Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

10/24/2012

Are Self-Published Authors Devaluing the Written Word?


Melissa Foster _ International
Best Selling Author

In my humble opinion, the correct simplistic answer is “Hell No!” — Nothing can devalue quality written work, no matter its source or format.

I suppose an argument can be made that the deluge in less-than-stellar written work, made possible through new and instant technology, has, indeed, diluted quality written and structured words — due mainly to the quantity of its existence.

BUT, poor quality work (or even technically well-written but boring work) has always existed, even in traditional publishing.

So, I say its a quantitative and not qualitative proposition — My opinion, of course 🙂

Anyway, here is an interesting take on this issue by Melissa Foster, award-winning author, community builder for the Alliance of Independent Authors and a touchstone in the indie publishing arena:

Are Self-Publishing Authors Killing the Publishing Industry?

Self-published authors have created a devaluing of the written word, and, some of them are scrambling to see how low they can go to get noticed.

Let us list the ways: 99-cent price point for ebooks. Free ebooks via KDP Select program. Unedited work. Kindle giveaways to get attention and bulk up sales. And lastly, nasty reviews from other authors with the sole purpose of driving down customer ratings.

Why are indie authors selling their work so cheap? In short, mismanaged expectations. Many self-published authors hear about the outliers who earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they’ll do anything to try and reach that pinnacle. The plain fact is that most of them never will.

The Guardian recently reported that, “Despite the splash caused by self-publishing superstars such as Amanda Hocking and EL James, the average amount earned by DIY authors last year was just $10,000 (£6,375) – and half made less than $500.” That was backed up by a recent poll of authors who have 2 or less 99-cent ebooks on the market that revealed that 75% of authors are selling less than 100 ebooks per month at that rate, with 46% selling less than 10 ebooks per month.

Yes, there are 99-cent anomalies. A recent headline on GalleyCat reported that, “99-Cent Sale Sweeps Self-published Bestseller List”. Yes, Stephanie Bond did achieve bestseller status with three of her titles, all listed for 99 cents but what most indie authors fail to realize is that Stephanie was previously traditionally published and has a following in place. As a new author, that’s very difficult to match.

Read and learn more

Get this Publishing/Writing Blog on your Kindle :)))

 

 

 

Advertisements

10/24/2011

Web Apps, Native Apps and Publishing


Apps are very apropos!

Tonight I’m visiting “Tech City” a little … and I’m not a true ‘techie’, so bear with me. 

I am amazed that apps have been written that allow e-books to be read (rendered) over many different formats (devices) at the same time. For example, you publish a book with the Amazon Kindle format and it can be read (distributed) over, say, the Apple iPad format, as well as others, with one generic app (like ePub for instance, I think).

The main difference between a web app and a native app is the web app is a more generic app that you can access and utilize over the web (as opposed to the internet) that allows an e-book to be published and read over multiple device formats. A native app is one developed for a specific device like an iPhone and is usually accessed on the internet through technologies like TCP/IP. In the recent past the native apps were far more detailed and superior, and still are to a lesser degree. But, advances in app technology has narrowed the quality between the native and web apps.

In researching this area of interest, I was reminded of something that I had forgotten: simply that there is a difference between the wide world web and the internet.

A more detailed explanation on apps is provided by Diane Buzzeo, CEO and founder of Ability Commerce, in the latest issue of Website Magazine:

Web Apps vs. Native Apps

Which is Best for Your Business?

Is the rise of mobile apps a death knell for the World Wide Web? Not quite. While content is being moved from the Web, where it’s openly shared, to closed environments that share data over the Internet but not on the “Web” — many important issues still need to be addressed.

How you plan on sharing your company’s content and product is a crucial part of your business plan. It’s vital to make the distinction between the Web and the Internet when directing your company’s mobile and e-commerce strategies.

For example, when accessing the Wall Street Journal from a Web browser, you’re on the World Wide Web, an interconnected network of billions of data points that’s regulated by an international body. When you access the Journal through a mobile app, you’re on the Internet; using various technologies like TCP/IP protocol, and communicating with the Journal’s servers to deliver their content to your device.

As smartphones and tablets have risen in popularity, companies have designed apps to accommodate mobile devices’ smaller browsing screens and restricted bandwidths. Developers found that apps could be tailored to complete a select handful of tasks in an attractive manner, funneling essential information to the user despite a less powerful device. However, advances in Web technology, namely in the form of HTML5 and CSS3, are offering alternatives to native apps.

Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the Web, recently lashed out against closed-off native apps in Scientific American:

The tendency for magazines, for example, to produce smartphone “apps” rather than Web apps is disturbing, because that material is off the Web. You can’t bookmark it or email a link to a page within it. You can’t tweet it. It is better to build a Web app that will also run on smartphone browsers, and the techniques for doing so are getting better all the time.

Pandora, which recently switched to a leaner, Flash-less Web app, now loads, on average, five times faster than the Flash version, a much faster on-boarding experience. However, the features of Web-based apps still lag behind those of their flashier, native, counterparts. The best method to reach customers is far from decided, however. Below are a set of parameters that you can use to determine the best platform and approach to deliver your product or content to the largest number of consumers and customers.

Accessibility

There are two facets of accessibility worth considering when deciding which avenue to take — accessibility as it relates to universality and broad, open access (a larger audience), and accessibility on the user device. On the device, as it stands now, there’s no real comparison. Native apps offer a smoother and more streamlined user interface, as they run offline on the device’s processor. Apple wowed the world with its iPhone’s home page, onto which crisp, fast-reacting app icons were set. The home page was so intuitive, a toddler could use it.

In fact, when a native app is live, there’s no comparing its functionality to a Web app. The one drawback, however, is that users have to download the apps individually. Also, the popularity of three different mobile operating systems means that companies have to commission three different versions of the same app to reach the largest audience possible.

Web apps offer more open access with lower performance standards. Last year, YouTube unveiled an HTML5 mobile site. The HTML5 version did away with Flash as the site’s video platform and now allows any smartphone device to access videos through pre-installed Web browsers. Although YouTube has a native app for every commonly used platform, the new mobile site is built to work with future devices and is cross-platform out-of-the-box. There will be no need to continually update its mobile app for the three major mobile operating systems. Also, updates and programming tweaks can be made without the user downloading an update directly to their device.

Performance/Features

While Web applications may provide more accessibility, even the most modern Web browsers still can’t provide the performance benchmarks that native apps reach. Web apps, with the exception of geolocation, don’t provide access to the slew of new hardware included in smartphone devices today. But apps that are coded specifically for certain classes of devices can integrate with a bevy of advanced hardware, including gyroscopes, cameras, microphones and speakers.

If your company is planning on delivering graphics-heavy or complex content, a native app may be a more suitable choice. If broad accessibility and searchability are focuses, Web apps are a better choice.

Web standards are improving, however, offering new ways to display content over the Web. HTML5, CSS3 and Java are leading the charge against the closed, native app dominance by offering video and animation features through the typical Web browser. The New York Times unveiled a Web app deemed “The Skimmer” that runs in a user’s browser window and looks startlingly similar to the publication’s mobile app — no download necessary.

  Read and learn more

Get this Writing/Publishing blog on your Kindle :)))

10/19/2011

Booksellers Wage E-Book Battle … With Superheroes No Less !


Green Lantern is part of DC Comics' exclusive content deal with Amazon

More publishing intrigue! 🙂

Amazon, in an effort to beef up its new Kindle Fire Tablet, has pulled a cool coup and scored an exclusive contract with DC Comics for the digital rights to a hundred popular graphic novels (including Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Sandman, and Watchmen).

This Amazon action pissed off Barnes and Noble AND Books-a-Million so much so … that they pulled all the superhero physical titles from their store shelves … saying they would not sell any books they did not also have digital rights to. 

And this B&N and B-a-M action pissed off all the comic book fans so much that they have charged the subject frigging booksellers with screwing with the graphic novel community.

You see where this intrigue is going exponential … ‘Intrigue Squared’, you might say.

Details by  in CNET News:

Booksellers involve superheroes in e-book battle

Holy e-comic clash, Batman!

Amazon, apparently in an effort to add muscle to its recently unmasked Kindle Fire tablet, sparked a real-world fight over superhero comic books when it inked a deal with DC Comics for the exclusive digital rights to a hundred popular graphic novels, including Superman, Batman, Green Lantern, the Sandman, and Watchmen.

That arrangement apparently did not sit too well with rival bookseller Barnes & Noble, which has an e-book reader it would like to see flourish. In response to DC’s deal, Barnes & Noble removed the physical copies of the titles from its store shelves, saying that it would not sell books it did not also have digital rights to. Books-a-Million, another large bookseller, took the same action for the same reason.

Comic book fans paint all the players in this tale as villains: They accuse Amazon of turning its back on the graphic novel community, label DC Comics as greedy, and characterize Barnes & Noble as similarly uncaring and childish.

Read and learn more

This Writing/Publishing Blog is on Kindle :)))

09/19/2011

07/28/2011

A New Way to Reinvent Book Publishing?


Unbound Publishing, the Kickstarter for books

How about getting the public’s opinion on the viability of a book story … AND THEN get them to contribute to its funding, story input and advance? Pretty cool, huh?

Well this business model is being fine-tuned, tweaked and used by Unbound Publishing in the United Kingdom.

“…with Unbound the funding for the book–as well as the fan’s approval process, which is very public–happens up front, and much more swiftly…and the marketing happens by word of mouth.”

Details by Kit Eaton in FastCompany.com :

Unbound’s Crowd-Financed, Spine-Tingling Effort To Reinvent Book Publishing

Unbound publishing, the Kickstarter for books, just had its very first success: It reached its target so that it could produce and then publish a new book by none other than Terry Jones, of Monty Python fame. Why is the tech and publishing world so excited about a single book from a lone, unheard-of, pint-sized publisher? Because the whole principle behind Unbound is to take the ancient, leather-bound business model of book publishing, rip out its crumbling pages, and replace it with crowd-funding, social interaction, and tandem digital publications and real hardback books. 

Here’s the core of Unbound’s idea: It proposes a new book on its website, and people choose to “donate” a small amount of money to it, in the hope that the book gets produced. The more money you donate, the more likely the target will be reached, and the bigger “treats” you get–right up to dinner with the author. When the target is reached, writing begins and people who’ve funded the book get special access to a back room at Unbound’s website, where they can interact in limited form with the author as the book emerges. At the end, an e-text is published and distributed, but you can also choose to get a high-quality hardback edition, printed on good paper with cloth binding for people who like their books to be weighty, well-designed, and smell like traditional books.

Unbound (tagline: “Books Are Now In Your Hands”) is most similar to Kickstarter, the crowd-sourced funding body that’s been responsible for all sorts of interesting projects from iPod Nano wristwatches to a swimming pool. “We get a little bit of gyp from purists who say we’re not opening the platform out as wide as Kickstarter,” Unbound’s cofounder John Mitchinson explained to Fast Company, “Which at the moment is definitely true.”

Unbound promotes carefully selected books–from well-known names–to see if the crowd is keen to buy a final product, and that’s definitely no Kickstarter. “We’re managing the back end in a way that Kickstarter doesn’t,” says Mitchinson. “They’re a pure fundraising platform.” In comparison, Unbound takes on more of a traditional publisher role once the funding target is raised. “We’re printing and distributing and finding the market for the books,” says Mitchinson. 

Read and learn more

Get this great blog right on your Kindle HERE

 

07/24/2011

Books Are Morphing into Fluid Concepts in Cyberspace


Books As Fluid Concepts - The Old Meets The New

“Instead of being a discrete object, the book is becoming much more of a fluid concept, and there is opportunity in that transformation for those who want to discover it.”

This information is presented by Mathew Ingram through gigaom.com. The text sputters mucho links and references to drilled down background info that will bestow a PhD level of knowledge! Enjoy the post: 

What’s a book? It’s whatever you want it to be

As we’ve mentioned a number of times, the evolution of the book-publishing business has been accelerating recently, with more authors doing an end run around the traditional industry by self-publishing — or even setting up their own e-book stores, as Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling has done with her new Pottermore site. Now media companies seem to be showing an increasing interest in publishing their own e-books using content that they have already created, moves that are taking them into the growing market in between full-length books and magazine-style pieces.

