New KDP Dashboard

Believe it or not, nothing new has really happened in the world of publishing that I really felt the need to summarize here. Couple that with my personal forays into this world having been stalled by my day job (and a fair bit of procrastination on my part) and I just really haven’t had much to say.

Then I check my email and see that KDP has a nifty update waiting for me.

A lot of people have complained about a lack of visibility from Amazon regarding sales data. Both Nook and Kobo show you how much money you’re making as you go and allow for some pretty decent reporting. I was particularly impressed with Nook Press as their dashboard continues to look the slickest and provide some pretty good data.

Not anymore though.

Now KDP has a Sales Dashboard that show graphically how many sales you’ve made, is fully customizable, and even shows your royalties through that time period. Now, not only can I see what I’m selling, I can actually pull a full list of every single thing I’ve sold, see what price it was and what day it sold on. The only way I could think it could be better is if it told me the time of day.

This is a really great step for Amazon, to me at least. I’m sure there are a few things I’m still missing (and I would love to see how many people visit my book’s page, conversion from opening the intro to reading, etc, even if it were an aggregated percentage) but I’m sure there will be plenty of constructive criticism in the blogosphere.

Once I get around to reading it…

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Sharing the Wealth: 4/11/2014

The week started off with a post from Tracy Hickman, responding to the Joe Konrath post in my Sharing the Wealth last week. It’s very well done, and makes me respect him a ton more, but I guess I still don’t really understand what his biggest problem is. I think it all comes down to price, and he’s blaming that on his lower earnings. To me, price is the wrong thing to blame for this. I would argue this has more to do with a changing industry than anything else, specifically changing genres, booksellers (of which his type of fiction was so dependent), and selection.

The Hardman Writing Stylus discusses competition in the market. It makes an analogy between the car industry back at the turn of the century (the one most of us were born in, not the one we’re currently in) and authors. At that time there were a couple thousand manufacturers of cars, vs the few dozen we have now. It crowded that market, choking those that couldn’t keep up. I would say something like this will happen, but mainly because people who don’t really want to write as a career will move on to something else as they get bored or have their dreams realized.

The London Book fair opened with a keynote speech from Anthony Horowitz, who discussed how Amazon is evil. He goes on to discuss how they’ve dominated the bookseller market and don’t pay their fair share of taxes to the U.K. The horror! The thing is, he then goes on to discuss how much he loves them and that’s really the problem. So, as an author and consumer he sounds fine, it’s only as a supporter of traditional publishing that he seems to have a problem.

Amazon is discussing their vision for the future of self-publishing. It’s interesting, because they’re really just saying be a hybrid, that in a few years you’ll just be an author and no one will really look at how your portfolio is distributed. I’d like to see Fine more involved in the industry, before this I didn’t know who he was.

Forbes has a great post on how Jeff Bezos and Amazon decodes customers (brought to us by Passive Guy). This, the mindset of leaving a position for the customer at every meeting, is why they win. Passive Guy, and Amazon themselves, say they see authors as customers. I do not agree with this at this point. I love amazon, I love KDP, but I’m a supplier not a customer. Amazon’s treatment of their Suppliers has, as with any large company, been very severe and strict. It takes a lot to keep that machine running and they have no patience for anything but perfection. I hope they see us as customers, maybe that’ll keep them from dropping their royalty, but I don’t see it that way quite yet.

Kory M. Shrum discusses why she went hybrid. She’s not the only one either.

Scott William Carter makes the comparison between paperbacks at the turn of that aforementioned last century, and ebooks now. Cost went down, and people complained, people being everyone but the people who bought them.

Business Insider discusses Amazon’s Pat to Quit program, in which they will pay a warehouse worker $5,000 to quit. I believe they got this from Zappos (who they now own), who offers it to their customer service people after they complete their training. This is to get rid of people who don’t really want to be there, and helps cultivate a better workforce. Look, working in a warehouse is hard. Hardest work I’ve ever done. Also the most satisfying. It’s brutal and hot and sweaty, but it pays well and the dust from the belts and boxes is easier to wash out of your hair than burger grease.

David Guaghran compares price to value, and how that should apply to books. The whole, my books is worth more than that, is such bullshit. How much do you think it costs to make an ipod? You think it’s a couple hundred bucks? You’d be dead wrong, at least for the ONE ipod. If they only sold a few, it would costs MILLIONS to make an ipod. That’s how you have to think of your book. All your cost is fixed, the more you sell the more of those costs get diluted and the more money you make.

He also revisits 15 ways KDP can improve. Some have passes, others have failed, but a great analysis.

Speaking on that whole value thing, the Watershed Chronicles has an analysis of the value proposition booksellers have (or think they have) to readers and why they’re failing to find buyers. His followup is just as good.

Amazon is acquiring comiXology. I posted, I wanna say a couple weeks back, about comic book adaptions possibly becoming a thing, ala ACX. I could, very easily, see this making that happen. Amazon needs a place that sells comics to make this happen. Now they have it.

Calling it this week. Everyone have a great weekend!

 

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A Belated Sharing the Wealth: 4/4/2013

Yep, I’m still alive.

It’s been a busy couple weeks, due 100% to my day job. As a result, I barely had time to read through the blogoshphere, let alone commit to writing everything down. Tonight I’m taking a break from other things and starting to assemble the posts I’ve really wanted to talk about for at least half of March.

I don’t usually do this with podcasts, but Joanna Penn has a great piece on why authors might consider adapting their work to graphic novel form. The biggest eye opener for me is that comic book artists are actually looking for opportunities to do this. I guess because they want to make those type of adaptions, tapping into that customer base, but it’s just as hard to get George R. R. Martin to let you adapt his work as it is to become him. It’s definitely a macro thing, a way of expanding the portfolio once it’s reached critical mass, but it’s an intriguing one none the less that I am very interested in from a far reaching, keep your pants on perspective.

Then we move on to the thing that made my fingers itch. I thought about making a whole post about it, but just couldn’t find the time. Basically, two amazing stupid announcements came out. First, the founder of Waterstones has said that ebooks are a fad that are about to go away.

Are you kidding me?

Look, this isn’t even up for debate anymore. Ignore trad vs self, ignore what authors should be making, ignore the whole business side for authors, just look at what consumers want. Print is still here, and I’m not one of those that says it will go away, possibly ever, certainly not within the next few decades. But digital is the way everything is going. Even the Guardian agrees on this point. At the very least the people who prefer paper are, frankly, going to die. It happened with newspaper, it will happen with books.

The second amazingly stupid thing to his the news was a consultant who’s stated ebooks should in fact be more expensive that paper books, because they’re more convenient.

Yep.

TeleRead does a fantastic job of tearing this apart, but I just can’t imagine the mindset behind this. Yes, things get dicey when you start comparing inflation, and every industry is different, but in this one, it is hard to justify an even higher price than what publishers want to set for print. You know what, just go read TeleRead.

Orna Ross discusses how both the business of self publishing and the flood of new authors it’s brought are good for literary culture.

I found both of these on the Passive Voice. Porter Anderson discusses the new voice in the literary world, authors. It’s a quaint idea, I know, but the “standard industry practices” of publishing have left less and less room for authors to be involved, giving rise to the revolt you’re seeing now. Tying into that, he looks at authors who are looking at hybrid options, not as a self pub going trad, but leveraging trad into a better self pub career.

David Farland has great career advice.

Barnes and Noble had a bad month. First, people are proposing that Apple may have surpassed the bookseller in sales (DBW proposed this, which I tried to link to, but they’re site was and still is down). DBW then announced (in a link that works) that one of their chief investors, Liberty Media, has sold their stock, effectively pulling out of B&N. That’s probably worse news by far, as it seems many expected this media group to be the one to bail out the bookseller. I’ve usually argued that B&N was stronger than most big box stores, but for the first time I can actually see the demise of America’s biggest bookstore in the future.

The legal battles in big publishing have continued to be waged.

Amazon and other booksellers have begun to issue credits to consumers for overpriced books. Apple continues to fight the judgement while Judge Cote authorizes a class action suit by consumers against the tech firm. And apparently, this isn’t the only industry Apple has gamed.

This all comes about as more and more becomes apparent why Publishers are, potentially, very bad for authors. HarperCollins won a suit, I’m sure the first of many to come, in which they’ve argued that just because the medium wasn’t included in the original contract, they still have the right to publish an author’s book digitally. This is what happens when lawyers and judges argue about what something seems to say vs what it actually says, to the detriment of those that own the work itself.

