New Release Misstep

I received an email today from a writer friend who had just published their first novel on Amazon. And the email was basically asking friends and family to buy the novel and leave a review.

Which sounds like a great idea for a new release, right? Get some sales and some reviews.

Except, especially on Amazon, that can be the kiss of death. Because Amazon is all about the algorithms. What is this book you have published and who can I shove it in front of to generate sales?

And the problem with having friends and family be the first people who buy your book is that it’s very confusing to those algos. Because your middle grade fantasy is being bought by someone who reads 90% mystery and also by someone who reads 85% non-fiction and by someone else who reads gritty books across fantasy, sci fi, horror, and mystery. So what reader can Amazon find that fits all those categories?

None.

Now, granted, I myself have made this mistake. Because who wants to publish a book and have no sales? So you tell people about it. And because they like you (hopefully) they buy it even though they may never actually read it and generally don’t read things like it as a general rule.

Which means you end up trying to swim against the current to get to your actual audience. And you don’t have a lot of time to do it in because Amazon is relentless with its 30-day, 60-day, 90-day cliffs. It’s an environment where your book either proves itself or it sinks. Fast.

Better is to not tell friends and family about your new release until your also-boughts have populated. Also-boughts that you have hopefully helped craft via advertising towards your actual target audience, so that when those friends and family come by to show their support Amazon already knows what you’re selling and who it will sell to.

It’s a bit counterintuitive to a lot of businesses. When I was a broker you were encouraged to find friends and family members who’d invest with you first and then move out from there as you did well and got word of mouth. Lots of businesses are built that way. But books don’t work quite the same. Because people will pay a dollar or five for a book but it does you no good if that sale doesn’t help build towards more readers. Better to have people share links on your behalf with people they know who might be your target audience and hope those people buy it.

Anyway. Something to think about for the brand new author with no established audience.

 

 

Some Thoughts on Book Covers

I have friends who swear by using professionally-done covers. And some of those friends do very, very, very well. Much better than I do. (Although I suspect that’s down to writing skill and speed of publishing more than cover quality.)

Me, I tend to do my own covers. And I’ll tell you why. Because coming from a corporate background it drives me absolutely batty to deal with cover designers.

This last week I redid two series’ worth of covers. It was 20+ covers and I was able to create them and upload them and be done within a few days. At the same time I’ve been paying to have the covers redone for my YA fantasy series by one of the really good cover designers out there and it’s taken six weeks (?) so far to get three covers done. If I’d gone with one of the other top designers out there I’d still be waiting for them to get started because most have waiting lists of three to six months, assuming they’re taking on new clients.

So let me walk you through my cover designer experiences. I’m not naming names, because that’s not the point there. The point is to understand some of the challenges of dealing with cover designers and why, if you can do it at all, it might make sense to do your own instead.

Cover Designer #1: Pre-Mades

As with all things self-publishing, I ventured into paying for covers the cheap way by buying a couple of pre-made covers. One was for a romance novel, one was for my SFF short story collection. And they looked good. I have no complaints about the appearance of the covers. I mean, I chose them after all, they were a completed product before I paid for them.

The cover designer was also easy to work with and provided my files within a few days of my placing my order. I had no complaints about that designer’s responsiveness or professionalism.

All good.

Until I started poking around on some stock photo websites and realized that the cover designer had literally taken existing stock photos and just slapped text on them. No edits to the photo whatsoever. It was the same exact image, not zoomed in or cropped in any way. No extra border. No combined images. Nothing changed.

Which means that the pre-made they slapped up on their website probably took ten minutes to create and another ten to customize it when they got my order. They needed an eye for placement and font choice, but that was pretty much it.

Now, granted, that’s probably all you can expect when you spend $35 for a cover. But it made me realize that I could probably do that myself. And when I did the next romance cover I did buy that original stock photo and put new text over it to match my second romance novel cover rather than go back to that cover designer and pay for them to create a custom cover to match the first one.

