Writing a Dream

Posts tagged “Amazon Kindle

Rumbling Heart “Kickstart” Edition

In preparation for the release of 5 new books by the end of the year, I have decided to revamp my current release Rumbling Heart. In this updated release, currently called the Kickstart Edition, there will be several new and exciting extras to go along with the improved story. Here are some of the ideas that will hopefully make it into the new version:

  • A “Did You Know?” section with interesting factoids about the book, the characters, and the process used in its development.
  • Alternate Art and covers that were previously used or considered for the cover.
  • Q&A section where the author Richard Allen and Executive Producer Emily Carmichael answer various questions about the book and their methods.
  • A brand new cover which differs significantly from the current one.

As this will be the 3rd version of the book, any previous fans who redownload when the new version is released and go through the story again will notice several changes that we all feel needed to be made. While the overall story will remain intact, the most noticeable change will be overall length. The very first version was quite long, coming in at over 500 pages. The version that was at first going to be the first version was around 525 pages so there was already some significant editing work done on that one. Version two was even shorter, coming in at about 475 pages. Regardless of the fact that significant edits had already been done, we felt it best to shorten the book even further. While we do not have a page count at the moment, the effort to shorten the book will hopefully take it down to as little as 400 pages. While this is in the higher range of our estimates, we still want to be sure that the overall quality of the story does not suffer so don’t be surprised if we don’t hit that number. Keep in mind that 400 pages would be the story itself and not include any bonus content.

Keep in mind that if you already purchased this book from Amazon, all you have to do to get the new version when it comes out is download it again. There should not be any additional cost.

Keep your eyes open for more information regarding the 5 books slated to be released by the end of the year as well as more information on Rumbling Heart: Kickstart Edition.

Look for us on Facebook and Twitter!

RHcover1x


Heroes and Bad Reviews

Sometimes distractions can lead us away from our goals. Often times I find myself getting tunnel vision when I am writing an idea and that’s not always the best thing. For the stories I am developing, I had a point A to point B plan and that was not the way it should have been. There is more to a great book than who, what, when, where, and why. An explanation can be developed from those, but not a great story. Sometimes stepping away and doing other things can help you reclaim your idea from a narrow vision and assist you in turning a good idea into an magnificent book.

In October, I purposely stepped away from my stories and kept myself from writing. Why? I felt like I was becoming bored with the process. I still had idea I knew were good, but I felt like something was lacking in my writing. I needed to find a way to develop more than just an A to B story. My first book Rumbling Heart was more than an A to B story and it shows in the quality of the development not only of the work, but also the characters and the atmosphere. Sometimes reading a book can help you reevaluate and refocus on what you are trying to do. In my case though, being able to now see things from a different angle is a double-edged sword.

I looked over my work and even over some reviews and bits of feed back I have gotten over my work. The good reviews are always nice, but it is the bad reviews that always stick with you. Why? Just human nature I suppose. Here is a snippet of a negative review RH got and my response to it.

reviewNegative reviews happen. There is no way around it. Being a writer I accept that and I know there will always be people who either do not understand my work or, for whatever reason, want to find reasons to make it seem as if I did a huge disservice to the human race. I did find it interesting that this person thought her review was constructive. You can see my response to her review in the photo as well. Her response was once again nonconstructive. I liken this review to calling someone names because that is essentially what they did. If you feel the need to call me (or my work) “stupid” without offering any reason as to why you felt that way or any way to improve it, the review is completely pointless. Offering no way to improve on something is about as bad as crying because you didn’t get your way. If I were a coach and I told a child they were terrible at football or whatever other sport I was coaching them in, I wouldn’t remain a coach very long. Obviously you cannot really liken coaching to reviewing a book or a movie or whatever else you can give feedback on. Reviewers aren’t coaches. I realize that. But at the same time people who do offer feedback need to understand that the main reason you give feedback, be it positive, negative, or mixed, is so people who develop their ideas can improve and make things better the next time around. What is the point of simply calling people or their work names? Sounds to me like certain individuals either lack the ability to express themselves or they feel the need to tear someone down.

