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Pre-Orders Amazon Style by Deatri King-Bey

ForKeeps125I have a love/hate relationship with Amazon, as many authors do. But I have got to give them their props. They promote the products they distribute better than any other distributor out there. Now they’ve added the ability for self-published authors to set up their eTitles for pre-order. Bravo!

I must admit, I do not like pre-ordering books because I know I won’t keep up with if I actually received them but a lot of readers love to do pre-orders. Soooo, with this new functionality, I decided to give it a try so I could tell you about it. They began this option two weeks before my new title was released, so my title was only on pre-order a week, but I learned a lot from that week.

Setting up for pre-order is very easy. Go into your Amazon KDP account and upload your manuscript as usual and select the option for pre-order. A week before your release date, you must upload the FINAL version of your manuscript. If you do not upload the final version, you will not be able to place another title on pre-order for a year. Once you have uploaded your final version, you will not be able to change the file the last week before the go-live date.

Great news. Your title DOES NOT have to be enrolled in KDP Select in order to set it on pre-order. KDP Select is the program where you give Amazon exclusive distribution rights to your title for ninety days and in exchange they allow you to give the book away a few days and they add it to their free library. You are paid for the free downloads from their library.

So a little over a week before my title went live, it was available for pre-order. The night before the book was available for everyone, the people who’d pre-ordered it received their notice that they could download the book. I had a few readers contact me saying they’d read the book and two even posted a review the morning it went live. Having reviews from users with the “Verified Purchase” is a good thing.

I wondered how they’d do the sales rank. I had hopedthe titles that were sold during pre-order wouldn’t count until the title went live, but that was not the case. They count during pre-order then they also give your ranking a little boost when it becomes available. I don’t know the algorithm they use to calculate how much and I’m sure they’ll be changing it often.

From the KDP Reports Dashboard, you’ll see the Pre-Orders option that will give you the number of pre-orders your title has.

Back to ranking. You need to understand how pre-orders will affect your ranking. My last seven titles hit the top twenty in their first day of release. In my category, that’s around fifty-sixty copies. By the second day, the new title is usually in or close to the top ten. Then my sales usually shoot off and stay pretty good a few weeks. I promote initially, but don’t do the continual promotion that I know I should, but that’s a different post.

I discovered that getting into the top twenty and even better yet the top ten your first few days is crucial. The higher your rank, the more Amazon pushes it. That was why I wanted to know how the pre-sale copies would affect the first day sales. For me, if my new title can get into the top twenty the first day, that title will do good.

The night before my title was available, the sales rank was 103,000. According to the report, there were twenty-seven pre-orders. The morning it was live, without any additional sales yet, it was 42,000. So there was a bump up in ranks as a result of the pre-orders.

During the course of the day, thirty-eight additional units of the book sold. I checked at 9 p.m. before I went to bed. So my first day sales were 27 (pre-order) + 38 (first day sales), which, when combined, is in the range of what I usually sell on the first day. So what do you think my Amazon ranking was? Did it make the top twenty as usual?

Release Day For Keeps


As you see, it did not. I have a base of around sixty readers who usually buy my new title on the first day. This puts my title in the top twenty quickly for my category, which did not happen because the pre-orders didn’t count as full units. This ranking isn’t bad, but I’ve noticed a huge different between being in the top twenty on the first day.

Here are the rankings from 6 p.m. the day after it went live.

Second Day For Keeps






The title continued to climb the charts, but not enough for my liking. That loss of twenty-seven sells makes a big difference. So for me, I will not be doing pre-orders again anytime soon, because I don’t have a large enough base that pre-orders will not hurt my ranking. I need that big bang on the first day. You will need to do what works for you.

Deatri King-Bey

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Don’t have a copy of Become A Successful Author? What are you waiting for?Become A Successful Author is used in the “How To Write That Novel” course at Chicago State because it covers everything from branding to writing to editing to formatting and uploading electronic and print books to marketing and so much more. Your time is money. Look at all the time, thus money, you’ll save by ending your search for answers: Purchase Become A Successful Author for only $4.99 (eBook) or $8.99 (print) from: Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), Barnes & Noble

The Submission Process by J’son M. Lee

J'son M. LeeFor the last few years, I’ve focused on the careers of other authors. I co-authored a project that went on to garner a few awards, and as president and owner of Sweet Georgia Press, I am an editor with a growing client list. During this time, I wrote a few short stories here and there, but never took the time to focus on another novel. I wrote a few chapters, titled the projects, and even created covers for them for my book vision board. But, there never seemed to be enough time to focus on a full-length project. As I reflected on this reality, I came to the conclusion that I needed to invest more in myself. To this end, I picked up Become A Successful Author by Deatri King-Bey. While there were many takeaways from this book, the one that registered most with me was her belief that “…all authors should pursue traditional and self-publishing.”

