Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue

04/23/2013

A Renaissance of Novella-Length Journalism and Fiction – Also Known As E-Shorts


Authors of Kindle Single memoirs, fiction and essays share in the profits for their works.

Within Amazon resides another offshoot, a store within a store you might say, called Kindle Singles (KS). Many have, no doubt, already taken advantage of or have heard about KS.

KS is a publishing niche devoted to works of 5000 to 30,000 words – commonly referred to as novellas. They can be edited, splashed with great cover art and otherwise prepared for publication and sale in record short time frames. KS is also proving to be a great entry point into the literary world and for authors to get published AND rake in a substantial 70% of the profits – and the profits have been great here because of great management that has resulted in outstanding credibility for KS along with a great attached purchasing audience and fanbase (this is key).

KS’s great management is provided by David Blum, who has worked for a range of publications, including The Wall Street Journal (where he met his wife, the television writer Terri Minsky, who created Disney’s “Lizzie McGuire”), Esquire, New York magazine and The New York Times Magazine.

Leslie Kaufman , New York Times, says:

 

Amazon Broadens Its Terrain

David Blum does not have a regular table at the Four Seasons or host celebrity parties at the top of the Standard Hotel.

He does not get a lot of fawning press. After he was fired by The Village Voice and left The New York Press, Gawker Media in 2009 pronounced him “a sad bumbling doctor for dying New York City weeklies.”

But four years is an eon in the digital realm, and in that time Mr. Blum has transformed himself from doctor of the dying to midwife of the up-and-coming. As such, he is a man whom authors want to court.

Mr. Blum is the editor of Amazon Kindle Singles, a Web service that is helping to promote a renaissance of novella-length journalism and fiction, known as e-shorts.

Amazon Kindle Singles is a hybrid. First, it is a store within the megastore of Amazon.com, offering a showcase of carefully selected original works of 5,000 to 30,000 words that come from an array of outside publishers as well as from in-house. Most sell for less than $2, and Mr. Blum is the final arbiter of what goes up for sale.

It is also a small, in-house publishing brand — analogous to a grocery store that makes an in-house brand of salsa to compete with other manufacturers. Mr. Blum comes up with his own ideas or cherry-picks pieces from the more than 1,000 unsolicited manuscripts he receives each month. He then edits them and helps pick cover art.

Amazon Singles usually pays nothing upfront to the author (there are rare exceptions) and keeps 30 percent of all sales. Yet it is an enticing deal for some authors, because Singles now delivers a reliable purchasing audience, giving them a chance to earn thousands for their work. (A quick calculation shows that the authors make an average of roughly $22,000, but the amount varies widely by piece.)

“Every day I become more obsessed with how brilliant the concept is,” Mr. Blum, 57, said over coffee at the Lamb’s Club in Manhattan, crediting the idea entirely to Amazon.

For him, the brilliance is that authors can now share in the profits instead of getting a flat fee. “The idea that writers would participate in the publishing model is just very bold,” he said.

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04/13/2013

Memo To TP’s: Do Not Miss Last Boat To Survival – Salvation Lies in the Same Source as the Challenge


Urgent Memo to Traditional Publishers: Survival

TP’s are going to have to realize: simple ebooks, that may not require publishers, only scratch the surface of a gigantic potential! Let’s call this potential ‘transmedia‘ or ‘multimedia’.

Traditional publishing is under attack from many sides — ‘the rise of ebooks, competition from other media, the growing shadow of Amazon’, etc. — and the best way to defeat these attacks is to discover how their existing talents, experience and expertise can be applied to accomplishing the new transmedia (or multimedia) publishing demands — Then taking a leadership/innovative role.

In the recent past, some traditional publishers did dip their toes in these waters, experimenting with a few innovative projects; but these half-hearted efforts didn’t pay for the start-up costs; this resulted in traditional publishers retreating to straight digitization of standard text projects, occasionally adding a half-hearted “enhanced ebook.”

TP must go beyond just accepting the new publishing media, they must embrace it, thrive in it. Salvation may lie in the same source as the challenge.

cocreators of The Silent History, a serialized, exploratory novel for iPhone and iPad, have written an exceptional article in HuffPost Re this subject. I know you will enjoy and learn mucho:

Publishing Companies Are Technology Companies. Now It’s Time For Them To Act Like It

The death of publishing has been greatly exaggerated.

