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I AM UNAVAILABLE (maybe you are too)

November 15, 2018 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , , ,

This morning the wonderful author, Mindy Neff, forwarded a blog post by David Gaugrhran. I had to read it twice to understand that Amazon had a problem and it affected me. Somehow many of our books are now unavailable for sale in the European market. Most of these markets are very small and those readers access  Amazon through the U.S. portal. Granted I don’t sell many books in Malta, but I would like to have a presence there. But these weren’t the only markets in play. Australia – a huge market for me – is compromised. The UK, another market where my sales were solid is now nonexistent. Canada also is showing unavailability.

I had noticed the sad state of affairs on my dashboard in the last few weeks, but I put it down to a change in fashion. Perhaps people were tired of thrillers; perhaps another sub-genre had edged out my procedurals. Now it seems that – best guess – the new software Amazon put in place to comply with the EU’s demands to protect their population from information gathering and sharing might be at fault. I applaud the effort Amazon made for compliance, but I am disappointed in the lack of communication regarding the problem.

There is also good news to be gleaned from this. First, the community of authors is generous. Thank you Mindy for passing along this information. Thank you David Gaugrahn for explaining the situation as you know it. Both have allowed me to be proactive in contacting Amazon. I haven’t heard back yet, but through the grapevine I understand Amazon is working hard on the problem. Next, this was a wake-up call for me. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by the amount of information coming my way. Like a reader skipping to get to the end of a book, I can miss things that are crucial to my business. I am recommitting to staying on top of things. Finally, such an ‘event’ reminds me why I went wide. While I have an aversion to selling my work to one outlet based solely on principal, this reminds me that there are also real reasons not to so so. With Amazon dark in so many markets I am still available through Smashwords itself and the platforms to which they deliver.

Maybe now is the time for you to take a minute to reassess your publication strategy. Selling only through Amazon might be a perfect match for you. As for me? I want to do everything I can to remain available.

Rebecca Forster started writing on a crazy dare, now she is the USA Today and Amazon best selling author of over 35 books. Her thrillers have been called “Perfect. . .Impossible to put down” by the CBS legal correspondent, Laurie Levenson. Rebecca is married to a superior court judge and is the  mother of two grown sons.

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Cover Me

August 15, 2018 by in category The Write Life by Rebecca Forster tagged as , , , , , , ,

I find it difficult to write – or speak – in short form. To communicate, I must take not just the road less traveled but also all roads in between. My children say a conversation with me is like trying to keep your head above water in the ocean while being knocked about by swells and the occasional rogue wave. I’m not sure if my husband share’s this opinion. Then again, I’m not sure my husband’s hearing is up to snuff.

When my boys were small they begged me to write a children’s book. I ended with fifty thousand words and killed off most of the characters, so my one effort really wasn’t suitable for children (it was, however, the basis for a later novel).

I had a similar problem with lullabies. As a young mother I realized I didn’t know any. Still, I was determined to be maternal and sing my boys to sleep. In those days Cops was all the rage and the theme song was catchy, so I softly sang “bad boys, bad boys, whatcha going to do when Sheriff Brown comes for you?” Years later, my sons told me that they would stare wide-eyed into the night waiting for the police to come get them because they were pretty sure they were bad boys. Luckily, they have stopped asking me to write a children’s book and these days no one wants to hear me sing.

All this brings me to the point. It can be unbearably difficult for a cover designer to work with someone like me. Up front I am apologizing to Hadleigh O.Charles (cover designer) for my inability to be decisive, my tendency to forward six thousand royalty free photos for her consideration, and my failure to understand that the blue stripes at the top of an email mean there is something for me to download. Since I have learned nothing from my children’s assessment of my communication style, my emails to Hadleigh are like the verbal pinging of a steel ball inside a bell.

E-mail #1: Hadleigh, are you there? Hadleigh? I need a cover.
Hadleigh’s response: I’m here
E-mail #2: Well, it’s for the (fill in the blank) series and the story is about (fill in the character) and (fill in three thousand plot points) and I’m attaching a few images – but then again you probably have some ideas – so shoot me what you think and – oh, wait – how’s the dog? Hope it’s not too hot where you are. But then again the story really is about people buried in the desert – then again maybe a half naked woman on the front would be better. . . in silhouette, of course. . .”
Hadleigh’s response: Silence
E-mail #3 (usually a minute later so to be fair she hasn’t had time to respond): Hadleigh, really, you do what you want, but I don’t think we should have blood. Do you think we should have blood? Have you seen other thriller authors use a lot of blood? I’m going to visit my mom so don’t worry if you don’t hear from me for a day. . . Still, here are a couple of links – okay ten links – maybe more – so you can take a look at the top ten (maybe more) bestsellers in my genre – when you have time. But I would like to be a little different. Like them but not the same. Better. You know? Like bestseller better. No hurry. I’m seriously going to visit my mom overnight.
Hadleigh’s response: Silence (perhaps she knows that I am writing email #4 within five minutes of email #3)
E-mail #4: Five pages peppered with ideas, apologies for bothering her, explanations, useless terms that I think describe typeface, color and composition.


Hadleigh’s response (a day or so later): Three beautiful covers that somehow incorporate tiny specks of rational thought mined from my manic ramblings. She also sends an update on her dog.

Unlike my children, Hadleigh does not lay wide-eyed and paralyzed by my avalanche of input, yet like my children she manages to figure out what’s important. Hadleigh, love you and every other cover designer out there. So happy you have all us authors covered.

REBECCA FORSTER started writing on a crazy dare. Now she is a USA Today and Amazon best selling author with over 30 books to her name. These include the acclaimed Witness Series, Josie Bates Thrillers and her latest, The Finn O’Brien Thrillers. She is married to a superior court judge and is the mother of two grown children. When not writing, Rebecca is traveling the world looking for inspiration, sewing, playing tennis and reading.

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