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"Roundheads and Ramblings"

October 2013

Amazon's New Matchbook Plan

A quick update.  I spent all of yesterday corresponding with the Kindle Matchbook team, over the way the Matchbook notification appears on my Amazon product pages.  I see it plainly on "Left by the Side of the Road" and "The Dilemma of Arnulf  of Lisieux."  So what's the problem?  Well, neither of those books has ever sold in paperback on Amazon, so no one is eligible to ge a Matchbook deal on their Kindle editions. Yes, that's the first thing to remember about all of this.  In order to get a matching Kindle version at less than half price, you have to have purchased the paperback version first from Amazon.  Buying the book at a book talk or from my own website doesn't count.

But that's not the biggest problem.  I couldn't see the announcement at all on my product pages for "Beyond All Price," "The Road to Frogmore," or "The Second Mouse Gets the Cheese."  Those three books all sold multiple paperback copies on Amazon, so their purchasers were eligible for the bargain Kindles -- provided they could see the link.  I could not verify that the links were there.  They still don't appear when I access the pages.  However, others have told me that they are there.  And I saw them myself when I logged in on someone else's account.  Kindle can't explain it either,  We've tried most everything -- resetting programs, emptying the cache, refreshing the screen, changing browsers.  You name it -- we've already done it.

If you purchased a paperback version of one of these books, you can get a Kindle edition for just 99 cents.  Hope someone tries it so we know for sure.

In the meantime, I suspect Amazon is trying to pacify me, because they issued one of their special promotional emails this morning:
I probably won't take advantage of it.  I happen to have several copies of that book. But maybe someone will.

Just yesterday someone asked me for advice on using KDP publishing.  What can I say? Working with Amazon is always an adventure






Amazon's Latest Ploy. Do You Think It Will Work?

Kindle MatchBook Now Available – Over 70,000 Books Enrolled, and Counting
Kindle MatchBook offers customers the ability to buy the Kindle editions of print books purchased from  for  or less
Enrolled titles include Life of PiThe Bonfire of the Vanities, WOOLThe Alchemist, Goodnight, Goodnight Construction Site and All-New X-MEN Vol. 1
--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 29, 2013-- (NASDAQ: AMZN)—Today,  launched Kindle MatchBook, a new benefit that gives customers the option to buy—for , , , or free—the Kindle edition of print books they have purchased new from . Over 70,000 books are enrolled in Kindle MatchBook, with more being added every day. Now customers can visit www.amazon.com/kindlematchbook to see all of their print books that are eligible for the Kindle MatchBook edition. Customers can also see when a book is eligible for Kindle MatchBook on the book’s detail page.
The program was announced on  with over 10,000 titles. Since then, thousands of popular books like Heaven is for RealThe Things They Carried andThe Way of Kings have been added from major publishers such as HarperCollins, Macmillan, Houghton , , Wiley, Chronicle Books, and Marvel, as well as thousands of titles from  authors like The Walk by  and Falling Into You by .
“It’s been great to see the positive response to MatchBook from both readers and publishers,” said , Vice President, Kindle Content. “MatchBook enrollment has grown from 10,000 to 70,000 titles in just a few weeks and we expect it will keep expanding rapidly in the months ahead.”
Kindle MatchBook features include:
  • Kindle editions at a great price:  customers who purchase or have purchased qualifying print books can get the Kindle edition for prices that are, , , or free.
  • For book purchases dating back to 1995: Print purchases all the way back to 1995—when  first opened its online bookstore—will qualify once a publisher enrolls a title in Kindle MatchBook.
  • Easy discovery: Readers can easily look up their entire print book order history to discover which of their past purchases are enrolled in Kindle MatchBook.
  • Popular Kindle-only features: As with regular purchases, Kindle MatchBook titles have unique features such as Whispersync, Popular Highlights and X-Ray.
  • Read anywhere capabilities: In addition to Amazon’s best-selling Kindle devices, customers can download a free Kindle reading app for iPhone, iPad, Android tablets and phones, PC or Mac and start building their Kindle library today.
KDP authors who have a corresponding print book on  can enroll their titles in the program now at http://kdp.amazon.com. Authors that would like to create a print version of their book for free can visit www.createspace.com

I'm withholding judgment on this program from an author's point of view until I see whether it makes any difference in my purchasing reports.  So far, only Left by the Side of the Road shows up as a Matchbook offering, although I've enrolled the others. But I wonder what readers think.  Note that if you buy the print version of a title, you get to buy the Kindle version for less than half the list price. But do you want both versions? Will this offer lure you to order the print version just so you can get the Kindle version for 99 cents?  Will you go back and buy Kindle versions of books you purchased in the 1990s? 

I'm a Drop-Out and NaNoWriMo Hasn't Even Started Yet.

On October 8th, I posted a brave little proposal here.  I had decided to enter National Novel Writing Month, but since I already had my November dates pretty well filled up with a book tour and two other trips, not to mention a holiday, I had decided to start in October and simply designate 30 days out of two months to do the NaNoWriMo challenge of writing 50,000 words of a novel.

So how have I done? Well, I was trying to finish a manuscript that was already at 67,000 words, but nowhere near finished. I've been able to declare 14 writing days so far, and I've produced 22,433 new words.  That's not quite up to the goal of 1667 a day, but 1602 a day is pretty close.  I'm pleased, especially since there are still 4 October days to go. BUT . . .BUT. . .  I've been sitting here looking at what I have accomplished and where I want to go.  And the hard truth is that there's no way I can stretch this book out for another 28,000 words.  Not gonna happen!

My book manuscript now stands at 89,433 words.  That's already long enough to be a book.  And the story is wrapping itself up.  I'm not really very good at plotting out a story line from start to finish before I start to write.  I know there are a lot of writers who can do that, and I admire them, but I'm not one of them.  I'm not completely happy being a "pantser" either.  Pantsers just apply seat of pants to seat of chair and start writing without a clue as to where the story is headed.  I tend to start with a pretty clear idea of what's going to happen and how the story will develop.  But sometimes the characters surprise me and I find it's wiser to let them have their heads rather than force them into a preconceived mold.

That's what happened in this case.  I started out with the idea that I was writing about a married couple, one from the South and one from the North during the Civil War.  I knew what kind of troubles they would face. But what I didn't know was which character would prove to be the stronger of the two.  Oh, I had an idea, but it turned out I was wrong. (No, I'm not going to reveal which one it is!) Let's just leave it at this -- that the story has already reached a dramatic crescendo and then resolved itself into a surprising but highly satisfactory result. To carry it on for another 28,000 words (that's like 14 more chapters!) would be an anti-climax to disappoint everyone, including me.  There are details to wrap up, of course, and final resolutions of secondary story lines, but when a story has made its point, it's time to shut up.

"Damned Yankee" will end up being about 100,000 words -- long enough for a good juicy read but not so long that the reader will be mumbling, "OK, enough, already!"

I wish the very best of luck to all the people who are starting brand new books on Friday.  This experience will be an exercise in self-discipline, agony, sore fingers, tired butts, and aching backs, but it's also an exciting way to discover that --yes, indeed, you DO have a story inside of you waiting to get out.  Have fun, take it seriously, and produce something great.  Just remember that there is more to writing than a word count.  Listen to your story, to your characters, and let them guide you.  I'll be rooting for you even if I'm not slogging along beside you.

Today's News--Kindle Book Is Available

At least I think it is!  I've spent a large portion of today trying to negotiate with Amazon.  And I know what some of you are thinking. "Negotiate? With Amazon? Are you completely out of your mind?"  Ok. OK. I agree.  But it would be nice to have my books listed correctly.  That makes life easier for me and for my readers.  I would think that would be Amazon's goal, too, since they're the ones making a profit. 

Here's where we stand at the moment.  I have now published the second edition of "Left by the Side of the Road" in both paperback and in a brand new Kindle second  edition.  The old version of the Kindle edition is no longer available.  If you have the first version, great.  But you should not be able to purchase it new anywhere.  (Hah! That's the first roadblock.  It does turn up now and then.  I'm still trying to chase it down and kill it, but it has a certain zombie-like nature.  I'm thinking of labeling it as my "walking-dead book."--published by Katzenzombiehaus Books.
 
Where Amazon and I fall into our differences is in their linking process between the paperback and the Kindle edition.  And just try talking to them on the phone.  The same pleasant-voiced people cannot handle both Kindle and paper books. Each one simply says to contact the other. Aarrgghh! Never mind.  I shall continue to fight.

In the meantime, here's where you might like to go to order the new paperback edition, all 228 pages of it.  It contains the old stories, but I've rearranged then and added thirteen new ones.  To order your copy, go to http://www.amazon.com/Left-Side-Road-Characters-without/dp/0984592830

Or, if you want the newest Kindle version, go here: http://www.amazon.com/Left-Side-Road-ebook/dp/B00G5M2M6C

And if someone tries to sell you a copy of the old book (hint, it has only 119 pages and it doesn't show "Second Edition" on the front cover), break out the garlic, grab a stake and drive it through the heart of the book, and then run.  It is close to Halloween, after all.
Update: Garlic works.!The links seem to be functioning this morning.  Order away!

This Brochure Will Be Cropping Up in Bluffton, SC, Soon