Aside from a short story that was published in an anthology (1998) by Painted Leaf Press, I’d never submitted for traditional publishing. I realized there was no time like the present. So, for almost a month, I worked with my gal pal, Michelle “Big Body” Cuttino, on my submission package (query, synopsis, and sample chapters). I also connected with an outside consultant who had a database of agents and publishers who agreed to receive e-query proposals. The desired format was very specific. My package was assembled and sent to me for final review. I had my mentor look it over, and she gave great advice. I made more changes, and my query was finally ready for submission…

The consultant advised that many of the responses would be form emails saying the query was not right for their office. He cautioned me to not to get discouraged by these emails as they likely hadn’t read the query, but said no based simply on the genre or word count. He went on to say that I would not receive responses from all the agents as most did not have the ability to respond to every e-query, not even with a form email. Lastly, he advised I would likely receive the bulk of my responses the first week, with others coming in for up to two months. The goal was to have about half a dozen agents who wanted to learn more about my book.

As he predicted, responses began rolling in immediately:

“Not for me-thanks anyway.”

“Thanks, but I’m not the right agent for this.”

“Thanks for the query. I’m sorry but I’m overwhelmed with submissions and this didn’t pique my interest enough to add to my stack of manuscripts. Good luck to you.”

“Thank you for your query, but I’m afraid this project just isn’t right for my list at this time. I’m sorry to disappoint you, but others will surely feel differently and I certainly wish you every success in finding the right agent and publisher for your work.”

“Thank you for your letter. From your description, I don’t believe I’d be the right agent for this project. I’m sorry to have to pass on the opportunity to read your work, and wish you the best of luck. Sincere apologies for not being able to answer more personally; given the volume of queries, it is simply not possible.”

“Thank you so much for querying me and giving me the opportunity to consider your material. I’m afraid, though, that after reading your letter, I just didn’t feel strongly enough to ask for more, and I firmly believe every writer needs an agent who is passionate about his or her work.

Much of this boils down to personal preference, so please bear in mind that what isn’t right for me might be right for another agent. I encourage you to continue querying and working on your next book. I wish you the best of luck and much success with your writing career.”

“Thank you for thinking of me, but I am not a good fit for this.”

“It’s a pass for all of us here, but we do appreciate being included.”

“Not for our market, sorry.”

“Thank you for your query. Having considered it carefully, we have decided that your project is not the right fit for [us], and so we are going to pass at this time. Tastes and specializations vary widely from agent to agent, and another agency may well feel differently. Thank you for thinking of our agency, and we wish you the best of luck in your search for representation.”

“Thank you for letting me review your query. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that we are the appropriate agents to represent this material. In this very competitive market, we are simply not enthusiastic enough about our ability to sell this work to offer you representation. We wish you the best of luck placing this successfully. Thank you, once again, for letting us consider it.”

“Thank you for thinking of me with your query for JUST TRYIN’ TO BE LOVED. While this sounds like a strong project, I’m afraid it doesn’t strike me as a likely fit with me and my particular editorial contacts. I wish you well in finding the right agent for your work.”

Despite all the rejections, I remained positive. It’s important to have thick skin as an author. Always ask yourself if a criticism came from someone to whom you should listen. Whether you agree or disagree, look for ways to learn from what they said. If there’s nothing to learn, discard it. Move on!

Just as quickly as the rejections came in, there came a glimmer of hope:

 “Thank you for your interest in our agency. Per [our] guidelines, please send the first ten pages of your manuscript, along with the original query, to this email address with both embedded in the body of the message. Please note that we do not open attachments.”

 “Thanks for your recent query, which Jane passed along to me. I’d be happy to take a look at your manuscript. Kindly send it along for my prompt review. A Word attachment is most preferable if possible.”

 “We would be happy to read something if you would like to email it to submissions@…… for my attention. Many thanks.”

I didn’t know how to respond. I wanted to make sure I put my best foot forward and not ruin my chances. The consultant said, “Just respond politely with whatever they ask for. They are regular people, only extremely busy. So try and give them exactly what they ask for, exactly the way they ask for it. Do not respond to the nos, you don’t have to worry about them.” Easy enough, right?

So…I responded…I think I’ll read Characters Make Your Story by Maren Elwood while I wait. I’ll keep you posted!

J’son M. Lee (Editor)

See you at

If you found this post helpful, please use the SHARE buttons to help your fellow authors.

Don’t have a copy of Become A Successful Author? What are you waiting for?Become A Successful Author is used in the “How To Write That Novel” course at Chicago State because it covers everything from branding to writing to editing to formatting and uploading electronic and print books to marketing and so much more. Your time is money. Look at all the time, thus money, you’ll save by ending your search for answers: Purchase Become A Successful Author for only $4.99 (eBook) or $8.99(print) from: Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), Barnes & Noble

Mind Your Grammar by J’son M. Lee

J'son M. LeeI remember the first time I realized I could write. I was in Mrs. Vick’s high school typing class. We were given an assignment to create and type a fictitious resume. As you can imagine, this was a challenge because none of us had any previous work experience. The person with the most impressive resume would be hired by our teacher. I dug into my imaginative bank and created a resume that would impress even the most discerning employer. I was certain my resume would put me ahead of the competition for that dream position. Although the job was make-believe, I won!

Now two books and three short stories later, I find myself on the opposite end of the writing spectrum—I sling red ink for a living. As an editor, one of my goals is to ensure that a writer has put his or her best foot forward. Readers have become much more sophisticated, and for better or worse, they have an itch to judge. While grammar isn’t necessarily a reflection of your storytelling abilities, it does translate poorly if your finished product is wracked with errors.

It behooves every writer to have a firm grasp of basic grammar rules. Below are five common grammar mistakes I see routinely, not only in editing submissions, but in print.  Don’t feel bad if you find the rules confusing.  Although I am an editor, I continue to make these mistakes as well. I often have to refer to my trusted resource manuals for clarification. When I’m too frustrated, I let my editor figure it out. Yes, editors have editors.

Who and Whom

“Who” is a subjective pronoun, along with “he,” “she,” “it,” “we,” and “they.” It’s used when the pronoun acts as the subject of a clause. “Whom” is an objective pronoun, along with “him,” “her,” “it”, “us,” and “them.” It’s used when the pronoun acts as the object of a clause. Using “who” or “whom” depends on whether you’re referring to the subject or object of a sentence.

Still too hard to remember?  Try this easy rule:  Like “whom,” the pronoun “him” ends with “m.” When you’re trying to decide whether to use “who” or “whom,” ask yourself if the answer to the question would be “he” or “him.” If you can answer the question being asked with “him,” then use “whom.” EX: If you’re trying to ask, “Who (or whom) do you want to see?” The answer would be “I want to see him.” “Him” ends with an “m,” so you know to use “whom.” But if you are trying to ask, “Who (or whom) loves me more?” the answer would be “He loves me more.” There’s no “m,” so you know to use “who.”

Who’s and Whose

“Who’s” is a contraction of who is or, less commonly, who has.

EX: Who’s the author of that book?

“Whose” is the possessive of who.

EX: Whose book is this?

Still too hard to remember?  Try this easy rule:  If you can replace the word with who is, use “who’s.” If not, use “whose.”

Lay and Lie

This mistake is by far the most egregious.  In the essence of time, let’s focus on present tense only. “Lay” requires a direct object, and “lie” does not. That said, you lie down on the sofa (no direct object), but you lay the remote down on the sofa (the remote is the direct object). Admittedly, this one is very tricky.  Refer to the chart below.

Infinitive                     Definition                                Present                       

to lay                           to put or place                                     lay(s)

to lie                            to rest or recline                                  lie(s)

Getting it right, takes considerable thought.  In my own writing, I usually figure out a way to avoid the word.  When I can’t—and it’s use is necessary—I let my editor figure it out.