Tracy Hickman, writer of the Dragonlance series, has basically told authors that they’re shit out of luck. Joe Konrath took this to task and I’m glad he did. I’m sorry, but Hickman is a very, how shall I say, commercial author. He attached himself to a series that was a licensed property of dungeons and dragons and has ridden that hard for many years. I’m not saying he’s a bad author, The Seventh Gate is one of my favorite series and one of the series that helped introduce me to fantasy, but lets look at that for what it is. He didn’t dabble with adaptations, he built his career around a single one. The pain he’s feeling has to do with these properties (especially with the wane of high fantasy) losing their luster. Instead of whining about how much more he has to write, I would expect him to turn out something different, and I certainly wound’t expect him to discourage others because of his fading business model.

TeleRead discusses why GenCon is becoming more and more relevant to authors and publishing than BookExpo America. I’ve never really been one for conventions, mainly because I live in a part of the country where none are held (and I have no travel budget) but also because large crowds tend to make me want to do something sociopathic. Still, I love the idea of them and TeleRead makes a great point.

Speaking of TeleRead, they were on fire the past two weeks. Whether its discussing why literary writers won’t publish their own work (namely, that they need someone to vet their literary quality), pointing out the humor in editors saying they really do edit, or asking why it is publishers find themselves having to remind people they’re open for submission.

This was a biggie, to say the least. The Authors Guild has expanded its criteria of applicants to include authors who have made $5,000 or more in sales. You can even apply for associate membership for $500, which puts many people in the running, myself included. This is a big step and I’m happy to see it happen. Why I or anyone else should join a Guild or Association, well, I’ll get back to you on that.

Hugh Howey has a pretty damn good idea for how to sell books everywhere ala the RedBox model. It’s not perfect, one of my hangups on RedBox is when people browse (even thought, literally, everything is available for them to browse at home) at the machine. Books would be worse, people really like to browse books, there’s more of a selection, and it would take time, even if it was minutes, to print the book. All that said, it would be awesome to be able to walk into a Walgreens, CVS, Kroger, and be able to have a book printed right there.

 

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Sharing the Wealth: 3/21/2014

This ridiculous post details how an author/publisher is requesting people help fund the royalties she, frankly, embezzled from her authors. It seems to have since been shut down, but I can’t get over the gall of it in the first place. Embezzle isn’t usually the term I see, but that’s what it really is when your publisher or agent takes money out of the organization they’re not entitle to.

Dean Wesley Smith has a great Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing. A quick caveat on his series. They are pure, unadulterated, self publishing support. There is no illusion of balance here, there’s no attempt at apologetics for New York. If you’re new at all this, definitely read this, but balance it with some of Chuck Wendig or Rachelle Gardner or any number of other trad pub sources. That said, this is a great post on how the book industry works and why a publisher isn’t required to get your books into bookstores. Booksellers were getting Hugh Howey’s books before he went to a trad publisher, even before Amazon’s Extended Distribution System. Bookstores, like any other business, will stock what their customers ask for. That’s an outlier, but it’s not impossible. On the inverse side, it is much more likely for your book to flop even though it’s being sold at Barnes & Noble, especially if its spine out, tucked in between other author’s works, and the first title of your series is missing…

On that same train of thought, IndieReader discusses whether or not segregation is the answer. You know, whether or not those filthy self pub books belong in the same store, or site, as the approved books.

Staffer’s Book Review has a very approving message of agents being publishers for authors. I can’t help but be shocked by this. At the end of the day, all agent’s are doing in this case is loading the book to KDP and the other markets. Some add formatting, book cover design/acquisition, formatting, etc. as part of that, but what’s the charge? If this is an author’s backlist, which in this is is exactly what it is, are these agent’s charging extra from books they already earn 15% on? Or are they just expanding the distribution, for free, of books they have a stake in?

The Author’s Guild has a new President. Let’s hope this one is better than the last one. He wrote some damn good books, but as as a leader he was a coward. He has misunderstood this industry and failed its authors. Anyway, now that I’m off my pedestal, CJ Lyons has been added to the board as well. I don’t know her work, but I know she’s a hybrid author who has been a steadfast supporter of authors pursuing what is best for their career.

This is kind of surprising, but Kobo has said ending ending agency pricing will kill them in Canada. Not only that, they cited the decline of agency pricing for their loss of market share in the U.S. I have to criticize this. Agency pricing was not good for consumers. Maybe it was better for publishers and booksellers and even authors, but at the end of the day, you can bet that what isn’t good for the consumer is bad for everyone.

