Monthly Archives: December 2012

Libraries Starting to Emerge as Bookstores

29 December 2012

From Good EReader:

With bookstores gradually on the way out in the digital age, libraries are increasingly finding themselves in a new role, that of bookstores themselves. More and more libraries are changing their renovations plans to limit adding more shelf space to add more titles to their already existing collection but are also earmarking a separate section that will be dedicated to shave off some of their collection to those eager to buy them at a discounted price, the proceeds of which will be used for other developmental activities. In fact, libraries are into a sort of makeover phase and are re-inventing themselves as stores with the members being seen as customers.

As Jason Kuhl, the executive director of the Arlington Heights Memorial Library puts it, “A library has limited shelf space, so you almost have to think of it as a store, and stock it with the things that people want.”

. . . .

Libraries often have to stock multiple copies of best sellers when they are in demand to be able to satisfy more number of patrons though the multiple copies become redundant once they go out of favor in a year or two. These along with the usual practice of libraries to ‘weed’ out some of their stocks that they believe they can do without also earns them resources that has become vital in the age of depressed economic situation.

Link to the rest at Good EReader

Why book buying stats might stifle the next great author

28 December 2012

From The Globe and Mail:

Given the pressure to reduce costs, something had to give in the formerly genteel world of book publishing, and it’s not the publishers. Rationalizing with mergers, capitalizing on global fads and making up in digital sales some of what they have lost in print, the big houses are stubbornly resisting their oft-foretold extinction.

. . . .

The true dinosaurs of the new age are authors. Once happily enclosed in the “stables” of publishers willing to nurture and develop their talent, even if they never wrote a major bestseller, droves of so-called “mid-list” authors now find themselves roaming among the ever-present throng of wannabes flogging unpublished work in an indifferent market. And that throng is most likely to produce tomorrow’s bestsellers, even if they begin life as obscure, self-published digital texts that, onloy after they find a following, are taken up and heavily marketed to mainstream prominence by major publishing houses.

Many mid-list authors have fallen victim to increasingly sophisticated, widely available sales data, according to agents and publishers. Publishers can now assess every author’s lifelong sales thanks to such services as Nielsen Bookscan in the United States and BookNet Canada.

And once reduced to pure numbers, those track records determine the fate of proven writers looking for cash advances to begin their next books. “Everybody knows the numbers now,” Toronto literary agent Denise Bukowski said in an interview. “You can’t lie about the numbers.” Retailers don’t order books from authors whose previous work sold indifferently, she added, so publishers respond by cutting them loose.

. . . .

“The professional authors are the ones who lose out,” Lorimer said. “They’re professionals, they’ve established themselves, but they’re not top-tier so they’re not going to have a runaway bestseller. They are going to find it very difficult.”

. . . .

Even the decline of advances is positive, said Good, former head of Penguin Canada. “It means that everybody’s basing what they pay on history and reality rather than hype and stars in your eyes,” she said.

Link to the rest at The Globe and Mail and thanks to Phil for the tip.

There is no greater agony

28 December 2012

There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.

Maya Angelou

4 Steps to Creating Enjoyable Reader Experience on Your Fiction Author Website

28 December 2012

From Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors:

About a year ago I decided that I wanted to attract more readers to my website, so I used my mad researching skills on the internet to learn more. What I learned is that there are thousands of articles on the subject and very few that have any useful information or helpful advice.

There was write about what you are passionate about, but don’t write about writing. Readers don’t read blogs. Fans come to websites looking for more books and blog posts are not our books so they aren’t interested. Pick a niche or topic to blog about, however be aware that readers of our niche blogs might not be interested in our fiction or that our fans might still be uninterested in reading our blog.

. . . .

But this post isn’t about blogging so much as creating a friendly and enjoyable reader experience for your fiction author website.

. . . .

Creating a website for fans to enjoy and prolonging the readers experience means that you’ll probably have to throw out all the misinformation you’ve learned over your career and start from scratch. Before you start throwing web pages together I want you to do this exercise.

