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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05/02/2012

Ebook Serialization and Indie Publishing Company ‘Collective Inkwell’


For those who haven’t thought about it and would like to try an excellent 15,000 to 25,000 (or less) word format for self-publishing, might try an ebook, weekly or bi-weekly (be creative here), serial. Sort of like a continuing TV show.

Two very successful self-publishers, Sean Platt and David Wright, have had great success with their short serials on Kindle.

More detail provided by PRWeb through SFGate:  

Self Publishing Successes and Kings of The Kindle Serial, Sean Platt and David Wright, Go Sci-Fi for Newest Series

Kings of The Kindle Serial Sean Platt and David Wright launch the sci-fi thriller, WhiteSpace, and continue their unbroken string of self publishing success.

Kings of The Serial Sean Platt and David Wright continue their unbroken string of weekly self publishing one book to Kindle each week with the eagerly awaited unveiling of their latest thriller, WhiteSpace.

The indie authors got their start with serialization self publishing last year’s smash-hit apocalyptic books, “Yesterday’s Gone,” and are now starting “WhiteSpace: Episode One” with a bang. Literally.

The first book opens with a school shooting in a quiet bedroom community on the fictional Hamilton Island in Washington State. The shooter is a teacher, rather than a student, and the shooting throws the island into shock. The story follows those involved as they heal, investigate, and soon find that the serene island harbors dark secrets tied to an evil dynasty, missing people, and what may or may not be alien abductions.

“We wanted to write a creepy story, full of paranoia, where you’re never certain what’s what,” said co-author David Wright. “We wanted to take innocuous everyday things and turn them on their head, giving everything in our story a sinister glow.”

“WhiteSpace” follows hot on the heels of the indie authors’ recent milestone with “Yesterday’s Gone: Season One” earning more than 100 5-Star reviews on Amazon.

Platt and Wright launched their indie author careers last summer, but didn’t find success until they published the second season of “Yesterday’s Gone.” The two series have been selling consistently, and garnering praise, ever since.

“We love serialized TV shows with awesome cliffhangers like ‘LOST,’ ‘The Wire,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ and ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ so we really wanted to bring that type of weekly cliffhanger storytelling to books,” said Platt.

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02/08/2012

Book Covers of the Future


Chip Kidd's book cover design for Murakami's latest book, 1Q84

Good book covers in the old print forest were an artful endeavor that actually enticed sales and set mood for the whole damn story.

Now comes digital — with new book cover challenges as well as opportunities. The advent of digital has actually, I believe, enhanced the visual design of print covers — but, that’s another story.

Viewing/reading digital book covers of different formats over different e-reading devices (like a Kindle) is sometimes like “reading through a tub full of dirty dishwater” according to one renowned book designer.

Here is some hot buzz on future book cover designs by Hannah Johnson on Publishing Perspectives:

Designers on Book Covers of the Future

The reading experience on a Kindle is like “reading through a tub full of dirty dishwater,” said book designer Carin Goldberg at an event entitled “The Next Chapter: The Design and Publishing of the Digital Book.” E-books, and the endless uniformity of their reflowable text, are some of the most egregious offenders of bad aesthetics.

The event took place in late January at the New School for Design in Manhattan and was organized by AIGA, the professional association for design. Goldberg (designer and design instructor), along with Chip Kidd (Knopf), Jeremy Clark (Adobe) and Craig Mod (writer and publisher) spoke about the design challenges and opportunities that digital books present.

One thing that the speakers made clear is that the design of a book is very much informed by the format. Chip Kidd flipped through images of his wonderfully designed cover for 1Q84 by Haruki Murakami, and lovingly explained how the design of the hardback reflected the two planes of existence in the book. But of the two-dimensional cover on the iPad, Kidd remarked sarcastically, “whoop-di-f*cking-doo.” The audience roared with laughter. In truth, however, the iPad cover is what many readers are going to see — both when they browse in the iTunes store and when they open the book for the first time.

