Monthly Archives: July 2014

The Persistent Stigma of Self-Publishing

31 July 2014

From from author Dario Ciriello via Fiction University:

[W]hatever anyone tells you, self-publishing is still heavily stigmatized. True, things aren’t as bad as they were, but we’re still viewed by many as wannabes and second-class authors who aren’t good enough to interest a “real” publisher.

. . . .

It’s not hard to understand the root causes of this prejudice. Before self-publishing mainstreamed with the advent of POD, we had vanity presses (we still do), a derogatory term for publishing houses that charge desperate authors stiff sums of money to produce and print small runs of books, typically in the 1,000 to 2,000 copy range. There was no screening, no editorial process, no proofreading (though some vanity presses would offer these for a price). Like the early rush of POD books that we began to see in 2009 or so, the vast majority of these books were truly awful, and their authors usually and deservedly ended up with a garage full of unsold books.

Five years later, the overall quality of self-published books has improved enormously. This happy event is largely the result of (i) the very lively and ongoing dialogue between self-publishers made possible by the internet, and (ii) competition in the marketplace. A handful of celebrity self-publishers, along with the growth of interest and coverage the field has received in the mainstream media, have helped.

But the stigma among the media, the reading public, and many of our fellow writers persists, and this legacy of prejudice against self-published work manifests itself in ways both obvious and subtle. Almost all mainstream reviewers (and most book bloggers, who ought to know better, given that they are self-publishing their reviews) still have firm policies against looking at self-pubbed work; many trad-pubbed writers still look down their noses and (openly or behind your back) sneer at their self-published peers; and bookstores—even those who brag about supporting local authors—rarely want anything to do with us. And of course publishers and agents have a strong vested interest in perpetuating the stigma.

. . . .

So task number one is to continually raise our game. Good writing aside, self- and indie- pubbed books don’t have to look as good as what the Big Five are releasing, they have to look better. We need to produce books that show an artisanal level of pride in every aspect of production, from editing to formatting to cover design. This needn’t break the bank, but it does require time, study, and thought. If we’re not prepared to do that, we only perpetuate the stigma.

Link to the rest at Fiction University

Here’s a link to Dario Ciriello’s books

PG says indie authors should worry about what readers think of their work and forget the other stuff. Readers vote with their money. Critics, reviewers, etc., vote with their words. Which do you prefer, money or words?

Readers buy books and authors, not publishers. Nobody says, “I have a complete collection of everything Random House published in 2002,” or “I’m so excited to hear there’s a new Simon & Schuster book that was just released.”

The “self-published stigma” just doesn’t matter to the business of writing. If someone asks why you self-publish instead of getting a traditional publisher, PG suggests a response something like, “Because I wanted to be a professional writer instead of a real estate agent who writes on the side,” or “Because I wanted to drive a new Mercedes instead of an old Hyundai.”

If you think it’s pretty stupid to sign a contract with a traditional publisher and that smart authors self-publish, show some attitude.

Think Amazon is Your Friend? You Might Have Amazon Infatuation Syndrome

31 July 2014

From The Digital Reader:

Last night Amazon posted their third official statement in the ongoing contract dispute with Hachette, and like their first statement the open letter posted last night is proving to be an effective tactical PR maneuver.

The letter, which you can read over here, said that Amazon only wanted a 30% commission from sales of Hachette ebooks, and that Amazon was fighting with Hachette over whether the ebooks would be expensive or cheap. The statement goes on to lay out the math to justify lower ebook prices, and then it concludes with the idea that authors should get 35% of the sale price of an ebook.

. . . .

I want to point out that Howey’s beliefs could be a sign of a newly identified condition called “Amazon Infatuation Syndrome”. This term was coined earlier today by Nicole Cushing, and Hugh Howey is the first known case.

Like Amazon Derangement Syndrome, AIS sufferers have an irrational emotion towards Amazon which overrides conscious thought. In the case of AIS, that emotion is love for a soul-less corporation.

. . . .

Amazon is in this for their own interest, and not anyone else’s, and that is why it is important to remember that we cannot accept yesterday’s statement as fact. It is a PR statement, and as such it was not written to convey facts. Amazon’s goal was to convince you to believe an idea: that Amazon only wants a fair share (30%) and lower ebook prices.

