Category Archives: Indie writing and publishing

Kindle Unlimited Might Spell Disaster for Indie Authors if Amazon’s KU is Riddled with Abuse and Favoritism.

Updated: 23 SEPT 2017 @ 05:00

  • Amazon’s largest KU (Kindle Unlimited) payout in history resulted in the second lowest payout per page read for indie authors;
  • Both, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s  Stone & Fellowship of the Ring are in Kindle Unlimited;
  • Also, both of these books are wide meaning they are also sold with other booksellers.  For a regular indie author, this would break Amazon’s terms of service. See screenshots below.

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Edit: Amazon finally responded to my query.  I asked if  HP (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone) and FOTR (Fellowship of the Ring) were getting paid the KU normalized page read rate as the other indie authors from the same pool of funds available.   Amazon’s response was that they could not comment on the terms and conditions of the contracts of author authors.   They were nice about it, although the answer is still murky and somewhat convoluted. They also ignored my question of whether or not those books in KU were  calculated at the same normalized page read as the indie published books  under the Amazon TOS.  

Being in the business as long as I have, I suspect that the largest pool of KU money in the history of the program would not have resulted in the second lowest payout per indie author otherwise.   Yes, other authors are coming into the program, but it’s not enough to make up the difference.   

Why it matters: often indie authors operate on a tight ROI.  Advertising budgets, their ability to write to market, and their ability to survive in this business can often depend on being able to make informed decisions about their books.   Part of that process is making the decision to go with Amazon exclusively for 90 days at a time in order to avail themselves of the monetary advantage of Kindle Unlimited (if the writer believes there is an advantage.)   Therefore, Amazon must and should be as transparent as possible because they have a fiduciary responsibility not only to traditional Houses but to the indie authors KU was designed to represent.   Over the course of the time this article has been posted, I have not talked to many writers who care whether or not HP and other ‘big names’ are in KU.  But, all of them believe (as I do) that it makes a difference in the decision-making process of less established and less recognized independent self-publishers.   Believe it or not, Amazon is not the only game in town and indie writers have options if they are given correct information.  

I intend to keep plugging away at trying to find answers.  I’ve also learned that more traditional publishers are getting into KU.  For indie writers, this could be a game changer; especially LitRPG writers who tend to rely on KU money.   I’ve always believed that KU has a shelf life.  But, it seems,  if my theory is correct, those changes may be moving faster than  I anticipated.  

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Indie writers, if you only read one story today let this be it.  A Quartz article published, 20 Sept 2017, points out that Amazon is riddled with fraud and abuse when it comes to ranking and Kindle Unlimited normalized page reads.  

The Quartz article points out the many ways scammers can abuse Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU) system and how Amazon either can’t or won’t stop it.

Amazon claims that the advent of Kindle Unlimited 3.0* was an effort to curb clickfarms and other scammer activities.  A few days ago, KDP published that they had dumped the largest payout in Kindle Unlimited history with over $19M.  But, in reality, Amazon is paying out the second lowest payout per normalized page read since the beginning of the program: 0.00419/per normalized page read.

Why?  More and more writers are jumping onto the Kindle Unlimited wagon hoping to cash in.  Although Amazon is proprietary and often times secretive regarding their business practices, internal Amazon documentation points out that as many as a thousand new pen names are added to KDP during some months.  But, the few memos that I have seen do not differentiate between new authors coming onto the scene and established authors who are creating new pen names in an effort to recycle their back catalog.  Amazon’s terms of service indicate that an author or publisher must change at least 15% of a published book in order to publish it as new content.  However, as one former engineer told me “Amazon has no real mechanism in place to authenticate the process.”

The number of new authors coming onto the scene is not necessarily the problem, although it does reflect the amount an individual writer can earn.  The problem lies in suspect authors and publishers manipulating the system by inflating the number of page reads in published e-books within the Kindle Unlimited system.  For an indicating of how popular indie authoring has become read the Bowker report.

Amazon has taken at least one public step to combat the issue.  On 06, September 2017, Amazon filed suit against one individual who the company alleges has advertised his services to authors in an effort to artificially game the system.  See Amazon vs. Rubio.  In a nutshell, Page 2, para 6 and Page 3 para 11 defines the argument(s) of the complaint;

[6] The more pages KU and KOLL customers read of the individual author’s books, the larger the authors share of the royalty fund becomes; and, accordingly, other authors will receive less from the fund.  The KDP royalty system thus depends on the integrity of the fair allocation of page reads—i.e., that authors are not artificially inflating their page reads to the detriment of other authors.
[11] Respondent… Rubio has tried to manipulate and abuse the KDP service for financial gain and to the detriment of other KDP authors and Amazon’s reputation.  Rubio has proposed to authors that he can artificially inflate their page reads in return for a share of their additional profits—as a kick-back…

Here’s the problem with this complaint

I contacted HARO and found an attorney who practices international law.  Per our conversation, on its face, it seems reasonable to arbitrate this matter.  But, should Amazon prove its case, it is unclear to what extent the company would be able to recoup damages (if any) from a sole proprietor in the Philippines.

