Archive for the ‘Publishing’ Category

My Immortals Series Re-Cover Did Not Go Smoothly

Saturday, October 21st, 2023

New Covers!

As previously mentioned, after some market research, I decided the books in the My Immortals series needed new covers. Getting new covers took longer than I liked, but I was extremely budget conscious this time and can’t really complain that each cover was handled as separate project. It got done, and I am very happy with the result. The new covers fit in with the current paranormal romance market.

And Then There Was Amazon

I started uploading at the various vendors, starting with Amazon. I do two print versions through Amazon. One is for Libraries and bookshops. That version is priced very high in order to accommodate the discounting needed and it uses an Amazon supplied ISBN. I do another version using my own ISBN which I price as low as possible so that print readers have the most affordable option. These two versions are identical as to content and cover.

Some additional context: For all of my books, I use a logo for my imprint, cJewel Books, which is registered to me at Bowker and therefore connected to my ISBNS. I commissioned the logo in 2015 and use it on all my books. For print books, the logo appears on the back cover. For EVERY SINGLE BOOK. Here’s the full color logo:

Image that looks like a combination of book pages and a gem. The text cJewel Books appears underneath

The Logo

I love the logo, by the way and I like the continuity it gives. I have been using this logo since 2015. Some more context here. Some of the new covers use the same model as the original cover. Some used new images. All the covers have the same background. I did update some back matter in the eBooks so that the flow was more efficient and more conducive to readers having an easy opportunity to get the next book. There were no changes to the print interiors. The only change was the cover.

For all but two of the books, the uploading went just fine, eBook and print. But for some reason Amazon had a hissy fit about one of the print covers for My Demon Warlord. They started by asking me to prove I had the publishing rights. Even though nothing had changed but the cover and even though the updates were coming from the same account that originally published the book. Amazon “helpfully” has a list of acceptable proof. Unfortunately for self-publishers, none of the acceptable proof applies. My Demon Warlord was never traditionally published. I wrote it my own self for my own publishing career. Amazon explicitly states that it’s not enough to say, but I wrote it! Copyright registration is also not proof they will accept.

At first, I replied that they should be able to tell that the same account was involved in the update and that the only change was the cover. I provided all the ISBNs and pointed out they were registered to me or CreateSpace. This was not sufficient. Then I sent images from my Author Central account showing that both print versions had been verified by Amazon–meaning they agreed that all versions of the book were mine. They cleared the book. Yay, right?

NOPE

I got another notice asking for the same proof, which I sent. Again. One of the print versions was cleared. Yay! Right?

NOPE Again

I got another notice for the OTHER print version asking for the same proof which I sent again. This was disallowed. WTAF? So I sent the information AGAIN and pointed out the history on this and tried to stay polite. Then I got a notice saying they had cleared the book. Yay! Right?

NOPE AGAIN

Yes, they agreed I had the right to publish the book but now they believed I did not have the right to all the images in the cover and to please send proof that the images were properly licensed. Recall that all these books have the same exact background and the they’d cleared an identical version earlier in the day. My Demon Warlord, originally published in 2016, is one of the books where I was using the same model as my original cover. You’d figure this means the problem had to be in the background images  (shared by ALL the covers). Yet all the other books were successfully updated with the new covers. I asked the cover designer to send me the licenses for all the images in that book. I also attached the invoice for my logo, because honestly, I am pretty certain they were having a fit over that. Fortunately, the 2015 invoice was readily available to me because taxes and business expenses.

Meanwhile . . .

Amazon sent me another notice asking me to prove my right to publish My Immortal Assassin. ::Sigh::: All because I updated the cover. Fortunately/Ironically? My Immortal Assassin was traditionally published and I have my reversion letter. I keep all my reversion letters readily available because I have other books where I have been asked 3-4 times to prove my right to publish the book. For some books, I have sent my reversion letter 3-4 times. Anyway, I pointed out the only change was a new cover, same account, blah blah blah, but here is the reversion letter AGAIN. They accepted this proof since a reversion letter is on Amazon’s acceptable proof list.

Finally?

