Amazon

Amazon’s Data Mining of Novels

I find data-mining as interesting as the next person. On any given day, you’ll find me clicking into the results of surveys about consumer habits, in any number of categories. I do this for reasons that are as unnecessary as they are ambiguous. Being from Washington, DC, and having cut my political teeth at an early age, I know how much wiggle room – and wishful thinking – is spun into the cloth of marketing data and rankings. So much of it is subjective: how the questions are asked, who is contacted, the size of the group, etc. Increasingly, companies are finding new ways to harvest and apply information extracted through data mining their customers. Amazon, for example, uses the amount of ebook pages read by a Kindle Unlimited subscriber, and the pace of that reading, in order to determi...

Books and Amazon’s New Third-Party Seller Policy

Recent changes to policies and fees for third-party sellers who sell Media products on the Amazon Marketplace on Amazon.com has elicited questions from book resellers and small presses. Here is a sampling of articles and threads discussing those changes:   “Small publishers in particular are dependent on backlist sales for their livelihood. Amazon is a Herculean player when it comes to backlist sales because bookstores favor front-list books. If you’re looking for a book that’s a year old or more, you’re likely to go to Amazon to find it.” Read the full article here.   “We sub-divided our analysis into two categories – volume and price.  Volume metrics will reveal whether sellers are entering or exiting the market, and price metrics will help us visualize how th...

Amazon Vs. Hachette

Let me open this blog post by clearly stating my position: I am not for or against Amazon. I am not for or against Hachette. I am on the side of the marketplace. Sometimes, this is the toughest position to be in. Loyalty pulls in one direction while, often, practicality pulls in another. Consider: I am an avid reader of books. If I find myself in a store that sells books, the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of me leaving there with at least one new book, usually more. My purchases are spread out over a host of different brick-and-mortar retail brands, but I admit that Barnes & Noble receives the lion’s share of my book-buying budget for paperbacks and hardcovers. That said, I get my e-books exclusively through Amazon. I have a Kindle (it was a gift) and I both use it and lend it out w...

Writing: The Importance of Word Choice in Translation

For those of you who are fans of Star Trek (or, like me, grew up with a brother who loved all things science fiction), have you ever fantasized about having communication tools like the ones Captain Kirk and his crew had? I have, and I find myself doing it all the more lately. Why? Social media. Daily, the Internet provides readers and writers with the opportunity to connect with new people involved in the book world, and to interact with speakers of many different languages. While I firmly believe that diversity of people, in every possible way, is one of the two greatest strengths the human race collectively possesses (the other is love), I do find diversity challenging when it comes to language. This is not because I can’t learn to speak another language; I can and do. The reason is bec...

Mea Culpa (You Probably Saw This One Coming)

I said I wouldn’t do it. I even wrote two blog posts (To KDP Select Or Not To KDP Select and a Self-Publisher’s Dilemma) about why I wouldn’t do it. But here I go, anyway: Ava is free today on Kindle.   Am I turning my back on everything I’ve believed up until now? Have I cut a behind-the-scenes deal with Amazon? Have I been hypnotized, or brainwashed? Have I been replaced by a bot? Nope. I simply changed my mind. Evolution by way of experience is like that; one day things are running smoothly, and the next day that same world looks different. On its own, knowledge isn’t what’s important. Context is, and application. It takes time for new information to sink in, to take root. It also takes time to make enough mistakes that only one real option is left. I’m down to the one option. Sev...

A Few Comments about JA Konrath’s Resolutions for Writers

I always smile while reading J. A. Konrath’s blog posts. Whether he’s being sincere, sharp, or snarky, he has a way of using just the right amount of humor, in just the right places, to get his point across without detracting from the seriousness of the topics he addresses. I’ve just finished reading his newest post, Resolutions for Writers, and though I’m smiling, I find I have a point or two of disagreement with his advice. Perhaps, it would be more accurate to say that I am looking at the same view he is, but from a far different vantage point. His level of experience far eclipses mine, and I wonder if he would categorize where I am on this self-publishing journey as “a good start, with so very much more to go.” J. A. Konrath, by comparison, is orbiting earth. I am not glorifying him, o...

Book Marketing: The Genuine Article

I buy books all the time, both paid and free, both paper and electronic. It generally takes me months and months to start a novel once it has found a home on my Kindle or my bookshelf. Part of the reason it takes so long is the sheer volume of writers I’ve come to know through social media. The other part is my determination to read every one of their books while keeping up with my favorite traditionally published authors, too. Twitter is my darling. My Twitter community has 22,000 members. Six months ago it was half that number, and I anticipate it will be approaching 50,000 by mid-summer. Every day, I get to meet new writers – or, at least, writers who are new to me – and, nearly every day, I download a handful of their novels and short stories. My Facebook community has 983 members – th...

Selling eBooks in a Global Marketplace

Modern settlers are not trudging through endless fields, or scaling virgin peaks, or building houses from materials hewn entirely by their own hands. There is no wagon train filled with pioneer men and women, babes in arms, being jostled about for weeks or months on end, in a desperate quest for new horizons. No longer are there patches of land in America free for the taking, if only you will plant your roots in the soil, and raise your family, your crops, and your hopes inside its boundaries. Today, the word “boundaries” refers to the limits of your computer processing speed, or how many bars you can get on your cell phone from the comfort of your couch, or how much space remains on your eight gigabyte memory card. The internet has become the portal to the future; product branding has bec...