Trying something new.

I’ll get back to formatting and related topics next week. This week, I thought I’d discuss what I’ve been doing with regard to one of my series and my thinking behind it. I’ve mentioned earlier here, and in greater detail on my blog, that I was going to release a “special edition” of Vengeance from Ashes and the other books in the series. I took the first step toward that goal this week and, along the way, have learned some interesting things about Amazon KDP.

So, first things first. Why release a “special edition” of a book that’s been out for several years?

I originally started thinking about it when I wondered what sort of play my books would get on non-Amazon platforms now. I have been exclusively with Amazon for probably the last three years or so. I originally made the decision to go that route when it became clear the vast majority of my sales came from Amazon and the monies I made through KDP Select/KU could more than make up for any lost sales through the other venues. With the influx of smartphones and tablets, I felt it was no longer as onerous on readers if I only offered my work on one platform. After all, Amazon has Kindle apps for pretty much all operating systems.

Then, over the last few months, I’ve been seeing the same sort of decline in payment for pages read that I saw with the original KDP Select reads. Part of that is because there are so many more books going into the system. Part of it is there are those people out there — I refuse to call them authors or writers — who game the system. So, I started asking how to make up the monies I was losing. I can only write so much. How was I going to increase output or increase sales without spending a bunch of bucks without a guaranteed return?

That’s when an author I’m a fan of released a special edition of one of her books through iTunes/iBooks (whatever the heck Apple calls it right now). All she did was add a chapter near the end. It didn’t change the plot of the book but it gave some really great information and helped fill in some blanks left in the original story. Hmmm. That started my brain on the trail that led to where we are today.

However, I didn’t want to completely take my titles out of KU. That meant I needed to consider my options and then talk to Amazon. Yes, yes, I can hear some of you laughing. Trying to actually “talk” to someone associated with KDP can be daunting. But I’d done it before and I could do it again. Right? Right.

I carefully planned out my email to KDP Support. My question was simple but not one that was found in their FAQs or on the boards. If I added new data to my book, not a word here or there but a chapter or more, could I put that new version into KU and then release the original version into the wild? I sent off the message and got the automated response that they’d be back with me in 24 – 72 hours.

Imagine my surprise when, a few hours later, my cellphone rang and it was Amazon. Long story shortish, as long as the content was exclusive to the Amazon edition, it was published with a new ASIN, the description made it clear this was a special edition, I could do what I wanted. Woop! Suddenly it was time to get down to work.

I figured I’d wind up with a chapter, maybe two, of new material. After all, I loved the original version of Vengeance from Ashes. Still, as I sat down to take notes and see what I could do, I realized there was more information I could have — possibly should have — put in. This was a case of 20-20 hindsight after 3 books and 3 short stories in the universe. So, that single chapter or two turned into close to 20k additional words. I’d need to go back and look again but I think it turned into something like 4 or 5 new chapters as well as some additional scenes in the already existing chapters. The plot, overall is the same, but it has been filled in some and I think it makes for a stronger book.

Fast-forward to this last week. I finished setting up for both digital and print versions using Vellum. I’ll repeat here what I’ve said before. If you work on a Mac and have the money to spare, consider buying Vellum. The time saved in setting up the print version alone is worth it. I also like the special characters (true drop caps being part of it) you can easily insert into your e-books. Thanks to Sarah, I have a kick-ass new cover for the new edition and yesterday I bit the bullet and uploaded both files to Amazon.

And held my breath.

And waited to see what happened. Would Amazon let me post the new book for pre-order or had I done all this for naught?

Whew! The e-book went live for pre-orders without a hitch. Official release date is a week from today. Woop! But what about the print version? Should I do Createspace, as I had all my other print books? Or should I try the new KDP print option? Since I was trying something new with the special edition, why not try it with the print version? So, off I went into even more uncharted territory.

First of all, it is much easier to use than Createspace. Since you’ve already entered all the information about the title for your e-book, you don’t have to do so for the print. It’s ported over. You can choose to get a free ISBN or go with one of your own. Since I’m not trying to get into bookstores, I chose the free ISBN. I’m not out any money if I decide to change my mind later and go with Lightning Source or another printer/distributor.

