Official Website for Contemporary Romance Author Alicia Renee Kline

Winds of Change

Remember when I posted about ebook subscription services Oyster and Scribd?  As recently as a few months ago, these services seemed odd to most of us.  We sat around and contemplated just how that would work.  A Netflix for books?  Weird.

Seems like Amazon was listening as well.  They’ve started their own service, Kindle Unlimited.  It sounds a lot like the others in concept, but with one glaring difference:  they require indie authors to be exclusive to Amazon in order to be included.

When I read that email, I shook my head and sighed.  Yet again, Amazon discriminates against those  indie authors who choose to be available at other retailers.  Note that traditionally published authors don’t have to proclaim their loyalty to Amazon to be included in the program.

Don’t get me wrong.  I appreciate Amazon and the ability they provide me with to get my books seen by the general public.  However, I think that they are making a big mistake by choosing not to at least pretend to play well with others.  After all, my books still make them money when someone chooses to purchase them there.  I’m not even mad about not getting the free promotion days (I just do those on Smashwords) or having the opportunity for my books to be borrowed by their Prime members (I had Prime for a year and NEVER borrowed a single book).  But this exclusion stings a bit.

It’s no secret that all three of my books are available on both Oyster and Scribd.  I can’t speak for Oyster since I’ve never used it, but I love my Scribd account.  I’ll even fully disclose that I don’t currently pay for my Scribd account, as a one year free subscription was part of the deal that Smashwords ironed out when they came on board.  But will I continue the subscription when I have to cough up money for it next year?  Based on the amount that I use it currently, yes.  My last five reads have come from there.  The app is a bit quirky at times, and you practically feel like you’re jailbreaking the Kindle Fire to install it, but it’s been worth it for me.  I’ve read books that I normally wouldn’t have tried – from both traditionally and self-pubbed authors.

So I’m obviously down with the whole ebook subscription service thing.  And I would partner with Amazon’s if they would let me.  But I can’t, and there’s no way that I’m giving up my freedom to publish elsewhere to do it.  There are just too many unknowns.  For starters, the terms of payment on Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited are vague at best.  It reminds me of the KDP Select program, where you get a percentage of the money put in the pot each month depending on your downloads.  This means that one month, you may get $2 per sale/borrow/read/whatever.  Six months from now, you could potentially get 25 cents.  Funny, Scribd and Oyster are able to tell me exactly how much I will make per read once a consumer gets past a certain percentage in my book.  If Amazon would allow me to keep my books everywhere else and participate, I’d  accept these terms and just consider whatever it was that came in extra income.  But when they’re requiring me to pledge myself to them exclusively, don’t I deserve better than smoke and mirrors?

Realistically, I can see Amazon at some point demanding that all indie authors who publish with them do so exclusively.  We’re not that far from that right now.  At first, this scared me.  Then I realized that I technically don’t need them.  After all, my Kindle readers could always purchase my books on Smashwords and side-load them.  I’ve done it with my own books – I don’t own Amazon versions of them.  I could make a tutorial on how to side-load books, post it on my website and direct everyone to it.  In fact, I make more money per sale on Smashwords than I do at every other retailer including Amazon.  If I didn’t see the value in being at the big names, I’d already be directing my readers to buy only from Smashwords.

But I understand the power of choice.  Why can’t Amazon?

This isn’t an Amazon bashing post.  I’m not going to pull my books in outrage.  I’m going to keep publishing with them until they tell me that I can’t.  But I’m so glad that they aren’t my only outlet for sales.

As an aside, I’ve seen the power of choice work for me with my new release.  iBooks, B&N and Smashwords have all outsold Amazon this past week.  I’m talking paid sales, not the free copies of the first in my series that I’m giving away throughout July over at Smashwords.  Not that I’m kicking ass in the sales department, but it proves my point that Amazon isn’t the only name in the game.  They should stop acting like they are.



Bait and Switch

I enjoy free publicity.  I’m sure most authors would agree with me on that aspect of things – that’s why we contact local media, insert book links on our email taglines, sign up for contests, participate in giveaways, etc.  Every little bit helps, right?