Success also breeds negativity.

I will not say I am very successful. I haven’t sold a ton of books and I haven’t made all kinds of money at this. It was never really about money anyway. I have over the last year and a half gotten hurtful messages and emails from people who see that I was somehow able to hash it out and write a book. Not many people can say they’ve done that. Sure, some people can write a small story, but my first book was 475+ pages. A little long, but anyone has to admit that writing a book of that size takes time and commitment. My followup to my first book is much shorter, but still comes in at about 300 pages. No small feat. Another big story for me which is about 70% complete will probably come in at about 275 pages. Again, not many people in the world can say they can sit down and accomplish such a thing. I am not saying I should automatically get a great review for the effort, but I would hope that people like me…artists…deserve at the very least a review explaining exactly why our work is either good, bad, or mixed.

A good review does not always have to be positive. If you gave me 1 or 2 stars, but explained why this or that was unappealing to you, I could respect that. Not offering any explanation whatsoever makes me think the person is either just looking to be mean or trolling. In a way, they are kind of the same thing.

If you are a reviewer like I am from time to time, do the artist a favor and explain why you think one way or another. In the end, we will thank you for it and so will other readers.

 

 


Getting Rid of Small Balances on Gift Cards

I was doing a little research on gift cards. Over time, I have managed to accumulate a handful of Visa and American Express gift cards. One of the major downfalls of these cards is that, in some cases, you can never fully utilize the amount that was gifted to you. On several cards, I manged to leave small amounts on them; so small in fact that it would be rather embarrassing to use them for payment anywhere you might go. To solve this problem of too many gift cards and nowhere to spend the small amounts, I turned to my old friend Amazon.

I have purchased various goods from Amazon for many years now and I must say they have definitely earned my trust. They are very good when it comes to deals and if you ever need to return something, they are always helpful and courteous. They are also my store of choice whenever I buy music. Yes, I have an iPod, but the Apple iTunes store is often overpriced and I do not like the Apple format they use for music. I prefer MP3’s which Amazon sells. Regardless if you like Amazon for music like me or if you buy other stuff like eBooks, DVDs, etc. they are a good option if you have a handful of low value gift cards you are looking to get rid of.

So, how exactly does this work out? Amazon gift cards. I know what you are thinking. Trading in one gift card for another. It may seem that way, but it’s really not. For someone like me that buys from Amazon at least once a month, it’s a great option. All you have to do is go to the website and select gift cards. It will give you an option as to how you want to gift the funds. I chose email as all it would do is send me an email with a clickable link to add the funds to my Amazon account.

It took a little patience, but I was able to move over a decent amount of money to my Amazon account which will eventually get used up. The one issue I found was in using the VISA Vanilla gift cards. Amazon states you can gift as little as $.15, but when I tried to use the VISA Vanilla to gift myself the remaining $.75 on the card, it always cancelled my order. Bummer. The other card types used were the American Express gift card and a bank gift card that works as a debit card. The two AMEX cards I used were for the amounts of $1.75 and $1.70 and had no problems with those. The Bank debit gift card was a larger amount so no problem there either. It could just be that Amazon is not crazy about eating the charges that go along with processing the smaller amounts on some cards.

I know this isn’t the perfect plan for everyone, but it worked well for me. Now I have some credit that I can use next time I want a DVD or some music. Like I said, I really like Amazon so it works for me. If you have never used Amazon, give it a look. There are always good deals there and shipping in most cases is really small. Often times they have a deal where you get free shipping on orders over $25 which I almost always take advantage of.

Like I said, not a perfect solution, but a decent option; especially since I know a few of us got some of these gift cards over Christmas!

Cover of "Kindle Wireless Reading Device,...

