Friday, October 31, 2014

Write better, sell more books. Under a buck.


Want to write better?  Want to sell more books?  All for under a buck?

Of course you do.

It doesn’t matter whether you’re writing children’s books, blogs, or full-length adult nonfiction (or anything else).  The basics of writing and publishing in a digital age are exactly the same.

Lots of self-proclaimed “experts” will tell you how you can cash in on some kind of digital gold rush, but they’re all lying to you.  Their tips are gimmicky and most won’t hold true for more than a few months at a time.

Just in time for NaNoWriMo, two bestselling writers and one exceptionally prolific writing team have put together the Indie Author Power Pack.  It’s coming out November 3rd, but if you buy it now, it’s 88 cents.  That’s 88 cents for three books. 

This is easily the best 88 cents you will EVER spend on your writing career.

I literally stumbled across this today on Amazon, so I have no clue how long the presale deal’s going to last.

My current favourite, Write, Publish, Repeat (which I bought in audiobook, but have never sat down and read), alone must be over 100,000; it’s a monster (check out my review of Write Publish Repeat, plus my interview with its author, writer dad Sean Platt).  And it costs $5 all by itself. 

Again, the bundle is 88 cents. 

Get the deal here.

NOTE:  US-based viewers may see a price of 99 cents.  I wrote and published this post before I thought to check how it showed up here.  Here’s a screenshot of how the site comes through at my end:


(Which is funny, because usually we pay MORE outside the U.S.)

Let’s take a look at the math.

Write. Publish. Repeat., by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant Let's Get Digital, by David Gaughran How to Market a Book, by Joanna Penn

That’s at least $15 worth of ebooks, and these aren’t some second-run thing put out by fly-by-nights who don’t know what they’re doing.  These are the superstars of self-publishing, who have been at it for years and want to share their ideas with you..

I just bought the bundle, and I can’t wait until it comes out.  You should, too, even if you already own one (or two) of the books.  Here’s your last chance for this post…

Get the deal here.

If you do get it, or if any of these books have helped YOU, let me know in the Comments.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Dear Amazon, what’s up with my Kindle prices?


How much thought do you put into pricing your books?

If you’re like me, it’s a lot.  Which is why it finally drove me around the bend that Amazon has been changing all my prices, without even asking nicely.

When you’re pricing a book, you probably pick a nice, clean number with a 99 on the end, a suffix that is invisible to consumers.  If a book is $8.74 (unless it’s clearly marked down, like from $9.99), it’ll stand out and look weird.

Know how I know?  Because for a long time, I’ve noticed that Amazon prices for my KDP ebooks look terrible.  They totally jump off the page.  Oh, they’re close to the numbers I’ve picked… but not exactly.  And that has slowly been driving me mad.

Just to pick a few titles at random, the prices were $5.11, $1.12, $5.14, $1.13.  Those are terrible numbers, numbers that jump off the page and make a buyer reluctant to buy.  That’s very frustrating, especially because I KNEW I’d priced them at $4.99, 99 cents, $4.99 and 99 cents. 

Why bother planning your prices if they’re just going to change, am I right? 

What’s going on here?

I eventually found out why this happens.  If you’re outside the United States, Amazon can tell from your browser’s IP address, and they adjust the price you see accordingly.  Without telling me, Amazon has been detecting my computer’s location and adjusting the prices accordingly.

At least there’s some GOOD news:  buyers inside the U.S. will most likely see the right prices for your books, namely, the ones you’ve so carefully chosen in KDP’s dashboard.

To test this, I ran my author page through two “anonymizers,” sites that hide your current IP address so nobody can tell where you’re surfing from.  One was in Europe and one was in the U.S. 

Here’s what the pricing looks like from each location:

Books for kids by Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod, available on 

There are all those terrible prices!  But look what happens if you’re seeing the same page from the U.S.:

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Writing children’s nonfiction ebooks: Adventures in Scrivener


Writing nonfiction ebooks? 

I hope so.  It’s a great way to get information out there into the hands of kids who (more and more) are reading digitally, as well as on paper. 

If you haven’t considered writing one of these before, you should, even if you think of yourself as a fiction or picture-book purist.  Think about it:  if you want to grab a book about facts, wouldn’t you rather it was written by an author with a terrific imagination and a gift for words? 

Those are gifts that come from fiction that can make your nonfiction simply awesome.

But that’s not what I want to talk about here.  I’m here to convince you that I’ve got the perfect tool for you to do it with:  Scrivener, a word processing program (that’s so much more) from a company called Literature and Latte.


Why should you believe me?  Because I hated Scrivener, just completely loathed the thing, at least at first…

If you’re looking to create basic 32-page picture books that are heavy on art and minimal on words, then Scrivener is NOT the program for you.

But if the book you want to create

Friday, October 17, 2014

Have you joined SCBWI yet? (and why I did)


Are you a member yet???

After a couple of years of putting it off, I finally joined the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) at the beginning of October, and last week, my membership package finally winged (wung?) its way across the ocean and made it here to me.

Yes, it’s true.  I’m legit now.


Well, kind of legit.  They have a checkbox when you join that forces you to admit that, if you’ve self-published your kids’ books (even if you have been published for adult writing, which I have), then you are not exactly a “published” author.

That part didn’t feel so good.

Nevertheless, I was excited to have a good look through “the book,” the writing / publishing guide and directory that’s included with membership, but there wasn’t much there I hadn’t seen elsewhere.  There’s some good information about self-publishing, and a helpful guide to publishing companies as well as author services and other resources.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Are you the next Dr. Seuss? 4 "Doctor's Orders" to write rhyming books kids will love to shreds.

Thinking of writing in rhyme?

No wonder.  Thousands of new rhyming kids' books come out every year, and lots of them are snapped up eagerly by parents and teachers.  A great rhyming book can help a reluctant reader, lull a child almost to sleep, or turn storytime into a bouncy fun lap experience for parent and kid.

But the best books, the ones kids carry around until they're loved to tatters, pages hanging out, covers falling off - not from abuse but from sheer love - those are the books you probably hope to write someday.

(Me, too.  Who wouldn't?)

The great news is that you really can, with these four "Doctor's Orders," borrowed from the grand master of rhyme, Dr. Seuss (aka Theodore Geisel).

Doctor's Order #1.  Give them a name that's not quite the same.

Even though "Sam" is a pretty typical name, "Sam-I-am" certainly isn't.  In general, Dr. Seuss picked strange and memorable names for his characters.  Often, these were names that would fit in with the story's rhyme scheme.

He also kept them pretty short.  Dr. Seuss rarely went over two syllables with his names.  Yertle the Turtle; the Cat in the Hat; Horton; Sam-I-am; the Lorax; the Grinch.  One exception is Bartholomew Cubbins, but his books didn't rhyme.
  • Quick Tip from Seuss:  Pick names that will be easy to rhyme.  "Alexander" isn't great, but "Rosie" or "Miles" offer more possibilities.  This is optional - you can always avoid sticking your character's name at the end of the line (as Dr. Seuss did with Marvin K. Mooney, will you please go now!).  But it's nice to have the choice and not back yourself into a corner.

Doctor's Order #2.  Some stories are worse if they're told in verse.

Posted on Monday, October 6, 2014 | Categories: