October 26, 2013

Anatomy of an eBook:  Sinner Man: A Short Prequel

I tried an experiment and announced my first-ever ahead-of-time publication date for a prequel to an upcoming novel, that date being yesterday, 10/25/2013.  I learned from Amazon that books have to be uploaded according to Pacific Time to prevent them from back-dating the pub date to the previous day (I'm sure no one even notices this, much less cares, but matching dates are one of those little things that irk me. Its roots are probably in my days of being traditionally published, when eBook pub date and on-sale dates were one and the same). So, after publishing the changes I'd made to my website that afternoon to reflect the links for free downloads at midnight, I snoozed for a couple of hours and got up at 2:30AM to begin the upload process to eTailers.

I went to Smashwords first. After a few mishaps with the copyright page wording to meet their specs, it went live. I priced it at free and got an ISBN to possibly get into expanded distribution. So far, so good.

Barnes & Noble was next. They told me my cover was too large. I initially thought I would have to have a special cover designed for them (my cover designer has informed me that it's a matter of toning down the resolution) and all to aware that I've had problems with them since they changed from Pubit to Nook Press--I simply crossed them off my list. It's not a big deal; a free ePUB formatted eBook is available both at my site and at Smashwords.  Although my cover designer will take care of this for me, I admit to not being in a hurry to get it uploaded to them.

Finally, to the behemoth that is Amazon. I had earlier set up a dummy product page, where I uploaded both the cover and the text and previewed it so I could detect any possible problems ahead of time, of which there were none. It was a cinch to set up the real thing and once again preview it. I priced it at 99 cents, the minimum (my hope was for the prequel to get to other retailers through Smashwords and that Amazon would eventually match the price). I figured it would take from four to six hours to go live (between 7AM and 9AM), so I went back to bed. 

When I got up later this morning, lo and behold, there was an email from Amazon: "Congratulations, Your eBook is Live in the Kindle Store!" I happily clicked on the link they sent me...only to have it lead to a 404 error page. I immediately emailed them to make them aware of this, since obviously no one bothered to check the link before they sent it to me (it might take until Monday for them to tell me what the ?#!! they did with my book, which will cause a delay in my advance reviewers posting their opinions about the prequel).

Update:  I stayed offline for the next seven hours or so to tend to other stuff and noticed upon my return that Amazon apparently found where they dumped my book...Sinner Man: A Short Prequel is now available through Amazon...with a publication date of October 24th...one day earlier than the date I requested.  So much for getting up in the middle of the damn night.  Looks like I'll be sending them yet another email.

The moral of the story: Either A) stick to the rather haphazard now-you-see-it-now-you-don't method of e-publishing that indie authors have been relegated to (uploading whenever you have it ready, waiting for it to be processed, doing no promo or announcements until after it's available), B) announce a pub date, but upload your book five or six days ahead of time to give Amazon a chance to locate the black hole they put your book in or resolve other issues), or C) have a backup plan, like your own website...because you can't count on eTailers, but you can always count on yourself. 

Will I continue to announce pub dates for my future releases? Yes...with a caveat that it is guaranteed to be available on the promised date only at my eStore, not at other eTailers.
October 25, 2013

Are you ready for some sinfully good reading?

Sinner Man: A Short Prequel, is now available as a free download at the Bunderful Books website and at Smashwords!  It is available in formats to fit any device.  I will not be uploading this book to Barnes & Noble (ePUB files are available at the aforementioned site).  Amazon successfully uploaded my file, but has apparently lost it (more about that tomorrow).  The price there will be 99 cents, but why pay for it if you can get it for free?

"In this prequel to the upcoming novel Secrets & Sins, author Bettye Griffin transports readers back to 1950s Chicago, to the wedding of Lorraine Hawkins and Vernon Pace. Lorraine is the daughter of a maid, while Vernon comes from one of the leading families in the area. Regardless of Vernon’s background, many people have doubts about his ability to settle down…including Lorraine. What no one knows is that this marriage will set the stage for events that will forever change the lives of both Lorraine and her best friend, Julia Scott, and affect future generations as well..."

Download yours today!
October 20, 2013

Wonder what to say in a book review?

Many readers say they would write book reviews if they knew what to say.  For some it feels like those old book reports we used to have to do for school...in other words, not at all pleasant.  It's actually a lot easier than you might think.  Here are some suggestions:

If you can summarize the storyline or character's issues in a sentence or two, begin with that. There's no need to recount the entire plot; potential readers can look at the product description for that.

Simply say what you liked about the book. Did it make you feel like you were the proverbial fly on the wall observing the action unfold? Did the dialogue ring true? Was the book a true representative of its genre (i.e., romance should have romance, mysteries should have mystery)? Did you simply like the author's style?  Say so.

Please, please, please do not give any spoilers.  Nothing makes me grit my teeth more than reviewers who unwittingly give away plot twists that are supposed to come as surprises to the readers.  I say "unwittingly" because I simply don't believe it is their intent to ruin the reading experience of others; I think it's more of a case of them writing their thoughts without realizing what it would give away.

