Tag: Amazon

The curse of impatience

So, today I am going to talk to you about a curse that affects self-published writers to a great degree. Our profession is by nature very lonely. Unlike actors, dancers, musicians and other art professionals, the writer gets feedback only after the book is out there for all and sundry to see. It should come as no surprise, then, that when we finish something, be it a short story or a novel or anything in the in between, we want to show it to people. That might be an understatement, actually. We want to shout it from the rooftops, not just show it. For weeks, months, in some cases years, we worked hard on that piece. Now it’s time for it to be released out there, no?

Um, no. Now it’s time for professional editing.

Self-published writer: What? You mean I have to wait even more? You can’t be serious.

I’m as serious as a constipated CEO who’s just discovered that you embezzle money from his company. As serious as a wife who got home early and caught her husband with her best friend playing the eight-legged beast on her new sofa. I really can’t get any more serious. You need to have it edited. Professionally.

Self-published writer: Now listen here, I read it like two thousand times and my best friend also read it and—

I don’t care if your entire family, including distant relatives in Alaska and Timbuktu, took turns reading it to the moon while ceremoniously slitting their wrists and chanting. You need an editor.

Self-published writer: But the money they ask for is ridiculous! Have you seen—

Of course I have seen! Shut up and let me show you something.

That, my friend, is the result I got when I took a brief look into Amazon’s releases on SF and Fantasy in the last 90 days. 50.000 books. Your book is probably in there, too. Yes, you read that right. 50.000 books in 90 days.

To make things simple, there are a lot of books out there. There are probably more books out now than at any other time in history, because Amazon got in the publishing business  and they will publish ANYTHING. Even if someone read one book per day (!) for the rest of their lives, and they started at 20 years of age, up until the age of 80 they wouldn’t have read half of those. Which in turn means what?

It means we’re drowning in trashy books. The market is buried under a deluge of amateur, badly written, cheap novels, with atrocious covers and even more atrocious content. It means that people will think twice and thrice before giving their hard-earned money to anyone except safe choices, i.e. writers they already know and trust. In a nutshell, it means you’re f*cked.

Self-published writer: But, but, is there something I can do?

Of course. You can make sure your work is in top-notch condition when you get it out there. You can make sure it is written to the best of your ability and edited and proofread. Oh, and also the art on the book cover is not something you made in like, ten minutes, using a photo from your holidays and a font only you and black metal fans can read.

Self-published writer: But that takes ages! And it costs a lot of money, money I don’t have right now. I’d rather publish it quickly and let people know I exist instead of spending so much money with no guarantee I’ll have sales.

Okay, let me ask you a question. You see a girl or a guy and they are to die for, they are your dream come true. And you get a date with them. On your first date, would you wear your dirty underwear inside out and go there with a weeks’ sweat production wafting off your armpits? Or let’s say you get a job interview you want more than anything. Would you try to nail that job by going there in your pyjamas with your breath stinking of booze?

Self-published writer: Of course not! I wouldn’t stand a chance if I went there in such a state. That first date or interview would be also my last.

Well, it’s the same with your book, or short story, or whatever. There are so many books and writers out there that the chance of someone coming across your work is very, very slim. You need to make sure that if they do come across it, it will be something they remember for the right reasons. Not because it made them cringe. This might be the only chance you’ll get, EVER. Don’t waste it. That same person who came across a bad book or story by you, will never pay money to buy your work. In their minds, you’ll always be that mediocre, or worse, lame writer. There is simply no time for second chances when the next writer is just a click away, and there are 1.859.650 something books available in the Kindle store.

Self-published writer: I think you are exaggerating.

No, I am not. It’s a matter of being serious about your writing career, or not. I recently came across the trilogy of someone who gave $100.000 in advertising to promote her three novels. The idea behind the first was interesting, so I read the Amazon book description.  Her heroine found herself in the royal court, “woefully under prepared”. I mean Jesus wore spandex and watered his plants, “underprepared” is one word. Not two. Google it if you are not sure, it’s not a rare or obscure word. She obviously gave her $100.000 to the wrong company, if someone couldn’t be bothered to read the bloody Amazon book description and fix that mistake! And no, I won’t be buying her books. A writer who can’t spot such an obvious mistake in the description of her own book, has either published a book riddled with mistakes, or has paid someone to ghost-write for her. And I, too, can’t be bothered buying it in either case.

Please don’t be the writer that even the book description of their book has mistakes. I mean, if you are serious about it, pretty please don’t be that writer.

Here is some valuable advice on editing:

https://kjcharleswriter.wordpress.com/2014/12/05/self-editing-tips-development-edits/

https://kjcharleswriter.com/2014/12/12/self-editing-tips-line-edits/

More writing tips by the same author and editor.

Self-editing as well as lots of other information on how to avoid pitfalls.

There is also this software, and it is incredible. Use it. It will really help you.

Good luck! Oh, and by the way, you can get my book of short stories (that had been professionally edited) for next to nothing here and here. 😉

For those who love the naughty bits

The title is self-explanatory. I decided to showcase the different aspects of my writing. This entry features stories with a strong erotic element. They are a small taste of the juicy bits you can nibble on if you buy my book for just 1.99$, you lucky thing! So, without further ado… enjoy. 🙂

From Romance:

“…You took your time, pleasing both of us immensely, treating every bit of flesh with endless respect and attention. There was nothing else for you in those moments, no other woman save for me. It took you ages to remove my stockings but by the time you did, I couldn’t be more relaxed or willing. And then your silent mouth would begin its journey to my feet, your tongue snaking between clean toes with pretty, dark red toenails. I drowned in ecstasy when you did this; your hands supporting my foot and you gently sucking my toes one after the other, kissing my tattooed ankles, working upwards with a slowness that sent electric jolts up my spine and made me insane. By the time your mouth was on my sex, I was pulling and tearing handfuls of your hair without registering it, trembling and moaning with an imminent orgasm.”

From A Man of Good Fortune:

“…He put his face on my breasts and inhaled deeply. He seemed to like my scent, because he took another deep breath. His hands slipped through my hair, pulling out the pins and sticks and letting it loose on my shoulders and back, covering me all the way down to my hips. I had had a bath an hour ago and my hair was still fresh, scented with oils and midnight black. I saw the corners of that rich mouth curve slightly in a sadistic leer, and it was the last thing I saw before he pushed me down on the heap of my own clothes, planning to take me right there and then, to add to my disgrace.”

From Endymion:

“…He tore her orange dress with the same celestial smile, leaving smudges of blood and dirt on her shoulders and breasts. She was so scared of his crazed stare she could not utter a single word, but struggled with all her strength against his attack, her eyes huge with fear. He took hold of both her arms with one of his, locking them behind her back, and continued kissing her and baring her, leaving bloody marks everywhere he touched. She thought she’d go insane. Each touch was defiling her, each touch was making her his twin, and he continued, smiling that heartless, lazy beam of his.”

All excerpts are taken from The Theater of Dusk.

For physical copies of my book please refer here.

Thanks for looking!

(Image taken from here.)

Adele Huxley-Caught by the Blizzard book cover

Caught by the Blizzard

Caught by the Blizzard by Adele Huxley

(2,5 stars out of 5)*

Just a quick review to get this rolling…

When I downloaded the book it was an Amazon freebie. From what I see it’s not free anymore. If you would like to buy it or download a sample, you can find it here.

Caught by the Blizzard is well-written, much better than others of its genre, but can someone please mail the female lead her brain if found somewhere? Just saying. She keeps making wrong choices concerning her personal safety throughout the book. It’s not an exaggeration to say she has a death wish, and it was distracting me, because I often found myself yelling adjectives at a person who doesn’t even exist.

I didn’t care for the sex scenes (in the sense that I found them boring and skipped them) but maybe that’s just me. On the other hand, the romantic element was very pleasant and sweet.