Secondly, although I am not an attorney (and I don’t play one on TV) while I was a news producer, I took and completed a substantial paralegal curriculum in an effort to improve my acumen.  Dealing with politicians and news production in general, I found it necessary and worthwhile to know and benefit from the understanding of law and legal research.

When indie authors hear of clickfarms and the manipulation of page reads, perhaps the first thing to come to mind is a scenario of a garden-variety dishonest villain based in a Third World country such as what happened with a Thailand clickfarm.  Or, perhaps a dark warehouse in some obscure, remote part of the world, with wall-to-wall e-readers on automatic.   However, this scenario is not necessarily accurate, or factual, as many of the scammers seem to be coming out of the United Kingdom, the United States, and Canada according to some authors I’ve spoken with on background.

If we can consider Amazon v. Rubio a test case, I wonder why Amazon did not go after an individual in a country where the weight of law could be more readily and perhaps evenly applied.  Especially, considering for Rubio to successfully argue his position, he will have to spend considerable resources flying to Washington State.

Page 4, para 18 of Amazon v. Rubio: Amazon requests this arbitration be conducted in person in King County, Washington, where the parties’ contractual relationship is centered…

Furthermore, and probably the most important inference in Amazon’s complaint, is that the company feels the need to protect authors/publishers against Mr. Rubio et.al who would engage in such manipulative and unethical activities against unsuspecting authors.  (Amazon v. Rubio, p3 (12).

A few months ago, the indie author world went ballistic when Kayl Karadjian’s book Dragonsoul reached Amazon’s bestseller rank presumably out of nowhere.  Authors taunted their self-righteous indignation, lit their torches, and sharpened their pitchforks against him.  But, much of the story they peddled was inaccurate.

To make a long story short, I reached out to Karadjian to get his side of the story.  A two-hour telephone conversation, which led to many conversations afterward, made me realize that the 25-year-old writer was not only a victim of a very sophisticated worldwide clickfarm scam, but he was also brutally accosted on social media by a few blog writers and Twitter individuals too lackadaisical to do one iota of independent research.  (I have an article coming out in November about Kayl Karadjian.)

I have no doubt in my mind that some unethical authors do reach out to individuals and companies running clickfarms with the intention of ‘gaming’ the system for financial profit.  But, Karadjian was not one of them. Karadjian certainly wanted to sell more books and he wants to be a best-selling author.  But, he was led to believe the company he was dealing with played the game within Amazon’s terms of service.  I suspect Amazon shares my opinion, at least in part, as after all of the negative publicity swirling around him and his book, Amazon did not terminate his author account. And, even if they had terminated his account, that doesn’t in and of itself mean he did anything wrong.  As far as termination, Amazon did actually terminate NYT and USAToday bestselling author Rebecca Hamilton’s account (albeit for a different reason) and then only after the frenzy of her social media reached Karadjian level.  You can check out Hamilton’s issue on Kboards.  Keep in mind; it seems almost everyone there has an opinion and some suddenly (as if overnight) acquired law degrees (sarcasm intended).

Quite a few authors have been duped by unethical individuals.  You never hear about them because those situations never reach the Karadjian like social media magnitude.  It doesn’t make it any less painful for these writers.  Many have lost a lot of money and reputation.  Some have even had their publishing accounts terminated unjustly and those writers have had to go to extraordinary links to have their accounts reinstated.

It seems obvious that Amazon has known about unethical clickfarms for almost two years.  And, a reasonable person could conclude that the Zon only acts when it’s forced to do so: like when the media attention is too much to bear and gives their PR department headaches.

Despite all the different ways to game the system: promotions, gifting, fake reads, publishing the same book(s) multiple times, and fake reviews (ARCs), Amazon is caught between a rock and a hard place.

Why?  Because, traditional publishers have been doing this for years—even before Amazon became a book distribution powerhouse.  Nikki Matthews, an indie author, writes a compelling blog and often discusses the milieu between traditional and indie.  Roughly explained—it amounts to scale.

