Monthly Archives: August 2013

Do I exaggerate?

28 August 2013

Do I exaggerate? Boy, do I, and I’d do it more if I could get away with it.

David Sedaris

I was sick of rejection

28 August 2013

From The Guardian:

I first had interest from a literary agent back in 2001, after sending out a stack of manuscripts. It eventually came to nothing, but at the time I was over the moon just to have confirmation I could write. A year later, after another mass send-out, I found another literary agent who took me on but, unfortunately, she was unable to sell my book, Package Deal. After that disappointment, I told her I was thinking of self-publishing but she didn’t think it was a good idea, so we parted ways. This was 2004 – before the rise of ebooks and the birth of Facebook and Twitter. My husband, Chris, runs a graphic design agency so he helped me to design a cover for Package Deal and we printed a few hundred copies. He also set up a website for me to sell them through. I had no marketing plan but to my amazement several branches of Waterstones in East Sussex took it on, as well as a few independent bookshops. I also got a tiny bit of publicity although most of the press refuse to review self-published books. All in all, I probably sold around 150 copies – but most of those were to friends.

Despite making a loss, it wasn’t completely in vain. I sent off 50 of my new paperbacks and the first three chapters of my next novel, Hot Property, to another round of agents. Before long, I landed myself a new agent who was absolutely certain she could sell Hot Property. But after several drafts, she seemed less keen and told me to write something else, so I did, my third book – Pearls. When I submitted the manuscript, however, she turned it down and politely let me go. To say I was gutted was an understatement. I felt I’d reached the end of the road. It was then 2011. For 10 years, I’d been trying to find a way in, but it was “access denied” every time.

. . . .

When I first uploaded my books, I priced them at £2.99 each (allowing me 70% royalties). After a good start and a successful summer last year that surpassed my expectations, my sales plummeted overnight last September and trickled in over the winter. Suddenly, my future in self-publishing was looking a lot less rosy. I got a bit obsessed with what could possibly have caused such a sudden, dramatic drop in my sales. I came up with various theories – Amazon’s algorithms, the sudden expansion of Amazon into other countries, perhaps my books only have summer time appeal, etc – until, eventually, I realised there was nothing I could do about it. Reluctantly, I dropped the price to 99p, which reduced my royalties to 35%. My reasoning was that it was still early days and I wanted to encourage readers to take a chance on me. Sales have picked up considerably since then.

In my first year of self-publishing, I sold over 1,500 books. In the first half of this year I’ve sold 2,000. For someone who thought they’d be lucky to sell 100, that’s pretty good going!

Link to the rest at The Guardian

Rambunctious Revival of Books

28 August 2013

From Time Magazine:

Once upon a time book retailing was about as exciting as watching haircuts. Hardcover books were often sold in musty downtown stores by fussy bibliophiles, and many readers turned to paperback racks in the more informal atmosphere of supermarkets or drugstores. Today the bookstore business is in the midst of a rambunctious revival. Highly organized chains with fat financial backing are using aggressive, unsentimental sales and promotion techniques to push into all parts of the country. The chains are cutting into book-club sales and sweeping some small independent stores out of business or forcing them to rely more and more on discounting or specialization.

Largely as a result of their merchandising razzle-dazzle, the chains are inducing people to buy more books than ever. Retail sales rose to $1.6 billion last year for hard and soft covers combined, and this year they are expected to climb 13%, to $1.8 billion.

. . . .

In the forefront of the merchandising blitz are such chains as Waldenbooks, the nation’s largest book retailer, owned by Carter Hawley Hale Stores. Begun in 1962, the Walden chain now has 498 shops dotted around the country, mostly in suburban shopping malls. In recent years it has been opening a store a week. B. Dalton, a subsidiary of Dayton Hudson Corp., the department store conglomerate, is the second largest bookseller. Dalton too has been growing at a feverish rate in recent years and has 339 stores in 40 states. Other chains include Doubleday stores, an affiliate of the publishing house, and Brentano’s, an affiliate of Macmillan. The chains account for up to half of all hardcover retail sales, and their share of the market grows every month.

These big companies operate with a cold efficiency that astounds the oldtime booksellers, who often take a warm proprietary interest in their wares. Highly computerized Dalton, which carries about 30,000 titles in each shop, assigns every book a number; when the book is sold the number is entered through the cash register into a computer, which produces a weekly report on what every store in the chain has sold. Slow-moving titles are quickly culled. Most chains concentrate almost exclusively on bestsellers—novels, selfhelp, biographies and the like.

Link to the rest at Time and thanks to Felix for the tip.

Indie Novels and Cheap Wine

28 August 2013

From regular TPV visitor and author Pete Morin:

As I approach the second anniversary of the publication of Diary of a Small Fish, I’ve now had more than three years to observe and participate in the discussion about the distinctions between traditional publishing and self-publishing.

. . . .

But I have to say, I’m getting a little tired of this singular focus (not only by trad industry stalwarts) on the sheer numbers of “free” or “underpriced” self-published novels that meet the critics definition of “dreck,” or [pick your own pejorative], as though that is reason enough to discount entirely the whole indie fiction market.

. . . .

My wife and I honeymooned for nearly a month in Portugal, in November of 1984.

