inFAMOUS Second Son ★ A Review

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Why yes, that is the Space Needle you see in the background, thank you for noticing. Do you know how awesome it is to play a game set in your home territory? Awesome! And long overdue, since Sucker Punch Productions is based in Bellevue, just outside of Seattle. It was also a huge surprise, considering inFAMOUS was set in the fictional Empire City (based on New York), and inFAMOUS 2 was set in the equally fictitious city of New Marais (fashioned after New Orleans). However, the Seattle in Second Son is not the real Seattle, but I won’t spend all post pointing out the differences. Though I was sad not to see the famous red Pike Place Market sign in the game’s skyline, it was still a total blast to play…twice.

Who, What, When, Where and Why?

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inFAMOUS 2’s Cole MacGrath vs. inFAMOUS Second Son’s Delsin Rowe’s Karma

Just like its predecessors, Second Son is a Karma based game (this is why we play it twice). There is the Infamous (evil) game play and the Hero (good) game play, only Sucker Punch one-upped their own style and added a few more ways your choices affect cut scenes and the way your interactions go with friends and family. That was a nice touch.

The title Second Son seems to apply not only to the fact that we’re now playing a whole new character, but a whole new kind of conduit. It’s also a nod toward the original inFAMOUS, which dealt with the secret society, the First Sons, though this is never referenced or mentioned throughout the entire 3rd installment.

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Delsin’s first weapon of destruction

Who: Delsin Rowe, a much younger and more carefree protagonist than Cole MacGrath, who was always broody and, albeit hot for a game character, needed to stress less. Delsin is pretty much a juvenile delinquent that likes to tag, has funny comebacks and is a member of the Akomish. Washington has 29 federally recognized Native American Tribes, we’re a state overflowing with tribal culture, traditions, art, namesakes (why no one can pronounce our cities or towns) and not a single one of them is the Akomish. This is a made up name – but, with real tribes like the Snohomish, Suquamish, Samish and Skokomish, I suppose Sucker Punch found it a plausible – if not more phonetically appealing – name, without risking possible legal issues.

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What: Brooke Augustine (referred to only as Augustine) and her government-sanctioned D.U.P. (Department of Unified Protection) idiots.
When: 7 years after Cole’s final chapter in New Marais.
Where: Salmon Bay and Seattle, Washington

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Why: Conduits are now labeled as Bio-Terrorists and treated as such by the government and populace with equal prejudice and fear. In short, an escaped convict tries to use Delsin as a human shield, but Delsin ends up leeching his powers just by touching him, thus revealing himself as a conduit…er, bio-terrorist. When Delsin can’t answer any of Augustine’s questions, she reveals herself as an evil conduit and uses her ability to render most of his tribe incurably injured. This happens, regardless if you choose to turn yourself in (good) or sacrifice the tribe (evil). Despite NO conduit ever having the ability to wield more than one power on their own, Delsin has the brilliant idea that he can leech Augustine’s powers, too and save his people. In other words, it was in the script, so we’re off to Seattle…

Highlights

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A lot of the inFAMOUS features we love (just me?) are carried over into Second Son. Again, you’re given the choices between good or evil reactions/actions at just about every turn. A plethora of side missions (colored red for evil, blue for good or yellow for neutral/D.U.P. related) make your trek through an enormous city far less daunting – especially, given there are no grind-wires between rooftops like Cole always got to use. You spend a lot of time chasing down ‘blast shards’ which are now inside of little drone helicopters all over the city, so you can improve your powers and take in the scenery.

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The graphics were amazing, and I was so happy this game was available on the PS4 despite originally coming out for the PS3.

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One of my favorite features (psychiatrists will have a field day with this) was the ability to completely destroy most of the D.U.P.’s structures, barricades and walls all over the city. Have I ever mentioned that I’m not a fan of the color yellow? No, you don’t get extra cool points, it’s just fun! Another add-on not featured before was the ability to ‘unlock’ different jackets for Delsin to wear. Whattaya think? I might have to get this one below in my size.