Now, chances are that you didn't like the book. Some readers choose not to review books they disliked. Others prefer to.  Either is fine, but please remember, you can be critical without being nasty.  Maybe it had too much unnecessary information or meaningless chatter between characters ("filler"), was repetitive, felt bland or flat, was littered with typos or had continuity errors, went into detail about the obvious but glossed over the confusing, had loose threads or story arcs that went nowhere, unlikeable characters, etc. 

You can like a book but still point out some things that bothered you, which will often help the author understand why you liked the book but only gave it a 3, or raved about it but only gave it a 4. 

End your review with whether or not you would recommend the book, and to who ("if you love a good love story," if you like a juicy drama," "if you like a sexy romance," etc.).

That's pretty much it.  Easy as riding a bike, right?  A final word: Your rating should reflect your feelings about the contents of the book only.  It's not fair to take off points because you wanted it to be longer (especially if the book was advertised as a short story or novella), or because you didn't like the cover, or because you had trouble getting a physical book delivered or with the download of an eBook (the latter is often done without reading the book itself).  On the other hand, nor is it fair to give a high rating because the book was delivered promptly or in good condition, was a smooth download, which is also done without reading the book.  I haven't seen any authors complain about this, including those who loudly object to the former set of circumstances, but face it, folks, it's a two-way street.

Happy reviewing! 
October 17, 2013

Coming 10.25.2013

For the first time ever I am announcing a publication date of an eBook in advance.

Sinner Man: A Short Prequel, will be available on 10/25/2013.  It will be a free download at Smashwords and at my publisher website.  It will be 99 cents at Amazon and Barnes & Noble.  Whether or not they will make it free as well is going to be anyone's guess.

Now, let's see how this works out...

October 14, 2013 

About the 2013 SORMAG Online Conference

Today LaShaunda Hoffman, founder of SORMAG, is here to tell us about the SORMAG Online Conference, which will be starting November 1st, less than three weeks from now.  Take it away, LaShaunda!
I would like to thank Bettye for hosting me today.  

My name is LaShaunda C. Hoffman and I’m hosting the SORMAG’s Online Conference...the one conference you don’t have to leave your home to attend.  I'd like to take this opportunity to answer a few FAQ's, so read on...

Question #1:  What is an online conference?

I created the first online conference in 1999.  I wanted to attend a live conference but I didn’t have the funds or the vacation time to attend one.  I met a woman who hosted an organization online conference and she shared how she organized it.  I took her suggestions and created the first conference.  This year’s conference will be a lot different from that first one because we've evolved over the years.

The conference is similar to a live conference the difference, being you’re online instead of in person. This conference is 24/7 which means you can stop by the blog or fan page any time of the day to participate.  The phone panels are the only times you have a set time to attend.

You get the workshops on craft, business and marketing.

You have panel discussions you can participate in.

You get to meet new people.

You win prizes.

You get a goody bag.

You can buy books.

The best part about this conference is you have the luxury of doing all of this in front of your computer and it’s all free.

Have I convinced you to register?  Check out our agenda, and at the end take a moment to register.


SORMAG is Shades of Romance Magazine an award winning magazine this is in digital and blog form.  We feature author interviews and book promotion.

Check out our latest issue - http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/642620

See what’s happening with us daily at – http://sormag.blogspot.com

Need help with your promotion – http://sormag.com/advertise.htm

Question #2:  What was the last conference you attended?

If you answer the question or leave a comment, you have a chance to win the following:

$10.00 Gift Certificate to Amazon.com (5 winners)

Or Book Teaser Ad (5 winners)

Visit the following blogs for the next questions for chance to win.

Invite to SORMAG’s online conference?
 10/11 Simply Said Reading Accessories - http://www.simply-said.net/

What is an online conference? 
10/14 Bettye Griffin - http://www.chew-the-fat-with-bettye.blogspot.com/

How can you participate in an online conference? 
10/15 Maxine Thompson - http://maxinethompsonbooks.com/blog/

What happens on the 1st Day of the conference? 
10/16 Unoma S. Nwankwor - http://unomanwankwor.com  

What happens on the 2nd Day of the conference?
10/17 Makasha Dorsey - http://MakashaDorsey.com

What happens on the 3rd Day of the conference?
10/18 Dorcas Graham - http://dorcasgraham.com

What are the goals of the SORMAG’s online conference?
10/21 Deatri King Bey - http://deatrikingbey.com/

Tips to have a good experience at an online conference 
1.  Check the agenda and attend the workshops that will interest you 
10/22 Renee Williams – http://allthebuzzreviews.com

Tips to have a good experience at an online conference 
2.     Participate, don’t be a lurker 
10/23 Shelia Goss – http://www.sheliagoss.com/blog

Tips to have a good experience at an online conference 
3.     Meet new people, introduce yourself 
10/24 Patricia Woodside - http://readinnwritin.blogspot.com/

Last Day to register for SORMAG’s Online Conference 
10/25 Lori Soard - http://crabbyhousewife.com/

SORMAG’s Online Conference – Nov 1-3 
10/31 See Ya On The Net – http://lashaunda.blogspot.com

Thanks for taking the time to read my post.  If anyone has a question for me feel free to leave a comment.  I will be checking back throughout the day to answer them.  Hope to see you at the conference.  LCH
Thanks, LaShaunda!  Now, if you haven't yet registered for this free conference, I hope you will!