Category Archives: Supporting the Indie Evolution

The Indie Evolution & Gaining Ground

The Bowker Self Publishing Report came out yesterday and I must say the numbers are quite impressive. The report utilizes data from 2012 so just imagine where we will be in another year or two.

Though this is all very good news I feel the need to highlight an important quote from the article.

“The most successful self-publishers don’t view themselves as writers only, but as business owners,” said Beat Barblan, Bowker Director of Identifier Services. “They invest in their businesses, hiring experts to fill skill gaps and that’s building a thriving new service infrastructure in publishing.”

Treating your writing as a business is not a whimsical little notion. It is vital to your success. This point cannot be stressed enough if we are to be taken seriously.

Lastly I will share a friendly reminder from our FYI page:
We understand the financial strain on most indie authors. Spending a sum of hard earned cash on a service and not sure if you’ll sell a single copy. The whole independent route is stressful but we can’t stress enough the value of editing. If you cannot afford to hire help please [please, please] get more eyes and ideas from a trusted source before you hurry to print.

A bad reputation is much harder to recover from than no reputation at all.

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Hedge Your Bets

Hedge Your Bets and Buyer Beware

The scamming of writers by shady publishers is a well known practice, too well known by those who have misplaced their confidence in these con artists.  It can never be stressed enough BUYER BEWARE. Allow me to add AUTHOR BE AWARE.

Do your homework and know who you are doing business with.

Do not get anxious. Anxiety leads to irrationality and in turn leads to bad decisions.

You do not have to accept that ‘all or nothing’ deal. The traditional publishers are hedging their bets, make sure you do the same.

This reminder comes on the heels of an article by David Gaughran about the exploitation of authors by brand name publishers. David writes, “The scammy vanity presses are owned by traditional publishers who are marketing them as the “easy” way to self-publish – when it’s nothing more than a horrifically expensive and terribly ineffective way to publish your work, guaranteed to kill your book’s chance of success stone dead, while emptying your bank account in the process.”

Instead of rambling my own sentiments I suggest you check out The Author Exploitation Business. David is a reputable source. I would also encourage you to spend a little time reading through his archives if you haven’t already and please feel free to share any source that has made the Indie world a better place to be.

 

Indie’s Continue Rising in the Ranks

Here is an interesting article from Forbes online magazine that should leave most independent authors/publishers smiling or at least hopeful.

When the Self-Published Authors Take Over, What Will Publishers Do?

April 30, 2013 |

In 2011, of the $14 billion trade publishing industry, roughly $100 million of it was self-published books, according to data presented at Digital Book World 2012. Less than 1%. A drop in the bucket. In 2013, the numbers should look quite differnt.

In the first four months of the year, we’ve had four weeks where a self-published title was a No. 1 ebook best-seller. Last week, both the Nos. 1 and 2 spots were self-published ebooks. This week’s best-seller list brings fresh challenges to the dominance of traditional publishers.

While David Baldacci’s The Hit (Hachette) retook the No. 1 spot from self-published author H.M. Ward, five of the top ten best-selling ebooks this week were self-published. For those of you who weren’t math majors, that’s half. Six of the top-25 best-selling ebooks were self-published: 24%.

When the top-two ebooks were self-published last week, publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin said, “This is another benchmark moment. The number of small- and self-published books achieving real commercial success will continue to rise; the gatekeeping role of established publishers will continue — gradually and then, sooner or later, suddenly — to fade to relative irrelevance.”

Perhaps the question is, are we in the “gradual” phase or the “sudden” phase in this transition? And what does this mean for publishers?

Some of the larger publishers are making moves to get involved in the self-publishing revenue streams:

– Offering their own self-publishing services (Simon & Schuster, Penguin, F+W Media [my employer], to name three).
– Buying books by self-published authors that have already shown strong sales in an attempt to boost them to even higher sales (See Hugh Howey’s Wool, Jennifer L. Armentrout’s Wait for You).
– Offering new business models for authors (Random House’s new suite of imprints, including the controversial Hydra, show that publishers are still figuring this out).

But when it comes to capturing these new revenue streams, it might be like trying to use a mop bucket to catch a breaking wave.

The top-five ebook best-sellers from this week might tell the story better than I can:

1. The Hit by David Baldacci (Hachette)
2. Damaged by H.M. Ward (Self-published)
3. The Bet by Rachel Van Dyken (Self-published)
4. Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts (Penguin)
5. Twisted Perfection by Abbi Glines (Self-published)

See the rest of the top-25 ebook best-sellers this week.

Pricing

One other wrinkle in this precipitous rise of self-publishing is pricing. The average price of an ebook best-seller is lower now than it has ever been: $6.58. Part of the reason is that the six self-published titles on the list are each being sold for $0.99 or $3.99. If those six titles were taken off the list, the average would be about $8. Read more.

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Piracy vs. Publicity

I realize piracy is real but please don’t un-publish your e-book to “teach them a lesson”, it is like cutting your nose off to spite your face.

This thought comes after listening to a couple of writers rant about their books showing up on a pirate website. They receive no royalty from those sales and were understandably irate but removing the titles from legitimate retailers will not change the status of the pirated book guys.

Piracy is not a new thing and it will never go away, we must accept that fact, but we can learn to look at it in a more positive light.

A couple of years ago Neil Gaiman spoke about piracy. I’ll leave you with the video.

Natasha Trethewey is the current United Sates Poet Laureate.

The Real Janna Hill

 What I love about this poem is how easily it flows. You don’t have to be a Mississippian, a historian, a scholar or even a poetry fan to appreciate the smooth and simple beauty of Pilgrimage.

Sometimes we get so busy with the day to day ritual that we forget to read and that is a shame. It is also another reason to appreciate National Poetry Month. It serves as a reminder (at least for me) to seek out new poetry, to step away from the keyboard and open a book or a webpage or an audio device and go along for the ride if only for a few moments. This was certainly a ride worth taking.

Pilgrimage

by Natasha Trethewey

Here, the Mississippi carved

            its mud-dark path, a graveyard

for skeletons of sunken riverboats.

            Here, the river changed its course,

turning away from the city

           …

View original post 242 more words

Real Indies, Real Answers

Firstly thank all of you who took time out of your busy schedules to answer the survey. We reached in and grabbed a handful and here is what we found.

Most of the independent authors that responded publish under their name or their company label. One example is author Lori Crane from Michigan who publishes under Lori Crane Entertainment, Inc. Lori writes mainly nineteenth century historical fiction. You can learn more about Lori at www.loricrane.com. On the other hand Harry Steinman’s publisher is Alloy Press. Harry writes sci-fi thrillers and hales from Boston. To find out more about Harry check out his website at www.littledeadlythings.com.

Regarding the question of lowering prices nearly every indie stated they would either lower the price or offer a free book. I thought Kate Policani’s response sounded like a win-win offer. Kate said, “I would probably ask them to review my book in exchange for a free copy.” Kate lives in Seattle and can be found at http://katepolicani.com. One author actually did lower prices. Janna Hill said, “The men and women who put everything ahead of themselves and have $10 left at the end of the month. That’s who I write for.” Janna resides in Texas. More about her can be found at www.jannahill.net

In answer to “What outlet brings the most sales?” Amazon won hands down but allow me to quote an excerpt from Scott McCloskey’s response. “My technical answer to that is Amazon. My personal answer to that is word of mouth. Nothing generates more interest in a book than hearing from somebody who’s opinion you trust that it’s worth reading.” Can I get an amen?! Scott lives in Pennsylvania writes young adult fiction. See more of his work at http://www.ordonline.net/

And lastly  most authors responding were US citizens with the exception of Ronnie Ray Jenkins who calls the US and Canada home. Most of Ronnie Ray’s stories are a mixture of grit and humor about the Appalachian peoples. Find out more about him at www.ronnierayjenkins.com.

Reviews

 Reviews

Reviews build confidence and potentially increase sales and that is what all authors want. Right? Sales mean someone cared enough to buy your book and hopefully they will recommend it. But reviews for new Indies are getting harder to come by.

We receive a significant amount of requests to review books and have always declined because we simply did not have the time. In the past we could direct inquiries to blogs focused on indie reviews or other authors willing to exchange honest reviews but times have changed. More and more of the reputable blogs are swamped or no longer accepting solicitations from independent authors/publishers.

I stress honest because the reading public can generally see through the five star promotions written by well-meaning family and friends. Too much sugar can make you sick.

As I said earlier we get a significant amount of requests to review books and have always declined in the past because we simply did not have the time. That too has apparently changed.

We currently have a few prolific readers that are willing to take on the task (and sometimes pleasure) of reviewing but buyer beware they do not sugarcoat opinions. They aren’t cruel but they are direct and they don’t do it for free.

Why? You may ask. This is what they told me: “You are asking me to spend my time and money on a book I may or may not have eventually found on my own. I’m asking you to make an equal commitment.”

Some prefer to let their books be discovered naturally and that is perfectly fine but for those who feel they need a little boost that’s fine too. I believe candid reviews are definitely effective in gaining fans and exposure.

Surely there are some reputable blogs that will still review an independent book for the benefit of journalism?  By all means ideas are welcomed.

If you are interested in the review service we have two people who usually work as proofers offering candid reviews for $35. Yes that is thirty-five dollars per e-book. They purchase your e-book and write an unbiased review. The price seems steep to me but they are offering this service as one possible solution. For now this is all I’ve got. Sorry.

**Suggestion: Always make sure your book is the best it can be before asking for reviews.