The thing is, we do not know as outsiders that this is Amazon’s actual position. All we know is that this is what Amazon has said is their position, and that is not the same thing. For all we know Amazon made up this statement out of whole cloth solely with the goal of swaying opinion in their favor. (And just to be clear, my disbelief also extends to everything Hachette has said or leaked.)

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader

PG is inclined to look at what organizations do rather than what they say.

Amazon pays authors royalties of 70% of the sales price of ebooks. Big publishing pays authors royalties of 17.5% of the sales price of ebooks.

Under the KDP Terms of Service, an author can pull his/her books away from Amazon at any time and do whatever the author wants to do with them. PG receives a regular stream of emails from traditionally-published authors who are being forced to remain in publishing contracts with large and small publishers when the authors have made it clear they want out.

PG could continue, but you get the idea. The simple fact is that Amazon treats authors much, much better than any of the big New York publishers do.

PG thinks that much of what Hachette, et al are saying is pretty clueless, but this group could be speaking words that were music to PG’s ears without it making any difference. What they’re doing is underpaying and abusing authors chained to them with grossly unfair contracts.

Actions speak louder than words. If Amazon flips over to the dark side, PG won’t be praising the company any longer. Speculation can create anything of tomorrow. PG recommends making business decisions based on today.

Conspiracy theories about Evil Jeff must provide some who observe the world of books a frisson they just can’t live without.

“Amazon could decide to pay authors only one cent every month!”

“What if Amazon requires every author to cut off a finger and send it to Seattle for Bezos to put into a big jar he keeps in his mansion?”

If you’re looking at the possibilities of a dystopian future, PG sees a lot more of those for authors tied to publishers slipping down into bankruptcy than he does for authors working with Amazon. He is reminded of a quote from The Sun Also Rises:

“How did you go bankrupt?” Bill asked.

“Two ways,” Mike said. “Gradually and then suddenly.”

There is no question about who treats authors better. In PG’s observation, Amazon is making it possible for lots of authors (not all) to quit their day jobs. If Big Publishing was ever much good at doing that, those days are long gone.

You’ve got to be optimist

31 July 2014

You’ve got to be optimist to be a Democrat, and you’ve got to be a humorist to stay one.

Will Rogers

Amazon Will Pay You $1 To Choose Slow Shipping

31 July 2014

From The Huffington Post:

One of the best things about being an Amazon Prime member is getting free, two-day shipping.

Prime members with a little patience, however, are now getting an extra benefit: $1.

Starting Wednesday, prime members who choose “No-Rush” shipping on any order will get a $1 credit for Amazon’s Instant Video service.

. . . .

The promotion is a brilliant way for Amazon to get people more comfortable with downloading movies and TV shows from its service, or, put another way, get more people into Amazon’s “content ecosystem.” If you’ve spent a few months getting discounts on downloads, and built up an Amazon library of movies and shows, then you may be more likely to go back to Amazon for full price purchases — instead of, say, iTunes, which has similar stuff.

Link to the rest at The Huffington Post and thanks to Patricia for the tip.

Marketing From a Village

31 July 2014

From author Gwen Bristol:

This past month the local writer’s group I’m a member of held its own book-fair at one of the local parks.

For the first hour, I went, mingled with my fellow writers and watched the band and food vendors set up for the weekly Fridays on Vine concert. Everyone seemed excited, hopeful that the concert and the sign welcoming the public to come meet local authors would bring a stream of locals through the pavilion.

No one said it aloud, but we all watched people gathering on the grass and at the picnic tables as if we might know some of them. As if they might see us, come running in (with their friends, of course) and buy books.

Only a handful of visitors trickled through while I was there, and I don’t think more than a few books got sold, but I still consider the night a success.

. . . .

I overheard one author say to another, “I don’t know. Sometimes I think we’re all just buying books from each other.”

That may be true. I came home with stacks of bookmarks and two books from my fellow authors, but here’s the deal:

To succeed, self-published authors and traditionally-published authors with little or no marketing budget must be united.

We need to sell the works of other authors as well as our own writings. We need to pass out those bookmarks to every potential reader we meet.

In a world where Talkers and Sneezers make ideas like great books go viral, we need to form tweet teams and street teams that will actually pound the pavement occasionally.

We need a village, and we need to sell to the villages we live in.

Link to the rest at Gwen Bristol

Here’s a link to Gwen Bristol’s books

How Amazon Brought Publishing to Its Knees — and Why Authors Might Be Next

31 July 2014

From Mashable:

Morgan Entrekin is happy with the relationships he’s developed with Amazon. As the president of independent publisher Grove/Atlantic Books, he witnessed the industry change as Amazon’s introduction of the Kindle helped publishers like him embrace the digital revolution that has battered other industries.

It’s the future that he’s worried about.

“Right now [Amazon] is allowing me a perfectly fair margin, but what happens when they have total control or twice as much of the market share than they have now?” he said.

Entrekin’s sentiment isn’t unusual. Amazon’s skirmishes with various publishers had been obscure to most until May, when the ecommerce giant began to block preorders of upcoming Hachette books. Since then, the dispute has been a public one, especially by Amazon’s usually tight-lipped nature.

The relationship between Amazon and publishers started out as mutually beneficial. Amazon brought publishers into the digital age, and publishers were happy to provide the content in return for a new revenue stream.

As e-books grew and brick-and-mortar businesses like Borders struggled, the business dynamics between Amazon and publishers changed. Publishers like Hachette — after being boosted by Amazon’s investment and innovation — are now uncomfortably reliant on the ecommerce site and looking for ways to maintain a grip on an evolving industry but finding none.

. . . .

“We have to give a tremendous amount of credit to Amazon and Jeff Bezos and his team for the investment that they were willing to make in those years,” Entrekin said. “They did it in an orderly manner, in a way you could trust, and it’s helped us.”

There was a time when e-books were just a small part of the overall market, but now e-books are reaching parity with print. In 2013, some 457 million e-books were sold vs. 557 million hardcovers, according to the Association of American Publishers and the Book Industry Study Group. (Paperbacks were not included in that estimate.)

The sales growth magnifies publishers’ unease with the with the $9.99 price point that CEO Jeff Bezos had decided on — a number that had no basis in economics but rather in psychological pricing, according to Brad Stone’s defining book on Amazon, The Everything Store. Amazon recently defended that price in a blog post, claiming it is better for consumers, publishers and authors.

The $9.99 e-book introduction came after publishers had already seen the prices of books fall as chain stores like Barnes & Noble and Borders drove out independent sellers through lower pricing.

. . . .

By outsourcing the innovation to Amazon, publishers were subject to its preferences — including that $9.99 price point.

“[Amazon] put downward pressure on prices because Amazon was always trying to lower e-book prices. Publishers were always trying to prevent that from happening because it lowered the perceived value of books,” said Arun Sundararajan, a professor at New York University who specializes in digital economics.

. . . .

Whether publishers can figure out how to manage a $9.99 price point and Amazon’s market dominance may end up being a footnote in history if self-publishing continues to grow.

Authors, attracted by the prospect of keeping 70% of sales as long as they price their books at or below $9.99, have begun to sign up with Amazon, skipping publishers altogether.

. . . .

Advocates of self-publishing, like author Hugh Howey, argue that the royalty opportunities are too great to pass up, and that publishers will need to transition into a different role to remain relevant.

“I think today’s successful self-publishing groups will become tomorrow’s boutique publishing agents. The advantage of worldwide distribution through e-books and on demand is already outweighing the advantage of being in a bookstore for three to six months,” Howey said. “And the financial difference between royalties is so massive that more and more authors are discovering this, which allows for colleagues to discover it. I really think in 10 years, you’re going to see a lot more people self-publishing.”

Link to the rest at Mashable 

Jesse Ventura Successfully Sues ‘American Sniper’ Author for $1.8 Million

31 July 2014

From Time:

Jesse Ventura, the wrestler, politician, and television host won $1.8 million Tuesday in a defamation lawsuit against the estate of Chris Kyle for including an inflammatory anecdote in his book “American Sniper,” prompting publisher HarperCollins to announce it will remove the passage from the book.

A federal jury ruled that Kyle, a former Navy SEAL who was shot dead at a Texas gun range last year, defamed Ventura for including a passage in his bestselling autobiography that described a man saying the Navy SEALs “deserve to lose a few.” In interviews at the time of the book’s release, Kyle identified the man as Ventura.

. . . .

“I was really backed into a corner,” Ventura said, who served in the Navy during the Vietnam War. “I was left with no choice but to continue the litigation to clear my name, because the story is fabricated. It never occurred, and it accuses me of committing treason. Treason against my own. I am part of the UDT (underwater demolition team) SEAL Community. These are my brothers. We’re a fraternity.”

Legal experts had said that Ventura’s case had to meet a high bar and prove both that Kyle intended “actual malice” toward Ventura, and that he knew that he wrote was untrue.

Link to the rest at Time

The Truth About Patience

31 July 2014

From agent Sarah LaPolla:

Hey everyone. I don’t usually blog about my specific clients or deals I’ve made because, as is stated on the side panel of this blog, Glass Cases is a personal blog I run for writers and is not affiliated with my agency. That said, The Truth About Alice by my client Jennifer Mathieu, was recently published and I wanted to share this particular publication journey.

. . . .

A timeline, if you will:

  • 2009: Curtis Brown agent Nathan Bransford signs a client named Jennifer Mathieu and sends out her smart, funny coming-of-age YA novel. And gets many “nice” rejections. Editors loved the voice, loved the story, and hated to say no, but… the rejections started piling up. Realistic YA was still considered “impossible” to sell in the post-Twilight paranormal craze that led into the post-Hunger Games dystopian craze.
  • 2010: With Jennifer’s novel on yet another round of submissions, Nathan breaks the hearts of every aspiring author – and his fellow agents at Curtis Brown – and announces he’s leaving publishing.
  • Mid-2010: I start building a client list of my own. With three clients to my name, Nathan tells me he has a client whose voice I will love. I read Jennifer’s book and the voice blows me away. Like, laugh-out-loud, miss-two-subway-stops kind of love. I speak with Jennifer and we click immediately and I take on a brand new client. Everything is happy until Nathan sends me a very long list of editors who already rejected Jennifer book and a very short list of editors who “probably” will look at another revision. As a new agent with hardly any contacts of my own, I silently curse Nathan’s name.
  • 2010-2011: I work with Jennifer on a revision of that first novel and put it on submission to a small group of editors. Identical rejections from 2009. Jennifer works on a standalone companion novel, which I also put on submission. More “nice” rejections that think the novel is “too quiet.”
  • Mid-2011: Jennifer tells me about an idea she’s outlining that involves multi-POV versions of rumors about a teenage girl. I tell her to explore that idea and we shelve her other project after receiving a particularly painful rejection. (Not because it was mean, but because it was so overwhelming positive and full of regret. Yes, editors get rejected too.)
  • 2012: Jennifer finishes her new novel, now called The Truth About Alice Franklin. After some tinkering, I put it on submission right before June.
  • July 2012: We receive four offers on The Truth About Alice Franklin from major publishers, with a few more bringing it to acquisitions. I hold my first ever auction as an agent (and try not to have a heart attack in the process). After a very close auction, we accept a two-book offer from Roaring Brook Press, where it becomes The Truth About Alice.
  • September 2012: After two agents and almost four years of being on submission, Jennifer holds her book contract in her hands.
  • May 2013: I decide Jennifer hasn’t had enough drama and leave Curtis Brown for a new agency. I’m overjoyed that Jennifer moves with me to Bradford Literary Agency!
  • September 2013: Jennifer’s editor, Nancy Mercado, also decides the drama factor wasn’t quite high enough and leaves Roaring Brook Press to join Scholastic. We panic until Jennifer is paired with new-to-us editor Katherine Jacobs, who we immediately love and who is an enthusiastic champion for Jennifer’s career.
  • April 2014: With The Truth About Alice not yet published and the “Book 2” of that two-book deal still being revised, Roaring Brook Press buys what will be Jennifer’s third standalone contemporary YA novel.
  • June 3, 2014: The Truth About Alice is published and Jennifer officially begins her career as an author. Not only that, but the book has become an Indie Next Pick for Summer 2014, an Amazon Best Book of the Month in Teen/YA, and has been featured in Entertainment Weekly, Bustle, and The Daily Beast, to name a few.

Link to the rest at Glass Cases and thanks to Sharyn for the tip.

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