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The absolute #1, best feature of this 3rd inFAMOUS installment, was the fact that Delsin was right – he is special – and has the ability to leech multiple conduit’s abilities. inFAMOUS 2 kind of introduced this with the “Power Transfer Device” which Cole uses to gain the powers of either Nix or Kuo, depending on if you’re playing evil or good. SP kicked this WAY up a notch, introducing a total of 4 powers Delsin gets to have and switch between by the end of the game. Of course, Delsin’s smoke is going to be the main ability used the longest and upgraded the most. Even after playing the game all the way through twice, I never found any other ability as effective against defeating enemies faster, with less chance of dying, than when using Smoke. But, here’s a look at all 4:

Smoke, is the 1st ability Delsin gets thanks to the escaped bio-terrorist convict, Hank. Hank will play a larger role in the storyline later on, as well.

Neon, is the 2nd ability Delsin gets and the one you’ll use the most outside of smoke, if for nothing more than the ability to run faster than the speed of light through the city. Did I say grind wires between rooftops? Boooorrrriiiinnng! Del gets his neon ability from another escaped bio-terrorist who calls herself Fetch, though her real name is Abigail. First you have to catch and then defeat Fetch, before you can use her powers.

Video, is the 3rd ability Delsin gets and suddenly all of those satellite dishes atop every rooftop makes perfect sense! While it’s a little badass having digital angels and demons come to your rescue and the ability to fly, or feed yourself through the airwaves – it just wasn’t that effective of a power against enemies. Like with Fetch, Delsin has to first find, then defeat Eugene in order to gain his powers.

Concrete, is the final power Delsin gets and it is also at the very end of the game – so, if you finished all of the side missions prior to this, there’s really no reason to keep playing other than to see just how far you can upgrade your new abilities. While I liked the concrete better than the video, it still never became my go-to power when up against a swarm of D.U.P. soldiers and their merciless machine guns.

Downsides

The annoying as hell sidekick: In InFamous, we had the insufferable chatterbox, Zeke, who was like a man-child unable to let go of his glory days, while simultaneously suffering from cock-envy. In InFamous 2, Zeke was far less annoying, but then we got sidled with Nix and Kuo, who were like the angel and devil on Cole’s shoulders – the living embodiments of his good and evil choices – but at least they were passionate and believable in their personalities.

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In Second Son, your A.A.H.S. is Delsin’s older brother, Reggie – the sheriff for the Akomish – and about the most prejudiced character I’ve ever had to listen to for that many hours. All of the characters in S.S. were rather flat and didn’t evoke any emotion from me. Delsin at least had witty comebacks and when he goes evil, he doesn’t go halfway. The lack of characterization in this game was further amplified by the pathetic dialogue. There was no depth or even likeability – especially, for Reggie. That was just a bad character all around. I got more emotion out of the conversations we had to find the right signal to eavesdrop on from the faceless, nameless D.U.P. soldiers. Yes, that was another downside. I wish I could’ve made Delsin throw that damn walkie-talkie off the roof a thousand times.

Final Conclusion

Aside from the horrible dialogue and flat sub-characters, inFAMOUS Second Son was still a kick ass game that introduced many more conduit abilities and harder to beat enemies. Hell, even just defeating Fetch and Eugene – who end up becoming your friends – was extremely tough! I loved that the amount of side missions were both plentiful and different than inFAMOUS 1&2. The only one I didn’t care for that much was the tagging. It was just kind of a blahzay thing you had to do to clear the areas.

What did I miss? Believe it or not – I missed the public throwing rocks! LOL In inFAMOUS 1&2, if you were evil, you had to dodge bad guys AND mobs of pedestrians who would throw rocks at you, even as you were scaling buildings. In Second Son, they cheer and crowd around you when you’re good (so irritating when you’re trying to move fast) but they scream and run from you when you’re evil? C’mon, Sucker Punch! Where’s the passion?

