Monthly Archives: September 2013

The mystery of Kindle book sales

In surfing through the Kindle community forum I was intrigued by the number of questions from authors who wanted to know how many books they have sold.  I understand the confusion. Here is why. On an authors report page for example, I could click ‘Prior six weeks royalties.’ When I do that I see a list of daily activity. Using made up numbers in no way associated with my sales, I can see on a certain date I sold four books. It shows my royalty percentage and in the last column it shows royalties due me, which oddly shows 0.00. Scanning through the columns one can find the same royalty amount paid for a sale of one book, as for thirteen books. Does this make sense to you?

Thus the chain of questions in Kindle Forum.  The report also shows the amount of free downloads of your book. One is required to offer it free five times within 90 days if you signed up for Kindle Direct Publishing,  thus the free books and lost income for starving authors. I can tell which days were free because the number of downloads is unusually high. I have to guess because there is nothing to say free book downloads. And looking at one particular date, I see  some wonderful soul actually bought the book on a free day. That only adds to the confusion, assuming I’m reading this report correctly.

 One would think there is an easier way to generate a sales report of books. One column for sales with actual royalties generated for the day, a column for free downloads. Something basic, something sensible, something even a writer can understand. Writers just don’t get respect. At the Oscars, writers get the worst seats, usually in the back row of the balcony.

But wait dear friends and Kindle authors. Just below ‘Prior six weeks royalties’  is ‘Prior months royalties.’ Click that and you get a report on an Excel spreadsheet that includes all the information a writer wants to know. Thank your very much.

So why did the first report not have that needed information? Why the confusing style of report? Why was it not like the second report?

It is just the looniness of e-book writing, which is one of the reasons I started this blog in the first place. I knew there would always be something to write about.

Here is my authors page, not to be confused with sales reports.


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Does this offend you as it does me

There is a blog I subscribed to (note the use of past tense) that I unfollowed because of what I consider a crass appeal.

The person in question bemoaned his future as a writer. He said he began writing because he wanted to reach people, to make them feel something, to connect to his readers, doing so for the sake of art, not money. But alas, he has bills to pay. He was asking for donations, with a ‘click here’ button. The tone of the blog was of the starving artist, one with nobility and good intentions, yet is struggling to pay bills.  It bordered on a telethon plea to help Jerry’s Kids. I think his next step is to write emails for Ugandan scam artists who for a small fee that you pay them with be able to get millions in bank funds that you can share in. Please click here.

The Poor Poet, by Carl Spitzweg, 1839. (Neue P...

The Poor Poet, by Carl Spitzweg, 1839. (Neue Pinakothek) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I am trying to make a modest living as a writer, as many of us are. So please tell me why I should support you and your bill paying, when I am trying to support myself and pay my bills. Don’t ask for funds from your blog followers. Instated go to Kickstarter, and make a plea there. That is what Kickstarter is for.

Another suggestion is to get a job. Most writers struggling to pay bills have a job to pay bills and write in their spare time.

The written word is powerful. People frequently believe what they read without question, and being well-meaning helpful souls, I wonder how many clicked the ‘here’ button and helped pay his bills. My question is how do I know he needs help. I am thinking he has resources. However, if the person in question is reading this, and you received more than you need to pay bills, and therefore have leftover money, please feel free to contact me. I will tell you where to click.

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The Key to keywords, a metaphor for life

We know the right keywords can drive e-surfers to your page, but do we know what the right keywords are?

I am allowed seven keywords for my Kindle book on Amazon. Using one of my titles, “Loonies in Hollywood” as an example,  two of my keywords were ‘mystery’ and ‘fiction.’  It makes sense to me. If someone types in fiction and or mystery I have a better chance of them finding my book, right?

Apparently not. In a monthly newsletter from Kindle DP I find, if I read correctly-and one should not assume I do-that using the category of ‘mystery’ is not needed. Nor is ‘fiction’- again, if I am reading correctly.

