Tag Archives: kindle

Watching people read our book

readingPhil: The Interweb is a wonderful thing that has changed all of our live, mostly for the better.

Authors like us can publish our book without recourse to the traditional gatekeepers of publishing houses. A few minutes work and your words can appear on Amazon available to all for purchase.

Working this way provides a completely new experience for the author – watching as people read your book.

I don’t mean looking over their shoulder as they leaf through the pages. That would be creepy and we’d probably get caught.

No, we can do this electronically. And no-one will know.

Anyone signed up to Amazon Prime can read books like ours for free and we are paid per page read. Yes, the more you read, the more money we make.

To provide results, there is a graph and it’s this that provides the entertainment. Every so often the line leaps into life and we know how many pages have been read each day.

The graph shows some action from last week. Total pages read, 475.

This is a bit odd as there are 313 pages in the Kindle edition of the book. Even if you lose the blank ones at the front and back, this is more than one read through but less than two. Not sure what is happening but we’ll not worry too much. What I do know if people do pick it up electronically and read our story, which is the point of the whole job. Every time the line surges skyward, I imagine a reader enjoying the story so much they can’t put the book down!

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Amazon Publishing – A few pointers for newbies

Our book in Kindle and iPad simulatorsPhil: It’s true, we are going to bring the book out using Amazon. That means someone has to get down’n’dirty with the mechanics of stuffing our words into their system so you can buy it. This sort of work is defined as “nerdy” so falls to me apparently.

I’m pleased to say, it’s remarkably easy, or at least appears to be so far.

Here are a few pointers to help anyone thinking of following the well-worn path we are currently walking:

Set all the text in your manuscript up using “Styles” rather than fiddling with the fonts. Define your own styles by all means but use them consistently.

For example, all our text is set up using “Body Text” style. This is currently 12pt Times New Roman but in truth it doesn’t matter. All the words in this style will be shown the same size, even if the reader makes the font bigger on their device.

(As an aside, e-readers are great news for those with poor eyesight. You can set the font size to massive, no need to search out large print books. Mahoosive fonts, especially with a high contract background, make reading a possibility for a huge number of people technically registered blind – accessibility needn’t mean special equipment, hooray!)

I’ve also got a chapter title style and one for e-mails shown on the page which we like to show using courier font.

If I’d set this up from the start, work at this end of the process would be reduced as the manuscript would be properly formatted already.

I’m hoping this also helps when we look at paperback print options. With large chunks of text defined by styles, I can alter the entire book with a few clicks.

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Pay attention to the sign up process.

Even for non-US authors, there’s a load of American tax questions to answer. Mostly in the negative for us but it’s a bit of a bind doing them. Be prepared.

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Amazon isn’t based in the UK. You’ll need the international versions of your bank account number.

I headed over to my banks’ website and after a little searching found a number generator that gave me the required information.

You can only pay royalties into a single account. Candice trusts me so it’s going into mine and I’ll transfer money to her. This is pretty safe. I’m only going to spend my cash on toy trains, old cars and unfashionable clothing. If I suddenly turn up in a flash car wearing designer labels, she’ll guess something is up and demand answers when I regain consciousness. If you are less trusting, set up a special account.

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If the book is a joint effort, share the login details.

Seriously, if one of you drops dead, how frustrating would it be for the other not to be able to administer the book? I’m not sure it is strictly speaking allowed, but seems a sensible move.

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Once your book is on sale, buy a copy.

This way, it will appear in the “People who bought this also bought this” bit of the page. The more people who buy, the more often you’ll appear. Don’t give copies to friends and relatives, make them buy it for added exposure.

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You’re not going to get rich.

We’re going to sell at £1.99 or its equivalent in other countries. Amazon takes 86p of that for providing the service. Stop moaning, this is world-wide sales for a relatively small fee. Imagine the printing and shipping costs you are saving.

We are lucky to be realistic about this. Writing is very, very rarely a route to riches. However, if we do strike it rich, we are prepared to deal with this.

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 I hope this helps. In a short while, once final polishing is complete, we’ll be doing it for real (I’ve tested everything so confidence is high). I’m genuinely surprised how easy all of this appears. Let’s hope I’m still saying this soon.

Then we only have the reviews to worry about!

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Why can’t I click on the page?

From: Clients from Hell.net

Client: I love the flyer you sent! It’s clicky!
Me: Great! So we’re done now?
Client: No. When I print out the flyer, the links aren’t clicky. Can you make them clicky?
Me: I don’t understand.
Client: I want to be able to go to our website … when … um, when I …
Me: You do know that a piece of paper can’t be interactive, right?

WGTPhil: I read (on-line) the posting above at the same time as I was reading (on-paper) “Who Goes There – Travels through strangest Britain in search of the Doctor” by Nick Griffiths, and it struck a chord.

I enjoy travel books. Sometimes they make me want to go and see the places described. Mostly my traveling is vicarious but none the worse for that. I also love Dr Who. Put the two together and we should have a winner – right?

Wrong.

Even once you get past the stream of consciousness writing style (it calms down after the first few chapters) and the lack of capital letters in the title (Grrrr) there is a fundamental problem with the book. The author keeps referring readers to his website so they can see photos of the location he visits.  That’s lovely but I was reading on a train and so constantly being pointed at a web page was a reminder that I was missing out on a good chunk of the fun to be had from Griffiths travels.

To compound matters, he keeps referring to Who episodes that I don’t remember. I mean, I love classic Who, but I don’t have an encyclopedic memory of a TV show I watched when I was 5 or even one from before I was born. I’m nerdy, but not that nerdy. Thus, I often have no idea what the location being visited looks like ‘cos I’ve not seen it on telly or on the web.

