Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Marguerite Ashton: The IAN Interview

Marguerite Ashton is Founder of the popular blog Criminal Lines and Co-founder of the Crime Writers’ Panel. There she works alongside Joe Giacalone with other panel members to educate writers on the importance of showing accurate portrayals of criminal investigations and law enforcement procedures in their novels.

Her radio show, Criminal Lines Radio airs weekly, bringing together law enforcement and authors in an open forum.

She grew up in Colorado, but now resides in Wisconsin, where she is currently working on her next book. 

A member of Sisters in Crime.

Her readers can visit her website at www.margueriteashton.com


IAN. Please tell us about your latest book.


M.A. “Burned Bridges” is about a woman named Traci who, after learning of her friend's past, withholds information from the police in order to protect her. Believing she's doing the right thing, Traci turns a blind eye until she receives a text from someone determined to use her as bait to get to the truth.

IAN. What formats is your book available? 

M.A. Burned Bridges is available in three formats. eBook, Print and Audio. And now it can be downloaded on all eReaders through Smashwords.

IAN. Where can we go buy Burned Bridges?

Smashwords  Amazon  Kobo  Barnes&Noble   iTunes   Diesel 


IAN. How long did it take to write Burned Bridges?

M.A. It took two years to complete Burned Bridges. The first year I let the creative flow take over and wrote what I wanted. Upon finishing the first draft, I realized that if I wanted to take my career seriously, I needed to make some adjustments and find a writing mentor. Once we established what professional course I wanted to take, she put me through writing exercises before letting me write one word. Not long after that, I learned that rewrites were my favorite part of the writing process.

IAN. How did you come up with the title?

M.A. If we look at life there is at least one issue from our past that is like a knife in our side. People hurt each other; sometimes accidental and other times on purpose, which creates a division that can last for decades.
These are burned bridges.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading Burned Bridges?

M.A. I’m hoping my readers will feel inspired. I want them to know that no matter how big the challenges are in their lives that there are people around them willing to help if they seek them out. It’s all about loyalty and friendship.

IAN. What books have most influenced your life most?

M.A. The Life of Elizabeth 1 by Alison Weir. She was an independent woman who defied conventional wisdom that said a woman could not lead a nation without a man. She proved them wrong.

IAN. What book are you reading now?

M.A. Forensics and Fiction by D.P. Lyle

IAN. Do you see writing as a career?

M.A. Absolutely! I think of my writing as a business. It includes regular work hours and weekly consults with my mentor and editor. I’ve structured it this way to help keep me disciplined in my writing.

IAN. Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

M.A. My favorite author is David Baldacci. I love his writing style and his ability to keep me in suspense with his political thrillers.

IAN. Who designed the cover Burned Bridges?

M.A. Judy Bullard is the designer of my book covers. She does a fantastic job!

IAN. Did you learn anything from writing Burned Bridges and what was it?

M.A. Yes I did. I learned how much I enjoy entertaining my readers. 
It was strengthened after receiving emails from several of them about the book. They informed me that they had their favorite scenes and others had their favorite characters. And that was something that I was hoping to hear.

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress.

M.A. Well, I’m currently working one as I finish up another. Book two in the Crossing Series is my WIP and will be out later this year. My upcoming novel, Led by Lies will be released in August. It is the first book in the Lies Series. 

IAN. Do you have any advice for other writers?

M.A. Stick with it and give it your A.L.L

     A. Ask questions about yourself and your writing. Make sure this is something you want to do.
     L. Listen to the answers. Sometimes the reply is not what you’d expect or want to hear.
     L. Learn from those answers. Then take the appropriate steps to master your art.

IAN. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

M.A. I want to say thank you for taking a chance on me. I appreciate the support.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Pros and Cons of the KDP Select Program


The Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform is a powerful tool that allows any independent author or publisher to compete alongside the biggest New York publishing houses when selling Kindle e-books. Getting equal access to the market is no longer an obstacle to successful publishing. The main challenge is getting noticed by potential readers. And that is where the KDP Select program comes in.
What is the KDP Select Program?
KDP Select is an exclusive publishing agreement between Amazon and authors who are publishing their e-books through the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. When an author enrolls in the program, she can take advantage of several marketing tools that are not available to non-members.
Enrolling in the program is easy. Whenever an author adds a new e-book to their KDP account, Amazon will ask if they want to enroll the book in the Select program. If she declines at that moment, the author can enroll a book in the program later using a link in the KDP bookshelf. Enrollment is set separately for each e-book published. So, an author may have some e-books enrolled and others not enrolled.
By enrolling an e-book in the KDP Select program, an author agrees to sell the digital version of her book exclusively through Amazon's KDP program. The e-book cannot be sold in any other digital format (including PDF files sold from the author's own website) during the duration of the agreement.
The Select program runs for a period of 90 days. By default, the enrollment is set to automatically renew for another term at the end of 90 days.The author has to switch off the auto-renew option manually if she chooses to leave the program.
If an author does decide to cancel enrollment in the program, she must still honor the exclusivity agreement until the end of the current 90 day enrollment period. Failure to do so could jeopardize the status of her account.
Benefits of the KDP Select Program
So, you may be wondering, what benefits does an author get for granting exclusive publication rights for her e-book to Amazon. Basically, she gets increased exposure within the Amazon website, her book is included in the Kindle Lending Library, and she is permitted 5 giveaway promotional days for her e-book during each enrollment period.
The Amazon website and the Kindle Readers make up an amazing sales ecosystem. Built into every facet of the Amazon marketplace are cross promotional opportunities that can help sell more copies of your book. There are best seller lists (for both free and paid e-books). When you view a one e-book's promotional page, Amazon generates and displays a list of other e-books 'you may be interested in.' On order pages Amazon tells you what other products people purchased who bought what you just paid for. In short, there are multiple places where Amazon sneaks in a quick sales message. As a member of the select program, you get a little better exposure in this ecosystem.
The Kindle Lending Library is a benefit for people who join the Amazon Prime program. Those members are allowed to borrow one book per month from the library at no charge. Amazon sets aside a block of money each month to divide among all of the people whose books have been borrowed. Each borrow can generate several dollars in income for the author. Your book appears in all of the areas listing available library books (more exposure.) Also, when people view the sales page for your book, they will see the price prominently listed as free - for Amazon Prime Members. The sales price for everyone else is listed below in more subtle text.
Finally, members of the Select program can give their books away for free for up to 5 days per enrollment period. These free days can generate massive exposure for your e-book. Amazon generates best seller lists for both free and paid Kindle books in every category. The lists are displayed side-by-side on the website. So, if you hit the top of the free chart, you can be seen right along side of the top paid book - more exposure.
Disadvantages of the KDP Select Program
The biggest disadvantage of enrolling in the KDP Select program is that your e-book cannot be sold on any other e-book platform. No sales to Nook owners or iPad users, or selling PDF versions directly through your website. Amazon dominates the e-book market, but there are lots of other places to sell your e-book. Many people do not realize that you can read Kindle books using free apps, so they skip the Kindle Marketplace because they think they need to own a Kindle device.
Free days, as many authors have discovered, are not a marketing magic bullet. Just because you give your book away does not mean you will suddenly become popular and make sales once the giveaway ends. And, the benefits might not offset the restrictions of your e-book only being sold through Amazon.
Just as free days are not magic, the Kindle Lending Library is no guarantee of riches either. Since Amazon Prime Members are restricted to one e-book borrow per month, they often save that for an expensive title. As I write this, Amazon has set aside $600,000 for the Kindle Lending Library payments (a figure that has been consistent for several months.) The promise is enticing, but results are not guaranteed.
Should You Enroll in the KDP Select Program?
The decision to enroll depends on many factors. If you have only one title, you might be better off publishing on multiple platforms and selling directly from your website as well.
If you have multiple e-book titles, you may choose to enroll some of your e-books in the program as a way to expose new readers to your work and steer them toward your other e-books.
Your goals for publishing might be to establish your expertise and reach new customers for your business rather than profiting from book sales. In that case you would benefit from being able to reach a wide audience through free days.
Ultimately, you have to weigh the pros and cons of enrollment and decide what makes the most sense for you. Oh, and make sure and turn the auto-renew option off - just in case you change your mind later.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Rebekah Lyn: The IAN Interview