Here is Kindle’s page on keywords:

There is even a sub category chart for my mystery book. Click here:

So I refined my keywords and since Kindle says to experiment I will also do that. If keywords are suggestive, then thinking they might work in the subconscious of those e-surfing, perhaps I should use the following seven keywords:  buy, now, or, I , will, harm, you.

Upon further review I did find in the newsletter this would be unacceptable. I did change two of the keywords and am satisfied with the change. Everything looks correct, though after looking at the mystery chart for subcategories I see that I may use two other words in addition to the two new ones. It seems that there is no end to revision. First you spend time revising your book, then after publication, you spend time revising keywords. It is a poignant life metaphor. We are constantly, whether you are aware or not, revising our lives, changing little things on a daily or weekly basis. We refine our thinking, our attitude, our habits; adjusting, adding, deleting, all in the search for the keywords of our life.

Here is a link to my authors page. No keywords needed.

Or if interested in movie reviews, here is my latest on “Prisoners,” since I also write movie reviews.

My keywords to you are: have, a nice, day,



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How writing everyday can kill you

Writing can kill you.

If you spend hours at the keyboard writing, researching, marketing, being social, your health is at risk. Like a horror movie there is a silent killer stalking you, one you can not see or hear. But he is deadly. In fact you could drop dead as you punch away at the keys, like I am doing now. I hope I survive long enough to warn you.

From personal experience I can say that you must step away for a brief period of time, say an hour, in order to protect your health. You must exercise and I will tell you why.

I write everyday whether I want to or not, spending too much time at the computer. It is easy to get lost, not just writing, but surfing around with writing related tasks. When I had my annual physical last October my blood pressure was high. I changed my life by exercising on a regular basis and got my blood pressure down. It also helped that I had a job which required some degree of physical effort.

But then my company closed its branch office and moved half way across the country. Without a job I was free to write more and more. And exercise less and less. It was summer and while I went for occasional walks, writing became a daily priority. Too much of a priority as it turns out. I went to a wellness fair recently and had my blood pressure checked and once again it was high. Not dangerously high, but high enough to warrant concern.

Now I must get back to exercising to get my blood pressure lower.

I know what you eat can affect your pressure as well, but the vast majority of what I eat is low calorie, low or no fat foods. I eat lots of fruits, do not drink, do not smoke. I just do not get enough exercise. So while I stroke away at the keyboard, I could get a stroke myself. I hate exercise, but feel better after I do it.

In short, if you are a writer and spend a lot of time writing, also take time to protect your health. Keep your body active like your mind. This has been a public service announcement.



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Making use of time; a short guide to productivity

If you’re like me, you want to make productive use of your time so you can accomplish what you need to do. The easiest way is a schedule, a daily list of things to do and the time allotted for each. According to my research, this is what successful people do. Below is an example I created on a Tuesday.


7:00   Wake-up

7:00-7:45   Five minutes on bike; 35 minutes exercise; five minutes on bike

7:45-8:15   Shower, shave, dress

8:15-9:00   Tea, breakfast, emails, publish blog

9:00-12:00   Write/ Proofread stories-ready to publish

12:00-1:00   20 minutes Google+, 20 minutes Goodreads, 20 minutes Kindle DP or time spend researching advertising, marketing.

1:00-2:00   lunch

2:00-4:00   writing, including blog for tomorrow

4:00-5:30   flexible, possibly running errands

5:30-7:30   Strat-o-matic. (If you don’t know what this is, it is irrelevant)

Rest of evening-TV; DVD’s; DVR shows; Internet surfing

Check email before going to bed.

The sure way to success is to follow a plan for success, for in both the long and short run, you will accomplish what you want and will succeed.

As I said, I created this on Tuesday to begin Wednesday. I got up at 6:45 and realized I would not, could not, and should not adhere to the schedule. This is telling, because I have yet to succeed, and now I know why. I would not because I abhor being dictated to as to what I must do-unless I am being paid of course, so if you want to pay me to adhere to a schedule please contact me. I know I created the schedule, so it is obvious I do not listen to myself. I always argue with myself and I always lose.  I could not do  it because I am too much of a maverick-and I am lazy-preferring to remain flexible to what may arise that is more important than what is scheduled, which is never, but if something could happen I must be at the ready.

