Cybershot debuts

The third and final installment in the Empathic Detective trilogy is out! Cybershot: An Empathic Detective Novel debuted yesterday on Amazon.

In my opinion, this is the most exciting book in the trilogy. And, it wraps up all loose ends, although of course there is always a possibility of more Empathic Detective novels in the future.

Take a look and see what you think.

Get ready for Cybershot!

 

In 2016 I wrote the first Empathic Detective novel and submitted it to Amazon’s Scout program. It was selected for publication, picking up an apub contract and has sold very well ever since.

Last year I submitted the second Empathic Detective novel, Ghostsuit, to Scout and it too received a publishing contract with apub.

Alas, Kindle Scout is no more so the third and final installment in the trilogy, Cybershot, will go through regular channels with Amazon’s KDP.

Look for this title to come out sometime next week, I hope. Right now we’re just waiting for the all clear from KDP.

Here is the blurb:

An ancient organization has created a psychic with untold power. Raising the boy in secret, they hope to make him a world leader. But he escapes and heads for Texas to find his father, Gerald Bryce, the empathic detective. When someone tries to warn Bryce, a criminal mastermind uses the latest technology from neural immersive video games to kill the informant. Now Bryce and his partner must race the clock as a level three psychic terrorist battles the military for control of the city, and perhaps the world.

I’m handling my Advance Review Copies through Booksprout

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be using Booksprout for advance review copies (ARCs). You can download these books for free if you’d like first crack at them. Here are the steps for joining Booksprout if you’re interested (and grab a free title by me while you’re at it):

  1. Sign up for an account at booksprout.co
  2. Verify your account via the email they sent you.
  3. Return to Booksprout, login, click on My Account and enter your Kindle’s email address.This is so Booksprout can send titles directly to your Kindle. For instructions on adding an approved sender (which you’ll need to do for Booksprout), and finding your Kindle’s email address, see Amazon’s Help page here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=201974220
  4. Please follow me on the Booksprout app! Install it on your Android, Apple, or Kindle Fire. Once it’s installed and you are logged in, do a search for Jaxon Reed and click the follow button. In return the app will let you know when my titles go on sale, are available for free, and when I have advance review copies (ARCs) available for downloading. I handle ARCs through Booksprout this way, and I’d love to have you on my team.

 

Ghost of a Chance has been released!

 

Ghost of a Chance is live on Amazon! This is the second in the Fae Killers, an urban fantasy series. Here’s the blurb:

It’s hard to make a living during the war as a woman. Especially as a detective in New York City, where the nights are late and the thugs are tough. But Nancy Chance, Private Investigator, doesn’t give a rip about that. She’ll work twice as hard as any man for her clients, and do a better job than most. When she investigates a murder in a case called the Manhattan Project, somebody visits her office and puts a bullet in her head. But they don’t know that Nancy is back. For centuries she’s been fighting fae and becoming one of the Walker’s best killers. Now she returns to her own timeline to set things straight. If she can steer clear of Rick, her old flame who is destined to marry someone else, and find Felix, the handsome fae who killer her, she might be able to prevent her world from sliding into chaos. At least she can’t die this time. Unfortunately, everybody else can . . .

 

Kindle Scout Perspectives 2018

 

UPDATE: April, 2018
RIP Kindle Scout

Amazon has announced the end of Kindle Scout. This was a great program for unknown authors to get noticed. I hope Amazon introduces something similar in the future.


 

In 2016 after my book The Empathic Detective was selected for a publishing contract through Kindle Scout, I wrote a blog post linking to other authors and their perspectives on the process.

This was very well received and it has continued to get traffic over the last couple of years as new authors and others interested in Scout have read up on the process.

But, it’s getting a little long in the tooth. I decided to write another entry with updated blog entries from authors who have gone through the process, and collect their perspectives in one location. I hope this provides additional benefit for others, as the first post did back in 2016. This entry covers a variety of blog posts from Kindle Scout authors posted in 2017 to present.

 

Jaxon ReedThings I Learned from My Kindle Scout Campaigns
Knowledge gleaned and shared by yours truly.

