Tag Archives: Write a book

Self-Publishing 2016: Amazon Cracks Down On Scammers

Self-Publishing 2016: Amazon Cracks Down On Scammers

One of the big events in 2016 was that Amazon started cracking down on scammers. Of course, this was long overdue. Writers’ message boards were full of writers horrified by the shenanigans of some of the scam-artists.

Examples…

Self-publishing’s challenges: Amazon targeted by scams

Revealed: How one Amazon Kindle scam made millions of dollars reported:

MILLIONS IN MONTHS

There are a lot of four-letter words to describe Shershnyov. One springs to mind: “rich”.

On a small scale, each ebook can generate anything from a few cents to hundreds of dollars over the course of its life span — until Amazon figures out that the book is a fraud. Fraudulent books get pulled offline quickly but often reappear under a different title, cover, and author’s name.

How Amazon Kindle Unlimited Scammers Wring Big Money From Phony Books reported on the infamous Kindle Unlimited scam:

In other words: if a scam author publishes a book filled with nonsense (maybe a mishmash of a few thousand randomly picked pages from public domain websites), but then includes a link at the front that takes a Kindle Unlimited reader to the last page, Amazon will register that as if the user has “read” the entire book and pay the author for thousands of pages of reading that never took place.

In October, I gave authors ideas on how to get sales if their numbers were down, because some innocent authors seemed to be getting caught in algorithms targeting scammers:

Over the past couple of months, reports from some indie authors indicate slashed earnings at Amazon. Their Kindle Unlimited (KU) “pages read” counts are down, and ebook sales seem to be affected too.

What’s happening? The problem could be as simple as a software glitch in sales reporting. For more on this, there’s a very long thread on KBoards.

Challenges for authors: Amazon cracked down on reviews, too

Reviews are of course essential for authors. Since reviews are an easy way to game Amazon, Amazon cracked down on them too, as Looking Back at 2016: Important Publishing Developments Authors Should Know reports:

Most notably and most discussed among authors: It is not okay to post a reader review if you are, according to Amazon, “a relative, close friend, business associate, or employee” of the author. Interpretation of this policy, as you can imagine, drives considerable debate.

Finally, to post a review, customers need to have spent at least $50 on Amazon. Yes, this is official Amazon policy. This helps prevent fake reviews from people who never shop at Amazon and may receive payment to leave reviews.

What if you’re affected by an algorithm which targets scammers?

Innocent authors do occasionally get caught when Amazon whirls the dials on its algorithms. According to several unfortunate authors on message boards, their Amazon accounts were cancelled. Although this was worrying for the authors, when contacted Amazon investigated, and reinstated their accounts.

So if you wake up one day and find that you’re in a mess because your Amazon account is closed, or you get nasty notes from Amazon about one of your books, don’t panic. Contact Amazon and explain your situation. Chances are you were caught by an algorithm, and Amazon will rectify the situation.

What if you’re gaming Amazon “harmlessly”?

In Ebook Self-publishing: Your Share of a $1 Billion Industry, I suggested:

What do I mean by “trickery”? Basically, anything which is against Amazon’s Terms of Service, even if it feels as if it’s harmless. There are a mile of ebook author groups set up solely to promote each other’s work. Chances are that you won’t get caught if you’re playing these kinds of games.

However, remember Amazon’s algorithm… you can get caught even if you’re completely innocent. If that happens, you have recourse. You can ask Amazon to reconsider, and they’ll get a human to examine your self-publishing account, which will be reinstated. On the other hand, if you’re guilty, your self-publishing business is dead.

Amazon cracking down is a GOOD thing

Scammers have targeted self-publishing since Amazon opened the Kindle Store. Most scams are low-level. Authors are aware of them, as is Amazon. Once these scams start getting out of hand (as with the erotica situation a few years ago), and the more recent, bigger scams, Amazon acts.