Cover via Amazon


Hard Call – Dropping Smashwords.com

I tried, I really did. But the time has come for me to stop using Smashwords.com as another source for my book sales. Why? Because I have had ZERO sales from ANY of their channels. This includes their extended channels which include the likes of iTunes. Over the past year, I tried to be patient and even directed people over to Smashwords to check out not only my work, but the work of others. Still, with all the self promotion, I have had absolutely no sales or any website referrals from them.

Amazon offers the KDP select option which is available to any author should they go exclusively with them and in exchange, you get to offer your book free for a few days a quarter. I tried this once and it did wonders for my exposure. Within just a couple of days I had over 600 downloads. I know, I didn’t get paid for it, but you have to start somewhere. In this case, sometimes just getting people to read your work is hard enough, let alone getting them to pay for something from an unknown author.

In the end, I am not really losing anything from this move. As I’ve said, I got no return for the work I did concerning Smashwords. For a good year my work sat there and did nothing, regardless of how much I promoted. At least with Amazon, I do get some sales there and a few reviews. That’s more than I can say for Smashwords.

Poster


Review Copies Available – Rumbling Heart…and a Few Tips on How to Properly Review

I have decided to make a few review copies of Rumbling Heart available to those interested. All I ask is that once you’ve read the book that you post an honest review on Amazon.com. If you choose to post the review on other sites such as BN.com, Good Reads, etc., that’s completely up to you. For those who’ve already reviewed for me, I thank you very much and as thanks for your honesty, I am offering you a free copy of the follow up Recorded Butterflies once it hits Amazon.

To get your gift copy through Amazon, simply email me at richardwrites@live.com or send me a tweet (@RichardAllenRH) with the email address you use for Amazon and I will get it to you. The book is a little long so I am not expecting you to post immediately, but a timely manner is appreciated. If you are new to reviewing, have a look at B.S. Meyers’s review here. 

As you can see there are no spoilers and he sticks to main points. As I mentioned, this is a request for honest reviews. I cannot and will not offer payment or additional merchandise of any sort just to get a good review. I will also not fault anyone for giving a review that’s less than stellar as long as it’s honest and points out the faults of the story properly. I’m not setting a length requirement as long as the review gets it’s point across. That being said, a review that is really, really short isn’t very helpful so feel free to write a bit if you like. Keep in mind I am also using these reviews to improve my writing so if you find a fault, feel free to mention it. Pointing out grammar errors (which do happen on occasion) is not helpful.

To give you an idea of what a bad review is, please click here.

As you can see, the reviewing doesn’t give examples as to why she felt the book was bad. All she did was spout nonsense and never once mentioned why she felt the book wasn’t worth it. This review is in no way helpful to the writer or anyone else looking to purchase the work because it gives no solid clue to anything having to do with any faults.

As I mentioned, I do not consider only positive reviews to be good reviews. Take this review about Fifty Shades of Grey for example. While I admit the reviewer does go a little overboard on listing actual numbers concerning the repetition she sees in the book, she does make her point. Her first paragraph is especially helpful as she points out that the author may not be very familiar with American English based on her use of the language, noting that many of her uses are more closely associated with British English. The review was a one star. Not a good rating for the book, but a decent review all the same. If the author had seen this, they may have tried to brush up on their American use of the language a little more and also work on different ways to implement character expression.

I don’t have an unlimited number of free copies, but I will try to get out as many as possible. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments section as I do check those daily.


Is Smashwords Even Worth the Trouble?

I’ve been using Smashwords for about a year now and I have to say, they suck…for sales. I’ve sold plenty of books on Amazon. They’re the biggest for ebooks so it makes sense. I’ve sold a few on Barnes and Noble as well. On Smashwords…zero.