Though traditional publishers are being threatened from all sides — the rise of ebooks, competition from other media, the growing shadow of Amazon — publishers have learned from the failures of the music industry, the futility of closing one’s eyes and trying to deny an evolving marketplace. They have conformed to many aspects of digitization, hurrying to convert to required formats and bowing to imposed pricing structures, hoping to not miss the last boat provided by the new marketplace.

However, accepting the future is not the same thing as embracing it, thriving in it. Many of publishers’ traditional functions — printing books, storing and shipping them around the country, maintaining a far-flung sales team — are becoming less relevant as content moves to digital. Self-publishing is an increasingly plausible option, with some remarkable success stories. While nervous companies typically fight to preserve and protect what’s left of their industry, the smart ones figure out how their skills might be applicable in the next. In this new world, how do publishers make themselves valuable and even necessary?

Salvation may lie in the same source as the challenge. Ebooks alone may not require a traditional publisher, but simple ebooks only scratch the surface of the potential of this new realm. Whether we call it transmedia storytelling, interactive fiction, or any other semi-depressing buzzword, we are beginning to see the exciting possibilities: Serialization. Collaboration. Interactivity. Communal reading experiences. Location-aware storytelling. New narrative structures, serving classic storytelling values.

This isn’t about killing books, or forcing unnecessary flash into the reading experience; it’s about providing new tools to our writers and storytellers, engaging readers in new ways. Some early experiments have been successful, while others have been more possibility than reality — which is to be expected with any new form, a natural part of the process of discovery. The formative years of transmedia fiction are taking place against a backdrop of hyper-accelerated technology and an uncertain traditional-publishing industry — at the intersection of startups and panic.

But the potential is clear. Expecting books to be unaffected by these new reading devices would be like expecting cinema to consist of nothing more than filmed plays. True embrace of the emerging formats requires projects more ambitious than simply digitizing a traditional text.

So far, the growth of these evolving forms has been limited by practical obstacles. Unlike straightforward ebooks, transmedia projects can be very difficult for individual authors to undertake on their own. Platforms must be built from the ground up, new markets must be discovered, audiences educated — all for a single one-off project. These challenges would instantly shrink, however, if many projects were brought under a single umbrella — essentially, a new-media publisher. Much of the labor would transfer smoothly from one project to the next: a growing library of code, discovery of best practices, usage analytics, and a relationship with a new community of readers. Costs would quickly decrease, and production speed and sales would improve.

Read and learn more

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03/05/2013

E-Book Formatting and Marketing Help for Indie Authors


E-Book Formatting and Marketing

The busy, busy world of publishing transformation,  transmutation, transfiguration and metamorphosis has spawned unprecedented growth in indie publishing (self-publishing by writers) and the study of supportive skills such as editing, marketing, formatting and cover design graphics, etc.

The main drawback to the growth in self-publishing is a lack of growth (to date, anyway) of the same support usually furnished by a major publisher — sooo, indie types must experiment and use trail and error in ferreting out these luxuries to increase their chances for success.

Jason Boog, God bless him, of GalleyCat, has assembled some free e-book formatting and marketing guides:

 

Free eBook Formatting & Marketing Guides for Writers 

As self-published authors enter the eBook market, formatting has become more important than ever.

Indie authors don’t have the same support as a major publisher, so we’ve assembled a list linking to formatting guides for all the major eBookstores.

Follow the links below to access these free style guides…

1. Smashwords Style Guide (provides guidance for “major ebook retailers such as the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and Diesel”)

2. Amazon Kindle Publishing Guidelines (PDF link)

3. Barnes & Noble PubIt! Support & Resources Page

4. Kobo Writing Life FAQ for Writers (PDF link)

5. Creating ePub Files with Apple’s Pages program *

6.Calibre User Manual (how to use this powerful eBook conversion tool)

7. Smashwords Book Marketing Guide

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05/11/2012

Ebooks Trending Up or Down? Does it Really Matter?


Ebook Trends Up or Down?

Ebooks growth has been nosediving a bit of late; but, are the lackluster trends really something to be expected after such a rapid period of  initial, and probably, unsustainable expansion.

Probably.

Jeremy Greenfield, Editorial Director of Digital Book World, dives into some neat gadget numbers and analyses while providing some expert links:

Wave of ‘Bad’ E-Book News Dark Cloud or Blip?

A mini-wave of middling news has hit the e-book world in the past several weeks in contrast to the usual positive narrative about explosive growth and boundless opportunity. Is it a dark cloud on the horizon or just a blip on the radar?

Mixed metaphors aside, what’s really going on with e-books right now? Despite the “bad” news, experts and observers say that e-book publishers have little to worry about.

Profits are down at romance-book publisher and e-book vanguard Harlequin due to print declines that were not offset by digital gains. The Association of American Publishers announced weaker-than-expected adult trade e-book growth in February, the most recent month for which numbers are available. The rate of increase for Simon & Schuster’s digital sales continued to decline, according to the company’s first quarter results. And after a banner fourth quarter 2011, sales of Amazon’s Kindle Fire reportedly fell off a cliff in the first quarter of 2012 (which could be good or bad news for e-book publishers, depending on how you look at it).

“I’m not hearing alarm bells from publishers yet,” said James McQuivey, Ph.D. and principal analyst at Forrester who covers the book industry. “So I can’t say whether there is an overall softening or just unevenness in the data or just that each of these things is potentially explainable as due to circumstances specific to the players involved.”

While the above news isn’t exactly “bad,” it contrasts somewhat with the long-term narrative of e-book growth that has been steady since the Kindle came out in 2007.

“We’ve become addicted to the pace of change,” said Thad McIlroy, a Vancouver-based digital publishing consultant. “So if any market numbers emerge that suggest that the pace of change may be in some way slowing, we react with disappointment.”

Publishers of e-books should be reacting to such news with “quiet celebration,” said McIlroy.

“Every executive in publishing today already has a 70-page ‘to-do’ list,” said McIlroy, suggesting that a slow-down in the pace of change would give publishers a moment to catch up with it.

Regarding the reported slow down in Kindle Fire sales, industry observer Chris Rechsteiner doesn’t buy it.

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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.

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09/26/2011

Amazon Jumps From Passive E-Readers To Active Tablet Computers With ‘Kindle Fire’


 

Throw Some KINDLE on that FIRE!

Amazon has decided to do battle with Apple in the tablet computing world … “A” vs “A” so to speak 🙂

In an effort to stay more relevant in the rapidly changing tech universe, and not to fall prey to obsolescence (as did AOL), Amazon is trying to go more 3-dimensional by stretching from the digital retailing/e-reader biz into the more active and multifaceted tablet computing arena.

David Streitfeld  in The New York Times:

Amazon Has High Hopes for Its iPad Competitor 

SAN FRANCISCO — One after another, like moths to a flame, technology companies have been seduced into entering the market for tablets. Apple made it look so irresistible, with 29 million eager and sometimes fanatical consumers snapping up an iPad in the device’s first 15 months.

But neither Samsung nor Motorola nor Acer could beg or borrow any of Apple’s magic. Research in Motion, the maker of the BlackBerry, said it shipped only 200,000 of its PlayBooks in three months — about what Apple sells in three days. Hewlett-Packard, which flopped this summer with the TouchPad, was the latest to get burned.

Now comes a final competitor, the best-placed challenger of all: Amazon.com. The retailer is on the verge of introducing its own tablet, analysts predict, a souped-up color version of its Kindle e-reader that will undercut the iPad in price and aim to steal away a couple of million in unit sales by Christmas.

A competition between Amazon and Apple tablets will be a battle that pits the company that created the first popular e-reader (and set off a still-unfolding revolution in how books are consumed) against the company that created the first popular tablet (and set off a revolution in progress about how entertainment and other media are consumed).

Both companies are riding high, racking up record revenues and seeing their stock market valuations cruise to new peaks. Each has ample resources to enjoy a pitched struggle for people’s attention and their wallets.