In addition to the free stuff, I also dabble in the paid marketing.  It’s no secret that I work with a tour company to promote my books upon release and to pimp them out to bloggers for reviews.  They do legwork for me that I either don’t have the time, talent or courage to do on my own.

You’d think that free and paid would be opposites, sort of like the colors black and white.  But more and more, I’m noticing that the lines are blurring and what starts off as free doesn’t always end up being no charge.

Case in point, there are several websites around that offer to promote self-published books and authors.  Some of them are little more than directories of authors who all have the same dream:  to get noticed.  Some of them offer places to feature excerpts or a little insight into your novel; others provide a place for readers to post reviews and recommend your work to friends.  In my formative years (read early 2013), I signed up for a couple of them, figuring it couldn’t hurt.  It also didn’t help one bit, as I realized that  readers  aren’t the ones trolling those sites.  Authors are, and we’re preaching to the choir.

A number of these sites are free.  Or at least they were.  But I’m noticing what I feel is an alarming trend:  more and more of them are beginning to charge fees.  Or sites that do offer free services are now touting upgrades for a monetary cost.  And spamming my inbox with messages announcing the great results I can obtain if only I pay their low monthly/quarterly/annual fee.  I won’t name names, because the point here is not to badmouth any specific group or site.   But  I’ve seen several, so you’ve likely run across some of the same ones.

Is it because they’ve upped their game, or because they think they’ve found a cash cow?

I get it, really I do.  People see an opportunity to make money and they grab it and run.  If authors are flocking to your site when things are free, perhaps a good portion of them will pay if you ask them to.  I don’t blame anybody because I’d like to turn a profit as a result of this endeavor, too.  And these sites may offer legitimate services to authors that may work.  But because I’m not yet independently wealthy, I have to decide where to spend my money.  I’ve been burnt before, and I am less apt to believe glowing reviews (even from people who I’m familiar with).  I need to feel that there’s going to be a good chance of me personally getting results.  If it doesn’t feel like a worthwhile expenditure, no amount of hype will get me to change my mind.

Of course, even the big names aren’t exempt.  We extoll the virtues of being on Twitter, having a Facebook fan page, or being a Goodreads author.  The free aspect of social media works great for most of us, but you can spend money here, too.  I won’t go into things like buying 15,000 followers for $35; I’m talking about sanctioned spending where the money goes straight to one of the three entities.  In fact, during the creation of my Facebook fan page I felt like someone at their corporate office was reaching through my laptop screen, trying to convince me to pay for likes or promoting posts.  I’m kind of embarrassed to admit that I thought about it, and even checked into the pricing.  I still haven’t completely ruled it out.

For every cautious author like myself, there’s probably one or more that will throw money at these outfits like change into a wishing well.  This makes me sad, the feeling that there are those of us out there who want this dream so badly they lose sight of the work involved.  There’s more to becoming known, respected and successful than simply writing a check or draining your Paypal account.




Middle Child

There’s a disadvantage to working as far ahead as I do.  It’s no big secret that I’ve pretty much got Book Four in my series mapped out and I’m starting to create scenes for Book Five.  This of course, doesn’t factor in the stand alone novels I’ve already got concepts for, as well as working titles.

One might think that it’s a gift to have a wellspring of creativity to draw upon.  In most cases it is, and the majority of my brain is not complaining.  But in my usual fashion, I always get more excited for what’s way around the corner than I do for what’s right in front of my face.

This leaves me at a loss when it comes to marketing.  I’m supposed to be getting people super excited for my new release when it already feels like old news to me.  Trust me;  I am excited and all tingly for the middle of this month, but I’d rather talk about my work in progress which likely won’t come out until next year.  I’d have to write really fast to squeak out another book by December and I just don’t think I have it in me.

When I do put on my marketing hat, I speak about the release date, preorders and teasers for Book Three.  I’m also still trying to drum up readers for Book One, since in a perfect world, people would start there and read them in order.  So all of my efforts are focused on those two books, leaving Book Two in the corner, playing the role of middle child.

