Interior Book Layout & Design Principles

I have recently been helping several new-ish authors, along with some quiet well-established writers, with the design and layout of their book’s interiors.

It appears many authors, even those with some experience, do not understand the established and recognised principles of interior book design.

The standard layout of books is no accident. It has evolved from the first medieval printing presses to the current day online publishing and POD.

The issue here is, if these basic conventions are not followed, at least to the greater degree, your book will look and feel amateurish to readers.

Thus, leading to slow take-up of your title and possibly, even probably, eliciting poor or bad reviews.

In short, an inadequately formatted book, even one which has undergone meticulous copy, line and development editing, will fall short of the standards expected and required by today’s avid readers.

This post, unusually for me on this blog, directly addresses the basic principles and concepts of interior formatting of paperback & hardcover books and, to some degree, that of their lesser cousin, the eBook.

I have not called this post ‘Interior Formatting,’ as that covers a much wider and far more complex set of procedures and is covered elsewhere, much in my books ‘The Frugal Author’ and ‘Lots of Author Stuff you Need to Know’.

At the end of this post, you will find these two books which address many, if not most aspects, of independent and small press authorship.

Both books are ready to download now and, I am certain, you will find the answers to many of the question you have but have never asked.

NOW, WITHOUT FURTHER ADO, HERE IS THE PROMISED POST….


BOOK DESIGN AND SECTION LAYOUT

Note: a page is one side of a leaf.

When you ‘turn a page’ you are actually turning the leaf of a book, which is two pages. Each side of the leaf is a single page.

In this post, ‘Blank’ indicates a page typically left blank by traditional mainstream publishers.


FRONT MATTER

The front matter of a book consists of its very first pages: the title page, copyright page, table of contents, etc. There may also be a preface by the author or a foreword by someone familiar with their work.

First Page: Blank/Flyleaf

Leave this blank.

2nd Page: Frontispiece/Blank

Page 2 is the back of page 1 and remains blank unless you include an illustration.

Such an illustration is called Frontispiece.

This decorative illustration or photo appears on the page next to the title page.

Traditionally, a Frontispiece will be placed on a left-hand page.

Title page

Usually opposite the Frontispiece.

It shows the full title of the book, along with the author’s name as they appear on the cover.

Copyright page/Colophon

The Colophon or copyright page includes technical information about copyrights, edition dates, typefaces, ISBN, as well as your publisher and printer.

Usually positioned on the reverse of the title page.

Blank Page

Accolades

Quotes from esteemed reviewers and publications in praise of the book.

This praise, or some of them/it, often appears on the back cover too.

Dedication page

A page where the author names the person or people to whom they dedicate their book, and why.

This typically comes after the copyright page.

Blank Page

Table of Contents

A list of chapter headings and the page numbers where they begin.

The table of contents, often abbreviated to ToC, should list all major sections that follow, both within the body and in the back matter.

Blank or Epigraph

A quote or excerpt which indicates the book’s subject matter.

An Epigraph can be taken from another book, a poem, song, quotation or almost any source.

It generally immediately precedes the first chapter.

Preface:

Reason for writing, word of thanks.

An introduction written by the author, a preface relates how the book came into being or provides context for the current edition.

Blank

Foreword

An introduction is written by a person other than the author.

Often written by a friend or scholar of the author’s work. Otherwise by a recognised authority of the books subject’s matter.

It is an honour to be asked to write a Foreword.


BODY

The body of a book is pretty self-explanatory: the main text that goes between the front matter and back matter. For readers and writers alike, this is where the magic happens — but it’s not just the content that’s crucial, but also how you arrange it.

Prologue (for fiction)

The section before the main story begins.

A prologue aims to set the stage and intrigue the reader.

Many prologues contain notes of intriguing events which only become contextualized as the reader gets deeper in the story.

Introduction (for nonfiction)

A few pages that usher the reader into the subject matter.

The introduction clarifies the books setting and or events linking to the content, along with other information relating to the main narrative.

Note: The difference between a preface and an introduction is a preface is personal to the author, discussing why they wrote the book and what their process was.

An introduction relates directly to the subject matter and establishes the position of the book in relation to its content.

Chapters

All books have chapters, or sections, into which the narrative or content is divided.

Epilogue (for fiction)

An Epilogue is a scene that wraps up the story in a satisfying manner.

Often an epilogue takes place sometime in the future from the last chapter.

if the book is part of a series, the epilogue may raise new questions or hint at what is to come. A technique is known as a ‘Hook’.

Blank

Conclusion (for nonfiction)

This section sums up the core ideas, values and concepts of the text.

Explicitly labelled conclusions are becoming less frequent in nonfiction books, which now commonly offer final thoughts in the last chapter, but academic dissertations are still be formatted this way.

Afterword

This allows giving final notes on the books content not otherwise addressed.

It is a useful tool for edited, revised and new editions.

The Afterword can be written by the author or another person.

Postscript

A brief final comment after the narrative comes to an end, usually just a sentence or two.

For example, “Mr Archibald Carruthers died at his Cotswold cottage three months after this book’s publication. Happily, he saw his story come to fruition.)


BACK MATTER

Also known as the ‘end matter’ is the material found at the back of a book.

Authors utilise the back matter to offer readers further context or information.

The back matter is also an excellent marketing tool, listing the authors ‘other publications’ and giving links to websites.