Amazon pushes the concept of what they call “a positive customer experience.”  But, think about it from a different angle: think about it from the viewpoint of a publisher.  Who are Amazon’s customers?  Amazon doesn’t write the books; they sell them.  If you are an indie author, you are Amazon’s customer.  Start thinking like a publisher because writing is only 20% of book production. The other part (roughly 80%) comes in the form of marketing, PR, book signings, conventions, conferences, author gatherings, and the like.  As an indie, it also comes in the form of getting your name out to the readers in venues like blogs, podcasts, press releases, newsletters, and social media (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter).  Most indie authors are a one-man shop; it is overwhelming.  The daunting tasks of marketing are why most independent authors simply give up within the first year.  They can’t afford a personal assistant to do all the little mundane tasks it takes to keep books in front of readers.

If you’re lucky enough to be picked up by an agent and successfully shopped to one of the ‘Big 5’ that 80% isn’t going away.  In fact, it’s expected.  Your life will actually get harder.  A friend of mine is a retired Knight Rider correspondent.  He has written several nonfiction projects. His first success came several years ago when one of his books was made into a movie.  Another nonfiction book that he wrote recently has also been made into a movie and will be coming out in early 2018. He has the same problems every indie author has—just on a different scale.  The task of publicizing gets harder as you go along.  It also gets more complicated.

So, it should come as no surprise when authors feel the need to outsource.  And, it should also come as no surprise to learn that independent authors take up the same marketing strategies as traditional publishers.

The advantage of traditional publishing is that Amazon enters into completely different contractual agreements than it does with self-published writers.

For example, both Harry Potter and The Fellowship of the Ring can be read in Kindle Unlimited.  But, you can also find both of those books on Apple and Barnes & Noble.  For a small independent author, that would be against Amazon’s terms of service.  Independent authors can’t go wide if they are in KU.

Harry Potter:

How fair is that? One could argue that fairness has absolutely nothing to do with it—and that may be true.  But, considering Amazon only puts a certain amount of money in the Kindle Unlimited kitty, would that mean that independent authors are also competing with the normalized page reads of Harry Potter and The Fellowship of the Ring? Now, all of a sudden, the issue of fairness takes on a whole different meaning.

FOTR

Perhaps, the same writers who were so quick to chastise Kayl Karadjian without knowing all the facts would be interested in getting to the bottom of this KU question.  (Note: I have emailed Amazon about this, but they have not responded.)

Speaking of emails

There are two things really hard to do on Amazon: 1) cancel your Kindle Unlimited membership; 2) as an independent writer, talk to Amazon when you have a problem or question.

Considering Amazon is all about the ‘customer experience,’ you would think they would do a better job at communication.  This is not a rant; it is a simple assessment of how hard it sometimes is, as an independent writer, to get conclusive information from Amazon.

So, what’s the solution?

Go wide.  Seriously.  I think this way for many reasons.  I have a few books in Kindle Unlimited simply to test out a particular market or strategy.  Otherwise, I use Pronoun or Draft 2 Digital depending on the genre to publish my books.

Kindle Unlimited cannot go on forever.  And even if it does, Amazon will not be able to eliminate scammers and unethical practices.  Couple that with having to compete against A-list authors for a finite share of income based on an ever decreasing normalized page read.  I’ll take my chances elsewhere.  And I have.  To be perfectly honest, I do well enough on other distribution networks.  And, I sleep better at night knowing my eggs are not totally in one basket.

Depending on the genre, I can certainly understand why some authors would choose the exclusivity with Kindle Unlimited.  I’m certainly not saying they’re wrong for doing so.  It also helps me by not having the competition elsewhere.  If indie authors would stop beating each other up and learn to work together, support each other, and collaborate in a meaningful way—life for our tribe would be much more productive and lucrative.  Sadly, I don’t see it happening.  Just like I don’t see Amazon being able to fix rank and KU manipulation.

Related articles: @toddbishop GeekWire 
Thu-Huong Ha Quartz 

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Afterword

Because this article has met with some response from mainstream publications, I think it’s important and somewhat noteworthy to drop a few lines about myself.

For over 25 years, I worked in and around mainstream media.  I started out with a local cable access station and moved up to regional.  I worked my way up to news production.  As a contractor, I covered several political campaigns, natural disasters, and other significant events; especially the somewhat local events in my general area.

From 2004-2012, my forte was satellite interviews.  Which is how I got interested in writers and publishing.  Back in those days, there was a big push in publishing (by production companies) outsourced to promote authors this way.   It was big business.  Often, a 24-minute spot would run $50,000 or more.  (Not for the station, but that was the cost of production from the  publishing end of things.)

Marketing the first ereaders: making available 100s of ebooks, newspapers, and magazines in a handheld device.
One of the first ereaders (circa 2010) at the CES Consumer Electronics Expo.