The latest move in that direction comes from Ars Technica, which is part of the Conde Nast magazine empire that includes Wired magazine and The New Yorker. The technology blog, which has become well known for its exhaustive reviews of new Apple hardware and software by author and programmer John Siracusa, is offering its latest review — an in-depth look at Apple’s new operating system, code-named OS X “Lion” — as an e-book using the Kindle Single program. The book (which is really just a long magazine article) costs $5, and is more or less identical to the version that is on the Ars website.

Paying for convenience?

So why would someone want to pay $5 to read something that they could read for free on a website, or download via their browser and read offline via Read It Later or some other service? That’s a good question (Fortune tried something similar with a recent feature on Apple, but it wasn’t available online at all). Whatever the answer might be, Ars Technica editor Ken Fisher told the Nieman Journalism Lab on Friday that more than 3,000 people had decided to do just that within 24 hours of the review being available online. Said Fisher:

I was surprised by how many people told us they read the review online and they just wanted their own copy to go back to. Or they just bought it as a tip-jar kind of thing.

It may have helped that Siracusa’s review is a lot closer to being a book than it is just a regular review in an online magazine — it is more than 27,000 words in length, which is split up over 19 pages. That’s a lot of text to read on a website, and some readers said that they downloaded the Kindle single just to save themselves from having to read all those pages on a computer. Fisher said the magazine also saw some new users sign up for its $5-a-month premium subscription plan, which disables advertising and lets users download any of the magazine’s articles as PDFs.

Read and learn more

Get Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue Blog on your Kindle here

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

Get this blog right on your Kindle!

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

Get this fine blog on your Kindle

06/28/2011

Random House + Politico = Real Time E-Books on 2012 Campaign


Instant E-Book News & Instant Gratification

A traditional publisher (TP) is teaming with the crackerjack website Politico to produce four, definitive, book-length e-books in real time RE the 2012 presidential campaign. Quite an experiment … AND a large step forward into the present publishing world by one of the biggest TPs … Random House.

All this is coming this Fall.

Just imagine, four book-length instant books detailing the in-and-outs and behind the scenes intrigue, as it unfolds, in a presidential election fiasco! Instant adventure, intrigue, con manship and lying as it comes to life!

Details in the book section of the Christian Science Monitor by Husna Haq:

Politico, Random House will team up on instant e-books

It’s an odd marriage, a May-December romance, but a youthful partner may be just what the publishing industry needs.

Yes, Random House is teaming up with the high-octane, whip-smart political news site Politico to publish a series of four e-books about the 2012 presidential campaign.

The books will tell the story of the 2012 presidential election in real time and will be available only in electronic format, with the first one to be released this fall. Each book will be between 20,000 and 30,000 words, written by Mike Allen, Politico’s chief White House correspondent, and former Newsweek editor-at-large Evan Thomas. (Former Newsweek editor-in-chief Jon Meacham, who became executive editor and executive vice president at Random House, will edit.)

It’s a completely new venture in publishing and political reporting – and a bold one, too.

Generally, post-election tell-all accounts from inside presidential campaigns emerge long after elections are over. Politico, however, is hoping to bring its rapid-fire reporting to e-books and be the first to create detailed, definitive accounts of the presidential race in real time.

“The digital format gives us the opportunity to do what we have not been able to before – release our titles almost instantly. This publishing partnership will give readers a seat on the campaign bus,” said Gina Centrello, president and publisher of the Random House Publishing Group, in a statement.

It seems even books, long the domain of patient souls, are responding to the short attention spans and instant-gratification culture of an audience that’s been fed a steady diet of 24-hour news, Twitter, Facebook, and mobile updates on breaking news. (Remember insta-books, like the ones written 48 hours after bin Laden’s death and before William & Kate’s marriage?)

Read and learn more

This blog available on Kindle here

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

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: