Wednesday, September 2, 2015

How to fix your Create Space book description on Amazon.

Okay, you’ve loaded your paperback book’s description to Create Space, but when it appears on Amazon the description is one big lump--a single, hard-to-read paragraph. Yuck. (Note: the ebook description you loaded directly to Amazon probably looks fine. Compare the two.)

I’ve searched all over the Internet for how to fix this problem and found few answers. On their site, Create Space says they allow limited HTML. Great. Except that <br>, <ul> and <li> look like gibberish if you don’t know HTML.

How about a simple solution? <p> opens a paragraph, and </p> closes a paragraph.

Here’s what the paperback description looks like on Amazon:Alien invasion. Robot revolution. Zombie outbreak. All at the same time. World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan--generations of war have killed most of our superheroes, so ordinary people like Special Agent Kyle Kane, Sergeant Starla Singer, and millions of others step forward to defend Earth. With the help of four rogue robots and the last heroes standing, humanity must unite or be destroyed. It’s time to fight. SUPERHEROES ALIENS ROBOTS ZOMBIES is the first in the SARZverse trilogy. Read Book 2: ROBOT REVOLUTION and Book 3: ALIEN INVASION for the complete saga.

Log in to Create Space and add your paragraph breaks:<p>Alien invasion. Robot revolution. Zombie outbreak. All at the same time.</p>
 
<p>World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan--generations of war have killed most of our superheroes, so ordinary people like Special Agent Kyle Kane, Sergeant Starla Singer, and millions of others step forward to defend Earth. With the help of four rogue robots and the last heroes standing, humanity must unite or be destroyed.</p>
 
<p>It’s time to fight.</p>
 
<p>SUPERHEROES ALIENS ROBOTS ZOMBIES is the first in the SARZverse trilogy. Read Book 2: ROBOT REVOLUTION and Book 3: ALIEN INVASION for the complete saga.</p>

And in a week or less, your description on Amazon should look like this:
Alien invasion. Robot revolution. Zombie outbreak. All at the same time.

World War II, Korea, Viet Nam, Iraq, Afghanistan--generations of war have killed most of our superheroes, so ordinary people like Special Agent Kyle Kane, Sergeant Starla Singer, and millions of others step forward to defend Earth. With the help of four rogue robots and the last heroes standing, humanity must unite or be destroyed.

It’s time to fight.
 
SUPERHEROES ALIENS ROBOTS ZOMBIES is the first in the SARZverse trilogy. Read Book 2: ROBOT REVOLUTION and Book 3: ALIEN INVASION for the complete saga.
* * *
I hope this helps all the writers out there who’ve been as frustrated with this as I am. If you have tips to share, please comment.


Sincerely,
Mark

Friday, March 20, 2015

Promoting Your Book with a Goodreads Giveaway


In an effort to learn how to use Goodreads, and to promote my thriller, ONE BULLET, I tried my first giveaway. A quick search online will find you a few dozen popular articles on how to conduct a Goodreads giveaway. However, not many of the articles provide any advice on how to deliver the actual books. But we'll get to that in a moment...

First, let's start with how many copies. Advice from articles as far back as 2012, tells you to give 50 copies or at least 25. This is not financially feasible for many writers, and newer advice says 3 to 5 copies. I decided on 3.

Time period. Again, older articles say to run the giveaway for a month, and get lots of entries. Newer articles advise short giveaways of 5 days, but to run them more frequently. I blocked out a five-day period of Sunday through Thursday.

Promotions. Goodreads makes you a nice little widget. You can copy/paste the widget into your sites and readers have a succinct ad with a button. But the widget would not work in Facebook, which seems a prime place to have such a widget. I settled for placing the widget in my blog and on my author site, and for Facebook I pasted a link to the giveaway on Goodreads.

Geography. A helpful article suggested including the entire world, or at least the countries where English is the main language. Without thinking, I followed this advice and opened the contest to the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. This was stupid on my part, because I didn't consider the shipping costs. I suggest you focus on the country where you sell the most and where it costs you the least to send. Remember, you're dealing with paper books, not ebooks.

Entries. Goodreads states the average giveaway receives 800 entries, and gosh, that sounds pretty good. I saw an initial surge of a few hundred entries on the first day, then a lull, and a surge the last day before the contest ended.  Total was 748 entries, which appears a bit below average. Then I looked at the giveaways and saw books which had 5 or 12 entries, and other books by famous authors that had 3,000 entries. Maybe the average is 800, but there are a lot more obscure authors than famous authors, and I'm in the obscure category, so I was happy with 748.

Costs. Oh boy, this is where you second guess your decision. There isn't much detailed advice on how to do this, so I'll tell you my experience and you can do what you think is best.  First, of my 3 winners, 2 were in Canada and 1 in the UK. What? So 3 of 3 are outside the US? I find that...improbable.

The first step is to decide how to fulfill the winning entries. You can order on Createspace or Amazon and send the book directly to the winners. Or you can have the books sent to you, then sign them and include a nice 'thank you' note, then ship them to the winner. The problem with the second way is that you pay shipping twice, which really jacks up your costs. So don't promise a signed copy unless you have the budget to handle the second method. Sending twice seems wasteful to me, so I decided on the first method.

Anyway, I looked at Amazon and Createspace, and while the shipping costs were fairly close, the price of the book isn't. For instance, on Winner A in Canada, using Createspace, I paid 5.17 USD for the book and 6.99 for shipping, for a total of 12.16.  For Winner B in Canada, using Amazon, I paid 8.27 for the book plus 7.48 for shipping, for total of 15.75.  The weird part is that the total for the book and shipping (on Createspace) to send to the UK winner was 10.05. So it's cheaper to send from the US to the UK than to Canada? Again, what?

The one advantage to Amazon is the ability to tag the book a "gift." This means you can type a personal note thanking the reader and encouraging them to leave a review. The Goodreads email about the contest results specifically asks you not to contact the winners with private messages, so having the Amazon option available is useful.

Total cost for books and shipping = 37.96.

Results. Of the 748 entries, 352 people added my book to their "to read" list. Will they follow through later and sample or buy it? I don't know, and only time will tell. Two of them rated the book, which is nice. I am curious if there will be a rise in sales in the next month, and will I get a few more reviews.

Similar to most types of promotions, it's hard to draw a solid line from the promotion to a sale. Rather, you're left with the vague idea that you've somehow made more people aware of your book's existence, and that is good. I'd like to have enough sales to at least pay for the shipping costs and break even, but we'll see.

Are these giveaways a good idea? I don't know. Since I don't have 700 followers on Twitter, or 700 friends on Facebook, reaching 700 new people sounds helpful. And it reached people on Goodreads, who actually read books, so that's nice. Perhaps what this article can do is give you some idea of the costs BEFORE you stage a giveaway, and help you consider what you might do differently and better. As one indie writer to another, I wish you luck.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Giving aways copies of One Bullet over at Goodreads -- enter for free and win!

Goodreads Book Giveaway

One Bullet by Mark Boss

One Bullet

by Mark Boss

Giveaway ends March 19, 2015.

See the giveaway details at Goodreads.

Enter to win

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The New Cold War

In the New Cold War, everyone is invited.

A few weeks ago, a buddy told me about a site that shows hack attacks across a world map.  (Please see map.ipviking.com)  Now the Norse Corporation that sponsors the site probably feels that the scary map is good advertising for their security products, and I’m sure it is.  The map portrays the country where an attack originates, the country that is its target, and the type of attack.  There is also a helpful stock ticker of attacks as they take place.  Frightening, interesting stuff.

I also began reading Fatal System Error: The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down the Internet by Joseph Menn.  The book was published in 2010, so it’s a bit out of date, but it does a fine job of making the reader realize just how widespread and sophisticated cyber attacks are now.

Friday, September 26, 2014

Does Dark Matter Exist?


Dark Matter is one of those things you hear about, but you’re not quite sure what it is.  Supposedly, there is a bunch of this stuff that we can’t see, but somehow it makes up most of the universe--more stuff than the stars and the planets combined can account for.  For folks of a certain age, Dark Matter wasn’t taught in school because no one had proved its existence.