Amazon and Hachette Come to Terms

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Remember that weary battle between Amazon and Hachette? Tried to forget about it? Well, it’s back with an underwhelming vengeance. They settled… and they’re keeping the details to themselves and essentially each side is claiming victory or something like that. Makes you sort of wonder why they couldn’t have settled months ago. Still, leave it to Doug Preston to try and have the last words, which are pretty much, “You haven’t heard the end of this!” Can we vote to end his 15 minutes of “fame”? It’s running a bit long.

Listen, as I mentioned briefly in my post yesterday, I’m all for competition. As authors and readers, it would be healthy for Amazon to get some strong competition, especially with regard to the ebook market. Problem is, there isn’t anything that’s on the same level and that’s probably because no one cares about it as much. That is, until the one place that does care starts trying to throw its weight around.

I’m kinda glad the whole thing is over and I hope to never hear about the Authors Guild and Authors United. When your group consists of the top 1% of earners in a field, it doesn’t sound like unity and leadership. It sounds like privilege and whining.

Barnes & Noble Opens Up POD Service

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And it’s pretty much useless. No, seriously. I’m not really sure what to say about Nook Press Book Publishing. “What were you thinking?” comes to mind. You see, a print-on-demand (POD) service exists, primarily, for two reasons. The first is to be able to create paper copies of your book. Simple. The second is where the real potential for value comes into play for a self-published author. Where can your POD service distribute your book to?

CreateSpace, Lightning Source, and most major POD services will distribute your book to Amazon and B&N so that it’s available for customers to purchase. They also make it available to bookstores and libraries if you can convince them to pick up copies. Do I sell a lot of paperbacks online? No, but it’s nice to know that they’re there. So, you would think that B&N’s new service would at least distribute to bn.com, right? Nope. They don’t distribute anywhere, not even to themselves. Go ahead, go back and read that and make sure you’ve got it. THEY’RE A POD SERVICE THAT DOESN’T EVEN SERVICE ITSELF! That sounds wrong on a variety of levels, but you get what I mean.

While they do offer the ability to produce a hardcover option (something CreateSpace doesn’t do), this whole concept is a bit of a head scratcher. There’s just no incentive to use this service! Why would I even bother? Is it possible that this service might change in the future? Sure, but it’s barely worth a second look at the moment. There are better, established, POD services that actually provide you with… you know, a service.

Self-publishing needs stronger competition. As happy as I am with Amazon, there needs to be a company of equal quality and value for authors to turn to. B&N could be that competition, but it seems like every time they have a chance to get in the game, they fall well short. Nook Press is a poor alternative to Kindle Direct Publishing, and this new addition almost feels like the punchline to a bad joke.

I use CreateSpace for my POD books. Who do you use? What’s been your experience with POD? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by! 🙂

The “Should I Self-Publish?” Checklist

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Let’s get something straight; self publishing is not the easy way out. It is 10x more difficult than going through a traditional publisher. However, if you’re willing to put in the effort, the rewards can be that much better. Let’s take a look at some key points of self publishing to see if it’s the path you should take.

Do you want control over every single aspect of your writing and book design?

This is one of the biggest reasons why folks self publish. By self publishing, you answer to no one but yourself. This also means that you are the one responsible for everything and some folks don’t want all that responsibility. If you’re ready to be the end-all/be-all, then feel free to jump in.

Are you prepared to do the work necessary to publish the most polished novel you possibly can?

Self publishing isn’t about cranking out 70,000 words, uploading a Word file to KDP with a slapped-together cover, and clicking “Publish.” It’s about putting out the best darn book you possibly can without having to give up a huge chunk of royalties and a lifetime of rights. This means having the book professionally edited, paying to have a cover created, wrangling beta readers, and maybe even paying to have the insides formatted. If you’re not willing to make an effort to get these services, I recommend traditionally publishing. Honestly. Otherwise, you may be wasting your time and tarnishing your potential reputation. You might not have the money to do these sorts of things and I understand that, but then you’re going to be producing a mediocre product that neither you, nor your readers, will be happy with. Your goal should be to put out a book that rivals those found in any bookstore. If you can’t come close to that, then you should reconsider traditional publishing.

Are you willing to do the marketing necessary for your book to be successful?

This holds true whether you’re self published or a traditionally published midlist author: You’re going to have to do most of your own marketing. Marketing comes in many forms. Some cost money. Some don’t. But, no one is going to hand you a prize as soon as you self publish. In fact, unless your circle of family and friends is extraordinary (and they’re all willing to buy your book), immediate success is rare. It’s often a constant struggle to keep your book in front of readers. This doesn’t mean you need to devote your life to promoting your book (you should really be working on your next book as soon as your first one is published). But, promotion can take time and energy.

Can you handle criticism from strangers and friends in a professional manner?

Self-publishing is still a 4-letter-word to some people. It’s climbing its way out in certain crowds, but there are some who hear it and automatically assume “vanity publishing” and “most likely crap that no one else would publish.” Is your skin thick enough to be on the front lines? You will get negative reviews that target you because you are self published. You will get strange looks from people when you tell them you self published. You will get haughty disdain when you explain in clear terms why you self published. You will be faced with a type of segregation that, at times, will bar you from participation because of your chosen method of publication. You need to be able to take all of the criticism and doubt with your head held high and

Can you live without “publishing industry” validation?

