Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

07/21/2011

Paid Book Reviews – Credible or Expensive Trash?


Do Book Reviewers Actually Read the Material?

All the new indie publishing opportunities out there begs the question: Are book reviews functional or even necessary … especially in the digital sector where readers can just read the trailer or synopsis to find if the story may appeal to them enough to fork over $.99 to $1.99 (or a little higher).

I really don’t know. I’m a little conflicted on the whole concept of book reviews … especially paid book reviews.

Even in traditional publishing, book reviews RE fictional story telling, especially, were dubious to me at best. After all, reviews are just opinions … and you know what they say about opinions. Just because another author or other person of note says a story is good or bad, doesn’t mean another one million readers won’t disagree!

The only legitimate book reviews, I believe, probably exist in the science, math and technical areas when an expert in the field of the subject matter comments on its viability … But, this is something that can be politically motivated, so you have to be careful here, also! 

So, are book reviews necessary or good? I feel they might have a certain marketing value among those enamored with the reviewer … usually this applies to the adolescent, younger crowd.

Reviews will also be taken more seriously if the reviewing source has worked up a certain credibility (this seems very hard work) and track record amongst a particular niche. “I have enjoyed every single book that XYZ has reviewed and recommended! I will always read their reviews.”

If your e-book is good, it will get great word-of-mouth (or social media rush) and that is the best reviews you can receive … and they are free!

Here is a good insight and view on book reviews by indie author advocate Lynn Osterkamp, Ph.D. at http://pmibooks.com:

Are Paid Book Reviews Credible?

What if you could get 50 people to post positive reviews of your book on Amazon? For a reasonable fee?

I know the importance of having reviews of my books on Amazon. A mix of professional reviews and customer reviews is ideal. But for indie publishers and self-published authors, reviews–especially professional reviews–can be hard to get. Many professional reviewers still refuse to review books not published by mainstream publishers.

Sites that will review our books are increasingly charging a fee for what they term an expedited review or for posting the review they write on sites like Amazon and B&N. While most of these book review sites continue to offer free reviews, they warn that due to increasing numbers of submissions, a book submitted for a free review may take months to get reviewed or might not get reviewed at all.

So should you pay for a review?

Purists on author discussion groups and blogs continue to insist loudly that paying for a review with anything other than a free copy of the book, it is wrong. They say these reviews have little to no credibility and will ruin your reputation.

Read and learn more

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07/05/2011

Can the Average Writer Aptly Be Both Publisher and Author?


Are estributors the future of publishing?

With the newfound, direct-to-readers, publishing freedom afforded  by techy toys … writers can now become their own publishers … BUT, with a big caveat: they must assume all the peripheral business details of a one-person publishing house!

Learning and becoming proficient in all aspects of the business side of writing will be very appealing to some (I’m one), but not so appealing to others who will not want to take the time away from their writing to accomplish the new time-consuming responsibilities.

Not to worry. A new niche is developing in the ebook/digital world that will essentially handle all the non-writing details of self-publishing such as cover design, editing, advertising, marketing, etc, etc, etc.

This new niche is being called ‘estributors’ by J. A. Konrath (the king of self-publishing) and is supposedly his ‘brainchild’ … Actually, he was the first to “idea-lize” verbally this sure to come e-world concept … an idea whose time had definitely come and is simply borrowed from legacy publishing.

These details from The Next Web (dot com) by Alex Wilhelm:

By now it is common knowledge that ebooks comprise an ever-growing slice of the book market, and are quite likely to become the dominant book format in the next quarter century. Quick, simple distribution, ease of sale and purchase, and the ability for extensive continuing revision make ebooks a format that is a winner for both publishers and readers alike.

But  there is a disturbance in the book market’s dynamics. Authors have realized that the advantages of ebook publishing, in many cases, allow them to bypass their old publishers and strike out on their own, taking a much larger cut of the profits along the way. After all, if you can make more money, why not?

But despite the lure of increased royalties per copy, can the average writer competently execute the roles of both publisher and author?