Anyway, Amazon has finally cleared My Demon Warlord. But is this over? Who knows.

Some Thoughts

I suspect this entire process never once involved a human on Amazon’s side. I suspect I could have sent an image of my cat as proof of my right to publish and their automated system would have said, hey, proof is attached! You’re good. I suspect that once a book is flagged they double down and match book images to images on stock sites and that since my logo is not a stock image, they decided I was stealing.

Several things are obvious to me. Amazon has an unintelligent algorithm that misses some pretty obvious rules. Such as, if they have previously vetted an account’s publishing rights to a book, they do not need to confirm those rights ever again. When the same account updates a previously cleared book, they don’t need to clear it again.

This process is everything that is wrong with Amazon and more. All I did was update covers for books Amazon has already agreed I have the right to publish. How hard it it, really, for them to check that, and what does it say about how bad their backend system is that they don’t/can’t do this?

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Shame on Scholastic Books

Saturday, April 15th, 2023

Scholastic: Money before Honor

Author Maggie Tokuda-Hall wrote a Children’s picture book titled Love In the Library, a story based on her grandparents and the US internment of Americans of Japanese descent during World War II. The book is published by Candlewick Press. Scholastic inquired about licensing the book for distribution in their channels, but the offer was contingent on Tokuda-Hall agreeing to remove references to racism. I urge you to read her blog post about the offer from Scholastic and the reasons she refused a dream contract. To the detriment of her career, by the way.

Publishers talk a big game about how they publish works that contain ideas some might disagree with or that challenge entrenched views. They talk about wanting to do better publishing for diverse readers and acquiring diverse voices. Scholastic makes a mockery of those professed ideals by caving in to people who want books to reflect their narrow, bigoted, racist, and hateful views.

Those who crow about Freedom aren’t asking schools to prevent their children from reading certain books. They don’t want any child reading books they don’t like, no matter the opinions of other parents. It’s their choice for everyone. They started with schools, and now they’re working on public libraries. Book sellers are next, online and brick and mortar.

Shame on Scholastic

Their cowardice is just one of many reasons that the consolidation of traditional publishers is bad for readers and authors alike. There’s no one else who competes in the Scholastic space and therefore no one else who could grow a spine and stand up to the voices of hate. They want to talk about how wonderful they are for putting books into the hands of children, but apparently only if those books have been sanitized enough to cater to the racists and homophobes.

Here’s where to contact Scholastic and let them know what you think.

Love in the Libary

Links to buy Love in the Library can be found at the author’s website. Hopefully most library readers can find the book at their local library.

Updated to add subsequent Scholastic spin: via NPR

Make no mistake. This isn’t a one-off situation, and chances are white authors are not hearing about the reality of non-white, cis authors. It’s critically important for people like me (white, straight, cis-gender) to understand that not hearing from the marginalized about the impact on them in no way means it isn’t happening. It is.

My DMs have been absolutely full,” [Tokuda-Hall] said. “People sharing pretty horrific stories that they’re just too afraid to share in public.”

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New Cover for Scandal

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

Have a look at the New Cover for Scandal

image of the new cover for Scandal - it's a hot Regency couple. The image is a paperback book that looks like it's standing up

New Cover for Scandal

I commissioned a new cover for Scandal because the previous cover, which I love to this day, was getting rejected for promotions because the guy was shirtless. ::sigh:: If you already purchased Scandal and want your copy to have the new cover, you should be able to follow the process for updating books at the vendor of your choice. I took the opportunity to update my booklist, but nothing else changed about the text so the only reason to update is the new cover, and a more recent list of my titles in the back.

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What to Do?

Saturday, December 30th, 2017

So…Long story short, I have more books to give away (Lord Ruin) and am looking for opinions about which way to go.

First a little set up so you understand my situation. Amazon has this feature called Giveaways where someone can give away an item and people signup for the giveaway in the hopes of being one of the randomly selected winners. They allow eBook giveaways.

Giveaway Sort of Gone Wrong?

