Monday, 21 July 2014

Read my books with Amazon's Kindle Unlimited

There's a new way to buy and read e-books. Last Friday Amazon launched its Kindle Unlimited subscription service in the US (only, for now) where readers can upload as many books as they wish for just $9.99 per month (that would be about £7.50 in the UK). This service seems a good deal for readers like me, who can consume 4-5 books per month (and download at least twice as many). What's more, to launch the service, Amazon are offering it free for the first month.

But what about authors? On the face of it, the Kindle Unlimited service could be good news to writers too. Especially for us indie writers who have published their works exclusive through Amazon. The rights and wrongs of this one channel publishing can be discussed, but for me, it's all about the balance between time I spend writing versus time spent doing publishing and marketing tasks. Listing my novels on KDP Select means that I do not have to format my ebooks for several platforms, or check several channels for sales, or worry about pricing issues across several sites. Plus the majority of ebook sales across the world are made via Amazon (a figure as high as 90% was quoted to me recently). Like it or not, Amazon is the leading ebook seller at the moment.

As I am already a KDP Select author, I am automatically listed on the present lending service which Amazon runs and where readers can download a free book per month. My books will also be automatically listed for this new Kindle Unlimited subscription service. 

In the indie authors' online community the general reaction to this new service has been mixed. Many just do not know what will happen but, being that I am an optimist, I can see several benefits.

For one, a new service will increase reading and ebook purchasing. Merely the launch of a new service, and the positive publicity involved in its launch, will increase book sales on Amazon, which is good news for me. (I know, I know, it goes against the grain to admit that one online bookseller giant is good news, but unfortunately for us KDP Select writers this is the case).

Amazon has said that each 10% read of any book which has been downloaded under the unlimited service will count as a sale, as opposed to the mere download of a title, as happens now.  If this 10% also works in the all important algorithms, this is even better news for mid-list writers like me. (This 10% is also about the same length as is offered as a free sample at the moment, without this sample download showing up on any statistics, as far as I know) For any 10% read of my books, I get a share of the total Amazon global lending fund, which for July stands at $2 million. I've calculated roughly that I could earn even more per book then the 70% I do now. So that's all good too.

Can it be, that both readers and writers will win from this new Kindle Unlimited Subscription Service?

We'll wait and see. In the meantime, if you are in the US and have taken advantage of the Kindle Unlimited service, you can find my books on it. Just click here!

For more on this new Amazon book subscription service, read this excellent blog post by David Gaughran here.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Life after Life by Kate Atkinson is a brilliant and engaging read

Life After LifeLife After Life by Kate Atkinson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A brilliant and engaging novel which tells the story of Ursula Todd who dies at birth on a cold, snowy night to a middle-class family in England in 1910. But Ursula is no ordinary baby, because she goes on to be re-born over and over again. Kate Atkinson reconstructs the many lives of Ursula Todd, most of which are utterly tragic, with ease and style. The descriptions of London during the Blitz, as well as the misery and poverty of Germany at the end of the 2nd World War are particularly chilling, but I also found that other parts, such as the episode of domestic violence, are almost unbearably well described in the book. Someone commented on GoodReads that to fully appreciate the excellence of this novel, you need to re-read it, and I agree. A wonderful book!

View all my reviews

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

To Finland, Again

I am preparing to travel to Finland, again, this coming weekend. This is my third working trip to my home country in so many months, but this time the circumstances are rather sad.

A short time after I was back in the Finn-Guild office from our wonderful holiday to Spain, I received the shocking news that my predecessor had passed away very suddenly in Finland. I won't go into the details out of respect for the family, but needless to say our small office in Camden was thrown into a combination of mourning and mad efficiency, while we worked hard to let all of who had worked with my late colleague and our 6,000 members know the sad news.

So this journey back to Finland is to attend the funeral on behalf of the organisation, and to take some messages of condolence from the UK with me to the family in Finland.

It'll be so sad, but luckily I'll be staying with a good friend who has promised to give me a glass or two of wine afterwards. And I'll also be able to spend some time with my father.

I shall be packing black and warm clothes as Finland is having its coldest summer for some while. Somehow the chill and rain seem rather appropriate for this trip of mixed emotions.


Friday, 20 June 2014

David Morrissey and my commute

I do love London, where else would you regularly bump into celebrities on the streets or when commuting on the famous double decker buses or on the (infamous) tube?. 

Although I'm not really obsessed with famous people, the close proximity of some actors does get my heart beating a little faster. Not that I'd ever show it of course, no. We Londoners are cool, particularly those of us with Nordic blood running through our veins.

But there are a few actors who make me really lose my cool and one of them is David Morrissey. I totally loved him in Blackpool where he plays a local arcade owner alongside David Tennant, as well as in State of Play where he played a politician with a guilty conscience. Most recently he starred alongside Sheridan Smith in a mini TV series called The 7:39 about commuter love, written by no other than best-selling author of One Day, David Nicholls. In this role as in most of his roles Morrissey plays the bad guy we cannot help but love; the brooding male every woman would like to comfort. (In my dreams). 

So...last Monday I was running late and caught the tube about half an hour after I usually do. Sleepily standing at the platform, who would pop up next to me but David Morrissey! I very nearly lost my balance and recreated a scene from State of Play where the female love interest falls (or is pushed?) onto the tracks. (This didn't really happen, it's the novelist in me speaking). But, I was sufficiently flustered by Mr Morrissey's presence to step onto the next train not checking if it was the right one...luckily it was.

And you've guessed it, each morning this week, I've magically managed to take a later train to work, and magically Mr Morrissey has been sharing the platform with me. Sadly, though, he's since moved away from me, reducing my contact with him to adoring glances down the platform. (I think he can spot a deranged female a mile off.) 

All this went happily on until today. Same time, same tube station, but no David Morrissey.

I'm devastated.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Happy Midsummer!

Tomorrow all over the Nordic countries people will be celebrating Midsummer Eve.

In Finland this means that good food and drink will be consumed, there'll be some dancing, and fires will be lit to mark the night when the sun never sets.

In Sweden, and in Åland, people will be picking wild flowers to wear in their hair, while drinking schnapps and dancing around a maypole (or Midsummerstång).

Midsummer Eve is always a Friday closest to the summer solstice and heralds the long summer holidays which all the Nordic countries enjoy. Many people, fortunate enough to have a country cottage, leave town and start their often 4 or 5 weeks long summer hibernations.

Anyone doing business with the Nordic countries will know the Midsummer weekend as the worst time time to get hold of anyone important, and often the weeks afterwards the countries may as well have closed down.

If you are lucky to be in a Nordic country over Midsummer, you will experience the wonderful long evenings and nights, when the sun barely dips into the horizon just to rise again only moments later. If, however, you try to spend Midsummer in a city you might be disappointed; everything is closed and you may as well be holidaying in a ghost town.

Having just watched England lose their second World Cup football match, I think a Nordic city like Helsinki or Stockholm even on Midsummer Eve when everyone has left town would be preferable to tomorrow's disappointed, crowded, humid London...Oh, well.

Have a wonderful Midsummer wherever you are...and to my Finnish readers, sitting on a sauna porch somewhere by a lake (you know who you are!), I'll quote Randy Crawford, 'You lucky, lucky thing!' 

Hauskaa Juhannusta!