For those not familiar with Smashwords.com, they are another place to upload and self publish your work. The site is relatively easy to navigate and their uploader is decent. The only problem is they don’t give me any sales whatsoever. That along with the fact that you have to format your work a certain way and also add a Smashwords.com disclaimer in your book to be considered “eligible” for their premium catalog makes it very hard to like them. In most ebooks, we already place a little copyright message letting people know it’s against the law to redistribute our work without our permission. Smashwords takes it even further, making you practically use the disclaimer they have or no premium catalog for you. With all the hoops I;ve had to jump through with Smashwords, it hardly seems worth the effort. Even with entry into their premium catalog, I’ve recorded exactly no sales from any of my works so why do I keep using it?

I really can’t tell you.

It seems kind of pointless to keep up with it. I do it right now so I can know I have the most exposure for my work, but with no sales generation I am about ready to dump them and just go with Amazon. If anyone can think of a good reason to stick with them, let me know. At this point, I am on my way to pulling all my works from them and just doing Prime Service with Amazon so I can get some free sale days out of them for exposure.

Image representing Smashwords as depicted in C...

Image via CrunchBase


Frost Arch – A Short Review

Here is a review for Frost Arch by Kate Bloomfield that I did for Amazon.com.

I read over the reviews from others and I feel they are over analyzing the story. As a writer and editor (Yes, I actually went to college for this), I did find the editing lacking in many areas, but once I got into the story (which is what really matters) I found the concept intriguing and actually was a little upset that the author did not dive into the treatment of humans more. True, some of the decisions the main character made were reactionary and sort of unbelievable at times, but that’s the point of writing a story. If I wanted a story where the character did everything I wanted them to do, I’d write my own and read it over and over again. After the first few chapters, I simply forgave the grammatical blunders and focused on the story at hand so I could enjoy it. I don’t read books to find reasons to hate them. I read books to enjoy a story and a story was what I got. I think the author will take a lot from our reviews (the helpful ones, anyway) and improve on her craft. The lack of romance did not disappoint me as the concept kept me reading. I went into the book with an open mind and I was glad I picked it up. I read a book a day (really) and this one kept me interested till the end. I forgave the few lulls it had and kept on pushing through to the parts that excited me. I didn’t expect perfection. I just expected to be entertained.
I am honestly looking forward to her next work and yes, I would pay $2.99 for it. I actually frown upon those that sell their complete novels for only $.99, but that’s best saved for another time.


Is It Wrong of Me?

I know the first thing people are going to think. No, I am not bitter. I enjoy other people’s success. When people become successful, I am genuinely happy for them. That being said, I do find it ironic that people who don’t put as much hard work and dedication into their writing are somehow making it.

Example.

I am reading a book which will remain nameless as I don’t want this to come across as lashing out at this person. I do not know them personally so this is not a personal attack. Their book is doing very well, hanging around in the Amazon top 100. I pick it up and start reading it and think it’s not so bad…except for the editing. I am in no way taking away from the story as it seems decent and is keeping me interested, yet the editing is almost non existent. Virtually every single page has errors on it. I am not making this up. Pick a page and there will be an error on it. Quotations are incorrectly used throughout, periods are in the wrong places, ellipses are used and spaced incorrectly…yet it’s top 100.

Sigh.

Maybe I am being just a bitter pill. I work for almost 2 years on a book and go line by line, making sure it’s virtually error free, yet a book that would be rejected by a college English teacher is making it. Like I said, her story isn’t bad. Of course I would think mine is better, but it just pains me to see that more of us indie writers are still carrying this black eye because of terrible editing like this making it out there. The saddest part is I doubt anyone except writers and editors are even really noticing or caring. Call me old fashion, but if you are going to write a book, at least make sure you edit the hell out of it. A few mistakes are fine, but every page?


Proofs Are In

I am sitting here holding my book and thinking the white paper over creme was a good choice. I like the way the cover came out. I didn’t want it to look overly polished. I wanted to give it an older, sort of used look. I’m not sure people will understand that though so I am considering updating the cover slightly.


It’s Live

Rumbling Heart is now live on three major book outlets. Go pick it up if you like! I am sure you all will enjoy it!