Let’s get it straight:  Book Two is a fully functioning, quality read.  I spent long, hard hours working on it and it’s just as good as the others.  But it’s a companion to Book One.  You’d miss a lot if you came in there, unlike starting at Book Three and going backwards.  So it’s forever destined to sit in the shadows.  The novelty has worn off now – it’s not the new release anymore, so marketing it in and of itself is not the option it used to be.  The best marketing tactic for Book Two will always be hooking people with Number One.

I didn’t mean for it to happen, just like I’m assuming parents with three children don’t mean to make the middle child feel left out.  I wouldn’t know; I stopped at two kids myself.  My husband and I both only have one sibling, so I’ve no real world experience to draw upon.  Only this and how I feel kind of bad, like Book Two is somehow a living, breathing thing.

I’ve often read that readers like series, but they also want to have the installments feel like stand alone novels.  That’s understandable, and much easier to adhere to if you’re writing a mystery series as opposed to a romance where the heroine of the books is the same.  Relationships are tricky and they build upon prior experiences, as they do in reality.  So I’ve compromised and met people in the middle.  My series has three heroines; you’ll be able to start at Book One, Three or Four.

I’ve also met a number of people who will wait until the entire series is released, then they’ll binge read all of the books.  I’ve done that myself, finishing thousands of pages in a matter of days because I have to know how things end.  Right now.  This totally backs up the phenomenon that many authors say happens:  once you have between three to five books published, your sales seem to increase dramatically.  Provided, of course, that the novels themselves are good.  But that’s a given, right?

So I keep plugging away, promising Book Two that it will eventually reclaim its popularity like in the good old days when the spotlight was focused upon it.  I covered its ears when my beta reader told me that she really liked Book One, but might have enjoyed Book Three a little more.

After all, there are some things that middle children just don’t need to hear.

Party Person

I know it’s been heavily debated how useful Facebook is as a marketing tool for an author.  If you’ve been here long enough, you already know how I feel about the personal side of the social media giant (as in, I despise it).  That’s why I deactivated my account about a year ago and never looked back.  And me – have an author page?  Not on your life.

But I survived my first Facebook party, sponsored by the company that all three of my books are currently touring with in some way, shape or form.  And honestly, I’d do it again.

The concept was simple:  open the floor to a different author each hour to market him/herself – though mostly herself, since they cater largely to the romance crowd.  No charge, just sign up and go.  I’m down for as much free publicity as I can get, so I bit my tongue, reactivated my Facebook account and claimed my hour.

Granted, everyone wanted the prime time evening hours, which I wasn’t lucky enough to get.  But I’m flexible, so I grabbed a slot from 7-8 am EST on the morning that marked exactly one month to my new release officially going live.  Yep, that was on purpose.

Then I tossed and turned about oversleeping and what I was going to do when I got there.  Everyone seems so giveaway happy and I don’t have anything cool like hard copies or trinkets.  I just have coupon codes and mobi files.  My husband also voiced my biggest fear:  that no one would show up.

But I woke up with enough time to get completely ready for work, make myself a bowl of oatmeal and frantically post some bonus content at the blog before signing on.  Then I crossed my fingers and sent my first post.

Within seconds, I had my first response, then another and another after that.  I posted another something and even more people showed up.  We talked about cliffhangers and love triangles and I posted the covers for all three books as well as their blurbs.  When I looked down and realized I only had the floor for another twenty minutes and hadn’t even mentioned a giveaway yet, I figured I was doing pretty good.

So when I announced I’d give out ARCs, the left side of my screen went nuts with notifications.  Yes, I gave out more than the five that I posted I would.  I was feeling generous – what can I say?  And these were all readers that I probably never would have reached if I hadn’t shown up to the event.

So there’s something to be said when Facebook marketing is a collective effort.  When you have the backing of a bigger entity, I really do think it can work.  People that have never heard of you an hour ago are liking your stuff, adding it to their TBR piles and commenting about how they can’t wait for the book to come out so they can read it.

I wish all of my interactions on social media could be that entertaining.  I feel like in the span of sixty minutes I accomplished so much more to build my brand than I’ve done in the previous two years.

And no, I never once uttered the words “buy my book”.

As an addendum to this post, it appears as though the Facebook party will be a once a season kind of thing, and I’m definitely going to be participating each time – provided I can score a slot that fits into my schedule.  That being said, I bit the bullet and created a Facebook page for myself.

