Tag Archives: Amazon

Serials are Back!

Serials are back. No, not cereals. No, not serial killers. I am talking about the novella-length or short-story-length writings that present an extended story in episodes or volumes.

Some writers of serial stories have begun to group them into “seasons,” imitating the TV shows. Some serial titles may be only four or five volumes, while others may have dozens of volumes. Serials are now available in just about every genre of fiction. Decades ago, serials were very popular. They followed the same formula as the soap operas of early radio and TV.

How are they different from a regular book series? In several aspects.

  1. The entire collection of volumes develops one main story with its central characters.
  2. Each episode leaves you waiting for the next one. There are often cliff-hangers that motivate you to get the next volume. Not all serial authors use cliff-hangers.
  3. Each volume is usually readable in one sitting, although this also depends on your reading speed. A serial volume that has thirty pages may be read in one sitting, while one that is eighty pages will definitely take longer.
  4. Serials, because of their length, are usually cheaper than regular novels. At Amazon, they usually range between $0.99 and $2.99, with the shorter ones being the cheapest.

Serials are wonderful for readers who like to sit down and relax for an hour or so with a short read that leaves them excited for the next installment. Because the volumes are cheap, they’re a good option for those readers on budget.  Serials tend to be packed with action and drama, as the author must keep you coming back for more. Also, because the project is on-going, readers can give the author input as to what they’d like to see in future volumes.

I have chosen a number of serials from Amazon to show you the variety of topics available. Some of these are very good and some have mediocre ratings. There is something for everyone:  historical romance, suspense, fantasy, Christian faith, paranormal romance, contemporary suspense, science fiction, and even dark erotica.

I am so intrigued by the idea of serials that PUBLISHED my own paranormal romance serial. It’s titled Vampires in the Mist series. Several volumes are already available at the seller of your choice. Of course, I would prefer that you bought from my own online store. I promise, it will be worth reading and there’s No Cliff-Hanger in volume one!

BUY HERE!

Rebirth of the Short Read

How times change! By times, I really mean trends. Not two years ago, I emailed a well-known promotional site for eBooks and asked if it was possible to have my short story, Edge of the World, promoted.


The site owner’s reply was swift and to the point: he did not bother to promote shorts because no one wrote or read them any more. His opinion was based on his long-term experience in the business. He advised me to offer a full novel as a free download. It did not matter that I was willing to pay the same price as I’d pay to promote a full novel.
Fast forward to the present. Go into the Amazon site and click on Kindle Store. Scroll down on the left panel to Kindle Short Reads. In parenthesis, you will see the number 1,194,877.  That is the number of short reads being offered by Amazon at the moment.  That’s right. There are over a million shorts featured on Amazon!


Two years ago, the shorts on Amazon were mainly offered by self-published authors on non-fiction topics such as do-it-yourself soap making, organizing projects, cooking recipes, etc. I wrote my first fiction short with the idea that someone who might not be tempted to spend $3.99 on my full novel, would test the waters with a free or 99 cent story.


I have found many readers for my novels in such a way. My short story Edge of the World is an intro into my Daniel’s Fork series. My recent Vampire, Not Monster is the prequel to Angel’s Guardian. Readers who read these shorts, often become fans of the full-length novels. Others find my work not to their taste, and move on without having incurred the expense or the time investment.
It seems that since that “experienced promoter” gave me his take on shorts, the traditional authors have discovered the value of offering shorts as promotional tools. A quick scan of the Kindle Shorts menu shows that Amazon sorts them into groups by reading time and estimated by number of pages: 15 mins, 30 mins, 45 mins, 1 hour, 90 mins, and two hours or more. 

This is great because the reader might not want to invest three days on a book, but he or she might not care for a 15-minute read either. I personally like a two-hour read. If you want something to keep you busy on the commute train ride home from work, a shorter read might be your thing.
Now, go back and click on the “Two Hours or more” shorts (65-100 pages) and scroll down and over the next few pages. What do you notice? That’s right! Some of the top best-selling traditional authors are offering shorts. 

