The more things change. . .

The more they stay the same. Which is another way of saying always read the fine print, be prepared to zig when you really want to zag, and always do your research. In other words, today’s post is going to be a bit of a hodge-podge of topics that I came across last night and this morning when doing my research for today’s post.

Let’s start with Amazon–and, no, this is not an invitation to blast Amazon just because it is Amazon.

First is the good news for indie authors. Amazon has finally decided to take action to combat the quick read and return strategy that has been advocated by certain folks over on Book Tock and other sites. If you aren’t familiar with this, some people (and I use that term loosely) advocated that their followers buy e-books from Amazon, read them in a day or two and then return them for a refund. Under Amazon’s policies, this was allowed without explanation. I started noticing an uptick in returns about four or five months ago. It never hit me as much as it did some authors, primarily romance authors, but it was still concerning.

Amazon finally listened to authors and groups representing authors and announced it would be changing its return policy for e-books.

The planned change will go into effect by the end of the year. Any customer who wishes to return an ebook after reading more than 10 percent will need to send in a customer service request, which will be reviewed by a representative to ensure that the return request is genuine and complies with Amazon’s policies against abuse. This process will create a strong deterrent against buying, reading, and returning ebooks within seven days, and readers who attempt to abuse the return policy will be penalized under Amazon’s policies.

Let’s hope this slows the abuse of the system down some. While I don’t want to assign ill-will to readers who did this, they need to understand that Amazon is not a lending library. When they “buy” a book, read it and then return it for a full refund, authors are the ones who get hit financially. If that book isn’t in KU, there is a good chance it is available for download from sites like Onedrive, which means the book can be borrowed and returned and the author still gets royalties from it.

Also from Amazon is news of a new Kindle coming out in a little more than a month. The Kindle Scribe will still be an e-ink ebook reader but there’s one big change. This will be the first Kindle where you can use a stylus to make notes on e-books you’re reading, PDFs, and other document formants. Unlike the Remarkable 2 and some of the other e-ink tablets that allow handwriting, annotation, and purport to be e-readers as well, this looks like it will do both functions well. The one drawback is there doesn’t seem to be handwriting-to-text conversion upon release. But that should come. The Scribe also differs from the Remarkable 2 in that it will be backlit–a big drawback, imo, for the Remarkable tablets (and I love my Remarkable).

The Scribe will have a 10.2″ screen. That makes it the largest Kindle currently available. It will also have more lights than any other Kindle, even the Oasis, at 35. Whether the Scribe will live up to expectations remains to be seen but I’m excited to see what it can do.

Next up, AI-generated art. Several of us, myself included, have blogged here about apps like Midjourney to create art. We have also given warnings to be careful because of potential copyright issues going forward. Along this line, Getty Images has joined a growing number of sites to ban AI-generated images. So, if you are going to be using Midjourney or similar apps/programs, be sure you read not only that app’s terms of service but the TOS for wherever you are posting the image(s).

As noted at The Passive Voice, such copyright challenges will probably occur sooner, rather than later. I don’t doubt it because I have seen too many images where someone wanted to create a science fiction scene and the space ship is much too similar to something out of Star Wars or the female character shown is FemShep from Mass Effect. So be wary, be careful, and read the ToS.

Finally, going back to a frequent topic here: book covers. This is something that’s been on my mind for a couple of weeks and came to the forefront yesterday when one of the other authors I follow did a discussion on YouTube about covers. I was going to link to it but, duh, lost the link in my pre-caffeinated state. But, never fear, Written Word Media had pretty much the same list as the video did.

Please take a few minutes to review the article. Remember that what sells your books for the most part these days are the cover and the blurb. So here are a few reminders about your blurb as well:

  • Make sure it grabs the attention of the reader and makes them want to read the book. The blurb isn’t a synopsis of the book. It is a tease.
  • Make sure you don’t have any spelling or punctuation errors in the blurb.
  • Make sure you have white space between paragraphs. Nothing bothers me more than seeing a multi-paragraph blub without spacing between paragraphs. It tells me the writer didn’t take time to proof the product page and makes me wonder if they bothered proofing the book.

There’s more, of course, but I’ve rambled on long enough this morning. Until later!
Featured Image by Capucine from Pixabay

23 comments

  1. Here’s a beginner question… What’s the difference between a blurb and the Amazon book description?

    1. Functionally the same, I believe. Both are the hook that, along with the cover and title, are there to draw you into the story and get you interested enough to buy the book. The blurb is the first thing that the reader will see, text wise, that tells them about what’s inside.

      Amanda’s reminders are, as usual, good and on point. A good blurb teases just enough to arouse interest. It should be clean and brief. And it should accurately hint at what is actually inside the book. A newbie mistake I’ve seen too much of is sloppily created blurbs that give the wrong idea about what’s inside the book.