Affect and Effect

“Affect” is almost always a verb, and “effect” is almost always a noun. “Affect” means to influence or produce an impression. “Effect” is the thing produced by the affecting agent; it describes the result or outcome. There are a few exceptions. “Effect” may be used as a transitive verb, which means to bring about or make happen. EX:  The eBook revolution effected a much-needed shift in the literary industry. There are similarly rare examples where “affect” can be a noun. A client, Deidra DS Green, introduced me to this use.  EX:  His affect made him seem bored at the book signing.

The last common mistake isn’t a grammar mistake, but a punctuation mistake I see time and time again—the use of quotation marks. I recently questioned one of my mentors, Deatri King-Bey, on the use of quotation marks.  After giving me a tutorial she said, “Don’t overthink it.”  So here goes:

Periods and commas always go inside the closing quotation marks. EX: “I am looking forward to the Romance Slam Jam,” Edwina said. “I can’t wait to meet Deatri.”

Question marks and exclamation points go inside the closing quotation marks if they are part of the text you are quoting. EX 1: Tanya picked up the phone and asked, “Are you coming over today?” The question mark goes inside the quotation because Tanya is being quoted as asking the question. EX 2: Have you heard the saying, “smart as a whip”? In this example, the question mark goes outside the quote because the quote is not a question.

Bottom line, an author’s job is to tell great stories.  So what you can’t remember all the rules of grammar!  Make a concerted effort to master as many as you can, but when you fall short, let your editor sort it out.  That’s their job.  Remember, every great writer has a great team of editors.

J’son M. Lee (Editor)

See you at 

If you found this post helpful, please use the SHARE buttons to help your fellow authors.

Don’t have a copy of Become A Successful Author? What are you waiting for?Become A Successful Author is used in the “How To Write That Novel” course at Chicago State because it covers everything from branding to writing to editing to formatting and uploading electronic and print books to marketing and so much more. Your time is money. Look at all the time, thus money, you’ll save by ending your search for answers: Purchase Become A Successful Author for only $4.99 (eBook) or$9.99(print) from: Amazon (US), Amazon (UK), Barnes & Noble

Why You Should Make Every Sale a Celebration by Bryan Cohen

Bryan150It’s easy to get disappointed as an author. We all want our books to be devoured by the population at large so we can sell thousands of copies a month and live completely off our writing. Most writers never reach those heights, and it’s understandable for the writers that fall short to get down in the dumps. But there is an alternative to beating yourself up whenever you don’t reach your lofty goals.

Instead, you can celebrate even the smallest of achievements.

1000 Creative Writing Prompts Volume 2 CoverWhen your book makes its first sale of the month on Amazon, there’s no reason why you can’t put your arms up in the air with a triumphant yell. When you get a 4-star or a 5-star review, why not read it out loud and make sure the praise fully washes over you? And if you get a fan letter, what’s stopping you from sharing it with a friend and doing a little jig of joy?

Maybe you think I’m being too silly or optimistic, but I’ve always gotten a lot more out of celebrating tiny scores than I have out of lamenting my shortcomings. This is a blog about becoming a successful author. For most, the concept of success lives at the top of a mountain that we’re continuously climbing toward. For a select few, success is broken down into thousands of little successes along the way. The latter aren’t necessarily more successful than the former, but they certainly enjoy the business of writing a lot more.

This holiday season, try to remember how amazing it is to be a writer. Love the work you do. Give yourself constant rewards: physically, emotionally and socially. Maybe you won’t sell more books, but you’ll get a lot more out of your writing journey.

About the Author

In honor of his new book, Cohen is hosting the “1,000 Prompts, 1,000 Dollars” Writing Contest on his website. Click the link to find out how to enter!

Bryan Cohen is an author, a creativity coach and an actor. His new book, 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, Volume 2: More Ideas for Blogs, Scripts, Stories and More is now available on Amazon in digital and paperback format. His other books include 1,000 Creative Writing Prompts, The Post-College Guide to Happiness, and Ted Saves the World. He has published over 30 books, which have sold more than 20,000 copies in total. Connect with him on his website, Build Creative Writing Ideas, on Facebook or on Twitter.

Holiday Hiatus

It’s the HOLIDAY SEASON! Each year at this time we go on Holiday Hiatus. Yep, we need a break, and this seems like the perfect time of year. We’ll be back February 2014.

I know. I know, that seems like forever, but time flies! In the mean time, be sure to look at previous articles.