Now for the downside. You still can’t order a print proof – at least not that I saw. I’m not thrilled with that, especially since I haven’t used the service before. There also isn’t a discounted author rate for buying the book. Again, not that I found. If someone knows how to do it, let me know. That’s a big issue for me and it might lead to me moving back to Createspace eventually (assuming Amazon doesn’t change this with KDP). But, on the plus side, the process of getting the print files uploaded and approved is much quicker and the print version went live quicker than any of my Createspace files did. So, I’ve ordered a hard copy and am praying in the meantime.

As with Createspace, I need to go into Author Central to link the print and digital versions together. I’ll do that later today. But, so far, the process has been pretty painless and, as soon as the original version of Vengeance comes off of KU, I’ll release that edition into the wild.

There is one big downside to doing it this way. The reviews for the original version will not be ported over to the new edition. Amazon’s reasoning actually makes sense. The new edition isn’t the same book as the original and so the reviews don’t necessarily apply. I’ll admit, it has even made me reconsider how I handle the original book. I could leave it up on Amazon but that could confuse potential new readers. But I don’t want to lose my reviews.

The answer to that is simple but not complete. I won’t be able to keep all the reviews but I can cherry pick the ones I think are best representative of the book and contact those reviewers to see if I can quote them in the product information for the new version. I’d make clear the reviews were for the original edition but still. . . they could help push the new edition. So that is part of what I’ll be doing over the next couple of days. By then, I’ll have a copy of the print book in hand (Thursday delivery) and will know whether I’ve made a mistake there or not.

Also, I did verify with Amazon that, should I take the original version off sale there, it would remain in the libraries of those who had already purchased it. I have written response that it would. So no one will lose the book they have already bought. I’ll admit, that was a concern and would have impacted my final decision about how to move forward.

One last thing I’ve learned so far about in doing this process. If you email KDP support and frame your question in such a way it is “unique”, you get a quick response and might actually find your account has been enabled so you can actually call support. That’s reassuring, especially since I’ve never made any bones about the fact I think KDP support could learn a lot from Amazon support.

I’ll update the post as new information becomes available. In the meantime, here’s the “special edition”:

Print

E-book

First, they took away her command. Then they took away her freedom. But they couldn’t take away her duty and honor. Now they want her back.

Captain Ashlyn Shaw has survived two years in a brutal military prison. Now those who betrayed her are offering the chance for freedom. All she has to do is trust them not to betray her and her people again. If she can do that, and if she can survive the war that looms on the horizon, she can reclaim her life and get the vengeance she’s dreamed of for so long.

But only if she can forget the betrayal and do her duty.

This special edition contains exclusive material (approximately 20,000 words) not available in other editions of the novel.

 

10 Comments

Filed under AMANDA, WRITING: PUBLISHING

10 responses to “Trying something new.

  1. paladin3001

    Good stuff to know. Thanks for being a trail blazer with this.

  2. Very good information.

  3. Pingback: Vengeance from Ashes update and more - Nocturnal Lives

  4. mrsizer

    I have the original. I’ll keep an eye on it. If it should disappear, I’ll let you know. I’m pretty sure I wrote a review; feel free to use it, if you’d like.

  5. You know, I liked the story in the original. I don’t normally do stories of military betrayal, that being way too close to home for me, but the revenge part was nice. I just couldn’t continue the series past the second book once it became apparent that the people aren’t human. I’m not really sure what they are, because it doesn’t specify, but they’re certainly not human. They might just be massively genied humans from the far future, maybe, but that still separates them from the ‘real’ humans of modern expectation.

    That’s an interesting stylistic choice – to write a sci-fi series where the protagonists at first seem like (default) humans, but you slowly grasp that they aren’t, in physiology or behavior. It’s the little hints here and there along the way. I have seen this done successfully in short stories, where you get to the punch line (as it were) sooner rather than later, but never in a series of novels with a slow reveal. It’s quite clever, really, but I personally just feel the need to understand what sort of creature all the characters in the story really are. I prefer my mysteries to be more straightforward, I guess.

