Category Archives: Internal Debate 42

Surreality Groupees Bundle

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Surreality is now available as part of the Groupees Community Bundle 7, running for the next few weeks.

Groupees is a great bundle website, featuring indie gaming, music, videos and comics as well as content from more established publishers. Long-time readers of the blog may know that I’m a fan of the bundle model as a way to offer more unique content, and as an alternative to the Amazon behemoth.

By default, 20% of your purchase of the Community Bundle goes to A Heart For Amanda, a wonderful cause helping to defray the medical expenses of a mother of two who needs a heart transplant. I didn’t know at the time I submitted to this bundle that this would be the charity, but I couldn’t think of anything better. Earlier in my 20’s I had to have a heart-ablation to correct a defect called WPW, which can cause sudden rapid heartbeat.* I can’t even imagine how much scarier it must be to need a new heart. And Groupees donates 20% as opposed to the 0.5% donated by Amazon Smile so you’re really making a difference even with a small purchase.

The Bundle is pay-what-you-want with a $1 minimum (a 75% discount on my book + a whole lot of other cool content). The rest of the bundle is an eclectic mix of games and music including a lawnmower simulator and games like Push the Crate and SweatShop. For the top-contributor (as of this writing only $5) you get a signed copy of Surreality and the entire digital catalog of one of the music contributors (Panda P.I., which raises so many questions. Is he a P.I. who investigates Pandas, or is he a Panda Detective?). The majority of the stuff is DRM free, including my book which comes in all of the eBook formats.

The bundle runs for another 13 days, so if you’ve been thinking about checking out Surreality, or you just really have the urge to cut lawns on your computer, why don’t you go check it out? Please spread the word on Twitter, Facebook and all the other social media areas we 30-somethings have probably neverĀ heard of šŸ™‚

*Incidentally being awake while they shock your heart is quite the experience šŸ™‚ (I’m all better now, no worries for like 8 years at least).Ā 

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New Release – Adult Coloring Book: Fractals

So here’s what I’ve been up to the last couple of months…

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My latest book, Adult Coloring Book: Fractals, is available now on Amazon!

I’m excited to publishing this book with Green Frog Publishing, a small Indie Publisher based in Vermont. This book is actually the second in a series of coloring books, the first of which is a great set of hand-drawn images of the Adirondacks by Dave Campbell.

This book has been a real collaborative effort, including the proofreading talents of one Mr. Brian Buckley, cover and website art by my wife, and editing by Cecilia Bizzoco. Green Frog’s been just great, providing a lot of personal attention and developmental feedback to make this a better book than anything IĀ could have done alone.

The Adult Coloring Book: Fractals is a collection of 25 fractal images for you to color and enjoy. Along the way you’ll learn the basics about fractals, and how some of the individual images were created. Most of this is all new material exclusive to this book (we’ll talk more later in the week about the production process). There’s also an extensive glossary with even more fractal explorations and resources (any glossary that includes a definition for the “Genesis Effect” is okay in my book).

I think fractals are uniquely suited to adult coloring books in that they offer a lot of freedom for interpretation. How you color these images is entirely up to you. Just seeing some of the work my wife put together really made these fractals come alive for me.

You can check out some of the images from this book on my new website BenTrubeFractals.com or buy the book from Amazon.com. Particularly check out the “Play with Fractals” tab for some of the unique L-Systems in this book.

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Surreality Released and Your Questions Answered

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My latest book, Surreality, is now available wherever fine books are sold. I thought rather than give you the hard sell again, I’d answer a few of the questions I’ve been getting lately:

Q. Will your book keep me warm during these cold winter nights?

A. If you buy the paperback version I suppose you could burn it for fuel. Though a better idea would be to read it under a warm blanket with a cup of hot chocolate.Ā If you do decide to use it as kindling, you can get the Kindle version for only 0.99 through matchbook.

Q. What’s this Surreality diet I keep hearing about?

A. It would probably be false advertising to call an Irish EggrollĀ and something called a Gut-Buster a diet, but your tummy will be very happy.

Q. So what’s it likeĀ to finally releaseĀ the book? Is it … surreal?

A. Yes. Yes it is.

Q. Will I like this book if I’m not from Columbus or Ohio?

A. Of course! Even if you’re from … that state up north.

Q. No seriously, I’ve been reading your blog for four years, how do you say your name again?

A. True-bee. On the other hand, if you buy the book, call me whatever you want.

Q. Wait. The dog in the book is named Garfunkel, and you dedicated it to your dog Simon. I see what you did there.

A. Was that a question?

Q. What’s the best pizza on OSU Campus?

A. Fly Pie. Don’t let the Adriatico’s people fool you. Or free pizza. Free pizza is the best.

Q. What if I like this book? Will there be more?

A. Already working on it. I promise there will be another Surreality book before another fractal book. Probably.

Q. What’s next for you?

A. Sleep. Then maybe beer.

Thanks so much to everyone who’s been a part of this book!

