Monday, 21 July 2014

Kindle Unlimited



On Friday, Amazon launched a new subscription-based service for ebooks called Kindle Unlimited. Subscribers to the program can read as many books as they can from a pool of over 600,000 titles, for just $9.99 a month. This sounds like a pretty sweet deal for readers, especially those that tend to make their way through several books in any given month.

So how exactly do self-published authors get their books into this program, and how do those authors get compensated? Well, to understand how, we first need to understand how KDP Select works, since that is the only way to get your books into the program.

KDP Select was introduced in December 2011, and it gave self-published authors the ability to set their books free for a total of 5 days within a three-month exclusivity period, during which said books could not be listed for sale outside Amazon. At the time, it was considered a powerful promotional tool, granting those books that took advantage of it some much needed visibility.

In addition to these free promotions, those books that were a part of the program were also included in the Kindle Owners Lending Library, which allowed Amazon Prime members to borrow one book a month, completely free of charge. Authors were compensated for each borrow by earning a share of a global fund that was to be raised by Amazon on a monthly basis. Over the years, this has averaged about $2 a borrow.

Compensation for books borrowed under Kindle Unlimited would be calculated using the same system, with one important difference: the reader would need to read at least 10% of the book before the author earns his or her share of the fund. This is a requirement that is similar to that put in place by other ebook subscription-based services like Scribd and Oyster.

All that said, the big question is this: is the introduction of Kindle Unlimited enough reason to embrace KDP Select? Sadly, there is no definite answer to that question. It is something that must be assessed on a book-by-book basis. The good news though, for those already enrolled in KDP Select at least, is that your books have automatically been included in that pool of 600,000 titles.

I have a total of five books presently enrolled in KDP Select, none of which had been doing particularly well before now, so it would be interesting to see how their inclusion in Kindle Unlimited would affect their visibility and ranking. It is still too early to tell for now, but I'll be keeping a close eye on them from now on.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

IWSG: Tough Times



It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities with fellow members and the world. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, one of the coolest bloggers on this side of the blogosphere. For those interested in joining the group, you can visit www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com for more information.

As much as I don't like putting up these "I haven't been writing because" posts, I'm afraid my insecurity for the new month comes down to that very fact. This past month has been one of the toughest I've faced in a long time. There is so much going on (and not going on) in my life right now that I feel I could spend an entire weeks-worth of posts just trying to explain it all.

But if I was to distill how I have been feeling into one word, it would be this one: exhausted. Things have been so hectic that the very thought of getting any significant writing done seems almost ridiculous. If ever there was a time I needed a break from all those things getting in the way, then now is the time.

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

IWSG: Thanks!



It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities with fellow members and the world. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, one of the coolest bloggers on this side of the blogosphere. For those interested in joining the group, you can visit www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com for more information.

I almost completely forgot today was the first Wednesday of the month, which is why I am putting this post up several hours later than I normally would. Last month, I whined about wanting to make significant changes to a plot that already seemed set in stone. Since then, I have taken most of the advice I received to heart.

I am pleased to announce that the plot has started developing more naturally, now that I've loosened the reins a bit. So I'd like to use today's post to thank all those that helped nudge me in the right direction. I guess I knew what needed to be done, but I just needed to hear it from someone else. So thanks guys, for providing this writer with some much-needed support. Now, off I go to pay it forward.

Friday, 23 May 2014

NoiseTrade Books



First off, a big thank you goes out to my friend and fellow blogger, David Gaughran, who blogged about this the other day. If you are a self-published writer like myself, and don't already follow his blog, then you should seriously consider doing so. Like right now. Don't worry. I'll wait.

Back so soon? Good. On with the post then.

So what is this NoiseTrade Books I sound so excited about? Well, according to their FAQ section, it is a platform designed to help authors & publishers build their audiences by distributing free eBooks & audiobooks in exchange for reader data (email & postal code). It provides an intuitive way for writers to connect with readers outside of the more traditional channels like social media.

Here's how it works. As a writer, you sign up and upload any book you'd like to give away for free. This can be a full-length book, or some sample chapters from a full-length book. You can also specify a suggested tip amount, which the reader can elect to pay before downloading your book. As a reader, the only thing you are required to give in exchange for the free book is your email address and zip code, which is a fair trade if you ask me.

