Decisions made, work to be done and more

It’s been two weeks since Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) went live. Or was supposed to go live. For those of you who follow the blog, you know that the first week was nothing but an exercise in frustration and more frustration. Fortunately, the issues with Amazon have been fixed and everything seems to be rocking along. Thanks to everyone who hung in there. Your support helped me get through what had to be the worst release week I’ve had to date. I also want to thank Amazon for working with me to get the problem fixed.

Since I started with Amazon, let’s talk about something I’ve been seeing a lot on Facebook recently. There is a petition that’s been started on asking Amazon to stop people from being able to return e-books after 15% of a book has been read. While I understand the sentiment — no author likes to see returns — there is a problem with this approach. Some “e-books” are only a few pages long. That means the 15% limit might not get a purchaser beyond the copyright page. What if everything after that point is so poorly formatted that the title is not readable? Or what if, at about the 75% mark, something went wrong and the e-book suddenly changes to another one? There have to be exceptions made.

As you know, I write in several different genres. I have found there are some sub-genres that have more returns than others. However, that higher level of returns seemed to go down markedly once I enrolled that particular sub-genre’s books into the Kindle Unlimited program. Something else I am seeing is that sales are going up with those books and so are the borrows under KU. Hmm, maybe I’m onto something here.

There can be any number of reasons for an e-book to be returned. It happens. Yes, there are people who will “buy” an e-book, read it and then return it. No matter what we do, it will happen. If they aren’t doing it through Amazon, they will find a pirate site where our work is hosted. Do I like it? Not at all. But a petition to try to force Amazon to take a certain form of action isn’t going to stop it. I would rather be able to find some pattern to what is going on than not know what is being pirated.

Pattern. That happens to be the key word. Instead of assuming everyone who buys and then returns an e-book has ill-intent in his heart, the author might need to look at their reviews — and even go back and look at their work with a fresh eye — and see if there might not be a reason for the returns. Never, ever consider your readers as crooks. Most especially don’t take to social media and claim they are — and, no, I am not saying the person who started the petition or any of those supporting her feel this way. They all seem earnest in their concern about something they see as a problem. I will even concede that they might have a problem with returns that I haven’t seen with my own work.

That said, I have seen come comments from folks who don’t believe this problem existed before e-books came onto the scene. It did. People bought printed books, took them home or to the nearest coffee shop or whatever, read the book and then returned it. As authors, we weren’t  made as aware of the situation because we didn’t have a dashboard that kept us up-to-date on sales, borrows and returns on an hourly basis. Now we have that tool and it is very easy to obsess over it.

Instead of doing so, before beginning to think there are crooks out there, look first at your work and your reviews. Is there something there pointing to a potential problem? Do you see a pattern in the returns? If so, contact Amazon. They do have policies in place that deal with people who abuse the ability to buy and then return e-books. Be prepared to be your own advocate and gather your evidence, your inferences and have your desired outcome ready when you contact Amazon. Most of all, don’t be afraid to let the powers-that-be there know your concerns and your recommendations.

Moving on.

I’ve spent a great deal of time trying to figure out what to do to ameliorate the damage done by the screw up of the Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3) release. I was already working on Dagger of Elanna, the second book in the Sword of the Gods trilogy. Skeletons in the Closet is less than a month from being ready for release. But the last two weeks have shown me one of the positives of being an indie writer. I can rearrange my schedule as needed in order to deal with bumps in the road. Because of that, I’ve amended my publication schedule for the year and am going to bring Victory from Ashes out next.

The rough draft (and it is what I call a very, very, very rough draft) weighs in right now at 84,000 words. There are a number of scenes that still need to be inserted and everything needs to be fleshed out. By the time that is done, the book will probably come in around 110,000 words. Maybe a bit more. It will take me two months, possibly three, to finish the final rough draft, let the beta readers take a look and then send it off to the editor.  Snippets will begin in two weeks.

I am also going to release a new edition of Honor from Ashes shortly before Victory from Ashes comes out. The new edition will include a new short story or novella in the Honor and Duty universe. For those who have already purchased Honor from Ashes (Honor and Duty Book 3), I will put the new material up here for a limited period and I will also offer for individual sale.

After that, I will return to Skeletons and Dagger of Elanna. That will then move up the next Nocturnal Lives books. After that, there will more more in the Hunted universe and more romantic suspense. As if that’s not enough to think about, there are several other projects in the mix I can’t discuss just yet.

This week, however, I have to play catch up. There are print versions of my books to be proofed and finalized, appointments to be met and writing to do. So I guess I’d better find another cup of coffee and get to work.


1 Comment

  1. It’s nice of you to share your schedule. That way we (your fans) know what’s going on.
    {{{HUG}}} and more coffee to the author! c[_]

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