Whichever company triumphs, said the Barclays analyst Anthony DiClemente, “the consumer is going to be the winner.”

“The fact that Amazon is making such a huge investment might make Apple come back into the market at a lower price point,” he suggested. “What’s to prevent them from slimming down the iPad?”

Most tech companies like to keep their cards close to their vests, but Amazon, like Apple, strives to render the whole deck invisible. It has, though, scheduled a news conference in Manhattan on Wednesday, and the speculation on technology blogs and among analysts is that the tablet will be unveiled.

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09/10/2011

Publishers’ Why’s and Wherefore’s When Migrating to Digital (are all the damn apostrophes correct?)


Karina Mikhil - Publishing Executive

Indeed, when the current publishing upheaval began (it seems  just a little while ago in the scheme of things) and the conqueror ‘Digital’ came swaggering into the publishing world, publishers were at first completely devastated; then were bombarded by all kinds of options and questions for their very survival!

You can just imagine publishers’ mental angst deciding “Should I get out of this rapidly changing fireball of an industry or should I admit that the old ways are going down the drain and commit to learning a whole new process … dealing, perhaps, with an entirely new and separate tech industry?”

Karina Mikhil , a publishing executive with a Master’s in Publishing from New York University, has some excellent questions and analyses that will help these publishing execs and their firms reach a viable decision.

From Karina Mikhil in Publishing Perspectives:

Migrating to Digital Publishing? The Six Key Questions to Ask

Here are the six “Ws” you need to ask yourself before transitioning from the old to the new: why, who, what, when, which, and where.
 

The publishing industry is not generally known for being agile or quick to change, yet it is facing one of its biggest times of change probably since the invention of the printing press. At the heart of this is the migration to digital.

Prior to this migration, a time-tested process and structure existed for getting books printed: from acquisition, copyediting and typesetting, to author reviews and proofreading, to print. Although hiccups occurred and no two companies had the exact same workflow, the foundations were the same and ensured quality products got released in expected time frames.

Whether publishers are dealing with online content or e-books, digital only or both print and digital, publishers are now faced with more questions than answers as to how to incorporate the new with the old. Below I provide a framework for those questions, using the traditional 6 Ws: why, who, what, when, which, and where.

Why?

Of the six questions, this is the easiest to answer. No publisher can afford to ignore the digital any longer: the tipping point has come and gone; more and more e-books and e-readers are being sold weekly; and authors will begin demanding this, if they haven’t already. And traditional publishers need to offer all things digital to compete with the emerging “digital publishers.”

Who?

Even prior to the migration to digital, publishers would do one of two things to keep costs down: outsource as much as possible, keeping headcount down, or the reverse, which is hire talent to keep all services and costs internal. With digital, publishers have to make this decision anew. Should they invest in new talent from other industries (e.g., technology) or in educating existing talent, those who are eager to learn and have a background in publishing? Or should they turn to one of the many conversion and content solutions providers that exist in the market?

What?

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08/17/2011

Amazon Publishing – Print is Thriving – And Other Insider Information


Awesome Amazon ???

Amazon’s business makes publishers nervous because it’s finally allowing the online retailer to cut publishers out of the loop entirely. Amazon is making more of its own books, and it’s got the authors to sell them.”

Amazon is adding more writers and renowned authors to its own company’s publishing imprints to produce new books directly for the reading consumer and bypass other established ‘publishers’ entirely. 

Gaining control of the online digital book retail business just seemed to whet Amazon’s appetite to gobble up more control in the bigger publishing business (in disruption due to the new tech transition) … including print, which is doing just fine right now, thank you very much. 

These interesting details provided by Anthony John Agnello , consumer and technology writer for InvestorPlace:

Amazon Publishing Continues to Boom With New Exclusives

Traditional publishers being pushed out of the picture

Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) frightens book publishers. Not because electronic books are going to replace print by September. Far from it. Print is thriving, and while e-book sales have grown 1,300% in the past three years, they still represent only a fraction of overall revenue in the publishing industry. Amazon’s business makes publishers nervous because it’s finally allowing the online retailer to cut publishers out of the loop entirely. Amazon is making more of its own books, and it’s got the authors to sell them.