So decent to work with, decent result, but something anyone could slap together with minimal design skills.

Cover Designer #2: Custom Cover

When I published my first fantasy novel I decided it was time to quit playing around and do things “the right way”. I’d seen a trade-published cover designer’s work that I thought was really good and I reached out to them about what it would cost to have them do my covers. Turns out the answer was $650.

That was a lot to spend, but I wanted to give that book all the chances in the world, so I paid it. And the cover is gorgeous. The artist actually did a photo shoot with a local girl who worked at Starbucks and turned her into exactly what I was looking for. It was an illustrated cover and that artist nailed it. The first draft had a bad font and the image needed moving a bit but we fixed that easily enough.

I really had no complaints about that first cover. (Later when I had that book on display at a convention I realized it didn’t look as good from a distance. My homemade covers on other books on that table drew in far more readers than that very expensive cover did.)

Of course, there was no way to do the second cover in that series without using the same artist. So I had to go back to them a year later and see if they were available and what timeline I was working with. They said it would be a month to get the cover done, but they missed the deadline and I had to delay my release while I waited for them to finish.

We also had some back and forth on that one that was a bit painful. But I was stuck with them at that point. Fortunately design of the third cover went smoothly but I do seem to recall that they were late on that one, too.

The bigger problem was that when I wanted to change the back cover copy on two of the print versions a year or so after that I was told it would cost $200 to do so. I don’t sell enough in print on those books for that to make any sense.

So gorgeous covers but production delays and high costs to make edits.

Cover Designer #3: The Designer That Never Was

When I decided to publish my first cozy mystery I looked a the covers in the genre and found that most of the best in the genre were a style I couldn’t replicate myself. So I looked around to see who did covers in that genre.

One top designer was booked out six months but another said they just needed a month’s notice and to let them know when I was ready to go. They were about $250 a cover I want to say, so reasonable for what they did and available in a workable timeframe.

Great.  I reached out about a month later, and…nothing. They never replied to me again. Not via email, not via their website. They were just gone.

Fortunately I hadn’t paid them so I wasn’t out any money, but it frustrated me enough that I just went ahead and did my own covers for the cozies.

So one man shop, disappeared without notice.

Cover Designer #4: High End Cover

This year I had some money to spend on my business so I figured it was time to try new covers on the fantasy series. (Even though it took two and half years to pay off the first set of covers. I sometimes don’t learn my lessons.)

I poked around and most of the top designers were not available or had a long wait time, but one had a website that said they’d send through options within a couple weeks, so I submitted with them.

They don’t have a series option so I had to do each cover one at a time even though my ultimate goal was three covers for a completed trilogy. Again we were in the $600 range.

First, I had to chase them down after that two weeks passed without any response. It took a few more days but then they sent through some ideas which were…okay? But not worth $600.

I had specifically said I didn’t want a cover that looked muddy from a distance like my first fantasy one had turned out to be. I even gave them the link to that cover, but one of the options they sent through was mostly brown colors that would be muddy from a distance.

I ran the options by a private group I’m in and those folks agreed that, no, not worth continuing if that’s what I was going to get. I could’ve paid a third as much to a different designer and had covers on par with what they sent me in that first round.

I gave them one more try with much more specific guidance based on work I’d seen them do for others and they finally came back with something much, much better, so I stuck with them.

After that little hiccup the first cover was fine.

But then the second cover–which was part of the series–was done as if the designer hadn’t thought “hey, this cover needs to fit with the other two”. It was fine on its own, but not as part of the series. It was like someone hadn’t liked aspects of the first cover so had decided to fix those aspects with the second cover. But that didn’t work because the two covers had to sit side-by-side and I already had the first cover.

(My other expensive cover designer actually changed the font on my on my second book, too. It was a better font, yes, but it meant anyone who already owned the first book was stuck with books in a series that didn’t match.)

