Blog Archives

I’m Still Here (oh, and please buy my books — I have an A/C repair to pay off)

Sorry about the radio silence — between trying to get various books formatted and out (my very first romance novel Storm Season has been re-released with a new cover and re-edited content, AND it’s on sale for 99¢ — go take a look!), the increasingly scary situation going on with our current administration, the #GetLoud crusade against bookstuffers and assorted scammers, me taking a jewelry fabrication course, and assorted other things I’ve been a little busy.

The latest event was our downstairs A/C unit going out over the weekend — as it’s been flirting with triple digits here in the clavicle of Texas, this was not a laughing matter. The repairman came today and we now have cool air again for just a shade under a grand. *sigh* So if you need something entertaining to take your mind off things, I currently have five titles on sale for 99¢:

To My Muse will be coming off sale on 7/1 and Degree of Resistance will be taking its place, so if you haven’t read my hilarious romcom yet go get a copy while it’s still ridiculously cheap.

But not all is doom and gloom around the Cameron manse. The #GetLoud campaign, spearheaded by the brilliant Suzan Tisdale, Heather C. Leigh, Bianca Sommerfield, and David Gaughran, has finally generated enough complaints and bad press that the Big River are now taking down bookstuffers. Not all of them are gone, mind you — I still counted at least three in the top 20 of Romantic Comedy a few minutes ago — but the ranks are definitely looking different now. And if Amazon sticks to their guns and doesn’t let these people create new accounts (which according to their TOS is what’s supposed to happen), we may actually have a respite where KU has real, legitimate novels in it again.

At least, until the stuffers figure out a new scam. Which they will, because they’re unethical hacks who simply want to make money. In the meantime, however, I’m going to experiment and put Red Robin and the Huntsman back into KU for three months because it’s not really selling wide, and if it attracts readers in KU that might persuade them to check out the rest of the Two Thrones series (the next book, King of Blades, should be out in November, BTW).

Also, I’m finishing up Shifter Woods: Snarl (see cover at left) and that will be out on 7/10, so mark your calendars! The final novella in the current series, Shifter Woods: Scream (which is Deputy Jane’s story — the eagle shifter finds herself mated to a hot tiger shifter AND a half-elf zoologist in a crossover with Siobhan Muir’s Cloudburst, Colorado series), will be out sometime in September, and then I have to think about a plot for a full-length Esposito County Shifters novel. One possibility is Caleb and Laurie finally getting married — that is, if she can take time out from her new big story and he can deal with a group of religious preppers who are trying to set up a compound in the county. All of the characters from the novellas will be in that one, and I can build from there.

Another open letter to Jeff Bezos

I’m sure that many of you in Romancelandia have been hearing about the michigas surrounding bookstuffers and how they’re leaching money out of Kindle Unlimited at an astounding rate. This is something that will affect readers as well as writers, because if enough authors can’t make a living with their books and have to take other jobs to pay the bills, it means less books to read apart from yet another variant on The Dirty Billionaires Next Door And Their Secret Baby (A Compilation).

Christ, I hope that’s not a real book.

Anyway, it turns out that anyone can write an email to Jeff Bezos, the head honcho at Amazon, and so I have just sent off the following letter. If you’re an author tired of seeing your KU income dwindle in favor of some faceless businessman using underhanded tactics to pimp their “compilation” on KU, or you’re a reader tired of wading through acres of prettily covered crap in hopes of finding a decent book, you might want to write him, as well. There’s strength in numbers, and if Amazon realizes that this could hit their bottom line they will take action.


Dear Mr. Bezos:

My name is Melanie Fletcher. I write SF under my own name and romance under the name Nicola Cameron, and since November 2015 I’ve also been able to self-publish my work using the Kindle Direct Publishing system. At first, I was absolutely delighted with KDP; it gave me an opportunity to publish novels that weren’t easily marketable by the Big Five publishers in NYC, and I was able to build on my readership with my first self-pubbed novel, Empress of Storms. Empress wound up earning a little over $16,000, mainly via Amazon, and that gave me hope for a viable career as an independent author.

Except that Empress’s sequel, Palace of Scoundrels, didn’t do nearly as well as the first book. Sequels rarely match the success of the first book in a series, but Palace’s sales were unusually lackluster considering that there had been numerous requests for a sequel and I performed all the same promotion activities that I used for Empress. The reviews for Palace were uniformly good, from Amazon reviewers as well as from professional review sites, so its drop in sales puzzled me.

