The Also-Bought Apocalypse???

My First Attempt at a Logo #Mondayblogs

I love logos and I’ve wanted one forever, but my problem, besides being artistically challenged, is my writing ranges in content and style. I need a logo that fits no matter what. Here is what I came up with on Canva.

I like it because it has happy colors and a whimsical romantic feel to it.

What do you think?

Exploding 3 Amazon Myths About Author Rankings

I read an awesome article, Mythbusting the Amazon Algorithm Reviews and Ranking for Authors, by Kate Baum on SPR (Self-Publishing Review) recommended by an author on the Guppie loop. I can’t reblog it as it’s not a WP blog, so I thought instead  I’d examine three of the myths she talks about. I highly recommend the whole article

“MYTH 1 – Nobody knows how the Amazon Algorithm Works

TRUTH – Yes they do.

The Amazon Algorithm is an A9 algorithm, a pretty run-of-the-mill product search engine with a personalization built in. A9 is a company in Palo Alto that creates product algorithms, code that tells Amazon’s website how to sort and load product lists for each customer’s experience. Anyone who wants to read about how this algorithm works has to do nothing more than search for information online and read the manuals, forums, science articles, and a myriad of other documents that tell you EXACTLY how it works. You can even see samples of the code that makes it work if you look! …”

Me: Wow! I thought they had their own algorithmic magic thing happening. This was an eye-opener for me

“MYTH 2 – Amazon has secret ways of ranking books

TRUTH – None of it is secret.

It works according to the algorithm. The factors are already written into the algorithm, which has to be a clear-cut set of commands. There’s no magic here, and it’s simply a case of knowing what factors are used in this sort of algorithm…

Ranking is influenced by factors that anyone can look up in Amazon documentation (we will discuss in detail):

  • A product that is priced well in relation to similar products, but that is priced in a way that will turn the best profit in relation to its competitor
  • A product that offers a description that gives bullet points or features that the algorithm will recognize in terms of keyword
  • A strong keyword in the title that will help categorize the product (I suggest a subtitle to deal with this)
  • Sales in each session period, which is 24 hours, compared to others in your category
  • How many times someone clicked on your listing to your product, known as Click Through Rate (CTR)
  • Spelling, grammar, editing, and quality of your interior, and also the quality of the cover
  • Number of verified reviews, helpful reviews and new reviews –outside of this, unverified reviews do not count towards ranking but do count towards social proof and CTRs (see below)
  • Product page is complete in all sections and meets Amazon Guidelines on word count, layout, and image size and quality used.

The MAMM Factor – Amazon’s Objective

Amazon has one objective for its sellers to bear in mind: Make Amazon the Most Money…

Sales and Rank

Sales are not straightforward numbers either. What Amazon looks for is the number of sales for a product with the best profit in its category (Remember MAMM?)… So if your book is 99 cents, but another book is selling at $2.99 but not as many as you, it’s likely Amazon will recognize the $2.99 book higher in rank because it makes Amazon more money. This means you need to do some research on what is selling in your potential category before choosing one, and also before choosing your price. 99 cent books may do well in Romance, for example, but maybe in another category you’re pricing too low to show Amazon a good profit margin… ”

Me: Wow! Again. What she says makes so much sense, especially the MAMM factor. It’s changed how I think about my promotions. 

“MYTH 3 – You can figure out keywords that people will use to find you by typing into the search bar and seeing what is autosuggested.

TRUTH – The search bar is personalized to YOU and YOU ALONE.

This is a useless and possibly damaging practice being bandied about by bloggers who think they have uncovered a “secret.” A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. In this case, the lack of knowledge of how an algorithm works is leaving holes in understanding globally on this subject.

Amazon has a department called The Personalization Platform Team. Look ‘em up. They spend their time working on coding the search bar to serve absolutely personalized product lists to you...

Takehome fact: Do not figure out keywords for your book by seeing what autocompletes in the search box. It’s only based on your own user experience and nobody else’s.”

Me: This wasn’t a new idea for me. I’m well aware that all my search results are personalized. That’s the new reality.

The other myths she busts in this article/post:

4 – “It’s a job finding keywords to make your book discoverable and you have to do a bunch of tricks and resort to many author advice blogs to find answers and theories.”

5 – “If you pick a niche category to get to #1 you are just conning everyone that you got to the Bestseller Lists by exploiting the “loophole.”

6 – “You are advised to write to Top Amazon Reviewers and other reviewers to ask for free reviews to boost ranking.”

7 – “Nobody knows when the algorithm updates.”

And then Kate Baum wrote a follow-up article/post you might be interested in.

Me: Myths abound in the writing world and it’s hard to ignore them. I really appreciate it when people take the time to research the facts and share them with me. 

highlandghost_cvr_medLooking for a Perfect Christmas Gift?

Jilted by her fiancé, librarian Maddy Jacobson is nursing a broken heart, when her best friend gives her an early Christmas present. Intended to be a fun, psychic reading in a spooky, tea house, the gift turns out to be life changing. Maddy becomes haunted by a mischievous, Highland ghost.

Ruggedly handsome, Cullen Macfie, the Highlander, has been dead for over three centuries, and never in all those years has he been as attracted to a woman, as he is to Maddy. He falls hopelessly in love and decides to woo her.

Can there be a future for a librarian and a naughty, Highland ghost? 

A Highland Ghost for Christmas is a sweet, romantic comedy guaranteed to warm the cockles of your heart, make you laugh out loud and leave you craving a man in a kilt … and shortbread, of course. 

Buy Link



To Prime or Not to Prime? Amazon that is…

It depends on where you live.

That’s the short answer. Amazon Prime is offered in many countries around the world and the benefits range, greatly.

I thought I could get the same benefits as the Americans,  minus the TV streaming. That’s not the case in Canada, but I’ll get to those details later. First my ethical struggle.

My Ethical Struggle

I read a lot of books. It is an expensive, but wonderful addiction. The thought of being able to borrow some of them is tempting.

But I also write books. I am happy to be part of the lending program through Amazon. People who have Prime in the US and some other countries can borrow my books for free. What I like about the program is that it gets my work out to a larger audience. People who might not buy my book, will borrow it and read it.

My pocketbook isn’t so happy though. When a person borrows one of my books and reads it, I make pennies, which are calculated with fancy formulas based on the pages they read and the income of a financial fund. When readers buy one of my books I make 70% of the sale (note: my books are cheap – i.e., all priced under $2.99 USD).

My goal is to grow readers, but I have to admit having coffee money makes me smile.

So my initial quandary was do I “Prime” and give my fellow authors less money for their work, or do I continue to pay the full price. One could rationalize that I would read more with Prime, but I don’t think I could read any more than I already do.

My Research

I decided to look closer at Amazon Prime. The first thing I learned was that I couldn’t be a part of the US plan. The second thing I learned was that Canada’s prime is significantly different.

“Amazon offers Prime services in a number of global markets. According to an Amazon representative, the company currently offers Amazon Prime (renamed Amazon Premium in several markets) in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Japan, Italy, Germany, France, Canada, and Austria… Although fast shipping, free photo storage, and early access to sales remain the same in each country, the specifics can vary dramatically.” (Neil Underleider, What Amazon Prime is Like Around the World).

Here are my notes:

US Prime ($99. USD)

  • video streaming
  • ad-free music streaming
  • free book rentals
  • shippping and photo deals

Canada ($79. Cdn)

  • no video streaming
  • no book rentals
  • shipping and photo deals

Japan ($32. USD)

  • video streaming
  • free book rentals
  • customized shipping (different from other countries)

Germany ($54. USD +)

  • video streaming
  • free book rentals (for an additional cost)
  • customized shipping (different from other countries)

France ($54. USD)

  • no video streaming
  • I’m not sure about book rentals
  • customized shipping (different from other countries)

Italy and Spain ($22. USD)

  • no video streaming
  • I’m not sure about book rentals
  • shipping and photo deals

UK ($115. USD – and yes they are not happy about the price)

  • video streaming
  • book rentals
  • same-day delivery in major cities

My Decision

If I were to get video streaming and free, book rentals then I would hop on the Amazon ship, despite my ethical concerns. As it stands the Prime offer is not worth the cost for me. I do order paperbacks, but I always make my orders large enough that I don’t pay shipping. The Amazon Prime program in Canada offers me little.

shutterstock_104723360 (1)What do you think?


References: Neil Underleider, What Amazon Prime is Like Around the World and Amazon sites.

Photo Credits: Feature photo of earth from Pixabay, Question mark from Shutterstock, Ad created on Canva

Wishing you a happy July.



When Buzz Becomes Noise

Buy my bookDo ads get on your nerves?

They do mine.

I grit my teeth when I see some book promotions. It’s not that they’re poorly constructed. For the most part, they’re eye-catching.

Who doesn’t like seeing  a provocative image,  intriguing tag line, and killer title – but that’s not the point. The first time is great. But I keep seeing the same ad over and over, on every one of my social platforms, promoted by everyone I know, until I’m ready to scream, “Enough all ready! I can’t take it anymore.”

Twitter and FB become echo chambers playing a buy-me-dirge.

I get it. I do. We’re all trying to create a “buzz” about our stories, but too often what we create instead is “noise.” A deafening, I-want-to-unfollow-you, get-out-of-my-face, noise.We see our competition put out three ads, so we put out four. We drain our pockets and put ads up everywhere hoping to lure a bigger audience. We want to be the next overnight success.

But it doesn’t work that way. At least not for most of us. The only thing we get overnight is a hangover.



Favorite Five Quotes – Seth Godin Quotes

Seth Godin is a writer and entrepreneur. His ideas about creativity excite me. Here’s his bio from his website:

“SETH GODIN is the author of 18 books that have been bestsellers around the world and have been translated into more than 35 languages. He writes about the post-industrial revolution, the way ideas spread, marketing, quitting, leadership and most of all, changing everything. are five of my favourite Seth quotes. I’ll be chewing on these for awhile Any thoughts?”

My Favourite 5 Seth Godin Quotes:


“In a crowded marketplace, fitting in is a failure. In a busy marketplace not standing out is the same as being invisible.”


“The internet was supposed to homogenize everyone by connecting us all. Instead what it’s allowed is silos of interest.”


“The future of publishing is about having connections to readers and the knowledge of what those readers want.”


“Normal is fading away. Governments and industries and schools like normal because it’s easier… But people don’t like it – we want to be who we are, not who some marketer tells us to be.”


“The tidal wave is overrated.

Yes, it can lead to wholesale destruction, but it’s the incessant (but much smaller) daily tidal force that moves boats world wide… We can definitely spend time worrying about/building the tsunami, but its’s the drip, drip, drip that will change everything in the long run.”


To Market… To Market… To Sell…#Free

I suck at marketing.  Let me rephrase that. I used to suck at marketing. I am learning about marketing. Marketing sucks.

Think about it from my end of the pen. I spend hours that turn into days, that turn into weeks, then months then in some cases years to create and publish an artisinal book. But the story is not complete, because a story that is not read is like a song that is not heard… is like the tree that falls in the forest and no one hears. Unless it gets out “there,” it may as well not exist.

Yeah, yeah, I’ve heard the lectures about patience and about how over time one’s books get noticed. The theory is that eventually their niche market discovers them. Hmmmm. I suppose to some degree that’s true. But with the increasing number of books being published, at some point a whole lot of them will never surface. And that is a sad thought.

I’ve tried to understand marketing in this new publishing world, and the only truth I have found is that no one knows wtf they’re talking about. Excuse my acronym. But it’s frustrating. Everyone talks with great authority, but what works for one book, does not work for the next. Yesterday’s hot genre is tomorrow’s trash. Publishing houses big and small are collapsing and brick and mortar book stores are selling stuffed toys. It’s not easy to navigate in these waters. It’s like throwing a dart at a moving target while standing on quicksand.

And yet, I would also argue it is the best of times to be a writer, because I can self-publish. The only gatekeeper is the reader. And everyone on the planet is in need of a good story.

This rant was meant to be a preamble to explain why I so appreciate people who do marketing well. My friend, Jacqui Nelson made the following graphic for me. It is simple and I think powerful.

shutterstock_104723360 (1)What do you think?


Here is another of her other ads:

Biggar graphic

Buy Links for Snippets of Suspense