I have tried schedules before. I am well meaning and I am sure if you are disciplined it will work for you. I am not disciplined. Adhering to a schedule is boring, monotonous, and not any fun at all. I like freedom and flexibility.

But what I do, and this works, is to write down the night before what I want to accomplish the next day. When I get up I look at the list, decide which I want to do first, then do it and move on to what I want to do next. The key word is ‘want.’ I do much better when I am controlling, and not being dictated to by an arbitrary schedule. I did accomplish all I wanted to on Wednesday, but doing so in a manner that works for me.

Of course you don’t know I accomplished all I wanted to do, do you?

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Shocking conspiracy to foil emerging writers exposed

Writers are a generous sort. They share their experience, giving enlightened counsel, each with their rules of the road to success, golden nuggets to aid and abet aspiring writers.

But there is one rule successful writers share that shines like a golden nugget, but may be fool’s gold. It seems sensible when you think about it, and being a writer,  you like the rule to begin with, but something about it makes me sit and ponder. The rule is that all writers should read books and read a lot of them. Preferably theirs I am sure.

It makes sense. Jerry Lewis said if you want to be a good filmmaker watch a lot of bad movies because you will see what doesn’t work, therefore you will take many notes and avoid those pitfalls, whereas if you watch great movies, you become so wrapped up in the story you don’t notice the how and why of good filmmaking.  I suppose that could translate to writing, but I would rather watch a bad movie than read a bad book.

But should writers read many books at all?

I can break down why I think a movie is good, but I can’t make a movie. I could have written I know the rules of writing, but every writer after giving his rules says don’t follow all the rules. And that may be the best advice in the long run. And besides I forget the rules when I write because I can’t fit my creativity, for lack of a better word, into rules.

I think the real reason writers want you to read, is that the more time you spend reading, the less time you have for writing, and the less time you have for writing, the less chance you will finish your story, thus decreasing competition for writers already making money and finding more readers. Yes, they want you to read as a delaying tactic, to slow down emerging new writers, if not hoping you will give up entirely because you find reading more fun than writing. It is certainly easier. 

I guess writers aren’t so generous after all.



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Hey writer, want some advice, I got some for you

The population of China is 359, 946, 000. Of course as I wrote the previous sentence the population increased, and increased again as I write this sentence. No telling how large the population will be by the end of this blog.

I bring that number up because it will be surpassed, indeed, may have been passed as I write, by the number of websites and blogs offering advice to writers. Because of the increasing number of indie writers, mostly going the e-book route, more people want to be helpful and share what they have learned from other websites and books. In other words much of the same information is being recycled.

My favorite bit of advice answers the question of how to sell e-books. The advice varies a bit, but ultimately the final piece of advice is to write a good book. That was something I had not thought of. I was hoping my mediocre tome would fool people. To be honest, I think the phrase ‘good book’ is subjective. In college I was told “Moby Dick” is a great novel. I tried to read it twice, but when I got to that long stretch where Melville drones on about whaling in a non-fictional manner, I was bored each time and never finished the book. Conversely I have heard of high school teachers who say “The Great Gatsby” is a terrible novel. To that I say, those who can teach, teach at the collegiate level, those who can’t teach, teach at the high school level.

Are these websites and blogs helpful?

Caveat emptor as the Romans said. Let the buyer beware. Don’t buy into everything you read as information, though well meaning, can be misleading. And successful writers will tell you, even after telling you the rules, that rules can be broken. I ran across an article “Writers and other Sins” by C.J. Cherryh, copyrighted in 1995, that gives some good writing advice, which you can read here. I hope it helps. She says at the end of the article, not to follow any rule off a cliff.

I think exploring the web can be positive. You can learn something new, or be reminded of something you may have forgotten.

And since I am sharing  here is an article on 150 resources to help you write better.

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