But I shrugged it off as a learning experience and wrote a SF romance, thinking that putting out a separate title might help. It didn’t sell well. I went back and wrote another sequel for Empress. It didn’t sell well. I then wrote a contemporary romantic comedy, one of the most popular subgenres of romance there is. You can guess how the sales went for that. I’ve done due diligence on all my books with regards to promotion — purchasing advertising for them, sending out review copies, haunting social media to talk them up, appearing at romance conventions to advertise them, everything that a legitimate indie author needs to do in order to get the word out about their book.

But despite uniformly good reviews, both on and off Amazon, my sales were getting increasingly worse despite a growing backlist. I spoke with other indie authors and they all complained about the same thing—their sales at Amazon were plummeting. When an indie author such as Sam Crescent, who has a huge, loyal fanbase and can produce titles monthly, was seeing her sales dwindling, I didn’t have a shot in hell of saving my career.

And then I learned about bookstuffers who were gaming the KU system. I’m sure you’ve well aware of the situation by now and how they use scam tactics such as adding extra books to a title and instructing their readers to flip to the end in order to have all the pages register as having been read. Not only are they driving out legitimate authors from KU, but their tactics then gamed Amazon’s ranking algorithms and pushed them into bestseller slots that, frankly, they didn’t deserve. This hijacking of Amazon’s ranking system has had a number of unfortunate knock-on effects — it’s rendered Amazon’s ranking system is no longer a reliable tool for readers searching for new titles and authors, and it’s pushed legitimate indie authors like me completely out of the spotlight. As for KU, I can’t afford to put my books in it anymore. I would have to have tens of thousands of page reads of my titles just to match a bookstuffer’s “compilation.”

Mr. Bezos, I don’t want the KU system to shut down. Not only does it makes you money, but it allows a LOT of readers who don’t have extra cash for books to read as much as they like, and maybe even find a new favorite author. I’ve included my titles in KU for that very purpose before I realized it was losing me income and had to stop. I would love to be able to put my books in KU again, but for that to happen it needs to be made equitable. Changing your terms of service to forbid more than 10% of “extra” material in a book will not stop bookstuffers—they’ll just find another way to game the system, as they already have by labeling their stuffed books “compilations.” I am begging you to have your programming team take a good, hard look at KU and come up with a robust method of monitoring it and preventing such abuses. Pattern analysis that recognizes extra material already in KU as a standalone title, or repetitive use of extra material in multiple titles (where a bookstuffer publishes Book A with BCDEF extra material, Book B with CDEFA extra material, Book C with DEFAB extra material, etc.) and flags a title for removal is one way of doing this. I know this would be a serious undertaking, but sir, I’ve heard from numerous readers who are now saying that they’ve been burned too many times by KU scammers and are cancelling KU or will only read Big Five books or titles from trusted authors. This is what the bookstuffers have done with their rampant abuse of KU; while they’re only hurting my bottom line at the moment, if they keep driving people away from KU they’ll eventually start hurting yours as well.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Best,
Melanie Fletcher/Nicola Cameron

A fix for formatting problems with Amazon’s Look Inside function

Today’s helpful hint is for any self-pubbing author who’s had problems with the “Look Inside” function in Amazon completely screwing up your formatting and possibly losing you sales. You see, I checked out Lady of Thorns yesterday and scared the cats with my screaming when I discovered that the preview’s formatting was completely fouled up. I proceeded to check all the rest of my self-pubbed books and discovered the same freaking problem with ALL OF THEM.

After calming down and doing some research, I learned that the Look Inside function interprets HTML very literally and doesn’t always seem to recognize CSS (nobody knows why), which can result in a screwed-up preview even if the actual ebook looks fine.

But there is a way to fix this on your own! Unfortunately Scrivener won’t let me look at an ebook’s HTML so I downloaded Calibre, which will allow you to edit the ebook’s HTML. I added Lady of Thorns in EPUB format to Calibre’s library, then right clicked on it and selected “Edit Book”. That opened up an editing app with a list of all the text pages in the book and their individual CSS style sheets. Ignore the style sheets and focus on the text pages that appear in the Look Inside function (note: a page will be called something like bodyx.xhtml instead of the page name, so just start at the top of the list and open pages until you find the ones you want). Double-click on a page to open it in the HTML editor.

