Read Deeply or Suck Mightily

A Young Girl ReadingAll exaggeration intended, but scientific and unscientific studies alike are coming up with the same conclusion: People who read deeply are pretty much better people in every way.

A recent post over at TIME emphatically states that deep reading creates more real life empathy (the opposite of jerkathy). Over at Elite Daily they have this to say in regards to studies done by leading sciencticians:

[People who read deeply] can entertain other ideas, without rejecting them and still retain their own. While this is supposed to be an innate trait in all humans, it requires varying levels of social experiences to bring into fruition and probably the reason your last partner was such a narcissist.

In case you are still hemming over the definition of deep reading, let me clear things up for you. (Let me reassure you, yes, you suck.) [Read more...]

Discount Books Daily, Discount Book Recommendation

dbd_logoIf you find books via the internet, you’ve probably already begun to use email recommendation services such as BookBub and Pixel of Ink to help you find deeply discounted ebooks (and sometimes paperbacks).

There are several of these services out there. From a writer’s point of view, I look for the ones with the largest subscriber base, to get the biggest bang for my buck. BookBub owns the title of largest with somewhere around 2 million subscribers. But, some users have become rather ho hum over the offerings provided.

See, if these services begin recommending books the subscribers buy and then find to be poorly written or wrongly recommended, the service looses its value and authority. [Read more...]

Epifiction, the Future of Classroom Literature

Shipwrecked by Jacci TurnerSome of you may not be aware that I’ve launched a new business. Epifiction LLC is officially a thing now. Epifiction.com exists (although it is still a work in progress). Today, I can include Epifiction’s first cover reveal. Shipwrecked will be one of the four interactive serials to launch live this fall/winter. The Adventures of Cosmo and Chancho will be another.

For anyone unfamiliar with Epifiction, here is the quick and dirty:

Epifiction is an interactive, serial fiction subscription service for schools. That means we will generate weekly episodes of fiction based on the interactive feedback of students. In other words, Epifiction is both the digital evolution of choose-your-own adventure and the future of classroom literature.

What Epifiction means to young readers:

I hope these weekly, digital, cliff-hanger style installments that give readers three options for how the story continues will provide thrills for both the avid young reader and the reluctant one. Epifiction is providing opportunities for young people to participate in the story telling process and connect with authors and artists. This is all stuff I would have killed for as a kid. If you would have told the 12 year old version of me that I could read butt-kicking stories on a handheld electrical device, I would have spewed chunks and said, “Awesome.” Now I’m telling kids they can read and actively shape them. O.M.G. [Read more...]

Subscription Based Serial Fiction: The Technical Problems

bluefirereaderWhen it comes to delivering serial fiction directly to the reader, Amazon has set the bar high. By operating the Kindle Serial Store, creating the Kindle device and rendering their branded ereading app ubiquitous across multiple platforms (iOS, Droid, etc.), they can take your money and deliver the product to your reading device of choice with one click. Booyah. And they will continue to deliver the serial installments every two weeks until the story has run its course. (Pay once, ie. subscribe, and the rest takes care of itself.)

If any storyteller is serious about monetizing serial fiction outside of the Kindle Serial Store, this high bar has to be the goal. Readers will demand it.

One Click Must Do it All! (But How?)

How does an indie writer attempt such a monumental technical and organizational feat? The most obvious solution to me was also the least practical: Create a specialized app of my own that will bridge my fiction onto every smartphone and tablet out there with access to Droid, Windows, or iOS app stores.

Since this requires a chunk of change upfront, as well as the determination to update the application continuously across all platforms… I quickly crossed this off the list of personal options. I don’t want to go into app development. I want to write stories from which I generate a living wage.

That leaves the indie writer/entrepreneur shopping for go-between services and trying to piece together a network to mimic the one Amazon has built. Let’s break down the necessary pieces: (and my preferences so far) [Read more...]

Subscription Based Serial Fiction (Direct to Reader): Has the Time Come?

iphone-ereaderThe Holy Grail (for some) seems nearer to hand than ever before. The time is ripe, the technology is there. Storytellers since the beginning of time have been drawn to episodic narrative. Great characters demand repeat stories be told of them. And the audience loves to keep coming back for more.