Jim HeskittWays to hit Hot and Trending During Your Scout Campaign
Jim offers several tips for running a successful Kindle Scout campaign. His advice is spot-on for the selection and evaluation process.

Steve VernonDoes Kindle Scout Suck?
Steve is famous in the Kindle Scout universe for his delightful attitude and consistent assistance to those interested in submitting to Scout. He holds court on the related multi-thousand post thread on Kboards. The question of submitting to Scout or not is answered, hilariously, by Steve on his blog.

Jasmine SilveraHow NaNoWriMo and Kindle Scout Turned One Writer into a Published Author
NaNoWriMo leads to the generation of a lot of manuscripts, inspiring authors to finish up quickly. Jasmine shares how her experiences led to a publishing contract through Kindle Scout.

Keith YocumMy Experience Scoring a Kindle Scout Deal
Keith gives a great rundown of his time on Scout, and offers potential submitters a good idea of what to expect before, during, and after the campaign.

Sean McLachlanWinning the Kindle Scout Program
A variety of useful nuggets are offered by Sean for those interested in launching a campaign, including an excellent summary of the benefits Scout has to offer.

Debbie BurkeKindle Scout a Two Year Performance Review
Scout has been going a while, and Debbie wrote up an excellent article on how it’s doing. She also offers a nice comparison between Scout and KDP.

Debbie BurkeKindle Scout Step Inside for a Tour
Debbie also offers a week-by-week summary of her experiences during her Scout campaign, including the critical lessons she learned as time progressed.

Walt MussellThe Opportunity of Kindle Scout
There are several benefits to submitting a manuscript to Scout, and Walt covers them well in this post.

Louis ColePublishing with Kindle Press
From across the pond, British author Louis offers her perspectives on the Scout experience. She focuses on the appealing aspects to professional writers.

Carrie Pulkinen KortsMy Kindle Scout Experience
Carrie provides valuable stats from her successful campaign, and some of the steps she took during the month-long endeavor.

Lincoln ColeKindle Scout Campaign Promotional Services
Lincoln has helped several authors with his detailed discussions of the Scout process. This post lists various promotional services and his recommendations.

Diana Anderson-TylerMy Kindle Scout Experience: 3 Lessons Learned
Finally, as in my previous article, I wanted to include the perspective of someone who did not win a contract. Diana offers three important lessons worth considering.

 

I hope this proves useful for anyone considering submitting a manuscript. I remain convinced that Kindle Scout serves as an outstanding venue for authors, even if their manuscript is not selected. The month a manuscript remains in the running is publicity that is simply unavailable elsewhere.

JR

Pirates and Wizards has been released!

I’m happy to announce the sequel to Thieves & Wizards was released today. Pirates & Wizards is available for a limited time at 99 cents.

Final Thoughts Available on Wattpad

I have uploaded a short story set in The Empathic Detective Universe on Wattpad. Final Thoughts is about a condemned prisoner with a chip in his head that records what he’s thinking in plain text.

Please feel free to visit Wattpad and check it out.

Tiff in Time is Available for Pre-order

I’m happy to announce my newest book Tiff in Time is available for pre-order for 99 cents. You can get it from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple iTunes Store, or Google Play.

Tiff in Time is an urban fantasy, and kicks off The Fae Killers, who battle fae in different timelines on alternate Earths.

Here is the blurb:

In the beginning, God created people, angels, and fae. Creatures existing between the spiritual realm and the physical, fae scattered among parallel worlds spreading magic and chaos.

The Walker hunts fae, killing them, bringing them to justice. On occasion, he recruits followers. He found Tiff, an orphan, and raised her to be one of his best hunters. A skilled killer, she jumps into any timeline on any alternate, and seeks her prey.

A powerful artifact and a mysterious fae crop up in the Roaring Twenties, in Chicago. Tiff is on her way. But this time, after centuries of being hunted, the fae have other plans. . .

Hope you enjoy it! I’m already hard at work on its sequel.

Things I Learned from My Kindle Scout Campaigns

I think Kindle Scout is a great avenue for authors to pursue. In the process of my own campaigns, I’ve come to know several other authors. I’ve been selected twice and honored to promote many books, Scout titles and otherwise, on my promotion site readper.com. Throughout, in both running Scout campaigns and observing the campaigns of others, I’ve had the opportunity to learn some things and pick up what I think is useful information.

The purpose of this post is to encapsulate some of the things I’ve learned and pass them along to others who might be considering Scout for their own books. I’m focusing here on authors who are primarily used to self-publishing, with Scout being their first experience with a publisher.

With that in mind, to win a Scout contract authors should consider the following points. Some of these points are also applicable to self-publishing as well.

1. When submitting to any publisher, realize it’s not about you.
The first thing to do when coming from a self-publishing mindset and submitting to a publisher, is to accept that it’s not about you. Like when a husband and father comes to the realization family life is not all about him, working with a publisher should lead you to the realization they have needs too. Sometimes those needs don’t line up with what you have to offer. When you submit a book to a publisher, if they don’t need another in that genre at the moment, if they published one similar to yours a month ago, or if they just don’t particularly care for your manuscript, it’s not about you. So, don’t take it personally if they say “no thanks.”

2. Find out what the publisher wants.
Obviously, publishers want titles that sell. Amazon has some experience selling books, and in general, Amazon imprints like Kindle Press know what sells. We can glean some clues as to their thought processes by looking at the requirements for Kindle Scout titles. They want books in high-performance genres that are at least 50,000 words, and will be typically priced around $2.99. They are focused on quality covers and blurbs as well as strong openings that draw in readers.

Finding out what a publisher wants and tailoring your manuscript to meet their standards helps when you self-publish, too. If it’s working for a publisher, it should work for you. Strong covers, vibrant genres, and good price points are “universal truths” you can apply to self-publishing.

3. Don’t skimp on the cover.
Speaking of covers, when self-publishing or submitting to Scout, go on and spend the time and money for a quality cover that will attract readers. Your cover is the first thing potential buyers will see. Take a look at the top sellers in your genre for an idea of what a good cover should look like, then spend time on sites like 99designs and find something comparable or an artist willing to work with you. The cover may end up as one of your biggest expenditures, often second behind editing costs, but it also pays the most dividends.

4. Write a fantastic blurb.
One of the great things Scout does is force you to write a condensed blurb and one liner for your book. These require you to summarize things in a hopefully compelling way. Don’t be afraid to ask for help with your blurb. Start a thread on The Writer’s Cafe on kboards (be sure and join the discussion on the Kindle Scout thread while you’re there), or reach out for help in one of the many author community pages on Facebook. There are also services certain editors offer, where for a nominal sum (usually $20-30), they’ll read your book and write a blurb for you.

Whatever you do, spend the time and effort to craft the best one you possibly can before submitting. Blurbs are the second things potential readers will see when looking at your book.

5. Pay for a quality editor.
Yes, a publisher will have your work edited if they accept it. But you want to make a great first impression. You wouldn’t typically show up on a first date in sweatpants and t-shirt, then take a shower and change clothes later. No, you try to look your best from the start. Treat your book the same way before submitting it for consideration. Go on and pay for a good editor. If your book is not accepted by Scout, an editor’s work is not wasted money. You can self-publish it later if you want, and have a well-edited book ready to go.

6. Promote your Scout campaign, but don’t go overboard.
Another great thing about Scout is it gives you an opportunity to spread the word about your upcoming book to a lot of people. I run a promotion site, so of course I’d love if you used my services. But, I don’t recommend going crazy on Scout campaign promotions. For one thing, time spent in Hot and Trending is not the primary consideration for selection. The most important elements of your Scout campaign are (in my opinion), quality of the story followed by the cover, the blurb, and the compelling nature of your first chapter.

Take time to nominate a title on Scout and go through their survey for the book. It shows you right there in the survey what the Scout people think is important. The survey will ask you to rate things like the cover, the blurb, the text. Remember, everybody who nominates your book will take the same survey, and those statistics are likely to be examined at some point in the selection process.

If your story is good and the editors like it, they’ll select it no matter how much time it spent in Hot and Trending. And if your cover is good, people will click over to check it out without you having to spend a lot of money to convince them to click. And if the blurb and first chapter are good, they’ll be more likely to nominate you after they get to your page. So, product quality always comes before quantity of advertising when campaigning, in my opinion.

