The Only Rule Amazon Truly Cares About

A very worthwhile read…

David Gaughran

On Monday, I found out that some bug hit a German e-book site causing the reactivation of long-dead listings, including one of mine, putting myself and some other authors in breach of KDP Select’s exclusivity rule.

Amazon pounced into action and cancelled my Countdown deal which was scheduled for this week, screwing up a carefully planned promotion. And despite pledging to resolve the matter and restore the promo, Amazon has not done so.

I’m going to go through what happened in detail so you can be sure that I acted correctly at all points – because there is a lot of shadiness going on at the moment – but feel free to skim some of the details if you wish.

Let’s Get Digital and Let’s Get Visible had never been in Select, so I decided to throw them in for one term as an experiment at the start of July…

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Stones on the Desert Floor

I have died a dozen times, maybe more. Truth be told, I have lost count; or perhaps more accurately, I have lost interest in counting.

I died in Phoenix, AZ in 1987. My body was never found. Local newspapers posted a short public notice on page seven a few days after my disappearance. It ran on a Tuesday. It dropped from print by Friday.

A few years later I died in Jackson, MS. I had been working midnight shift at a warehouse assembling wrenches into kits packaged for a Father’s Day promotion for Sears. When I stopped showing up for work, inquiries were made. I don’t make friends though, so there really wasn’t anyone to ask. My landlord knew nothing. After a few days a new person from the temp agency who hired me sent a new worker to fill my spot at the warehouse. I imagine that was the last time I was thought about in Jackson.

This story gets repeated over and over: Reno, Monterrey, Yuba CIty.

The act of killing myself is hard wired. My neuroses keeps me away from people. I’ve learned to live a solitary life. In the arena of mental warfare I am my own worst enemy. I stand alone, girded by invisible walls fortified with paranoia.

I work at night. I sleep during the day. I’m not some teen-aged fantasy of a real life vampire. I am the mundane phenomenon of depression and anxiety left unchecked. My skin does not sparkle, it’s merely pale from preferring the shadows. I don’t rise at night to consume the sanguine blood of my victims, instead I eat from convenience stores at odd hours, at different times. I do this so I do not encounter the same people at the same time. That leads to acquaintances, and relationships. I am not interested in that paradigm. Not any longer.

I died in Baltimore, Poughkeepsie, Wilkes-Barre, and Coeur d’Alene too.

The warehouse work I seek through temp agencies is simple. As long as you can pass a drug test and you don’t have active warrants, you can get a job. Warehouse work involves placing different objects into baskets making consumer products to be sold in boutiques. I’ve made lotion baskets, dried goods baskets, candy baskets and hermetically colored condom baskets. I once made a dried fish, preserved eel and wasabi dried pea basket for something called the Shogatsu. I’m an expert on cobbling things together. It’s the process I use I recreate myself after I die.

I died in St. Louis, Salt Lake City and Oakland.

As I insinuated, my deaths are not corporeal in nature; they are psychic. The seed of anxiety deposits in my thinking. It is nourished by the frenetic energy of my troubled cognition. The seed takes root and grows until the trunk and branches erode my lucidity. The only thing that has ever stopped the mental pain is to leave, simply walk away from whatever life I have. Each time I do, my psychical template descends into a malaise from which I cannot escape. So I die, and move on down the road to the next town.

That’s why now, as the vulture’s beak, strong with practice, pulls the remaining sinews from my skull I am surprised at my sadness. It’s an emotion I thought lost, but looking down upon my deteriorating body I find myself, unexpectedly, wanting to live. I have died so many times in the minds of others, I thought naught what it would feel like when I actually did depart from this plane.

I don’t like it.

I find myself pining to try again in life, to find a reason not to die away. I am struck by the irony of my seeking death as an escape, only to suddenly want to escape from the death I have so long sought.

I don’t remember anything from when the semi hit me. I had walked along the side of US Route 95. I was headed North, away from the heat and insular culture of the City of Yuma. I had enjoyed the sound of passing traffic, the white noise present during my northward trek out of Yuma. The truck had drifted a few feet to the right onto the shoulder without the driver’s knowledge. The moment of impact registered as a bright, white light.

Then nothing.

