Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Countdowns And Advertising

One of the things that I like about being in Amazon Select and Kindle Unlimited will surprise you.

It’s the Countdown Deals.

If you’re unfamiliar with the Kindle Countdown Deals, you can price your book free for five days, and you can run a discount sale for up to a week.

I have two discount deals coming up in August, and I’m excited about them! As a matter of fact, I may run at least one more during August…I haven’t made up my mind on that one yet.

Yep, two of my titles will be available on sale during August for sure, however: If YouCould Read My Mind – A Nicholas Turner Novel is one. It will be 99 cents from August 17th through August 23rd. If you haven’t read my first novel, that would be the time to buy a copy. I consider this book a “prequel” to the Justice Security series, and, since I know what’s coming in the Justice Security universe, I strongly recommend that you read this one as a “refresher”.

The other title that will be on a Countdown Deal is Empty Eyes. I’ve blogged here before that this was supposed to be the novel that launched my pen name, because it isn’t based on a song. It’s a fast-moving, apocalyptic Sci-Fi tale about some genetically engineered mutants killing off humanity. It will be 99 cents from August 11th through August 16th. It was originally going to be a standalone novel, but my mind has been working on…well, never mind.

Those are the two Countdown Deals for August…at least, for right now.

Now, I want to talk about email book subscriber services. You know, those emails that you sign up for that send you notices about great deals on eBooks at the various eBook retailers. You know some of the names, like Bookbub, Ereader News Today, Fussy Librarian…did you know that authors and publishers pay to have their books listed in those emails? Yep…best kind of advertising around!

Now, Bookbub is great, and is by far the biggest…but, it’s VERY expensive for the average author, and chances are slim that your book would be chosen, anyway. I’ve never tried to advertise with Bookbub. I’d love to, but I just can’t afford it.

A great advertising source, for me, anyway, is Ereader News Today, or ENT. I’ve run several ads with them, and have had great results! For my limited budget, they’ve been really good to me, and I highly recommend them.

However, I’m trying a new up-and-comer with these two countdown deals: Robin Reads. Many authors have had good success with them, and I’m going to try them out…along with reminders for you on Facebook and Twitter. I recommend that you sign up for their daily email, and watch for my two titles in August!

I’ll try to make this a two-column week, and post another entry later this week. Until then, please pick up a book and…

Keep reading!

T. M. Bilderback (But you can call me Michael)

Visit my website: www.tmbilderback.com

Follow me on Twitter:  @mrtmbilderback

Check me out on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/TMBilderback

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Authors United Strikes Again!

Authors United is up to more nonsense…makes for a great way to start a blog, doesn’t it?

Doug Preston and his cohorts have apparently written another letter to the Attorney General, or somebody in government. Again, they’re whining about the terrible Amazon threat against their million$ paid to them by big publishing...blah, blah, blah. Joe Konrath has taken them on, and he has done it much better than I could ever dream.

But, guess what?

I’m not going to talk about that. I just wanted you to look!

I think the term you're looking for is...click-bait. LOL

No, this entry is going to be about this long, draining summer.

I’ve said that I’ve gotten three new short stories written, and I have. Eli’s Coming is a light twisty story about a demon that feeds on heartache, and Heart Of Glass is the follow-up story to The Lion Sleeps Tonight, featuring Colonel Quentin James Abernathy. This tale is about his World War 2 adventure in North Africa, and the unusual wedding dowry he is given when he asks to marry the woman of his dreams. The third short story is going to remain nameless, because it was written for my pen name. It will appear this year, but I can’t tell you any more about it without blowing my pen name...

I’ve written a bit on I’m Your Boogie Man – A Tale Of Sardis County, and I’ve gotten some writing done on the debut novel for my new pen name.

And that’s all I’ve gotten done.

It’s been tough this summer. The heat in Tennessee has taken a huge toll – it’s been as humid as the stinking tropics here – and some family issues have worried me to the point of distraction…so distracted that I’m glad I’ve written as much as I have.

Also, some negativity from a certain online discussion board(s) and a private chat group have also led to distraction.

However, the family situation is resolved for now, and there was a slight break in the heat today. I’ve avoided posting at the discussion board, and most other places as well. I don’t really feel that I need to participate in those areas. I’m quite capable of speaking with YOU through this blog, or my Facebook page, or on Twitter, or through the “contact me” part of my website. I enjoy hearing from fans.

Having said that, I now say this:

I gotta get some writin’ done!

Yep, I’ve dillied and dallied long enough. I have a minimum of two novels to finish before the end of the year. I have more that I need to write in the Justice Security series, and in the Sardis County series. I have a total of six novels to write for my pen name series. All of this needs to be done within the next couple of years.

I better get busy, hadn’t I?

All this, just so you can…

Keep reading!