. . . .

Elizabeth and I covered the countryside in our tiny Deux Chevaux, following a rough figure 8, beginning in Lisbon, traveling southeast through Evora to the southern port of Faro, west to Portimao and Sagres, up to Braganca in the northeast corner, west to Braga and then Porto, and south along the coast to Aveiro, Figueria da Foz and eventually to the Costa do Sol and the casinos of Cascais. We made a point of stopping in a lot of the smaller villages to buy bread, cheese, sausage, fruit, and of course, wine. You know, honeymoon picnic stuff. We ate by the side of many a country road, watching flocks of wild turkeys, or shepherds driving their sheep, or cork harvesters, while we ate local food and drank local wines.

Each little village had its own Vinho Verde or Vinho Tinto, and they would cost a maximum of $2, usually less. So, being good consumers and generous contributors to the local economies, we would buy 2-4 bottles at each stop. We’d open one and sample it. If it was good, we drank it. If it wasn’t, we poured it out and moved on to the next one.

. . . .

So this is how I’ve found sampling indie-published novels as well. Like the village wines, most of them are inexpensive, and it doesn’t take much of a sip to decide if it’s worth consuming. If it isn’t, it’s deleted from the kindle and you move on to the next one.

Link to the rest at Pete Morin and thanks to Dale for the tip.

The Amazon Ad That Scared The Crap Out Of Apple’s Top Executives

28 August 2013

From Business Insider:

On November 22, 2010, at 7:55 PM, Apple’s Senior Vice President of marketing, Phil Schiller, blasted an email to top Apple executives.

He had just seen an ad from Amazon, and he was not happy.

He emailed Steve Jobs, Eddy Cue, who runs Apple’s Internet services, and Greg Joswiak, VP of marketing:

I just watched a new Amazon Kindle app ad on TV.

It starts with a woman using an iPhone and buying and reading books with the Kindle app. The woman then switches to an Android phone and still can read all her books.

While the primary message is that there are Kindle apps on lots of mobile devices, the secondary message that can’t be missed is that it is easy to switch from iPhone to Android.

Not fun to watch.

. . . .

Apple decided to cripple Amazon’s Kindle app for iPhones and iPads. Apple said that if Amazon wants to sell a book through iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system, then Apple would collect 30% of the sale.

Link to the rest at Business Insider

Amazon Kindle Paperwhite is out of stock – new models on the way?

28 August 2013

From Liliputing:

Amazon’s expected to launch a new line of Android tablets this fall. But what about the company’s black and white eReader lineup? Is there a new model in the works to replace the Kindle Paperwhite?

While there has been leak after leak providing details about the company’s new tablets, I haven’t heard much about a new eReader from Amazon.

But there’s a good sign something’s going on in that department — Amazon’sKindle Paperwhite WiFi eReader is currently out of stock.

. . . .

Amazon’s expected to launch a new line of Android tablets this fall. But what about the company’s black and white eReader lineup? Is there a new model in the works to replace the Kindle Paperwhite?

While there has been leak after leak providing details about the company’s new tablets, I haven’t heard much about a new eReader from Amazon.

But there’s a good sign something’s going on in that department — Amazon’s Kindle Paperwhite WiFi eReader is currently out of stock.

Link to the rest at Liliputing

Amazon Expands In-App Sale of Real Goods

27 August 2013

From The Wall Street Journal Digits blog:

Amazon wants its retail store to always be just a click away.

The Seattle retail giant announced Tuesday that developers can allow physical goods from to be purchased through just about any Android app. That means users could buy an actual calendar to hang on their wall while using a calendar app, or spices from a recipe app.

It is easy to imagine how the new in-app purchasing could appeal for marketers: Stick a virtual pair of the latest Air Jordan shoes on a game character and offer them at a discount.

The announcement is one more sign of how Amazon aims to replace both the corner and department stores by offering nearly all consumer goods with just a click. The company has in recent weeks begun selling fine art and wine, as well as fresh produce in new markets.

Eric Hautemont, chief executive of game maker Days of Wonder, said the new program was a no-brainer. “How else can we close the loop between digital and physical?” said Hautemont. “Our customers want to be able to make these purchases easily.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire) and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

53 Books Later: Ten Things I’ve Learned As a Writer

27 August 2013

From author Bob Mayer:

My first novel came out in 1991:  The Green Berets: Eyes of the Hammer  It is still selling well and the Green Beret series just saw its eighth book, The Green Berets: Chasing the Lost come out.  The protagonist from that first book, Dave Riley, is a bit older, supposedly retired, a bit crankier, and more than a little crazy.  Reminds me of someone I know.

I’ve published 52 books since that first book.
Off the top of my head, here are some thoughts of lessons learned.

  1. The best thing a writer can do for their career is:  write.  The best promotion is a good book, better promotion is more good books.  Everything else is secondary.
  2. The moment an author thinks ‘they have it made’ is when their career is pretty much over.
  3. Don’t say bad things about yourself or your writing.  There are more than enough people out there in the world willing to do it for you.

. . . .

10. There are two very important aspects to this job: being a writer and being a business person.  They are equally important and required for success.

Link to the rest at Write on the River and thanks to Will for the tip.

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