Fast forward:   I was contracted to cover CES in 2010 for CNBC, NBC (an affiliate) and BBC4 (when it was internet only). That year, e-readers hit the scene.  Primarily, the buzz was centered around how those devices would save the newspaper business.  It did not.   But, there was a backstory.  Although Amazon and Apple were not presenters, they did have techs walking around gathering intel on the technology.  Keep in mind, that Amazon and Apple both came out soon after CES with their own devices.
A chance encounter at a bar at the Red Rock in Vegas gave me the opportunity to get to know an Amazon engineer (who is no longer with the company) as we drank Johnnie Walker Blue (I wasn’t paying for it) and ogled the high-end escorts dressed in black designer outfits I couldn’t possibly pronounce.   The smartest thing I ever did (thanks to the suggestion of the owner and station manager who accompanied me) was keep those contacts and nurture the relationships with the tech guys.

I’ve always rooted for the underdog.  And, during those years, indie publishing was definitely the underdog in the high-stakes world of publishing.

After CES, I began writing my own books while keeping my day job.  I made every mistake in the book.  I had no idea what I was doing.  I didn’t even have a plan to publish my projects.  I knew nothing of finding a competent editor, proofreading, formatting an ebook.  But, I learned.  And, yes, I was swingled a few times in the process.

Even though I am no longer a news producer and semi-retired for health reasons, I still write and publish.  But, I’ve never lost the ability to ‘smell a story’ and ask the important questions that lead to important answers.  Which is why I think there is a story here with Amazon and Kindle Unlimited.   And, not only is it about transparency, it’s about my love for indie writers who want to tell a story.  We need those stories.  And, we need indie writers to succeed.    Which is why it saddens me when I see indie writers viciously going after one another without deeply considering where that vitriol will lead.   I’m not naive, I understand sometimes it might be warranted.  But, many times, it’s not and the communication process could be handled differently.

~

 

 

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Twenty Questions with Daniel Schinhofen

Daniel Schinhofen Books on Amazon
Daniel Schinhofen Books
Daniel Shcinhofen "Forming the Company" Alpha World Book 2
Daniel Shcinhofen “Forming the Company” Alpha World Book 2

I first began reading Daniel Schinhofen in March of 2017 about a month after Gamer for Life came out on Amazon.     And, then I read Forming the Company (Alpha World Book 2).

I was impressed.  Schinhofen writes well.  You get drawn into the characters quickly and they never let you go.  I’m not a book critic, and wouldn’t pretend to be one.  But, of all the #LitRPG’s, Schinhoten books stand out as some of the best.   I can only tell you what I like.  And, Alpha World is a great series.  

Check out the links at the bottom for Schinhofen’s works.

Twenty questions with Daniel Schinhofen.

If you could go back in time and tell your younger writing self any one thing, what would it be?

Follow my dreams earlier. I have been writing stuff on and off and never really finishing any of them. My grandmother, who passed last year, always encouraged us to follow our dreams. I didn’t really take the full plunge into writing until I found LITRPG.

How did you spend the first bit of money you earned as a published author?

Paid to get a cover for my first book. I had used the Amazon cover creator through KDP to begin with. Once I had money I paid a cover artist money to make me a cover for it. Which is the current cover still up on Last Horizon: Beta.

How many unfinished or unpublished books do you have?

There are a few that will never see the light of day, thank the gods for that. They are horrible and should never be seen. Books that I am currently working on two; Alpha World Book 3, Alpha Company & Apocalypse gates: Rapture. Both will hopefully be out by the end of this year.

What is your writing process? Or, how many hours a day do you write?

Most of my free time is spent writing. I don’t have a writing process though. I just sit down and write, and let the words flow. The writing takes up all the time I used to spend playing games and reading.

What was your favorite childhood book(s)? Why?

The Hobbit. No seriously, my mother read that to me at 6 years old. It was what made me start dreaming about writing a book.

On average, how long does it take you to write a book? (First draft, rewrites, edits to finally publishing).

From the start of a book to publishing? About 3 months, maybe 4, if I get a stall in the process anywhere. I am in awe of certain other authors who put a book out every month, those guys are just amazing.

We all get bad reviews sometimes when we publish.  How do you deal with bad reviews? 

Remind myself that people are dicks? Okay seriously, I still feel a small hit when I read them, if they have any merit. The ones that obviously didn’t take note of the blurb that said contains adult scenes I shrug those ones off. After that I go back to writing knowing that some people have enjoyed them, which is all I care about. Having 1 person enjoy the book as much as I enjoyed writing it was my goal with my very first book, and still is today.

How would you describe your average reader?  Or, do you even have a particular kind of person in mind when you write?