Acknowledgements

A section to acknowledge and thank all those who contributed to the book’s creation.

The acknowledgements generally appear directly after the last chapter.

About the author

Is where the author gives a summary of their previous work, education, and personal life.

For example,  “John Doe lives in Hampshire with his wife, two wayward daughters and two even more wayward Great Danes”.

Copyright permissions

If the author has sought permission to reproduce song lyrics, artwork, or extended excerpts from other books, they should be attributed here.

Such items may also appear in the front matter.

Discussion questions

A section rarely used nowadays, but worth considering for inclusion.

Thought-provoking questions and prompts about the book, intended for use in an academic context or book clubs.

Appendix or addendum (nonfiction)

Additional details or updated information relevant to the book, especially if it’s a newer edition.

Chronology or timeline (nonfiction)

List of events in sequential order, which may be helpful for the reader, especially if the narrative is presented out of order. A chronology is sometimes part of the appendix.

Endnotes

Supplementary notes relating to specific passages of the text and denoted within the body by superscripts.

Most often used in nonfiction, but occasionally found in experimental/comedic fiction.

Glossary

Definitions of words or other elements which appear in the text.

In works of fiction, the glossary may contain entries about individual characters or settings.

A glossary should appear in alphabetical order.

For example, in a science fiction book, the Glossary could list the names and details of individual planets in the story.

Index

Generally used in non-fiction.

A list of special terms or phrases used in the book, along with the pages on which they appear, so the reader can find them easily.

An index should appear in alphabetical order.

Bibliography/reference list

A formal list of citations, a comprehensive breakdown of sources cited in the work.

Blank


Here are those two books I mentioned earlier, books no author should be without.

The Frugal Author

Amazon Kindle UK: http://amzn.to/2EYcJjZ

Amazon Worldwide: http://authl.it/B07B27SPBL

Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/3JynnB

Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/301nGYY

Non-Amazon bookstores: https://books2read.com/u/bP5O9

Amazon worldwide: http://authl.it/B07K5Z3F9K

When is it best to release your next book?

Yesterday I completed another book, making it ready for publication.

Over the previous three days, I have titivated with the internal layout, put the final finickity touches to my tome, trying to ensure I have no orphaned sentences, that the images, I have a good number throughout the book, are set as I wish and then, once again a run-through for any grammatical, punctuation or other errors such messing about can create.

For the two days before, I worked on finalising the cover.

The book Is now filed away awaiting the right window for publication. (I’m thinking sometime around May.)

The reason, I believe this will be the BEST time for me to release this book.

But is there a best time for you to release a book?


Let’s look at how this publishing game pans out over the year and what else might influence when you make your book available.

Publishing your book as soon as it is ready is termed ‘soft publication.’

Your ‘media date’ or ‘hard publication date’ or ‘release date’ can be whenever you think the stars are going to align with your media coverage and the success of your pre-release marketing.

It should be when you think you can sell the most books.

Traditionally, in the UK, new books are published on a Thursday, especially a Thursday between the 7th and 14th of the month.

The weeks leading up to the autumn are often some of the busiest times for new releases, as publishers jockey to fill bookstore shelves ahead of the upcoming winter holidays.

If you read are a regular reader of my blog on writing, ‘Ramblings from a Writers Mind’ or have any of my books on authorship, you will know I often say, “Copy what the big boys do.”

The reason I say that is, the major publishers rarely do anything by chance. They spend a fortune on strategic planning and market research to ensure they get the right books, in the right places, at the right time to maximise their sales and hence their revenue.

Regarding the release of your next book, you could follow my advice and do the same as the major publishers.

But wait a moment. Let’s think about a few things first.

Some would say, do not release your book anytime between a Tuesday and a Thursday, because doing so will put your book in direct competition with the major publishing houses releases.

Suggestions of when is best include weekends, a Saturday will (generally) give you five whole days before the big houses release another title.

Some industry data points to Sundays and Mondays for attracting the most journalistic attention.

Of course, It may be worth choosing a date early or late in the month, (before the 7th or after the 14th), just after or just before the ‘Monthly Payday’.

Of course, there are other considerations, particularly for books of certain genres.

Romance books do well in early February and a couple of weeks before the summer holiday period.

Horror works well from mid-November and through October.

Introspective works sell best during the Summer, books like ‘Go Set a Watchman’ for instance, as do many Adventure stories.

Books described as ‘light & airy‘ do well in the Springtime.

Unsurprisingly, winter tales, snowy themes and settings, do well during the winter months.

But there’s more to consider than the seasons.

The premise of your book can be all-important at certain times too.

Check out which television series are scheduled over the next six months to a year, find which have similar stories, settings, locations, or characters as your book.

If your book is a period tale and a new costume drama is to be released on Television in August, then that programme could help boost your sales too.

If the new Sci-Fi blockbuster is due out in March… go for it. Major publishers have been known to change the name of a book to align with a mainstream film title.

For example, say a film, a Sci-Fi blockbuster sequel is named ‘Beyond the Far Crescent’, the publisher may alter a book’s title from, ‘From the Planets Shadow’ to ‘The Light of the Crescent’.

Never be afraid to re-title your book to align it with the marketplace, demographics or current trends.

Consider too Special Calendar Days.

Easter time always sees a boost in Christian related books. Martin Luther King Day for Black origin works. International Women’s Day for strong female characters, Feminism and such. Remembrance Day for War Stories, or Memoirs for instance.

In this case, my advice would be as I so often say, “do what the big boys do. Learn from them. Use their knowledge to compete with them.” It’s a bit like literary judo, use their size and bulk against them.

I admit there are no hard and fast rules, but I do suggest seriously planning when you release your next book.

Look ahead, research, find out what influences will affect your book and create your strategy accordingly.

To help you decide when here’s a rough guide cobbled together from industry data.

January

Self-help; diet; inspirational; business.

If your book fits into this category, this is what the media are generally interested in around this period, and it’s also what consumers are thinking about.

February

Self-help associated with relationships; debut authors; business; fiction.

If you are a debut/relatively new indie author, this month is not as full of new titles and there may be more promotion and media opportunities for you as a result.

March

Debut authors; mysteries; fiction

April

Women’s fiction

May

Beach reads; women’s fiction; biographies; books on mountain climbing (Good month for indies)

June

More beach reads; women’s fiction; biographies or nonfiction that will appeal to male readers on vacation or for Father’s Day

July

Quieter month better for debut authors; more of what you saw in June.

A good time for indies as there is generally less ‘new book’ competition out there.

August

Debut authors; education-related titles; narrative nonfiction by lesser-known writers… read indie authors. (Get in, before next month)

September

Public affairs and politics; serial authors in fiction and nonfiction; cooking; highly publicised titles by debut authors with mainstream publishers.

This is the main month, traditionally the annual main release month for major publishers. It is an incredibly competitive month and not indie-friendly.

October

More politics; cooking; big nonfiction titles by well-known personalities and writers; higher-end photography books; art books.

Not generally indie-friendly.

November

Photography; art; gift books; big names; and anything else you can think of that will sell in the current budget year’

Good for a well-planned strategic, high publicity release by indie authors in early November (Last few days of October)

December

A good month for lesser-known authors. A variety of books are published, including latecomers for Christmas or those titles that people want to get a jump on for January.

Good for indies looking to establish base sales going into the following year.

As for the book I mentioned at the start of this post, I am planning a ‘soft release’ in May, with a pre-order by invitation only, followed by an ongoing, subtle marketing programme. If you would like a copy of ‘Jack’s Dits 2’ (in May) email/message me and I’ll send you an invite.


Feel free to browse this site, there is a plethora of posts for writers and authors of all experiences and abilities.

I am open to comments and would love to answer any questions you have regarding ‘Being Indie’.

You may also like to read these two books about authorship.

You can download both right away, simply click on the link

http://authl.it/B07K5Z3F9K http://authl.it/B07B27SPBL

Time, stimulus and unanticipated events

It seems I no longer have enough time to regularly write this blog. This post explains the reason, or at least one of them.

Most of you will know, at least I hope you do, I love it when random things appear to me and stimulate my writers muse.

Often the best thoughts and ideas come from the unexpected, the surprises and unanticipated events.

I either scribble down notes or mull over whatever stimulated my mind and write my thoughts at a latter date.

I shall return to those notes. Many will become the basis of a short story, often one idea can give birth to a succession of tales, often of various genre, and with seemingly little or no relation to each other.

These stimuli may a form the premise of a novel, or a component of one. Some may suggest the possibility of a non-fictional work.

Now, these unanticipated events, the ones which ‘blow my frock up’, are as unpredictable as the English weather.

One may come from overhearing a private conversation, another from observation, yet another from an article or interview broadcast on the radio and, of course, there is a wealth of written material, both online and physical.

The joy is, one can never know what it is that will prompt the mind, set your thoughts into an overdrive mode, or, indeed, when such an event will occur.

Today, an hour or so before writing this post, I stumbled across something of the ilk.

I was browsing a section of the web, with a vague notion of the sort of thing I was looking for.

By that I mean, it was the start of a research period and I was casting my net wide before knowing where to hone in on the specifics, when I read the following short, but intriguing article regarding an important area of English politics.

Now, that may sound a bit dull to you, but trust me, read this article from The Guardiannewspaper. I am sure you will then understand how many stories you could create… and that does not include the ideas you can develop from ‘clicking‘ on and reading the information found by following the contained hyperlinks.

This is one reason I need to live to be one hundred and forty million years old, then, possibly, I would have enough time to write all I wish, including regularly posting here.

Have a read, tell me what you think.

Keep happy, Paul.

https://www.msn.com/en-gb/news/other/it-s-true-we-ignore-parts-of-our-history-and-not-just-about-our-colonial-past/ar-BB1aAhCV?ocid=msedgntpand


Talking about short stories, why not indulge yourself in my short story collection, ‘Tales of Crime & Violence‘.

Stories, I assure you, which will not conclude as you might think, or hope.

Download the eBook/Kindle now, or order your Paperback copy.

mybook.to/CandVPaperV1mybook.to/CandVKindleV1

mybook.to/CandVPaperV2 mybook.to/CandVKindleV2

mybook.to/CandVPaperV3mybook.to/CandVKindleV3

Two must-have author books, saving you money, time, and heartache

I have heard many writers, over several years, comment about the costs involved in publishing and how they restrict new or independent authors.

What writer wants to start their authorship in a position of book debt; knowing they must sell hundreds, if not thousands, of copies before they recoup their writing and publishing costs?