As I write this post, the #2 listing is J.K. Rowling (Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship and Dangerous Hobbies). A few covers down is Catherine Coulter’s The Resident Evil at Blackthorn Manor. A few more scrolls down is Debbie Macomber’s The Apartment. On the next page is Diana Galbalon’s Virgins. Other authors that you will find if you keep scrolling will be JR Ward, John Grisham, Lauren K. Hamilton, Craig Johnson, and many others.



Short stories are not just for your high-school lit class any more. They are growing in popularity for many reasons. First, they do not require a large investment of time. Many of today’s readers like starting a story and finishing in the time it takes to get a suntan or ride a bus to work. 

Next, short reads normally entail a much smaller cost, anywhere from free to $2.99, with your traditional authors pricing them a few dollars higher than your self-pubbed ones and rarely offering free downloads. 

A short is also a great way to test the author’s style and quality with little investment on your part. I always know whether I like the author or not, or if the series is one I want to read, after reading only a chapter or two. 

My own short story Vampire, Not Monster introduces two important characters from the Angel’s Guardian novel, and it gives the reader an over-all feel for the series. If you don’t like the short, you will probably not care for the novel.



Finally, shorts provide extra material that often could not be worked into a complete book. Often, the story develops a side character that fascinates us; one we want very much to see again. An example of this is the short  Father Mine by JR Ward. The main characters are the vampire warrior Zadist and his mate Bella. These characters already have their own novel, but I wanted to see more of them. This story is one of my favorites because it fits seamlessly into the long series.


Now, having touted the virtues of the short, I must also touch on the commercial aspect of the Amazon lineup. The listings are peppered with a great number of erotica. It seems that anyone who can come up with a few pages of step-sister and step-father porn  (excuse me) erotica, has done so. 

This is not limited to just Amazon. The Smashwords listings and many other sellers are also crowded with short pornographic work masquerading as “erotica.” Please, do not let this be an obstacle. Scrolling down is easy and costs nothing.
Many of the short reads are non fiction, not short stories. Many are manuals. For instance, there are shorts on recipes, Temple Run secrets, wilderness survival, Twitter use, blah, blah, blah. There is even a short on how to make your own Cannabis extract. Still, this is not bad because whatever your taste, you’ll find something to suit you.

Below are some FREE and $0.99 short reads I thought you might like. Most are Amazon links but not all. I chose stories with good reviews and some by authors whose work I like. My own Edge of the World is there too. Enjoy!

$0.99 at Amazon



FREE at Amazon. This is an anthology of shorts.




FREE at Amazon


FREE at Amazon


$0.99 at Amazon



FREE at Amazon


$0.99 Here

FREE at Amazon


FREE at Amazon


FREE at Amazon
FREE at Instafreebie


FREE at Amazon



FREE at Amazon
FREE at Instafreebie
$0.99 at Amazon

Have You Used OverDrive Yet?

Are you an avid reader? Do you find yourself spending too much on your reading habit? A subscription service such as Kindle Unlimited or Scribd may be the thing for you. Back in 2013, the future looked bright for these services. Since then, Oyster went out of business and Scribd just trimmed down their service to a limited number of reads per month.

While Amazon is still offering unlimited reads, it limits you to mostly self-published books. The main top traditional publishers opted not to make their books available on Kindle Unlimited.

My daughter and I often discuss our favorite authors during our long distance calls. Recently, I recommended she read the long-running series by J.R. Ward, The Black Dagger Brotherhood. There are over a dozen books in the series, and Amazon lists the fourteen-pack title at $117 for the ebooks. My daughter quickly called me back to say that she was spending way to much on books, and she couldn’t do that.

I whipped out my Kindle Fire and opened up a sweet little app called OverDrive. You can download the app from the Google Play Store, your Apple store, your Kindle App store, etc.

In order to use OverDrive, you must have a library card from a public library: any public library in the USA that is listed in the OverDrive directory. I believe that just about every public library is listed. You log into your library and borrow the books you want.

I did a quick search on my library, and just about every book by J.R. Ward showed up in ebook format. Some were signed out, but you can put a hold on the ones you want, and as soon as a book is available, the library notifies you. There are audio books also available. When you borrow the book, you can choose epub or kindle.

