Data Diving

24 March 2017

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Once a month (more or less), we host a gathering of professional writers on a Friday night. The gathering is open to writers from our writers network, and other professionals we know. Most are from the Pacific Northwest, although folks who are traveling through often stop as well.

We have only one criteria: The writers have to be working hard at the business of writing. You’d be surprised at how many professional writers are ineligible just from that criteria. You’d also be surprised at how many writers who absent themselves from the gathering after attending once. We’re too intimidating, I think.

I mean that sincerely. I don’t think it’s because of the accolades in the room (multiple award-winners, New York Times and USA Today bestsellers, multi-published fiction and nonfiction writers). I think it’s because we’re all working hard at our indie publishing businesses, and we don’t dumb down the meeting.

One extremely prolific traditionally published writer showed up last year, and started asking basic questions (how do you format books?) and everyone shut him down before the meeting even started.

If you don’t know something basic, you can ask someone on a break, and more often than not, you’ll get weird look and a series of links. This is a serious meeting of hardworking, serious professionals who are bootstrapping each other into the ever-evolving new world of publishing.

. . . .

In the middle hour of our three-hour talk, the conversation went something like this:

my click-through rate is…

…I received 96,000 impressions…

…at least thirty-percent downloaded my…

Numbers, data, and more numbers. Writer after writer recited facts about their newsletters, their ad campaigns, their book sales, and all of those facts had data to back them up. These writers were often looking at phone screen or their laptop to give accurate information (as if the rest of us would shoot them if they reported wrong), and we were comparing performance, subscribers, money earned, and books sold.

I don’t think anyone mentioned craft except to acknowledge that a certain level of craft is necessary to get readers to return to the fold.

I sat back and absorbed this conversation, letting the words run over me a little, because I was surprised by it. Not by the conversation itself—we’ve had a variation of that conversation off and on for a year now—but by the complete acceptance of it. I was surprised by the way that no one, not even the newcomers to the meeting, seemed to think the conversation was out of the ordinary. We were comparing results of various marketing techniques, trying to figure out our way through the morass of data that’s being flung at us, and—most importantly—sharing what we had learned, what worked for us, and what didn’t.

. . . .

[In years past] At conventions, we writers discussed a variation of the same topics—agents, editors, marketing to the increasingly smaller and smaller subset of publishers, and the best way to handle the problems that came up in our various careers.

Not once did we mention data. We did discuss how to goose book sales, but based on the royalty reports. We tried to figure out how to get rid of our reserves against returns. We often argued about the value of book signings and book tours, but we never had data.

Because our publishers didn’t have data either.

Data is becoming the new religion at traditional publishers, but they’re the proverbial first-year English majors trying to understand an advanced-level Physics course. They don’t have the math skills, mostly, to understand, for example, why Author Earnings really is a good way to look at the entire industry.

(The responses to Data Guy’s presentation at Digital Book World, both live tweeted [live social media-ed?] from the conference and in private, were disbelieving. I’ve heard industry professionals say that the only accurate reports came from Nielsen later in the day. (I searched for someone courageous enough to write that in their blog about the event, and couldn’t find it. I don’t want to out folks who wrote me emails, so I’m afraid I can’t link here.)]

. . . .

But the one thing we didn’t discuss, something I hadn’t even thought of until Saturday morning, was how to manage all the data we were receiving. We joked about it a bit, about a writer we had been watching—a high-end marketer who reported that his well-known marketing practices were finally failing him, until he realized (hello!) that he needed to produce more product. Everyone he had reached had bought his five or six books. He needed to write another one.

That got a great laugh from the group, because the one thing we do, we all do is write the next book. We’re constantly trying to figure out how to write as much as we can, with this fire hose of information streaming our way.

And it’s not just the new programs, the new way to market, the new opportunities opening up each and every moment of each and every day. It’s also the changes in the data we receive.

. . . .

However, we are rapidly getting to the place, as writers, where we need to figure out how much of this data is relevant or useful. Just because I can find out that more people in Hong Kong open my newsletter at 10 in the morning on weekdays than on weekends doesn’t necessarily mean that I need to know that information. I might, if I’m looking for the best time to send a newsletter. But the service I use for my newsletter will aggregate that data for me, and tell me the optimum time to send a newsletter to that subset on my mailing list.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch

Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.

PG says anybody who doesn’t understand why Data Guy’s information is extremely useful shouldn’t be trying to run a business in 2017. With every passing month, the business practices and business savvy of traditional publishing are falling farther and farther behind both indie authors and the rest of the world.

When PG is negotiating agreements with traditional publishers, it’s an entirely different experience than negotiating IP rights agreements with tech companies or investment bankers. The publishers are so far behind and so unaware of things that are taken for granted in today’s business world, it’s almost laugh-inducing.

Just as one example, royalty statements every six months give rise to visions of row after row of ink-stained bookkeepers laboriously adding up long columns of numbers by hand.

Of course, Amazon pays every month and so does the rest of American business. The same people who don’t understand Author Earnings are the ones saying it’s impossible to calculate and pay royalties more than twice per year.

And this is a business which is heavily dependent on Barnes & Noble and similar organizations that are stumbling towards bankruptcy court.

In a near-future United States where 80-90% of all books are sold through Amazon, what, exactly will publishers have to offer authors?

 

Kristine Kathryn Rusch, PG's Thoughts (such as they are), The Business of Writing

50 Comments to “Data Diving”

  1. I believe the term is “clique.”

    • Indeed, this is one of those blog posts that wind up revealing much more about the poster than perhaps they intended to.

    • If that was your takeaway, I have no confidence in your reading comprehension skills. There’s an OPEN group of writers with regular new additions that want to talk about a particular level of business concerns. They exclude conversation from other levels because that’s not the focus of the discussion.

      The definition of clique:

      “a small group of people, with shared interests or other features in common, who spend time together and do not readily allow others to join them.

      (emphasis added) Her group fails the test. You’re basing them allowing others to join on the fact that they are only interested in people who share the interests they’re there to discuss. But that’s not a clique. They readily allow others to join who ARE interested in those things, so they’re just focused.

      • I agree with Liana.

        We all choose friends with whom we like to converse and have friends with whom we share an interest in certain topics.

        If a book club is formed to talk about Regency Romance, they wouldn’t be unreasonable or unfriendly if they shut down discussions of Dungeons and Dragons or shut me down if I attended and started talking about the Siege of Leningrad.

      • A group that brags about being too intimidating and shutting down newcomers is obviously not a group that readily allows others to join them. Though the later discussion of data may have some merit, the opening paragraphs are extremely ill-conceived and radiate arrogance, self-absorption, and condescension.

        • We’re too intimidating, I think.

          I mean that sincerely. I don’t think it’s because of the accolades in the room (multiple award-winners, New York Times and USA Today bestsellers, multi-published fiction and nonfiction writers). I think it’s because we’re all working hard at our indie publishing businesses, and we don’t dumb down the meeting.

          One extremely prolific traditionally published writer showed up last year, and started asking basic questions (how do you format books?) and everyone shut him down before the meeting even started.

          I presume this is the section you find arrogant. The parenthetical is the standard of establishing credentials and also specifically pointing out that these things are not what’s intimidating. In fact, her intimidating comment is phrased as a hypothesis with the “I think”. The rest, we’re working hard at indie, qualifies the potentially intimidating and also the level of business concerns they’re interested in, then also covers that these topics that major big name writers find intimidating aren’t altogether forbidden, they’re just kept to breaks and outside the meeting because they have no place in the meeting.

          As a lead in to the point that “intimidating” members of trad pub find indie pub business and concerns “intimidating” (to the point of claiming they don’t exist), it’s excellent. If you want it phrased better, I don’t know how to help you. She could have separated the establishment of trad credentials as not intimidating, but that’s about the only improvement I can see that would tone down the arrogance you think is obvious and I don’t see at all.

          • To quote:

            “You’d also be surprised at how many writers who absent themselves from the gathering after attending once…I don’t think it’s because of the accolades in the room (multiple award-winners, New York Times and USA Today bestsellers, multi-published fiction and nonfiction writers). I think it’s because we’re all working hard at our indie publishing businesses, and we don’t dumb down the meeting.”

            And that’s not arrogant? We’re too busy being important to dumb it down for the rest of you. How else would one define arrogance?

            • We’re too busy being important to dumb it down

              Not said or implied.

              What was said and implied was she thought they were intimidating because they don’t dumb down the meeting. And she thinks the intimidation is why they leave. EXPLICITLY not the “importance” of the members. She explicitly ruled that out.

            • If you’re an indie you know about KDP and Direct2Drive, so you want to discuss higher level stuff like marketing. In that case, someone who comes in and asks, “What’s KDP?” is obviously a beginner and the meeting is not geared for them.

              It’s the same as if you’re in college and a 101-level student has entered a graduate-level class. It’s not arrogant to tell the student to do the pre-reqs first. Pick a topic that you know a lot about and think about the questions you asked as a n00b and the questions you now ask after you get experience: same situation.

              How I would define arrogance: “We’re operating at a level so far above you and we don’t expect you to ever get to our level. You’re just not good enough.” I’d agree with you had she said anything resembling that remark.

              As for the awards, I thought the point was to forestall the idea that “award winning” is the reason for the discomfort rather than “knowledge of how to be an indie writer.”

              In fact, I read it as everyone in that class, including the n00bs, could say they won awards. She’s cutting off that argument, to drive home the contrast of the indie writers’ knowledge-level with tradpub writers’ knowledge-level: the indies are the grad students, the tradpubs are the 101 students. They don’t belong in the same class.

            • I didn’t see it as arrogant. I saw it as delineating the level of the group.

              If I’m a beginning Pilates student, I don’t go to the advanced class and expect them to slow down to my pace. I took Kris as saying that group was of a particular level of business experience and they weren’t there to teach newbies, but those at their level were welcome. Newbies needed to find a newbies environment to learn basics. In other words, most of us would not fit in to that group, so we had to find where we fit, not expect them to fit to the inexperienced folks.

              I think it’s arrogant to go to an advanced rocket science discussion group and expect them to teach you rudimentary physics.

              There are many places very friendly to newbies, where basic questions are happily addressed and resources offered. Kris pretty much was saying THAT group was not THAT place. Is that arrogance?

      • Yep. The only exclusion going on is if you don’t happen to be or live in the geographical area. I’ve gone to a couple of those meetings when I was in town taking workshops. Fascinating stuff being talked about.

  2. For me, the big takeaway came right at the end:

    “If a writer tries a new ad buy and reports his numbers in all the areas of the data provided by the online ad service, I can figure out what I want to do with the book I’m thinking of buying an ad for. I can assess the numbers he’s giving me, based on what I’m planning. What was good for him might not be good for me.

    Or it might work better for me, even though it failed for him.

    Data does help us understand what we’re doing—as long as we keep producing product. As long as we remember that we’re writers first, and we need to remain writers first.

    Sometimes, that’s a hard thing to remember. Because all this other stuff is shiny and new and very pretty. And it makes us feel like we furthering our careers—which we might be. Up until the moment we stop writing new words.

    That’s when the shiny new becomes simply a distraction, and not a tool at all.

    That place is different for each and every one of us.”

    Data is good.
    Bootstrapping and information sharing is good.
    But what works for one person does not necessarily work for another. Maybe nobody else. Outliers are real, after all.
    Where it is data or process or craft, sharing is good.
    But in the end, writing is a personal activity and every person needs to figure out what works for them. Whether it be narrative voice or marketing strategy they need to be comfortable with what they’re doing.

  3. Pay attention to the article’s comments, too.

    As always, a very valuable article.

    I’m just in the process of adding UTM codes to all my important links so that I can track more serious data. My problem is “da shiny” — IT and metrics are part of my background and I have to keep some boundary on this tooling-up phase of my marketing groundwork.

    • [googles UTM codes]

      Useful, as long as you remember what you’re counting is “people who click on an advertising link.”

      The more sophisticated your audience, the less likely they are to do that.

  4. I’m allergic to arrogance.

  5. I must admit, she lost me with “a certain level of craft is necessary to get readers to return to the fold”. A certain level and no more? At least, that’s what it felt like she was saying. Probably not what she was going for, but still. The attitude in the front end of this article is off-putting.

    • Agree, seems rather elitist, and I do occasionally think she’s a bit arrogant, though some of her articles are good.

      I sell enough books to make a decent living and I don’t do any of the things she advocates. Maybe I could sell better if I did, but I’d rather be writing.

      Seems like when you get overly caught up in the metrics, the fun’s gone. But she does have a Patreon audience to please, so maybe these kinds of articles help do that.

      • Seems like when you get overly caught up in the metrics, the fun’s gone.

        This is a very weird cautionary note against what she advocates, since that’s exactly what she advocates, particularly in this article. Don’t get overly caught up in the metrics. Have data but never let that overwhelm or shove out the writing.

        • Some people would consider that if you are even having high-level meetings with other advanced students of the metrics to discuss the metrics, you’re overly caught up in the metrics. This is a difference of procilvities and priorities.

    • Yes, it’s all about tone. I quit reading after being put-off.

    • No. She’s saying you have to write well enough to reach an audience (but the level and the audience are both up for grabs as there’s room to sell at all decent writing levels and above if you can reach a matching audience), and after that you can talk business. This article is entirely not about craft, and that was simply a nod to the fact that yes, that’s the prerequisite but that’s not what she’s actually discussing here. She has nowhere ever advocated to stop growing as a writer. She just never mixes the two concepts of craft and business.

  6. Let’s look at the data on KKR.

    #14,870
    #37,018
    #37,358
    #106,707
    #157,621
    #169,255
    #403,559
    #527,451
    #1,194,323
    #191,327
    #374,366
    #186,288

    KKR knows a lot, but she doesn’t know it all.

    Those numbers are the paid ranks for the first of her books on Amazon. The first page is selling well, but after that they fall off to a few sales a month. There is some pick-up (perhaps Amazon hasn’t boosted those books up to the front pages yet), but most of her other pages of books have low ranks.

    I’m betting a few promos were used to get those first books up higher, but I could be wrong. Anyways, I think this is the pattern of many authors – a few good books, the rest not so much.

    • There’s also what you can’t see. KKR has books under unacknowledged pen names, so you wouldn’t know that they were hers. And, she has I-don’t-know-how-many regular pen names in a bunch of different genres.

      • True, but if she’s so right on with her advice, the majority should be doing well, and that doesn’t appear to be the case.

        And I’ve always wondered why writers who do well wouldn’t just write instead of trying to climb the slippery slope of telling others how they can do well. I’d much rather be writing as some anon person and enjoying my free time and money – but some like the limelight and being a so-called expert.

        • Or some people just like helping people and in whatever minimal qualities work for them? (She sticks to only one weekly blog post and that was originally pushing it.)

          But she’s stated all the time that her books do well in the long haul. AKA, they don’t all sell at the top unless there’s a new book in the series or a new promo, and that’s never going to be all the books at once. But they all sell steadily and then really well when a new book in the series or pen name comes out. Which actually makes sense. She’s not focused on topping the lists. She’s focused on selling a lot of books across all her lines and earning a solid annual income, which she does. She also states everywhere that she’s only helping those who want the same thing. What she shares won’t work for writers who aren’t interested in a long-term, steady-selling career.

      • A lot of KKR and DWS sales are in B&M because they are established names from decades past. As she points out, a lot of her revenues come from her backlist which she is “lucky” enough to control. (Luck had nothing to do with it, though. Like Konrath and a lot of Harlequin refugees out there she saw the writing on the wall and recovered her rights before the publishers caught on to the significance of ebook mainstreaming.)

        To a large extent what shows up on Amazon is the long tail portion of their very diversified business. Between her and DWS they have several hundred titles floating about in a couple dozen series. They have enough content to keep a small tradpub they own running full time.

        It helps to be a regular follower of her columns to appreciate what she is doing for both Indies, hope-to-be Indies, and tradpub authors.

        Her columns encompass developments on both sides of the divide. (Though she clearly is disappointed in the obtuseness of many on the tradpub side that refuse to dive in despite the assurances that the water is fine.) She isn’t speaking just to Indies.

        Put another way, KKR and DWS aren’t classic self-pub but rather Indie tradpub. And that is something to keep an eye on because that is the next phase of the Indie revolution. The end game for Indies that start with ebooks and successfully move on to print and audio and foreign (translation) sales and movie and TV deals is to effectively build full-range publishing houses that might just outgrow/outlive them.

        A fair amount of authors that are ramping up their careers today will in a decade or two, if they are lucky and good, find themselves where she is.

        If nothing else, she is setting a benchmark for what is posible just as Andy Weir and Hugh Howey and Marie Force and the other prominent Indies have. It is hardly arrogant to say she has a lot of experience and success behind her yet she is still learning new things and facing new issues in this new era of publishing.