For me, mitigating unnecessary expense is the only sensible way to proficiently indie publish, after all, being a full-time author is a professional commercial career.

Even if an author is not a full-time writer, I see no gain from spending out more money than is absolutely necessary to achieve the same result.

Surely, it is common sense and logical to follow the concept of getting the most value for every penny of your hard-earned cash – the highest return on investment- possible?

It was adopting this attitude which allowed me to develop a method of indie publishing letting me generate profit from my very first book sales.

How I do this is no secret.

I have published two eBook/Kindle books, which are ready for you to download, where I share my methodology, ideas and principles which you can adopt fully or partially, implement in part or whole, now or over time, and adjust to suit your working practices.

These books are NOT ‘how-to’ books, ‘Instructional manuals‘, or ‘tuitional publications’. Neither are they ‘step-by-step’ guides.

They do NOT contain the common and over published/promoted drivel about how to ‘market your book’ and ‘what to do to become the world’s bestselling author’ (again) or ask you to buy irreverent and patronising bullshite for a thousand dollars a year, (non-refundable), subscription.

They are books of knowledge.

Insights into the indie publishing world, full of the distilled results, the acquired understanding and personal practice of being a successful, award-winning, Amazon bestselling indie author who dislikes paying out more than is necessary.

These books are presented as simply as possible, excluding as much technical or market segment jargon as practicable, while sharing a significant quantity of pertinent comprehensive information, in a light-hearted fashion; hopefully a reflection of my disposition, or at least my outward temperament after, at least, two cups of strong black coffee on any given morning.

Based on the reckoning you are already a proficient writer and amazing storyteller, you now want your books to look good, to feel professional and attractive so people cannot resist buying them… am I right, or am I right?

Then what are you waiting for? Download these two books today, you know you want to.

The Frugal Author

UK https://amzn.to/3ivgtZd

Worldwide https://mybook.to/FrugalAuthor

Lots of Author Stuff You Need to Know

UK https://amzn.to/2SncZxm

Worldwide https://mybook.to/Authorstuff

Injuries, wounds and healing… information to aid your accuracy.

 

waiting

This is far from my normal ‘Rambling’, but…

After reading several books over the last few months I have realised the need for authors to portray far more realistic accounts of their victim’s injury and healing processes.

Getting this wrong not only disrupts the believability flow of the story but often wrong-foots the reader’s perception regarding the course of the true timeline.

How many times do we such inaccuracies represented in ‘blockbuster’ movies? One moment the protagonist is beaten to a pulp and cannot stand, the next he is running after the perpetrator of a crime with nothing more than a slight limp in his left leg… oh, now it’s his right leg… no left again.

make-fake-bullet-wound-your-head.1280x600

Of course, when our hero takes the full impact of a 9mm parabellum, it is nothing more than a flesh wound and within a day he has discharged himself from the hospital and is fighting, and winning, against a dozed bad guys.

Okay, a film has a limited time to play out, often between ninety and one-hundred and twenty minutes. However, with a book, there can be no such excuse. Authors are not restricted to a timeframe and, in all honesty, not as hobbled by word count as they once were.john-wick-chapter-2

The modern reader demands accuracy in the authors account and rightly so. It is easy to browse the net and check for details of even the most obscure event or condition your characters may encounter. Therefore, research is becoming the defining line between a ‘professional author’ and a ‘hobbyist writer’.

If you scroll down and/or browse through the posts here, on Ramblings from a Writers Mind, I am certain you will find a wealth of helpful and useful information, much given in my usual random and wayward manner, which I hope most people find entertaining too.

Interspersed between my ramblings are some direct and useful bundles of information, such as the following which focuses on wounds, injuries and the healing process.

I shall not give any written account regarding the following as I think the illustrations say all that is required.

You may wish to download and file the images for you own reference records, please do, Particularly if it will assist you in creating far more realistic situations and timeframes in your works… of which you may always send me a copy.

Keep happy, Paul.

bruiseWound_Stages_002skin-wounds-various-types-wound-shown-as-d-illustration-epidermis-dermis-74056337Print613_Stages_of_Fracture_RepairQk5oDco

I hope the information above makes you consider reading one of my books, maybe my short novelette, A New Summer Garden, which you can download as an eBook here, or order as a ‘Pocketbook’, a small-sized paperback which will slip into the rear pocket of your denim jeans… or into your bag, handbag, rucksack, or just about anywhere. Get the pocketbook version here.

NSGmaok

Realistic character building, regarding novels, series and sagas.

character

While many authors are proficient in creating individual personalities for their fictional persons, it is imperative when developing such characters’ lives, for one to write in a convincing and accurate mode to cultivate believability from the readers perspective.

Failure to originate plausible credibility of personality and interactions of fictional characters, over prolonged periods, proves detrimental to the reader’s gratification as it detracts from the overall principle and foundations of the author’s storyline, the very premise of which the reader chose for their entertainment.

Reality is fiction is all-important.

Therefore, understanding the social structure your characters inhabit is paramount to building such authentic originality. National, regional, fiscal, domestic and public constructs all constitute facets of each fictional character’s composition and structure.

Below is a list, created to assist with placing your complex and sophisticated character natures in a sound literary context. Therefore, accurately reflecting personality traits found in factual, genuine, true-life people of your chosen genre of state.

Such traits are often referred to as the ‘Hidden rules among Class.’

Following the subject heading, in bold text, are three subtexts. In order, they refer to; Lower Class (poor) – Middle Class (rich) & Upper Class (Wealthy).

Example,

Money: To be spent (Lower class) – To be managed (Middle Class)  – To be invested (Upper Class)

Money: To be spent -To be managed – To be invested.

Personality: Sense of humour – Achievement – Connections.

Social emphasis: Inclusion – Self-sufficiency – Exclusion.

Food: Quantity – Quality – Presentation.

Time: In the moment- Against future – Tradition.

Education:  Abstract – Success & Money – Maintaining connections.

Language: Casual register -Formal,(Negotiation) – Formal,(Networking).

Family structure: Matriarchal – Patriarchal – Heir/Sucsssesor, (Who has money).

Driving forces: Relationships – Achievement – Financial/social.

Destiny: Fate – Choice – Expectations.

 

I hope this helps as a useful guide for your character creativity and development.


I am associated with Electric Eclectic, the place for authors and readers, so why not follow Electric Eclectic on Facebook.

TopTip

A bit more Rambling…

As always, my intention of posting regularly is not happening; as they say, (whoever ‘they’ are), the highway to hell is paved with good intentions!

Even now, in lockdown or self-isolation or whatever you may be calling it, my life is far too hectic to guarantee I post in any other way than at random intervals.

Generally, my posts tend to be informative, either about publishing or to give insights into writing or ‘being indie’ while trying not to get too technical and academic… hence boring.

This post is not focused on any of the above, it is simply me ‘Rambling away’ about what has taken my time over the past… however long it has been.

So, without further ado this is it.


If you are a follower or regular reader of my ramblings, you will know I run Electric Eclectic, in its most simple form it is an alliance of indie writers from around the world who, besides promoting their books, are ready to help and aid other writers with their personal and technical dilemmas regarding all things indie publishing.

EEnewLogo

Several things are happening with Electric Eclectic, the first we are encouraging more authors to join our ranks.

Secondly, we are accepting entries to the Electric Eclectic Novella Fiction Prize 2020. The ‘Prize’ is the winning stories having their books published as paperback and eBooks along with marketing packages.

We are also at the formatting stage of Electric Eclectics latest anthology, one especially written to celebrate the 75th anniversary of VE-Day. It is simply called VE75.

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The Government brought forward the May bank holiday to May the 8th is to coincide with the VE-day anniversary. Sadly, due to the outbreak of coronavirus, the planned public events are most likely to be cancelled.

However, Bruno Peek, VE Day 75 pageant-master, told me,

“Even if I must ring around every organisation and individual involved and tell them we’re cancelling, there is something everyone can still take part in regardless. At 3 pm on Bank Holiday Friday, the nation will be asked to raise a glass to toast the heroes of World War II – men, women, children wherever they are. We’re not asking people to raise a glass of alcohol so everyone, all people, faiths and creeds, can join in. It can be done anywhere: in the supermarket, at home. The Prime Minister can even raise a glass from Number 10 if he’s not able to leave Downing Street by then.”

Electric Eclectic is producing VE75 as an eBook, so people can simply download it to whichever device they wish. The book is part of the VE-Day celebrations, so I hope you will buy a copy and help support our military veterans and military families in need.

Apart from my Electric Eclectic commitments, I am working on several ‘Works in Progress’, two books in particular are;

FLOYD, a bloody psychological revenge thriller, while On the Highway of Irreverent Rumination & Delusion contains my personal views on life, living, the state of society and the world in general. I shall let you know when they are due for publication.

Meanwhile, you can read about my Works in Progress and find my published books, including some special editions which are not available from Amazon, here.

Apart from writing, I am a digital artist and photographer, feel free to browse my art website.

Of course, I still have all the ‘normal’ regular home and household chores to attend to. Add to the above, my position as editor of Electric Press Literary Insights magazine and you will see, even shut in my home, I am far too busy to be able to commit to a set programme of posting to this blog.

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I started this post with the intention of thanking all my followers and subscribers and regular readers… you know who you are, and to say keep safe, keep well and keep happy.

Please, if you are an author, consider joining us at Electric Eclectic. Email us for more information, EEbookbranding@mail.com

If you are a novice writer or even an established author, think about entering the Novella Fiction Prize.

If you are a booklover, a bookworm, a bibliophile then subscribe to the Electric Press magazine, it’s FREE and it is simple, just go to the Electric Press blog, where you can also read the current edition

Well, that’s enough of me for today.

See you on the other side.

Paul.

Unconnected connections of habit.

quote-creativity-is-the-power-to-connect-the-seemingly-unconnected-william-plomer-66-90-75

I recall reading Roald Dahl’s ‘Georges Marvellous Medicine’ to my son when he was a child. One phrase I found particularly hilarious was when George’s grandmother said, ‘Growing was a nasty childish habit’.

I’ll give you a short extract for context.

‘You know what’s the matter with you?’ the old woman said, staring at George over the rim of the teacup with those bright wicked little eyes. ‘You’re growing too fast. Boys who grow too fast become stupid and lazy.’

‘But I can’t help it if I am growing fast, Grandma,’ George said.

‘Of course, you can,’ she snapped. ‘Growing’s a nasty childish habit.’

As it happens, in the ensuing years I found my son adopted other ‘nasty childish habits’ growing boys seem to enjoy. I mentioned most of them to him in much the same way as George’s grandmother, not that it had any effect!

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However, it is not childhood or growth or adolescence peccadillos I speak of today, but one of habits.

You see, like many other authors, my mind is constantly working overtime. Even when I am ignoring it, doing regular stuff like cleaning, gardening or shopping, it is whirring away noticing things, listening to other people’s conversations, reading notes, lists and phone screens over people’s shoulders and so forth.

It really is a bit of a rouge in many ways.

Rotational_symmetries_in_designs_produced_by_a_kaleidoscopeDSCN2440The thing is, those subconscious bits of my mind remember it all, record it and mull it over, twisting totally unrelated events, jiggling individual occurrences, shaking them together until a kaleidoscope pattern of instances which hold the possibility of illusory whimsy form.

This is when it digs a sharp elbow of attention into the soft kidneys of my platitude, painfully jerking my ‘normal’ daily thoughts away from the mundane and into the imaginative world of fantastical conception.

Last night, as I was going to bed, I felt the aforesaid sharp elbow ram painfully into the soft parts of my consciousness.

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A voice in my head spoke excitedly to me.

 

 

“You know,” it started, “you write a fair bit about remembering the past, about nostalgia and stuff?”

“Um, yes,” I said, not sure where this was leading.

“Well, what about if people get all nostalgic because they survived it?”

“Survived it?” I questioned.

“Yeah.” The voice was shouting in my brain. “Think about it.”

“I’m going to bed,” I said. Trying to placate my thoughts.

“Yeah, but you’ll not sleep, not until you understand this.” The voice said sounding a little annoyed and a more than a little bit smug.

Of course, it was right. I needed to do this now, as tired I was. So, I grabbed a notebook and pen. I have several dotted around the house exactly for moments like this.

“Okay,” I said, “fire away.”

“How about if… people love the past, the recent past, like the times in and around their childhood because they lived through it, or most of it. They survived relatively unharmed. Well, they must have done or they wouldn’t be here now, would they?”

“Um, no,” I replied, “I suppose not.”

“So, just like in a good book, or a movie, where the hero rides off into the sunset at the end, that’s what you have done, along with everybody else who reminisces. You rode off into your sunset and arrived in the here and now.”

“Well, maybe, sort of.”

“I’m right. The past is where your parents were. They helped keep you safe, mended your cuts and bruises, kissed your grazed knees. It was home, comforting, warm. Your bedroom your inner sanctuary, guarded by your parents.”

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“I guess so.” I was chewing my inner lip. Something I rarely do. “But not all memories are good ones, bad things happened too.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” my mind said, “I’m not talking about those bits. No one gets all sentimental over the bad stuff. We remember it when we must, but not in a nostalgic way. Nostalgia is reserved for nice memories.”

“I’ll go with that,” I said, nodding to myself.

“Well, that’s the key,” my mind continued.

“The key to what?” I asked.

“The key to writing something captivating in your books, especially when you’re basing them in the past, or have characters talking about ‘back when’ & ‘do you remember’ and stuff. It’s great for flashbacks, prequels and shit like that. Think about it.”

I was thinking about it.

“Even a futuristic story must have its past.”

I scribbled a few rough notes, odd aide memoir single word notes I could refer to later. (That later being now).

The thing is, after a good night’s sleep, a day carrying out family chores and a visit to the dentist for a clean & polish, I have mulled over my conversation with the excitable voice from last night and my conclusion is… I agree.

It makes a ton of sense for us to hold fond memories of good times. They could well be recollections of childhood events, maybe a loving mother tucking you into bed, possibly escaping an annoyed farmer when scrumping for apples, or like some of the memories I have written about previously, such as days out for a family a picnic or a train journey to the seaside; all exciting experiences for a child.

My teenage years hold more life events which have helped forge who I am today. Don’t get me wrong, I have instances of near-death, but… I survived to tell the tale. I did ride off into my sunset… although some moments may be more akin to crawling along a drainage ditch in inch thick cloying mud… but those tales are for another time.8ZXBf5MBEC-10

It’s called living life.

As an author, I feed on such memories, use them to build my fictional worlds, create my characters, lay plots and write scenes. It is a habit I’ve adopted.

Until now, until the conversation with myself, I did not consider why nostalgia, which is according to the dictionary, ‘A sentimental longing or wistful affection for a period in the past; even one never experienced,’ is such a powerful apparatus to use to elicit emotion.

Now I have spent time complementing the reasons, it makes perfect sense and one I shall be far more aware of when employing it in my writings in the future.

So, while scrumping for apples and reading George’s Marvellous Medicine may be unconnected events, both in time and geographical distance, the voice in my head found a way to join them together into a cohesive entity.

You could say they were unconnected connections of habit.

Keep Happy, Paul


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I would love you to check out my books, you can see them all on my website, even those not available on Amazon, including exclusive hardcovers.

Don’t forget to look at my Electric Eclectic books, eBooks and Pocketbook paperbacks You can find them on my website or on @open24, the Amazon store for readers & writers

I am open to comments and communication, so feel free to contact me at pwauthor@mail.com or via Facebook.