With all that said, I’m not sure I would play another inFAMOUS installment, unless the character depth could be reintroduced into the storyline. Second Son was fun. inFAMOUS 1 & 2 were epic. Something got lost in between…

Currently Playing: Rise of a Tomb Raider slowly, but surely. So far, I’m on the fence…it’s bound to be an interesting review when I’m all done. 😉

All images were found on the internet and I do not own any rights to them, the story, game or characters mentioned in this post. No copyright infringement intended.

 

Excerpt & Giveaway ♥ Not A Game by: Cardeno C.!

Not a Game

An accidental meeting and a misunderstanding lead to a life-altering connection.

A new job, a new city, and hopefully a new life. When chubby gamer Oliver Barnaby receives a job offer from the best boutique game developer in the country, he leaves his family and his less than spectacular existence in Oklahoma without a second’s hesitation. Determined to change more than his career and his geography, Oliver implements a plan to finally land a boyfriend. Step one is improving his skills in the bedroom.

A life that looks perfect on paper, but feels empty in reality. Attractive, successful, charismatic Jaime Snow has a life other people envy. His already booming business is growing. He isn’t lacking in friends. And he has no trouble finding a date. But there’s an emptiness in Jaime’s heart and a hole in his life that only the right man can fill.

An accidental meeting, a misunderstanding, and falling in love. When Oliver and Jaime end up at the same bar at the same time, they each see something they want in the other. Going to bed together that first night is easy. Building the lifetime relationship they both desperately crave will require trust, time, and a little misunderstanding.

Amazon / All Romance eBooks / Amazon CA / Amazon UK

Barnes & Noble / iTunes / Kobo / Smashwords

EXCERPT

Not a Game Print

Chapter 1:

He had chosen the bar because of its name: The Bookstore. It was clever and unusual and he had laughed internally at how happy his mother would be if he told her he was spending time at the Bookstore instead of in front of his computer. Oliver’s entire life, she had mourned the fact he wasn’t a reader, and even though he had now moved two thousand miles away from their home in Oklahoma City, she still sent him books she was sure he’d love. Maybe someday he’d open one of them.

For now, he glanced down at the only book he had read countless times and adjusted it at the edge of his table to make the spine as visible as possible. The title—Coding—wasn’t as clever as the bar name, but the information and the way it was phrased had clicked perfectly in Oliver’s brain when he was a college freshman. He had long since moved past the information inside, but the textbook was the closest thing he had to a security blanket, so he had held onto it through four years of progressively more complicated computer science classes, three dead-end computer repair and technical support jobs, and a move to Seattle to finally, finally, live his dream developing video games. When he had to pick a way to identify himself to the stranger who would guide him on the last phase of his journey toward living the life he had always wanted, the first thing that came to Oliver’s mind was the book that had started it all.

With the spine facing the bar and walkway and his glass empty, Oliver had nothing left to do but wait or get his phone out to play a quick turn on Clash of Clans. He reached into his pocket almost before his brain had formulated the thought. A quick glance at his screen confirmed it was still twenty minutes shy of eight o’clock. Oliver prided himself on timeliness, something his father had drummed into him since he was a boy, and after two months in Seattle, he hadn’t yet gotten a handle on how long it took to get anywhere, so he had erred on the side of caution and ended up arriving half an hour early.

In his head, his mother lectured him about playing on his phone when he should be paying attention to people, but he was twenty-eight years old, and she was too far away to see him, so he ignored her and tried to lose himself in a game. Besides, taking his mind off why he was in that bar would stop him from falling headfirst into an anxiety attack, and even his mother would agree that was a good thing in a social setting. Not that she would ever have the chance to know about his plans that evening, because, despite how close they were, this was one activity Oliver absolutely would not share with his family. Or anyone else for that matter.

Nerves rising, he scratched his upper back through his shirt with one hand and his thigh with the other. Recognizing what he was doing, he forced his hands away before he broke the skin. Hoping for a distraction, he jerked his gaze toward his pop when, suddenly, from the corner of his eye, he noticed someone moving in his direction. Instinctively, Oliver grabbed the glass and scrunched over it, using the act of sipping from a straw as a

shield to keep himself from staring at people who inevitably didn’t notice him. But when the man didn’t veer away and instead came closer, Oliver glanced up and realized the stranger was looking right at his book. Which meant he was either coming to tease the chubby nerd for having a textbook at a bar on a Friday night or…

Oh my God. This is him. Oliver kept his head down but couldn’t stop himself from flicking his gaze back and forth between his still empty glass and the approaching man.