No idea, as the idea of an average person doesn’t exist to me. Everyone has their own quirks that make them them. I write for people like me. Those people who love games and love reading and want them combined. My old friends who I used to play MMO’s with, but who don’t any more due to life getting in the way. People like that are who I hope will enjoy my work.

What are your hardest scenes to write?

For me action scenes. Not my forte at all, even in books where a lot of action comes in I have a tendency to skim those scenes. Being told exactly how the MC twisted in mid-air before landing in a three-point stance to get the position needed to behead the mob he is fighting is hard for me. I like character moments more.

What is the best way you’ve found to market your books?

For me it has been word of mouth through Facebook. The multitude of pages dedicated to LITRPG has been my way. Which is good because I suck at selling myself. So props to those guys who have helped me get word out to fellow LITRPG fans.

What do you think are the challenges facing new writers?

New writers probably face the same challenges I did. Lack of experience, no editor, no money to spend on editing or a cover. I would also tell them if they think they are going to be successful to plan ahead. An LLC or similar is a good idea to help with the taxes incurred from writing.

What are some things you’ve had to sacrifice in order to write and publish?

I sacrificed my free-time, that was about it. I wrote my first work out of love, and it did okay. It did well enough for me to justify writing my second book. Which was not as good but that still gave me the courage to write my next series.

How often do you read for pleasure? How many books a year do you read?  How fast do you read (words per minute)?

I used to read 2 books a week easy. Since I started writing maybe 1 book a month. Writing really does eat up most of my time. As for my speed, no idea.

Many indie authors live and die by KU (Kindle Unlimited) and the “normalized page read).  What are your views on KU, Amazon and where do you think KU will head in the future?

Kindle unlimited has earned me the bulk of my money so far. Would I have been able to make up for it with book sales only? I don’t know but probably not to an equal extent. I would love to see KU overcome a lot of the scams and cheats that have been seen used there. I hope Amazon will devote more to it, but I doubt they will.

If it ever comes to be not as profitable I might drop KU and try to branch out to other services, but that is hopefully never going to happen. 

Many writers find editing drafts as frustrating.  How do you edit and what is your process?

Editing? Ugh why do you have to mention the ‘E’ word? I give it a going over once I’m done writing. I hand it to a good friend who is better at grammar then me and they go through it. I then go back through it again. After that, the beta readers get it, I have a lot more of them now woohoo. After I get their feedback I give it another go over then hope it is good enough and publish it.

I hope soon to get a paid editor to give it a once over as well. Hopefully in the not too distant future.

What software do you use to write?

Word.

Fans often have a preconceived notion of you.  What is one thing your fans would be surprised to learn if they really knew you or spent the whole day by your side?

Heh, hehe, hehehe, mwhahahaha. Oh wait your serious? They would probably run far and fast. Okay fine I’ll be serious; I am a geek or nerd to my core. Want to quote Monty Python, or the princess Bride, maybe the Fifth Element. I can do that and love to do it. Probably a bit too much, they would probably also be dragged into the D&D game I run on Sundays.

What did it feel like to publish your first book?

Fear, nervousness, anxiety. That is what I felt, along with a little rush of excitement. I only wanted 1 person to love the book as much as I did. Which happened, so in hindsight I should have felt more excitement.

What are some of the difficulties of writing characters of the opposite sex?

As a female friend of mine has told me, women think differently. They process information and emotions differently. When I need a cold look at something,  I hand it to her and then take her feedback.

If they turned your life into a movie, who would you want to play you? Why?

No thanks, pass. The only place that movie would be seen is in the adult sections anyway.

Okay I’ll think about it…. Ryan Reynolds, at least I know he can handle my humor.

Daniel Schinhofen on Amazon 

Goodreads Page

Patreon 

Twitter

Facebook Author Page

Facebook Group Page 

 

 

 

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24 Books Successful People Read | Inc.com

I would file this under indie author self-improvement.  I haven’t read all of these, but a good number of them are worth a look.

Source: 24 Books Successful People Read | Inc.com

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The 7 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

Like it or not, writers publishing ebooks online are entrepreneurs.  So, they should start acting like one.  That includes reading up not only on the writing and publishing crafts but business in general.

Source: The 7 Books Every Entrepreneur Should Read

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A new Amazon bookstore opened in Manhattan today

Amazon opened its second brick and mortar store in NYC hoping to tap that part of the retail market.  The Zon has stores in Seattle, Chicago, San Diego, Portland, and NYC.   Add the Whole Foods acquisition of 450 stores and you have many possibilities.   Amazon is no longer just an online giant, even if they are losing money hand over fist, right now.  Wall St. doesn’t seem to mind.

How will all this affect indie publishers is my question.  I haven’t been to an Amazon store to find out.  I would assume you’d have to have a physical book.  The Zon has a section for books rating 4.8 and above.  But, I’ve yet to figure out how online ebooks could tap into this market.   I do see a downside, especially if Amazon continues to lose money.   At what point would they decrease the size of the KU kitty?  Or, would there ever come a time when Amazon did away with paying authors for normalized page reads altogether.  It doesn’t necessarily keep me up at night, but it’s something to think about if you’re in this for the long game.

Source: A new Amazon bookstore opened in Manhattan today

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Romancing LitRPG Erotica – Eden Redd

Hey, fellow #LitRPG fans and serial readers.  Check out Eden Redd’s article on the romancing of #LitRPG.  Insightful.  Intelligent.    And, a good read about this genre and trope.  She’s also spot on.  For #LitRPG to grow, it has to expand or else it will collapse under its own weight.  Variation is key. Especially for serial readers, which is what I concentrate on.  Check her article out by clicking the link below.  I also have her feed on the left sidebar.

 

Source: Romancing LitRPG Erotica – Eden Redd

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Author Interview: Twenty Questions with Jamie Davis “Accidental Thief”

Jamie Davis author of Accidental Thief
Jamie Davis’ latest book is Accidental Thief – a LitRPG

Twenty Questions with Jamie Davis

Accidental Thief | $4.99 | 332 pages | Kindle Unlimited

 

Accidental Thief by Jamie Davis & Chris Davis
Accidental Thief by Jamie Davis & Chris Davis

Jamie Davis, RN, NRP, B.A., A.S., host of the Nursing Show (NursingShow.com) is a nationally recognized medical educator who began educating new emergency responders as a training officer for his local EMS program.  As a media producer, he has been recognized for the MedicCast Podcast (MedicCast.com), a weekly program for emergency medical providers like EMTs and paramedics, and the Nursing Show, a similar program for nurses and nursing students. His programs and resources have been downloaded over 6 million times by listeners and viewers.

Jamie lives in a home in the woods in Maryland with his wife, three children, and dog. He is an avid gamer, preferring historical and fantasy miniature gaming, as well as table top games. He writes urban and contemporary paranormal fantasy stories, among other things. His Future Race Game rules were written to satisfy a desire to play a version of the pod races from Star Wars episode 1.

20 Questions: 

If you could go back in time and tell your younger writing self one thing, what would it be?

I would tell my younger writing self to hold off on publishing that first book until I had more of the series written so I could build some reader loyalty over the first three books in the series. This is something I’ve done with my two newest series and the readers are responding in a very positive manner to getting the books faster with a new release every four or five weeks.

How did you spend the first bit of money you earned as a published author?

I think I took my wife out to dinner on my first royalty check from Amazon. We went to our favorite local place for some good home-style country fare.

How many unfinished or unpublished books do you have?

I always have a project in process but I don’t have any unpublished books in the wings like some authors do. This might be because I go ahead and publish everything I write eventually. I feel like there will always be someone who’ll enjoy a certain book or character story so why should I hold it back because of my doubts.

What is your writing process? Or, how many hours a day do you write?

I write about four hours a day, seven days a week. I get up early in the morning and write from four AM until eight or nine AM. Then I spend the afternoon working on marketing, responding to email, and connecting with readers and other writers. I also work in the afternoons on outlining the next story I’m planning to write. Then each chapter has a few sentences or a small paragraph describing what is supposed to happen. Once that’s ready, I have the info I need to flesh out the story from there into a full-sized novel.

What was your favorite childhood book(s)? Why?

That’s hard to say. I was a voracious reader as a child and read anything that was fantasy or sci-fi related. I guess if there was a single series it would be the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis. I read and re-read that series at least ten times in between reading everything else I was picking up. The books connected with me. I identified with the characters and could see myself making similar decisions and mistakes. I use this a lot when I write today. I think it’s important to connect with your readers so they can identify with the things your characters do.

On average, how long does it take you to write a book? (First draft, rewrites, edits to finally publishing)

It usually takes me two to three months to write and publish a book from start to finish. I write the first draft in a month, edit for a few weeks, get the editor/proofreader to go over it and it’s ready to go!

We all get bad reviews sometimes when we publish.  How do you deal with bad reviews?  

I celebrate one-star reviews when I get them. They are either review trolls who like to go around and leave one-star reviews on everything they see or they’re opportunities to learn from an unsatisfied reader. I see the former as a badge of success. Only successful people have others trying to drag them backward back into the pack. The latter are opportunities to improve my writing craft and connect better on the next project with the readers.

How would you describe your average reader?  Or, do you even have a particular kind of person in mind when you write?