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Amazon’s A9 algorithm, dispelling a myth and the future…

Amazon-A9

In most of my posts, I ramble away in an unplanned manner, eventually making sense of, or come to a conclusion, about whatever topic is being discussed.

I tend to stay clear of jargon and try not to get too bogged down with the technical aspect of… stuff.

I have tried to do the same here; if you really want to get all techy and scientific you’ll need to undertake some research of your own.

Otherwise, please read on, some explanations, tips, and links are included.


‘A9’ is the proprietary search algorithm developed by Amazon. It is named after the company’s subsidiary which handles SEO

It has one job, to answer customer’s purchasing queries.

Please note, it is NOT Google.

Amazon is the primary destination for book searches, so understanding A9 is critical to your author success on this platform.

Amazon is happy to let A9 fly under the radar, even with A9 being somewhat revolutionary, to say the least.

We all love how Google seamlessly adapts its SERPs to your browsing habits, but A9 floated this idea successfully way back in 2004. A9 also pioneered visual street views long before Google Maps was a thing. The point is, despite being the most valuable company in the world, Amazon isn’t keen on pushing A9 through as a wide-lens search engine. In fact, you won’t find many people who have heard of the A9 algorithm.

The simple reason is, as I said above, it is NOT Google.

Amazon is not in the Searcher Intent business. Searcher intent is simply the type of request or query a specific user is looking for. For example, searcher intent is extremely obvious when terminology such as “buy” or “sell” is used. This is 100% commercial intent. E.G. “buy shoes” “sell my car” etc.

Whereas other intents, such as informational, e.g. “how-to” is also searched by users in YouTube, Google and other major search engines.

Amazon though, being a product-based search engine, doesn’t have this issue. That’s because people coming to Amazon are looking to do one and one thing only: Buy Stuff, like YOUR books. Unlike a traditional search engine, A9 does not need to consider whether someone searching for say, ‘Stephen King’ wants to learn more about the author or if they want to buy his books, Amazon it ‘knows’ they want to buy his books… and this is the most important factor. It is what shapes the way you need to work with A9 to gain higher rankings on the platform.

To place your book in a ‘high’ and visible position the A9 algorithm needs to consider factors such as degree of text match, price, availability, selection, and sales history.

Therefore, optimizing your books potential rating on Amazon begins before your listing goes live. There are several optimization elements you have control over and need to address before you sell even a single book.

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1, Book Title and Brand Name, (if any)

The most relevant keywords will be the title and subtitle (if any) of your book. As with Electric Eclectic branded books, the brand name is used as, or as part of, the subtitle.

This allows people optional and assorted methods of searching for your book. They can key in your book title if they know it or remember it, or at least search for something similar. Alternatively, they can use your author name, or simply type in the brand.

For example, when you enter ‘Electric Eclectic books’ into your Amazon search bar you will be presented with a list of all the titles, from authors who have written under the Electric Eclectic brand.

Check out Electric Eclectic at https://electriceclecticsblog.wordpress.com/about/

 

2, Book Description

While it is clearly important to write a compelling description to entice the person browsing to buy your book, consider using three to four ‘bullet point’ at the top of your description, such as, ‘Fast-paced Thriller’ or ‘Romantic Fantasy’, to clarify the genre of the book.

Bullets naturally stand out and make content easier to read than a block of text and help increases conversion rates.

Other bullet point options are such things as ‘Revised Edition’, ‘Prequal to ….’ and so forth. Not only does this help your potential buyers to decide, but it also reduces the risk of bad reviews due to a purchaser buying a book outside their regular choice/comfort zone.

A9 will also pick up on the words used, helping to target your book towards those who will enjoy your story.

TIP: Try by selecting three top-ranked competitors, (Mainstream publisher/agent listings are great for this) chose ones which boast the greatest number of reviews.

With the list of keywords in hand, remove those that aren’t relevant. As easy as that, you’ve got a handy list of keywords in your arsenal

In most cases, data from 3 or 4 competitors is enough to get started.

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3, Pricing

Your books must be strategically and competitively priced. If they are your conversion rate will benefit.  Analyse the book pricing of those with high volume sale in your book’s genre, ensuring they are of similar page count/format. Find the ‘sweet spot’ price points, both on and off Amazon and price your book accordingly. Do not overprice or under-price, doing either will reduce your potential sales.

A9 takes pricing into consideration as it is in Amazon’s best interest to prioritise products (books) that sell.  To better your chance of being listed next to, or in the proximity of a ‘Best Seller’, you need to be thereabouts.

 

4, Cover Images

Although images are not a direct, performance-related Amazon ranking factor, they play a critical role in both your click-through and conversion rates.

While cover images are not factors A9 specifically evaluates, (presently) They are very important for your potential customers and can have an impact on your sales.

High-quality images which view clearly when enlarged can increase sales by as much as 10%, according to Amazon, and the A9 algorithm rewards products that sell well.signature

Are you looking for a bespoke cover? Email Peejay Designs at PeeJaydesigns@mail.com

 

5, Customer Reviews

Genuine, unsolicited, un-incentivised reviews are an ‘indirect factor’ which may impact your product’s rank on Amazon. Customer reviews can significantly influence the conversion rate, demonstrating their role in Amazon SEO. Books with strong ratings (four stars or higher) are more likely to rank higher in Amazon search results than those with less than four stars.