It’s an interesting question, as the market forces that have allowed authors to effectively self-publish and keep a larger portion of their sales have also made it simpler for any individual to leverage sufficient resources to become a one-person publishing house. The Internet allows for authors to find, and collaborate, with excellent editors, artists, and formatting specialists to create a truly professional-grade book in both print and digital formats.

But is that for everyone? Will all authors want to take on that massive workload that they had previously passed of to their publishers? Many will, the money is simply that much better. How much better? Imagine your cut of a book sale going from 15% to 70%. It’s a revolutionary change. But not all authors are going to want to take time that they had previously spent writing and run their own personal publishing outfit. After all, every moment spent haggling with an artist over cover art is a moment spent not writing.

Then again, no savvy author wants to simply continue giving nearly all the revenue from their work to a company who they could likely replace, at least in most respects. Want proof? J.K. Rowling, of Harry Potter fame, is setting out on her own.

So for the author who doesn’t want to lose the support of a publisher, but wants a bigger cut, something that traditional publishing houses can’t afford, is there a middle-of-the-road option for them? As it turns out, not currently, but that seems to be about to change.

Enter the concept of estributors, the brainchild of J.A. Konrath, ironically one of the largest and most famous proponents of author’s striking out from their publishers and going it alone.

What is an estributor? We’ll start with Konrath’s explanation of the idea:

Read and learn more

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06/21/2011

First Truly Indie Published Author Sells One Million E-Books on Kindle Direct Publishing


Self-Published Author John Locke

John Locke is the eight author to join the Kindle Million Club, but the very first independently self-published author to do so. Of course, the other seven members are all big-name authors: Stieg Larson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Suzanne Collins, Michael Connelly, Charlaine Harris, and Lee Child.

Details in PC Mag by Leslie Horn:

For the First Time, a Self-Published Author Sells a Million Kindle eBooks

Amazon is marking a milestone for its self-publishing platform today. John Locke has secured his status as the first independently published author to sell more than a million Kindle e-books using Kindle Direct Publishing.

Locke is the eighth author to become a member of what Amazon calls the “Kindle Million Club,” joining other big-name authors like Stieg Larson, James Patterson, Nora Roberts, Suzanne Collins, Michael Connelly, Charlaine Harris, and Lee Child. Locke, however, is in a bit of a different league, considering he’s the first indie author to join the group.

“It’s so exciting that self-publishing has allowed John Locke to achieve a milestone like this,” vice president of Kindle Content Russ Grandinetti said in a statement. “We’re happy to see Kindle Direct Publishing succeeding for both authors and customers.”

Locke has written a total of seven international best-sellers, including such titles as “Saving Rachel,” “Wish List,” “A Girl Like You,” and “Don’t Poke the Bear.” He’s also penned a how-to guide for self-published authors like himself called “How I Sold 1 Milllion eBooks in 5 Months.”

“Kindle Direct Publishing has provided an opportunity for independent authors to compete on a level playing field with the giants of the book selling industry,” Locke said. “Not only did KDP give me a change, they helped at every turn. Quite simply, KDP is the greatest friend an author can have.”

Locke’s Web site claims that every seven seconds, somebody somewhere in the world is downloading one of his books.

Read and learn more

05/12/2011

E-Book Self Publishing Rains Money for Some


In the last several months a few authors have self-published into monetary success (and fame)…You all have probably read something about them…You know, Amanda Hocking, Barry Eisler, J. A. Konrath and such.

Laura Hazard Owen, writing for PaidContent.org, delves into the first of a developing A-List of  successful E-Book Self Publishing authors…with a little background and earnings info thrown in:

Meet The A-List Authors Of E-Book Self Publishing

Authors who self-published their books have traditionally done it out of desperation—it was the result of being ignored or rejected by publishing houses. And without the marketing muscle of a publishing house, most of those self-published books were doomed commercially.

But the world of self-publishing is changing fast in the digital era. A growing number of authors are making a nice living selling their own e-books, often at $0.99 a pop. Below is a list of four that are at the top of that heap. One of them earned between $1.5 million and $2 million last year from sales of her ebooks; another walked away from a $500,000 advance after calculating he could do better on his own; a third bypassed traditional publishers to sign an exclusive deal with Amazon; (NSDQ: AMZN) and the fourth sold over 360,000 ebooks in March alone.

In 2009 (the latest figures available), nearly 765,000 titles were self-published in the U.S., an increase of 181 percent over the previous year. The self-publishing business is heating up in other ways too. Just last week, Smashwords, which publishes and distributes about 45,000 ebooks, signed a deal with ScrollMotion to create mobile apps for all its 18,000 author clients. To be sure, the vast majority of self-published books never come close to a bestseller list and their authors aren’t exactly raking it in. But as the self-publishing business matures, more authors are carving out audiences—in some cases, in sizable numbers. Some of them now even have agents handling their foreign and movie rights, and big publishers knocking on their doors.

Amanda Hocking

Backstory: The 26-year-old from Austin, Minn., writes in a genre known as paranormal romance (romance with elements of fantasy and horror)—think Twilight. She has self-published a total of nine books in three series, with the tenth, Virtue, to be released on Memorial Day. Her Trylle Trilogy made the USA Today bestseller list and was optioned by Media Rights Capital, with District 9 screenwriter Terri Tachell adapting.

Agent: Stephen Axelrod, The Axelrod Agency

Revenues: Hocking says she sold over 1 million copies of her books on Amazon between March 2010 and March 2011, making somewhere between $1.5 and $2 million.

Trying Out Traditional Publishing: On the strength of her success at self-publishing, Hocking sold her four-book series Watersong to St. Martin’s Press in March for an estimated $2 million-plus at auction. St. Martin’s beat HarperCollins, Random House, Simon & Schuster—and Amazon, in what is believed to be the first time the company went up against major book publishers in an new-book auction. Amazon had partnered with Houghton Mifflin Harcourt to handle the print side and to ensure that Barnes & Noble would carry the books, but insisted on the exclusive rights to publish the e-book; though Amazon’s bid was actually the highest offered, Hocking and Axelrod rejected it because they believed its terms would lead to lost e-book sales.

Since the auction, Hocking has gotten even deeper into the traditional publishing world: Last week, she announced that St. Martin’s will republish her Trylle Trilogy in both digital and print formats next year. On her blog, she suggested that fans buy the Trylle e-books at their current $0.99-$2.99 prices, noting that St. Martin’s will likely raise the price when its version of the book comes out and replaces the self-published editions.

Barry Eisler

Backstory: Eisler’s bestselling John Rain thriller series was originally published by Penguin Putnam and Ballantine. But in March, the 48-year-old author and former CIA agent and technology lawyer, shocked the publishing world by announcing he’d turned down a $500,000, two-book deal with St. Martin’s Press to self-publish the next Rain novels. Eisler splits his time between San Francisco and Japan.

Agent: None

Why the self-publishing math works better: Eisler did the math and concluded that he could do better self publishing than going with St. Martin’s. With traditional publishing contracts, a 25-percent royalty on e-book net revenue is standard. In the case of a book sold on the Kindle Store, Amazon would take 30 percent of that royalty and the agent would take another 15 percent. That leaves the author with just 14.9 percent of ebook revenues. And authors have to earn out their advances—in Eisler’s case, that would have been $500,000—before they even see a royalty payment.

By contrast, when Eisler self publishes, he earns 70 percent of each Amazon sale—forever. And though he doesn’t get an advance, he starts earning sooner. If Eisler had gone with St. Martin’s, his book wouldn’t have been available until next spring. By self-publishing, he says, he can make it available earlier and gain an extra year of sales.

Revenues: Eisler has started his self-publishing career by publishing short stories on the Kindle Store. He says that between Amazon, the Nook Store and Smashwords, which both publishes and distributes ebooks, his short stories generally make $1,500 apiece in the first month and $1,000 per month thereafter. “I’ll keep dropping the price of previous shorts as new ones go up,” he says. Each story contains an excerpt of Eisler’s next John Rain novel, The Detachment, which he plans to release this summer.

Read and learn more

And while you’re at it, get this informative blog right on your Kindle 

04/24/2011

The Next Generation of Kindle Begins…Powered By You!


Direct Publishing to the Kindle Store

This is a cross-post from my other blog: Writers Welcome!…A John Austin Blog

How would you like to directly publish your works to the Amazon Kindle Store whenever the mood strikes? Eliminate any middleman immediately…

Pretty cool, right?

Well Amazon is introducing a ‘Direct Publishing’ model that will allow authors and publishers to independently publish their books in the Amazon.de Kindle Store that will be available in  Germany, Austria, the U.K., U.S. and over 100 countries!

Damn, they’re making publishing awfully easy! Now if they would only make the marketing just as easy…

Wonder how they will funnel the scripts into proper formats? That would be interesting to understand. I guess the only way to find out is to go ahead and direct publish something on Kindle using the new model, huh?

Anyway, these details are by Ray Willington from HotHardWare.com :

Amazon.de Allows Self-Publishing To Kindle E-Book Store

Read and learn more

Remember to get this blog right on your Kindle here

04/17/2011

Ebook Sales Up 202% Over Last Year – Now King Format for American Publishing


Announcing King Ebook Format!

The digital revolution has caught up with, stomped and overtaken traditional publishing (TP) according to the latest report from the Association of American Publishers (AAP).

AND, this conquering of TP has occurred one year earlier than previously forecasted by industry analysts! How bout them apples?

Of course, anyone who wasn’t in denial saw this coming…the crowning of the e-book as the single bestselling format in American publishing. We just didn’t see it charging so fast!

Welcome, King “E”…how can we serve thee? Or, better yet, how will you serve us? Cheaper prices, faster delivery, more publishing opportunities, etc., etc.? 

I sincerely hope there is an infusion of real money in there somewhere…

Now these details from T3, The Gadget Website:

Ebook sales overtake US paperbacks for the first time

US figures show huge consumer demand for e-readers 

The digital revolution continues apace in the old-tech world of publishing. In the US, the eBook has become the single bestselling format in American publishing for the first time, a year ahead of analysts forecasts.
 
The report from the Association of American Publishers, showed February’s eBook sales were $90.3m (£55.2m), compared to $81.2m (£49.8m) in paperbacks, a leap of 202.3% on the same time last year. Philip Jones, deputy editor of the Bookseller, believes that the UK is set to follow the US trend in the take-up of the technology, “the UK are a year behind but they are catching up quite fast.”

Despite the challenge of the rapidly expanding tablet market, many of which come pre-loaded with an e-reader, the figures show standalone eBook readers have carved out an important niche in a hugely competitive marketplace. Their popularity is down to choice – there are over a million free books on the Amazon Kindle – as well as a lower price-point than tablets, speedy downloads and portability.

Read and learn more

04/12/2011

YouTube Next – Opportunity for Publishers


A Good Marriage?

For those that might not know, Google bought YouTube back around 2006. Now they have purchased Next New Networks (NNN), a NYC-based startup in the online video production industry.

Many thought Google/YouTube purchased NNN to get into the content creation business…This is not the case. They just want the expertise, by way of NNN’s staff, to provide deeper and more professional content on YouTube (rather than skateboarding cats, etc). And they are going to do this by offering training in video production and audience development through a new program called YouTube Next

 This will benefit publishers tremendously! And by publishers I mean more specifically people who want to sell self-published books.

How? By teaching indie booksellers the ins and outs of video production (could be simple PowerPoint-like presentations ) and how to get these features describing, detailing and advertising their books (or WIPs)  in front of more audiences.

 These details offered through BusinessInsider.com by Dan Frommer :

Google Really, Officially, Finally Is A Media Company

In case you still had any doubts, Google is now OFFICIALLY a media company.YouTube just finally closed its acquisition of Next New Networks, a NYC-based startup in the online video production industry.

(Click here to flip through NNN’s most famous videos.)

However, we are told that YouTube is NOT buying the company to get into the content creation business, but to help its partners create better content. This help, ideally, will also generate more ad revenue for the producers and for YouTube. (More here about how Google is NOT directly getting into the content business.)

Read and learn more

03/25/2011

A Growing Love Affair: Authors and Ebooks


“How do I love thee? Let me count the ways…” Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote these immortal words and I’m going to borrow them to introduce a counting of the ways authors are loving ebooks more and more!

One of my favorite mentors and writing-publishing-advice-givers is Joanna Penn from that great country “down under”…Australia.

Joanna has put together a comprehensive list of 10 reasons why authors love ebooks and it is so clear and concise that I want to repeat it here. A real eye-opener:

10 Reasons Why Authors Love Ebooks 

You might have noticed that ebooks are being talked about a lot at the moment. The growth of ebook readers and ebook sales plus the success of Kindle authors have made headline news in even the most traditional press. A few days ago, bestselling thriller author Barry Eisler announced that he was turning down a half million traditional publishing deal to self-publish, primarily because of the potential of ebook sales. And do I need to mention Amanda Hocking’s Kindle millionare status?

If you’re not convinced yet, here are ten reasons authors love ebooks and at the bottom, introducing my new multi-media course on ebook publishing if you’re ready to poke your toe into the water.

1) Ebook sales are growing which means the number of readers is growing. I’ve certainly been noticing more ebook readers on the train and also people in my office are buying the new Kindles and loving them. Ebook sales have been reported to be up 115% this year, and even though that’s growing from a small base, the pace of adoption is speeding up. Your book can be available to this growing market.

2) You can reach readers globally. This is amazingly exciting when you think hard about it. Anyone can now publish their book on Amazon.com, the biggest bookstore in the world, or on a site like Smashwords, also open to all.  Anyone can buy your book as long as they have some kind of digital device to read it on. Since Kindle app, Stanza and other apps are now on the majority of smart cellphones, it won’t be long before even the developing world can be reading your books (since cellphones have a much larger penetration than computers). I’m in Australia and yet my major market is in the US, thousands of miles away. Some US authors I’ve spoken to have said how well their books sell in Europe. It’s a small world when our work is digital. Brilliant!

3) You can publish your book within 24 hours – and for free. Speed to market has to be one of the most annoying factors of traditional publishing. It can take 18 months – 2 years to reach bookstores after you’ve finished writing a book. Perhaps that can be chopped down to as little as 6 months but with ebooks, you can publish to the Kindle store within 24 hours. You should absolutely be using professional editing, cover design and formatting but once the book is ready for the market, you can publish fast and easily. Oh yes, and it’s free to publish on Amazon and Smashwords. They just keep a small % of sales.

4) Ebook readers buy more books. I know this from experience as I read at least 3x more books now than I did before because the price enables it. My husband just bought 5 novels over the rainy weekend which he devoured. They were indie priced at $2.99 and so there’s not even a question that’s a bargain. New books in Australia are around $30 each. The price alone means that people will read more books electronically. There are also studies out that show this too, so it’s not just my opinion!

Read and learn more

05/25/2010

The New Paradigm of Publishing



More and more writers are getting their books published and to readers utilizing internet avenues and new online publishing models (companies such as AmazonEncore) not available before…New models such as the new-developing middle ground publishing field I posted about yesterday on my other blog Writers Thought for Today Blog http://alturl.com/tnap

Writers are establishing online platforms by giving some of their work away for free and getting feedback and editing from the readers, entering online contests, producing serial podcasts, etc… and many are being picked up by online publishing companies that will also sell POD written versions of their books.

Exciting stuff happening!

Regan McMahon, writing for SFGate of the San Francisco Chronicle, has some details of just how three Bay Area writers got published using internet avenues and bypassing the old agent-publisher-bookstore gatekeeper model:

In the old days – which, in this case, you might define as “two years ago” – getting your book published would entail finding an agent, sending it off to publishing houses like Random House or, when that failed, paying a vanity press to put the thing in print.

All of that has changed, thanks to radical shifts in the publishing industry and, oh yeah, the Internet.

