Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Amazon Changes Free eBook Policy for Associates

Amazon to Change Free eBook Policy for Associates - GalleyCat :
"Next month, Amazon will change its policy for associates who help readers find free Kindle eBooks online, making certain sites ineligible for advertising fees. Here’s more from the company:

Starting March 1, 2013, Associates who we determine are promoting and meet both conditions below for a given month will not be eligible for any advertising fees for that month within the Amazon Associates Program …
1. At least 80% of all Kindle eBooks ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links are free Kindle eBooks
2. 20,000 or more free Kindle eBooks are ordered and downloaded during Sessions attributed to your Special Links. 
The company predicted that the new policy will only affect .1 percent of its associates and will not count for advertising fees accrued before March 1, 2013. 
The online retailer explained in the FAQ: “the Amazon Associates program is designed to compensate advertising partners for referring paid business to Amazon.” If your site exceeds the free eBook limit on any given month, you can still be a member of the Amazon associate program."
Amazon's recent change in policy undoubtedly will affect those of us who have continued to use KDP Select free book promotion as a marketing tool. Kindle On the Cheap sent out a plea to its members today on Facebook: "Amazon has placed a limit on free Kindle book downloads that our community could go over in just a few days, putting our site in peril. Anytime you click to Amazon from our site, a cookie is opened for 24 hours and any free Kindle book you download counts against us. Please, to help us stay open, do not click and purchase a free Kindle book in the same browser where you browse books from (our new blog coming March 1) or our Facebook pages. Or, please use your device to search in the Amazon store for the freebie and download it that way."
For KDP Select promotions to be truly effective, book sites that promote free books have been essential for getting the word out and leading people to download our free books. Other similar sites will also, if they haven't already, be forced to change how they include free books, if at all. I have been leaning away from continuing with KDP Select and the time to make a change may be now. The free book promotions on Amazon may have run their course and this is probably not such a bad thing. The glut of freebies out there has weakened the overall strength of indie books. Time to regroup, adjust , and move forward.
What does everyone think?

Sunday, February 17, 2013

4.5 stars Amazon Kindle

From the first paragraph, you are hooked . . . characters are strong, realistic, and story line drags you right into the pages. Thrills, chills, a little romance, and great attention to detail. Could not put my Kindle down - stayed up til 3 am reading so I could find out what happens to everyone!"~Debra Field

"Things are rarely what they appear to be in this deftly written novel of intrigue and judgment. Eb is a wonderful character, masculine yet real, dealing with real human challenges, trying to find inner peace in a world writhing with turmoil and hidden and half truths. The ending is powerful and, like the rest of the book, complicated and satisfying." ~Martha Bryce

Ex-Army helicopter pilot Eb McLean is struggling to deal with his emotional scars and return to civilian life, but a sudden explosion and vicious murder throw him back into another kind of war. Now his sister Maggie's car is burning in front of their restaurant and hardened FBI agent Nick Kavadas wants to nail Eb for the crime. Eb finds himself in a race against time to find the real killer and peel back the layers of deceit and lies which threaten to destroy everything he holds dear. But whom can he trust? ATF Special Agent Danielle Ricci, who may be harboring a secret of her own? The sexy, but deadly, Imme Amoud? Or could his involvement with her be a fatal attraction? In the frantic hunt for the killer Eb is forced to confront his own tortured past. 

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love in a Mystery/Thriller? What's Love Got To Do With It?

 Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken? Why, your protagonist, of course! Exploring the human side of characters is an important element of a story, even stories within "non-romance" genres, like mysteries and thrillers. For example, exploring  a protagonist's relationships and developing love interests not only adds an element of suspense (such as when the reader is not sure if the hero will get the girl), but gives your main character a dose of humanity which will hopefully resonate with readers. 

In my Eb Maclean books, Fortress of Lies and Judgment Tramp, the protagonist wants love but has an underlying fear, because of his past, that he may be unworthy of it. He is "damaged goods". His desire to love again and fear of remaining distant from it, is a driving force behind solving the books' central mysteries and peeling back the layers of deceit within his own family. Eb's trust and anger issues, as well as his (not necessarily ungrounded) paranoia further complicate things.  His two sisters keep secrets from him, and he often finds himself in danger because of them.

A protagonist's love life can serve a useful purpose within the story framework--and more than that, it can be a foundation for every other aspect of the story. Janet Evanovich uses the two men in Stephanie Plum's life to give her access into a shady world that she would otherwise never experience. Ranger is her mentor, helping her to learn and survive as a bounty hunter, and Ranger's business interests also provide an almost endless number of mysteries for her to solve. Stephanie's other love, Joe Morelli, is a cop. It's natural that Ranger and Joe Morelli will tangle with each other occasionally, just as it is also natural that they will occasionally come together to help Stephanie when she's gotten herself in too deep. The other loves in Stephanie's life, her worry-wart mother, her long suffering father, her eccentric grandmother, all contribute to the chaos. The end result of those complex (and oftentimes comical) relationships is a fiction writer's dream.

Relationships always come with baggage of some type or another, and that can help us make sense of why a character does certain things--and often the key relationship in someone's life provides the impetus to drive a character to risk everything to solve a mystery. Eb Maclean isn't looking for trouble, but when someone puts a bomb in his sister's car he is forced to find them--because his sister, Maggie, won't be safe until that person is caught. Eb's deep love for Maggie is revealed when the reader sees what lengths he will go to in order to catch the bomber, and the possible consequence of losing her raises the stakes of the game--to a point where Eb must solve the mystery or lose everything that he cares about.

Love can also allow us to see a softer side of a character--and at the same time reveal what humans are capable of doing for love. A person can commit a crime for an altruistic reason--a man could rob a bank to get money for an operation that might save his son, and it could spiral out of control from there as the situation turns into a hostage crisis inside the bank. Is the man a good guy who made a bad choice--or is he a bad guy with a good motive for this one particular crime? The story could be written several different ways, but the love for his son would tend to humanize the man in the reader's eyes in any case. 
There are many ways that a protagonists' love life can mold a story--and working the relationship angle to the fullest can make the difference between a flat, lifeless story and a great read. Love has everything to do with it--because it is a big reason why people do what they do.

How does your protagonist's love life impact the plot of your work?