7. Spend more money on promotion after the campaign.
Whether your title is selected for publication by Kindle Press or not, after it’s published is the time to spend serious money on advertising. During the Scout campaign your ads buy attention. After it’s published, your ads buy purchases. Purchases return far more on your ad dollars than attention. Therefore, the bulk of your spending should be reserved for after the title is released, whether it’s published by Kindle Press or not.

Again this is just my opinion, but there is little point in spending thousands on campaign ads and having nothing to show for it later. If you glean some marketing materials like sign ups for your newsletter from the campaign, that’s good. But especially if you are a novice at marketing, don’t spend the bulk of your ad budget on the campaign. I think it’s better to spend in the three figures during the campaign, and in the four figures after release (or whatever amount you feel comfortable spending so long as the proportion remains heavier on the after published side rather than the campaign side).

But wait, you might be thinking. Why should I spend money advertising after Kindle Press selects my title? Won’t Amazon’s marketing machine start working for my book? Yes it will, but even Amazon’s marketing machine can benefit from some well-placed ads. If you stack some promotions the first week and month after your title debuts, you can leverage Amazon’s algorithms in your favor. Combining that with Amazon’s marketing muscle will help ensure maximum success for your new book.

Conclusion
Those are some of the things I’ve learned in my Scout campaigns and in helping promote the campaigns of others. I hope you found the information useful. If you’ve never submitted a manuscript to Scout, going through the process is enlightening, regardless of selection.

 

JR

 

Beginning Book Marketing Tips for Authors – How to Get Book Reviews

So you’ve got your book up on Amazon and you’ve noticed you have no reviews. But other books have reviews, and some of them have a lot of reviews.

Frustrated? Here are 5 popular tips about how to get more book reviews.

  1. Don’t worry about it. Reviews don’t necessarily correlate to sales. Some authors have books with low sales but they’ve elicited a high number of reviews. Other authors sell lots of a book but have very few reviews. Depending on your genre, your sales may very well not be dependent on the number of reviews you get.
  1. But remember that more sales generally lead to more reviews. Focus on getting your sales numbers up, and the reviews will follow. If one out of 100 readers leave a review, then get 1000 readers, etc.
  1. Hit up the book bloggers. Find the bloggers in your genre, contact them by email, and arrange to send receptive ones a copy of your book to review. This can be time consuming, but it usually does result in more reviews. Check out bookreviewdirectory.com for links to bloggers in your genre.
  1. Use a service like BookRazor.com. Book Razor scours public email addresses of people who have posted reviews for books like yours. You send Book Razor links to books like yours, they send you back hundreds of contacts (the fee varies based on the number of contacts, and hence reviews, you are shooting for). You send a polite inquiry to these people. A percentage respond favorably and you send them a review copy of your book. In a week or two, hopefully, they post a review.
  1. Cultivate your review team. Over time, as your mailing list grows, you can send out a request for reviews to your followers in exchange for a free copy of your latest book. This is one of the reasons developing an email list is beneficial. It’s easy to elicit reviews when you have a group of fans to ask.

Here are 5 “don’ts” you should be aware of when following Amazon’s rules:

  1. Don’t let friends and relatives review your books. This is one of Amazon’s first rules about reviews.
  2. Don’t do review swaps with other authors. This includes “review clubs” or by making one-on-one arrangements.
  3. Don’t ever use a pay service to receive reviews. These will have offers like, “Send us some money and we will guarantee you x number of reviews.” Services like BookRazor are different because they send you public email addresses of reviewers in your genre, and it’s up to you to reach out to them. But services that offer to get you reviews directly if you send them money, where you are essentially buying reviews, are verboten.
  4. Don’t offer to pay or reward anyone for reviewing your book. You can send them a free copy of your book, but it should not be in exchange for the review. It should be in the hope they offer a review. Amazon says, “Book authors and publishers may continue to provide free or discounted copies of their books to readers, as long as the author or publisher does not require a review in exchange or attempt to influence the review.”
  5. Don’t forget to keep abreast of Amazon’s rules. Here’s their FAQ on reviews for authors.