Older than Oliver, but not too old, broad shoulders, light eyes, short dark hair, and a sculpted face. The man stopped right next to the table, waited for Oliver to look up, and then said, “Interesting reading choice.” He tapped the top of the cover and tried to meet Oliver’s gaze.

Even though this was one situation where Oliver couldn’t be rejected or laughed at, he still struggled to speak to such a handsome man, and he definitely couldn’t make eye contact with him. And now that he was close enough for Oliver to see him clearly, he definitely knew that was true. He set his gaze on the man’s chin and took in his features.

The dark hair was brown but it had strands of chestnut at the top and flecks of silver in the sideburns, which extended to the bottom of his earlobe. The light eyes were green, a pale shade that still managed to look warm. And the broad shoulders topped a chest so muscular that it stretched the black T-shirt he wore underneath a well-fitted jacket. This guy was fantasy material, and Oliver couldn’t believe he had gotten so lucky.

“Is this book yours?”

“Yes,” Oliver said hoarsely and then cleared his throat. “It’s mine.”

The man’s forehead crinkled. He tilted his head to the side and stared at Oliver.

At first, the odd look discomforted him, but then Oliver remembered the social etiquette classes he had been forced to attend in middle school, and he realized where he had gone wrong.

“Please have a seat,” he said, raising his hand toward the empty chair across from him. Though his voice still shook more than he would have liked, it was a bolder invitation than he usually gave. Of course, usually men didn’t approach him, especially incredibly handsome men, and usually people didn’t want to hang out with him, and usually he didn’t look up escort services and set up a meeting. So today was anything but Oliver’s usual.

“Thanks.” The man pulled back the empty chair, sat, and then scooted it forward. “I’m Jaime.” He reached his hand out.

Oliver glanced down at the hand, blinked, and then remembered his manners. “I’m Oliver.” He wiped his sweaty palm on his jeans, took Jaime’s hand, and shook it. “Oliver Barnaby.”

Oh crap. Was giving his last name in this situation a bad idea? Oh well. If everything went as expected, Oliver would be spending time alone with this man, which would put him at more risk than sharing his name. He had made reservations at the hotel upstairs, which was expensive and not completely secure, but it had to be safer than bringing a stranger to his apartment.

“So, Oliver Barnaby.” Grinning, Jaime glanced at the book and arched his eyebrows. “What are you doing here with this?”

Straight to the point. In Jaime’s line of work, being direct made sense, but Oliver wasn’t skilled at holding an articulate conversation with a live human so he fidgeted in his seat. “Well, uh…” He gulped.

“Late night study session?” The comment was teasing, but the tone held no malice and Jaime’s expression, while most definitely amused, wasn’t cruel.

“Sorry. I’m being silly.” Oliver shook his head. “We both know why we’re here so—” He drew in a deep breath. “I’m not sure how much he told you.” He frowned and thought back to the brief phone call he’d had with the man from the ad. “Actually, I don’t remember how much detail I gave him other than saying I needed someone experienced.”

“Experienced?”

“Uh-huh. Because, uh.” He looked at Jaime’s handsome face and once again lost the power of speech.

He hadn’t thought through how the escort agency would interpret his request but now he realized they had taken it to mean Oliver wanted someone a bit older. As luck would have it, older men were very much Oliver’s type. Or they would be if he had a type. Someone probably needed to go on actual dates rather than just fantasize about them before he could say he had a type.

“Oliver?”

Oliver blinked.

“You were saying you needed someone experienced?”

“Right.” He bobbed his head. “See the thing is, I didn’t hire you for sex.”

There was no missing the shock that crossed Jaime’s face.