        But hey, she isn’t forcing anybody to listen or do as she says. As I pointed out above she explicitly points out everybody needs to find their own process.

        Tradpub is a straightjacket but Indie publishing is freeform. To some it really *is* intimidating. It can lead to paralysis by analisis. Her choice of words *is* appropriate. It may not apply to entrepreneurial Indies but veterans of decades of Tradpub? Whole different story.

        • Felix, that’s what I was thinking.

          Kevin J. Anderson seems to be finishing old contracts and moving full-time to his very own WordFire Press publishing company, which will definitely outlive him. Sort of like L. Ron Hubbard’s Galaxy Press. And Meredith Wild has her own publishing house. She does everything that a normal publisher does, including brick&mortar placement, traveling to fairs and conventions, writing contracts for herself and for other authors, offset print runs. …

          Traditionally published authors will have a harder time taking control of their careers because they have to squirm around contractual issues with their Big Publishers. They often complain about all the extra work required–how they’d like the publisher to take care of that. But as they say: no risk, no reward.

          Maybe Kris’s tone doesn’t please everyone, but she’s providing valuable information–some of it earned from her past blunders–and all I can do is thank her for that. Take what you can and ignore the rest. WMG Publishing is poised to last a long time. (I’ve no facts or figures to back that up, but they have no kids and no debt and they’re workaholics. They’re further along than many indies.)

          • For a couple of years now I’ve been keeping an eye out for signs of another path available to successful Indies to take but it seems those taking it are keeping a low profile. The model I had in mind is the one used by some commercial artists and comic book illustrators you join to set up and run a joint studio. But then, in the comments to the latest Author Earnings report I finally had a sighting of an Authors’ Coop and apparently it’s a fairly large one.

            To me it seems like a natural evolution that a group of moderately successful Indies might pool together under one jointly held imprint and build a publishing house under a structure similar to a law firm with shareholder partners and associates and shared access to support staff. Each retains their copyright and revenues and pays for the services they use but with enough members the coop might afford a full time editor or two and maybe a marketer/website manager. Divide those costs amoung a large enough pool and you end up with an author owned publishing house. The one referenced in the AE comments has over a hundred members so from the outside it might look like a decent sized publishing house even if it is just a virtual corporation.

            Given enough time I think we’re going to see Indie pub become a lot more than just single author cottage businesses.

            • Agree.

              I think the basic problem for indies is that successful publishing requires a portfolio of talents that seldom appear in a single person. A skilled writer is not necessarily an editor, a book designer, or cover artist. Nor are they necessarily great marketers. And they are seldom, very seldom, quants. The primary ingredient in a successful book is a good story, well written, but like a over-cooked stew without salt or seasoning, it takes more than meat and water to make a successful dinner.

              Traditional publishers have taken a number of wrong turns. They are obsessed with outmoded manufacturing technology. They have lost touch with a large part of their potential market, and they seem to be dominated by off-shore owners who care about profits, not product, in an industry that lives and dies by the quality of its products.

              You can try to say that KDP eliminates the need for any talent beyond putting words on the page in the right order, but that is short-sighted, in the league with the current attitudes of many traditional publishers.

            • Each retains their copyright and revenues and pays for the services they use but with enough members the coop might afford a full time editor or two and maybe a marketer/website manager.

              If they are individually moderately successful, all they need is a common imprint name. From the outside, that’s all it takes to look like a decent-sized publishing house. Nothing else.

              • That is the minimum. And safest way to start. Just like some freshout lawyers or new artists start out by sharing office space.

                But the model allows for shared editing, covers, promotion, support services…
                All the things a traditional publisher is supposed to do but usually doesn’t do for everybody.

                An imprint doesn’t have to be just a name. It can be a marketing tool. If all or the majority of authors operate in the same genre, an agreed upon common trade dress can be a plus. They might have a common IP lawyer on retainer, a common set of artists and editors, even if they’re individually paid.

                It is a flexible tool that can take many forms. There is strength in numbers and being independent does have to mean alone. Which is why I expect to see more of it as the Indie world evolves.

                We’ll see. 🙂

            • Interesting about the coop. I’ve been looking to see if writers would start forming their own version of United Artists, especially since indies can be so much more agile than the behemoths. It would be the next level, wouldn’t it? *Makes note to look at comments at the AE site from now on*.

              • An actual United Artists type of operation is innevitable but still a ways off. The UA founders were the biggest names in the business in their day and I can’t quite see Roberts, King, and Grisham doing that. They’re comfortable enough in their, ahem, mature years, that they have little incentive to go that way.

                Their sales would have to decline enough that their new contract terms would actually hurt. It’s not impossible–Roberts jumped ship recently–but its not close. And their sales might never drop enough while they live.

                But the next generation of big names are going to include enough Indies that a virtual company coop of theirs could easily rank with at least the middle ran tradpubs. Give it a decade or two.

                • Ah. To be clear, I pictured the “neo-UA” forming via midlist tradpub or via successful indies. Not necessarily an alliance of the Grishams and Kings.

                  Incidentally — how did ME4 turn out so far?

                • Ah. To be clear, I pictured the “neo-UA” forming via midlist tradpub or via successful indies. Not necessarily an alliance of the Grishams and Kings.

                  Incidentally — how did ME4 turn out so far?

                • Dean Wesley Smith

                  Felix, nope, the structure you are talking about is here now and growing. I know of a good dozen around the country that use that structure with artists. Book View Cafe is a prime example with some top SF writers in the mix.

                  And I like the term Indie TradePub. Sort of fits what WMG Publishing and Wordfire and a bunch of others are doing. We are growing solid publishing businesses with an indie mindset. One of the reasons I am so excited to have Data Guy really look at that category he has mostly ignored, the “mid-sized publishers.” In the meeting Kris was talking about there were four mid-sized publishers under Data Guy’s rules.

                • Good to hear.
                  I knew about the artists doing it but I wasn’t aware of many such coops on the publishing side.
                  It really is too logical for people not to do it.

                • ME4 I only got to today.
                  (I’ve been bingeing IRON FIST. Decent. Didn’t put me to sleep like LUKE CAGE. They did the character justice. Another reviewer fail.)

                  Barely into the first mission.
                  Combat is looking fun.
                  Good exploration and discovery.
                  The dialogue system looks good. It is based on personality: emotional, logical, professional, etc.

                  Annoyances?
                  Well, much like Inquisition, the character you see in the character creator bears only partial resemblance to the in-game character. Also you have less tweaking options than Inquisition. Except hair and eye color. Took me three tries to get an ingame character that looks old enough and rugged enough to kick a**. You can save your character designs to their website and download them later or save time by downloading somebody else’s.

                  Autosave is not as frequent as Inquisition and you can’t save during primary missions. That is going to hurt until I get into the swing of combat.

                  Ask me again in a week or two. By then I should be in deep enough to judge the story. I’m semi hopeful.

                • Thanks for the update! I will keep my fingers crossed.

    • Amazon ranking is a horrible proxy for commercial indie success. I had a four-figure month last month, but you wouldn’t know it from looking at my Amazon ranks.

      None of these affect Amazon rank:

      Ebook sales anywhere other than Amazon, including:
      -iBooks
      -Nook
      -Kobo
      -Google Play, etc etc
      Short story sales to traditional short story markets
      Novel sales to the trad houses or small presses
      Hand sales at conventions, fairs, farmer’s markets, etc
      Direct sales from author’s website
      Sales from sites like Story Bundle and Bundle Rabbit

      All Amazon rankings show you are how well a book is selling in relation to other books, on Amazon, in that format, at a particular moment. And when you factor in how KU borrows affect rank, it doesn’t even show you that. Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe that a KU “ghost borrow” will count for ranking purposes as a sale even if it results in no KENP read.

      And then there are sites like Kindlespy that purport to use sales rank to calculate how well an author is selling, but their numbers are so wildly off as to be rediculous. Back when I was on KBoards, I once got into an argument with someone who tried to use Kindlespy to throw my sales numbers in my face, but when I plugged my own name into it, the numbers were off by a full order of magnitude!

      Believe it or not, there are authors who sell better outside of the Amazon system. Last year, it was about 60/40 for me. But you wouldn’t know that just from looking at Amazon rank.

      • And then there is the pbook side.
        There’s still good money on the pbook side in many genres.

        Not everybody goes through Createspace. POD is great while ramping up a career but for an established author with significant pbook sales going the traditional batch print road is more cost effective at launch and for a good while thereafter.

        Ranking has its uses but it has its limits, like everything else.

        • Felix thanks, and pbook, meaning? paperback/ trad pub or? and is trad batch print meaning ny pubs? or pod, or? Sorry, sometimes the anacromyms or however you spell that, escape me

          • Sorry.

            Pbook is shorthand for print books in general, of whatever format. They all require physical shipment and shelfspace.

            Batch print is my shorthand for traditionally-produced print books, which is to say in substantial batches (print runs) for traditional distribution, as opposed to Print-on-Demand (POD) print books, which are produced individually or in small quantities.

            The way I see it, these days there are three paths to producing, storing, and distributing books:

            1- ebooks, which are digitally stored and distributed.
            2- POD books, which are digitally stored and physically distributed. Theoretically they are produced after a sale has been made. (In pactice, some are pre-printed in smallish numbers.)
            3- (large) batch books, which are pre-printed in job lots (print runs), by the hundreds/thousands, warehoused at the publisher or with distributors, and distributed physically. This is the traditional publisher’s primary path.

            Most Indies use the first two distribution methods but the third is open to Indies who can afford the upfront and recurring costs of batch print runs. The value of going with batch print is the lower per-unit cost so they can market all three print formats (mmpb, trade, and hardcover) at lower-than-POD prices, allowing more margin or lower pbook prices.

            In the context of my comment about author coops and Indie Tradpub, being able to tap into batch print manufacturing allows these “new publishing” operations to match the corporate giants in distribution channels while retaining Indiepub economics and copyright control.

            As we move forward into the Indiepub revolution I expect to see a lot more Indie operations tap into traditional batch print distribution to profitably extend their reach beyond digital and POD.

            It’s already happening but it doesn’t seem to get much as much attention as it should.
            Indies should be aware of all their options.
            Success has a way of creeping up on you. 😉

  7. Just as one example, royalty statements every six months give rise to visions of row after row of ink-stained bookkeepers laboriously adding up long columns of numbers by hand.

    This kind of stuff always reminds me that commodities future exchanges managed to clear each and every trade by the next day’s open.That means all calculations and records on millions of trades, and the transfer of all funds from one trader to another. Billions moved each day.

    And they even did it in the days of green eye shades and calculators powered by a crank on the side.

  8. Just to say that reading on glass screens without hearing voice tone and seeing another’s eyes, can cause one to project tone that isnt there.

    Maybe Kris Rusch and DWS are actually mastadonish thorned beasts with everyone except me, and behind my back they claw people to death and act all hoity and even worse, toity, when I am not looking.

    Or maybe they are two of the hardest working people for the sake of encouraging and supporting others writers, WHILE writing their own works incessantly, when some who dont know them, arent looking. lol

    Actually KKR /DWS are far far more like the shoemaker elves who help the old people make wonderful shoes while staying in the background, than even a tittle like Orcs in the making sopped in arrogance.

    As for looking “at the data on KKR”, lol, I am laughing. That’s not even ten percent of her output nor income. Understand she is pub’d trad and indie for DECADES, and her passive income alone is lets just say, robust, in part because ‘the data on KKR” leaves out her dozen+ pseudonyms she has written under for years. And because she and her love play both the short term game and the long term game. The idea in trying to prove a thesis, as I understand it and I could be wrong, is to look for the facts, not to seeks the facts that only support one’s initial supposition.

    Agree with DWS that many are involved in high octane publishing in new ways right NOW, and KKR and DWS are in the vanguard there and in other areas as well.

    I have to say, again laughing, It’s absurd to think that people are ‘old’ and therefore suddenly wilt or one day, suddenly lose ambition or something. Seriously dont prepare for THAT future. The world is yours.

    And… Come west young man/young woman, in terms of thinking ‘the old’ have lost their verve, we’ve got some ‘old’ wild mustangs that will bruise your bones trying to break ’em. Pure bull that age has anything to do with fresh ideas, and implementing them at breakneck speed. There’s an old saying that age and wit about the long run will outdo energetically leaping in the present only, any day.

    anyway, just saying… most would give their eyeteeth to be riding in the catbird seat. You can. Just takes decades of hard hard relentless focused work. A few veerings/ failures too. But the aggregate of gains is the game, not that any one part dothe trick. As they say in business, and I find it true, 20% of the product line brings in often 80% of the income. Cept you never know which 20% its going to be. lol

    Pax

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