Author Olivia Boler

writing is fun
April 25th, 2014

Why Does KDP Hate Me?

Unfortunately, there was a snafu with my Kindle Direct Publishing account, and my special sale was cut short today. I hope to have it up again, but here’s what I take away from the experience:

When I decided to independently publish my novel, I went with Smashwords first because they have a wide distribution, not just on their own website but also with other major retailers—iTunes, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, etc….They don’t have a deal with Amazon, so I put up my book there later, unaware that Amazon had this KDP Direct program. What is it? Basically, if you publish your ebook exclusively with Amazon, you can do a couple of promos. One is a free giveaway of your book, run for up to 5 days. The other is discounting your book, again for 5 days. You also apparently get a slice of some profit-sharing that I only vaguely understand because I find such things tedious, even though they’re important.

I hesitated to take my book off Smashwords. They are great to indie authors, and they don’t ask for exclusivity. But sales had become non-existent, and I wanted to get some traction and exposure, that would be simple to run and not too time consuming. I took the book down and signed up for KDP Select. That was a mistake. I should have waited a couple of weeks because it takes a while for all of Smashwords’ partners to take down your book from their websites. KDP immediately sent me a warning. They have creepy crawlers out there, just looking for you to mess up.

When I was sure that I was in the clear, I went ahead and put the book up for free in March. It was great! Tons of downloads. Then, yesterday, because KDP has some kind of time constraint on when you can offer the Kindle Countdown Deal (the discount), I put the ebook up for 99 cents. Yay!

This afternoon, I got another robot-like email from KDP that “our records indicate that we previously informed you that submitting non-exclusive content to KDP Select is not acceptable and may result in loss of KDP Select benefits” and “as a result of repeat violations of the KDP Select exclusivity requirement, we have removed all of your books from the KDP Select program. Your titles remain available in the Kindle Store.”

WTF!?! (Deep, calming breaths. But why is it suddenly so hot in my brain???)

They sent a link (so helpful!) to the offending site, and sure enough, there’s my book on a French site—FNAC, actually, where I used to go shopping when I lived in Paris 20 years ago. How do I like them pommes? Not very much.

I contacted Smashwords about this, and got an immediate (human!) email response. They are going to work on getting this down, and they didn’t even call me a traitor for leaving them. Sniff, sniff!

Back on Amazon, my discount promo was taken down within an hour.

So, word to the wise, if you want to play with KDP, go ahead, but take advantage of KDP Select before you upload to Smashwords. Your iTunes, B&N, etc. friends will grumble, but it will definitely save your grief and time.

April 18th, 2012

Proof, baby!

TFBS book proof

Drum roll, por favor…the CreateSpace.com proof of The Flower Bowl Spell arrived in the mail yesterday. Totally exciting to have it in hand. Of course, the whole point of a proof or advanced reading copy (ARC) or galley, or whatever we’re calling it these days, is to look for mistakes. I did a cursory glance through while watching Game of Thrones, so not that thorough. But there are a few things that need fixing on the back cover, so I emailed my trusty cover designer in Singapore. As I’ve mentioned, she’s a teenager by day and kick-ass cover artist by night. This means she’s in the middle of finals and martial arts competitions, so probably can’t get to my edits for a week or so. But I’ve waited this long, what’s a few more days?
I was thinking of using this post to discuss my experience formatting the book for CreateSpace, but it’s so incredibly tedious, the thought of writing about it makes me want to do something even more interesting, like clean the stove. So, I’ll save that tale for a rainy day.
Proof!

January 31st, 2012

Flower Bowl Spell up on Kindle

Mission accomplished! My goal back at the end of 2011, was to get The Flower Bowl Spell up for sale as an eBook in January, and I did just that. (Pat on the back.) The book went live on Amazon yesterday. I downloaded it, noticed a couple of glitches (e.g. my author photo wasn’t showing up), and got some help on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) forum. People  in the community were really great, patiently walking me through how to create a zip file on Word (I’ve often opened zip files, but never knew I could make one without special software. Sometimes I’m an unintentional Luddite).

Anyway, my next goal, to be accomplished in February, is to get the book on CreateSpace so those who don’t have eReaders can buy it. I’ll look into the Expanded Distribution plan, which means bookstores and libraries could order it too, as far as my understanding of it goes. Also, I’ll need to start promoting it, looking into book bloggers and reviewers who might give it a chance. If you know of a reviewer, website, blogger, etc., who might be interested, please share!

In the meantime, if you have already bought a copy, thank you so much! That’s $0.99 well spent, to be sure!

January 29th, 2012

Twiddling my thumbs as Amazon uploads my book

Finally, finally, finally! I uploaded my novel, The Flower Bowl Spell, to Amazon for the Kindle. I really hope it looks good. The preview made me worry that the cover and my author photo are going to somehow get converted to tiny pixellated images of cameras with an exclamation point. Still waiting on Premium Status for Smashwords, but have sold a few copies and had some sample downloads, huzzah!

Apologies also for the lack of maintenance on my Publications page. I know, I need to get some hyperlinks in there, and I will make it so, very soon! I promise. This whole formatting and uploading thing has hold of all my attention, and also the strange loss of many of the WordPress widgets when I went from having a straight blog to my own domain name. But that’s boring. The fact is, I was up late last night (that means 1 a.m.—it’s a wild life I lead), trying to figure out where all my sexy widgets went. So that, and putting off my actual paying work has been the M.O. the last couple of days. In fact, I’m starting to feel almost as anxious about it as I do about all the stuff I have to do for indie publishing. Stress—what a motivator!

August 6th, 2011

It’s no fiction contest

Since my early twenties, I’ve spent lots of money entering my short stories in contests. These contests are usually sponsored by literary magazines or universities with lit mags, and the entry fee is on average $15 to $20. I keep a little notebook recording my efforts under four columns: Date Sent, Story Sent, Forum Sent To, Answer. The Answer column is mainly filled with one word: NO. Sometimes, there’s a triumphant, YES!

None of the yeses come from contests. The notebooks contain records of submissions to agents or magazines and organizations that have called for stories. I’ve only ever been paid for one story, and that was a few dollars from St. Mary’s College for my short story, Unlit. Please read it!

I gave up on contests for many years (I can only take so much rejection, people!), but recently, inspired by my good friend Siobhan Fallon, who for some reason is one of my biggest cheerleaders and for every good reason is one of my biggest inspirations, tried again. I entered Crab Orchard Review‘s contest, one that Siobhan has won, with a short story my writing group and Siobhan both loved. I would be over the moon if I were a finalist or even in the honorable mentions. Well, guess what happened? Nothing. I recorded another NO in my notebook. A sensitive soul, I always take these disappointments hard in some way, either swooning, muttering bitterly, or with a glass of the house white. I’m thinking of giving up again.

But I am intrigued by Amazon.com‘s Kindle Singles, which are brief pieces (5,000 to 30,000 words) like essays, novellas, and short stories that are pretty inexpensive for Kindle users ($0.99 to $4.99). Yes, in addition to an iPad, I have a Kindle, which I L-O-V-E (so light to hold! no eye strain! built-in dictionary! note taking! stores thousands of books!), but it’s not perfect (can’t read it in the dark, can only read things downloaded from Amazon, can’t access library books with it) Admittedly, I haven’t purchased any Singles yet, but I wonder if this might be a good way to get some of my orphaned stories out there. There’s still a submission process that’s a bit more selective apparently than Amazon’s direct publishing requirements for book-length work. So, in my grand tradition, I’m not completely ruling out the rejection experience.

What do you think, dear bloggers? Is this a good avenue to explore? What’s your experience?

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