Publishing Perspectives has an article on why publishers need to think more like Amazon. Part of the problem here is that authors don’t have a brand. And I don’t mean they’re failing to put their logo on their books. I mean, a publisher is an amalgamation of books. There are few, if any, publishers that don’t publish everything. A few have been Harlequin or Tor (both genre fiction, by the way) and even they have failed to capitalize on their selection, to show readers that if you buy a Tor book, if you buy a Harlequin book, you will get a hand selected story of high quality. Passive Guy has a reply himself, pointing out the attitude of New York doesn’t cater to the rest of the country, let alone the rest of the world. (When I say New York, I’m referring to NY Publishing, not the city itself.)

Years ago, the courts ruled that Random House didn’t have the rights to ebooks simply because the author had signed their print over. They separated the rights out, creating a precedent that helped protect authors, and created a frenzy as publishers set out to nab up ebook rights. Now the courts have ruled the other way in a case for HarperCollins. This sets a precedent for publishers to fight for the idea that they had rights for mediums that didn’t exist when the contract was signed. No one one knows what forms will come up, no one knows what the next big thing will be. TeleRead points out some of the dangers of this.

Mike Shatzkin says the publishing industry isn’t surprised by the state its in. I don’t really know what to make of his insistence that they really do know what they’re doing. I don’t buy that they’re biding their time, waiting for everything to get in place so they can strike. This is, frankly, an group of businesses that are out of touch, or if they’re in touch, don’t know how to apply the solutions they know are required. He talks about Penguin Random House doing all it can to increase its scale, while continuously pointing out its failure to leverage said scale. Others are agreeing that the biggest player is failing to see the opportunities so many others are taking advantage of.

They’re also failing to realize they are the man behind the curtains, not the performer themselves. There are very few entertainers where the publisher, label, agent, etc. is as popular as the star. Passive Guy points out some of their barriers in trying to be the cool guys in town.

Copyright law in the U.S. has its benefits and disadvantages. And apparently none of that will be changing this year.

Simon and Schuster CEO Carolyn Reidy states that publishers need to change the conversation from “will publishing survive” to “how are publishers taking the industry forward”. I just got home from work and I don’t have the energy to answer this. Go though my archives, go through Passive Guy’s or Konrath’s. They haven’t done a damn thing. I’ll add this, those on the losing end of the argument are the quickest to change the subject.

Have a great weekend, folks!

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Amazon and Gaming

Amazon is, supposedly, thinking of releasing a game console. First, my comment on the Passive Voice below:

This would be a huge challenge. The last time a console entered the market it was the Xbox…thirteen years ago. There have been some other attempts (most notably the Ouya, which failed for its own unique reasons not applicable to Amazon) but not any that were successful.

Two things they have going for them, first they’re Amazon and they already have a marketplace set up. They have the money to buy their way into the market in the same way Microsoft did. They could offer a Steam-like service that allows developers to directly load up while also selling mainstream games, just like they do with the Kindle.

There is also the dwindling Nintendo market share. In the next few years we’ll see them go the way of Sega (that’s only my guess, but it’s not a unique one). That leaves a bit of a gap.

But the difficulties are HUGE here. First, you think publishers in the book industry are bad…introduce a major barrier to industry that sees millions, even hundreds of millions, of dollars required to make a game. Developers like EA and Ubisoft own the market, chewing up and spitting out Developers. They’ve controlled price and, at times, even the console makers themselves. A lot of the controversy that arose with the Xbox One was the way they were catering to Publishers at the expense of the consumer.

Now, a lot of people have been predicting the next generation to be one that didn’t see consoles. It is looking like more and more that Steam is looking to take advantage of this, basically providing a console that allows you to stream/download game directly. This is a DRM measure but one that consumers have really responded to. Amazon can take advantage of this, but they’ll be fighting Steam, who is really, really good at what they do, to gain market share.

I think their is a situation in gaming very similar to literary publishing. The Publishers have the big name developers over a barrel because of barriers to entry and cost. Some have pulled out to start their own companies, basically giving up on Triple A titles to make games with smaller scope. Steam has already begun to take advantage of this and Amazon could do a great job. Just like literary publishers, game publishers are easily put into financial instability.

Consumers also want more value. It’s insulting paying $60 for a bad game, close to that for games that have been out for years. They don’t understand discounting or sales any more than literary publishers do.

So, to recap, if Amazon can wrestle their way in between Sony and Microsoft, fight off Steam, be prepared to release a solid product and coax developers into making very good exclusive titles, they may have a shot.

