Category Archive: Kindle

Sep 08 2015

Dive into the Opening Scene of the Latest Refuge Inc. Story

Resurfaced-customdesignResurfaced (Refuge Inc.)

by Leslie Lee Sanders

A standalone of the Refuge Inc. series

Length: Novelette

Genre/tags: sci-fi, post-apocalyptic, dystopian, gay, LGBTQ

BLURB:

Tasked with a deadly mission, Damien and Patrick must return to the surface and discover healthy plant life that survived the toxic devastation that wiped out all life after a cataclysmic asteroid impact.

However, they quickly learn that it’s not just the contaminated air they should fear, but also those responsible for organizing the operation, as all things point to a deliberate suicide mission.

Finding a living plant may not only ensure a future for the thousands of subterranean survivors but may be the key they need to return to their home beneath the surface.

 

OPENING PAGE EXCERPT:

There’s no such thing as happy ever after, no such thing as second chances, and no such thing as coming back from where I was going.

I followed Patrick into the shaft leading to the lift, leaving our escort and life as it was behind me. The mechanical door at my back hissed before it locked for what I knew would be forever–or until the next agitator made trouble in the facility and found him or herself facing the rarely seen but much talked about dreaded door.

With every weighty footstep toward the enclosed lift, my living-breathing life became more of a shadow of a memory. It was apparent in each anxiety-induced shallow breath that escaped my lips. Although they wanted me to believe going miles above to the surface was my choice, there was no such thing as having a voice in the matter.

Up, up, up the lift took us. I glanced through my thick Plexiglas visor and across from me into Patrick’s. A single light shone from above us. The light located inside of his helmet illuminated his face, allowing me to search his eyes for a hint of fear.

“You think we’ll be surprised at the conditions up there?” Shaky and wary, his voice came through my headset.

I forced a chuckle. “I enjoy surprises.”

His nerves caused his snicker to come through rattled and apprehensive. “If my wife was still here she would’ve slapped the shit out of me for even entertaining the thought of going up.”

That was the difference between his wife and mine. Em would’ve known that I would never entertain such a thought. Just recalling her smarts and wit brought a smile to my face. If possible, I would return to previous times and relive the moments where I had gathered her and our son in my arms.

No one had to tell me I was once a lucky man, but like all good things, even luck runs out.

The lift slowed, sounding off a metallic clanking that penetrated my headset despite the noise of our hasty breaths. The sudden change in momentum knocked us off balance. Patrick’s heavily suited body and his oxygen-nutrient backpack slammed against me.

“Shit.” His oversized gloved hands gripped the sides of his helmet as he readjusted it. “They didn’t warn us about this fuck of a lift.”

“Surprise.” My lack of enthusiasm dribbled from my lips.

 

Resurfaced (Refuge Inc.)

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Resurfaced-customdesign-2015

 

 

Jul 08 2015

Kindle Unlimited: What Authors are Forgetting

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I’ve been distracted from writing stories because of all the fuss going on about the changes to Amazon’s Kindle Unlimited; so much so, I had to finally publish my two cents on the changes.

And, in this case, change is good.

Enrolling your book in the old Kindle Unlimited (KU 1.0) would have gotten you an estimated $1.34 per borrow (largely depending on the amount in the Kindle Select Global Fund and the number of borrows) after the reader got past the 10% mark, no matter the length of the book or how many pages were read.

Enrolling your book in the new Kindle Unlimited (KU 2.0) may earn you an estimated $0.0057 per pages read no matter the length of the book with an $11mil global fund (and an unknown estimate on pages read since it varies depending on how many books are enrolled and how many pages actually get read between now and the end of the month). The calculation comes from the most recent known pages read from June 2015. KU and KOLL customers read nearly 1.9 billion Kindle Edition Normalized Pages (KENPs) of KDP Select books.