It depends on the genre I’m writing. For LitRPG books (which I co-write with my 23-year-old son, Chris), I picture a person very much like myself or my son. Male gamers who enjoy stories about gamers and the worlds in which they play.

For my Urban Fantasy books, I picture a female reader between the ages of 30 and 60. I know these are my target readers because I’ve surveyed the readers on my email list and I know their demographics.

I think it’s really important for authors or song writers or any artist to do this if you’re trying to make a living at this craft. If you just make art for yourself (which is fine), you can’t get upset if it doesn’t connect with others. I try to find the juxtaposition between what I like to write and what I think readers will enjoy, too. So far, I’ve guessed mostly right.

What are your hardest scenes to write?

For me, it has to be romantic scenes or interactions. I don’t write sex scenes but every good story has some sort of relationships in them. It doesn’t have to be overt but attraction is part of the human condition and a story without that angle at least somewhere seems empty to me. My wife is my primary beta reader and she tells me when I need a little more interaction and tension between the main character and their primary love interest.

What is the best way you’ve found to market your books?

Building an email list is the number one way I’ve found to consistently market my books to those who’ve identified themselves as my readers. It keeps me connected to them even when I don’t have a book coming out for a few weeks or months. Then when I have something new to send their way, they are ready and waiting for it.

What do you think are the challenges facing new writers?

The challenges faced by new writers are similar to those faced by more established writers, it just a matter of scale. For the new guy (or gal), you are struggling to find and identify with your readers. I remember when I had an email list of five people. I was related to all of them. You have to start somewhere and build on that base with consistent and persistent effort. Small changes, over time, build mountains. The same is true for authors. Try to do something to improve and build on your writing business every day.

What are some things you’ve had to sacrifice in order to write and publish?

I’ve given up a lot of TV time. I don’t watch a lot of narrative TV fiction. I’ll always have the news on in the background while I write. It’s my background buzz, but I don’t watch TV much for the shows that are put out (most of the time).

How often do you read for pleasure? How many books a year do you read?  How fast do you read (words per minute)?

I love to read for pleasure. I try to read a book a week. It keeps me connected to what’s popular out there and what is working for other authors I know. I’m a pretty fast reader so I buzz through books quickly.

Many indie authors live and die by KU (Kindle Unlimited) and the “normalized page read’.  What are your views on KU, Amazon and where do you think KU will head in the future?

Whether or not you are “all-in” for KU or not (or somewhere in between like me) is a straight up business decision. I like to keep from having all my eggs in one basket which is why most of my Urban Fantasy books are available in all the various online ebook stores. For LitRPG books, though, at least half of the readers in the genre are KU readers. This makes it a good business decision to put your book in the KDP Select world for at least the first few 90-day cycles until you’ve satisfied the readers on Amazon.

Authors need to examine what their long-term goals are and not just chase short term money. Amazon could change the terms of service in a heartbeat and drop the KU program. If and when that happens, there will be a lot of unhappy authors who didn’t have a good reason and a plan for their books.

Many writers find editing drafts frustrating.  How do you edit and what is your process?

I like to read aloud to myself or have my computer read the book aloud to me. My ears catch things my eyes never would. It’s a good trick to remember , especially for those who can’t afford expensive editing services when starting out in this business.

What software do you use to write?

I’m an avid Scrivener user for my writing. I use the StoryShop.io tool for planning my books and organizing my characters and settings. When it comes time to edit and compile the final draft into a book, I move to MS Word and Vellum to edit and publish respectively.

Fans often have a preconceived notion of you.  What is one thing your fans would be surprised to learn if they really knew you or spent the whole day by your side?

I think they’d be surprised by my other artistic pursuits, whether it is my music (I play electric bass in a church praise band), or how much I like to cook and prepare food. Each of them is an outlet for my complex creative drive.

What did it feel like to publish your first book?

I felt like I’d accomplished a lot and was simultaneously proud and nervous about the reader reactions.

What are some of the difficulties of writing characters of the opposite sex?

You have to put yourself in the head of the characters you’re writing. This includes members of the opposite sex. I think it’s really helped me that I’ve learned a lot by observing my two daughters growing up in our household. They’ve taught me how women react differently to the same situation than a man would. I don’t always get it right but that’s where my wife (my #1 fan and beta reader) comes in. She sets me straight when my female characters say something out of line with who they are.

And finally, if they turned your life into a movie, who would you want to play you? Why?

My life as a movie, wow! I think I would like John Cusak to play me in the movie of my life. I’ve always identified with him and his movies growing up and I think he’d be able to get inside my head and understand my motivations and drive in life.