Nothing until I realized the yawn of morning and the presence of sunlight sufficient to see myself lying on the hardpan dirt of the Sonoran Desert. There I lay. My legs contorted unnaturally. My face immersed in the Earth. My backpack resting a good distance away seemingly unmolested. My body, just far enough away from traffic to lie unseen among the sage and stones, lay crumpled and still.

Time takes on a different role after death. It is no longer linear. The view I see of myself from wherever it is I am, is constant. I can see today, yesterday and tomorrow. Today I see the vulture, harvesting the final nutrients beneath my tattered clothing. The protuberance of a humerus bone clutching onto its radius counterpart with a weathered ligament poked through my clothing. My sun soaked skull revealed my occipital bone through scattered, matted blond hair. Blond hair tinged with dried blood.

I find myself in a perpetual orbit above the body I knew as mine. A body that had been given the chance to live a life, but whose mind never allowed it function.

I have truly died. I am now departed from myself, watching my body slowly become part of the lonely Sonoran Desert. My broken phalanges, now but small stones on the desert floor, lay scattered without intention or purpose akin to the lives I used to live.

Looking down now, I recognize my future is extinguished. Yet here I am, still awash in the memories of the lives I lived. To what end have I come? I have become what I sought in life, to die and be released from life. And now, in a place absence of pain and anxiety, I mourn myself, my fettered existence.

Death, I realize, is not the answer; it is a premature conclusion without recourse, without remedy.

In life, I used death like a Tarot card placed in front of me time and time again. The Tarot card, depicting a skeleton with an arm raised toward the seeker, is not about death; it is about change. I see now my life repeatedly sought change, not death. I hungered change, a change I was unable to affect with my aberrant mental faculty.

I see that now. I see that now, as plainly as I see my body quartered among the sage and boulders.

 

Josh Jones is a writer currently living in Columbus, OH. He is co-founder of The Writer’s Consortium, a non-profit project forming co-housing relationships for active writers. Josh’s day job is installing permaculture gardens for sustainable households and businesses which takes him all over the United States. When work allows, he’s off long distance hiking having trod most of the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail. Josh is a novelist of literary fiction exploring realistic characters with societal obstacles to overcome. He is also a ghost writer for a wide array of topics.

Fame and fortune have yet to catch up with Josh, so you can easily contact him at the following links.
Author networking site: https://introvertpress.wordpress.com/

Source: Stones on the Desert Floor

Amazon Has A Fake Book Problem

THIS IS REALLY IMPORTANT TO READ IF YOU UTILIZE AMAZON.

David Gaughran

Fake books – powered by clickfarms – are gatecrashing Amazon’s charts. And despite being aware of the issue for well over a year, Amazon has failed to resolve it.

If you look at the Kindle Store Best Seller charts right now, and click over to Free Books, you will see that the Top 20 currently has five suspicious-looking titles.

None of them have reviews. All were published in the last week. They have no Also Boughts – meaning they have had very few sales. Each of these titles are around 2,500 pages long, seem to have duplicated content, and are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited.

What is going on here?

For over fifteen months now, scammers have been raiding the Kindle Unlimited pot using a well-worn trick. They usually pilfer the content first of all – often by stealing an author’s original work and running it through a synonymizer – and…

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Self Publishing…Is It Worth It?

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There they were. Those two words you thought would never happen. Six little letters. You type slowly and reverently:

The End.

The act of completing a novel is huge. Of the billions of people on the planet we are in a very small, select group of Homo sapiens. Soak up the ambiance because shortly you come to the next gargantuan phase of your book: publishing.

You can have your book published on Amazon within a few days. You can use their cover designer for free. You just upload the pdf, collect your ISBN and POOF you’re published. You can do it in your underwear, or less. Clickity clack – baddaboom baddabing. AUTHOR!

Ooooooor, you can compose a query letter, a synopsis and prep a few select gorgeous pages of your work and try courting the shy and elusive literary agent or traditional publisher. And then await the rejections! I am in a group on Facebook that celebrates the Rejection Letter. Mostly they are pre-written form letters and ironically sometimes contain typos.

There is also a deep, dark secret that transpires at bookstores and libraries the world over. [TRIGGER ALERT] Every bookstore and library participate in the culling of books. Books — pages toiled over and written in blood by a writer — get DUMPED. Sometimes the get purchased by paper recycling company, some take truckloads to the land fills. It’s gruesome. Mass graves for literary endeavor.