Subscription and the Written Word

The most cunning and successful model for monetizing serial fiction has always been subscription. In recent history this was most evident in newspaper and magazine. The upfront promise of payment by consumers made the publication of the story possible, while the routine and regularity of the media delivered tantalizing snippets in a convenient manner. It was a win/win.

The times have changed. The desire to tell and enjoy good stories hasn’t. Television, and more recently platforms such as Netflix and Hulu, continue to emphasize our love of serialized and episodic story. When it comes to visual media, we consumers receive the best of both worlds–we can allow the storyteller to tease us along on a weekly basis, or we can gorge at the trough of story by watching multiple episodes until our bleary eyes explode.

But what about the written story? Web fiction has quietly been popular in small circles of readers for a decade. The Kindle Store created an epic shift in the digital storytelling landscape by breaking down the gates and trampling the gatekeepers. Now readers have more direct access to writers than ever before.

In 2012, the inevitable finally came to fruition when Amazon created an online store specifically for serial fiction. It became possible for consumers to pay a small upfront cost and then receive regular installments/episodes of serial fiction delivered directly to their kindle ereading devices or apps.

Amazon: The New Gatekeepers [Read more...]

Amazon Does it Again (Why Can’t Anyone Else?)

kindlecountdowndeal_hauntedhouse1_560I soiled myself this afternoon, just a little. And it wasn’t from the pizza I left out overnight (again). The afore stated befoulment happened after skimming an email I received from Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP).

I always read these emails close enough to see if for some magical reason Amazon has selected me to be the next instant rags-to-riches self-pubbed author. (I have delusions, okay?) This time, I quickly realized the email was about the Kindle Countdown Deals I learned of this morning (from another blog I follow).

The Kindle Countdown Deals Go Beyond Cute

I hadn’t looked too closely into the “countdown deals,” instead dismissing it as another nifty Amazon strategy to suck authors and publishers into exclusivity with KDP (via KDP Select). I decided a year ago that KDP wasn’t really for me. The benefit of being able to easily “pulse” scheduled promotions of my titles didn’t override my desire to spread my content far and wide.

I don’t like to be tied down. One committed relationship in my life is enough. I’m a child of Generation X, dagnabbit. The man’s constantly trying to get me down, and I don’t even know who the man is! (Oh, it’s Amazon, that’s right.)

Anyway, so back to the reason I had to bidet my backside. On the surface, the Countdown Deal allows the author/publisher to run a promotion on Amazon which displays an actual countdown timer revealing when the promotional deal will expire.

Clever, right? Now the first thing to catch the reader’s eye will be an inanimate salesperson tapping the reader’s shoulder and saying, “This deal is for a limited time only! Get it now, or forever regret your lack of fortitude, you gutless wonder! Don’t shop around! Buy, buy, buy!”

While clever, this is by no means enough to drag me back to KDP Select and its exclusive demands. Then I read the next bullet point in the email I received:

  • Retain a 70% royalty rate – You will earn royalties based on your regular royalty rate and the promotional price. As a result, if you are using the 70% royalty option, you’ll earn 70% even if the price is below $2.99.

What the crap!? Did I read that right? I mean, son of a–[deep breaths]–

You had me at, ‘$$$.’ [Read more...]

Kobo Writing Life Adds Free Tracking

Writing LifeI’m beside myself with nerdy glee. One of my largest requests for Kobo’s self-publishing platform, Writing Life, has been fulfilled. Now self-pubbers can track their free “sales” or downloads.

Why is this so important? Well, it reveals a mountain of reading and consuming trends inside the loyal kobo using world.

For example:

It turns out that I’ve “sold” 37,566 free downloads in the last year. This is a significant number that far outstrips my free downloads on Amazon. You heard me. I had more downloads of my book, Fistful of Reefer, on Kobo over the last year than Amazon. This tells me that the small fish in a big pond philosophy has some teeth when it comes to Kobo. I was able to get Fistful on top 100 free list on Kobo several months ago (it is currently listed at #100). At the time it was ridiculously hard to find free ebooks on Kobo outside of that list. Now it is possible to find some via category if you have a kobo device (but not via their website).

Why am I happy almost 40,000 people downloaded my product for free?

[Read more...]