This lack of continuity with the first cover really frustrated me. This is the type of thing that if I’m paying you $600 for a cover I expect you to handle without my guidance. But I was stuck in at this point because I’d already paid for the first cover. So I told them all the fixes that needed to be made and they were done.

But now we’re on cover three. There were some fixes to the central image because the first round of choices were not good, but that was pretty simple. And they made a basic error they shouldn’t have, but that got fixed, too.

When they sent me the print proof the coordinator pointed out something to me about the text on the back cover that I agreed needed changed. It was a simple fix and since they’d pointed it out to me, I figured it would be done within the day and done right. But the next proof I got they’d fixed the wrong thing. It was even worse than before. And it took three days to get that first fix back. And then another two days to fix the bad fix. So five days for a change that literally was a five-minute change that they identified first.

And I’m still waiting for the final files.

So beautiful work but long delays in getting it and challenges in getting a product worth what I paid for it and in having to manage someone who wasn’t managing themselves well.


Those are my cover designer experiences. I’ve also had a few cover designers I reached out to who said they couldn’t do the type of cover I was looking for, which is fair enough. I hold nothing against them for saying that. It is what it is.

I do believe that covers matter. My mom is one of those people who will buy a book just for the cover. But I also believe there’s a “good enough” standard for most genres and that there are ways to do good enough covers in most genres that don’t require massive design skills.

Just like with writing, I think it’s a process of leveling-up over time as you see and think about what works and find ways to get the appearance you want. And, this will sound sort of strange, but I figure all of it has to work together and sometimes a non-million-dollar cover is actually the better choice because it more accurately conveys to the reader what they’ll find inside.

(One of the reasons I gleefully use alright instead of all right in my books is because I know that the Strunk & White purists will be turned off by that and leave my books alone which is a good thing for both of us.)

Too Lazy

I was thinking yesterday about how I’m too lazy to ever actually succeed at the traditional publishing route. Which is ironic given the amount of additional effort that self-publishing requires. But in a sense I’m also lazy there, too.

I’ve determined it’s because I’m missing the “please like me” gene.

Let me explain.

This week I redid over twenty covers for my short stories and loaded them to five different distributor sites. This was for two pen names so once I had the basic template in place it was relatively easy to create each of the covers, but it was still probably a day or two of design work and a full day of updating and uploading the files.

I had recently bought Affinity and wanted to experiment with it and also have bought over the last year a large, large number of fonts through Design Cuts’ bundles as well as a few fonts that were just really nice, fancy ones.

And it was time to level-up those covers.

When I did the speculative fiction covers, I also decided I’d go ahead and publish a couple short stories that have been moldering away on my hard drive and were doing no good there.

This is where it gets back to that laziness. Because one of the stories (The Taste of Memory) was a semi-finalist sometime recently in the Writers of the Future contest. That means it was top 16 in that quarter’s entries. And the critique I got back on it was essentially you could tweak this one thing, but this story should be sellable as is.

So I sent it out to a handful of pro-paying markets, I think maybe five of them. And then I lost interest and just let it sit.

Because I’d done the part that interested me–I’d written my story and explored the nature of memory and the creative process and how much trauma plays into that. That’s what I cared about, personally.

Which meant that all that was left was to put in a bunch of effort trying to find someone who’d like it enough to pay me for it. And that’s…boring to me.

I know other authors who write to be read. They get their satisfaction from others reading and liking what they’ve done. But that’s not me. I’m missing that gene. I’m like, “Oh, you don’t like it or me? Okay. Whatever.”

So after a little bit of effort to see that the story wasn’t going to sell to one of the top markets, I moved on.

Which is not how you succeed in this business, by the way. If you want to break in with short stories you have to write a story and keep that story going from one market to the next to the next to the next until someone buys it. And while you’re waiting you just keep cranking out new stories.

It can take years for one story to sell. (I once had an almost sale with The Bearer and I want to say that Tor.com held onto it for over six months. Six months for that one submission to finally get a no. Have a few of those on the same story and, yeah, years. I got great personal rejections on The Bearer, but after a while I was just bored with sending it out again.)