When designing for digital, Goldberg said, “the vocabulary is very different from print.” Maybe the mindset needs to be different as well. Shoving print design into digital format can result in less-than-exciting outcomes, like Kidd’s reaction to his own design on the iPad.

So what is the solution? If there are design limitations with digital content, there are also new opportunities. Goldberg presented a showcase of animated book covers her students had produced. My first reaction: why don’t more publishers do animated book covers? Of course we have to ignore the fact that such animations are impossible on black-and-white e-readers.

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11/14/2011

Publishers Are Going To Loose Not Only Their Retailers But Their Authors In The Future


"Where have all the authors gone???

How you ask? Let’s get to it.

It’s no secret Amazon has been selling digital books at a loss to gain more sales for its Kindle family. The strategy is simple enough … they need product (books or written content) to sell on their hardware e-readers which is where they make their profit. And they will give the product away, if necessary, to provide the widest selection available on its Kindle r-readers. 

Amazon wants the biggest catalog available to choose from.  And for those who are premium members (own Kindles and not some other product with a Kindle app … plus belong to the $79/yr Amazon Prime service ) they are indeed offering books for free from their library. You can borrow one book free a month and keep it as long as you want. 

Virginia Postrel tells all about it in Bloomberg Businessweek:

Amazon E-Library Is Publishing’s Profit Model

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) — Amazon.com Inc. is at it again. To the consternation of much of the book industry, the online giant is again offering digital titles for less than major publishers think books are worth. And this time, the price is zero.

If you own an Amazon Kindle, as opposed to just using the Kindle app on another device, and you also belong to the company’s $79-a-year Amazon Prime service, you can now “borrow” one digital book a month from the new Amazon Lending Library for free. You can keep the book as long as you want, but you can have only one at a time.

The new service worries Wall Street, too, because it increases Amazon’s out-of-pocket costs. The company is paying wholesale prices for some of the books in the lending library. For others, such as the titles from Lonely Planet travel guides, it is paying a flat fee for a group of books over a period of time. (It will report sales figures on individual titles back to those publishers.)

Beyond short-term earnings, however, the lending library is just the latest innovation to raise big questions about the whole publishing ecosystem. In an environment where books are increasingly digital, what’s the most effective way to create value for readers, for authors and for intermediaries? And — the biggest question — which intermediaries will survive the transition?

Big Six Balk

The lending library doesn’t include any books from the Big Six U.S. publishers — Random House, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan Publishers Ltd., Penguin Books Ltd. and Hachette — because Amazon can’t control what it charges for their digital books. They are undoubtedly relieved to be excluded. But the pricing control they value so highly reflects rigid arrangements they may come to regret.

Amazon used to pay publishers a wholesale price for e- books, just as it does for physical copies. It set whatever price it thought best for its overall business, even if that meant losing money on an individual title in order to boost traffic or sell more Kindles. It could adjust prices up or down to reflect new information or offer special promotions. Its standard price was $9.99, which was often less than it paid for each copy. Major publishers thought that was too low, but most couldn’t do anything about it.

Then came the iPad and the accompanying iBooks store. Apple Inc. struck a different deal with publishers, known in the business as the “agency model.” Publishers set the retail prices, with Apple taking a percentage for its services. The Big Six liked that deal and wanted it to be the industry standard.

Amazon resisted, going so far as to remove all the physical books from Macmillan off its site in hopes of forcing the company to continue the wholesale arrangement. But that sales strike alienated Amazon customers, who were angry when they went to the site and couldn’t buy the books they wanted. Amazon blinked.

As a result, most of the big-publisher titles in the Kindle store now sell for $12.99 to $14.99 each — a range Amazon called “needlessly high” when it capitulated.

I should say at this point that I am not an entirely disinterested observer. I’m an author, with two books available in digital form. And I agree with Amazon that, at $14.99, my 1998 book “The Future and Its Enemies” was priced needlessly high when its Kindle edition was released last spring. You have to either love me or your Kindle a lot to pay that much for a 13-year-old book you can get in paperback for $6. But, like Amazon, I have no say over how my e-book is priced.