Here are some examples of how a few Bay Area authors recently got into print:

Retired occupational therapist turned writer Francine Howard of El Cerrito had a short stack of unpublished manuscripts collecting dust while agents kept rejecting her queries. Then in January 2009, she entered her novel of interracial love in the Jim Crow South, “Page From a Tennessee Journal,” in Amazon.com’s Breakthrough Novel Award contest, whose top prize was a contract with Penguin Books.

She didn’t win, but for making it to the second round, in a field of 6,500 hopefuls, her prize was two Amazon Vine (customer) reviews of a 5,000-word excerpt of her book. They were both raves, and that May, an editor from the Web site’s then-week-old imprint called AmazonEncore called with an offer to publish her book. It came out last month.

Berkeley author Seth Harwood, who teaches writing and literature at Stanford University and City College of San Francisco, wrote his first book, the gritty crime novel “Jack Wakes Up,” in 2005. He began posting 50-minute podcast episodes from it on Podiobooks.com in 2006, establishing a marketing platform for his work. He made a print-on-demand deal with Breakneck Books in March 2008, and then Three Rivers Press, an imprint of Random House, scooped him up and published the book in May 2009.

Read more http://alturl.com/ifdy

01/14/2010

Publishing E-pocalypse or a New Age?


2009 has just staggered out the door…but left behind a massive footprint of electronic publishing inroads and positioning for future inevitable victories.

M. J. Rose, a successful author of numerous books, including The Memorist and The Reincarnationist, discusses this New Age of E-Publishing in an insightful article for Publishing Perspectives. She relates her own experiences in and prognostications for the publishing industry. M. J. Rose was the first author to use the Internet to release an e-book that was picked up by traditional publishers. She is also the owner of the ad agency, Authorbuzz.com. Past Life, a dramatic series based on her bestselling novel The Reincarnationist, debuts February 11, 2010 on FoxTV.

By M. J. Rose:

As we come to the end of 2009 there’s only one thing we know about the future of publishing—it’s going to keep changing. Like it or not, no matter what industry you’re in and how hard you try to hold onto the past, fighting change is not only futile, it’s often what kills you.

When Change is Pain

The changes we’re in the middle of are cause for alarm for many people:

Kirkus is gone.

Fifty-four percent of people now find out about books via online ads. (Yes ads! Not reviews.) Sixty-seven percent of people buying a book didn’t know what they were going to buy before they walked in the store.

There are millions of readers who post about what they’re reading on their blogs and social networks like Twitter, Facebook and Goodreads.

People can read e-books on their iPhones on line in the supermarket, go home, turn on their Kindles and be instantly synced up.

HarperCollins has an online slush pile called Authonomy. Harlequin has a similar testing ground called Carina.

And Steven Covey, author of the perennial backlist bestseller Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, just gave exclusive rights to his e-books to Amazon and not his publisher.

Bookstores are publishers and authors are publishers and publishers are bookstores.

And yet, the one thing everyone seems to fear the most is Amazon’s slashing e-book prices and selling them at a loss.

Last week almost all the major publishers announced they would be holding back e-book releases on select titles until three to four months after the hardcover release.

Now? The time to have gotten involved in timing and pricing was two years ago before when the Kindle came on the market. When experimentation would have made sense. When there were no precedents set. But to do it now?

Kassia Krozser, at Book Square, blogged that the way some agents and publishers are reacting is fetishistic: “We must worship the all-mighty hardcover,” she wrote, “without worrying about the actual impact to overall sales. Without even considering the reader. Of course, why would publishing ever consider the reader?”

Why indeed?

As someone who has spent her life in advertising doing endless research about the end user, I’m continually shocked by the lack of information publishers have about readers. And even worse their lack of concern about the info they don’t have.

E-books vs. Hardcovers

There is a lot of information about readers that is key to what the future holds and how it’s going to play out. And we need to be paying attention to it.

For instance, 40% of hardcovers are either resold online two or three times or lent to friend and family two to three times. Or swapped two or three or more times.

None of those transactions pay a penny to the publisher or the author.

But e-books can’t be resold. Or borrowed. (Barnes & Noble’s Nook offers publishers the option to lend once, but few allow it.)

Read the rest of the article here: http://publishingperspectives.com/?p=9346

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