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Are Free Ebooks Good Publicity?

My three ebooks are currently being downloaded at a very satisfying rate from Smashwords. The later two, The Witch’s Dog and Escape the Volcano, have just had a very nice boost after appearing on www.getfreeebooks.com. That is definitely a site for indie authors offering free ebooks to know about. It certainly gets results. I’m hoping for another significant jump in downloads once the books get onto Barnes and Noble Nook bookstore.

None of the three books have made it as free books in the Amazon Kindle stores yet, which is a little disappointing. I hadn’t realised it would take so long for them to be distributed to Amazon from Smashwords.

However – despite people helping themselves to the freebies, they’re not splashing out 99 cents to buy my other books. At least not yet! As of Sunday evening, 746 copies of good old Oh Gran have been downloaded, but only 24 samples of Oh Auntie and 9 of Oh Grandad. I’ve yet to make a cash sale on Smashwords!

For me it’s not too drastic since these are backlist titles that I’m getting up and out there mainly to build my profile. I’ve already made some money out of these books when they first appeared in print back in Ireland. But I’d be very happy to be earning a little bit of money from them – as I’ve mentioned on my other blog, I need to keep my student son in pasta!

Then again, I’m just happy they’re being read. All we writers put so much effort into our work with the intention of entertaining and/or informing our fellow human beings, it’s nice to think it’s being consumed, hopefully with appreciation. It’s not an economically viable attitude obviously, but I’m not realistically expecting to make a living from my writing. And since moving to France and drastically changing our lives, taking downsizing to ridiculous extremes, we’ve got used to managing on not very much.

Readers are getting used to being able to obtain ebooks for free. It’s now an expectation. I feel I’m getting my name known, and I think that’s what other indies put their faith in too when they make their work available free of charge.  Will it pay off in the long run? Or we all shooting ourselves in the foot by being over generous and over-obsessed with counting our downloads.

Time will tell …

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GelaSkins for Kindle – a Brilliant Idea

I love GelaSkins. I’ve mentioned them in my other blog, Blog in France, here. GelaSkins are removable covers for various electronic devices, from phones to laptops, including, of course, the Kindle, amongst other ereaders. (Naff name ereader – can you think of a better one?) As well as prettify your otherwise rather dull gizmo, they protect it from scratches, and from fading due to sunlight.

My kids clubbed together and bought me a GelaSkin for my birthday. Knowing that I’m a Vincent van Gogh fan they chose the skin featuring his ‘Almond Blossom’ design. It looks fabulous on my Kindle.

Admire the GelaSkin, and oh look - it's showing my free ebook!

Here are a few more very attractive GelaSkin Kindle covers to tempt you:

This design is, not surprisingly, called Books

I love Klimt artwork. Here’ his famous Kiss transformed for Kindle:

Another van Gogh design:

The famous café

Here’s the Orion nebula:

And finally another van Gogh (not that I’m biassed or anything):

Starry Night

(All the above pics apart from my photo taken from the GelaSkins website.)

There are loads more designs. I just picked a few of my favourites. And I can vouch for the quality of the covers. My Kindle gets heavy use, and a few months down the line, the GelaSkin looks as good as new. It’s not peeling anywhere, or been scuffed or anything.

I think this a really good product and well priced at $19.95. Treat yourself!

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100th Blog Post

Wow! I was astonished to discover just now that this post was going to be number 100. Quite a landmark! And co-incidentally, I reached 100 copies downloaded of The Witch’s Dog this afternoon too. I’m very pleased about that, and even more so about the 617 downloads of Oh Gran!  I’d be even more delighted if I was getting money for them, but I’m convinced that giving away free books now will be a good move for the future. And quite simply it’s nice to have people reading what I’ve written.

Since Books Are Cool got started, I’ve had visitors from 70 countries. I think that’s awesome! How wonderful to have people from Azerbaijan, Chile, Myanmar, Nepal, Barbados and Lithuania visiting my site – and from all the other 64 countries too. Most of my visitors are from the USA and the UK. Thank you for visiting.

I started out with only a very vague idea of what direction this site would go in. It was partly intended as a showcase for my books and ebooks, but also to look at ebook and publishing issues. However, there are a lot of excellent sites that already do that so I’m still looking for a niche to fit into. That said, posts that I’ve talked about epublishers and discussions of well known things such as Twitter and the Kindle Million Club have done well, as have writing advice posts. You’re not so keen on Sunday Sample pages or certain book reviews.

Plenty to think about there.It looks like you want fewer reviews and samples and more informative or art of writing articles. I’ll see what I can do. I’d like to get some guests posts on this site, and perhaps interviews with authors and publishers too.