But that’s what you’re supposed to do. Keep sending it out until it sells. That’s how the game is played. You keep submitting until someone says yes.

Same with queries, right? You’re supposed to query something like a hundred agents before you give up on that particular novel. And then you write the next novel and do it all again. And again. And again until someone says yes.

(Dating works that way, too, by the way. But this post isn’t about dating.)

It turns out I’m just too lazy to deal with all of that. So I self-publish. Where the work is ten times as hard. And, really, you’re having to pursue the same sort of “do you like it” thing that you do with traditional publishing, but you just do it with advertising instead.

It’s crazy. And honestly it’s a miracle I’ve made any money at this thing given where my particular laziness lies…

So anyway. Look at some of my pretty new short story covers:

In Search of a Hero7 small  The Taste of Memory small  The Bearer5 small

Puppy Love Holiday Surprise small  Puppy Love Volumes 1 to 13 small

(That now won’t sell because I did the fun part already and am now going to move on to something else like writing a new novel instead of doing anything more to promote them. Hahaha. Sigh.)

 

On Posthumous College Degrees

There’s been some chatter on Twitter today about the fact that a university recently published to its site its policy about issuing college degrees to people who die before they can complete the degree.

One of the cynical hot takes I saw on this practice was that it was to boost the college’s ranking with US News.

Seriously, to that person who said that, fuck you. Just because you’ve never actually been in the situation of having someone you love die before completing their degree doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen and doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter to that person’s loved ones to be able to get that degree for them.

When my father passed away he was completing his final semester of college. He’d tried getting a degree when he was 18 but dropped out and only went back for his degree in his 40s.

He worked hard for that degree. I remember the night he stayed up all night trying to work on some problem set for his logic class that had him–a normally brilliant man–stumped. And I remember reading his short stories he wrote because he was in a creative writing class that finally gave him an excuse to focus more on his writing. And I remember how much he loved studying Russian history. (I toted those text books of his around with me for twenty years after he died because they reminded me of him even though I really had no interest in peasant life in Russia in the 1800s.)

Pursuing that degree was something vitally important to my father. It was an opportunity he had been denied when he was younger but that he fully embraced when life finally gave him the chance to pursue it.

But he died before he could complete his degree.

And I, at the age of 18, and my brother , at the age of 22, were swamped with trying to unravel the remains of his life. We had no idea that it was even possible to get his degree granted posthumously and, honestly, it was the last thing on our minds at the time.

Fortunately, he’d been very close with one of his history professors and that professor made it happen.

I will forever be thankful to that person. Because after the fog of grief cleared I had that degree to help remember him by.

He was a tremendous father, a good man, a business owner who provided jobs to others, but that degree was one of the few things he did in his life that our society puts value upon. And I am so so grateful that his school granted that degree to him even though he died before he could walk the stage with all the other graduates.

Seriously people not everything is about cynicism and nihilism, you know.

Penguin Random House Rewards

Right up front: This is only something open to U.S. Residents, so sorry about that, but I just wanted to give a little shout out to the Penguin Random House Rewards program because today I was able to redeem my first reward to get a free copy of a hard cover book that was just released and costs $30.

How cool is that?

(I am not being paid for this, by the way, I just happen to be a reader first and foremost and I figured if anyone following this blog was as well then they should know about this.)

Here’s how it works:

Sign up here: https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/rewards/?

Then, when you buy PRH trade paperbacks (that would be the larger size ones) or hard covers, report your sales to them. For each qualifying book you get 10 points.

When you reach 120 points you get a code for a free book with a value of up to $30 that they ship you for free.

If you’re not sure if your books qualify, just type in the ISBNs of all of them you buy and it will let you know. I honestly have no idea when I’m buying a book who the publisher is, but it’s easy enough to type in each number and see if it takes it.