T. M. Bilderback (But you can call me Michael)

Visit my website: www.tmbilderback.com

Follow me on Twitter:  @mrtmbilderback

Check me out on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/TMBilderback

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Why Must A Business Choice Be Demonized?

I’ve been watching with some fascination how quickly opinions can turn against popular authors that display a different way of thinking.

It’s shameful, really.

There’s a popular discussion board that I used to read and engage with. I won’t name the board, but I’m sure that most authors and a lot of readers will be able to guess its name.

When Amazon introduced the changes to Kindle Unlimited, I was against it at first. My reasoning was that nothing Amazon could do would make KU palatable for me. I’ve already blogged about what led me to my business decision, and why I’ve put all of my work again exclusive to Amazon.

But, there’s the other camp.

I’m talking about the camp that totally shifted their writing plans to the point that short stories were all that they wrote. They counted on Kindle Unlimited’s first setup of paying out $1.33 or more for any borrow, no matter the length. They based their business, and earnings, on a system of borrows rather than a system of sales.

Now, since Amazon has changed the game with a pay-per-page payout, which nobody should find unfair, they’re crying the blues because they can’t get more for a borrow than the sale price of the short story itself!

I write both short stories and novels. The last short story that I have published was in June of 2014, a full month before Amazon started Kindle Unlimited, so there’s no way anyone can say that my short stories were intended to “game the system”. As a matter of fact, I only had any of my work in KU for only one three month period during what is now called KU1. I didn’t like the payout – I got more for a short story than I felt that I deserved, and I didn’t earn enough for my novels. I pulled out, and went wide.

For any of my work, short or long, I would rather sell a copy than have someone borrow it. But, if they can’t afford to buy it, I still want the reader to have access to it…and if a lending library like KU is the way to get that story to readers, that’s great! The per-page payout now is a nice, fair bonus…and those that want to buy the story can still do so!

Hugh Howey made some comments about how much fairer this new system is to every author, and I agreed with him. He also made some comments about some authors “flapping their wings” in panic over the changes. He was harshly and unfairly criticized for suggesting that it might be a bit early for a panic over pages read. He also commented that authors that write long stories would now be much more fairly treated in KU2, and that short writers might consider writing longer works. I agreed with this as well.

You know why I agreed?

I write both. And a page read is a page read. If someone reads one of my short stories in KU, I love it. If they read one of my novels, I love that, too. I’m recompensed no matter which one of my stories, novels, or boxed sets get read. I get the same amount per page no matter what!

I’m upset over people being so vehement and intolerant of other authors’ business choices. It seems as if all the people that have opted out of KU2 have chosen to shout down those that have chosen to go in.

Remember that discussion board that I mentioned? I’ve stopped actively posting there. I still lurk, and read comments, but I don’t think I need the negativity.

Another private group that I participated in suddenly tried to bring in negative comments about Hugh Howey, and KU2 in general. I “unjoined” that community.

I’ve had enough, quite frankly. Choose to participate in Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited, or choose not to participate. YOUR decision is yours alone. I have no say-so in where your work is distributed, nor do I want a say-so. It’s your business, and your books…not mine.

By the same token, I demand that you respect my choices. I’m doing what I feel is best for my business, and my books.

And it’s time for a little mutual respect for other authors and their choices…without being insulting.

You, as an author, are always welcome to disagree with me, and I may disagree with you. But there’s no reason that disagreement must make a villain out of either of us.

As for you fans, please…

Keep reading!

T. M. Bilderback (But you can call me Michael)

Visit my website: www.tmbilderback.com

Follow me on Twitter:  @mrtmbilderback

Check me out on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/TMBilderback

Saturday, July 11, 2015

Setting Writing Goals

I have a couple of old friends that are writing novels.

Now, that really isn’t surprising in itself. Lots of people are writing now, and are achieving personal goals as they do it.

I commented on my personal Facebook page that I had finished the short story, Eli’s Coming, and that I was going to leave it alone for about a week before I go back and edit it. I also said in my comment that I was now working more on I’m Your Boogie Man – A Tale Of Sardis County. One of my old friends asked if I was writing full time now, and I commented that I was still working at the local community college, and that my wife is still teaching art for grades 3-8.

My friend said, “I wish I had half your focus and drive. I've been writing one book for years and it's still only 30,000 words.

I offered him the same advice that I’ve been spouting: “…you have to set yourself a daily goal of words written. Start low - maybe 500 per day. But do it EVERY day. As you start meeting your goal, you'll find that it's getting easier and easier. I'm most comfortable with 2,000 words per day. Barring plot problems or writer's block, that gives me the opportunity of a 40,000 - 50,000-word novel per month. I obviously don't put out that much...LOL - but I will have two more novels out this year. I'm Your Boogie Man and another novel under my pen name, plus a pen name short story and two short stories under my own name: Heart Of Glass and Eli's Coming. I always have projects going, and when I get stuck on one, I'll change to another for a while.