On a piece of paper create three columns and label them keywordstopics, and readers. Now I’m going to ask you three questions and I want you to list anything that comes to mind. Don’t skip ahead. These are a very important questions that will aid in creating your website.

Column #1: What keywords would you use to describe you and your writing?

Column #2: What topics are you passionate (interested in) about? 

Column #3: Who are your perfect readers?

. . . .

What is the goal of your website? Is it to draw readers to you? Is it to share your stories? Is it to sell books? Once you know your goals, brainstorm some things you can do to accomplish this goal. You can using the list of topics you are passionate about and keywords to enhance your goals. The goal is to draw readers to your website and you need to  Brainstorm some ways you can draw your potential visitors to your website and reach your goals.

Link to the rest at Self-Published Authors Helping Other Authors

Separating the Narrator from a Series

28 December 2012

From All About Romance:

I became addicted to audiobooks about seven years ago and haven’t looked back. Before I had a membership at audible (thank you Lea, for the recommendation) I listened to audiobooks on CDs. Because CDs were quite costly, I primarily stuck with audiobooks by my favorite authors such as Jayne Ann Krentz, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, and Linda Howard. I was unwilling to take a chance on newer authors. However, sometimes even with those favorites, the audio version was a risk in the hands of a less-than-desirable narrator.

Thanks to my audible membership I’m able to sample books before I download them, to make certain that I actually like the narrator. And thanks to Lea’s wonderful Speaking of Audiobooks columns, I’m now alerted to new-to-me narrators. As Lea wrote in her very first Speaking of Audiobooks column back in June of 2009, it’s all about the narrator.

. . . .

I now not only look for titles I think I might like in audio, but for new works by some of my favorite narrators.

. . . .

Don’t get me wrong, Jayne Entwistle does a marvelous job with the narration of I’ve Got Your Number. The problem for me is that she uses exactly the same voice for Poppy, the heroine of I’ve Got Your Number, as she uses for Flavia. That voice is so fixed in my head as being Flavia’s, that for at least the first two hours I was constantly pulled out of the story, thinking such things as “Why does Flavia have an engagement ring,” and “No, no, Flavia, dump that jerk!” and “Flavia, you’re only 11 years old, go back to your chemistry lab.”

Link to the rest at All About Romance

Lack Of Online Reviews Hurts Apple’s Online Store

28 December 2012

From ReadWrite Mobile:

Apple’s online retail store fell short of customer expectations over the holiday shopping season. Satisfaction with the company’s website fell to a four-year low, according to ForeSee’s annual Holiday E-Retail Satisfaction Index. One big problem, no customer reviews to help shoppers decide which product is right for them.

. . . .

Apple’s score of 80 is still considered very good, but the fact that the company did not make the list of top five online retailers should be a wake-up call. “It is a little bit of a yellow caution flag,” said Larry Freed, president and chief executive of Foresee.

Apple’s score fell three points from last year, because it did a poorer job helping customers wade through its growing list of products, Freed said. For example, outside of price, the difference between the iPad mini, iPad 2 and iPad with Retina display is not readily apparent for many consumers.

By comparison, Amazon topped the list for the eighth year in a row, despite having a vastly wider variety of products from multiple manufacturers. While Amazon is the equivalent of an online department store, Apple is more of a boutique shop.

. . . .

“There are no product reviews on Apple’s site,” he said. “In trying to decide if the (iPad) mini is right for me or not, you’re really forced to go somewhere else to get somebody’s opinion.”

Link to the rest at ReadWrite Mobile

For folks like me, the last 4 years have been disastrous

28 December 2012

From Kat Sheridan in a comment to Amazon Ebook Sales – Up, Down, Flat?:

Let me give you the perspective from your target audience–a voracious reader, with eclectic tastes, from the baby-boomer demographic, some of the most prolific readers out there. I’m not published, so I’m coming at you from the perspective of a pure reader.

