Why That Follow Button Sucks…

I fell into the follow button trap and now I’m doing my best to reverse that. I wasn’t sure I should share, but I read a whole lot more than I write, so I figure other readers like me probably would like to know about this. While I’m not super price sensitive when it comes to books, I read so much that I try to economize where I can. That makes it worth sharing!

The Follow buttons seemed so awesome, so easy…a way to decrease my load of email and give me some of my mental bandwidth back. So, I clicked away and unsubscribed to all those newsletters, thinking I would get all the info without any need to…you know…read. I even shouted out to folks to jump on that follow button bandwagon with me.

Yeah, that totally didn’t work.

What am I going on about? I’m specifically talking about two forms of “Follow” buttons on two sites: Amazon and BookBub. Both of these forms of follow buttons purport to allow you to be updated on new releases by whichever authors you follow, plus sale prices.

Neither of them actually does that. After missing a couple of dozen new releases by must-read authors and even more sale prices by other must-read authors, I’m now trying to undo my hasty following urge and re-join their newsletters. I figured if it took me this long to figure out what I had missed out on, then maybe there are others in the same boat.

Here are the specifics:

Amazon Follow Button:

Of the two follow buttons, this one is the better of the two, but it is still woefully inadequate and unreliable. Supposedly, you’ll be notified of new releases. The problem is that you never know when you’ll be notified. A lot of the author newsletters I subscribed to, I did so because they always had new release pricing for a few days after publishing. I mean, if I know I’m going to read their work more often than not, why not get it for less?

Amazon’s announcements may or may not be sent, and if they are, they can come up to a month after release. More importantly, if other big things are going on at Amazon…they don’t come at all. Like Holiday shopping, or their Black Friday summer, or really anything that they want to focus on.

After getting notifications several weeks after release for several authors I followed, I decided to get back on their newsletters so I can save some money. There’s nothing more irritating than clicking BUY at full price when you know you could have saved 75% if you’d only been notified a day earlier than you were.

TIP: If you put Kindle books on your wishlist, sometimes (I repeat, sometimes), you’ll get a notification if there’s a price drop. It seems to happen more for traditionally published titles or those publishing by Amazon imprints, but once in a while it can happen for an Indie book.

Yes, I still follow all those authors on Amazon because it improves my recommendations, (since Amazon algos seem to consider all the things you like when recommending books). I still recommend using the Amazon follow button because it has some benefit in that regard, but I definitely wouldn’t count on it for getting news in a timely manner.

BookBub Follow Buttons:

Yeah, they announced this with huge flair, urging all us Indies to share this with our readers. Like a bagillion others, I did that, but it turns out that it’s less than worthless. Why? Because it has more exclusions than inclusions!

I followed loads of authors on the Bub, thinking I was going to seriously save on books by getting announcements from the Bub. Then…crickets, except for TradPub authors and a very few Indie mega-sellers. The only notifications I got about interesting indies were when the Bub ran a rare ad for an author’s books (which of course, sends me to their site and gives them affiliate income.)

That in itself might not be so bad, but then I realized why this happens through my own book releases. Here’s a quick example of how this works. It took me a while to figure it out, but once I did, I was a little irritated because of all the books I missed out on.

I released the PePr, Inc. series of novellas as individual titles for a while. Each one of those doesn’t qualify for new book announcements because they are novellas. Okay, fine. That’s cool. I get that they have length limits. So then I collected them together into a big, fat book called Robot Evolution. Guess what? It doesn’t qualify because the individual titles were once published. So basically, all those people I pointed to the Bub as a way to get announcements for my new books if they were averse to newsletters never heard about any of them.

Same thing happened with The Ways We End and And Then Begin Again. Even though most of the material was new and all the stories were reworked that had been in anthologies, it didn’t qualify. Basically, the people who follow me don’t know of a single new release by me since Strikers: Eastlands. Not one.

Why did they do this if they didn’t intend to actually do it? It seems pretty obvious in retrospect. It was a way for them to get us to spread the word and get more people signed up to their newsletter…which they make money from. Duh. And we’re not talking a few either. When you take thousands of authors and tell them this, then ask them to share, that’s millions of eyeballs getting tempted. Talk about free advertising! After all, you can’t follow authors on Bub unless you join Bub. ::facepalm::

At least I could easily see which authors I followed on there and then decide which I needed to re-join the newsletters of in order to stop missing releases. Turns out I missed a total of 33 new releases….33! Now, some of those included box sets, but overall, I missed out on a whole lot of indie authors and their new release pricing, plus a whole lot of sale prices.

I don’t really recommend the Bub Follow button at all anymore as a reader. It’s useless. As an author, there’s the possibility that they use the number of followers an author has when deciding who get’s approved for an ad. Because of that, I still want people to follow me there, but that’s sort of selfish, so I feel bad for feeling that way.

I’ve spent the last two days correcting that mess up on my part and joined those newsletters again. Yes, there are a few that will send me too much mail and I’ll unsub them again, but for the most part, they are worth the email space.

TIP: Remember to add the email address of the author’s newsletter to your contacts. By doing that, you make sure that you’ll actually see it. Yahoo and Gmail have gone draconian and will mark them as spam or promotional, hiding them from view or sticking them in another tab. Finding out about an awesome sale or giveaway after it is long over sort of negates the purpose of getting the newsletter. 🙂 So far, out of my favorite 25 authors I’ve rejoined, 23 of them went to the hidden folder. The two that didn’t were already white-listed because I’ve exchanged emails with them before. So, yeah, white-listing is more important that ever apparently.

 

Read and Loved: Clones Anthology (It’s on Sale, too)

 

Clones: The Anthology

I’m not in this one, but that doesn’t mean I didn’t read it with enthusiasm! And I wasn’t at all disappointed. Given my own interest and writings in this vein, that’s probably not a surprise.

During my (almost) daily perusal of the science fiction deals on Amazon, I found this on Kindle Countdown for $0.99, so I thought this would be a good time to share! It’s chock full of excellent stories by some of my favorite authors (and friends). Normally, I don’t include anyone I know in the Read and Loved series, just to keep this on the up and up. In this case, it’s an anthology with enough folks that I figure it’s okay.

The mood and atmosphere ranges in this volume, as befitting the subject, and the stories are so varied and wonderful that there’s a new wrinkle just around every corner. This one is highly recommended by me!

The Dark Collections are Live!

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Both books in the Dark Collections series are now live on Amazon! As always, both books have new release pricing at $0.99 for regular readers of my work. It’s for a limited time, so don’t hesitate too long. What’s in these dark goodies?

The Ways We End: Six Tales of Doom is me dipping into that deep, dark well and then plunging down to the bottom to find the monsters that lurk in the bottom. Yeah, it’s titled appropriately. This is a collection about the ways we end…as people, as a species, as a world.

Three of the tales are brand new, including Cottage of Hunger (which my VIP list got to read in first draft format as a sneaky peeky), The Mountains of Five, and The Bridge. Three others were originally published in anthologies, but have been re-imagined without word limits (and sometimes totally changed), including The Mergans, Rock or Shell, and A Mother So Beautiful. 

And Then Begin Again: Six Tales of Hope is me swimming back up to see the light that always shines after the darkest of nights. I’m not saying these are all roses and puppies sliding down rainbows, because they wouldn’t be my writing if they were. But each one of these tales focuses on that coming dawn, no matter how dark the night. There is love, determination, strength. And always…there is hope.

Inside this volume are six tales, including Sedge (a novella of Love, New Worlds, and Freedom), The Mirroring, Life/Time in the New World, Unnatural, Yankari, and Lulu Ad Infinitum. And like the first volume, those tales from the anthologies have been re-imagined without word limits.

***

As always, I appreciate every single review, so if you feel like doing so, I’ll love you from afar! Also, I’ve put the books into Kindle Unlimited so that those using that service can get the books too. Paperbacks are out already and they should link up with the ebooks within a few days, but a search on Amazon should bring up both versions if that’s your preference.

Until next time! Happy Reading!

Are you a Kindle Unlimited reader? If so, here’s a few tips…

Loads and loads of avid readers have joined Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited (KU). It’s been a great deal for many readers, allowing an unlimited reading experience for the price of a single paperback every month. I mean, what’s not to love?

If you’re a reader.

If you’re an author, well, that relationship can be a mixed one. I love it, even with glitches simply because I can reach readers who no longer buy books and read KU books exclusively. I get it. Given how many thousands of pounds of books I’ve donated over the years, I really get it. I’m one of those people that actually filled up a Kindle!

That said, there are some glitches showing up in the KU experience that have impacted payments to the authors. Here are a few tips from a KU author to all the lovely KU readers out there. Most of the tips are based on research (including informal polls and hard data gathering), done by many indie authors. Since we’re not having much luck getting Amazon to address these problems, I’m hoping that sharing with you will help.

Tip #1  –  Please don’t go back to the beginning of the book once you’re done.

This one is pretty simple. Amazon is basically counting your pages from where you ended reading (as far as we can tell no better system is yet in place). So, if you read a book and enjoy it so much that you go back to look at the cover or the list of other works by the author, well….it erases all your pages read, which means that author will not get paid. While Amazon denies this, we have demonstrated proof that such happens.

I, for one, frequently do this. I did the same thing with physical books. I’d sigh, wish the book wasn’t over, and close it to look at that beautiful cover again. It wasn’t any different with a Kindle book and often I’d click the contents to go back to the page where their other works were listed. YIKES! While I’m not reading with KU, if I were, then a whole lot of authors would have been unpaid. And worse, the more I enjoyed their work, the more likely they were to not be paid!

Tip #2  –  Please note that you read the book in KU at the top of your review if you leave one.

Amazon is weighing verified reviews over non-verified reviews, but at the same time, Amazon has NO tag for those who read a book using KU. That’s super silly, since to me, a KU membership means you invested your money in that book and your review should count. By noting that you read it via KU at the top of a review, you let readers who may distrust non-verified reviews know you’re a real reader! (Also, let’s hope they get a KU tag soon!)

Tip # 3  –  Please sync your book before you return it.

Right now, no one is entirely sure how this flaw is happening. Maybe it’s by device or app, or maybe there’s something in the settings. Whatever it is, we do know that syncing a finished book with Amazon improves the likelihood that Amazon will show the pages read and therefore, pay the author.

Tip #4 – If you read in Page Flip, the author will not be paid.

This is a tough one! I love reading in Page Flip mode on my 8.9 Kindle HDX. It’s perfect for that. If I were a KU reader, then every book I read that way would have resulted in ZERO payments to the author. Yep, that’s correct and Amazon has actually confirmed that. Page Flip is intended as a navigation feature, (according to them), so any pages read that way will not count.

If you read in Page Flip, please leave for regular view at least at the end of the book. We’re pretty sure they’re still counting the last page read to calculate payments, but it’s possible Amazon is now counting any flip from the front to the back of the book as a fraudulent read (and withholding payments). Even so, it’s worth a try.

Note: If you’re not sure if you’re reading in Page Flip or not, you can tell because there’s an outline around the page (on most devices and apps) and the progress bar is visible at the bottom of the screen without tapping.

Thank you to all the KU readers out there! I appreciate every single one of you and hope to meet many more of you through that wonderful program. Happy Reading.

It’s Patty’s Promo Time! 3-4 December

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My favorite (and most frequented) promo each month is Patty’s. There’s no muss, no fuss…just books. Of course, I’ve gotten addicted to so many new reads and authors from it that I’m not being as productive as I like, but hey…books!

This month is free books and there are loads of good ones in there. I have Between Life and Death: The In-Betweener in there too! I nabbed that image to share, so click on it to get to Patty’s page where all the books are listed by retailer.

I’ve already been scoping out my choices for this month. I can already tell it’s going to be a good month for reading.

Between Life and Death World – Freebies and Sale!

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Just in case you’ve missed reading this series, I’m putting the first book free for a few days and discounting the second one to $0.99. Yep, doing it. AND, as a huge favor to me, Logan Snyder is putting his wonderful book set in the Between Life and Death World FREE for a few days. How much do I love this book? Yeah, I love it. The free period is now till 6 December and the discount is available for a few days only (then it goes to $1.99, then back to $2.99).

The Deets:

Between Life and Death: The In-Betweener

Get it HERE.

Emily is alone. Two years after the end of the world, she talks to herself and smashes heads with her favorite sledgehammer. This is not the life she imagined for herself as her eighteenth birthday rolls past.

It’s time for her to look beyond her safe, little hiding place to the world beyond. The madness of the apocalypse is ending, the dangerous in-betweeners – those no longer quite human, but not yet dead – are few and far between. The deaders that cover the world are going still, their senses dulled by time and the elements.

The problem is that there are no people…none. Emily has found not a single living human when she’s dared to step outside her safe-zone.

As Emily weighs the heavy cost of surviving alone and begins to accept the inevitable, everything changes once again. One of the deaders at her gate turns out not to be a deader at all. He’s an in-betweener different from any other she has seen before, and he carries a message. If Emily has the courage to step beyond her gate and the skills to survive a perilous trip in a dead world, she might just have a chance at life…a life with humans…after all.

Between Life and Death: Forever Between

Get it HERE.

Will be on Kindle Countdown from 3-6 December. $0.99 for the first couple of days, last day at $1.99.

The last time Veronica checked, the world outside was still dead…and still covered by the sort-of-undead remnants of humanity. That was this morning. Now, she has to run that gauntlet to try and save Emily, just as Emily once saved her.

