Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Amazon's Author Central and all-new Author Rank

In case writers needed something else to obsess over - cause honestly, how many times can you refresh the KDP sales reports or check your book's ranking - now there's Author Rank. 

Authors on Amazon may have received an email in mid-September asking us to review or update the information in our Author Central profiles. "Author Central? What's that?" Wait; you don't have an Author Central account? Time to get one at Author Central.Amazon.com. From there, you can see all your titles, current rankings, reviews, add videos / book trailers and, as suggested in the Amazon email, establish or review your profile which is then visible to all Amazon customers. So add a nice picture.

You can also create profiles on the Author Central UK, French and German sites too. Is all that necessary; can't Amazon just show the data available in the .com site? No idea.

What does Author Rank indicate? According to Amazon, it's "the definitive list of best-selling authors on Amazon.com.  This list makes it easy for readers to discover the best-selling authors on Amazon.com overall and within a selection of major genres.
Amazon Author Rank is your rank based on the sales of all of your books on Amazon.com.  Just like Amazon Best Sellers, it is updated hourly.  The top 100 authors overall and the top 100 in selected genres will be displayed on Amazon.com.  You can see your Amazon Author Rank trended over time in Author Central.
You can find your Amazon Author Rank in Author Central under the Rank tab.  Historical rank data is available from September 28, 2012."
Why is my rank so low? Congratulations! As with sales rankings, lower is better - #1 means you're the top author in your particular genre.
Why is my rank so high? Congratulations! You've sold at least one book as an author on Amazon. (Don't be sad - just go with it!)
I don't have a rank! Um...um...I bet you will soon! Yeah, that's it.
When I click Rank, I see a genre listed. What does that mean? The categories your books appear in on Amazon. For instance, Amazon has classed my books  as historical fiction, romance and contemporary (more on that later), so Author Rank shows my standing in those genres. Not exactly how I classify my work - all except On Falcon's Wings & Long Way Home are categorized in Amazon KDP as Historical Biographical and would appear on that category if they were in the top 100 related books sold. (How I wish!!!) 

Why should I care about having an Amazon profile? It's one more place for you to be visible and share more about yourself with Amazon customers. Showcase your personality, writing interests, and provide insight into your creative process.     

Where does the profile appear on Amazon? Find your title on Amazon. Click your name next to Author in brackets. If you have an existing profile, it will show the information you've added to the Author Central, your picture and titles, sorted by the last title to decrease in sales rank (remember, low or decreasing is good). You can also link your blog, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest accounts to your profile and see links to the other authors whom your Amazon customers have bought titles from. Looks like:

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Next Big Thing Challenge: Part II

I’ve been tagged again in the Next Big Thing Challenge again, respectively by Wendy Laharnar  last week and Kim Rendfeld this week. Wendy’s post won’t appear until October 24 but Kim’s is here. Ladies, thank you both for tagging me. This post gives me a chance to share some details of my current WIP.

What is the working title of your book?
Sultana: Two Sisters.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
The novel is a sequel to my Moorish Spain series, which started in Sultana and continued in Sultana’s Legacy. It picks up almost ten years after the events of Sultana’s Legacy where Yusuf, the grandson of my main characters in the earlier books, rules in Granada and his wives vie to put each of their sons on the throne. There are two minor characters from the earlier books who make an appearance here. Sorry to disappoint anyone who hoped for more of the earlier characters, but they had died by the time this new novel begins. However, the repercussions of their actions have a profound (you should read that as troubling) effect on Yusuf's reign. Don't say you weren't warned.

What genre does your book fall under?
Historical biographical – it’s what I write!

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Again, I don’t think of actors in the roles of my characters, but if I must:

Khaled Nabawy would portray Yusuf I, Sultan of Gharnatah.

One of the Sultan’s foremost ministers, Ibn al-Khatib, described Yusuf in part as: “The Sultan was dark-skinned, naturally strong, had a fine figure and an even finer character. His teeth sparkled, he had large eyes and dark straight hair, a thick beard, a handsome face….” I think Khaled Nabawy, whom I last saw in 2005's Kingdom of Heaven with Orlando Bloom, would be a good fit.

Natalie Portman would portray Esperanza Peralta, who becomes Yusuf's first wife Butayna.

I’ve always imagined my female protagonist as a young, lithe but not so beautiful girl. I speculate on her origins in Sultana: Two Sisters, but when the real historical figure entered Yusuf’s harem, she received the name Butayna. The name means “possessing a young and tender body.” Natalie Portman is much prettier than I envision the character, but I think she epitomizes the name ascribed to Yusuf’s first wife and the mother of his heir Muhammad V and his daughter Aisha.

Paz Vega would portray Maryam, Yusuf's second wife.

Ibn al-Khatib describes Yusuf as being under the influence of his second wife Maryam, the mother of his sons Ismail II and Qays and his daughters Fatima, Mumina, Khadija, Shams and Zaynab. In my characterization of Maryam, she enthralls Yusuf with her beauty and charms. Who wouldn’t be fascinated if your wife looked like Paz Vega?

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In fourteenth-century Moorish Spain, two former friends become bitter rivals in a contest for the throne. 

Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
Self-published, like Sultana and Sultana’s Legacy.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I started in March and finished in August, so six months. The groundwork for a lot of this novel came about when I was writing the earlier books, so the story felt almost as if it wrote itself. 

What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Do my own in Sultana and Sultana’s Legacy count?

Who or what inspired you to write this book?

I wanted to see how well my earlier books on the period would do before writing Sultana: Two Sisters. My fascination with Moorish Spain and its rulers continues. I don’t know why this period isn't as popular as that of the Tudors; it’s rife with dynastic rivalry, ambitions, betrayals and vengeance within a kingdom hemmed in on all sides by Christian and Muslim rivals. I have a very small goal in mind: to put Moorish Spain “on the map” and make it as familiar to my readers as other historical eras and locales.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The sensuality and harsh cruelty of harem life is equally as fascinating as the politics outside those secluded walls. Butayna and Maryam shared a life with Yusuf, but each had contrasting ambitions that could only culminate in a violent clash between them. I hope readers will find their rivalry and the dynamics each shares with Yusuf fascinating. 

I tagged some folks before as the Next Big Thing works its way around the internet, so let's try some others: Michelle Davidson Argyle, Victoria Dixon, Heather Domin, Julie K. Rose and Gemi Sasson. 

Time flies when you're having fun, or writing novels.

It's been a tremendous twelve months. A new job and health issues have impacted my writing time, but I'm still at it, trying to wrap...