I finally decided to try an Amazon Giveaway. Because I just released Surrender to Ruin, I chose book 1 in the series (Lord Ruin) as the book to give away. I chose to give away 50 copies — the cost to me was $250. That represents the cost of 50 books at $4.99, within a few cents.

As I was setting up the giveaway, the Amazon page glitched. I have no idea if it was my internet, which is not the greatest and has been particularly sucky of late, or Amazon or what. All I know is that my giveaway set up page vanished. I refreshed and there was still nothing. So I started over and succeeded. At no time did Amazon say anything like “You already have a giveaway for this item. Do you really want two?”

Anyway, there was my giveaway. I put out the word and then a little later I checked my giveaway page and there were TWO giveaways. One had entries (the second one that I had told people about) and the other had none. So I cancelled the one with no entries.

Then I asked asked Amazon for a refund for the giveaway I cancelled because it was a duplicate that was the result of whatever happened when I was setting up the first giveaway. Unfortunately for me, eBook giveaways are not refundable. Thinking about this, it makes a certain sense for Amazon to have this. (For reasons having to do with eBook sales numbers, and ranking, I imagine.)

Let me add that I am pleased with the Giveaway that I did not cancel. There were over 300 entries within just a day or two, and now that the Giveaway has ended, all but two of the books were claimed. Meaning, there are 48 presumably new readers who now have a copy of Lord Ruin free to them. Yay! Fingers crossed that they go on to read Books 2 and 3!

The Dilemma

You see my dilemma. I have been charged for 2 giveaways and one of them is in a cancelled state with no entries and no books given away. My options are limited. I’m not going to go down the rabbit hole of insisting that the first giveaway be backed out because worst case scenario, that does something horrible to the rank of Lord Ruin. There is no good time for a book to vanish from Amazon product pages. (I have a terrible, depressing story about what happens when a book’s rank disappears.)

My choices are this:

  1. Un-cancel the giveaway and run a second one.
  2. Ask for giveaway codes that I can personally give to readers.

Do I do another Amazon giveaway or ask for the codes and do some other promotion so that 52 people can get a code for a free copy of Lord Ruin? (52, because two of the books in the Giveaway I ran have not been claimed and I can get codes for them, too.) But I may let those sit because it’s only been 2 weeks since the end of the Giveaway and people may not have seen the email . . .

As a reader, do you have any preference? Another giveaway or something where I have codes to provide?

Because, quite literally, if I do not giveaway those books through another Giveaway or via codes, that’s $250 spent for nothing.

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The My Immortals Series

Sunday, November 26th, 2017

It just occurred to me that I have not said anything here about what’s up with the My Immortals Series.

The rights to the first two books are still held by Grand Central Publishing. There are foreign language sub-licenses that prevent me from getting those books reverted even though they are well under the sales threshold in US sales and even though My Wicked Enemy is legally and officially out of print.

Because I do not control the pricing or any in-book links to the first two books, it is impossible to effectively market the series. Unfortunately, based on past experience, it would be extremely foolish of me to agree to any co-promotion or other co-marketing efforts with Grand Central. The subject was raised, but I declined. I’m not an idiot.

Since it is now clear I might not get reversions until 2021, I have decided I will write two prequels to the series to act as  “new” Books 1 and 2. That way, I can do sensible, effective promotion of the series. When the time comes that My Wicked Enemy and My Forbidden Desire do revert to me, those books will still fit into the series.

I have longed planned to do some significant rewriting of My Wicked Enemy, mostly to return several key scenes to the way I wrote them in the first place and back-out editorial caution that I feel, to this day, significantly weakened the book. For book 2 (RITA finalist My Forbidden Desire), I realized I’d have to write scenes I knew my editor would insist be cut so that I could keep the scenes I really wanted. For that reason, that book probably needs less rework to return it to my original concept of the series.

I’ve already started writing the first prequel. At the moment, the title is My Infernal Lover, but I suspect that won’t stick. The second one is tentatively titled “Blow Back” and will fit with the other two shorter novel/novellas, Dead Drop and Free Fall.