Four years ago the world was destroyed by medical nanites gone awry, leaving humanity divided into three groups: the living, deaders, and the horrific in-betweeners. Emily’s only hope for a cure lies eighty miles away at a military hospital where nanite treatments were once given, and she’s running out of time. Between Veronica and that hospital is a world of flesh-eating monsters and possibly something even worse…humans. If Veronica fails to get there, Emily will be trapped forever between life and death.

Between Kings and Carnage by Logan Snyder

Get it HERE.

If you loved the Between world, then this book is for you! Logan Snyder (who wrote my favorite SF serial ever, Violet) blew me away when he created a whole new facet of the Between world and populated the Pacific Northwest with amazing characters facing the nanite apocalypse. He has also very graciously put the volume for free for a few days so that Between Readers can get it for nothing. Since this is a stand alone novel and not a series (and it’s a big, lovely book), this is a great thing.

“A dark, awesome, beautiful addition to the BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH series!” — Ann Christy

Squire has ridden with the Thunder Kings since the beginning of the end. Together they’ve survived everything the apocalypse has thrown at them, but after five long years a new threat is rising. This enemy is deadlier and more determined than any they’ve faced before, and only a strange, stuttering girl may hold the answer to their identity. Can the Kings get ahead of the threat facing them, or has their reign finally reached its end? The answer lies within the pages of this thrilling companion novel to Ann Christy’s BETWEEN LIFE AND DEATH series.

Portals by Ann Christy – It’s Coming…

Before you grab a ruler and start whacking me about the head and shoulders; yes, I’m still working on Strikers: Outlands and the PePr novellas! The Strikers books are the most complex I’ve ever written, so they take time. The next PePr novellas (and one book) are also more complicated and have to sit in the back while I get stuff done.

Caveats over. You forgive me?

You might once you see this! Feast thine eyes on this cover of magnificence! (You can click to embiggen.)

portals_final

What is this? What is this dark magic? ::squee::

Portals is book one of a whole new series. You might have figured out from the cover that it’s space related and involves an invasion…and you’d be right. But like every single book I’ve written, nothing is what it seems. Nothing.

Portals – Portal Invasion Book One

Meet Lysa. She’s seventeen, a bit of a renegade, a budding artist, and currently…handcuffed to her mother. It’s not ideal.

But then again, nothing has been ideal since the Portal Invasion began four months ago. Every thirteen minutes, portals open up at random places all over the globe. From each portal an exact duplicate of a person emerges…and then that duplicate tosses the original person through the portal.

Everything about them is perfect, right down to their DNA and the clothes that they’re wearing. Every memory is intact. They are the original in all ways. Except, of course, they aren’t. No one knows why this is happening or who is doing it. All anyone knows is that if you kill the duplicate before it gets close enough to you, then you’re safe. Or you can toss in someone else before proximity to the duplicate makes you freeze. It’s not been good for relationships on Earth, this portal tossing.

Every thirteen minutes Lysa and her mom are ready. Every thirteen minutes they breathe a sigh of relief. Every thirteen minutes they begin to dread the next thirteen. Eventually, that thirteen minutes ends for one of them. That’s when life gets really interesting.

The Details

Does that sound interesting to you? Exciting? Full of danger and thrills and alien encounters? Yeah, I got that in there for you. I love the way the ending is shaping up. I think some of you will cry, which would be good.

When is this volume of deliciousness coming out? Well, assuming I get my butt in gear and sign the contract, (I’m writing! Give me a break!), then it will come out next year in a ginormous collection of new books from about 20 authors. That’s right…it will be the box set to end all box sets.

There will be no re-hashed first in series that are already free. There will be no duplicates, no short stories. It will all new books from some pretty amazing authors (plus me). I can’t give you the line-up for sure yet (though I know most) because until the contracts are signed (including mine) no one is official.

So what’s the deal with this? Well, the entire collection will be up for pre-order and for some of that time it will be $0.99. Yeah, I know, that’s insanity with a capital I, but hey, this is for a letters run (meaning we’re trying to hit one of the lists like USA Today). It will be up only for a short time live, so I’ll be sure and let everyone know when that 0.99 price hits so you can get it at that price.

After the letters run, the collection will be retired and all the authors will publish them on their own as regular books…at regular prices. So yeah, it will be the collection to end all. I’m really excited about it, and not just because of the letters run. I’m excited because it’s a new adventure and I really like this book. (Also, secretly between us, I read the first two chapters of Logan Snyder’s book for this, and I was making frantic grabby hand motions. I freaking loved it. Super saucy and I have a crush on one of the main characters that is almost unseemly.)

New Covers for Between Life and Death!