And while I’ve been writing this, 3 more Oh Grans have been downloaded!

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Ebook Updates

I’ve been spending time on this wet and windy October afternoon to update the My Ebooks page on this website. We’ve gone straight from summer to winter this year. Autumn is usually short in this part of France, but we’ve taken it to extremes this time around!

Anyway, all my ebooks are now listed. There are three free ones – Oh Gran!, Escape the Volcano and The Witch’s Dog. Of these, Gran is doing best! She’s zoomed ahead with 557 downloads (via Smashwords) as at this precise moment. There was a sudden surge on 1st October which tied in with me listing the book at www.getfreeebooks.com and with it appearing in the Barnes and Noble Nook store.

Fantastic!

I was lucky to get the great photo I did for The Witch's Dog cover. There were plenty like this where Nessie wouldn't co-operate!

The Witch’s Dog has had 70 downloads in its first 48 hours up on Smashwords. I’ve submitted that to getfreeebooks.com as well, and it will trundle its way onto the B&N site in a couple of weeks. That should give it a nice boost. It may be a little late for Halloween – I should have been better organised. But we’ll see. Hopefully people will want to read it anyway. It’s a sweet little story.

Next book up will be … hmm. I would like to get a free non-fiction out there before releasing Heads Above Water. The book will be ‘Best of Blog in France’, a selection of posts from my first two years’ of blogging. Blog in France goes from strength to strength I’m pleased to say. I’ve even had people pay me to put adverts up on the site!

And Something Fishy isn’t far behind …

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The Witch’s Dog

I was going to  jump on the bandwagon and blog about the French Kindle store being open now. This is great news! Finally I can get 99 cent books for 99 cents, and not $3.44. There won’t be quite as many English language books available as on amazon.com but probably enough to keep me going for a while!

This afternoon I got another book up on Smashwords. The Witch’s Dog is available for free from here. I’m delighted to say it’s already had one 5-star review. It’s for 5 to 10 year olds, roughly. It’s a non-scary, happy, fun witchy story. No ensuing nightmares, I promise!

I hope you like the cover. I did this one! Caiti is rather busy with homework at weekends at the moment, so it was up to me. I wanted to get this book out for Halloween. I’ve left it rather late as it is…

The dog is our Nessie. I took loads of photos of her, but since she kept rolling over, this was the only one that worked!

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Better Name for an Ebook Reader

Ebook reader isn’t the most exciting name, is it? It’s appropriate and logical but rather pedantic. I think that’s why we tend to use the trade names for our readers, such as Kindle or Nook. They have a feeling of cosiness about them – like the idea of curling up with a good book.

The French word used most often for ebook reader is ‘livrel’. ‘Livre’ is French for book, and ‘el’ is the first syllable of ‘electronique’. But this is France where there are several ways of saying the same thing! So we also have ‘livreuse’ and ‘bouquineur’ for ebook readers. I think they’re all rather catchy.

So what would be a nicer generic term than plain old ebook reader?Here are my suggestions:

Portabook

ELF – Electronic Literary Faciliatator

EARTH – Electronic Apparatus for Reading Texts, Hooray

Pocket Library

Tex-port

ELBORG – ELectronic BOok  Reading Gizmo

Hmm. Not massively inspiring, but of the list I like ELF best!

What would your suggestions for a new name for ebook readers?

 

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Good Results from Getfreeebooks.com

I submitted Oh Gran, one of my two free ebooks available via Smashwords here to www.getfreeebooks.com. It was accepted on 1st October and by today, 3rd October, it’s been downloaded over 200 times. Up to then I’d had around 130 downloads directly from the Smashwords site over about 10 days. So going to getfreeebooks.com was a very worthwhile move in my opinion. Hopefully people will enjoy the book and remember my name, and one day, actually pay for one of my masterpieces!

None of my latest batch of ebooks, two free and one at 99 cents, have made it onto Amazon yet in Kindle format. I thought I’d do it via Smashwords this time round. It’s taken longer than I thought it would, but the advantage of using Smashwords as distributor is that they pay by Paypal, whereas Amazon will only pay overseas authors by cheque. Cashing cheques drawn on foreign banks in a foreign currency is practically impossible in France. I’ll probably have to open a special account somewhere with an awful lot of accompanying bank charges when the time comes to deal with royalties coming directly from Amazon. Sadly at the moment I imagine those expenses will far outweigh the income 🙁

But I’m an optimist! I plan to carry on plugging away with my ebooks in the certainty that one day it will be worthwhile financially.