(As a side note to the PRH folks, I would personally collect all ISBNs from members and maybe give half a point or 1 point for non-qualifying titles because understanding what books other than yours your customers are purchasing is marketing gold. For every book I entered that was a qualifying PRH book I probably entered three that weren’t either because of format or publisher. But that’s me.)

Since I was going to buy the books I bought this year already it was a no-brainer for me to sign-up because all I had to do was log my purchases and now after six months I have a free book on its way to me. A book that I would not have bought in hard cover so get to read a year earlier than I would’ve otherwise.

(And, yes, if you do the math that means that I’ve bought about 50 books so far this year. What can I say? My coping mechanisms are books, bacon, ice cream, and Coke.)

If I hadn’t been able to order this one (Calling Bullshit by Carl T Bergstrom and Jevin D West), I had my eye on another one (Sword of Fire by Katherine Kerr) that I also probably won’t end up buying in hard cover but will eventually. So well worth the effort for me.

Of course, as I said at the top, this appears to be a U.S.-only program and you need to be purchasing not only print books but the trade paperback or hard cover size. Still. A good deal if you fall under that.

Would I Attend In-Person College This Fall?

If I were of college age right now would I choose to attend college this year?

Short answer: No. I’d take a year off.

Why?

Obviously there are the health risks of placing yourself in an environment with a bunch of young people known to make stupid decisions on a regular basis during the midst of a health crisis of unknown proportions. (If you doubt that young people make stupid decisions on a regular basis let me point you to pretty much any college party that involved alcohol that I’ve ever attended.)

Sure the fatality rate for younger individuals is pretty low, but the long-term health effects of getting this thing are not well known yet and some of them are not looking good at all.

(A recent study showed an incident of pretty high heart impact even for asymptomatic patients. That’s on top of all the respiratory, kidney, brain, blood clotting, general energy-level, etc. issues that have already been talked about elsewhere. And just yesterday I saw a tweet about a woman who’d had this four months ago, been released from the ICU, and then succumbed to the long-term effects months later.)

But it’s not actually the health impacts that would keep me at home. It’s how college is going to be structured this year.

At some point I may actually get around to writing a book on choosing whether to go to college and what type of college, etc. (I’ve been thinking about writing it for about three years now but just never have.) One of the key points I was going to make in that book is that the value of an elite education is only about 50% the actual education you receive.

Don’t get me wrong. I love the fact that I was able to study the Quiche Maya language for a year and I even sort of kind of used it that one time I went to Guatemala and it’s a great party trick to be able to say “I went to market to buy a cow” in a language that has glottal stops. But, honestly, once I graduated I used maybe 10% of my class knowledge in the real world. (Have I ever used any of the calculus they required for my Econ degree? No. No, I have not.)

Completing my degrees showed that I was capable of discipline and intellectual rigor and learning and sticking to a challenging task for an extended period of time. But for my degrees (anthropology, psychology, and economics) the actual knowledge I learned was not needed for my career (securities regulation, consulting, writing).

I learned what I needed to know on the job. All my degrees did was tell my employers I’d be able to do that.

(For other degrees and careers that can work differently. This was just my experience. Even my writing training came from high school not college.)

I would say that another 25% of the value of a college degree from an elite school is in the reflected reputation of that school. People notice when someone says they went to Harvard or Princeton or Yale.

My freshman year I went to Rice University, which is an excellent school. When I told people that’s where I went they made a joke about rice being a food. When I transferred to Stanford and told people where I went to school they said, “Ooh, you must be smart.” (The only time that changed was when Chelsea Clinton was there and then they asked me if I’d ever met her.)

I got my first job out of college even though I was missing a key qualification because I’d graduated from Stanford. When I told my potential employer I’d fill in that missing accounting class they gave me the benefit of the doubt. If I’d gone to Joe Blow Community College they wouldn’t have even interviewed me with that qualification missing.

But for this conversation it’s the other 25% of the value that I think matters.