—————-

Buy Surreality from these and many other fine bibliotechories:

  • AmazonĀ (Kindle + Paperback (w/Matchbook))
  • Barnes & NobleĀ (Nook + Paperback)
  • Apple iBookstoreĀ (For John)
  • Smashwords (Has Kindle, ePub and PDF formats DRM free!)
  • KoboĀ (It’s an anagram for book!)
  • BlioĀ (For those who want to read it really fast)
  • CreateSpace (Barebones store, but more of your money goes to the author)

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Surreality Available Now for Pre-Order, Releases 12/8

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Surreality is coming out in five days!

Just in time for a little cozy winter reading (if Columbus finally decides to pick a temperature and stick with it).

After a whirlwind couple of weeks of formatting, proofing and making various grumbling noises at my computer, I am pleased to announce Surreality will be released 12/8. The eBook version is available from just about every online retailer imaginable, including many I hadn’t heard of. (Might want to do a post on Blio at some point, since a certain Mr. Ray Kurzweil apparently has a connection to it).

You can find links to many of the online book stores to your right or you can click here for:

If you buy from Smashwords, you get the book in mobi (Kindle), ePub (Almost everything else) and PDF (Literally almost everything) DRM free. If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you know I’m a fan of actually owning my eBooks, and Smashwords is one of the best ways to do it.

The print edition is being published on CreateSpace and is actually available now if you buy direct, and in a few more days on Amazon. I just got the proof a few days ago, and opening that box was pretty exciting. Thankfully, producing a print edition of a fiction book is actually pretty easy and affordable. I remember calculating for the fractal book that I would have to cut 100 pages and sell the book for $60 to break even (unless I went for black and white I guess).

Thanks again to everyone who supported the Kindle Scout campaign and this book throughout its production. Your support helped with motivation to get this done in the final crunch weeks.

 

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Kindle Scout – My Submission

As of about 10pm last night, I have submitted my next book Surreality for consideration under the Kindle Scout program.

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Right now I’m in the waiting period for my materials to be reviewed. In a few days I should be receiving details as to the launch date of the 30 day campaign, as well as previews of how the site will look. It’s a bit of a nervous feeling, more so even than when I published my fractal books. The one payoff of those projects is that they were available for purchase pretty much immediately after I uploaded them. Here I have 45 days to wait and see if Amazon Press will be publishing my book, or if I’ll work with Kindle Direct Publishing as I did before.

A lot of things went into preparing the campaign. They say you can do it in 15 minutes, but they’re only talking about the literal form filling out process (and that’s if you don’t read the EULA as I did). Since this is a blog chronicling technology and aspects of the writing process I thought this would be a good time to give you my impressions of submitting to Kindle Scout, and help fill in a few gaps in the FAQ’s they provide.

Treat this like a real publishing contract, because it is:

The short version of this statement is don’t assume anything. The Kindle Press contract has some specific terms about what rights go to Amazon and when and how they revert to you. Even if you aren’t selected for publication the materials on the Kindle Scout website are not automatically removed.

  • Amazon will remove your materials from the Kindle Scout site after you request it in writing (but not automatically).
  • If you publish with Kindle Press certain rights automatically renew if sales goals are met, while others can be reverted to you if Kindle Press hasn’t exercised them or sales targets are not met. Again, this doesn’t happen automatically. You have to request reversion of your rights.
  • Amazon sets the price of the book. No big surprise but it might be a factor for some people. They control the marketing.

My advice is to print a hard copy of the EULA as well as saving a digital copy to your computer. And I know it’s long, but do read it. It’s not a bad deal, but you should understand it.

Author Questions / Bio

You can select author questions from a list of about 15 questions Amazon has come up with. Responses are 300 characters long for each question. Use this space to talk about books you like and what inspires you. Your Bio is only 500 characters and probably should be more about who you are and where you live.

Look at other submissions

It was very helpful to me to see what others were doing for things like their descriptions and taglines. 45 characters is not much space to describe your book, but you’d be amazed what some people come up with. The tagline should evoke the feeling of the book, the description should tell you what the book is about.

Make your thank you a thank you

This is a personal opinion, but I don’t think a thank you should be sales pitch as Amazon suggests. You’ve already mentioned where people can find you in social media links, maybe answers to questions and your bio. Let the thank you statement just be a thank you for people who took the time to vote for you.

Submit a book that’s ready to publish

I don’t know how this is going to go, but Surreality is coming out one way or another. I’ve voted on a number of other books on the site, some that have been selected for publication, and others that haven’t. If you vote for a book, you’ll get a notice if the author self-publishes it on Amazon and it’s probably a good idea to do this when people still remember who you are. As for the books that won, Amazon expects a final draft with 30 days of you being picked and will go ahead with what you’ve submitted if you don’t update them. Again, this is the real deal, treat it as such.

Tomorrow I’ll talk a bit about the cover shoot. Anyone else got a campaign running?

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Giving Scouting Another Look

A little less than a year ago, I wrote about a new Amazon program called Kindle Scout.

The bottom-line is this:

  • Readers read excerpts of books and vote for their favorites (up to 3 per month). This voting data is used by Amazon to consider the next crop of books it will publish out of Kindle Scout. If a book you voted for is picked, you get a free copy.
  • Authors whose books are selected get a $1500 advance, 50% eBook royalty and a 5 year exclusive Amazon publishing contract (plus marketing promotions, audiobook and international sales,etc.)

According to the Scout FAQ you retain print rights, which you can use to publish the book through a traditional publisher or through CreateSpace. It’s a little unclear if the book would be eligible for Kindle Matchbook (free or discounted eBook copies for purchasers of the physical book) under these circumstances.

Keeping print rights is actually important to me for a couple of reasons:

  • The fractal books were too expensive to produce print copies, so I never got something I could hold in my hand after a year and a half of work. This was understandably a little disappointing.
  • Print copies allow me to gift my book to friends easily, with signed copies.
  • I can take advantage of unconventional local scale marketing by donating books to little library boxes.
  • There’s at least the possibility that I could sell the book to local independent book stores.

The pros and cons of going with Scout seem to be these:

Pros:

  • Money up front.
  • Amazon featured marketing, beyond the programs you can get through KDP.

Cons:

  • Lower eBook royalty.
  • Less control over how the book is priced, marketed.
  • Long Amazon exclusivity. Less flexibility to try other channels.

Truthfully, I’m on the fence about this. I like the control that comes from going “full indie”, but I recognize that can make it a lot harder for a book to be discovered. And there’s a certain amount of upfront interest that has to be generated for the book for it even to make Amazon’s cut.

Have any of you tried Scout? What has been your experience?

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Amazon Scouts for new talent

Or actually they get you to do it.

Amazon seems to be rolling out new programs for its readers and writers every couple of months. This latest, Kindle Scout, offers readers the chance to vote for the next big thing in books, or more specifically, who gets a 5 year contract and $1500 advance from Amazon.

For readers it doesn’t seem like a particularly bad deal. You get to sample the first few pages of a lot of authors, pick your favorites, and if a lot of people agree with you, you get a free copy of the full book. Even if you don’t get free books, odds are you’ll have found something new you might not otherwise have discovered.

And for writers it’s not so bad either, particularly if you’re just starting out. The full terms are a 5-year renewable contract for exclusive worldwide eBook and audio-book rights in return for the $1500 advance and a 50% royalty. True, you have less control over how your book is published than you do with Amazon’s 70% self-publishing option, but you also have Amazon’sĀ Featured Marketing which seems to include participation in Kindle Unlimited and the Lending Library (both things you get with the exclusive 70% option) but also e-mail and targeted promotions (whatever that means).

If you read the Publisher’s Lunch newsletter, then you know that $1500 advance is not a big deal, but it is a nice one. Here’s how the calculation works for someone who was going to sell their book exclusively on Amazon for the 70% option at $2.99.

To earn $1500 in royalties you would need to sell 717 copies of your book (assuming no appreciable transmission fees that cut into your royalty) at $2.99 (70% royalty). If you think you’re going to sell less copies of your book, then a $1500 advance is pretty good. Just to compare apples to apples you’d need to sell about $2143 in merchandise to earn $1500 if you go it alone.

To earn your advance if published by Kindle Press you’d need $3000 in sales before you’d start earning additional royalties (regardless of the individual price of each book which is a little difficult to parse and probably will vary on Kindle Scout). That might sound like a lot more, but hopefully Amazon’s marketing would help with that as they obviously have some interest in you earning the money they paid for you.

Problems I see are these: If a book is really popular in its Scout campaign, it stands a risk of most of its copies going to the people who voted for it, and not for people who spent money. And exactly how much social media or random reader clout is necessary to break the threshold is a little nebulous as well, and probably varies from cycle to cycle. Amazon might take a risk on you initially, but if you don’t earn your advance or maybe even the $25,000 they hope you’ll earn in your 5-year contract, they may not give you another one. That’s true for just about anywhere in the publishing industry though so maybe its worth the risk.

And some people in the literature community might be uncomfortable with the idea of books being selected by popular vote, and not by the standards of literary agents and publishers. Scout’s genres at the moment are sci-fi, mystery and romance, which have always been more populist genres, but this is a real experiment in whether the crowd can actually pick quality.

But that’s really what our publishing landscape looks like these days. Readers and writers alike need to be willing to experiment to find what works for them. I’m not sure if I’d submit a book to this program or not, but I am considering it. If I do, I hope I can count on all of you to vote for me and in return I’ll vote for you to šŸ™‚

Have you guys checked out Kindle Scout? Thoughts?

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