Frustrating. Very.

But, Candice and I were chatting about this over tea and squash earlier in the week, more and more people are reading on eBooks. Travel on the tube in that there London and you’ll hardly see the traditional paperback. It’s all iPads and Kindles now.

These are perfect for a book like this. If I want to see the picture, I can click on a link and assuming I’m not in a signal-free tunnel, up the photo will pop. If licensing were possible, even a clip from the show could be included. All this makes writing a rather more involved job than traditional, but it creates a very different type of book/website hybrid that could be very exciting.

None of this works (for me) on paper but it does beg a question. If the eBook/website hybrid is the way things are going, has this book about a time traveller fallen back through a wormhole from a few years in the future?

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A chat with Daisy Waugh – Part Two

Daisy WaughPart 2 of our chat with Daisy Waugh. If you missed the first installment, where were you? OK, follow this link to it. Enjoy

How long did it take to write your books?

Some take longer than others. Last Dance With Valentino took many years. But that was partly because I wrote several chick novels in between, also had several babies. Also I was learning about a new period in history. Melting the Snow on Hester Street, also set in early 20th Century America took me a year to write.

What about the editing process, does this take longer than getting the first draft down? Does the story change much during this time or have you got it pretty much planned out before starting?

The editing process is by far the longest bit. Also the most enjoyable. The first draft is fast and  pretty agonising. I always have a skeleton structure but I have no idea if what I’m writing is drivel, and a lot of it  is- But I have to force myself to keep writing and not look back.  Otherwise I can – and have – spent months and months and MONTHS fiddling with the opening  scenes of a book. It doesn’t necessarily improve them. Once you have something on paper, the editing, cutting, honing and improving is a joy – at least I think so.

How do you feel about the current state of the publishing world and book’s in general, is there still a market for writing?  How about the reading format, do you prefer books or e-reader devices like Kindle?

There will always be market for good story telling! Look how the thriller market thrives.  I think the Richard and Judy book club does a great a service to non pretentious fiction writing, by promoting good, intelligent  well written novels which are a generally a pleasure to read.

I get a bit depressed watching people on the tube fiddling vacuously with their bloody smart phones – I WISH they were reading novels. Because I think people forget what a joy it is to be lost in a good novel. I also get frustrated by the weight we give to ‘literary’ fiction. Reading novels – intelligent and well written –  is meant to be a pleasure, not an exercise in self improvement.

Don’t like Kindles. Spend all day looking at a screen – and anyway I like the smell of books.

We’ve noticed that unlike a lot of writers, you don’t have a personal website and have only recently joined Twitter. Is this a deliberate move, or do you feel that all modern writers need an online presence?

Oh god – it’s just because I haven’t got around it … There are so many other things to do. Like writing the books! And painting my children’s bedrooms. But I must I must I must ….

You’ve got a couple of new books lined up, are you ever nervous about their reception? How does it feel to walk into Waterstones and see your work on the shelf?
Melting the Snow on Hester StreetMelting the Snow on Hester Street – historical fiction set in 1920s Hollywood.  Out March 28th — I am pretty confident about this book. The difficulty isn’t getting bad reviews, it’s getting any reviews at all. Novels – unless they’re written by the heavyweights – tend to get ignored by the book pages.  It’s very, very hard to raise awareness for a novel.

I Don't Know Why She Does ItI Don’t Know Why She Bothers (Guilt Free Motherhood for Thoroughly Modern Women) is out June 4th – This book is incredibly provocative and I think I’m going to get letter bombs as a result. Not looking forward to that at all. But there’s so much sentimental, repressive bullshit surrounding modern motherhood – and as a libertarian and a feminist –  there’s a lot of stuff, I think, which badly needs to be said.

And yes – it is wonderful to see the book for sale. Usually though, you wind up feeling neurotic because – either it’s displayed in the wrong place/or it’s impossible to find… etc etc. The best part is when you first get hold of a finished book. Am watching the post daily for first editions of Melting the Snow on Hester Street — due any time now

What are your writing plans for the future?
I have a novel to begin, which needs to be delivered by Christmas. It would be lovely just to concentrate on that …
Thanks Daisy – we both really appreciate you taking the time for us.  Nolan Parker

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Well we’ve got part of this whole publishing thing right…

Candice: I spotted an interesting article about social media and ereaders on the BBC website   the other day.  Funnily enough Phil sent it to me too, if the husband knew we were this much on the same wave length I think he’d be worried!

Anyway, it is supposed be about the prevalence of ereaders, but actually its how the world of books is not coming to an end just because people aren’t buying ‘paper’ books.  Of the authors mentioned at least half of their books have been sold online. It also talks about how social media is getting the word out there, as well as on-line reviews helping to sell.

It also mentions how this is helping new authors, who don’t have to just rely on that small budget campaign when everything is put into publicising the new Dan Brown.

Another interesting point is how men are using ereaders to hide what they are reading.  No more hiding that dodgy chic lit book cover on the train, just load it on to your Kindle and you are off (Phil take note when doing your research)

So, we use social media – tick, we do our own marketing (you are reading it) and we have written a chick lit style book that will appeal to men as well as women that could just be downloaded.

Ah, one thing missing, the whole agent and book contract thingy. 😦

We will take heart in the first author in this article, as we met him last year as Stratford Literary festival., has done rather well.  SJ Watson did spend a lot of time talking about his job in the NHS but it sounds like his book has gone down rather well (Film deal and everything).  Well done to the Literary Festival, look forward to seeing who you have coming this year.

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