Independent Publishing and DMCA Abuse, or “How a Scammer Got My Book Blocked with Very Little Effort”

Ruth Ann Nordin:

This is scary, folks. All self-published authors are vulnerable to this. The post is long, but it is a must read.

Anyone (for any reason) can decide to post a DCMA Takedown Notice on your book and get it removed from Amazon, Smashwords, etc. This author has registered her copyright with the US Copyright Office, but this has not been good enough, which is especially alarming because that should be our ultimate protection from stuff like this.

At the time I’m writing this (March 3, 2015), Smashwords has put her book back up. Amazon, however, has not. I’m going to keep track of what is happening.

This is something that should make us all sit up and take notice of what is going on. More importantly, we need to band together and support each other when stuff like this happens. I urge you to share this with other authors. The more people we tell, the better our chances are of protecting more authors (and even ourselves) from stuff like this happening.

My thoughts and prayers are with Becca during this horrible time.

Originally posted on The Active Voice:

Okay, I’ve got a story. It’s a sort of scary one. I think independent/self-publishing authors need to know about it, and telling it carefully and correctly is also important for my own situation, so I’m going to take my time and lay it all out in order.

Pressed for time? You can skip to the bottom for the TL;DR summation.


On Friday, February 27, 2015, I noticed that my bookmarked Amazon.com link to my first novel, Nolander, was yielding, “We’re sorry. The Web address you entered is not a functioning page on our site.” I went to my Amazon dashboard and discovered the book had been blocked.

In my spam folder, I discovered an email from Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Amazon’s self-publishing arm, informing me that someone had sent in a DMCA notice. In response, Amazon had summarily blocked Nolander from sale.

“DMCA” stands for “Digital Millennium Copyright Act.”…

View original 3,853 more words

Categories: Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Beta Readers

In the video below, Janet Syas Nitsick and I talk about beta readers.  I’m also writing down the main points below for your convenience.

A beta reader is a person who reads your book before it’s published.  A beta reader is a person who can look at the overall story and give you their impression of it.  But they are not an editor.  The editor is the one who goes in and polishes it up so it’s ready to be published.

So what makes a beta reader good?

1.  He makes deadlines.

You should have a schedule set out on when you’re doing your first draft, when a beta reader goes over your book, when you add their input, when you give it to an editor, and when you publish it.  When you treat your writing like a business, you will have deadlines that you need to make.  In order to better make those deadlines, you need to give the beta reader a deadline.  A good beta reader will have the book in by the deadline or let you know, in advance, if he can’t make it.

2.  He knows the subject matter.

For example, someone who is familiar with horses would make a good beta reader for your book where you use horses a lot.

3. He enjoys the genre you’re writing.

Ideally, the beta reader will be a fan of the subject you’re writing.  They need to read your book as your target audience would in order to best help you.

4.  He needs to be honest (but nice).

You need to be able to trust this person.  While it’s important the person tells you what’s good, they should also be comfortable with letting you know what you can do to improve the story.  But do pay attention to how they tell you the stuff they didn’t like.  Saying, “What happened?  Did your kid write this part for you?” is different from saying, “I would like to see more angst in your hero during this scene.”

How do you find this good beta reader?

1. When starting out, you pretty much have to go to people you know and trust.

These can be friends, family, or other writers.  The key is that you trust them to be honest about your work (as explained in #4 above).

2. Social Media

You want to broaden out your search and find readers in your genre who are avid readers.  They make for the best people to beta read books because they love to read and know what your target audience wants.

You can find these people on various social media outlets.  I prefer Facebook for social interaction, but there’s also Twitter, Google +, discussion boards, blogs, and other places I’m probably missing.  The key is to establish relationships.  Don’t go in with the attitude you’re going to get something from someone.  Be a participant.  Engage.  Be friendly.  Give something of value to the group.  Share and exchange ideas and information.  Talk about your favorite books and authors.  Be yourself.  Sooner or later, you’ll come across a couple people who will become your friend.

3.  Another way is to let readers come to you and offer to beta read.  

People who love your books are often more than happy to have a part in helping you get your book into the world.  These are the perfect beta readers because they share your vision for your work.  They already love it.  They are in tune with you and have the same goal you do.

***

So those are the tips Janet and I came up with to finding good beta readers.  Anyone else have any tips they’d like to add?

Categories: General Writing, Writing as a Business | Tags: | 18 Comments

Are You an Open Book?

 

Well, as a writer, you should be an open book at least to some extent. People want to get a sense of what type of person you are, your background, where you live and more.

With my first book, Seasons of the Soul, which includes a spattering of personal accounts of my two different autistic sons, people would approach me at book signings and express empathy for my situation. Some would purchase the book for others or had handicapped children themselves. A number of individuals would say: “God gives special children to special people.” I would smile and thank them. It warmed my heart. There also were those who believed they could get my nonverbal autistic son to talk. I again would smile and say a thank you, even though I knew this was impossible.

The point is readers want to know you and form a bond with you. Why do you purchase books? I often buy books because I know the author and got to know that individual through friends, acquaintances or are members of one of my writing groups.

Bonding is important and you can establish this in many ways. I sell my books personally so I meet up with those who previously purchased my books and they often buy my new ones. But what do you do if you never or seldom do these kinds of events?

You establish relationships through forums and social media. I am not good at forums as Ruth Ann Nordin, but I do use social media. Of course, you have to in this era, however, you do need to get to know your followers as much as possible.

Patrons love meeting the authors they love, and we should return our love through special gifts for our loyal customers. I had someone I worked with years ago buy my latest books (Lockets and Lanterns, Bride by Arrangement and Courtships and Carriages). I mailed them to her and included a special token, a Seasons of the Soul journal. It was my last one, but I wanted to show her my appreciation. Doing this was more important than keeping this keepsake. In addition, I inserted a personal note. No matter what they say about the Internet there is nothing more valuable than a “handwritten note.”

Readers also like to know your background, such as where you live. Several years ago, I was selling my first book in a town about 50 minutes from where I live. One person saw me there and realized I lived in the same town where they used to live and bought my book. However, do not tell everything about yourself.

When I started out I gave out too much data about myself. Most people are wonderful, but some will take advantage of you, such as “potential” writers who seek your help. You can assist them in connecting with writing groups, etc. However, you cannot over extend yourself either.

Also, be careful in providing too much information on the Internet. This is touchy because you need to interact and get to know your followers. How I handle this is to post about what I am doing without revealing my family’s names. We need to be cautious rather than regret it later.

Make comments on other authors/readers’ blogs, Facebook pages, etc. In this way, you get to know them and they in turn learn about you. Of course, do not go overboard or you will never get your own work done.

So be an open book but remember you are out in the public and need to watch revealing everything about yourself. Well, I hope I left you with some useful information and as always I end with a God bless.

Categories: Book Promotion, General Writing | Tags: , , , , | 14 Comments

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