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Reader Poll – Finding Romances to Read

Saturday, November 18th, 2017

Here’s A totally unscientific poll for anyone who reads romance. This includes authors in their reader role. My question is over the last year or so, what is your experience trying to find new romances to read?  Please feel free to comment with any additional information, opinions, or thoughts. Is it harder? Is it easier? Or is it about the same? And by that one I mean, if it was hard a year ago still hard, or if it was easy a year ago it’s still easy.

At the various book vendor sites, How do you feel about your ability to find Romances to read?

View Results

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If the poll isn’t working, if you can, answer in the comments.

  1. It’s getting harder
  2. About the same (it was harder before too)
  3. About the same (it was medium before, too)
  4. About the same (it was easy before, too)
  5. Other
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My Immortal Assassin – More Bad Ass than Ever!

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

I have obtained a reversion of rights to My Immortal Assassin, Book 3 in the My Immortals Series.

New cover, new backcover copy, UPDATED STORY

More about the book at my website page for the book.

Here’s the new cover.

A shirtless guy looking pretty bad ass against a glowy orange-red background. He's all moody and shit like a demon should be.

New Cover for My Immortal Assassin

And here’s the new backcover copy:

Sometimes revenge and love go hand-in-hand

Grayson “Gray” Spencer’s life as she knew it was over. Years of torture will do that to a person. Just when she’d given up all hope, someone sacrificed himself to save her and transformed Gray from a human into a mage. Determined to master her powers and exact revenge on those who imprisoned her, she must team up with a posh but sexy demon who will teach her everything… as long as she swears fealty to him.

Durian protects humankind from harm at the hands of his fellow demons. The highly trained assassin wants nothing to do with the punkish Gray, but her abilities are exactly what he needs to fulfill his mission.

Soon enough, Durian and Gray are bound together in a secret quest… and a fiery passion that makes the demon question everything he’s ever known. Their feelings threaten not only their hearts, but their entire society. They may survive, but how much will they lose in the process?

Changes? BUT WHY?

I did fairly intensive revisions. Unfortunately, there were errors (copy-editing and proofreading) but I’m pretty sure I got them all, though I surely managed to add some new ones (because that’s how such things work.) I am a firm believer in the Oxford comma, so I addressed that philosophical issue by adding those commas. The story remains essentially the same, but now reflects more of my vision for the series and a different editorial take. So, yes, the story structure is the much same, but I did significant wordsmithing and character-smithing. The changes got to the point that I had to concede to myself it’s a second edition. I have filed for a new copyright for this version.

The process of publishing this book would be a lot faster if the various vendors would allow authors to send them their reversion letters at the time of upload. In this case, Hachette removed their version of the book immediately upon revsersion– meaning in December 2016–which I greatly appreciate.

Irony of ironies, if they hadn’t, I could have done a DMCA take down and had the rights issue cleared before I published my version. This means the appearance of live links for my version will be slower as the vendors grind through their process for checking content. Which I also appreciate!

For the Curious

My Immortal Assassin has been under the income threshold for a reversion for over two years, but I wasn’t able to get Hachette to respond to reversion requests. I was informed by a lawyer I consulted that Hachette has no duty to respond to reversion requests where that request does not meet the terms of the reversion clause. No wonder authors are so frustrated with publishers. How does the author know if they’re being willfully ignored or ignored because the publisher has decided there are no grounds for reversion?

Ultimately (after two years and many many requests for a response) their position was that the book was still “in print” because there were 192 copies in the warehouse. Fair enough. I can do basic math so I knew that if I placed an order at, say, Amazon, I would pay $1500 for 192 books. Hachette can do math, too, so when I offered to buy back stock, they did some hand waving and shed tears over the $2,000 in royalties per year they would forego by reverting, and then offered to let me buy back stock for . . . $1500. I paid Hachette the money because I would get my reversion much faster and would not be at risk of someone deciding to print more copies.

Once Hachette was willing to discuss a buy back, things happened fairly quickly. I had my reversion letter in hand in mid-December. I very pleased Hachette and I were doing the same math. And I am thrilled to have the book back in my hands. None of this would have happened without the patience of my agent, Kristin Nelson.