I told my daughter about OverDrive, and she reluctantly downloaded the app, thinking that it was too good to be true. Within minutes, she had books two and three downloaded, and a day later, she was notified that the first book was now available. She was thrilled. Now, if she likes the series, she can buy it later when they are on sale and have it for ever.

The books are checked out to you for 21 days, and you can check out multiple titles at the same time. There is no charge. The books can download straight to your Kindle, Nook, iPad, depending on what you choose.

Best of all, there are bestsellers and novels by popular authors available. You are limited only by what the library has. If the book you want is not on the list, you can use OverDrive to recommend to the library that they purchase the title.

Are there negatives? The only one I see is that the latest releases are grabbed quickly, and you usually have to wait a few weeks to get them. If you are willing to wait for them, you can read them for FREE! Really for FREE with no strings attached.

At this time, I feel it’s important to make clear that I do not work for OverDrive. I am not connected to or, in any way, make money from Overdrive. I do not in any way profit from recommending them. I honestly like their app and feel that my readers deserve to know about it.

Click on the link below to visit the OverDrive site.

 

Audiobooks: Are They For You?

One of the reasons most readers will not try audiobooks is that it seems a lot of trouble to set up. Those who take the trouble, quickly fall in love with them. 
The main company offering audiobooks is Audible, and through them, Amazon. To download the book, even if it is FREE, you need to have an audible account.
When you navigate to audible.com, you are met with the “First Month FREE, but $14.95 after first month” advert. Anyone who wants to redeem a free code and test the audiobook waters, is forced to open an account.
Most people are leery of opening new accounts. Many have had experiences where companies make it very difficult to close memberships. Some keep charging for months after the membership is closed, and you have to jump over hoops to get your money back.
Audible is owned by Amazon, and they are very good with customer relations. You will have no problem closing your account. You might love the perks that come with the $14.95 monthly fee and decide to keep it.
GO AHEAD. OPEN THE ACCOUNT. IF YOU DO NOT WANT TO PAY $14.95 A MONTH, BE VERY SURE TO CANCEL BEFORE THE MONTH IS OUT. 

If you forget to cancel, you will be charged.  NOTE: You will need to provide a Credit Card or a VISA Logo check card.  If you close the account before the month is out, you will not be charged.
If you cancel, the following will happen:
***Your books will remain in your library to be
      used at will.
***You may still buy audiobooks, but they will
      not be discounted.
***You will not get additional monthly credits,
      but you can still redeem any gift codes that
      authors give you. Spend your credits before
      quitting!
***You get to keep the book you got with your
      Free Month’s credit.
Now you have an Audible account. If the author gives you a Gift Code,  you must redeem it for a book. A Gift Code is not a book, but it is a credit to buy a book.

I will always gift the audiobook itself, not the code. You’ll get a notice sent to your email that you’ve been gifted an audiobook. You must now download it.
You must sign into your Audible Account and go to Listening APPS. The following apps are available for the following devices. You may install one on your phone, one on your tablet, one on your desktop, or even one on your MP3 player.
iPhone, Android Phone, Windows Phone
Kindle Touch, Fire Tablet, Amazon Echo
Android Tablet, iPad, iPad Touch
Windows Tablet
Your PC or laptop 
iTunes, MP3 Player
Once you have the proper app installed in your listening device, now you can open the app, sign in, and access your book!

It is really easier than it sounds.
   1. Open Account. Get your gifted  book. If the gift was for a
       Gift Code, then you must redeem the code first.
   2. Download the proper App for your device.
   3. Access your Free book and listen! 

Now, you can search for Free author Gift Codes for more free books. 
If you wish to try the audiobook route, I have Gift Codes for both Strongheart’s Woman and Daniel’s Fork, but I will redeem the code myself and gift the audiobook directly to you. Please, open your account and download your app first.

I will gladly gift you an audiobook if you write a short honest review for it after listening to it. I NO LONGER GIVE OUT THE CODES. I redeem the codes and gift the actual book.

Email me at zeecelugo@gmail.comand give me an email where I can send the audiobook gift. It may not be a kindle address. It must be your personal email address.
 

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