Monday musings: Amazon cancels the Kindle World program

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Kindle Worlds cancelled Many readers have heard that Amazon has canceled the Kindle Worlds program. Since May, Amazon has not been accepting new Kindle World titles, and all the books in all Kindle Worlds will no longer be available for sale after July 15. And then, all rights revert back to the authors of the books—except for some.

Wait—what’s a Kindle World again?

Kindle Worlds are—or were—managed, policed fan fiction. Amazon selected successful series where readers wanted more titles than the author could write in a timely way. The program allowed other authors to write short works based on the situations, settings and characters of those bestselling series. For instance, I wrote four books based on the characters and setting of Toby Neal’s Lei Crime series.

This program benefitted everyone involved. Readers got more stories in the series they loved. The original authors of those series got more connections to their audiences, and a shared of the sales of the new books. And the authors who wrote in other writers’ series got exposure to new audiences, as well as established audiences for the books they wrote in the Kindle Worlds.

It was a win-win-win-win situation. The fourth win is for Amazon, which got 15% of every sale.

Goodbye, new audiences

Half Moon Girls: A Lei Crime Kindle World novellaThis affects a number of BestSelling Reads authors. Both Toby Neal and former member Emily Kimelman have prominent Kindle Worlds based on their bestselling series, Lei Crime and Sydney Rye respectively. And several members have published Kindle Worlds titles:

  • Toby Neal and Emily Kimelman themselves both published books in each other’s Kindle World. Toby published Rough Road, bringing her Lei Texeira into Emily’s Sydney Rye world, and Emily published Warrior Dog about Toby’s Keiki the Rottweiler. Toby also wrote a book in Russell Blake’s JET Kindle World.
  • DelSheree Gladden wrote The Catalyst, bringing her Eliza Carlisle from The Instigator into the Sydney Rye Kindle World
  • J.L. Oakley has published four books in the Lei Crime Kindle World: Saddle Road, Coconut Island, Volcano House and Hilina Pali.
  • Corinne O’Flynn wrote a trilogy in the Lei Crime Kindle World: Half Moon Girls, Tell the Truth and Pay the Price.
  • Caleb Pirtle III puVolcano House: A Lei Crime Kindle World novellablished Lovely Night to Die in the Special Forces: Operation Alpha Kindle World.
  • Scott Bury published in three Kindle World he was invited to: Jet: Stealth in Russell Blake’s JET Kindle World; The Wife Line and The Three-Way in the Sydney Rye Kindle World; and four books in the Lei Crime Kindle World: Torn Roots, Palm Trees & Snowflakes, Dead Man Lying and Echoes.

But wait! There’s more!

With the cancellation of the Kindle Worlds program, the rights for all the content of the books revert back to the authors of the individual titles. But there’s a complication. The works in the Kindle Worlds were based on the books published by bestselling authors. Which means the rights to their characters, situations, stories, and other elements revert to them.Lovely Night to Die: : A Special Forces: Operation Alpha Kindle World novella

This causes some issues between the original authors and those who wrote Kindle World novellas. While the authors of the individual Kindle World books now have the rights to what they created, the original authors of the series at the core of the Kindle Worlds retain the rights to their characters and other elements.

Which raises a conflict: where exactly is the line between the respective authors’ rights in a (former) Kindle Word novella?

Why they dunnit

The concept of Kindle Worlds appeared to be a sure thing. Take existing, successful series and release new books for proven audiences. Minimal risk, more sales.

So apparently the sales were not good enough to sustain the program. The complications around copyright were probably also discouraging. Maybe that’s why Amazon never let Kindle World books be purchased beyond its U.S.-based .com site. And never allowed any formats other than .mobi-format for Kindles.

Dead Man Lying: A Lei Crime Kindle World novellaThat’s right: no paperbacks, no audiobooks. Readers in Canada, the U.K. or anywhere outside the U.S.—or, more precisely, anyone who had an Amazon account that did not end in .com—could not buy any of my Kindle World books.

The literary world evolves

With the cancellation of the Kindle Worlds, some authors actually have new opportunities. Those who republish their books, meeting the requirements of copyright, can bring these words to global audiences in any format they wish. For many, it’s an opportunity to open up new worlds to new audiences.

What it means overall is that the world of the written word continues to evolve. And for readers, that’s all good.

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Writers’ pet peeves: Monday musings

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By Raine Thomas

writers pet peeves

Pixabay Creative Commons license

Pet peeves. Everyone has them. Yes, even readers and writers…perhaps even more than most people!

Exploring the pet peeves experienced by readers and writers can be a helpful way to clear the air and help us see each other’s points of views on some rather serious topics. In the hopes of engaging our readers in a spirited dialogue, we thought we’d explore some of these pet peeves over a couple of blog posts.

Last week we gave some of the most common pet peeves experienced by readers. Today, let’s delve into our biggest pet peeves as writers:

Poor editing

This was mentioned in the reading pet peeves list and it’s so important that we just had to note it here too. For those authors who invest time and money into producing clean, well-written books for our readers, it’s a major pet peeve to see so many books out there that are so poorly edited.

Poor editors

Along those lines, many authors express frustration over investing in an editor and then publishing a book believing that it’s error-free only to receive multiple reviews stating otherwise. There are people out there claiming to be editors who have no business doing so. Authors should take care and vet the people they hire to edit their books. Always, always, always get a free sample edit and have someone with a good eye look it over before you pay someone to edit your book.

Complaints about book pricing 

Okay, folks…let’s get real here. Imagine you worked on a project for many months, sometimes up to a year or more. While working on that project, you took time away from your family, stayed up late at night, skipped weekends and holidays, and spent hundreds to thousands of your hard-earned dollars making the project as perfect as it could be. Then you put your project up for sale for people to experience. What value would you place on that project for all of the time, effort, and money you invested? When we hear readers express that they don’t want to pay $2.99 or $4.99 for an e-book because it’s “only a couple of hours of entertainment,” it makes us want to cry. Even at that price point, many authors don’t even make their money back on their books.

Readers who return e-books after reading

This pet peeve is soul-crushing if the person doing it is only being cheap. It’s one thing to return an e-book if you accidentally purchase it or even if you start it and don’t like it, but to read it completely and then return it so you don’t have to pay the author is hitting us right where it hurts.

internet trolls are one of writers' pet peeves

Photo by Flickr user Babbletrish and reused here with Creative Commons license.

Trolls

No one really knows why trolls do what they do, but they live to create havoc in an author’s life. They enjoy going from author to author and book to book leaving distasteful reviews, comments about the author, and other inflammatory remarks. This type of behavior just shouldn’t be accepted in any forum.

Piracy: the biggest of writers’ pet peeves

Having pirate sites stealing our books and offering them for free or even for sale is one of the biggest (and most difficult to battle) issues in publishing today. Readers, we beg you … please don’t use pirating sites.

What writing pet peeves should we add to this list? Let us know in the comments here or on social media!

Raine Thomas

Bestselling author Raine Thomas has some writers' pet peevesThe multiple award-winning author of bestselling Young Adult and New Adult fiction, Raine is known for character-driven stories that inspire the imagination. She has signed with multiple award-winning producer Chase Chenowith of Back Fence Productions to bring her popular Daughters of Saraqael trilogy to the big screen.

She’s a proud indie author who is living the dream. When she isn’t writing or glued to e-mail or social networking sites, Raine can usually be found vacationing with her husband and daughter on one of Florida’s beautiful beaches or crossing the border to visit with her Canadian friends and relatives.

Where to find her

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Monday musings: peering through the fog

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Misty Foggy Road Mystery Fog

As I drove through an extremely foggy morning last week, I thought of all the people who try to make predictions about the future at the beginning of every year. It struck me that it’s like trying to tell which way an unfamiliar road will curve when you can only see 30 metres ahead.

If there’s one thing that 2016 taught me, it’s to keep my predictions to myself. But I have read a number of others’ forecasts for the directions and the curves the writing game will take in the next year.

These predictions may seem pretty safe, but what’s interesting is the way they fit together to have an impact on readers as well as writers.

Amazon’s dominance will grow

Amazon has been the number one retailer of books (and a whole lot of other stuff, too) for years, and this market dominance is only going to increase.

Retail sales are also suffering, and “brick and mortar” retailers are losing market share to online retailers—like Amazon, but also to others, even their own online operations. Barnes & Noble reported its 2016 holiday sales were 9.1 percent lower than in 2015. The company attributed that to lower traffic in its stores. In contrast, online sales rose 2 percent.

Other bookstore chains are struggling, and are devoting more and more floor space to things that are not books: music and movie disks, decorations, novelties, even food.

The only way for independent bookstores to survive is by specializing.

Amazon has opened some brick-and-mortar stores of its own, and while it has enabled authors to publish their own books for years, it has started a number of publishing imprints of its own, such as Thomas & Mercer (the publisher of one of BestSelling Reads’ members, Alan McDermott).

