No More Tagging on Amazon!? What are They thinking?

In yet another weird attempt to shake up how books are categorized, has, as of November 7th, 2012, removed the tagging option from product pages? This, in my opinion, has to be one of their dumbest moves since the release of Kindle Serials. After many complaints by authors, the only explanation from is that it's a test, due to the fact that tagging is rarely used by authors and companies. Really? Out of the MILLIONS of products that are slathered in tags, this is a useless option for marketing on the Amazon platform!? Something stinks, I say, and I wonder if Amazon has received pressure from higher up companies complaining of the growing competition of the self-published author and smaller publishing houses.

No fear, as I've yet to see tagging disappear on Kindle. I recently tagged my own books, Sing Out Loud Books I-IV, and I've also heard the tagging option is still visible via Firefox, though I cannot attest to this fact considering I'm a Chrome user.

Not to fear, young authors, as there is a way around it, well, to a point. You can modify your own pages, and make your book descriptions tag heavy now that Amazon has loosened the reins on what can and cannot be done via your own author profile.

So, hang tight, and we'll see just how awful this huge mistake turns out to be. Hopefully, Amazon will realize the error of their ways, turn back time, and quit trying to reinvent the wheel.


(Un)Forgettable Characters?

As I was taking my doggies outside this morning, I thought about a recent television show I really enjoyed, The Secret Circle. This show had great promise; unfortunately, it was cancelled after just one season, though it started with high ratings. This teen witch drama was a fun ride and I smiled as I thought about it, then frowned realizing the ride was over. I closed my eyes and recalled the characters one by one. I could see the faces of Eva, Adam, Faye and a few others as if I'd watched the show yesterday, but sadly, other faces, such as Jake and Charles seemed to elude me. 

I wondered why I'd so quickly forgotten faces, as I had when I was younger... I remember going to the fair, meeting a boy from another school and feeling instant attraction. But, after the fair, by the next morning, I couldn't even recall his face. What makes us forget the faces of people we're drawn to? Especially in television shows, fiction books, etc.? Is it the character's fault?

So I contemplated the demise of Secret Circle and wondered if it truly was a forgettable show? was the script not deep enough? Did certain characters not appeal to my emotions? Why would I remember one character over another? Is it due to the amount of screen time, or possibly the lack of emotional depth? It made me truly rethink my own writing style, because I never want one of my readers to forget any of my characters' faces.

Then I realized that part of remembering a character is feeling like you are part of that story. Each character, though they may have distincitve features, can easily be forgotten if there isn't some sort of emotional heat driving that character. I try to be loosely descriptive in my stories, such as the Werecat Saga, so that people can play around in their minds with how charaters like Abby Hunter looks. But still, creating a character's features in your mind can be just as easily forgotten as with real life if the character's background and foreshadowing aren't fueled with fire and passion.

I'm just blabbering on and on, thinking out loud, but I'm hoping this wasn't the demise of Secret Circle, as I loved the show and would definitely watch  season two. But I wonder if it was a forgettable series, considering I've lost the faces of half the characters. 

If you're a writer, make sure to give a good description of your character. Show their hair and eye color, build, mannerisms, and put some fire behind their actions. Don't write a forgettable story, and don't let your characters be forgotten.


King's Vengeance: Legends of the Dread Realm: Chronicles the Second

Ronald Coleborn's epic Dread Realm series continues with book two, King's Vengeance, a story that follows the lives of an exiled queen racing to save her kingdom after the death of her beloved husband, a princess and her grand tutor on the run for their lives, and four warriors (three of them former knights) following different paths. But each of these remarkable people are ultimately brought together by a destiny that is revealed by a young boy who is both blind and deaf, yet gifted with inner sight.

For those of you who yearn for epic fantasy adventures written by greats such as George R.R. Martin, Terry Brooks, and J.R.R. Tolkien, get ready for the next epic fantasy author who weaves engaging tales of war, deceit, despair, and inevitable hope and victory, as told through the inhabitants of the Dread Realm. Learn more, and pick up a copy here.


Random House Set to Merge With Penguin

Thanks to increased pressure from online rivals like and Barnes & Noble, among many others, two powerhouse publishers are merging in the hopes of shoring up their bottom lines amid the overall deterioration of the publishing industry. Penguin and Random House are in talks to join forces in what is purported to be a £2.4 billon deal. From The Telegraph:

Pearson, the listed media business which has owned Penguin since 1970, said on Thursday it is in talks with Bertelsmann, the German media giant which owns international publisher Random House, about combining the publishing assets. Bertelsmann would own more than half of the joint venture.

The negotiations come at a critical time for the companies, as well as for the wider book publishing industry which spent most of the last decade in major turmoil, as new online businesses like Amazon, Google and Apple tried to stake their claims on their traditional business.

Heavy discounting by online retailers and supermarkets has made it harder and harder for specialist book chains and independent booksellers to survive, leaving publishers with many fewer places to sell their products.



ValoBox Launches Pay-As-You-Go eBook Reading Experience

What if you could read an eBook online in portions or sections, and only pay for what you need. If you're a college student, let's say, and you need four sections of a 12-section book for your current course, then the idea of spending a fraction of the full price of a textbook simply to access the sections you actually need might make perfect sense. Well a company in the UK is testing that very concept with an innovative online service that a few publishers, such as O'Reilly Media and Guardian Books have already signed on for. TechCruch had this to say:

Persuading publishers to make their eBooks available to read over the Web is probably quite a big ask. Persuading them to sell those eBooks on a ‘pay-as-you-go’ basis, enabling readers to purchase specific pages or chapters of a book only — well, that’s just crazy talk. Not so crazy, it seems, that one UK startup is taking a stab: ValoBox launches its on-demand browser-based eBook service today, with publishers O’Reilly Media, Profile Books, Guardian Books, Constable & Robinson, and Snowbooks, signed on at debut.

Founded by Anna Lewis and Oliver Brooks, who are also the team behind the online book publishing service,, ValoBox’s pay-as-you-go model sets out to solve the problem of “how to get hold of expert content when you’re short on time and money”.



Amazon Forces UK Publishers to Pay 20% VAT on eBook Sales

Not surprisingly, Amazon's global reach and influence is giving the behemoth retailer a choke-hold on the publishing industry. A recent sign of this is the draconian policy it has in place that will force UK publishers to pay 20% VAT (17% more than it has to) on all eBook sales pushed through that channel. Read full article here.

Mafiosi Season 2 Postponed Till 2013

As we announced recently in this blog post, 711 Press has changed its publishing model and will no longer be releasing single episodes of TV books. We would rather release all TV books as full season omnibuses. This means that while we have released two episodes of Mafiosi season 2 thus far under the old model, this action conflicts with our current plans and isn't fitting anymore considering the reduced price of our products.

So the bad news is you'll have to wait until 2013, tentatively February, to learn what happens to Vincenzo, Paul, and Co. The good news is you'll be able to purchase the full season in one shot, rather than looking for new episodes week after week. And you'll do this at a fraction of the old cost.

And just so we don't leave you out in the cold, we the publishers have decided to gift you a free copy of the first episode of season 2, DRM free in the Kindle format. Simply download the episode and load it on your Kindle device (or your smartphone, tablet, or MP3 Player and launch your Kindle app) and you're good to go.

Get your copy here.