PROs of both:

  • Each program allowed a book borrow to count toward the book’s ranking as a sale would, creating greater visibility the more borrows you get.
  • Authors can choose to enroll their books.
  • Authors can choose the price of their books.
  • Each program provides a greater chance of your book being discovered by readers—who can’t afford to pay full price for your book, afraid of taking a financial risk on a new-to-them author, or likes to browse more than the first 10% of a book—who otherwise would have passed on your book.
  • The author is getting paid for allowing a reader to borrow their book. This is a huge bonus, one a lot of authors tend to forget or fail to realize. **

PROs of KU 2.0:

  • KU 2.0 uses the Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC), an unspecified calculation that determines the exact page length for every book enrolled by making every page the same font, font size, removing extra spaces, etc.
  • It focuses on valuable content, making it harder for anyone to pad their book with extras in an attempt to game the system. An eligible page excludes front and back matter, i.e. table of contents, author bios, etc.
  • The system aims to be fairer for all book lengths (short, average, and longer works) by paying for pages read no matter the price, length, genre, etc. So the pages read from books enrolled in the KU 2.0 program is assigned the same amount of money and will payout the same, equal amount no matter the author, length, or genre.

CONs of both:

  • The payout amount changes monthly depending on how many customers subscribe to KU and how many books are enrolled, which determines the amount of money in the KDP Select Global Fund for the month, making this aspect unpredictable.
  • Exclusivity is mandatory to enroll in Kindle Select and the KU program.

CONs of KU 2.0

  • It contains bugs. Some authors, myself included, are reporting that their KENPC has not been generated for their book/s, and instead of an accurate KENPs read number in the KU dashboard chart there are placeholders reading 500 KENPs read.
  • Children books and graphic novels will payout lower since these types of books generally have a lower word count than the average novel, and word count determines the length of a KENPC. So many authors are concerned that these genres will take an unfair blow as a result of the changes.
  • The change is causing panic and uproar. Some authors are pulling their books from Kindle Select and encouraging others to do so. Petitions were started and signed, nasty words and accusations exchanged on blogs and social media, because many authors believe that their incomes will drop significantly due to the changes.

** Getting paid for borrows

 

With all the panic about the changes to Kindle Select, many of us are forgetting the best part of the Kindle Unlimited program, from an author/publisher/business standpoint, you are getting paid every time someone reads a page of your book WITHOUT purchasing it!

Let that sink in for a second.

Readers browse bookstores and libraries flipping through page after page, skimming, sitting and reading in many cases … in that scenario they don’t get charged for those pages read and you don’t get paid for those pages read, and it should be that way. After all, they haven’t purchased the book. They’re browsing, skimming, borrowing.

Kindle Unlimited allows readers to borrow books and, in exchange for enrolling your book, the author gets paid even if a reader only reads the first page. Granted, the payout is only estimated to be somewhere around half a cent a page (we won’t know for sure until August 2015), but I would feel guilty if someone paid me $1.00 every time a reader skimmed the first page of my book, especially when they can do so, without me seeing a [half] cent, by using Amazon’s Look Inside feature. So the question becomes, is $0.0057 a decent price for a page read but not purchased? Think about that.

In conclusion (aka my two cents): a borrow is not the same as a sale, and the money an author makes from a borrow should be considered a bonus to that author’s income.

And because I can reach more readers through KU than through other online retailers or from sales alone, I’m willing to take a chance. In my case, I have much more to gain than lose. So, because the pros outweigh the cons for me, I went ahead and enrolled each Refuge Inc. book into Kindle Unlimited, including The Complete Darkness Collection.

So what are your thoughts on the new Kindle Unlimited? Did I leave out any pros or cons? Let your voice be heard in the comment section.


Mar 15 2013

Proofreading Tips: Kindle and Microsoft Word’s Text-to-Speech

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While proofreading one of my blog posts for correct spelling and grammar on my Kindle, I’ve found a helpful little tool. Kindle’s text-to-speech may be under used for the reading of e-books, however, I find the feature great at finding misspelled words and misplaced punctuation.

How exactly does it help?

When you upload your file to your Kindle Fire or Kindle Fire HD and turn on the text-to-speech feature, by tapping the screen once and pressing the “play” button the female voice will start reading from the top of the current page. I find that following along with the voice as she reads helps find the errors easier than reading it myself. Why is this? Because you’ve written the words so you already know what it is supposed to say. So when you reread the same scene, your eyes may sometimes scan over the misspelled word and your brain computes it as the word you intended instead.