I’m at a cross-roads. I’ve completed my novel. I can testify that it is definitely “not bad”. It’s a literary fiction manuscript. No vampires. No spacesuits. It’s about….well, here  you can read about it and see what I mean. I had this intense urge to get my manuscript through my editor’s process. I had a drive to finish, to get those pages to Amazon. And then once I was all done I sat with my novel…digitized into a pdf…and I became suddenly aware of relegating my book to the culled pile. Or worse, it never gets to the culled pile because my three friends didn’t have money to buy it and it just sits there, a victim of a lack of marketing and distribution.

Some reports suggest that less than 1% of authors on Amazon create revenue of $50 per day or more. But wait! Use Ads!! That’s right, start paying for your novel to be placed more successfully. It’s maddening.

So here I sit with my little pdf, working on pdf #2 and I’m considering all of the above. I believe I am going to wait for traditional publishing.

I don’t know…I really don’t.

For more reading try these: Claude Forthomme’s BlogNew York Times, The Guardian, Amazon KDP Support Chat

Query Letter Workshop

The Sandpaper Crew, an online beta reader group and Introvert PRESS, are co-hosting a Query Letter workshop on July 8th, 2017. The workshop is for people with current query letter looking for input and recommendations for improvement. The event will last for a 24 hours. It will allow you to post your query letter and receive suggestions from a diversity of viewpoints. We have editors, writers, readers and teachers, all ready to help with constructive criticism.  The Sandpaper Crew is a safe place!

Normally the Sandpaper Crew is a secret group, but we are opening up for the days leading up to the workshop so those associated with Introvert PRESS can find us on Facebook.

Remember the cardinal rule of criticism: take what you like, leave what you don’t.

The following day you can post your updated Query Letter for final applause, and hopefully make a few connections in the Indie Author world along the way.

Here is a link to the event. If you click on “interested” or “going” you will receive notification about details as they shape up.

THE RETROACTIVIST by Nate Ragolia

If you enjoyed Orwell’s 1984, Huxley’s Brave New World, or even Pixar’s Wall-e  there is something for you in Nate Ragolia’s The Retroactivist. Throw in a bit of nuanced Stepford Wives and a splash Bellamy’s Looking Backward and you have a sense of the novel: a speculative fiction piece focused on what truly qualifies a society as utopian and a person as happy.

(More below cover art)

The Retroactivist by Nate RagoliaSet in the year 2087, government has solved hunger, illness, social strife and all major components of societal duress. Citizens travel the world via tube cars and enjoy cocktails made in convenient replicators. Sexual gratification is omnipresent and all activities are scheduled and paid for by the flick of a wifi wrist band. The primary goal of citizens – enjoy life.

Society is ‘perfected’, yet perfection leaves main character Reid Rosales unfulfilled.

Akin to Alice tumbling down the rabbit hole, Reid finds an underground sect of fellow Citizens with a shared longing for the past. Reid decides to eschew the safety of perfection for the excitement of uncertainty.  He leaves his sultry girlfriend, a cush apartment and a life of leisure in the United Sociocracy of the Americas and immerses himself in the philosophy, economy and society of the 20th century.  His newly acquired cohorts band together and take it upon themselves to be ‘retroactivists’.

Revolution ensues.

Ragolia has a knack for presenting the fantastic as believable, unfolding a unique perspective on what it means to be genuinely fulfilled, not just comfortable. I have a sense if Margaret Atwood and Ayn Rand sat down for an afternoon of Chardonnay, they would have lots to say about this novel. Ragolia also gives the reader a treat by nestling into the novel subtle references to the 20th Century that if you are on your toes you will read with a smirk. The Retroactivist reads quickly, has a steady pace and is a tribute to what Indie Authors have to offer. Kudos to Nate Ragolia. Buy it!

 

Reveiew by Josh Jones

 Intovert PRESS  PO Box 91071 Columbus, OH 43209

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Grace Harney’s Advice on KDP Select

First of all, what is KDP Select? It’s pretty unlikely that you don’t know already what this is, but for the sake of full disclosure and those that don’t know, it’s basically a 3-month, optional contract you can enter into with Amazon. If you’re like me, and you have just one book– –don’t do it! […]

via Enrolling Your Only Book in Kindle Select = 3 Months of Regret. Here’s Why. — Grace Harney