This is a good thing. Readers are happier, and authors receive the income they should, rather than seeing that income siphoned off by scammers.

Happy self-publishing in 2017. 🙂

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Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

$5.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 3
Genre: Writing
How To Write Novels And Short Stories Readers Love: You're about to discover the easiest, fastest, and most fun plotting method ever. You can use it for all your fiction, whether you're writing short stories, novellas or novels. Take control of your fiction now, and publish more, more easily. More info →
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Craft Fictional Characters For NaNoWriMo: 3 Tips

Craft Fictional Characters For NaNoWriMo: 3 Tips

Ready for NaNoWriMo? With just over a week to go, I hope that your preparation is proceeding steadily. One of the biggest challenges in writing a book in a month is creating appealing fictional characters. Since your characters create your plot, it’s worth thinking about your characters: primary characters as well as secondary.

To get a handle on your characters, start with the basics.

Vital: your fictional character’s basics: name, age, profession and primary attribute

I know some authors like to create page upon page of character bios, and that’s fine — although it’s never worked for me. I like to start with the basics, a fictional character’s name, his age, his profession, and his primary attribute.

Let’s say that we’re writing a cozy mystery, and we want to create a quirky sleuth. Without bending our brain, we decide on:

  • Name: Mara Mason, age 26
  • Profession: widow, who works from home, as a visual assistant;
  • Primary attribute: intense curiosity.

These kinds of mini character bios take less than a minute to set up, and they give us a head start on our plot. Since her primary attribute is curiosity, we know that we need to show Mara’s curiosity several times in the Setup of our novel’s structure (the first few chapters.) We also know that her curiosity will create problems for Mara in the lead up to our novel’s climax — the final three chapters.

Once you’ve created several of these itty bitty bios for the main players in your novel, your plot starts to take shape. Your task now is to challenge your characters, so they reveal themselves, and kick along the plot.

Let’s look at three tips which will help.

1. Give a character the skill he needs: show how he acquired his skills

As you build your characters and your plot keep watching for things you need to foreshadow, and plant. By the time we’ve created another three or four characters for our cozy mystery for example, we’ve decided on the crime which Mara will investigate: it’s the murder of a prominent man in town. We also know that Mara will break into the house of the victim, and into the home of his mistress too. Mara believes that the police have arrested the wrong man.

House-breaking isn’t a common skill. We need to show how Mara acquired that skill, before she needs it. So we’ll set that up in an early chapter.

2. Show your hero’s dark side: everyone has a shadow

Are you a new author? New authors, and some established authors too, tend to create impossibly perfect main characters. No one is perfect. Give your characters faults. Not little faults, either. No one cares if your heroine is chronically late.

You need to create a major fault for each of your main characters if you want readers to remember the character. Consider Lizzie Bennet, in Pride and Prejudice. She falls for Wickham’s tale, and reads too much into the character of Mr Darcy from her cursory observations of him. Everyone loves Lizzie of course, so her prejudice — judging Darcy on little information — is forgiven and understood.

With our cozy mystery, we could turn Mara’s “curiosity” attribute into a major fault. Everyone has a shadow side, so perhaps Mara’s curiosity could be so strong that it’s almost pathological. The murderer recognizes this, and creates a trap for her.

You can turn almost any attribute into a flaw; just focus on the shadow side of the attribute.

Focusing on the shadow sides of your characters will help you to build your plot too, painlessly.

3. Get to know your character: write his journal

Building characters by playing around with descriptions, character attributes and flaws rarely makes your characters real to you. They’re paper dolls.

To make a character REAL to you, write a character’s journal, in the voice of that character. Writing character journals will not only make your characters much more real to you, it will grow your plot, too.

One point… be aware that you’re doing NaNoWriMo prep. 🙂 You can’t start writing your novel until November 1. I always find that when I’m writing character journals, it’s inspiring, and I want to work on my novel.