A Tuesday report in The New York Times said Amazon has made its latest promising acquisition in an ever-growing stable of authors producing original books for the company. Timothy Ferriss, the self-help author behind the bestseller The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere, and Join the New Rich, will release his new book The 4-Hour Chef exclusively through Amazon Publishing imprint.

4-Hour Workweek has spent 84 weeks on the Times‘ Advice bestseller list. That book was published by Crown, an imprint under the Bertelsmann-owned Random House. Ferris never entertained a counteroffer from his previous publisher after talking with Amazon because they would not have been able to match what Amazon was offering as “a technology company embracing new technology.”

This is just the latest major publishing effort from Amazon since editor Laurence Kirshbaum came on as head of Amazon Publishing in May. Imprint Montlake Romance, an all-romance branch of Amazon Publishing, opened for business in May. Connie Brockway’s The Other Guy’s Bride will be the imprint’s first book out this fall. Brockway’s previous books were distributed under the Dell Publishing mass-market imprint, another house under the Random House banner.

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Related post: Is Amazon a Danger Lurking in the Publishing Industry?

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06/24/2011

E-Books … A Major Shakeup is Coming … Stirred By the Wizard


The Wizaed Cometh

A crossp0st today from my Writers Welcome Blog  (WWB)… One I feel is interesting and important enough to promulgate to those that may not follow WWB:

Pottermore.com is coming! … And bringing with it a real time, online lab that should flush out issues like e-book pricing, eliminating digital booksellers (i.e. Amazon) as the middleman, acceptance of a common format (i.e. ePub) acceptable to all devices across all platforms.

Phewwww! What a statement. Sounds like rocket science when it’s only common sense.

This strategically, ingenious concept will force a faster solution to many bottlenecks created by the various device manufacturers and digital booksellers trying to kidnap the market for its own exclusive profit.

This could only be brought by something so popular and powerful unto itself that it would lend itself to an exclusive sales site, with its own rules, that would draw people away from the status quo.

That power is Harry Potter!

This from paidContent.org by Laura Hazard Owen:

Three Ways Pottermore.com Could Change Book Publishing

After a suspenseful buildup, J. K. Rowling has announced that Pottermore.com will be an e-bookstore, exclusively selling Harry Potter e-books and digital audiobooks. Pottermore could shake up digital publishing as much as the Harry Potter books first shook up print publishing over a decade ago. Here’s how.

Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) will be cut out as the middleman and could be forced to open up the Kindle to new book-publishing formats. Pottermore.com does not officially launch until October, and right now many details are still unclear. But we know that the site will be the only place to buy Harry Potter e-books and that they will be compatible with a range of devices. Rowling stressed that selling the books directly “means we can guarantee people everywhere are getting the same experience and at the same time,” and Pottermore CEO Rod Henwood told The Bookseller, “We want to make sure anyone who buys it can read it on any device. We are talking to the Kindles, the Apples, the Googles, Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) to make sure they are compatible. We set the pricing, we maintain the policy of making them available to as many readers as possible.”

We don’t know if that means that Pottermore.com will be selling multiple editions of the Harry Potter books—in the Kindle format, say, alongside formats like EPUB—but it seems more likely that the site would sell e-books in just one format, probably EPUB. Right now, the Kindle doesn’t support the EPUB format. But if any author could get Amazon to change its policy, it’s J. K. Rowling. The Kindle has the largest market share of any e-reader in the U.S.—it’s believed to be between 60 and 65 percent—and it would be an incredibly dumb move for Amazon not to allow the Harry Potter e-books to be read on its device. The company would risk losing users to the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Kobo, and other devices that do support EPUB.

In fact, rumors that Amazon is going to start supporting EPUB have been floating around for awhile now, mainly in association with the news that the Kindle will support library lending this fall. Amazon should probably get on the EPUB train by July 31, when Pottermore.com is going to be opened up to a select million users.

Interesting experiments with pricing. Since Rowling is selling the e-books directly, she can do what she wants with pricing. Her UK publisher, Bloomsbury, and her U.S. publisher, Scholastic, are getting a cut, but these books are being …

Read and learn more 

 

 

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.

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