For example, I only found that I had misspelled the word “through” several times in a manuscript after reading along with the text-to-speech feature because it was only when she said it aloud did I realize I had been spelling “though” and mistakenly reading it as “through” even when reading it aloud myself (which is a well-known tip in proofreading).

Reasons why it could improve your proofreading experience

Like I mentioned above, there are many tips out there already, especially the “read your text out loud” tip. It’s a great tip, but text-to-speech takes it a step further and has someone else read it to you without literally having someone else read it to you. Here’s other ways it can improve your experience:

  • She pronounces the words exactly how it’s written, so if it’s misspelled or not as emphasized as you’d like it to be you can highlight the word or text to fix later.
  • She uses inflections at the end of sentences ending with a question mark, pauses appropriately at commas, semicolons and periods, making it easier to measure your sentence flow.
  • There’s slight variations with quotes that gives her a little personality and helps with the story flow. (Now, I argue about this “fact” with my hubby because he claims not to hear a difference while I like to think he just doesn’t notice, which would be a good thing. However, when she reads multiple back-to-back quotes without tags, we both seem to keep up with which character is talking and when. It may vary for you.)
  • She uses a slight breathy tone when reading to make it sound like a human reading and not a robot or computer-generated … but not always. This also helps with the flow and clarity.
  • Whenever you find a mistake, simply hold your finger over the word and highlight or make a note so you can return to that specific spot later and fix your error.

Some possible downsides

  • Kindle Fire HD only has one text-to-speech personality. It features a U.S. English speaking female voice only.
  • You can choose how fast or slow you want her to read, standard is at 1x but ranges from 0.7x to 4x. This could be a positive but I find it difficult to hear her pronunciation of words clearly or the inflections with punctuation if it’s set at anything beyond 1.5x, and too slow for me at 0.7x. At 0.7x her breaths seem to drag and she sounds bored, as if she’s on the brink of yawning. Not good.
  • Making a note of your error stops the reading. When pressing play, reading begins from the beginning of the page no matter where you left off.

Uploading files to your Kindle

You can email your Kindle Word and PDF files, here’s how:

  1. Find out your Kindle email address by logging into your Amazon account.
  2. Scroll down to “Digital Content” under Digital Management and click “Manage your Kindle.” It may prompt you to sign in again.
  3. On the left under Your Kindle Account click “Manage Your Devices” and it will tell you to Send to Kindle Email Address and provide you with that email. Each Kindle you own will have a different email address.
  4. Simply attach your file(s) to an email and send it to that address. Your file should appear on your Kindle within minutes if not instantly.

Activating Text-to-Speech

Now that you opened your file on your Kindle here’s how to activate the text-to-speech feature:

  1. Tap the screen and press “Aa Settings.”
  2. Tap “On” located next to Text-to-Speech.
  3. A play button will be present at the bottom of the screen on the reading progress bar when the text-to-speech feature has been activated. Press play.
  4. You can change the speed on this progress bar by pressing the 1x button and toggling the different speeds. The 1x button is located at the bottom right while the progress bar is displayed.

Microsoft Word 2013 Text-to-Speech

I think it’s best to use Kindle’s Text-to-speech feature for novel-length manuscripts or lengthy documents. For proofreading shorter works like blog posts or short stories, for instance, I’d use Word’s text-to-speech feature. Here’s how for Microsoft Word 2013:

  1. Open a blank document
  2. Under the File tab go to Options
  3. Click on the Quick Access toolbar and choose “Popular Commands”
  4. Find “Speak” and add it to your customized toolbar
  5. Save. And find it at the top of your toolbar as a quote bubble with the play button
  6. Highlight the text you want it to read and press the quote bubble

Other info you should know:

  • Kindle Paperwhite does not have the text-to-speech feature
  • Earlier Kindle versions have options to toggle between a female and male voice
  • Some e-books and some files like PDF files do not have the text-to-speech feature
  • Microsoft Word’s feature is a male voice and sounds more computer generated compared to Kindle’s feature
  • For more tips on reading on Kindle fire HD and text-to-speech visit Amazon.com help center

 

I hope you find text-to-speech a helpful feature as I do. Have you used this feature to proofread your works? How was your experience? Leave a comment below and please subscribe to my blog for more tips on proofreading and more.