Although your Amazon ranking, as discussed, is dependent on many other factors; so often a two-star review rated book will show next to four and five star reviewed books. This could simply be because it is a new book is without enough reviews to give a true indication but more often it is because the author simply got everything else perfectly set up for A9, so the book appears higher on the pages.

You should constantly monitor your reviews to ensure customers do not abandon their potential purchase due to a negative review.

By responding to negative reviews in a timely fashion, you are showing your prospective customers you hold a value of their comments. This helps maintain positive overall customer experience.

You will notice at the start of this section I used the wording ‘Genuine, unsolicited, un-incentivised reviews’. This is because these are the ONLY reviews that Amazon A9 is concerned with.

Many authors believe that paid for, swapped, coerced or otherwise incentivised reviews help with Amazon rankings. Well, maybe they once did, but Amazon has been working extremely hard and are finding ways to validate every review.

Amazon uses a number of various systems to log everything… the numbers, the names, usernames, associated usernames (friends of), web locations, physical locations, device ID’s of reviewers, ISP addresses associated with reviews and many more data points.

This information is used to monitor the posting of fake and incentivised reviews, along with authors and businesses linked to enticing fake reviews. You may get away with one or two, but that’s about it, many more and A9 will flag your account(s). This may mean the reviews will be deleted, your account may be suspended or closed, just as those posting the reviews.

As A9 and its associated crawlers and bots develop and gather more information about each author/users’ actions and their algorithms enhanced, Amazon has vowed to clear all fake and incentivised reviews from the platform to improve quality.

Read more… https://wp.me/p5nj7r-1kR

 

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6, Sales

The most important thing to remember about the A9 algorithm, and what differentiates it from traditional search engines, is that it exists to facilitate one thing: sales.

A9 looks at your title, product descriptions and the price you set to determine relevance. Together, these factors create a flywheel effect where improving one element of your product marketing also increases sales velocity which, in turn, improves your listing’s visibility.

Higher A9 ranking means more targeted exposure by Amazon, such as showing on ‘Also bought’, ‘Also viewed’ and ‘Frequently bought together’ directed to a relevant audience.

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7, The Future for A9

Looking at how Google evolved over the years gives us a look into how we believe Amazon is expected to change.

Amazon’s A9 algorithm will follow a similar trajectory, albeit more slowly and less aggressively (remember, as effective as it is, A9 is not one of Amazon’s most important ‘products’).

Amazon is working to fix many problems: low-quality listings, broken English, higher return rates and how people generate reviews (fake reviews, for example). Amazon has aggressively targeted fake reviews in the past few years, going so far as suing Fiverr directly.

In February 2011, Google released an update called Panda.

Despite its tame name, this update wiped out millions in affiliate marketer & SEO consultant earnings. Superficially speaking, the update itself was aimed at low-quality sites from a content point of view. Copied, scraped and poorly created content was the chief target, meaning that millions of low-quality sites were hit very hard and de-indexed. 95+% of traffic and all the income associated with it, poof, GONE.

Amazon is looking to publish a similar update; the goal to have listings that read well and avoid broken English, duplicate content and generally poor optimization overall, instead of just basing the majority of factors on sales directly.

One of the reasons this makes sense from a business point of view is to reduce the number of low-quality Chinese sellers driving out genuine, quality-focused businesses. (Think future competition, think Alibaba).

There are multiple other reasons it makes sense to Amazon’s business model.

This ‘Amazon Panda’, or whatever they may call it, will change the game, but what will ultimately turn Amazon SEO services & marketing agencies on its head would be an algorithm update similar to Google’s ‘Penguin’ update.

The Panda update in 2011 was big but the Penguin update actually changed the SEO game forever. Released on 24th April 2012 (version 1) it impacted close to 3.1% of search queries. If you’ve ever implemented an SEO campaign, you’ll know it’s a massive amount of organic search results.

In short, this update aimed to remove link spam. Any site which was using questionable link building tactics was hit and penalised. Organic traffic for some companies went to zero and some never recovered.

Amazon’s ‘Penguin’ update, a form of which is under construction (I have been told), will involve targeting elements such as sales manipulation, discounted product giveaways, which they are already combating, and overall search engine manipulation.

Other trust signals will become more and more important.

Industry chatter tells me that generating more than 3 reviews per day is a signal that Amazon uses to identify review manipulation. Other tools such as Fakespot or Reviewmeta are also very common for spotting fake reviews.

Third parties are building tools that identify fake reviews. Amazon has signals and software to reduce the amount of review spam on their platform.

The end result is if you want to stay 100% safe, ensure you stay within Amazon’s terms of service and avoid any algorithm manipulation

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 One final ‘thing’  to end this post..

Myth: Discounted books and Giveaways Still Work.

NO, they don’t.

This is an Amazon SEO myth we have to cover… discounted and book giveaways. They just don’t work anymore.

This was a very sharp change Amazon made almost 2 years ago now. The main tweak involved how Amazon weighted the ranking signal for discounted product sales.

Previously Amazon weighted discounted products (80%+) still relatively heavily. So, a small amount of discounted product giveaways resulted in large organic ranking movements.

The tweak Amazon added downgraded the weighting used. With this in place, running discounted giveaways just doesn’t make economic sense anymore.

Read more… https://wp.me/p5nj7r-1fn

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