More market share will go to e-books

While paper will never go away, e-books are taking up more market share. As of 2016, the estimates in the U.S. were that print books represent 39% of book units sold, and e-books 61%.

The ease and economy of publishing e-books is one of the factors behind the staggering growth in the numbers of self-publishing authors.

More writers will self-publish

Some writers call this “increased competition,” but that term doesn’t quite capture the reality of writers. Books are not like cars or washing machines—we read them in a matter of days, usually, and move on to the next book.

Restaurant cluster in Paris

The situation is more comparable to restaurants. Restaurant owners are smart to cluster together, because more options bring more customers. Diners love to come to a street crowded with restaurants, and will come back many times to try all the choices available.

Readers are the same. After all, a traditional bookstore brings together thousands of different authors, and readers prefer bigger bookstores with more choice.

Writers will band together

Another prediction I read was that authors will work together to increase their audiences. That’s interesting, because working with other authors is how I began self-publishing fiction. I find my experience with BestSelling Reads, and another group I belong to called Independent Authors International, to be hugely rewarding—in terms finding other great writers, learning how to improve my writing, as well as finding new readers.

The big challenge for writers is not to out-compete other writers, not to sell books (although that’s a nice thing to accomplish), but to learn how to engage with audiences. That’s what a story is: a connection, an experience shared by reader and writer.

For readers

When I was young, I cannot begin to estimate the time I spent hanging around in bookstores, looking at all the titles I had to choose from. Readers today can spend hours just perusing books, trying to decide which one to open next. That’s why sites like Goodreads and Library Thing are so popular—they help readers decide which book to read next, to find good books in the e-mountains of words available.

I promised I would not make any predictions for 2017, but I will tell you about one other trend I noticed over 2016: the increasing number of services and systems for sale to help authors sell more books by learning how to tag their titles on Amazon, set up mailing lists to readers, send enquiries to book reviewers, build platforms and more. “This is the secret that bestselling authors use.”

As I said, no predictions. Just a warning: some of these services and subscriptions are very expensive, and none of them guarantees a writer will sell more books.

No predictions, but a question to the readers out there: how do you want to engage with writers? Answer in the Comments.

 

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Book launch today: Road Blocked

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A Reed Ferguson Mystery by Renée Pawlish

Launching May 10!

Road BlockedReed Ferguson returns in a gripping tale!

A dead body on a beach in Tahiti. A Medicare scam. A doctor who believes hired killers are after him. It’s all part of Denver private investigator Reed Ferguson’s latest case, where he matches wits with a dangerous adversary who will stop at nothing short of murder. Working with his wife Willie, and his quirky friends, Reed must unearth a killer before he becomes the next victim.

Road Blocked is a suspense-filled mystery, with a Bogie-wannabe detective, a dose of humor, and a clever homage to film noir. It’s available today from Amazon.

From the award-wining author of This Doesn’t Happen In The Movies.

 

 

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Monday Musings: To Go Free or Not To Go Free

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by Kathleen Valentine

freebooksA few years ago I was in my car parked along the street waiting for a friend who was running an errand. It was trash day in Gloucester and the sidewalks were loaded with trash bags and recycling bins. Someone had put out a cardboard box full of books with the sign Free Books on it. While I sat there I saw several people come along and have a look. A few snagged a book or two but I was surprised by the number of people who picked up a book or two, examined them, even read a little bit, then put them back. They were free—why not give them a chance?

Recently I was made aware of a Facebook group called VAC, Valued Authors Coalition. It is a group of authors who have decided they will no longer offer their books for free through major venues like Amazon and iTunes, etc. This is their Statement:

As part of VAC (Valued Authors Coalition), I vow to no longer offer my books through ALL sales venues for free. This does not include subscription services such as Kindle Unlimited where authors receive compensation. This also does not include offering book giveaways, at my discretion, whether as contest prizes, or directly through my website, for signing up for newsletters, blog comments, ARCs for reviews, etc.

Free books are something I have been thinking about for a long time and have mixed feelings about. I understand the thinking behind offering one’s books for free.

  1. It is a good way to get people to read your work in the hopes that they will like it enough to buy more.
  2. If you write series books it is a good way to get readers to want to read the rest of the books in the series.
  3. It is a good way to get more exposure for yourself as an author.
  4. It is a good way to bring your books some attention when you have a new one coming out.

I also understand the argument for refusing to give your work away.

  1. You have worked long hard hours on your book and take pride in your craft. If you don’t value your work who will?
  2. There are so many free books available, why would most readers ever buy a book?
  3. Free books do nothing to boost your sales ranking.
  4. Free books brand you as an amateur or an indie. Recognized authors don’t have to give their work away.

I admit, I am conflicted about this. Usually when I want to promote a book I offer it for 99¢. A few of my books—shorter works—are permanently 99¢. I’ve experimented with giving books away versus charging 99¢ and I’m still not sure how I feel about that. Once, when I made my memoir/cookbook Fry Bacon. Add Onions free, I had over 20,000 downlaods. If there was a bump in sales when it returned to its regular price, it wasn’t enough for me to notice it.

On the other hand, the first volume in my Beacon Hill Chronicles, The Crazy Old Lady in the Attic, has always been 99¢ (it’s a novelette) and has sold thousands of copies. So much so that in 2013 I paid cash for a new car totally from that one little book. Since then I’ve published 3 additional books in that series that are full-length novels that sell for $2.99 and, while sales are decent, they have never sold even close to the first one.

I am very curious to see what other writers have to say about this. I know writers who have paid a lot of money on sites like BookBub to advertise their free books and have told me the boost it gave their sales of other books was well worth it. Others have told me that paying to advertise free books has not amounted to much.

So, tell me, what are your experiences with offering your books for free? Have they been worth it? Do you have a way to measure your success when you go free? How do you feel about what the VAC authors think? Do free books devalue your product? I’d love to hear opinions. Thanks for reading.

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Focus Friday: Inquest by DelSheree Gladden

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New INQUEST This week’s Friday Focus is an excerpt from the first book in the Destroyer trilogy.

 I never thought someone I loved would try to kill me. But when you know you’re going to do something worse, does that make it okay? Should you hope for that person to succeed?

 Not wanting to dwell on what Lance’s knife is meant to do, I turn my head and find myself staring at the perfectly even and symmetrical row of scarred flesh on his right wrist. The diktats look like scars, but scars would never be so perfect. And no one would survive having their wrist sliced vertically so many times. Without meaning to, my fingers stray to the diktats and gently brush across the seven marks. Two for his talents, Speed and Strength. Two for being given a Warrior name. And three for belonging to the Guardian class.

“I was just teasing about the pain. You know that, right?” Lance asks softly, his bright blue eyes filled with concern. He is intimately aware of my feelings on the subject. Friends since childhood,  Lance has seen almost every one of my dozen broken bones firsthand. He was even involved in a few of the unfortunate exploits.

The tender concern in his voice is endearing, but not in the least bit reassuring. Regardless, I still nod and try to smile. Lance isn’t convinced.

“Really, Libby, it’s not that bad. It stings more than anything. You’ll be fine.” He holds his right wrist next to mine and rubs his thumb across my skin. “Everything will be okay. You’ll forget the pain of your Inquest as soon as it’s over, and in a few hours we’ll match.”

That’s what he thinks. I tuck my left arm behind my back, not wanting to think about it.

“What did your mom give you for your sixteenth birthday, anyway?” Lance asks, changing the subject.

Taking my new keys out of my pocket, I dangle them with a scowl. “Not the one I wanted, of course.”

He laughs. “Did you really expect your mom to buy you a twenty-year-old Ford Bronco? She would never allow you to be seen driving something like that. Which one did she get you, the Audi or the Lexus?”

“The Audi.” The venom in my voice doesn’t keep Lance from grinning. He’d been hoping for the Audi. It is much faster than the Lexus. And Lance loves to go fast.

“Maybe we can take it out after your Inquest,” he suggests. The eager shine in his eyes is very nearly catching. The last word of his sentence sours any hope of my reciprocating his enthusiasm.

I offer him the best smile I can manage, which isn’t much, and say, “Yeah, maybe. Let’s go to lunch. I’ve got some homework to finish.”

Lance’s arm wraps around my waist and guides me down the hall. I try to focus on the feel of his touch, but all I can think of is how stupid it is that I’m worrying about my homework. My chances of not being murdered after my Inquest are pretty slim, which means this assignment is the last one I will ever turn in. At least there’s one upside to dying.

Inquest is Book One of The Destroyer series.

One of Best Selling Reads’ newest members, DelSheree Gladden’s works include Escaping Fate, the Twin Souls Saga, the Destroyer Trilogy, and Invisible. In 2014, she plans to release Wicked Power, the next book in the SomeOne Wicked This Way Comes Series; Intangible, book two in the Aerling Series, and Soul Stone, book two in the Escaping Fate Series.

Visit DelSheree’s website and check out her blog.

Visit DelSheree’s Amazon Author page.

 

 

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