Sunday, 3 November 2013


Cut the red wire! No, the blue wire!
   Does it really matter, when the hero of our movie is the only colour-blind bomb disposal officer in the world?
   This isn't that sort of countdown. Since time out of mind, Kindle authors have been complaining...
   Well, that is the default setting.
   Kindle authors have been complaining about the difficulty of doing anything and everything for the Kindle arranging a discount at Amazon.
   The Kindle Countdown feature now does that discount thing. How well? Er...
   Glitches are expected. At the time of fevered typing, we're coming up on two years of Amazon's KDP Select plan for World Domination®.
   I mention that for a reason. Books enrolled in Select are now eligible for the discount scheme. Kindle books in Select are, by definition, Kindle books - digitally exclusive to Amazon for a 90-day stretch.
   Those books are free to read for Amazon Prime customers. And they are also free to read on five sale days within each 90-day period.
   Now the discount feature has been thrown at Kindle authors with products enrolled in Select. At the start of this offer, which will widen through a process of digital soil-erosion and computerised global thawing, two territories are available...
   Kindle Select books published on Amazon.uk, and the slightly larger Amazon.com, may be enrolled in the Countdown process. Territorial issues are for authors only - customers worldwide who access .com or .uk can purchase products. (I'll mention VAT in a moment.)
   The property in question is made available at a discount for a chosen period, with the option of using a sliding discount scale set against a ticking clock.
   Drop the price of your book to £/$1.99 for a one-day sale. Or run that discount for a week. Yes, there are terms and, glued to terms at the hip-joint, conditions. It is possible to run a sale for as little as an hour.
   As with standard sales, your work must have been available at the higher price for a given period prior to the sale. And your book will have to stay in Select for a set term after the sale, with some time- and price-based provisos.
   Good feature? The phased part of the sale. A book can start out at £/$1.99, then rise to 2.99 next day, 3.99 next day. Or you could run that by the hour if you wanted to cause a stampede.
   Get them while they're cheap.
   So how did my immediate experience go? I received the e-mail telling me of the feature late on Friday the 1st of November. On reading the Amazon FAQ list, I went straight to my bookshelf to check on two eligible books.
   Inside the dashboard I had the option to run free sale days, as usual under Select, or switch over to the Countdown. I decided I'd try the promotion immediately with one book, and hold the other back for a follow-up attempt.
   We're talking minutes after I received the e-mail.
   Nothing happened. I went to apply a phased sale to LYGHTNYNG STRYKES, which is available on Amazon.com at $9.99.
   Though if you buy my book on Amazon.com from anywhere in Scotland, VAT is added. Right now, that makes the book cost $10.32 to non-Americans.
   LYGHTNYNG STRYKES goes for £6.48 including digital VAT on Amazon.uk. VAT stands for Vampire Value Added Tax. The VAT replaced an unfair Purchase Tax with a new, improved, form of same. Improvement retained the sense of unfairness.
   Old-fashioned paper books are exempt from VAT. Shiny cutting-edge electronic books are not exempt, though the rate was reduced.
   Enough digression. I tried to apply a discount. A blank box came up with an X inside, allowing me to close the blank box. I shut the non-message. Then I tried setting the times for my discount sale. Couldn't access the calendar.
   I left that novel and tried Neon Gods Brought Down by Swords. Same thing. When I switched to setting free sale days, I found I could access the calendars without difficulty.
   All I could do then was contact Amazon for support. No discount for my books at all, it seemed.
   Saturday came around. Amazon confirmed that the non-message box contained a message I was supposed to see. This glitch was being fixed and should be sorted within the week.
   As soon as I read that e-mail, I jumped to my bookshelf - without a stuntman - and tried again. The fix was in, and I called up calendar details without any hassle.
   When it comes to Information Technology fixes, they'll take the stated week or they'll be fixed by the time someone tells you it'll take a week to see to the solution.
   I set my sale. As I was into Saturday by this time, the earliest I could run the discount was Monday. I thought, the hell with it. Run a Monday to Friday discount, stepping the price up each day.
   Self-publishing is an experiment. So, experiment. I could have run a heavy discount for a whole week. But I wanted to see what happened when I played with this shiny new toy.
   I'll start off at 0.99, and turn it up a notch each day.
   A few clicks of easily-clickable things, and the discount was set. I could still alter details up to a day before launch.
   But what did it all look like? I hit a few examples on Amazon, to see. The Amazon.com page was hellish. There was a clock, counting down. PRICE GOES UP TO XXXX IN XXXX. My first visit to the Amazon.com site was awful because...
   The clock was counting down second by second and THE PAGE REFRESHED EVERY SECOND, JUST TO COPE. Not a good experience for the customer.
   I immediately switched to Amazon.co.uk. The page didn't refresh. Instead, the clock animation worked as intended. Since then, I've revisited Amazon to see if that glitch persisted. The Amazon.com site now works just fine.
   It seemed important to me, in talking about the discount feature, to give you a taste of the glitches and gremlins I faced. So. Where now?
   The discount system does not destroy the value of the free sample. If you aren't sure about buying a Kindle book, check the free sample available on all Kindle books at Amazon.
   In the case of LYGHTNYNG STRYKES, you can read well into chapter three if I misremember correctly. That's 30,000 words, free. If I have you at 30,000 words, you may as well buy the damn thing.
   Buy it at a discount on Monday the 3rd of November 2013. It goes up in price the day after. And the day after that...
   Further thoughts? Yes. The discount system sits as an alternative to the free sale day option. Will discounting replace the free option?
   Free samples are fine. Check the Hallowe'en page on this blog for a free short story. Listen to a free audio version of a tale from INCOMPLETE UNCOLLECTED SHORT WORKS right here on this blog. If you are a DOCTOR WHO fan, there's a whole novel-length piece of fanfic right here on the blog. Not to come over all Guy N. Smith on you, but click, click, click.
   Of course, it's too soon to tell. Authors may make so much use of the ticking clock that the free option disappears under the weeds.
   We shall see.


Of all the things he expected to find inside the woman’s cupboard, this was the one thing so far off Johnny’s list that he thought he’d wandered into another house by mistake. Obviously, the next turn of events had to be even stranger than the last turn of events. Unless the next strange turn of events was a return to normality. That made perfect sense to Johnny.
   The only thing stranger than another strange turn of events would be a normal turn of events so normal that it would have to be classed as strange. He knew one thing. The town was well-named. Turning in response to the sound of voices, Johnny wondered how he’d explain his naked intrusion of the bedroom. The cute teddy covering his nether regions was no help at all.
   By night, Dick and Marnie are investigators of super-secret occult-based extra-terrestrial governmental cover-ups and conspiracies. During daylight hours, Dick sells gerbils to people who feel the need for pets. No one actually knows what Marnie does for a living.
   After years of hovering on the edge of uncovering THE ULTIMATE CONSPIRACY, Dick discovers that THE ULTIMATE CONSPIRACY has come looking for him. The consequences are far from cosy, and will lead Dick and Marnie to the strange town of LYGHTNYNG STRYKES. A town that’s about to turn ten degrees stranger.
   Join Dick, Marnie, Stealth Writer, the Man in Black, other Men in Black not related to the first Man in Black, Plausible Daniel, and a peculiar bunch of swans, in the search for the secret secret behind the real secret that isn’t the real secret.

296,000 words. Contains adult themes and blushworthy elements designed to frighten the horses. On hearing that there was a prize for writing bad sex scenes in fiction, I thought how hard can it be to win that? Though deliberately setting out to write such material may automatically disqualify me from the process…

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.