It kind of makes me feel dirty.  But, by all means, you should “like” it.





Award Free and Happy

I’ll admit it.  The past couple of months have been tough for me on the blogging front.  Not with writing the posts, but rather with watching my number of visitors dwindle from about six months ago to where they are now.  Especially with a new release on the horizon, my goal is obviously to get more people to land here and that just ain’t happening.

The optimistic part of me tells myself (quite logically) that I’ve implemented tools to decrease the amount of bots and spammers that troll my lovely domain, posting comments on how to get prescription meds for cheap.  And let’s not forget the “Gucci” handbags at remarkable prices.  Considering that when traffic was at its highest here I was getting hundreds of junk comments, it goes to show you how well my tactics are working.

The pessimistic part of me just hears crickets.

So when my blogging confidence was at an all time low, I got a couple of reminders that people are out there listening.  Yes, this past weekend I was nominated not once but twice for the Versatile Blogger Award.  Thank you Roz and Patty and Anna Celeste Burke!

For those of you that may not be aware of what this award encompasses, it’s one of those where acceptance comes with stipulations.  The gist of this is that you nominate fifteen other bloggers, then write a post of seven things that others may not know about you.  It’s very reminiscent of those chain letters that used to be passed around in class – you know the ones that made you feel utterly left out when you weren’t selected to get one.

I immediately thought of my fellow blogger, Diane over at Being Truly Present, who wrote a great post about this just a few weeks ago.  Even though it didn’t pertain to me at that point, I found myself agreeing with her decision to become an Award Free Blog.  So she was the first person that I contacted after thanking those that had nominated me.  With Diane’s permission, I’ve linked to her post here.

While Diane makes excellent points regarding her hesitation to accept this award (and she has many of the same reservations that I do), I found myself wanting to expand on some of her thoughts now that the ball was in my court.  For instance, Roz and Patty were the first to nominate me.  I took a look at the other fourteen bloggers that shared the honor with me and realized that several of them were people that would be on my list of fifteen.  Others I would have included have previously been nominated elsewhere – I’ve seen their posts accepting the award.  Since I’m not everywhere all the time, the remainder of my list could already have been nominated, but I’m just not aware of it.

The spirit of the award is to bring attention to bloggers that your own readers may not be familiar with.  It’s also to show these bloggers that you enjoy their content.  But if we all keep circling around and nominating each other, it in essence is only a giant popularity contest.  “What?  You’ve only been nominated once?  I’ve been nominated twenty times!”

As much as I like being appreciated, I have an issue with putting a finite limit on the number of people that I in turn wish to recognize.  Do I leave someone who I really respect - who already has lots of followers and blog traffic – off my list in favor of a smaller blogger just starting out who I also enjoy?  Will feelings be hurt if I don’t name someone who I interact with often?

I’m already pretty transparent with whose blogs I enjoy on a regular basis.  When I take part in Monday Blogs, for instance, I often retweet the same people.  Just like I can predict retweets of my own posts from certain people almost every week.  These are the kind of relationships that are built when you blog, and they flow organically – not because I’m looking for recognition.

So, while it leaves me warm and fuzzy to be nominated, I’m abstaining from returning the favor, but in the most polite way I know how.  And just in case you have this weird urge to learn more about me, I’ve compiled my own list of seven random things you probably never wanted to know.

1.  I’m five feet tall.  Up until my new release, all of my heroines in anything I’ve ever written have been short.  Blake is five foot eight.  I hope I write “tall” convincingly.

2,  I’m not ambidextrous, but I do count money left-handed.

3.  I no longer look like my author photo, Twitter profile, etc.  Even though it was only taken about eight or nine months ago, I’ve already gone through two more hairstyles and gained one more piercing.  But damn, that’s a pretty good picture of me and I don’t want to change it now.

4.  I wanted to go to school for broadcast journalism.  That didn’t happen.

5.  My parents don’t know that I’m an author.  At least I haven’t told them.

6.  I’ve built my branding for my series upon images of wine glasses.  I don’t drink wine.  I’ve tried, and I can’t stand it.

