My Nonovels Experiment

photo credit: jdlasica via photopin cc

photo credit: jdlasica via photopin cc

So, I’m always looking for new outlets for my writing, and I recently ran across a site called Nonovels. It’s an interesting little site, made more interesting to me because it’s trying to do some really cool things. The guiding idea behind the site is fairly simple. A lot of people who won’t read novels, or simply don’t have the time to read novels, will read short stories. However, no one wants to read crappy short stories. Nonovels aims to provide solutions to both issues, while taking advantage of the explosion in mobile technologies.
A big part of the site is a set of training courses, most of them free, that center around short story best practices. The courses are primarily designed for beginning writers, but they do offer very sound advice. It’s the kind of advice that most fiction writers, me included, learn through extended, painful, trial-and-error. For example, one piece of advice they offer is to limit the number of settings you employ in a short story. This might be obvious to seasoned writers, but not so much for novice writers.

To be fair, like most writing rules, that one isn’t set in stone. Some writers can and do violate this piece of advice. I’ve done it. It is possible to sketch an authentic setting with a few well-written lines, but it’s not easy. As a guide for early forays into short fiction, though, that advice is invaluable. The other advice they offer on characterization, voice, point of view and so on follows the same essential principle: don’t overcomplicate things.

The other thing they offer, which is the selling point for me, is dealing with the entire formatting and submission process to turn the short stories into Kindle-ready products on Amazon. They take a percentage off the top of the royalties for this service and, to me, it’s worth it. Yes, I agree, the dedicated writer can do that formatting and submitting and cover creation. It is, however, time consuming and takes me away from the writing.

The base price they set on Amazon for Nonovels short stories is $2.99. I blinked at that, right at first, until I considered everything they’re doing in terms of managing submissions and offering training. Plus, it’s still a heck of a lot cheaper than any Kindle-ready fiction from one of the big publishing houses. What you’re really paying for is helping to develop a cohort of writers that will, with any luck, produce work that transcends the current crop of Fifty Shades of Terrible Writing and that Twilight horror.

Like most writers, I have ideas that don’t nest comfortably in a pigeonhole. That is great from a creative standpoint. Unfortunately, those stories generally prove difficult, if not impossible, to place in publications. So, over the next few months, Nonovels is going to be the place where those stories go to live.

I’ve got one short story live already. It’s a shiny, new Contingency Jones story called, “An Afternoon’s Work,” and you can get it over on Amazon. For Prime subscribers, you can borrow it free. I’m also working on a follow-up Contingency Jones story that I’m hoping to get finished and live sometime in the next few weeks, so keep your eyes open.
I’ll keep you all updated as this experiment moves forward and the Nonovels site develops and expands.

Are you on Nonovels? Got some thoughts on this experiment or the Nonovels site? Leave a comment and let me know!

8 Steps for Getting Amazon to Send Customers an eBook Update Email

ereader screen with text

photo credit: Andrew Mason via photopin cc

If you’re like me, you occasionally revisit your kindle content. You probably find errors that need to be repaired or you want to add content to the eBook, such as preview chapters for a new book. While the process to for making changes to the content is pretty straightforward, getting Amazon to send out an update email is less straightforward.

Amazon offers some instructions for it, but they aren’t exactly clear as glass. To begin with, while the update to the content is more or less or less automatic (assuming no critical errors in the file), that’s all that happens. New customers get the updated version of the file, but anyone who bought it before the update is still wandering around with the old version.

To get Amazon to send out an update, you need to inform them that you’ve made the change. This isn’t straightforward either. Here’s the steps you’ll need to take to make this happen.

  1. Go the instruction page
  2. Scroll down to the bottom of that page where you’ll see a “Contact Us” button to the left.

It looks like this: Amazon Contact Button

  1. That will take you to a menu that looks like this:

Amazon contact menu

(Unfortunately, there is no update email option, so you have to gamble a bit here.)

  1. I recommend selecting the Publish Your Book option and selecting the Corrections tab. It should look something like this:

Corrections option

  1. Fill out the subject line with something along these lines: “Requesting Customer Update Email”
  2. Enter the details in the box below
  3. Be sure to include salient information, including the title or ASIN number and the major changes you made to the book
  4. Send

It’s important to note that this process is not a guarantee. Amazon determines whether or not the changes you made constitute a “major” or “minor” change. Major changes result in a customer update email. Minor changes do not.

Assuming Amazon does send out an email, it can serve as an excellent way to draw reader attention back to you and your work. You might even pick up some sales for your other work.