You can send your book/manuscript to anyone’s kindle anywhere

One neat thing you can do is send people your book directly to their kindle. How it works: You obtain the email address for their Kindle. Each Kindle device has an unique identified. Mine is yeomanforbes_9@kindle.com. You can find your kindle’s name under Settings>Device Options>Personalize your kindle>Send-to-Kindle Email.

In normal operation, that would mean anyone could send some unedited commaless lump of text to your kindle any old time they felt like it.  But did Pete the Cat despair? HEAVENS NO!  Sing it with me, “I love my white shoes, I love my white shoes!” Clearly, my childrens’ reading has influenced me heavily. If you watch that video, I challenge you to not be singing the song after hearing it a few times! Can’t be done. Back to what we were saying:

Anyone anywhere could send you a book. Your kindle would quickly fill with spam from Russian Mobsters.

To prevent this, you must add the sender’s email address to your kindle’s list of approved senders. You do this from your amazon account, rather than on your kindle. As Kindle’s site says, “To add an e-mail account, visit the Personal Document Settings page at Manage Your Kindle.”

Yep, there’s the lock and key. The sender of the novel<s>spam</s> enters your kindle’s email in the email to: field, and attaches the document. No subject. Make sure the receiver has cleared your email to receive, and send away.

Okay, who wants to send me free books? ;D

From Amazon’s information on their site:

Send to Kindle by E-mail

Send documents to your Kindle as an email attachment

You and your approved contacts can send documents to your registered Kindle devices, free Kindle reading applications, and your Amazon Cloud Drive by e-mailing them to your Send-to-Kindle e-mail address ([name]@kindle.com). Your Send-to-Kindle e-mail address is a unique e-mail address assigned to each of your Kindle devices and free Kindle reading applications upon registration.

How to send a document to your Kindle:

Everybody’s got an Opinion, but Who has solutions?

I’ve been engaging in an interesting dialogue with all’y’all about the review system, partially driven by my desire as a reader to see the quality books rise to the top and the not so good ones sink to the bottom, never to be sold again. Then again, that’s not a kind sentiment. Some of the people who publish poor books may have put in just as much effort as the superstar who excretes gold every time they pick up a pen.

I don’t want to read their books, though. That’s not unkind. Maybe.

In the meantime, one solution is suggested by the erudite editor, M.J. Moores. She probably reads my posts with a red pen in her head. I imagine she’s saying, “No, Pontius, you shifted tenses. And you used the adverb ‘probably’ which contributes nothing to the sentence, because I *am* reading with a red pen in my head. So it’s a sure thing.” Or not. She also must get tired of being thought of as the stuffy editor type. And she doesn’t read as stuffy. Her posts are all kinda golden.

Ha. English teachers aren’t allowed to use red anymore, it might hurt a student’s feelings. And if he’s Korean and you write his name in red, it’s like death or something.

My point here wasn’t to belittle her editorshipness; after all, I need people like her to produce a half-way decent story. [Note my super awesome employment of the dreaded semi-colon to good effect.] No, it was to say that she has a solution to the review problem. We cannot fix Amazon, nor are they inclined to listen to us tell them their review system is broken. We can, however, help by giving good reviews. I don’t mean doling out 5 stars like they were candy  at a parade! No, I mean giving high quality reviews. Honest, high quality reviews. MJ has detailed the dirt here:

How to post a high quality review.

If you’re already doing that, great. If you’re not, please start. Don’t give out 5 stars unless the story really is 5 stars. Be parsimonious. Give 4s to people if you HAVE to grade ’em high, and 3s if the story is average. The authors will understand. It’s not even the stars that are as important as the text.  That’s where the rubber meets the road.

Here’s some of my product reviews, which I think meet the standards for both describing the product and lightly poking fun at it while I do:

The Black Ships. 

Dorothy Gale’s Coffin Cover. 

Dark Defiance.

Ink for my printer. (Extra points for the Shakespeare reference, eh?)

Disney Princess Toddler Rolling Backpack. I deducted a star because the handle is too short for me.

How to Get Honest Reviews

In Amazon, you can click on the reviewers and that gives you an email (sometimes). Find reviewers you like from reviews on similar novels to yours and email them a request to review your book, and comp them a copy of the book for an honest review. Be very professional when you do so you do not taint your reviewer in any way. Or have someone else do it on your behalf.

I’m not sure how to comp them a book, though you can send books to someone directly on their Kindle. They must know the name of their kindle device so you can email the manuscript to them, and they must add your sending email to the permitted senders list. Some people may be wary about accepting direct books, but it works. Do not send PDFs. Those do not scale. Send a Word document.

Perhaps those that have done this process know a better way to comp books. If so, I’d love to hear it.

This is in response to Brandy’s comment about gaining honest reviews.

Also, M.J. Moores writes a tremendous piece on the other side of this, here:

Reviews for your Book.

I also read an interesting piece on whether authors should pay for reviews.

See here:

Should Authors Pay for Book Reviews?

The longshot of that is no, you shouldn’t. There is an alternative, which is to solicit reviews. As the article says,

Going through the process of getting blurbs, testimonials and reviews is one of the best exercises in feet-on-the-ground book marketing any author can have. It will teach you a huge amount about how books actually get sold, and how your book is being received. That’s incredibly valuable learning for any author.

The hard part is figuring out how you go about the process, etc. It’s much easier said than done.

You hate Amazon and the slushpile, but want to reward good new authors?

A lament I frequently read hereabouts is that people in general loathe the mighty Amazon for how their system permits anyone to publish a book and call themselves an author.

The system in place permits anyone to review a book, leaving between 1-5 stars to indicate their like/dislike of the book, and comments after.

Further, book is listed in categories selected by the author and then assigned a sales rank in that genre.

The problem lies in discovering good books that meet a minimum criteria for quality. As I posted yesterday, the readers judge your book on basic criteria such as grammar before they are willing to get on to the actual content of the book, that is, the plot, story, characterization, and so on.

I’m biased on this. I want a book that has the assurances of quality. So, for instance, if someone publishes something, there ought to be credits. Who were your proofreaders, your line editor, developmental editor, and so on? What’s their track record? If I look at your developmental editor, will I see a resume including dozens of books by other authors that are good quality?

Maybe requiring the same sort of care that goes with submitting a book to a traditional publishing company ought to be put in the author’s submissions to the public. Not just a paragraph, a freakin’ page on your plot, summarily executed so we can know exactly what we’re getting into.

And then there’s the reviewers. A review that does not discuss the book in question is not a useful review. Perhaps a separation of the review process into Pro/Con, or Good/bad/ugly. Separate the important things into categories so we can hit the salient points, such as structure, grammar, typos, characterization, story arc, and so on.  We ought to be able to review the reviewers. What’s their reputation? Do they write good reviews or just leave lots of 5 stars and nonsense comments (“Fantastic Read! 5 Stars!”) that are worthy of an eBay feedback? I suppose the “5 of 6 people found this review useful” is the application of this, but it’s not done in a way that weights the reviews to influence where the book appears.

Further, there ought to be a statement under the penalty of perjury where the reviewer reveals any relation to the author: Friend, family member, know them through blogging, acquaintance, stranger. Just like the reviewers on blogs where they reveal any sort of relationship for the purposes of bias, I want to know what possibilities exist.

Finally, there ought to be a way to sort based on cascading criteria that you decide. Maybe popularity isn’t what you’re looking for. Certainly price point doesn’t indicate quality.

And then consider the idea that you could have something like the Netflix deal where you are asked if you liked or disliked certain movies. You rate ’em with a few stars, and after rating a few dozen books, the thing comes up with movies it thinks you will like.  Can we do this with books? The difficulty lies in categorizing and assigning values to new books, but if someone writes as well and similar to a well-known author, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to discover them through a program that does this. I would limit the submissions for this to authors that can demonstrate they had a team of some kind that assisted them in publishing. I know I’m biased on that point, but the slushpile is created by loner self-publishers for the most part.

There’s a book plot for you: the Unpublishers, a book mafia group of bibliophiles who go around getting people to withdraw unworthy manuscripts from the market.

Tough Reviewers

Yeah, you think you’re going to write some best-selling military sci-fi.  There’s a picture in your head and you’re #1 on the Amazon best seller list and all is ducky with your book, the birds are singing, and so on.

Then this guy reviews your book.  He gives it. One. Star.

I’m curious about the ones who pan the military side of things. “Not realistic enough military scenes,” they say.  That’s fine, I may stay away from those books. But what’s your dream military book? What’s the book that is real, reflects the reality of combat, and makes combat vets say “this dude gets it”?

I stumbled into one reviewer, a Mr. Cary G. Anderson, who had something to say about J.W. Kurtz’s book “The Bellerophon: Ambush: Book 1 of The Captive Galaxy Series”.  I haven’t read your book yet, Mr. Kurtz, though I purchased a copy for later perusal.

On to Mr. Anderson’s comment.  He points out that the dialogue is too wordy in combat.  I thought, that’s fine, what earned your praise, then? And went on a search of his reviews, because those kind of comments are useful if you get them in, say, beta.  Before the book is published! And Mr. Anderson reviewed this book:
Dead Ice: A Dane and Bones Origins Story (Dane Maddock Origins Book 4) [Kindle Edition]

His review was not kind, but his points made me sit up. “What’s this?” I said, to no one in particular.  My children and wife ignored me.  “Combat in cold environments?”  That was something I was planning in the Great American Novel Not Yet Written.  Heck, most of space is a cold environment.  And Mr. Anderson points out a great book that totally gets the combat in cold environments thing, which is “Thunder of Erebus” by Payne Harrison.

So I bought that. 4 bucks. Not on kindle, so I have to wait for it get here.

I’ve also got “They were all Young Kids…” by Aaron Elson. It’s WWII accounts of combat (an assault on a hill with tanks) by the survivors.  I don’t know how it will read, but it was recommended by another tough reviewer.

Maybe I can get Mr. Anderson to read some of my initial drafts, and get the unpleasantness out of the way early on.