My notes:  Jamie, thank you for taking the time to do the “20 Questions.”  You and Chris did an outstanding job on Accidental Thief.  A lot of respect goes out to you and all nurses, first responders, law enforcement and firefighters who put their safety at risk and often putting their own lives on the line, trying to help others.

You can check Jamie Davis out on his website: http://jamiedavisbooks.com

His latest book co-written by his talented son Chris Davis is on Amazon here.  Accidental Thief

I’ve included a universal like here.  It will take you to Amazon based on your countries IP address.   Accidental Thief 

Jamie Davis’ Amazon Author Page

Follow Jamie Davis on Twitter: @podmedic
Go directly to Twitter

Facebook:  Follow and like Jamie here.

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LitRPG Forum: RPG, books, gaming, anime, and more.

Paul Bellow’s LitRPG Forum
Check out what I consider the best #LitRPG site on the internet.  A great resource and author hangout as well tons of stuff for readers of the genre.

Designed by Paul Bellow, author of Goblin and Human.  Bellow is working on his third installment in the series.   (I hope he’s not reading this – he should be writing.)  But, in case he happens to stumble across my lowly, small island in #LitRPG land – there are some things I want him to do with one of the MCs: Sarah to be exact.  I’ve fallen in love with her, as I’m sure he probably has also.  He put his heart into his writing.  And, as a reader, that makes all the difference in the world. Click the link next to ‘source’ to visit #LitRPG #Forums.   You can thank me later.

Source: LitRPG Forum: RPG, books, gaming, anime, and more.

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Top 25 Bestselling #LitRPG* Books Ending 26 AUG 2017

Short Link:  Top 25 Bestselling #LitRPG Books

Rank Kindle Book Title Author Price #Reviews #Pages
1 Life Reset: A LitRPG Novel (New Era Online Book 1) Shemer Kuznits $3.99 210 862
2 A Slave in the Locked Lands (LitRPG The Weirdest Noob Book 2) Arthur Stone $5.92 44 405
3 Shaman’s Revenge (The Way of the Shaman: Book #6) LitRPG Series Vasily Mahanenko $5.99 49 561
4 Beyond All Expectations (Emerilia Book 8) Michael Chatfield $4.99 51 374
5 Accidental Thief: A LitRPG Accidental Traveler Adventure Jamie Davis $4.99 14 332
6 Wild Wastes: Eastern Expansion Randi Darren $4.99 76 368
7 Enemy of the World (Main Character hides his Strength Book 1) Road Warrior $4.99 30 489
8 Shattered Lands: A LitRPG Series Darren Pillsbury $4.99 13 527
9 Winds of Fate: Epic LitRPG Adventure (Fayroll – Book 3) Andrey Vasilyev $6.95 19 344
10 Gamer for Life (Alpha World Book 1) Daniel Schinhofen $3.99 205 397
11 Earth’s Gambit (The Gam3 Book 2) Cosimo Yap $3.99 43 412
12 Reboot: An Epic LitRPG (Afterlife Online Book 1) Domino Finn $4.99 83 470
13 The Builder’s Sword (The Legendary Builder Book 1) J.A. Cipriano $4.99 87 338
14 Life in the North: An Apocalyptic LitRPG (The System Apocalypse Book 1) Tao Wong $4.99 165 336
15 Dead Mech Walking: a mech LitRPG novel (Armored Souls Book 1) Xavier P. Hunter $4.99 19 417
16 Forming the Company (Alpha World Book 2) Daniel Schinhofen $3.99 137 396
17 Ascend Online Luke Chmilenko $6 313 454
18 SpeedRunner (Tower of Babel Book 1) Adam Elliott $4.99 75 360
19 Fantasy Online: Hyperborea: A LitRPG Saga Harmon Cooper $4.98 49 572
20 Shadow Gambit – New Edition (LitRPG: Shadow For Hire Book 1) Adam Drake $2.99 3 224
21 Awaken Online: Catharsis Travis Bagwell $5.99 1,002 526
22 Eden’s Gate: The Sparrow: A LitRPG Adventure Edward Brody $4.99 138 424
23 Valhalla Online Book 3 – Vengeance Over Vanaheim: A LitRPG Saga Kevin McLaughlin $2.99 8 187
24 Resurgence: The Rise of Resurgence Book I Joshua W. Nelson $3.99 110 382
25 Zandaria: The Unintentional Troll: Book 1 of The LitRPG Zandaria Series (Zandaria LitRPG Series) Fritz Foley $2.99 1 133

 

*The Top 25 bestsellers list is based on my proprietary algorithm.  I will write an article soon explaining how it works and thank the engineers who were involved in helping me create it.

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A new novel | Space Opera and Science Fiction Action Adventure

Source: A new novel | Space Opera and Science Fiction Action Adventure

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