Publishers, for the most part, don’t believe customers care much about the difference between Amazon’s old price and their new, higher ones. They’re skeptical that consumers respond to small price differences. A former publishing executive recently told me he simply didn’t believe that “if I really want a book for $9.95 I don’t also want it for $10.95 or $12.95.”

Look at Research

People in publishing say things like that all the time. While they admit that charging $100 for the typical hardback would be foolish, they don’t believe that changing the price of a book by a dollar or two will significantly change the number of copies sold.

The economic research suggests the opposite. In a 2009 paper that looked at consumers using computer price-comparison systems, or shopbots, to buy physical books online, economists Erik Brynjolfsson, Astrid Andrea Dick and Michael D. Smith found that a 1 percent drop in price — a mere 25 cents on a $25 book — increased the number of units sold by 7 percent to 10 percent. Shopbot users tend to be more price-sensitive than most consumers, but that’s a huge difference.

Publishers resist such evidence. The standard response is that it’s hard to know anything about pricing because “every book is different.” Every title is a unique good, and every customer values each book a little differently. So you might as well trust your gut.

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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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09/19/2011

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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06/18/2011

Is Kindle Self-Publishing Being Spammed To Death?


Keep Spam Out!

Self-publishing spammers are crapping all over Kindle’s self-publishing platform and stinking up its rep!

Kindle needs to hire … dare I say it … a police editor! Hell, why not, the publishing industry has an editor for everything these days … even editors to edit the editors. 

This from Digital Trends by Jeff Hughes :

Spam Storm Clogs the Kindle Self-Publishing Platform

Amazon’s Kindle self-publishing is getting clogged with super cheap low quality spam.

The Kindle’s ebook store has become a new outlet for self-publishing spammers in the past few months, forcing users to wade through a growing number of low-value, subpar content to get to the titles they want. This recent trend may be damaging to Amazon’s push into self-publishing and may even dig into the Kindle’s reputation, hurting the 10 percent of business Citigroup analysts say the product will account for in 2012.

Spammers are exploiting something known as PLR content, or Private Label Rights. Though there is potential for this work to be of high quality, PLR allows someone to grab informational content for free or for very cheap on the internet and reformat it as a digital book. The form of PLR these spammers use tends to be poorly written, generic and lets them put anyone’s name on it, slap a catchy title and churn it out for 99 cents. Amazon then pays out 30 to 70 percent of the revenue.

Sometimes these ebooks will just be stolen content from actual work. Reuters points out a case concerning a New Zealander and her debut historical novel which she found being sold on the platform under a different author’s name. The case was resolved by Amazon’s British team, but it points to a larger issue. Reuters cited Internet marketer Paul Wolfe, who explained that the common tactic involves copying an bestselling ebook and repackaging it with a new title and cover.

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06/04/2011

Kindle Self-Publishing, Another Success Story


Dan Holloway Experiences Online Publishing Success

You can register a digital version of your work on Kindle and they will also print on demand…Your work will be available in electronic as well as print formats…And any author can upload books for the Kindle.

Just ask Dan Holloway for details of his recent success…A cool (new ?) author with a hot new thriller series.

This from The Oxford Times:

Self-publishing author wins fans through web

AUTHOR Dan Holloway is reaching out to thousands of fans and even winning favour with some over top city authors Evelyn Waugh and Colin Dexter – all thanks to the internet.

The 39-year-old administrator is getting his thrillers into the hands of fans in print and electronic format via the World Wide Web.

Mr Holloway began writing aged eight and, since 2007, has written four books for the electronic Kindle device which are printed on demand.

Until now his biggest selling book notched up 300 sales – but last month The Company of Fellows sold 1,766 copies in the UK alone. This has seen it ranked 63rd with retailer giant Amazon, which has also ranked it as the 57th bestselling Kindle book.

Publishing on demand sees authors register an electronic copy of their work with a company which then prints and sends books when orders are received. Any author can upload books for the Kindle.

Mr Holloway said: “Self-publishing is all about independence and freedom to do what you want, when you want, to write in lots of different genres and once you have got the technical stuff set up it is very easy to do.

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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

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