“That didn’t come out right.” Oliver quickly backtracked. The last thing he wanted was for Jaime to think he was being stiffed because then he’d get up and walk out and Oliver would have to start his search all over again. The odds of finding someone as attractive and nice as Jaime to teach him were so low they rounded to zero. “I know what escort means and I’m all set to pay you. I have the money.” He patted his pocket and said an internal thank-you for his new company’s generosity. “What I meant was that I don’t want to have sex with you.”

Jaime chuckled and arched his eyebrows, but he didn’t say anything.

“Ugh.” Oliver shook his head. “I didn’t mean that either.” He raised his hand and moved it up and down in Jaime’s direction. “Look at you. Obviously, I want to have sex with you. But it’s not about eating the meal, it’s about learning to fish, you know?”

“I think I’m getting the picture, but why don’t you fill in the details?” Jaime lowered his voice. “And try to keep the whole paying for sex thing out of it.” One side of his lips rose in a crooked smile. “We are in public after all and not everything is legal in Washington.”

Oh God. Oliver jerked his head from side to side, checking to see if anyone was close enough to hear him. The bar wasn’t big and there were a decent number of customers, so someone probably had. He leaned forward, his belly squishing against the table. “Do you think people will call the police? Should we leave?”

“No and”—Jaime’s smile shifted from amused to wicked—“eventually. But first, tell me about learning to fish.” Jaime settled into his chair and crossed his arms over his chest, his biceps giving the gray suede jacket a workout. “I assume we aren’t talking about the great outdoors, so what exactly are you hiring me to teach you?”

When he had come up with the idea to hire an escort, Oliver had focused on how much it would cost, where to do it, and what he’d be able to squeeze into one night. He had also spent a decent amount of time second-guessing his plan. But he had never considered how he would explain what he wanted to the man he paid to help him.

“Do you guys have like, uh, confidentiality requirements?” Oliver asked.

Jaime arched his eyebrows. “Confidentiality?”

“Yeah.” Oliver bobbed his head. “What I tell you has to stay between us, right?”

“Well.” Jaime’s mouth turned up at the corners and then he licked his lips, coughed, and said, “I’m not a psychiatrist or an attorney, so there’s not a licensing board out there keeping me honest, but I’ll give you my word to keep this just between us. How’s that?”

After considering the response and his alternatives for a couple of seconds, Oliver said, “That works.”

“Glad we got the preliminaries out of the way.” Jaime smiled. “Tell me what you need, Oliver.”

When he said Oliver’s name, Jaime’s voice dropped, going deeper and raspier. The tone sent a pang through Oliver’s gut and reminded him why this man got paid to do what he did. That made what Oliver had to say even more humiliating, but he didn’t want his life in Seattle to be like his life in Oklahoma, so he pushed through the shame and forced himself to speak.

“I’m pretty sure I’m bad in bed and I want help with that.” He bit his lip. “Real help. Not what people brag about online.” He had read endless blogs and subscribed to chat rooms, but loath as he was to admit it, the internet didn’t have all the answers.

Looking surprised, Jaime blinked a few times, cleared his throat, and then said, “Why do you think you’re bad in bed?”

That question was easy to answer. “My ex told me.”

The good-natured, amused expression disappeared from Jaime’s face. “Your ex sounds like a dick. Find someone else and forget about him.”

“That’s just it. I can’t find someone else.” Realizing he sounded whiney, Oliver took a moment to breathe. He sat up straight, rolled his neck, and then ruined his attempt at looking confident by slumping. “People never like me in real life. I’m twenty-eight and Ted was the only guy who’s ever been willing to sleep with me. That was four years ago.” His voice shook. “I need help.”

“Hey.” Jaime’s eyes softened, and he leaned forward, curling his hand around Oliver’s forearm. “It’s going to be okay. I promise.”

Jaime’s touch was ten times more potent than his voice, and suddenly, Oliver wanted to follow through on his plans for the night because of something entirely unrelated to learning and improving himself. He stayed perfectly still, letting the pleasurable feelings wash over him until Jaime removed his hand. And then the floodgates opened.

“I just moved to Seattle in August. Did I tell you that already? I want things to be different here. I got this great job making lots of money, and I have my own apartment, but that’s not enough. I’m going to join a gym so I can lose weight, because I know guys aren’t going to be interested in me like this.” He waved his hand up and down beside his too fat, too flabby body. “I’ll never be good-looking like you, but hopefully exercise will help, and I can diet too and then maybe someone will be interested, but then what? At some point we’ll end up in bed and then he’ll never want to see me again.” He took a deep breath, his heart racing. “That’s why I hired you. I need to get better, so if I actually find someone who’s interested, I can hold on to him.” He squeezed and released his hands and stared at Jaime, hoping he’d understand.

“All right,” Jaime said calmly. “I hear you and I’m not turning you down.” He looked at Oliver meaningfully, only continuing after Oliver nodded in understanding. “We can get out of here and do this, but before we do, I want you to know that not every guy is into gym bunnies or twinks. You’re really good-looking, Oliver.”

“You’re getting paid to say that,” Oliver mumbled, dropping his gaze from Jaime’s eyes. Even that part of him was attractive—layers of green far more interesting than Oliver’s own boring brown.

“No, I’m not.” Jaime’s jaw ticced as he spoke, and he sounded so firm that Oliver would have believed him if he hadn’t found the man through an escort ad.

“It’s fine,” Oliver said. “I’m past worrying about being pathetic for paying for sex.” He sighed and dragged his fingers through his hair, hoping he wasn’t making the too long strands stick out in weird directions. “Actually, it helps. I’d never have the nerve to talk to a guy like you in real life, even if it was just to answer a question about directions or something.” He rolled his eyes at his own shortcomings. “Knowing you can’t laugh at me or judge me or turn me down makes this better.” It made it possible. “That’s all I need. Don’t worry about the fake compliments.”

“It wasn’t fake.”

Of course it was. Oliver was good-looking in the same way the bar was a bookstore. But that didn’t matter and Jaime sounded angry, so Oliver stopped arguing and refocused the conversation on the reason they were both in the Bookstore that wasn’t actually a bookstore. “I reserved a room upstairs in the hotel.”

Jaime pulled his eyebrows together and narrowed his eyes and, for a horrible moment, Oliver was sure he had changed his mind and he was about to leave. Oliver was about to plead for another chance, but then Jaime’s face smoothed and he rose from his chair.

“Lead the way, Oliver. I’m looking forward to”—he dragged his gaze over Oliver’s body, his expression unlike any Oliver previously had seen directed at him—“fishing with you.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Cardeno C - Logo

Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

Dear Indie ♥ Weekly Resource Post

Independent

Publishing Part 2

Welcome back! This is the second post this week, since I had to break this publishing segment into 2 parts.  In this section, I’d like to cover the #1 online retailer world-wide.  Amazon is actually an e-commerce search engine, but many view it as its own ‘store.’  With headquarters based in Seattle, WA, Amazon’s reach to potential buyers, new fans and readers is further than any other Indie Book Publishing platform available.  Here’s what they have to offer:

AMAZON

Kindle Direct Publishing: is the original and most frequently used Program that Amazon has to offer Indie Authors.  If you’ve already uploaded your book to Smashwords, then you’ll find Amazon’s process is quite similar and easy to follow.  Here are the most important things to know about KDP:

  • Just like Smashwords, KDP has an available walk-through style guide called Building Your Book for Kindle on how you’ll need to format the interior layout of your book – however – if you’ve already formatted it to Smashwords specifications, you’ll find that it is exactly the same as KDP’s so there’s no need to worry about formatting it twice.  The key difference is that while Smashwords only accepts MS .doc files, KDP only accepts HTML, so you’ll have to save your document in an HTML format in order to upload it to Amazon.
  • Your book cover can only be uploaded as a JPEG file, whereas most other places accept PNG, so make sure you have a JPEG version of your book cover – if you only have a PNG, open it in “Paint” and “Save As” a JPEG – this is the easiest way to convert graphics without ruining your cover or downloading a free converter onto your computer (though that is also an option).
  • This is a mistake I just made: KDP does not automatically assign you as the author of your book, you have to do that under the “Add Contributor” section of your Bookshelf.
  • Also, KDP does not allow you to make multiple changes to your book if you forgot to before hitting the “save and continue.” You must wait for it to come out of ‘Review’ before you can go back into your Bookshelf (the equivalent of Smashwords’ Dashboard feature) and make the other necessary change(s).
  • KDP also has a Pre-Order publication option, though they don’t seem to offer the same ‘Assetless Preorder’ that Smashwords does.  Plus, they require that the final version of your book be uploaded 10 days prior to the scheduled publication date – so to maximize this option, make sure you publish your Pre-Order books more than 10 days out from its release date.
  • KDP will assign it’s own FREE ASIN # for your book, if you don’t already have a purchased ISBN #.

*Note: I paid extra for a formatter to send me both a Smashwords and a Kindle formatted version of my book, only to find out it was an unnecessary charge – PLEASE do not pay for a PDF, Mobi or Epub version of your book, both Smashwords and Amazon convert your word document all on their own – and – after your book has been successfully uploaded to Smashwords, they allow you to download a Full FREE copy of your book in any format you want (mobi, epub, PDF, doc, etc.) or all of the above – So save your money!

*Note: For pre-publication ARC’s and Beta Reader Copies, you can download a FREE eBook converter called Calibre which will convert any document file or even ebook file to any format you need (mobi, epub, PDF, etc.)- make sure you preview the finished product before sending it out, as you may have to use their features to adjust the font, font size and page width to be more reader-friendly. The nice thing is that you don’t have to scrap it and start over, merely select the same file and re-convert it into the same format with the changes and it’s done! Calibre automatically overrides the first conversion so your computer isn’t filling up with unwanted files.

Calibre also acts as an e-reader in case you ever receive an epub copy of someone else’s book and don’t already have an e-reader – simply right click on the epub file, select “open with” and find Calibre (mine is on my desktop) – and voila, you can now read epub files!

Do you know the difference between KDP and KDP Select?  I haven’t done thorough research yet, but here are the most distinctive differences:

  • KDP Select is 100% exclusive – which means that you are not allowed to publish your book through any other retailer while you are active in the KDP Select Program – so, if this is something you’re considering DO NOT publish through Smashwords first, as it will render your book disqualified for the KDP Select Program.
  • KDP Select allows authors to lower the price of their books or make them FREE for a certain amount of time every 90 days – and this is why most authors join KDP Select, because nothing gives your book more exposure than listing it for FREE. (There are other ways to get Amazon to sell your book for FREE without tying your publishing hands, though – scroll down for that information.)
  • KDP Select takes full control over how your book is promoted and which promotional deals they will offer it in – but this is also a benefit, because it’s marketing you don’t have to pay for on the world’s largest retail search engine.

*That is all I know about the select program so far, so please follow the link above to learn more.

Another thing that Amazon KDP has is the Kindle MatchBook feature.  This allows customers who’ve purchased a Print copy of your book to purchase the digital version for $2.99 or less.  I haven’t looked into this too deeply, but it could be a good marketing feature!

How to Force Amazon to Sell Your Book for FREE:

According to Nick Stephenson, if you upload your eBook to KDP for $0.99 cents (that is the minimum allowed for new uploads) and then upload your books through Smashwords for FREE – you can then request that Amazon “Price Match” your books being sold everywhere else.  It might take some time for them to approve it, but this is supposed to be the alternative to the KDP Select program if you’d like to give your book away for FREE. – I am going to attempt this at some point, so look for an update on this topic in the future.

CreateSpace: This is Amazon’s Print On Demand (POD) platform.  I do not know anything about POD’s, except that the requirements for Book Covers and Formatting are completely different than your eBook version, as you can imagine, so you will have to provide a printable version of both in order to upload your book through a POD.  I know nothing else – and I do not know of any other POD’s by name, so if you do, can you please leave a comment about it below?  Thanks, that would be awesome!

Fun Fact: Did you know that Amazon has actual, brick & mortar Bookstores? I just found that out – all books are sold at the same price as you’d find on Amazon.com. Interesting.