If anyone can make a console and duke it out in this market, it’s Amazon, but this is a merciless industry with little patience for dabbling. They have to go all in. Their methodology for the Kindle is a great start, but more will be required. There are many who’d argue the Xbox would have failed without Halo. Here’s the big difference between Kindle and the ZonBox (or whatever it’ll be called). Amazon has pushed around the publishing industry. Did they sick the Justice Department on them for colluding? Not necessarily, but they can’t act like they didn’t have anything to do with it. It was justified, but it was also a business move on their part. While I’d be willing to say that game publishers are doing a very similar act, the fact that no one has called them on it leads me to believe there is a legal loophole I’m missing.

The other big is there are a ton of other retailers for gaming. GameStop, all the big box retailers, tons of dedicated game retailers, they own this space. Amazon does a huge chunk but it’s nothing like it is for books.

Let’s not forget either, the console makers are also publishers. They essentially have their own kindle equivalent funneling games. They don’t sell them exclusively (at least not very well) but if Amazon took this leap they’d be the first to be a) the hardware maker b) the marketplace c) the developer/publisher. This puts them in the crosshairs of a LOT of people.

As a consumer, I’d like to see a shake up in that industry as we’ve seen with books. Games are too much and the gambling nature of development is ruining the industry. Triple A titles are the only thing keeping it up and every developer/publisher gambles on these. Games like Tomb Raider, which was excellent and sold millions of titles, are a failure because they didn’t recoup the cost of development. I understand and appreciate the desire to further the industry, to innovate, but all they’re doing is throwing money at the issue. Burn more money to make a flashier game. They’re not thinking creatively, it’s all about specs and visuals.

Good development houses have failed because of these games. This gamble is pushed on them. Publishers are turning away games that “have no market”, requiring “sure things”. It’s why you see the market inundated with a certain genre or theme of game.

This results in higher costs, higher risk, more burnout. Eventually, the industry will reach a critical mass.

It has happened before and it can happen again.

Sorry, bit of a tangent, I know. Amazon tends to be a bit of a slate blanker, that is, they clear the board. They end up on top, while those that were struggling (and maybe earned that struggle) die.

Amazon has a big challenge ahead if they pursue this. Developers are quick, they won’t be caught off guard by technical innovations, the new marketplaces that would rise, the new ways of doing business. Publishers, they’ll fight for control. Console makers (who are also publishers, let’s not forget that) will fight harder with retailers fighting the hardest. It won’t be a one-sided battle like the one with B&N and Borders. GameStop is a business that came about in the past decade as it absorbed…well, everything else. They know how to play, know pun intended. The other retailers are Wal-Mart (who is steadily expanding their gaming category) and the major electronics stores.

This all launches into the idea of digital games. Consumers, myself included, are very hesitant about the way console makers and publishers have pushed digital distribution. There’s no discount, which might be more fair since most of the cost is development, still, there’s no attempt to help the consumer on cost. There is also the push on micro transactions, downloadable content, and freemium content. Imagine if you had to pay for the epilogue of a book, or pay to turn a page more frequent than every minute. Gamers are getting milked harder and harder, adding to those $60 price tags.

Amazon has an opportunity here. There weakest area is as a developer, their strongest of course is as a marketplace. My prediction is they’ll come out with something similar to a SteamBox, something that will be able to download PC content directly. Anything above that would really require them to be a publisher, if not a developer themselves, to make their own exclusive titles.

This would be a big undertaking. Honestly, I don’t think they would do it. Just doesn’t seem profitable. But then, I guess that’s what a lot of people probably said about what they did with literary publishing.

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Updates On a Few Things

Yeah, I know, I know, been awhile since I posted anything. I’ve been involved with a work project that has tied up a lot of my time, just one of the joys of writing with a day job.

I wanted to update on a few things, and since this has so much to do with my writing, I’ll be posting this on enathansisk.com too.

First, the writing is lagging hard and that’s my fault. FayTown Calling is a good month behind. I was hoping to send out a final call for beta readers the end of February and have it edited and out by May. That’s not looking on track though, I won’t send out to beta readers (which you can still be a part of, just comment or email me!) and don’t think I will until mid April. I have many things to change, tweak, and add, and a final polish to make it readable. That moves publication to June (God, I hope…)

On my other writing fronts, I have a short story and a novella that are coming along. I haven’t touched the novella in a month, but it doesn’t need much. I really just need to tie together all the elements and I’ll have a brand new 25k+ story to release. It’s quite a bit different than anything else I’ve written and I’m pretty proud of it.