This is a biggie. Do you need the established gatekeepers of traditional publishing to tip their cap your way in order to be proud of your writing? If so, turn back now. The chances of having that happen after self publishing are slim to none. Yes, it’s happened. Hugh Howey got a sweet paper-only contract after his self-published novel, Wool, took off. Recently, cover artist (he did the cover for Danny Dirks!) and author Jason Gurley published his epic, Eleanor, and had it picked up several months later by Crown Publishing (and recently in the UK by HarperCollins). Congrats to him. It’s so rare though. You can pretty much guarantee being shunned by any sort of traditional press once you’ve self published, unless you happen to sell a ridiculous amount of books out of the gate. $ attracts $.

If you answered “Yes” to all of these, congratulations on thinking you’re ready to be a self-published author. 😉 I can tell you, from 3+ years of personal experience, it has its moments, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m proud of my mistakes and my successes because they are all mine.

What do you think? Anything I missed? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

Tally Up Twitter Tuesday – 10/27

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Been a while since I’ve posted this feature, so figured I’d dust it off with a fresh look. These are some of the more interesting things I’ve shared over on Twitter in the last week. Enjoy!

 

As always, you can get these links first hand by following me over on Twitter. 🙂

Me? On TV?! Sure, Why Not! – Writers2Writers Show 101 Teaser

So, this is a small sample clip of me pretending to know what I’m talking about with regard to publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing. 😉 While we still don’t have a debut date set, the producer has created some teasers. If you haven’t followed along with the Me? On TV? Sure, Why Not? series, feel free to peruse the older posts (Take 1, Take 2, Take 3 Take 4). Be sure to follow the YouTube channel to see the full episode when it finally airs! Heck, you might learn a thing or two. The show is hosted by Jennifer Sneed and Keith Fritz (friend and fellow author K. Edwin Fritz).

Thanks for stopping by! 😀

Kindle Scout

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Planning on publishing your Romance, Mystery, Thriller, Science Fiction, or Fantasy novel with Amazon soon? Not in a rush? Well, you might want to consider submitting to Kindle Scout. Amazon’s new crowd-sourced publishing arm has put out a call for work. Check out the home page and eligibility requirements.

Per the site,

If we select your book for publication, you will be entitled to a $1,500 advance and royalties on net revenues at a rate of 50% for eBooks, 25% for audio editions and 20% for translations.

If you do not earn at least $25,000 during any 5-year term, you’ll have six months after the end of that 5-year period in which you can choose to stop publishing with us and request your rights back.

Be sure to read the fine print before you submit. Another way Amazon is trying to become the publisher of choice. They are certainly dangling another carrot here.

UPDATE (11/4/14): The reader portion of Kindle Scout is now active and you may nominate books for selection. Having seen some of the choices, I wonder if Amazon might help authors with their covers prior to publication. Some are pretty awful. :-/

What do you think? Would you/will you submit? Let us know in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

Considering a small press? Be cautious

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I met a writer a few years ago and he was proud to announce that he’d been published by a small press. He was surprised at the fact that I’d chosen to self publish and I told him that it gave me control over most aspects of my novel. At the time, I was giving him a ride to a small authors’ show where we were to sit in a local mall and sell our books. We got to talking about how much profit we were making off of our respective books and what he told me next left me slightly disgusted and dumbfounded.

You see, while I could purchase my print copies through CreateSpace at a wholesale rate (~$5 for a $12.99 novel), his publisher was, essentially, forcing him to purchase copies at a slightly discounted retail rate. In order to get paperbacks, they would discount the book on Amazon for a short period so he could purchase them for $12.99 a copy instead of their normal $14.99 a copy. Being flat broke, he could only afford 5 or 6 copies, but “buying them on Amazon will boost your sales rankings,” they told him. I couldn’t mask my incredulity about it. His response, “Well, they gave me an advance.” He sold 3 books that day for $15 each and had to give the bookstore owner $1 per sale, cutting his take in half. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for his situation.

Now, obviously, this is an extreme example and I’d like to think that most small presses wouldn’t do this. But, in my opinion, you can do for yourself what any small press can do. Sure, you won’t get an advance, but what kind of advance can you expect from a small press anyway? $1k tops, I imagine. Not worth giving up a ton of rights and royalties for.

I’m not here to bash small publishers. I know folks who have done well and are still doing well with small publishers. I’m just sharing an anecdotal story and passing along a great article to read if you’re considering going that way: Salome Jones talks about 8 things to assess when considering a small press over at thebookdesigner.com.

Have experience with a small press? Let us know about it in the comments and thanks for stopping by!

Tally Up Twitter Tuesday – 9/23

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This week’s roundup of what I think are some of the best links I’ve shared over on Twitter:

Apple’s Big Move in eBooks

Amazon Launches the Voyager Line of Kindles

Should Self-Published Authors Slow Down?

Librify Launches a Digital Book Club

As always, you can get these links first hand by following me over on Twitter. 🙂