One more sore point was that weird preoccupation with virginity. It is one of those American things that leave me scratching my head. Somehow it’s considered normal to have done just about everything else, but not have vaginal intercourse. To be frank, I find it demeaning and objectifying to place such important on a person’s sexual activity (or lack of). It perpetuates beliefs that should have died in like, the early Dark Ages? But again, if that’s not something you mind, you might not even notice it.

Other than that, Caught by the Blizzard is one of those books that are published in two parts and you have to buy part #2 to read the conclusion. If you are OK with it, you’ll probably enjoy it.

*My star rating and what it means: 

Zero stars: Why me?!?  I do come across books that aren’t really books, but brain damage in disguise. For reasons you can all understand, I won’t be publishing reviews on them. I tend to become enraged and say things I later on regret.

One star: Meh… I didn’t like it and won’t be keeping it. It might be the book, or it might be me. I’ll try to clarify in my review.

Two stars: Average/ Okay. Either the kind of light/ undemanding book you read and don’t remember in a month, or suffering from flaws that prevented it from realising its potential.

Three stars: Better than average. Good moments, memorable characters and/ or plot, maybe good sense of humour… Not to die for, but not feeling like you wasted your time and money either.

Four stars: Wow, that was good! Definitely keeping it and checking to see what else I can buy from the same writer.

Five stars: Oh. My. Goodness. The kind of book you buy as a gift to all your friends, praise to random strangers on the bus, and re-read until the pages fall out and the corners are no longer corners, but round.

Amber Argyle-Witch Song book cover

The Bitch Song

 Witch Song by Amber Argyle

 (2 out of 5 stars)*

Okay, first things first. Witch Song is harmless, predictable YA fun. If you want to invest in it to take your mind off things, do. The writing is decent and the world not unlikable. Please ignore the rest of my review.

Now, for readers that might be looking for a serious plot and plausible character development, be advised:

1) The only way your heroine can have such low self-esteem is if her mother kept her in a burlap sack and beat her with a stick every day. A large, mean stick. Which is not the case, as her mother dotes on her.

2) Why on earth why would a dark witch wreck utter havoc with the seasons and the planet in general? She has nothing to gain out of it, and in the long run, it will be like shooting her own leg.

3) You do realise that in a battle between mortals and witches the witches win every time, or they can just escape, right?

4) Nope, a girl with such low self-esteem does not suddenly develop awesome leadership skills. Witches are not an exception to that.

5) A book can be complete even if there is no romance in it. In fact, wonder of wonders, a book can be complete even if your heroine does not get engaged to anyone at the end, or in any part of it.

6) Deus ex machina must be used sparingly and ideally, not at all. If you write yourself into a corner and can’t think of a way out, squeeze dem brain cells.

7) Oh yes, it is a series. Naturally. Because every single book has to belong to a series nowadays.

8) Personal pet peeve. Why name your main character Brusenna? Because it has such a good ring to it? Let me think of words that begin with “bru”: Brutus, brutal, brouhaha, brunt, bruise, brusque, brute… Melodic no doubt, and all those positive connotations. It was a natural winner. Not.

You can find Witch Song here.

YA books are my bane… Over and out.

*My star rating and what it means: 
 
Zero stars: Why me?!?  I do come across books that aren’t really books, but brain damage in disguise. For reasons you can all understand, I won’t be publishing reviews on them. I tend to become enraged and say things I later on regret.
One star: Meh… I didn’t like it and won’t be keeping it. It might be the book, or it might be me. I’ll try to clarify in my review.
Two stars: Average/ Okay. Either the kind of light/ undemanding book you read and don’t remember in a month, or suffering from flaws that prevented it from realising its potential.
Three stars: Better than average. Good moments, memorable characters and/ or plot, maybe good sense of humour… Not to die for, but not feeling like you wasted your time and money either.
Four stars: Wow, that was good! Definitely keeping it and checking to see what else I can buy from the same writer.
Five stars: Oh. My. Goodness. The kind of book you buy as a gift to all your friends, praise to random strangers on the bus, and re-read until the pages fall out and the corners are no longer corners, but round.

Reviewers needed for my wee monster!

I am desperately looking for reviewers. I am particularly interested in reviewers who can publish on both Goodreads and Amazon. PLEASE be warned, my book contains strong triggers: BDSM, suicide, murder, violence, blood, non-con sex etc. If you have 10+ reviews on Goodreads and you’re interested, please message me for an ebook. In order to confirm your Goodreads account, you will need to message me from Goodreads. If you want a physical book, due to my very tight budget (unemployed at the moment) I can send out one book per month. PLEASE share!

My Goodreads profile:

 

All reviews of my work, positive, neutral or negative, are welcome. Reading a book is a completely personal experience, so an honest review is a blessing. Even a negative review is better than no review. It shows that people read my work and validates the positive reviews. So please contact me if you are interested. Thank you!

Looking for a title

I am looking for a title for my SF Romance novel and brainstorming with my illustrator on a possible cover. Naturally, I decided to browse covers and titles in Amazon. Here are some titles I found.

 
·         Desired By The Alien
·         Seduced By The Alien
·         Stolen By The Alien
·         Bought By The Alien
·         Caressed By The Savage Alien
·         Chosen by the Alien
·         Chosen By The Alien Lord
·         Releasing Rage (Cyborg Sizzle Book 1)
·         Alien Warrior’s Captive Earthling
·         Alien Alpha: (Qetesh Warrior)
·         Rescued By Tordin: Olodian Alien Warrior Romance
·         Alien Warrior (Zerconian Warriors Book 1)
·         Warrior’s Mate: A Sci-Fi Shifter Romance
·         Claimed by the Warrior
·         Barbarian Lover
·         Kidnapped by the Alien Barbarians
·         Alien’s Innocent Bride
·         Alien Commander’s Chosen
 

I can safely say that I am no wiser than I was before (at least concerning a possible title). My illustrator is none the wiser either. Almost every cover had a headless torso with amazing abs superimposed on a scifi background. Astounding abs, those aliens. I want to be abducted by a savage shapeshifter barbarian alien lord commander too, but maybe tomorrow. Tonight I have to wash my hair.

Maniacal laughter and book formatting issues on Amazon

Okay, here is some advice to all writers who publish or want to publish through Amazon.com, and can’t afford to pay a graphic designer for the book interior.

So, let’s say you are about to publish your book through Amazon’s kindle program. First of all, congratulations! It wasn’t an easy ride and believe me, I know it. Here is some advice I discovered through bitter experience, in the hope that you won’t have to go through the same. 

When you upload the book file to the Kindle Converter, download the converted file to your kindle and check it page by page BEFORE publishing it. Why? Because the online reviewer does not spot all issues. I did a very thorough checking of my book interior using the online converter and it seemed decent, so I published it. Yesterday that was the free promotion day I downloaded a copy out of curiosity. As soon as I started flipping through the pages I was horrified. All those pages the online reviewer had shown to be fine, weren’t so fine-looking on my kindle. The name was on one page, the title on another. The word ‘Dedication’ was changing place between the bottom of one page and the beginning of another one. The tabs in some of the stories had moved further inside the text. Those problems had been there all along and yet the online converter showed the text to be okay. Only after reviewing the text on my kindle page by page and re-uploading the corrected draft several times did I manage to get it right. There is nothing I can do about those copies with the wonky interior that have been downloaded already, and to be 100% honest, I am content with the fact there are no grammar mistakes or typos there (or at least I pray there aren’t). I hope readers can live with the fact there are some minor formatting issues, especially since we’re talking about something they downloaded for free. For those who are too picky with such matters, please cut me some slack and buy the paperback. They are no such problems there. 😉 (Nope, this isn’t shameless self-promotion, it’s an attempt to say something funny because I know some people WILL complain about it, so there.)

If you are a writer, here is what to do in order to download the converted interior of your book. After you have uploaded the book interior and it has been converted to kindle format, go to ‘Preview your Book’ section. Go to ‘Downloadable Previewer’ and choose ‘Download Book Preview File’. Then transfer it via USB to your device and read the file there just like you would do with any other ebook. If you spot any formatting mistakes, you need to make corrections to your original book interior file and re-upload it. Then download it and check it again. I’ve lost count of how many times I have done this. Good luck and patience. You’re going to need both.

If you are interested in self-publishing, here are some articles that can help you. They had helped me a lot when I started out. If you want my opinion, don’t feel sorry for money spent on an editor and a decent book cover. It makes a huge difference.

 


  
Mrs. KJ Charles also offers some VERY good and funny advice on writing:


I hope this helps! My (corrected) book is here: 

http://www.amazon.com/Lizbeth-Gabriel/e/B00HVCOFMY

Now that WAS shameless self-promotion. 😀 See the difference?

Some thoughts on Amazon’s free ebooks

I recently checked Amazon’s list of free ebooks to see what’s available. I really enjoy reading, and having an e-reader of any kind means you can carry an infinite number of books with you without the bulk and weight. So I skimmed through the list to see what catches my fancy. Observations follow below.

One: every fourth book had a set of male abs as a cover. Not even a face. Just a set of abs. Pleasant as that may be, it gets old very soon. Usually the book indicated something wild going on, as in ‘cowboy’, ‘shifter’, ‘bad boy’, etc. Lots of strong words too, like ‘possessed’, ‘taking’, ‘owned’ ‘bitten’ etc. Imagine being bitten by a cowboy that shifts into a gorilla and owns you, but he loves you even though he’s a bad boy and dabbles in drug dealing in between riding horses and you. But golly, just one look at those smokin’ hot abs and you’re willing to forgive him everything, from stepping on discarded banana peels to finding his old friends from jail at your doorstep. (I think I skipped all the ab-covered ones. May have downloaded a couple for research purposes. Just to be sure, you know.)

Two: every tenth book had the word ‘billionaire’ in its title. Those ones had no visible abs. No, men of that category wear suits and ties. I mean, if you are a billionaire, abs come with billions just like malaria comes with specific mosquitoes. I wonder for how long bad copies of Fifty Shades of Grey will be floating around. Probably until the time their writers realise that the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy is a one time occurrence and they try to copy the next best seller. I think my next book should be about a billionaire who shifts into a broke guy with a flabby belly every full moon, disgracing the young lady he seduced and now owns. Or even worse, the young lady discovers that the billionaire she has been bitten by and now belongs to, exists only every full moon! In reality he’s an ordinary pizza delivery guy without THOSE ABS and THE BILLIONS and now she’s locked in the basement of an unimportant someone who wears the same pair of socks for a week. She was taken in by the suit, you see. She didn’t know he was (gasp!) a were-billion. (That sounds a lot like vermilion and what I had in mind was werewolf). Oh, the tragedy and human sorrow! Oh, the angst and the deep meaning of this unique literary work! I am going to go and prepare my Nobel acceptance speech immediately.  

Three: the summary of some books is so bad that it makes me wonder what the writer is hoping to achieve. The summary (also called blurb) at the back of the book serves as an advertisement and ‘bait’ to attract buyers. If you can’t describe what your book is about without making mistakes, I am sure the contents won’t be any better. And that discourages people from buying your work. In my case, I won’t download it even if it is free. (But I did download some of the ones with the abs. Now shush. You don’t understand. It is a sacrifice for the sake of knowledge.)

Four: some of the classics can be found on the list. I picked Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, Oscar Wilde and other such old loves of mine, for free. Yep.

Five: there are SO MANY books (and so many writers) out there. There’s just so many of them. The fact I may spend the rest of my life reading and I won’t do more than scratch the surface never ceases to amaze me. It is just wonderful and scary at the same time. 

To be completely honest, one of the reasons I go through that list is to try and discover writers that exist outside my comfort zone. Bearing in mind that most free ebooks I have come across are terrible, this might not be such a good place to look, but hey. I too gave my book for free a few days ago and I honestly hope I am not terrible.

Now, back to editing. On the count of one, two, three: AAAARGHHHH!