  6. I’m guessing it has to do with wanting to keep Amazon with the “best” edition, but why didn’t you just post the new special edition wide (including Amazon) and leave the old book also on Amazon, complete with the old reviews. Perhaps just adding a line in the old book’s description pointing folks to the “special” edition if they wanted that instead?

    • Good question and one I debated a great deal. the main reason is marketplace. Historically, for me at least, Amazon has been the marketplace where the vast majority of my sales have been made (more than 90% when I was on all the main platforms). Add to that KU reads. So, even without the reviews — and I will be adding some of them to the product description in “more info” section — I will probably get more revenue than I would elsewhere. It’s a gamble and in a month or two, I will know how it worked.

  7. Katniss Everdeen

    Going the Indie route is difficult for most without a whole lot of personal effort.

    However their are several programs on the market that can help you better create you own work in an edited form that would benefit you. That is assuming you haven’t already used some of them and/or have not enlisted the sometimes pricey work of an editor.

    AutoCrit is one of my favorites. 30.00 per month to use, less if you pay for a year in advance.

    ProWritingAid is another. 40.00 per year. A bit more if you choose to use their Plagiarism tool. Remember as an Indie (That) you could actually be Plagiarizing someones work which is why editors are so handy before your book goes to print.

    There are some free ones out there as well Including Hemingway which is mainly just a copy editor.

    Now having said all of that. If you have used these then I wish you great success. Never stop writing. I can write a 100k manuscript first draft in 30 days. Then the real work begins and it is also at this point that the above two programs start paying for themselves hand over fist. Getting words on paper is the most important thing you can do.

    Just start writing. Edit a little bit as you go if you must but for the most part, just write. Tell your story. Put it on paper even if its written badly. Once you have a manuscript then you have the backbone to polish your work into something worth sharing.

    For me this is how it goes. First draft 30 days. First Edit. 30-45 days. Two week break from the book to get your mind right. Second Edit 20 days. Third edit I begin Inserting 5 chapters at a time into Autocrit for analysis and this helps with the copy editing as well as Pacing and momentum of my story. This is usually about 60 days with Autocrit. Submit polished manuscript 6 months after I begin work on the latest manuscript. But of course I must admit that I write no less then 4 hours per day and usually 8-12 hours per day when I am in AutoCrit polishing the manuscript.

    Have you a finished manuscript or is it a work in progress? If you get close to a finished manuscript you might consider a strong and powerful query letter to some good agents in your genre. Query letters have gotten people contracts with publishers without even having a finished manuscript.

    Just some tips Ive learned over the years that have helped me.

    I fear that I don’t belong. Even worse, I fear that there is nowhere that I do belong.

    This is an example of two things that are wrong with this sentence. One is it could be plagiarism from Divergent (and) secondly the word THAT is totally unnecessary(and) the most overused word by every author on the planet. Notice the ands? I did this on purpose. Agents/publishers hate this. Hate it. They will reject an entire manuscript after reading 2-3 pages because you over use That, And while suffering other word repetitions. If you do it in the first few pages there is no doubt your entire manuscript is filled with this type of sloppy writing.

    AutoCrit will help you get rid of these from your manuscript. No I do not work for or are associated with AutoCrit.

    I fear that I don’t belong. Even worse, I fear there is nowhere that I do belong.

    As you can see the sentence is perfectly fine without That. Try not to use And more then once or twice per page. These are two crutch words that will get you rejected if you submit your first 5 pages for consideration (and) they are filled with That and And’s. Perhaps this would sound better? These are two crutch words that will get you rejected if you submit your first 5 pages filled with That and And’s.

    Good luck. Good Luck. I read some of your work, the talent is there. You just need that break.

    Name withheld because my agent would be furious with me for giving advice. Thats her job.

    But best of luck. I wish you all the best and believe you have the talent to be more then an Indie writer.

    • I’ve been published in traditional for 20 some years. Most of what you say here is bokum and not even GOOD bokum.
      Have you read Dean Wesley Smith’s “Writing like it’s 1999” Because that’s what you’re doing.
      FYI from someone a little further up the tree and with contacts: Betting your last dime on traditional publishing is a bad idea. Perhaps a REALLY bad idea.