A brief explanation of HTML code: the following code <p>text here</p> indicates that all the text between <p> and </p> (in this case, “text here”) should form a single paragraph. Now look at your page’s HTML code. If a paragraph is primarily something like <p> class=”p1″><br></p>, it’s just a space between paragraphs. Ignore it. But if a paragraph contains text that is screwed up in the preview, replace the paragraph’s <p class=”X”> code (just this first part — you can leave the </p> part alone) with the following:

BODY TEXT

Regular body text to be centered with no indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be left-aligned with no indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: left; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be left-aligned with a first line indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: left; text-indent: 1.5em; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

     Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be justified with no indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

Regular body text to be justified with a first line indentation: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: justify; text-indent: 1.5em; font-size: 100%”>

Example:

     Cautiously, Kel lowered his hand and opened one eye, then the other. Then blinked. Then drooled just the tiniest bit. Because in front of him stood a tall, muscular, absolutely freaking gorgeous man with caramel skin and the abs of a porn star, wearing a linen kirtle and one of the most spectacular scapulars Kel had ever seen.

HEADERS

Depending on which app you used to create your ebook, your headers (the larger size text used for chapter or page names) will either be indicated with <h1>text</h1> or with <p>text</p>. The following are meant to be used with <p>text</p> headers. To use them with a <h1>text</h1> header, replace the p with h1.

 

If you want to center a header: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: center; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 133%”>

Example:

KEL MAKES A MISTAKE

If you want to left-align a header: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: left; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 133%”>

Example:

KEL MAKES A MISTAKE

If you want to right-align a header: <p style=”margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; text-align: right; text-indent: 0.0px; font-size: 133%”>

Example:

KEL MAKES A MISTAKE

Note: you don’t have to do this to the entire book, just the pages that show up in the preview. This is usually your front matter (Table of Contents, Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Acknowlegements) and part of your first chapter. Save your edits and upload the revised ebook file to Amazon. Et voila — the actual ebook looks the same, but now “Look Inside” recognizes the HTML and generates a properly formatted preview.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Depending on when you upload your corrected ebook file, you may not see the changes immediately in Look Inside. Don’t panic! I fixed Lady of Thorns and uploaded it on Wednesday evening, and by Thursday everything on Look Inside was fine. I then did the rest to my other books on Thursday, uploaded them … and on Friday morning they all still had jacked up Look Inside previews. When I contacted Amazon about this, they said that it takes seven days for new/updated book files to appear on Look Inside and to wait a week then check again. Since the preview for Lady of Thorns was fine by Thursday morning, I translated this to mean, “We usually run a batch process every Wednesday night. Check Thursday morning and all your previews should look fine.” In any case, if your preview formatting issues haven’t gone away after you’ve uploaded the corrected file, wait a week, then check again.

And if this makes you want to cry because you don’t DO HTML, dammit, ping me and I’ll help you out.

I’m #1 in Germany!

TricksterBSDe

Well, okay, not me personally, but the German language version of Trickster is, in the Gay Romance category. If that’s not whoop-inducing enough, Trickster is also #162 in the Kindle Bestseller list!

TricksterBSDe02

Needless to say, I am VERY pumped about this. So if you like reading in German and want a sexy, hot, and funny M/M shifter romance (I think that’s what the reviews said — my German is seriously rusty), go get a copy!

Empress of Storms 25% off at ARe! @allromance #cybermonday #sale

Empress-of-stormsBanner03I’m still running that 25% off sale on Empress of Storms at All Romance eBooks, so if you haven’t picked up a copy yet you should go and do it now! For everyone who has already purchased a copy, thank you SO much. Your interest in my first foray into high fantasy erotic romance is truly appreciated.

Now that the holidays are winding down, however, could I ask you a huge favor? I really, really, REALLY need reviews for the book, ideally on Amazon but I won’t say no to Goodreads, B&N, or any other online retailers. I’ve reached the point where my social media self-promo is getting a little redundant and I don’t want to annoy people with repeated ads. I’ve purchased advertising on various sites, but right now reviews are desperately needed to promote the book, bump it up in Amazon rankings and pull in new sales.

Also, as I’ve mentioned before if you’re stony broke and just can’t afford an ebook right now, contact me with your preferred ebook format and I’ll send you a copy. All I ask is that you leave an honest review for me — and yeah, if you read it and absolutely hate it, then go ahead and say that. I know Empress isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and I’d rather have someone saying, “Yeah, sorry, this bites” than someone blowing smoke up my ass.