I’m a terrible updater, but here I am, updating you. First off, let me say that I loved my former covers for the Between Life and Death series. I actually made very sure that I had paperback copies of the series for my own collection before I changed a thing.

That said, they didn’t resonate with the correct market for some reason. Either because they had an Urban Fantasy vibe or because of something else I can’t figure out, the books weren’t doing what I thought they should. Of course, who is really objective about their own writing? They may just not be great books!

To try to reach the correct market and better reflect the series, the same cover artist that did the former covers embarked on a re-branding of the series with me. I have new covers for all the current books in the series plus one for Savannah Slays, which is intended for a 2017 release. That one tells the story of Savannah and Charlie from the beginning. As character favorites in the series, they deserved their own book. (And by the way, Savannah is a piece of work!)

So, here they are in all their glory! I think they capture the post-apocalyptic nature of the series well. What do you think? And yes, the first book is still free for right now, but it’s possible that I’ll be shifting it away from that in the near future. It’s undecided at this time and will greatly depend on performance. (Click image to embiggen!)

between-lifeand-deathnew-covers

Silo 49: Roughneck – Coming Soon!

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Yep, you see that right. Silo 49: Roughneck turned out to be a short story of just under 10K words. I could have made it longer, but it didn’t need to be. Lucky for me, Chronicle Worlds: WOOL is under development so it will appear in that volume of stories by some of your favorite WOOL side-fiction authors.

So what’s it about?

Well, just as The Last Republican was a short story giving hints about why Silo 49 started out differently in the first place, so too is Roughneck. Many fans of the WOOL saga wondered how they found so much oil under that part of Georgia, which isn’t exactly oil country. I wondered too, but then I realized I could imagine exactly how that happened. Manny Rivera is an oil worker and I really like him. This is his tale.

To celebrate, I’ve put Silo 49: Going Dark free for a while. It’s available everywhere! Here’s the Amazon link.

Read and Loved for August, 2016 – Todd by Adam Nicolai

I crack open somewhere between ten and twenty books a month. Yeah, I know that’s a lot, but there’s a caveat to that. If the book doesn’t grab me by the time I reach the 20% mark on my kindle, I ditch it and put it in the DNF file.  Some folks only give a book a single chapter or fifteen minutes or other parameters, but I give it the full 20% unless it’s so egregious that I have to get it away from me as quickly as possible lest it eat my brain cells.

For some books, I simply never even notice the percentages ticking by along the bottom of my screen.

For other books, I dread the ticking of the percentages.

For a very few books, I silently say, “No, no, no,” when it see the percentages reaching the end.

Todd by Adam Nicolai is one of the latter. I truly enjoyed this book, had no idea how it might end, and was absolutely captured by the world he built inside this book.

 

First off, just look at that cover! That’s what grabbed me, which just goes to show you that covers matter. The blurb was enticing, so I grabbed it up.

As expected in a post-apocalyptic novel, the end of the world has happened, but how it happened is sort of a mystery. Alan and his son, Todd, seem to be the only ones left after a single moment in time in which everyone else disappeared. This tale is more about Alan and Todd than anything else, though the mystery of what happened slowly unwinds as the book moves on. And it works. I was absolutely unable to look away.

Alan is the main character and he is not perfect. We all know an Alan, however distantly. He’s the kind of guy that had potential, but never fulfilled it. He is a bundle of shortcomings and lost opportunities. Their relationship and Alan’s inner character are the main focus of the story.

The ending…oh, the ending…is not what we’ve come to expect from this genre, but it is right for this book. I’m dying to talk about it, but that would be a disservice. This book is, hands down, my favorite read of the month and I have zero hesitation about recommending it to others.

The book is priced at $4.99, but it is also in Kindle Unlimited, which means you can borrow it for free as a KU member or use this as your monthly free book if you have Amazon Prime. If you don’t know how to do your prime borrow, it’s pretty simple. You’ll have a special button to borrow if you look at the book on your kindle device. It doesn’t show up on the regular web page.

 

Work In Progress

Savannah Slays (working title)

5000/ 100000 words. 5% done!

Portals - Portal Invasion #1

78000/ 78000 words. First Draft Done!

Mercy - PePr Inc novella

3000/ 20000 words. 15% done!

The Ways We End

66000/ 66000 words. 100% Done! Publishing Dec 8th! (Dark Collections 2, "And Then Begin Again" goes live on the Dec 8th too!

Strikers: Outlands

40000/ 10000 words. 40% Done!

Good News Gone Bad #1
Series of Shorts

4000 / 20000 words. Back Burner for now.

Lulu 394

60020 / 80000 words. 75% done! Back Burner for now!

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Books by Ann Christy