NoiseTrade has been around since 2008, but it only dealt with free music until early 2014, when the books portal was launched. At present, there are books on offer from several big name writers like Dean Koontz and Hugh Howey. And as of yesterday morning, my book, The Journey (Guardians, #1), was added to that growing number of free books. So don't hesitate to download. Heck. I'll even make it easy for you:




Wednesday, 7 May 2014

IWSG: Going with the Flow



It's the first Wednesday of the month, and time for members of the Insecure Writer's Support Group to share their writerly insecurities with fellow members. The group was started by Alex J. Cavanaugh, and you can visit www.insecurewriterssupportgroup.com for more information.

Last month, I took part in the 2014 Blogging from A to Z challenge, and as a result, I was unable to post as part of the group. But if I had been able to squeeze the time between work and the Challenge, I am sure my post would have gone along the same lines with what I have shared in past months, which is that I am not writing nearly as much as I should be.

So, not to risk sounding like a broken record, I'd rather spend the remainder of this post focusing on something else entirely. And that thing is knowing when to throw in the towel. As writers, it is never easy accepting any kind of defeat. It could be something as simple as having to rewrite a scene, or something more substantial, like having to bring down the axe on a story that just isn't working.

For years now, I've been working on a particular story that has undergone more changes than Michael Jackson's nose. The present form of the story bears little resemblance to the one I originally set out to write. And I feel that the fact that I am still trying to marry these two disparate stories into one is seriously holding it back. It's high time I let loose and just allow the story go where it wants to go, rather than where I think it needs to be by the end of everything.

I guess my problem boils down to the fact that I tend to get quite rigid with my outlines. I've never been a pantsers. I prefer the structure that a well-thought-out outline brings to a story. But the very best ideas are the ones that hit you out of nowhere, while you're sitting in front of the computer and typing away. So I guess what I am trying to say is that I need to learn how to go with the flow by tapping into such bursts of inspiration more often.

What about you? Are you a pantsers or a plotter, or perhaps somewhere in between?

Monday, 5 May 2014

Reflections on the 2014 A-Z Challenge



Hey, fellow 2014 Blogging from A to Z participants. It looks like we've made it to the end of yet another one. I've just earned my third straight survivor's badge (woo hoo), which I promise to wear proudly. And as has become customary after every Challenge, participants are expected to write a reflections posts, where they get to sound off about their experiences.

For those of you who missed it, my theme for this year was video game franchises. My decision to participate was made at the very last minute, so as you can imagine, I never did get to write any of my posts beforehand. What I did get to do though was delve deep into memories from my childhood, revisiting some of the video games that have helped shape me into the person that I am today.

Unfortunately, unlike previous years, I was unable to visit as many blogs as I would have loved to. I barely got enough free time from work to write and put each day's post up. To make matters worse, I also experienced an issue with my custom domain. As a result, my blog was inaccessible for the better part of the Challenge. I've since then sorted out said issue, and my special thanks go out to J. Lenni Dorner for going the extra mile to bring it to my attention.

My thanks also go out to the various A to Z Challenge co-hosts, and of course to all those who visited my blog or left me a comment. Even those who weren't all that into video games. Our little interactions were what made pushing through the Challenge worthwhile.

Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Z is for Zuma



Developer: PopCap Games
Notable Releases: Zuma, Zuma Deluxe, Zuma's Revenge

We've reached the end of another Blogging from A to Z challenge. Over the course of the past 26 days or so, I have been blogging my way through the alphabet, along with more than a thousand other participants. My theme for 2014 has been video game franchises.

Since I started the challenge with a casual game series, I think it is only fitting that I end it on a similar note. And as far as casual games go, things don't really get any more so than with Zuma, a tile-matching puzzle game developed by PopCap Games.

Originally released in 2003, the game involved controlling a frog idol mounted on a spinning disc, who could spit out colored balls. Each level featured a different path into which a string of balls were constantly fed by an off-stage conveyor belt. The objective was to eliminate all the balls, by chaining together three or more balls of the same color, before the balls reached the skull at the end of path.

Zuma's simple but fast-paced gameplay would eventually propel it to win the 2004 Game of the Year award from RealArcade. An enhanced version, known as Zuma Deluxe, was released shortly thereafter. But the game didn't receive a proper sequel until 2009, when Zuma's Revenge was released. It retained the previous games' core mechanic, but introduced a bunch of new power ups and boss battles.

In 2010, PopCap released Zuma Blitz on Facebook, the only version of the game to feature competitive and cooperative multiplayer.