Okay, back to work!

WOOHOO! Happy 5th Birthday, Evernight Publishing!

5thBDayBlogHopThanks to readers like you, Evernight Publishing has grown by leaps and bounds in five years so they’re pulling out all the stops and throwing an extreme BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION BLOG HOP in your honor!

That’s right! It’s Evernight’s birthday but YOU get the presents…

Prizes include:

• Apple Watch Sport
• NEW Kindle Paperwhite
• Fitbit Flex
• Evernight, Amazon, and ARe Gift Certificates

Plus, each author on the hop will offer his/her own special prize!

I personally want to wish Evernight Publishing a wonderful and very happy fifth birthday, and a huge thank you for taking a chance on me and publishing what is turning into the fantasy erotic romance equivalent of Harry Potter (I swear, Storm Season was supposed to be short and sweet. Next thing I know, I have a six-book epic series in progress. I ask you).

Speaking of my books with Evernight, here’s a look at my first Evernight title and my latest release in said epic series:

ABBM_smFirst Evernight Release: A Boon by Moonlight (Romance on the Go)

Ex-Marine Zach Mayhew is willing to do anything for his dying grandmother, even find a fairy ring and beg that she be allowed to spend her last days in Faerie.

But when a gorgeous Sidhe noble demands a night in his bed in return, Zach learns that a boon asked by moonlight can have unexpected consequences for his heart.

“You’re wearing entirely too many clothes,” Jerrek said, rubbing his naked groin against Zach’s still clothed one. “Take them off at once.”

Zach couldn’t help grinning at the order. “Are you always this bossy?”

“I prefer to think of it as authoritative. What part of ‘sidhe lord’ didn’t you grasp?”

Evernight | Amazon | Barnes and Noble | All Romance Ebooks | Bookstrand | Kobo | Smashwords | iTunes

DeepWaterLatest Evernight Release: Deep Water (Olympic Cove Book 3)

Poseidon, God of the Sea, has spent millennia alone due to a single terrible act. His consort Amphitrite has sworn never to forgive him, and he’s forced to live with the knowledge that he drove an innocent girl to her doom.

But when one of the Olympic Cove cottages gets an occupant with an all-too-familiar soul, Poseidon discovers that the Fates have given him a second chance. Now he must try to right the wrongs of the past and win back both his beloved consort and the mate he betrayed.

Assuming, of course, that the Mad Nereid Thetis doesn’t interfere…

“I’ll be quite honest with you—I’m exceedingly rich,” Poseidon said. “I don’t know how to cook because I have people to do that for me. My wealth gives me the great luxury of doing what I choose to do. And I choose to protect what I love as best I can against the degradation of mankind.”

“Oh, great,” Griffin sighed. “You’re Batman.”

Evernight | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | All Romance eBooks | Bookstrand | Kobo | Smashwords | iTunes

In addition to all the nifty prizes from Evernight, I’m also offering a personal blog prize of a $25 Amazon gift certificate. To enter, just leave a comment here and tell me about your dream birthday (all-expenses-paid spa day? Cruising in the Bahamas? Dinner and birthday cake with Michael Fassbender? Eating birthday cake off Michael Fassbender? Go wild).

And if that’s not enough, it’s a great time for an Evernight shopping spree because all Evernight titles are 25% off through October 9th at AllRomance eBooks!

AReSale

Click here and enter to win the Grand Prizes using Rafflecopter! And once you’re done with that, hop on over to the next blog!

I’m visiting blogs, yes I am

My fellow Planet Alpha author Beth D. Carter has me on today to talk about the influences that went into Assassin and how I develop my character dynamics, so if you want to find out why Zhan is the way he is, head over to http://bethdcarter.blogspot.com/2014/10/planet-alpha-author-nicola-cameron.html.

StopTryingToBeQuietassassinpromoAnd to put a cherry on top, Assassin is currently at #20 on the All Romance eBooks Bestseller list, earned a category bestseller silver star, and is on two category bestseller lists over at Amazon. It’s also doing quite well at Bookstrand, and I’m hoping to get some reviews in soon (remember, if you read it, reviews are love!).

Right now, I’m finishing up my anthology entry for Evernight’s uniform fetish call, and then it’s back to work on Iron Cross. And for tomorrow’s Mid Week tease you’re going to get an exclusive scene from Trickster to celebrate Halloween. Woohoo!