When you’ve got great fictional characters, you’ve got a readable novel

Readers read to experience. They want to meet interesting people, with whom they can identify, or not. When you follow our three tips, you’ll create characters readers will enjoy.

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Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →

Self-Publishing: 3 Easy Tips To Write a Book AND Publish It Fast

Self-Publishing: 3 Easy Tips To Write a Book AND Publish It Fast

How long does it take to write a book and publish it? If you asked that question a few years ago, the answer would have been two years, or longer. Nowadays, you could conceivably write and self-publish a book within 24 hours.

Write a book, and publish it yourself

Publishing isn’t a race, but self-publishing has come a long way. One author, Brenna Aubrey, recently turned down a six-figure, three-book deal from a New York print publishing house. She decided to self-publish. Why? Because not only does self-publishing give her control over her books, she’ll make more money.

She says that the non-compete clause was a major factor in her decision to self-publish:

For those not up on the lingo of publishing. A non-complete clause prevents an author from publishing with another house or even self-publishing while under contract with the house in question in the same genre or under the same name.

When you self-publish you’re free of restrictions.

However, before you concern yourself with any form of publishing, you have to write your book.

Many authors, whether they’re new, or are already established, stumble through the writing and publishing processes. It takes them much longer to publish than it could, because they haven’t mapped out a process.

Let’s look at a simple three-step process anyone can use.

1. Describe Your Audience, and Write a Brief Description of Your Book

Your first step is to describe your audience: your readers. You need to know your readers, whether you’re writing fiction, or nonfiction.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What magazines does my ideal reader read?
  • What TV shows does he/ she love?
  • Does he/ she have children?

You may be wildly off when you describe your ideal reader. You may be thinking of someone who reads Reader’s Digest, listens to NPR, and has three children. After your book’s published, you discover your typical reader is a 16 year old male. It doesn’t matter.

Next, describe your book, in a paragraph – five sentences or less. Your short description keeps you on track while you’re writing. Your book description tells you where you’re headed with your book.

2. Outlining: Take Time to Plan, it Makes Writing Fast and Easy

Hate outlining? That’s fine. Create a mind map, or a simple list of what your book will contain. If you’re writing a novel, list ten scenes: the opening and closing scene, and eight others.

Writers often complain that they can’t outline. They think in terms of high school outlines. Your book outline isn’t anything like an outline you created in school. It’s just a tool to kickstart your thinking.

Go to Amazon, and look at the tables of contents of books which are similar to yours. If you’re writing a novel, count the chapters of similar novels on Amazon.

Your book description tells you where you’re going. Your outline is the tentative route which will take you there. I’ve been writing books for many years: outlines help. Look on your outline as a guarantee that you’ll complete your book.

Your completed book will be nothing like your outline. Feel free to change it at will.

Outline done? Start writing. Create a schedule, and stick to it.

3. Create Your Ebook’s Cover, Write the Meta Data, and hit Publish

You book may take just a week to complete, or it may take months. Either way, now’s the time to create an “ecover”, an Amazon catalog and cover image. Amazon has a useful Cover Creator, with gallery images, or you can use your own image.

Write the meta data for your book: its description and keywords. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing Help system gives you information on how to do this.

Once you’ve completed your book, and have revised it, you’re ready to publish. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) accepts books in MS Word DOC and DOCX formats, as well as in HTML, and in PDF too.

If you’ve always wanted to write a book, or tried, and got stuck, use these easy tips. Publishing your book can be as easy as one, two, three. Get started today.

Resources to build your writing career

Watch for free contests, writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check our our ebooks for writers.

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

Master Fiction Writing: Craft A Novel in 31 Days

$4.99
Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 4
Genre: Writing
Tag: writing fiction
You want to write a novel. Perhaps you can't get started. Or maybe you got started, and then you stopped.You need a plan, broken down into easy steps. This program began as a 30-day challenge which I organized for readers in 2010. Hundreds of writers joined the challenge and completed it. They wrote novels. More info →