7.  My toenails are always polished to match my fingernails: even in the dead of winter when no one will see them.

Designed Bonus Content – Rot in Hell

Ah, Chapter Seventeen.  If you’ve been trolling this blog long enough, you know that this was the most difficult chapter in the whole of my new release for me to write.  This particular section of the book is where Blake is revealing her big secret to the readers, but not yet to anyone else.  Technically, the news broke in the previous chapter, but this is where she deals with the aftermath.  To be honest with you, I sobbed while writing it and there are still phrases in there that make me cry.  So I skip them, because I know what happens.

But it also contains the scene that I’ve been dying to write for Blake and Chris ever since Book One.  It’s been alluded to several times, when Blake softens slightly and gives Lauren a bit of a glimpse into her ill-fated relationship.  Yes, it’s the breakup scene, where Blake infamously tells her ex to “rot in hell”.

In  Designed,  of course, the scene is written from Blake’s point of view.  This being such a pivotal moment in their history, I always wondered how Chris saw things.  How would you feel if you were completely unaware of what was truly going on underneath the surface?  It kind of makes me feel sorry for him.

Ten years is an awfully long time to keep a secret like this.  On 7/18/14, Blake finally comes clean…

Rot in Hell

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Designed

It’s time for one of my favorite posts to do in regards to my new releases – the trivia post.  Here I get to divulge some secrets that I’ve wanted to share with my readers, from the Intoxicated superfan to the new convert, over the course of writing the book.

1.  I forgot how old Blake was.  Well, not really.  I’d always intended her to be the same age as Lauren, which is three years younger than Matthew and Chris.  I even mentioned this in Book One, where in the scene when Blake chastises Lauren regarding driving the Mustang.  When Lauren counters that Blake has probably driven it, too, Blake’s response is something along the line of “That’s different.  We’re practically the same person born three years apart.”  However, in the backstory, everything I’d written (and already published) stated that Blake was only two years behind Matthew and Chris in school.  Oops.  So I fixed it on the back end with the explanation that she’d skipped a grade in elementary school.  I figured that someone, somewhere would notice that – and now everyone will, because I just told you.

2.  Blake’s round bed is inspired by a local commercial I saw in my childhood.  I can’t remember what store it was for, but it was a place that made custom designed mattresses.  They flashed pictures of some of their work and one of the images was of a round mattress.  I’d always thought that was intriguing and wondered who in the world would sleep on a round bed.  The answer was clear when I created my favorite interior designer:  Blake would.

3.  The stairwell in my home is where I got the idea for The Bubble Room.    Don’t believe it?  Judge for yourself.

new camera 015

4.  The poem in the front of the book is another oldie but goodie.  This was written twenty years ago, during my junior year of high school.  Admitting that makes me feel really old.  One of our projects was a poetry notebook and this was part of it.  I have no idea where that assignment is now, but those words – like “Betrayal” from Book Two – have been emblazoned in my head ever since.

5.  The concept for Book Three was something that I had to talk myself into doing.  I knew that there was so much untapped story between Blake and Chris available, but I was initially scared to write it, fearing that I’d make Blake’s voice sound too much like Lauren’s.  Lauren wasn’t the right choice for the narrator of this one, obviously, and I had to step back from Book One and Two in order to rid myself of her optimistic/wanting to make things perfect/overthinking self.

6.  In the same light, I was also leery of doing too many flashbacks.  Modern wisdom says to “show, don’t tell” and the only way I could truly do justice to Blake’s story was to take us back there.  After all, there were all kinds of unanswered questions from Books One and Two regarding Matthew’s past.  Blake would have been a part of all that.  Plus, it’s a little hard to root for two people to get back together when you’ve never actually been exposed to them being in a relationship.  And I was so psyched to actually write the “Rot in Hell” moment that has been alluded to for so long.