And that’s the connections you make during college with your fellow students. Those people in your classes and in your dorm and in your extracurricular activities. The ones you have a beer or a coffee with. The ones you observe and who observe you over the course of four years.

Some of it can be informal connections. You now know a person who does X and you can give them a call a few years later when you need access to someone who does X.

That happened with my MBA program. A few years after graduation someone I knew but wasn’t close friends with at school called with a consulting opportunity. They called me solely because of that school connection. Because they went looking for someone who knew X and I was part of their network.

But some of it can be much more profound. I have a number of friends who met their spouse during undergrad or grad school. Most of whom are still married to that person twenty years later.

I personally believe that someone’s choice of spouse is probably the most significant decision they will make in terms of career and wealth trajectory. Stable relationships support career progress. Unstable ones, can really set someone back. I have seen more than one career derailed by a bad divorce. And more than one divorce due to a mismatch between spouses.

I’ve also seen more than one career derailed by inappropriate behavior by someone who was single and looking in the wrong places for relationships.

College is one of the best times in your life for meeting people who are at the same level and headed in the same direction. The admissions board has pre-selected a promising pool of people for you to form both friendships and relationships with.

But given the current situation I think those kinds of informal networks will be crushed. No dropping by someone’s dorm room to hang out. No last-minute everyone pile into a car to go on a late-night adventure. No big parties to attend. (Or at least, there shouldn’t be. Not in the U.S. right now. Not unless you want to roll the dice on a double-lung transplant.)

So if it were me with a kid who was college-age right now, I’d say take the year off. Go back when you can have that full college experience. With the internet the world is full of opportunities even for someone who isn’t at college. Take some fun courses. Read books that have nothing to do with anything. Start a vlog. Start a Twitch channel. Whatever.

Pursue your passions this year, go to campus next year.

And if we’re in this same boat again next year? Well, the world will be a fundamentally different place at that point.

(Heck, I suspect that the world as Americans know it is going to be a fundamentally different place no matter what six months from now. So maybe that changes the whole calculation anyway.)

Good Advice from PCW

It’s been a while since I reminded people that they should be following Patricia C. Wrede’s blog because she gives some excellent writing advice every Wednesday. This week’s post is, in my opinion, a must-read for any author who has ever found themselves stuck or dissatisfied with what they were writing:

Making It Harder Than It Needs To Be

Basically the advice is trust your gut and write what you want to write in the way you want to write it.

I spent a year writing short stories early on because some agent told me they could never sell my novel to the Big 5 if I didn’t have short story credits first. I’m not one for reading short stories and am more naturally inclined towards novel-length ideas and character development so it was a complete change for me.

I didn’t do bad at it (I ended up with some nice personal rejections from some big markets) but man I wish I’d just kept writing novels instead.

Every author probably has something like that. Being told you should plot when you’re a pantser. Or pants when you’re a plotter. Or being told what to write, when to write, or how to write it.

The truth is you need to follow your gut and do what moves you forward and makes it enjoyable for you. Life is too short to not live it in the best way for you.

Also, if you’re looking for a good book about being a writer or living a creative life, I just finished and really liked Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was excellent in a number of ways, but I think each writer will probably take very different things from it depending on their own experiences. Well worth the $10 Amazon is currently charging for the paperback.

The Chicken or The Egg

I’m sitting here listening to a playlist of mine called Fave Thoughtful which essentially consists of slower songs that aren’t as easy to sing along with as my Fave Sing Along playlist.

(I have a ridiculous number of song playlists. My original Faves playlist has 150 songs on it so I decided to break it down a bit more since moving from Thugman by Tweet to The Only Time by Nine Inch Nails to Another Suitcase in Another Hall by Evita is a bit jarring.)

(Below that Fave list I have a total of 43 “like” playlists that combined include 2992 songs at the moment. I have a bit of a thing for music obviously. Anyway.)

It made me realize something odd.

