Friday Book Roundup

Are you a Maya Banks fan? If you are, here’s a heads-up – bookdepository.com has her latest — Sweet Seduction — on for 50% off. So instead of having to pay $15 for it, you get it for $7.49. Remember, the Book Depository doesn’t charge for shipping to most places in the world, so that $7.49 is all you’ll owe. Her Sweet Persuasion is still on for 50% off too. (thanks to Elaineg8 for the tip)

Lauren Dane’s Laid Bare is also on sale for $7.49, as is Lorelei James’ Raw, Rough and Ready.

If you’re a fan of JR Ward’s Black Dagger Brotherhood, they’ve got my very favorite of all the brotherhood books on sale for 52% off – Rhage’s story, Lover Eternal. It’s $3.83! Her yet-to-be-released Covet is also available as a pre-order for 52% off! Instead of vampires, she’s following fallen angels this time.

No, I don’t get any money for pimping their books, but I love it when I can pass on an opportunity to save money on some of my favorite authors’ books.

Also, since it’s Friday, you can get a free book if you order two others from Harlequin. It’s an inspirational historical from Steeple Hill this time: Ruth Axton Morren’s Bride of Honor

The last two nights I’ve stayed up late reading Catherine Wade’s Another Time Around. (You may remember that Catherine was a guest blogger here back on the 9th.) OMG, this is SUCH a sad but sweet love story, I was crying in spots. If you’re looking for erotic romance, this isn’t the story for you, it’s very closed door, but it’s sooo romantic. It’s only available in eBook format at the moment but Catherine tells me it will be released in print next summer – I know I loved it enough that I will be buying it in print as well for those days I want to cuddle up with a book rather than a computer. You can buy it as the ebook at MBaM or if you’ve got a Kindle over at Amazon.

Shelley Munro: Small Town Girl

Today’s author Shelley Munro is close to the antipodes from Canada. Which is ironic considering the Antipodes Islands are part of New Zealand, Shelley’s home. Normally I do an intro for my guests, but Shelley does such a fabulous job of introducing herself, I’ll let you sit back and read…

***

I grew up in the country, a small community with close ties. To this day, I enjoy reading romances and watching movies etc that are set in small towns because it reminds me of my childhood—I can relate. The Gilmore Girls is repeating on one of the channels down here in NZ. I never saw it the first time, but I’m enjoying the quirky humor and the goings on in Stars Hollow very much.

In the book world I’m enjoying Robyn Carr’s Virgin River series about the life of a midwife and a pub owner and all their friends—the trials and tribulations and the special moments of love and laughter. Lauren Dane’s Chase Brothers series, set in a town called Petal is also a lot of fun and most recently I’ve read Talk Me Down by Victoria Dahl. This book chronicles the adventures of Molly Jennings and her relocation to Tumble Creek in Colorado. Kristan Higgins is also another favorite with her first person romances set in small towns.

Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages to living in a small community, both of which can be used to great effect in romantic fiction or movies.
Advantages:

  1. People know each other and family histories.
  2. When times get tough, friends and neighbors step in and help.
  3. There’s generally less trouble in small towns and less need for tight personal security.
  4. Usually less graffiti and litter.
  5. Cheaper cost of living.
  6. Great place to bring up children.
  7. There are some great local traditions and celebrations.
  8. Plenty of parking spaces.

Disadvantages:

  1. People know each other and family histories.
  2. Some services are lacking, although the advent of the Internet counteracts this.
  3. Small town gossip – it’s hard to misbehave without everyone knowing.
  4. It’s hard to meet Mr. or Mrs. Right because the choices are limited.
  5. People never forget your mistakes or your parents’ mistakes.
  6. If you do something wrong or want to keep a secret, it will get back to the people you don’t want to hear. i.e. that sex toy you ordered via the Internet and the packaging broke – the postmistress will tell everyone!
  7. Sometimes it feels like living in a fishbowl because people are nosy!

Since I enjoy small town stories so much you shouldn’t be surprised to hear I’ve written a few of my own. There’s my Middlemarch Mates series about a community of black leopard shapeshifters who live in the country town of Middlemarch. I also have my Talking Dog series about aliens who crash land in the fictional small town of Sloan plus a few standalone small town stories such as Fancy Free and Fringe Benefits. Going with the small theme, they’re all set in New Zealand, which is a small country!

I’d like to wish Leah a very happy birthday. Thank you very much for inviting me to join in with the festivities.

CONTEST: Since every good party has presents, I’m giving away a download from my Ellora’s Cave, Cerridwen Press or Samhain backlist to one reader. To go into a draw tell me what you think about living in a small community. Do you like it? Do you have any advantages or disadvantages to add to my list? Is there a book or a movie set in a small town that you’d like to recommend?

Shelley Munro lives in New Zealand with her husband and a small geriatric dog. Her most recent release is Tea For Two, which is now available in print from Samhain Publishing and all good bookstores. You can visit Shelley at www.shelleymunro.com or check out her daily blog post at www.shelleymunro.com/blog.

A new feature tomorrow!

Hmm, I did a double post yesterday. I’ve been so distracted lately, I hadn’t even realized it until now. Ah, well, that leaves me today to announce my participation in Snippet Saturdays which starts tomorrow.

Each Saturday a group of authors such as Lauren Dane, Jaci Burton, Anya Bast, TJ Michaels, Shelli Stevens, Moira Rogers, Cynthia Eden and a whole host of other authors including yours truly will be posting excerpts based upon that day’s theme. (Not all authors will be participating each week–links will be added at the bottom of each blog so you can compare their excerpts of that week’s participating authors.)

Some of the themes will be “defining moment” or “first kiss” or “fight scene (physical)”, or this one I found really interesting and can’t wait to see “Character Seduction Fail”.

It’ll introduce you to some new, or maybe familiar, authors and let you compare styles. See you then …

Amazon Rank creates an #Amazonfail

Wow. Yesterday was … just … wow. For those of you who don’t Twitter, or for those who somehow haven’t heard about the #amazonfail debacle … For those of you who did follow it, you’re probably tired reading about it anymore, but I do want to set the record straight about when this whole #amazonfail thing started.

For the past couple days, Storm Grant, a fellow Toronto Romance Writer and Rainbow Romance writer member (Yes, I belong to a group promoting GBLT romances) has been twittering about how her book, Gym Dandy, had recently lost its rankings but she couldn’t figure out why. If you go to Ms. Grant’s twitter page, and scroll down through her posts for the last few days, you’ll see she started talking about it on April 10th.

Yesterday morning, she twittered about a blog post made by Mark R. Probst, author of “The Filly“. Mr. Probst had noticed a few days before that his book had been deranked. (more explanation on rankings a bit later) Mr. Probst finally got an answer from Amazon as to what they’d done. At 2 a.m. April 12th, he posted a screenshot of Amazon’s reply:

In consideration of our entire customer base, we exclude “adult” material from appearing in some searches and best seller lists. Since these lists are generated using sales ranks, adult materials must also be excluded from that feature.

(By the way, Mr. Probst’s book is a Young Adult book. There’s nothing graphic about it. It’s not an adult book at all.) Notice in the first screen capture, Storm also names a couple other authors who are affected – Erastes and Alex Beecroft, along with a big name one – Anne Rice’s alter-ego Anne Rampling. (Do make sure you read both Storm’s and Mr. Probst’s blogs, along with the Smart Bitches and Dear Author’s blogs – it’s fascinating reading.)

It first came to MY attention around eight a.m. Sunday morning when Storm Grant twittered about Mark’s post, and we chatted about that a few times. Now, I’d seen people on an author loop talking about their ranking disappearing over at Amazon over the past week or more, so it wasn’t a “wow, look what’s just happened” type of conversation.

A couple minutes later, Angela James twittered about needing ideas for a blog post. I recommended how books – both erotic and GBLT – were being deranked as a possible topic; Storm provided Angela the links. By that time, Storm had added the hashtag #amazonfail to her tweets about it. (For those unfamiliar with Twitter, a hash tag is a way to search posts.) When I checked on the hashtag during that discussion, the #amazonfail page was just that. A single page. And Storm’s post was the very first to twitter about the deranking of books using the #Amazonfail hashtag. I wish I’d got a screenshot of that page, but I didn’t think it would be relevant back then.

A few minutes later, Smart Bitches tweeted the addy to Mr. Probst’s post, the same one Storm had sent to Angela. (I have no idea if Smart Bitches picked up on Storm’s post to Angela or not, I’m just saying it happened at the same time.) Then the whole Twitterverse exploded. By the end of the day, there had been over 63,000+ posts and it was still going strong when I put this up. Publishers, editors, agents, the ladies over at Smart Bitches, and Dear Author, Neil Gaiman, even Demi Moore got into the discussion. Smart Bitches even managed to set up a Google bomb.

Later on Sunday evening, the LA Times posted about it, and I was very interested to read that they seem to want to take credit for starting the trend. That one of their people twittered about it and an hour later everything exploded at about 3 p.m. Um, I don’t think so. See the post to Alex Draven below? That’s the VERY first time the #amazonfail tag was used to discuss the deranking. Who knew that would be the spark that kindled the firestorm. *Snort, I just realized the irony of that term.*


Besides, the topic had been going on for a while amongst GBLT writers, it wasn’t something that just ‘suddenly appeared’ yesterday. That fact seemed to get lost in those thousands of posts. Mr. Probst’s blogpost along with Ms. Grant’s twittering brought it to the fore, Smart Bitches (who have a big following that Storm and most of the other authors involved don’t have) picked it up and it went viral.

Another thing that was lost in the wildfire posting — it wasn’t only GBLT books that were being deranked. Erotic romances are also affected. So authors like Lauren Dane, Jaci Burton, Maya Banks, Shelli Stevens and Kate Pearce, and all the Kensington Aphrodisia authors amongst a myriad of others, have been shunted aside even though they are being equally affected. How were they affected? Well, for one thing, if you searched from the main “All Categories” search engine on Amazon’s front page, their books weren’t showing up. Jaci Burton’s Riding on Instinct which was released this week. Didn’t show up. But wait a minute, you say, you’ve just provided a link to Amazon proving that it IS there. (By the way, did you notice it’s Amazon.CA – so even the Canadian Amazon is being affected?) Thing is, when I did a search from the front page using the “All Categories” search box – yeah, it didn’t show up. I had to actually type in “Jaci Burton’s Riding On Instinct” If I hadn’t known that she had that book released this week, I’d have never found it.

Same as one of Lauren’s doesn’t show up. Same as any Kensington Aphrodisia book. See that screen shot below? I searched for Kensington Aphrodisia on Amazon.com– and lookee here, only 2 books showed up. That’s it. And neither are Kensington Aphrodisias, are they? Starting to see how it might affect an author’s sales? If a reader can’t find the book when they’re searching, they’re not going to be able to buy it.


Now, for a proper explanation of what deranking means and how it affects a book’s visibility and sales, I’m going to bow to the expertise of the ladies over at Dear Author. Go here. (What I really like about that post? It tells you that Amazon’s lame explanation that it was all the result of a glitch, just doesn’t cut it.)

Amazon finally responded late Sunday evening saying that it was a “glitch”. (Personally I can’t say I buy that excuse given that response Mr. Probst was given.) But then again, I’ve seen a lot of posts over the past year about how Amazon’s processes are an absolute mystery even to the publishers. So … it doesn’t excuse them, but it’s no surprise either.

Maybe I’m getting cautious as I’m getting older, but I don’t think all the information is out yet, not enough for me to make an informed judgement. Frankly, it may never be. Nor do I have the contacts that people like the Smart Bitches and Dear Author ladies have. So I’ll let them continue to update us. But in the meantime, it’s been an exceedingly interesting thread to watch this past 24 hours. And an incredibly powerful reminder just how much power the internet has.