    2. Dan is pretty much correct. That said, there are some who believe you should keep your Amazon (or any other storefront) book description to only a short paragraph or two so those shopping on their phones don’t have to keep scrolling. I find that too limiting and, as a consumer, don’t mind scrolling if the description is interesting. Those folks would say the description is short and concise and the blurb is more what you put on the back cover of your print book or on a blog description, etc. Me? I think the product description should get the same sort of love the back cover matter gets. Shrug.

      1. The books description may be worth more than the back cover.

        Odd Magic? I owned that ebook for the better part of the year before I even found out it had a back cover. And it is a marvelous back cover too. But I never saw it at a point that could have influenced my purchasing decision at all.

      2. If the blurb isn’t engaging enough to get somebody to scroll, they probably won’t buy the book.

        FanFiction-dot-net limits the description/blurb to 384 characters. Does make you consider your words carefully.

      3. Thanks for this information. Since I’m writing “derivative non-fiction” there are some pretty strict rules I have to follow for that Amazon description, including using bullet points. But I’ve been trying to work it out as if it were a blurb since as you all say, it is the first thing people will see besides the cover.

      4. My take? It is a saying that your book needs to grab the reader in the first page, so that they will turn to the second one. IMHO, the blurb needs to grab the reader in the first sentence, so that they will click on the “Look Inside.”

  2. How are the current generation Kindles these days? I’ve got an old Kindle Keyboard from 2011, a 2013 Fire Tablet for PDFs, and a 10th gen paper white for my spouse, but I sort of seem to mostly use my phone app these days, even for big pdf manuals.

    1. I am currently using the latest gen Paperwhite and love it as an e-reader. I use my phone only when I’m out and about and forgot my Kindle. The one problem with it is PDFs. Well, that and annotations on it suck, which is why I’m excited to see what the new Scribe can really do. I’ve used several gens of Oasis Kindles and find them nice but not nearly as reliable and long-lasting as the other versions. It might be I was just lucky enough–coff coff–to get two with bad batteries, but I’ve seen a lot of discussion online about the problem with batteries in the Oasis. But I’ve no complaints about the Paperwhite.

      1. Ok cool. My Kindle Keyboard has gotten old enough it can’t connect to the WiFi anymore and doesn’t get software updates, but I’m not sure if it’s worth replacing yet. Also kind of don’t use it nearly as often as I used to.

        The Fire really is useful for PDF manuals and comics. I’ve got a ton of old aircraft manuals on it, and its a really good way to view them. Unfortunately some of the scans are huge and take a long time to load.

        Also, they’re all micro-usb chargers, which take a really long time to recharge from zero, but I think all kindles are still micro usb? Really become a USB-C convert lately. Just a way better charger standard.

        1. Check the specs because the Scribe and Paperwhite (so I assume the others as well) now use USB-C. Makes it much easier, imo, because I don’t have to keep changing cords. Recharge on my Paperwhite is quick (although I rarely let it get below 40%)

        2. I still use my paperwhite from 2011 ish or so as my primary reader. I can and do read sometimes on my 10″ fireHD and I’ve got an old touch I still have as back up storage of some of my books. p

          1. Another first-gen Paperwhite user here. Although it isn’t holding a charge as well as it used to. I fear I will have to replace it sometime soon – with another basic Paperwhite.

        3. I have only rarely recharged my Fire 10 from zero, but I constantly let it drop down into the teens and single digits (reading in bed…). A couple of hours or less in the morning and it’s back up to full.

  3. I’m not trying to be argumentative (I’m told I don’t have to try), but I don’t understand why white space between paragraphs is a big deal. I personally hate spacing between paragraphs. Are these your personal preferences, Amanda, or was this from a list? I didn’t see blurbs mentioned in the post you linked to.

    1. When you have a blurb that doesn’t have spacing between paragraphs, especially if you don’t have first line indent, you wind up with wall of text. I can show you here what I mean without actually finding a blurb.
      I just ended one paragraph and started another without adding any whitespace between the paragraph.

      1. Now, take the same comment from above but with the whitespace added.

        When you have a blurb that doesn’t have spacing between paragraphs, especially if you don’t have first line indent, you wind up with wall of text. I can show you here what I mean without actually finding a blurb.

        I just ended one paragraph and started another without adding any whitespace between the paragraph.

        To me, this looks more professional and gives me more confidence the author knows how to format the interior of the book.

          1. And that is one of the problems with this platform. I can’t preview the email version. Sigh. In the second comment, there should be a line return between paragraphs.

        1. The problem is a lot of folks copy and paste into the blurb/description section on the KDP dashboard from a Word or similar document. What happens is the formatting disappears in the process and you have multiple paragraphs without first line indent or an extra return between them to give the white space. Add to that the face that too often the authors don’t go back and look at what they did, so the blurb goes live–this is the same thing that often happens with misspellings. It’s why I always recommend you look twice or three times even to make sure you have everything the way you want it before hitting the publish button.

      2. It’s even worse when the justification on the previous paragraph runs it out to the right edge. Then you really can’t tell that one has ended and a new one has started.

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