My friend commented that his brain is usually so fried from his full time job, that he doesn’t have enough in him when he gets home to write a sentence, much less a goal of a certain amount of words.

I appreciated the compliment about focus and drive…but that’s not what makes me keep writing.

It isn’t about writing full time, either, although I wish I was able to do that.

It’s about getting these ideas out of my head.

It’s the curse of an overactive imagination.

I have story idea after story idea, and I can’t seem to get them written fast enough. Sometimes, the ideas overwhelm me, and I have to take a writing break…a little time to put the loose screws back in the imagination filter, so that I can focus on one or two stories at a time. If I didn’t do that, I’d never get anything written.

So, yes, I could have a dozen novels written each year…but I don’t. I can’t keep the filter fastened down long enough to keep pumping like that. By the end of this year, I will have published five novels (one under a pen name) and three short stories…and my short stories are often short only because that’s what the story dictates.

Could I have written more?

Of course! But the filter keeps jostling loose, and I have to get out the old screwdriver, and…well, you get the idea.

Another thing that I suggest is: if you want to be a writer, in addition to setting yourself writing goals, you gotta want to be a writer bad enough. And, I mean you gotta want it really bad!

If you want it really bad, you’ll find a way to make your writing goals. You’ll find a way to write something each day.

And, before you know it, you’ll have that novel finished. Or that short story. Or that blog post.

And you’ll do it happily, because you’ll be giving happiness to your fans, who, hopefully, will…

Keep reading!

T. M. Bilderback (But you can call me Michael)

Visit my website: www.tmbilderback.com

Follow me on Twitter:  @mrtmbilderback

Check me out on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/TMBilderback

Sunday, July 5, 2015

My Thoughts On The New Kindle Unlimited Changes

Let’s see…what can I talk about this time?

How about…the new and improved Kindle Unlimited?

If you haven’t heard, Amazon has changed its method of payment for authors that are in Kindle Unlimited. Instead of a flat rate all across the board, they’re now paying by page read.

Initially, I had dismissed this as flummery, to steal a word from Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe. But, I began thinking about it.

With the original setup of a flat fee for a “borrow”, I avoided joining for a couple of months. When I did join Select, and Amazon lowered the fee paid to KU members to around $1.33, I discovered that I was losing money big time by leaving my novels in the program, and I felt guilty about earning more for a short story than if I had sold a copy. I pulled everything out of KU, and swore that I wouldn’t return.

Now, with a “pay-per-page” rate that makes all things equal between my short stories and my novels, I’m going “all-in” again.

Being in Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Select means that I have to keep my regular eBooks exclusive to Amazon. My translations into other languages can be everywhere – they aren’t exclusive. Print editions and audiobooks (remind me one day to say what I think about audiobooks) are not exclusive, either.

But, you, the reader, can get around that. Here’s how:

If you own an Apple iPad or iPhone, or if you own a Samsung tablet or phone, or any of the many brands other than an outright Kindle reader or tablet, there’s an app you can download for Amazon’s Kindle. You probably won’t be able to buy a book through the app – you’ll have to use your Internet browser and go to the full site for that – but you can sure read books purchased through Amazon on that app.

And, presto, you’ve got a workaround for an Amazon-exclusive story. Nothing to it.

Now, back to my thinking about how this might be a better deal for me, as an author.

There are certain college libraries that have my print books on the shelves. Now, when they purchased those print books, of course I received a royalty on each of those titles…plus the knowledge that my fiction is on library shelves. That royalty on those print editions is all I will ever be paid for those copies, no matter how many people read those copies.

But, if you look at Kindle Unlimited as a “lending library” in which the subscriber pays a monthly fee and “borrows” however many stories he/she can read each month, and you realize that you get paid for each page of that borrow that the reader reads, the potential income for an author for a story that isn’t purchased outright is substantial.

Granted, there are authors that were making a killing on “borrows” in Kindle Unlimited under the old plan. And it’s highly unfair of Amazon to give higher visibility to books that are part of Kindle Unlimited and Select instead of using a strict sales measurement. Exclusivity is also a pain in the arse, but, with the workarounds, a reader can still obtain books from Amazon, even using another device.

I know, I know – these are things that the average reader doesn’t see, and it isn’t anything the average reader cares about. But, on certain message boards and comments on certain author blogs have been running hot, with personal attacks against those in favor of the changes, when it’s totally a business decision for each author! Fellow author Hugh Howey has borne the brunt of these attacks, and I feel for him.

That is a result of allowing emotions to dictate your business decisions.

My stories, at least for 90 days, will be in Kindle Unlimited and Amazon-exclusive. I hope my readers will follow.

I’ll see you there, as you…

Keep reading!

T. M. Bilderback (But you can call me Michael)

Visit my website: www.tmbilderback.com

Follow me on Twitter:  @mrtmbilderback

Check me out on Facebook:  http://www.facebook.com/TMBilderback