 

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About All Romance eBooks

Thursday, December 29th, 2016

As many readers have already heard, All Romance eBooks, a website that has been selling digital Romances direct to consumers since 2006 is shutting down December 31, 2016. I’m quite sure we have not yet heard the full story of this closure.

However, Authors were notified yesterday that they would not be receiving 4th quarter payments — that is, money due to them for sales from October forward and that there would be no payment for any books sold from the 28th through the 31st. Authors were offered 10 cents on the dollar for sales through the 27th, provided they agreed to give up any additional payments due and agreed not to sue for payment or any other damages.

Readers are in a terrible spot. They have almost no time to safely download their past purchases and may not be able to get all of them as many authors began removing their books from sale as soon as they heard they would not be paid.

I have removed my books from sale there. The business is keeping money beyond their contractual share of revenue, and their suggested resolution requires authors give up potentially valuable legal remedies without any disclosure of the actual situation.

If you are a reader who cannot download a past purchase of one of my books, please contact me through my website contact or email me at carolyn AT carolynjewel DOT com. We’ll work something out.

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Here’s Why

Thursday, November 24th, 2016

Fahrenheit Press (if you love mystery and crime, this is a great press) just tweeted a link to this post about submissions in which they muse on why 90% of their submissions are from men. The post includes this:

a) men put themselves forward to speak more
b) men say yes more when asked to speak
c) women are more likely to refuse to speak when asked

I can tell you why A-C are true in addition to the fact that women tend to believe they need to be better even when they already are. Way better. (Because, as we so often see, we HAVE to be better. We don’t often have the luxury of being mediocre.)

a. Because women pay a high price when they put themselves forward. Men do not pay that price. Women have long, hard experience with seeing men chosen over them even when we’re more competent and knowledgeable. That high price includes being called a bitch, everyone saying we talk too much, silent demerits from management and colleagues (she’s not a team player, she complains too much…) and dismissal of our words– often those words and ideas are repeated by men to great accolades. The fate of Kathy Sierra and Anita Sarkesian are two obvious examples. There are millions more. It’s also wrapped up in b.

b. Women don’t say yes as often because of a. The abuse can be horrific. For God’s sake, not even Clay Shirkey understands this. Instead, he criticizes his women grad students for not putting themselves in line for being dismissed, called names, and generally devalued from the start. The playing field is not level, and women are not judged by the same standard as men. Heaven help you if you’re a woman of color. (Names reveal this. Google reveals this.) Until men like Shirkey understand this, we HAVE to consider silence as a survival tactic.

c. Because we know what happens when we speak out. Why risk it? Frankly, when it’s a guy saying he wants to hear more from women, we’re so cynical from years of A and B that we don’t believe in what may actually be a good faith offer.

If you’re not getting submissions from women, it’s because you have to say more than “we want to hear from women.” You have to prove you mean it and that you’re doing your best to recognize that everything about publishing privileges the male.

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Shoot!

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

After looking around and not finding the right images for the cover of Surrender To Ruin, I decided to go the custom route, using photographer Jenn LeBlanc. I knew the kind of image I wanted and which model I thought would be perfect. A couple of hours after I contacted her everything was set up with the model I hoped to use.

The photo shoot was today. Here’s three  of my favorites of the during-the-shoot pictures of the pictures of the pictures… These are pictures of the digital camera viewer. I can assure you the photos uploaded are crystal clear. All images by Jenn LeBlanc.

A Regency era gentleman looking very raking indeed. Smokin' hot.

Liking the look! credit: Jenn LeBlanc

 

Regency gentleman leaning against a chaise, looking smokin' hot and rakish

Rake? credit: Jenn LeBlanc

 

Regency era gentleman perched on edge of chaise. Super hot.

Yes. Please. credit: Jenn LeBlanc

 

I’ve narrowed the pictures down to several choices and am mulling them over ….  Covers matter a lot, and I knew I wanted a cover that was both eye-catching and conveyed the character in the book, and I wasn’t finding what I wanted among the stock art.

So many of the images are so good it’s going to be hard to decide. Which is a better place to be than wondering which image I’ll settle for.

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