7.  Blake’s nose piercing is based on my own experiences.  If you recall, Lauren is mesmerized by the nose ring in the first book.  I’ve found this to be a conversation starter in real life as well.  The uninitiated ask things such as “How do you blow your nose?” and “What happens when you get a cold?”  The answers aren’t really exciting, because most of the time I forget it’s even there.  But in Book One, Blake plays with it quite a bit, pushing it back into place from time to time as the stud migrates out of her nostril.  My first one did that a lot, so I kind of thought that was common.  After a couple of traumatic incidents (and it coming out when I was asleep and it growing shut overnight) I discontinued that look.  About a year later, I had it redone.  Guess what?  Even though I had it done in almost exactly the same spot, it stays put and I haven’t had any issues with it.  Hence it being a nonissue for Blake as well.  Maybe she got a different diamond stud; I don’t know.

8.  Yes, Blake and Chris have their own song, but I don’t have any idea what it is.  I’ll leave that one open for interpretation.  If we’re basing things on this happening in current times, it would have to be something that’s at least thirteen or fourteen years old, maybe older.  Suggestions?

9.  Hoodies have become the unofficial symbol in the series for depression.  My favorite line in Book Two, uttered by Gracie, sums it all up:  “No wonder you’re depressed.  These clothes are making me sad, too.”  I’ve carried on the tradition in Book Three, with Blake donning the ever present hoodie during a time of turmoil.  The funny thing is that most of the book was written while I was wearing – you guessed it – various hoodies.  And I wouldn’t exactly call myself depressed.

10.  Sadie’s birthday is on my wedding anniversary.  Who’s Sadie?  Guess you’ll just have to read to find out!



She Texts

My ten year old has a cell phone.  Technically, she shares it with our other daughter, but she is the one in control of it ninety percent of the time.  Eventually, we’ll have to get the youngest one, too.  But we’re holding off on that as long as we can – perhaps until she also closes in on the double digits.

This was a decision for us as parents that was fraught with hand-wringing.  When the kids were babies, we joked that they’d never have cell phones.  Or not at least until they were old enough to have jobs to cover the expense.  We scoffed at the parents who purchased cell phone plans for their preteens, rolling our eyes at some parents’ inability to just say no to their children’s every request.

Until we became those parents.

No, our child didn’t beg us for this piece of technology.  As far as I know, she’s the only kid in her class (or at least out of her group of friends) who has an honest to goodness cell phone.  In fact, she’s sort of embarrassed about it.  Everyone that she knows has the iPod Touch and uses that texting app that they have.  To have an actual phone, where one can pick it up and dial numbers to make voice calls is just mortifying.

So it’s most certainly not a status symbol.  It’s there out of necessity, because we don’t have a landline in our house.  She’s getting to the age – ten going on thirty! – that she’s not always around mom or dad and, heaven forbid something might happen, it’s a good idea that she would be able to call for help.

For the most part, it sat relegated to the dark recesses of her book bag for the past seven months.  It rang incessantly, like most cell phones do when you get a recycled number.  The callers never wanted to speak to her, and a couple of them got a piece of my husband’s mind when he happened to answer.

Then she realized that besides making phone calls, that little thing in the pink case could do something else:  it could text.

Her epiphany came when I was at work.  We have a pretty laid back atmosphere there, so my own cell sits firmly atop my desk, constantly on silent mode.  My husband and I will text back and forth randomly throughout the day and I’m sure you’ve noticed that I tweet from there as well.  So when my phone buzzed, I figured it was my man or something Twitter related.  But no, it was her, triumphantly announcing her discovery.

A quick check of our cell phone plan confirmed that she was sharing our unlimited texting.  So, we sat her down and had a serious discussion on who she could text:  mom, dad, grandma, grandpa.  Then we let her go.

So now I have conversations like this:

texting photo

Isn’t technology great?  Amusing, at the very least.

Waking Up Intoxicated

facebook party.3

You know it’s a cold day in hell when I reactivate my Facebook account.  But reactivate it I did, just so I could take part in this event put on by my friends at The Book Enthusiast.  If you’re not aware, they have done an awesome job promoting all three of my books so I jumped at the chance to join in the fun here.

All week, indie authors are going to be taking turns hosting the party.  Think of it as a chance to interact with some of your favorite authors and find new writers to fawn over as well.  Anything goes while we’re hosting, so expect plenty of conversation, teasers, excerpts, trivia and maybe a flash giveaway or two.  There will also be an official, week long Rafflecopter giveaway with several of the authors (myself included) participating.

My hosting gig is on June 18th from 7 – 8 am EST.  Hence the “Waking Up Intoxicated” pun.  I can’t help myself.  I’ll be yawning at the keyboard before I go into work, so stop by and join me for some conversation.

What am I planning?  Well, depending on if people set their alarms or not, a whole lot of gossip on our favorite characters.  If I get a good response from local fans, I may play a little game to see if readers can guess where in Fort Wayne certain things take place.  I’m also going to post the “Rot in Hell” bonus scene and possibly my Designed Top Ten list.  And who knows - maybe I’ll have some copies of Designed ready to give away.

I’d love it if you’d join me – here’s the link to where the party takes place:

Hope to see you there!

My Amazon Wish List: Self-Publishing Edition

There are many things that I enjoy about publishing on Amazon.  The main one being that I get to share my work with readers who use their services.  But, like everything else, there are improvements that I would make if I were running the show.

I’m not about to go all opinionated and weigh in on their latest controversy (especially since it’s open for debate on what it means for indies); we’ll keep things civil here.   In my perfect world, here’s what Amazon would offer to me as a self-publisher.

1.  Preorders!  Unless you are super huge or with a traditional publisher, the indie author is left out in the cold.  Some have speculated that this is due to the fact that Amazon doesn’t want to deal with disappointed customers when indie authors promise and don’t deliver.  To me, that doesn’t make sense.  I’ve preordered several books through Amazon and they don’t charge my account until the book is automatically downloaded to my Kindle on release day.

True, I’ve never had a book I’ve preordered not come out on its anticipated release day.  But even if crap happened and the author had to delay publication or totally scrap the project altogether, I wouldn’t be out any money.  I might be disappointed, yes, but I wouldn’t be mad at Amazon.

Think about that.  Books aren’t the only product that you can preorder.  Video games and music come to mind instantly.  There are several examples that you could find in those industries of things that were expected out on one day and were delayed for various reasons.  Can we say Watch Dogs – which was supposed to be released at the launch of the PS4 in November 2013 but just came out the last week of May 2014 (6 months later)?  Did my husband, who had it preordered so that he’d have something to play when he brought home his shiny new console, scream at the poor guy behind the counter at GameStop when it wasn’t there?  Well, no.

Blame the right people if you need to be mad at someone.  For self-published books, that would be the author.  Better yet, make sure you don’t put yourself in that position.  Don’t make your book available for preorder until you have a fully finished rough draft – at the very least.

I think that Amazon is lagging behind in this arena, mainly because my new release is already available on B&N, iBooks and Kobo as a preorder.  If those three retailers don’t have an issue with letting me have a preorder, why does Amazon?

So my fully complete, final Amazon version waits in my computer while other retailers have potentially gotten a jump on selling theirs.  And I have to upload to Amazon far enough ahead of my release day in order to get my link out to the bloggers who will be participating in my event.  Yes, this means if you’re stalking my Amazon page, my book will be live prior to 7/18 there, but I won’t publicize it.  July 18th is the official release date.

2.  Emails when you sell a book.  I’m still a small fish in a big pond.  Rather than obsessively checking my sales figures, why can’t Amazon tell me when I’ve sold a copy?  Smashwords does this and I love it.  Just make this service something you can easily toggle on and off and everyone’s happy.

3.  Emails when a new review is posted on your book.  See Number 2.  Smashwords also does this.

4.  A dashboard where you can see page views for your books.  Because I’m curious.  It would also be helpful to see how many of those people click on the “Look Inside” section of each title.  Smashwords already does this.  (Are you sensing a theme?)  Combined with the sales data that’s already available, this could be a great tool to track what my conversion percentages are.  Or they could figure that out for me, since I hate math.

5.  When a review posts on an Amazon site, it appears on all Amazon sites.  This already happens when I post reviews for books I’ve read on what I call the “mothership”,  If I go to or, it also shows up there.  But what about our international friends who don’t buy from  I personally have a glowing review on from a blogger that no one sees unless they happen to buy from the Canadian site.  I would love for that to show on and factor in to my overall rating.  Because people in other countries can be fans, too.

So there’s my short list of things that I would love to see Amazon do to help out the self-publisher.  Anything that you would add?