I have a large number of songs on my favorites playlists that I’ve loved for ages. Since I was maybe even a pre-teen. (Kenny Rogers was my favorite singer when I was eight. I remember crying while repeatedly replaying Islands in the Stream during my first big breakup in 3rd grade.)

Long before I had any life experiences that would make me choose those kinds of songs, I loved songs like Spilled Perfume by Pam Tillis and We’ve Got Tonight by Kenny Rogers. Songs about failed love and yearning for lost relationships and choosing the wrong person and loss.

I can now, later in life, tie actual life experiences to some of those songs. And I’ve definitely come to like newer songs because they remind me of a past experience, but for me it was often the songs that came first, not the experience.

And it makes me wonder whether it was some weird sort of predisposition of mine that made me gravitate towards those types of songs and then those types of life experiences. Or whether those songs created some kind of emotional groove in my mind that then led me to seek out those experiences in my life. Like if all I’d ever been exposed to were happy songs about getting married and living happily ever after for fifty years if that’s what I would’ve been drawn towards instead of hitting the road and moving on.

I don’t know. It’s an interesting thought.

And I think this does tie back to writing in some sense, too.

I’ve been reading a lot of new-to-me authors recently and some fit comfortably because the main characters react in a way that makes sense for me whereas others make me almost itchy to read because I keep thinking, “No. Why would you do that? That’s stupid.”

Or wrong. (I’m still angry years later about the character who could see the future and saw their friend being destroyed by drug use who then started using drugs with the friend. Like, what? What are you thinking? You can see this person will destroy their life this way and you…help them do it? Huh?)

I know going forward that I’ll end up reading more from the authors whose characters’ values and decisions fit with what makes sense to me and less of those who don’t which then ends up reinforcing the whole circle of values and beliefs and perspective that I already had.

This is also why I don’t think every author is for every reader and that to succeed with fiction you ultimately have to find “your” readers who are those who align enough with what you write that they stay with and return to your stories. The key is finding those readers, of course.

And now I’m going to stop writing this because while I’ve been writing it Smoke Rings in the Dark by Gary Allan, A Couple More Years by Dr. Hook, I Don’t Need You by Kenny Rogers, and now Not Gon’ Cry by Mary J. Blige have played and I think maybe I need therapy based on my song choices. Seriously.

 

New Release: Microsoft Office for Beginners

Just a quick note that buyers can now get Excel for Beginners, Word for Beginners, and PowerPoint for Beginners in one book, Microsoft Office for Beginners. This one is geared towards those who are looking to get a basis in all three program at once. It gives a bit of a price discount compared to buying the individual titles by themselves.

The ebook version ($9.99 USD) is already available everywhere. The paperback version ($29.95 USD) will be available within the next day or so. Click on the image below to choose the store you want or on one of the store tabs on the right-hand side.

Microsoft Office for Beginners4

Amazon Taketh, Amazon Giveth

I logged onto my AMS dashboard today to find that I now have the option to show Kindle Unlimited page reads attributed to an ad, something people have been asking for for ages and ages. You can add it by customizing your columns and going to the very bottom of the list, assuming it’s available to you. I mentioned it on Kboards and someone said they didn’t see it, so it may be rolling out.

I don’t know how well it works or how timely it is because I’m not currently advertising any books that are in KU and it doesn’t look to be retroactive. I had ads running in the past on books that were in KU but activating that option didn’t display results for those old ads.

Nice that they added that since they took away displaying any associated sales that weren’t for the formats specifically listed in an ad. I get that a lot of people complained to them about that, but it would’ve been nice to leave the information available in a separate column somewhere.

(Maybe they’re trying to discourage people from using ad copy? Because the only way to list multiple formats, I believe, is to have an ad with no ad copy, but I could be wrong and am too lazy to go check right now.)

On one hand I’m glad that Amazon keeps trying to improve AMS. On the other hand, this is exactly why I ended up unpublishing my books on AMS ads. Because all of the practical, here’s how it works sections became outdated almost as soon as I wrote them.

One guarantee in this business: it is constantly changing.