twitter and adding books to emails sent out to subscribers. I'm not identifying these well known sites because there is still some room for doubt about 'fake' followers. It's possible for a troll to skew the results by purchasing fake followers for a site. A site which TwitterAudit.com identifies as having just 14% of real followers is pretty damning though. At the best, in my opinion, the site owner is careless and at worst, dishonest!
Site Twitter Followers 'Real' followers Website Alexa Rank My opinion
1 19,094 14% #316,685 Tweets from this site are useless but promotion in the website may be worthwhile
2 1938 93% #23,976,799 Very limited tweet value and website promotion will be unseen
3 11,707 97% #217,001 Moderately useful tweets and excellent website visibility - a site worth promoting on.
4 12,697 31% #5,801,496 Tweets of little value and few people will see the website
5 14,201 51% #8,434,577 Half of tweets won't be seen and few people will see the website
6 No Twitter account n/a #2,912,361 Website is not very visible
7 7,657 98% #391,624 Few but genuine tweets, good website visibility
8 23,705 97% #1,824,011 Good site for tweets. Website is just 'average'
In all these sites have a 91,000 twitter following - better than the 60,000 they claim but there are 72,000 unique followers of which 33,000 are likely to be fake.
Of course there is no conclusion to be drawn about how this group of sites promotes your books by email. This can be an effective method. However based on these results would you pay $99 to the group?

Will you help me to 'check it all twice?'

Have you paid for a promotion and got unspectacular results? If so can you check the site's 'Fake' followers at
https://www.twitteraudit.com/ (You can check them free there) or at https://fakers.statuspeople.com/ (You can check 5 tweeps and yourself there.) Also download the Alexa plug-in for Chrome at http://www.alexa.com/toolbar and let me know the site's overall rank. Be cautious of making accusations. Just give the results and your 'opinion'.

If this post has helped, informed or entertained, will you help me? Download a FREE copy of our book 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi
Even if you never read it (but we hope you will) - it will help our rankings.
Look - a FREE e-book

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Kindle Unlimited - Good news or bad news?

A little while ago Amazon did something dreadful. They started a program called 'Kindle Unlimited'. 


It's not a bad deal for readers - at least not at the moment, because for $9.99 a month (£7.99 in the UK) they can read any of the 700,000 books available in Kindle Select. Plus there are free audiobooks to listen to, and about 500 public domain books available.  No more to pay in that month. If you are a prolific or even a little better than average reader (4 books a month), that could save you money. There is one downside - books downloaded  through Kindle Unlimited will be deleted if you cease to be a member.

For authors, Kindle Unlimited has it's good and bad points. 

Good:
  • The author gets paid if 10% of a book is read. For a standard 80,000 word novel that's about 32 pages
  • For each book where 10% is read you get a share of the fund allotted. The last time I checked that was $1.40 but it varies. 
  • Your book has to be in 'Kindle Select' which seems to be higher ranked than those books not in 'Select'

Bad:


  • If you sell your book for $2.99 and it's an average 80,000 word book You'll get that $1.40 instead of your normal $2.01 royalty. Of course it's always possible that this would be an extra sale but in practice many people have seen a reduction in their royalties.
  • If you write longer books at a higher price they will still pay $1.40 and you won't get paid on download.
  • An average reader, reading 30 minutes per day at 200 words per minute will take 1.33 days of reading before you get a payment.
  • Some books will be downloaded but not read for months - if at all. In that time you earn nothing. If they stop subscribing to Kindle Unlimited - you won't get a payment for that book.
  • If you decide you don't want your book in Kindle Unlimited you must leave 'Kindle Select.' You will still continue to earn Kindle Unlimited payments for books already downloaded though.
  • Kindle Unlimited is only really attractive to prolific readers -According to some sources that's 3% of the population.
  • E-books produced by the conventional print publishers won't be available. Just those exclusive to Kindle Select. If you want the latest Dan Brown novel - you'll still have to buy it separately.

The upshot of this is Amazon Select and Kindle Unlimited are terrible programs for authors. You'll earn far less in royalties. But there is a way for an author to make money from Kindle Unlimited!
  • Write lots of very short books 2,000 -10,000 word stories and put them in Kindle Select.
  • If you sell your book for $0.99 you will get $1.40 for each Kindle Unlimited download and 10% read rather than $0.35 from a 'normal' sale. See here for the details of royalties paid.
  • If you sell a 12 page book for $0.99 you get that $1.40 if they read the first page!
  • Promote them as being free on Kindle Unlimited.
  • Since these 'books' are in Kindle Select you can make them free for up to five days each 90 day period. Offer a two day promotion and up to three one day promotions in the following months to keep sales rank high. I currently have three short stories available and make them free in turn, one Sunday a month.
You don't need to spend a great deal of time on these short stories but you will need a good cover and enticing description. Use a pen name if you wish not to be associated with these shorts.
Sit back and 'rake in the money' secure in the knowledge that readers and Amazon will eventually realise that Select/Kindle Unlimited now only offers short stories and ditch the Kindle Select/Unlimited program.

Well I'm trying it but have yet to see any results.


Have you taken out a Kindle Unlimited subscription? So far I've come across only one person who has.


Want to try my short stories?

The first is free on the 1st Sunday of each month - http://smarturl.it/iwadasn
The second is free on 2nd Sunday of each month - http://smarturl.it/iwadasn2

The third is free on 3rd Sunday of each month - http://smarturl.it/iwadasn3

All Change

As of 1st July 2015 Amazon will be changing the rules so that authors of longer works will be paid at a higher rate. In their example quoted in their email today (15th June 2015) they state:
As with our current approach, we’ll continue to offer a global fund for each month. Under this new model, the amount an author earns will be determined by their share of total pages read rather than their share of total qualified borrows. Here are a few examples illustrating how the fund will be paid out. For simplicity, assume the fund is $10M and that 100,000,000 total pages were read in the month: 

The author of a 100 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).   

The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed and read completely 100 times would earn $2,000 ($10 million multiplied by 20,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

The author of a 200 page book which was borrowed 100 times but only read half way through on average would earn $1,000 ($10 million multiplied by 10,000 pages for this author divided by 100,000,000 total pages).

We will similarly change the way we pay KDP Select All-Star bonuses which will be awarded to authors and titles based on total KU and KOLL pages read.

This effectively rolls back the clock to before KU and it will no longer pay to write very short stories for KU. Full details at https://kdp.amazon.com/help?topicId=A156OS90J7RDN

Well that's effectively killing the goose which laid the golden egg so that just leaves KU as a very bad idea.