Category Archives: kindle

Using Amazon’s KDP Select Program

As most of us know Amazon’s KDP Select program requires an exclusive agreement to publish an ebook through Amazon’s Kindle book channel, which means that while registered with KDP Select the book can only be available for any of the flavors of Kindle.  Not on the Nook, in the iBookstore, on your web site, or in another book.

You get two things in return.

1. You get to run five-day free book campaigns–one per quarter I believe, which can get you significant “promo sales” numbers in most cases. That means hundreds, sometimes thousands of readers have your story, your book cover, and your name on their devices.  Amazon’s also been very smart about how free books appear to buyers without spoiling the normal buying channel.  It’s almost as if you’re in a bookstore with two different dimensions, and you see full-price and free books on the same end cap depending on which way you tilt your head.  I think it works.

2. Amazon Prime customers can “borrow” your book for free and Amazon pays you some amount per unit “sold”–the amount determined each month.  Some months the amount is greater than the author’s side of the royalty split, especially if you’re in the $.99 – $3.99 range.

Those are the general rules–if I have them right.  But I don’t really take complete advantage of all of KDP Select’s features.  I use the program mostly for short stories, collections, and novellas. I have had full novels in Select but the borrowing thing never worked steadily to my advantage. (In other words, I don’t mind having a particular story or collection of stories exclusively in KDP Select, but I really want my full novels in as many sales channels as possible. I sell enough books through B&N, iBooks, Kobo that offering them exclusively through Amazon wouldn’t make up for the losses elsewhere).

For me at least KDP Select is about finding my readers.

Writers write stories and readers read them, but pairing those two up may not be as easy as it appears.  Or maybe that’s simple to understand–because I do understand–but difficult to accept when it’s my writing that some readers don’t want to read.

As a reader it’s perfectly clear.  I like certain kinds of books and I dislike other kinds.  I like many authors, but there a some I don’t like. Just like everyone else. And it’s not always clear from a cover, from a name, or from the description that any particular book is going to be my kind of book.

The strategy is about finding your readers by using solid storytelling and a decent cover in the giveaways–and most importantly links in the ebook to your other books in Amazon (more about tricks with linking at the end).  You want to offer your more compelling shorter work, something that will lead some of those readers to your novels.  (I know it may be that your kind of readers don’t even look at the free books.  I’m sure that’s true for literary and a few other genres, but if you’re writing anything close to mainstream science fiction, fantasy, or horror, some of your readers are out there scanning the first few pages of Amazon’s top freebies.  I know it because I’ve had giveaway ebooks ranked 1 for some fairly narrow fiction category and thousands of people suddenly felt the strange urge to get my free book.  Of course the lower your ebook’s rank the more people see it and want it. Crazy).

That’s pretty much it. KDP Select allows me to give away an ebook for five days (I don’t do one day here, another day there, but straight five day runs) and in that time readers will definitely grab the books.  If some small percentage of them remember my name, or like my storytelling, and go on to buy one or two of my other books, that’s a success to me.

Get four or five of your novellas, short stories, books in the program and run a free campaign one at a time across each quarter. I’d love to hear how it works out. Email me if you have questions:

A note about linking out to other books in Amazon

First, if you’re not linking to your other works in Amazon then you should.  Put an “Also by the author” or something like that in the beginning and at the end of your ebook. Go do that now!

I haven’t dug into this as much as I should, but here’s what I know:  say you have an “Also by the author” page in your Kindle book, and you’re using standard anchor tags to make those links hot—e.g., “<a href=…”, if you’re using a Kindle device with web browsing (Fire, etc.) then the links will get you to the Amazon product page for the linked book.  However if you’re using the Kindle app on the iPhone or iPad there is a restriction (This is an Apple restriction) on linking out to the Amazon store from within the app. If you’re using “” or Amazon’s URL shortener, “” in your links then you will run into problems. If you use a 3rd party URL shortener ( or one of the others , but I don’t think works for this because it creates a link through Amazon’s own shortener.) or your own redirection process then you should be fine, and your book page will show up inside the Kindle app.

Here’s an example.

Both of these links will go to the same book page–the B0041OSB7A is the ASIN or Amazon’s own product identifier:

On the “Also by the author” page in your ebook you will have something like this in html:

<a href="">Seaborn</a>

But it won’t work in the Kindle app on the iPhone or iPad.  Use something like this instead:

<a href="">Seaborn</a>



The Wreath of Poseidon

This will be available soon! The Wreath of Poseidon is basically Saltwater Witch remixed by my daughter Chloe and I.  This version of the story is in 3rd person (Saltwater Witch is in 1st), and this version is a bit longer, contains more story, including some scenes cut from the original. We went back to the original 3rd person story I wrote in 2003 with some help from a nine-year-old Chloe (She's seventeen now).        

Nanowhere is back!

The second edition of my tech thriller Nanowhere is out, although the official release–in print–won't be until next month or early 2012.  The ebook's available right now at Amazon and B&N on the Kindle, Fire, Nook, and any device with the Kindle or nook apps.  (More eBook formats and channels to follow).

This edition has a bunch of edits over the original version, which came out in 2005, and includes two of the research reports by the character John Andreden at the back of the book.

The eBook cover is on the left and the print book is below.

Here's some of the back cover copy:

Nanowhere… it's a love story with all the usual elements: rogue soldiers, computer hacking, tyranny, cryptography, hit-men with an affinity for rolled adhesives, rebellious skateboarders, and sentient billion-node self-organizing nanotech ghosts.

Here's a clip of Cory Doctorow's kind words on Boing Boing:

Chris Howard has released an…interesting and well-written…sf thriller called Nanowhere along with a bunch of supplementary materials that purports to be the lab notes and publications of one of the book's characters … | | |
Barnes & Noble

Nanowhere book cover art

Tarot Wallpaper

I had this strong feeling you were looking for tarot card themed wallpaper for your desktop. Here you go. This is the art for my latest book Teller, which will officially be out next month.  Three different sizes to choose from, but one of them should work for just about any aspect ratio you're running.

Click the one that fits your sceen best–then save it and set it as your wallpaper.

The first one is 1280×960 and obviously works well for 1024×768 and other resolutions with a similar ratio. The second one, 1280×768, is for wider screens, and the last one if for tablets (portrait, 768×1024)





Ebook numbers—preliminary

Seaborn-Art-DISPpng I'll post about this with a bit more depth with numbers from another month or two. 

So far here's what I have:

I put up Saltwater Witch, Seaborn, and Sea Throne on, B&N (Nook), Apple iBooks, and Smashwords around the middle of March.  Here we are twelve days into May—so roughly 7-8 weeks of sales, and I've sold just under 600 books.

Saltwater Witch has been hovering in and out of the Top 100 of "Bestsellers in Books > Fantasy > Magic & Wizards" at, which is pretty cool.  All three books have been in the Top 100 in "Kindle Store > Books > Fiction > Fantasy > Contemporary" on, getting down into the 40's.  So not too bad.

Details when I get the time!


Category: art, Books, ebook, iPad, kindle | Tags: , , ,

New on Kindle: The Complete Seaborn

Okay, all three books–Saltwater Witch, Seaborn, and Sea Throne–are now available under one "cover"–along with some all new transitional material from Michael Henderson, an extra story, and dramatis personae.  $7.99 on the Kindle.

Get The Complete Seaborn on the Kindle



That’s pretty cool…

SaltwaterWitchCover-240 Saltwater Witch is number 91 in "Bestsellers in Magic & Wizards Fantasy" at