The short story came as a bit of a surprise. I had written it under a completely different context, then reworked it to be in Virgil’s world. It started at just under 2000 words and now is coming up on 10k. It’s been fun as well and has raised an interesting opportunity. I can’t go too much into it without giving away details of the story, but it deals with an aspect of Virgil’s world that I love. I mean, I love it. I had everything laid out for Sorcerer Rising, probably 9/10 of the story completed when I came up with this idea and I nearly scrapped it all to pursue this idea.

Believe me, Virgil would be a bit different in that context.

I ended up not doing it because I still love Virgil and his perspective on his world. He has a more centralize role that gives him exposure to more of the world. This other perspective is polarized and not as able to freely go about the world. It’s also an aspect of the world that is currently…hidden…from Virgil.

Let’s just say this, people are finally going to be shown what the Coven is.

I’m gonna send this short out to my mailing list, so you’ll get it for free if you’ve signed up. I’ll detail this a bit more there, but I would really like feedback. This aspect of the world is ripe with possibilities and I’d like to see where it can go. I’m thinking of a sort of episodic serial with multiple characters. I really think it could be fun but don’t want to commit to the logistics until I’m sure.

Lastly, my update on the ABNA (Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award).

I didn’t make the cut on this one.

I was hoping to, at least, make it into the second round but can’t win em all. I guess. It stung, not gonna lie on that. Oh well.

Keep on writing. That’s the best way to deal with rejection.

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Sharing the Wealth: 03/15/2014

As I already wrote, I have failed in not following Mark Coker’s blog. I don’t use Smashwords, it’s a pain, but Coker is a smart guy and I love to see his take on the industry. What’s he said last week was that he sees a time coming where Indies will own 50% of the market for books. Coker obviously has a reason to tout this line of reasoning, but then again, there really isn’t anyone talking about this who doesn’t have their own agenda one way or another. It’s a good argument, but Russel Blake has a very compelling argument for why it won’t happen.

His is just as compelling, but I find myself with Coker on this, though maybe not by his timeline. Blake is certainly correct that a large part of Traditional Publishing’s success is that large part of the market who buys a book a month from the Big Name Authors. Here’s the thing, that’s dying. Not just print, but those authors themselves. In ten, twenty, thirty years, the big name authors that own the bestseller’s lists and racks at the airport will, frankly, be dead. The industry will have to have grown authors to fit into those spots, which is becoming harder and harder to do for them as those authors look for better deals. Sure, King and Patterson make tens of millions of dollars a year with big publishers, but that is list with two digits max, and it’s a low two digits. As those authors leave the stage, big publishing will not have anything to fill that slot.

He then followed up with a just as intriguing post about author earnings.

While all that was going on, Mike Shatzkin, who is a lot better with the numbers than I am, weighed in. As usual, he has a thoughtful analysis but I think he’s missing the point here. He talks about what amount the market is putting toward indie authors, but the real point is that more of that money is going toward the author themselves. I also think his statement about the average price of indie books is dragged down by one book wonders and ignores the fact that the more successful authors have higher prices work, usually led in by their free or .99 stuff. It also ignores those that just slapped their work up at bargain rates. Shatzkin followed up on some of these arguments, correcting some of his errors, but coming to the same conclusion.

I think it all comes down to the assumption that New York will be able to retain its authors. Their biggest arguments are marketing and advances, which they are losing ground on. If they lose 10% of the market, as Mike himself theorizes they could (this is total dollars spent on books), that would have a huge effect on their margins. The more they shrink, the lower the advances they’ll offer, the harder they’ff find it to fill the void left by their Big Names. It could be a vicious cycle, one that would see Indies with a larger pie not because they’re competing with traditional published authors, but because traditionally published authors will see attrition through retirement, death, and publishing their work themselves.

Wow, so that could have been a post all by itself. It was a lot of fun to write, but there was a lot of other news this week, the first being a small controversy that erupted toward the beginning of the week.

Apparently some people think self published authors don’t have the right to be called authors. We’ve seen this type of talk before, I remember one particularly nasty piece by an author who was angry that other didn’t have to jump through the same hoops they had, hadn’t had to get an agent (and lose 15%), get rejected a hundred times, etc. Luckily, this is a minority opinion these days, and there are those who will (sometimes surprisingly) call them on this particular brand of bullshit

Frankly, I considered myself an author when someone paid to read the stuff I’d put to paper, especially once I found myself in the black.  That was a fun moment, and it happened about halfway through the second month. All expenses had been recouped and everything else was profit. I haven’t made much, and I really, really need to get some stuff out to continue what growth I’ve seen, but it’s a lot more than biggy sizing my fries. It’s more than a couple bills. I’m proud of that, I’m proud of the story I wrote, I know there are thousands of people out there who’ve had more success, who’ve written better stuff, that would consider themselves authors as well.

We then saw a few posts about why authors are avoiding New York altogether.

H.M. Ward discusses why the grass is not greener with traditional publishing. It’s a fantastic post. She points out just about every “advantage” the industry touts and flays it open. One might be tempted to say that’s fine for her, since she’s sold millions of books, but doesn’t apply to indie authors just starting out. I’d be willing to say, it applies to us even more. They’re courting her because she’s a Big Name with Big Money but she knows better. The ones that don’t are the ones who are in more danger. All the disadvantages she notes, they”ll apply to a midlist or a newbie just as much and if you find success, it will be in spite of them, not because.

Indies Unlimited discusses agents and their impact on your perception of being legit. Agents are one of the the weakest links in New York’s publishing model. They simply aren’t required anymore and in many cases, would harm the author. They’re starting to see the gaps in their role, leading to some of the ridiculous things IU discusses.

David Gaughran, right up there with Writer Beware as far as his watchdog skills go, has a great article about the LA Times Festival of Books. There was something about them becoming an affiliate for Amazon that pissed everyone off, his piece is about all the things in our industry that piss no one off yet are much, much worse. Remember, Author Solutions is owned by Penguin Random House, the largest traditional publisher in the world.

The rest of the news this week was minor but still insightful. There were some great posts on marketing and discoverability, as well as some excellent business advice.

It’s not often that I disagree with Hugh Howey, but this might just be one of those times. I think as we see better storytelling in other media (and hopefully this will rip through movies sometime soon) that will bring people looking for good storytelling to other mediums.

The Passive Voice has a post along the same vein of thought.

David Farland discusses the promises authors make, whether explicit or not, to their readers.

Apple may be heading towards their damages payment without a trial, TeleRead reports. The Government is also arguing that there should be no change in venue as the trial has, ya know, already happened.

Konrath discusses identity in our industry. Identity is one of the most cherished things we can possess. There are dozens, hundreds, thousands of ways we choose to identify ourselves. We do it with what we read, what we watch, what we drink and eat, what we like to do on the weekend, how we decompress after work, where we work, how we make our money, how we spend it, with every choice we make. What you are seeing with the change in the publishing industry is one group of people finding a new identity, while another group loses theirs.

In last week’s Sharing the Wealth, I showed how to get your book on the New York Time’s Bestseller’s list. Publishing Perspectives has their own post, this time on a marketing firm who took $200,000 from a pastor/author to make his book a bestseller. This is fraud. Straight up fraud. This isn’t advertising, this is hiring thousands of people to go across the country and buy your book. Not only that, it is paying for the processing of thousands of online orders, all to fool the New York Times into believing your book is seeing a flurry of sales.

IU also has a great post about advertising. I’m ashamed to say, I’ve known this rule for years and yet still was of this mindset. I’ve had several professors tell me that advertising is about saturation, about making it unavoidable for a reader to miss your work. It’s all about awareness, and that’s why it works. It’s also why so many ad campaigns authors use are minimilistic results. Believe me when I say, this has refreshed my thinking.

One day, I’m going to sit down and read Kristine Katherine’s Rusch’s entire Discoverability series. It’s chocked full of valuable marketing and business information for finding readers. Her latest focuses on short stories, something I myself am trying to focus on, so it really rang true with me.

TeleRead has an insightful post on why Amazon probably won’t raise its prices and drop its royalties as they increase their dominance. I’m on the fence about this. One the one hand, Amazon truly honors its customers. They’ve always treated them well and, as TeleRead points out, there are always new competitors. On the other, I always like to expect a curveball. Because Amazon is so good at what they do, because they have insights we don’t, if they tried to do this it would be in a way we never saw coming. We wouldn’t know we’d been struck out until we heard the sound of the ball hitting the glove.

What if Amazon bought Barnes and Noble? I could feast on the anguish and outrage of the industry for months, years even!

With that, calling it for the week. Have a great weekend everyone!

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