I didn’t get an e-reader this Christmas. The kindle I bought two years ago died six months later. It was replaced with an iPod Touch, which is the only e-reading device I use now, although what few purchases I do make are from Amazon.

I don’t know what your situation is, but for folks like me, the last 4 years have been disastrous. I lost my job. You can’t take a six figure income out of a household budget without consequences. A great percentage of those either unemployed or under-employed are in my age group–too old to be attractive to employers, too young for social security. I don’t have health insurance, and even though I COULD get it under “Obamacare”, the cost would still be greater than Hubs’s entire social security check (he’s older than I, and that’s what we live on). We are the folks who used to purchase and read multiple books in a month (sometimes multiple in a week!). Nowadays, we go to the library, re-read what we already have, buy used, or download free.

Normally a country settles into a mood of acceptance after a presidential election, either toning down the celebration of a win, or resigning themselves to a loss. I’m not seeing that this time. The mood of the country is still divisive, dark, and the vitriol from both sides still at a high pitch. We see a government spending like a drunken sailor on shore leave, count our pennies, and think twice about every purchase.

It’s been exacerbated by a series of natural and man-tragedies, from Hurricane Sandy to the shootings at Sandy Hook, from the remaining questions over Benghazi to the looming fiscal clliff. Milk subsidies are set to expire soon, doubling the price of all dairy products. Given the choice between buying a book, no matter how charming and distracting it might be, or saving my meager income for a block of cheese, heat, medications, and mortgage payments, which do you think I’ll choose?

I may download a few free books, but I’m sorry, I’ve never yet read a free book that was worth my time, and never read one that led me to buy others from the same author. Maybe I’m too picky, but I pick up stray jobs as an editor, and every single free book I’ve read looks like an editor never got near it. I’m mistrustful of the 99 cent books as well unless they are a sale from an author I already know and trust. I know there are folks here who’ve written fine books. Again, maybe I’m just being too picky.

I did get a few books for Christmas–they were of the dead tree variety, and every single one was purchased used. And I bought books–also of the dead tree variety–as Christmas presents for the children in my life. They are two young (and thanks to unemployed parents, too poor) to have e-readers. Perhaps you might do better if you made sure you also offered print versions of your work. I won’t buy it new, especially given the costs of trade paperbacks, but there’s a good chance I might pick it up used. I know that doesn’t help your bottom line, since you don’t get royalties on used books, but that’s MY reality.

This Christmas was not good for ANY retailer, with reports of sales down all over the place, in every market segment, not just books. There are signs of recovery in the housing and durable goods areas, but in general, people are not spending money on “luxury” items. This includes books. People spent less this Christmas. I think there are just too many uncertainties and folks are reluctant to incur debt the way they moght have been in the past.

A young woman I did an editing job for is slated to officially launch her debut in 10 days, although her publisher actually did a soft release this month. I know she made at least 200 Kindle sales already. But when we chose the release date months ago, I deliberately told her to wait until January to release, to avoid getting caught in the churn of the free-download frenzy (plus the book is a political thriller about a presidential assassination and the first female president, so there are logical tie-ins to the inauguration).

I suspect folks will see an uptick in sales once some of the politics settle, the fiscal cliff issues are resolved one way or another, and folks settle into the long dark moths of winter and are looking for distractions.

Passive Guy would note that the monster growth in both ebooks and self-pubbed authors has occurred during a very poor economy in the US and many other nations around the world.

This economy has pushed some traditionally-published authors into indieworld as advances have become smaller and publishers have substantially trimmed their mid-list releases. Ditto for first-time authors who have walked away from offers with a small advance and chosen to self-pub instead.

The economy also plays a role in the success that some indie authors have found by pricing their works, particularly ebooks, significantly lower than books from traditional publishers.

Stephen King Speaks about Writing

28 December 2012

Thanks to Dan for the tip.

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