Rebekah Lyn is a Florida native, with a degree in Communications from Jacksonville University. The mountains of North Carolina are as much a home to her as the Florida beaches. She’s dabbled in writing most of her life and pursued it seriously for the past three years, completing three books with a fourth nearing first draft completion. She enjoys traveling, baking, gardening, reading, and spending time with her family. Her Christian faith is an important part of who she is and she enjoys sharing this faith with her readers, providing them the hope she has found so often in times of trial. To learn more, you can visit her website, RebekahLynBooks.com



IAN. Please tell us about your latest book:


RL. My latest release is Winter’s End, the second book in the Seasons of Faith Series. Readers can pick up on the lives of Lizzie, Jeffrey, Ian, and Stephen, the main characters in Summer Storms as well as meet some quirky new characters. Things start off with a bang when a woman is murdered in her office, a corporate espionage plot is uncovered, and a romantic weekend turns into an experiment in wilderness survival. 

IAN. Is Winter’s End published in print, e-book or both?


R.L. All of my books are available in both print and e-book for all e-readers


IAN. Did you use an outline or do you just wing the first draft?

R.L. I completely wing the first draft. I tried to have a preconcieved idea of what I wanted for my work in progress, but I felt like I was trying to fit the proverbial square peg in a round hole. When I let go of what I thought the story should be it really started flowing. 

IAN. How did you come up with the title?

R.L. The titles in the Seasons of Faith series, obviously are going to have the season the book is set in along with something that gives you an idea of what the book might be about-Summer Storms, Winter’s End. The Coastal Chronicles are all going to be named after the main character.

IAN. What do you hope your readers come away with after reading your book?

R.L. I have a real heart for people, I want to encourage those who are already believers in Jesus Christ, but I also want to open the door to those who may not yet be believers. I want to show that even when we commit our lives to God that we still face temptations, still grieve, but there is hope.

IAN. If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

R.L. I didn’t read much Christian fiction before I found Terri Blackstock, because I just couldn’t relate to it, because my life as a Christian wasn’t wrapped up in a bubble of sweetness and happily ever afters. Blackstock’s books are real and gritty, showing how even Christians struggle. Reading her books gave me the courage to pursue writing similar stories when I decided to take the plunge

IAN. What book are you reading now?

R.L. I just started reading George Washington’s Sacred Fire by Peter Lillback. I try to read a good history book every couple of months and I figured in honor of the 4th of July I would pull this one off the the to-be-read shelf. 

IAN. Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

R.L. I have a wonderful writing partner, DiVoran Lites, who helped me develop my first two books. We work well together and balance each other out in many ways. Where my books are bit more edgy, DiVoran’s are more classic. We have even partnered together on our website where we share what’s happening in our current writing adventures. We would love to have you come and visit, RebekahLynBooks.com

I’ve also met some incredibly supportive folks through social media too. The Indie Writing community is full of some truly wonderful people and I will always be grateful to them. 
IAN. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

R.L. I’ve loved words since I was a child. I devoured Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew books on every summer vacation. I wrote my first complete story when I was ten, and a string of unfinished stories all through high school. I was the kid who actually looked forward to term paper assignments in high school and college. When I started working, I got away from writing, but I’ve been back at it for about ten years and I don’t see an end in sight yet. 

IAN. Do you have to travel much concerning your books?

R.L. I don’t know that I have to travel, but I do make it a point to spend time in the areas where I set my books. When I was writing Julianne I roped in my best friend for a road trip to Wilmington, NC and some of the nearby coastal communities to wander around, take pictures, soak up the atmosphere and get a sense of the culture. My next coastal book is going to be set in Charleston, SC and I am looking forward to my visit there.

IAN. Who designed the covers?

R.L. Laura Wright LaRoche, LLPix.com. She is absolutely wonderful! I feel like she practically reads my mind, and when I’m not quite happy with something she is very patient, helpful, and understanding. I can whole hearteadly recommend her. 

IAN. Tell us about your next book or a work in progress. Is it a sequel or a stand alone?

R.L. My current work in progress is, Jessie, the second book in the Coastal Chronicles, which are stand-alone stories in a variety of coastal communities. I’m having so much fun working on this one. It is set on Florida’s east coast, during the early years of the U.S. space program. I grew up on the space coast with the Space Shuttle program, but I have learned so much researching this project and gained a whole new appreciation for the community and the enormous talent of the men and women who made space travel possible. My main character is a thirteen-year-old-boy and his three brothers, which has been an adventure in itself.