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NaNoWriMo, Blovel – What Language Is This?

It’s time to meet two strange words. First up, NaNoWriMo, which begins in just 31 days time. What is it? NaNoWriMo is the shortened form of National Novel Writing Month, although really that should be International Novel Writing Month as it’s open to everyone. The aim of the catchily named event is to produce a 50,000 word novel during November, which works out at 1,667 words a day. It’s a tall order, but the thrust is to simply get people to sit down and write. Write rubbish if necessary, but write! It will get you into good habits for the future.

Last year, everyone who completed the challenge got a free proof copy of their book from Amazon’s Createspace. I don’t know if the same is planned for this year, but even the possibility would certainly be an incentive.

I’ve signed up. I’ve joined 1831 other France-based WriMos. I might use the event to get my long-planned YA fantasy novel written, or maybe the upbeat knitting mystery which is crashing around in my brain at the moment. Decisions, decision!

So on to ‘Blovel’, a combo of Blog and Novel. This is a great invention by Stu Noss! Check out his site here. Stu is serialising his novel Life on the Suburban Fringe on his blog. What a great idea. Stu is following in famous footsteps. Charles Dickens’ novels came out in serialised form originally, and he hasn’t done so badly over the years has he? Stu’s a talented writer and I’m sure his Blovel idea will inspire a lot more to appear.

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Super Thursday

Today is Super Thursday, the day when publishers launch their best hopes for the Christmas market. According to the BBC, more than 500 books in all formats, amongst them 200 hardbacks, are being published today, including a good helping of comedians’ autobiographies, and of course a Jamie Oliver cookbook, Jamie’s Great Britain. This latter is the hot favourite to the Christmas bestseller.

Getting the Christmas books out today gives publishers and authors enough time to do lots of promotion and for word of mouth to kick in and the power of reviews to kick in. The next best day will be in a fortnight, October 13th, so if you were hoping to make it big this Christmas, get your skates on! Looks like I’d better get a move on with my two non-fiction ebooks.

Last year, nine of the books released on Super Thursday sold more than one million pounds’ worth of copies. Not bad. In the 12-week run up to Christmas, a total of 69 million books were sold, with a value of 567 million pounds. This is serious money.

Ebook publishers will be looking to take a share of the public’s book budget this year. You can’t put an ebook in a stocking, though, which will work against them during the festive season. However, you can put a Kindle or other ebook reader in, and with the new Kindle priced at 79 dollars, that’s in normal spending parameters for family and special friends.

It will be very interesting to see how ebook sales fare over the next three months. I’ll be watching closely.

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Ebook Pricing Proposals in France

Back in March several French publishers were raided, including Hachette Livre, Gallimard, Flammarion and La Martinière. It was all to do with ebook pricing. Many of the publishing companies under scrutiny have only recently got into ebooks and haven’t setup a proper pricing policy yet. For now, they are going along with a temporary agency model for pricing, and this is what is causing the problem. Agency pricing is very like the net book agreement that used to hold sway in the UK and Ireland. Under this, publishers set the price at which a book was to be sold, and that was that. Booksellers couldn’t sell it for less. The net book agreement was brought down when supermarkets and the big chains of bookshops challenged it.

A statement from the Directorate General for Competition read: “The European Commission can confirm that on 1 March 2011 Commission officials initiated unannounced inspections at the premises of companies that are active in the e-book (electronic or digital books) publishing sector in several Member States. The Commission has reason to believe that the companies concerned may have violated EU antitrust rules that prohibit cartels and other restrictive business practices (Article 101 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union).”

At the moment France adheres to the Lang Law for physical, i.e. paper, books. It establishes a fixed price for books sold in France and limits the discounts that can be offered on them by booksellers. But it doesn’t apply to ebooks. So publishers are fixing the price in stone and EU officials don’t like it, even though the French Competition Authority said in 2009 that the agency model was “a possible solution” for pricing ebooks. However, by restricting booksellers from offering discounts to promote some of the titles they stock, this goes against some of the objectives of the culture ministry in France.

Recently both houses of the French parliament gave their approval to a law that replaces the Lang Law, and goes further to now encompass ebooks. Under the proposed scheme, French publishers will set a single price for their e-books, and distributors must follow it, no matter where they are based. The EU won’t like it, that’s for sure.

It seems odd that publishers are reverting to this old practice of price fixing and making books more expensive than they need to be. Some pro-electronic publishing forums have suggested that, like cigarettes, ebooks produced by the publishers adopting the agency model should come with a warning along the lines of: Warning: buying this book will support a publisher who wants to increase book prices for all.