Self-Publishing

Is Chance The Rapper Turning Down $10 Million Advances From Record Labels? Read More: Is Chance The Rapper Turning Down $10 Million Advances From Record Labels?

19 February 2017

From XXL:

It’s been known for a long time that Chance The Rapper has been turning down record deals left and right, in order to keep his independence and creative control. And according to Page Six, the Chicago MC has been saying no to some very sizable offers. Offers that are in the $5-$10 million range.

“Every label is still trying to get him,” an insider told the site. “He’s making too much on his own … He was turning down $5 million advances before, and now it’s like $10 million.” The source added, “He may do something with Apple, but not a label per se … He is going to remain independent.”

Link to the rest at XXL and thanks to Alexis for the tip.

Being an Irish author is more of a Grimm fairytale than a Cinderella story

18 February 2017

From The Irish Times:

Signing with a publisher is the ultimate fairytale for every new writer. We slave away like modern-day Cinderellas on our manuscripts, not entirely sure of what our happy-ever-after will entail, but still we long for the day when we can squeeze our toes into that glass slipper.

However, a recent article by Donal Ryan on the harsh realities of being a published writer in Ireland has put paid to the fairytale notion of big advances and handsome royalties. Ryan revealed that for the first contract he signed he earned a sobering 40c per book, which left a lot of people asking, where does the rest of the cover price go?

Most people outside of the industry assume that once you have a contract and your book is in the shop window, you’re on the pig’s back, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. Traditional publishing is a bit like fight club – nobody really knows what goes on because nobody talks about it. So for new writers, it can be a bit of a blow to discover the truth.

. . . .

 When I began submitting my debut novel back in 2013, while quietly humming “Some day my prince will come”, my expectations of the publishing contract were embarrassingly Cinderella-like. I may not have been expecting a gilded carriage, but I assumed that they would take care of everything and more importantly, take care of me. This is why I am so glad that I didn’t get that publishing deal, because I would have naively left everything in the hands of the publisher.

. . . .

 Becoming a self-published author has forced me to take sole responsibility of my writing career by learning everything I could about this industry from the ground up. If you want to be an author, you have to focus on the long game and I’m not sure that traditional publishing can give authors that kind of luxury anymore.

. . . .

 There is still a lot of snobbery around self-publishing and while there are those who still view it as the poor relation, statistics show that the popularity of indie books is on the rise. A new report from Enders Analysis found that 40 of the 100 top-selling ebooks on Amazon US in March 2016 were self-published.

. . . .

 The publishing world is in flux. More and more, we are seeing traditionally published authors moving into self-publishing. Polly Courtney, author of Feral Youth, decided to ditch Harper Collins because of what she felt was their chick-lit marketing approach to her books. Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs, left her publisher and her agent once she realised she could earn more through self-publishing: 70 per cent royalties on ebook sales compared to the standard 25 per cent a traditional author receives is hard to ignore.

. . . .

 Traditional publishing is positively glacial in its approach to change. Digital publishing is a fast-paced environment and Amazon has responded to that. They have even created their own imprints for agented authors, showing that they can evolve and respond to the market. I believe it’s time for traditional publishers to do the same and put the author at the centre of the industry. Authors need a fair return for their work and it just doesn’t seem right to me that they are at the bottom of the pecking order when it comes to earnings. And yet, that is how the publishing industry is structured.

Link to the rest at The Irish Times

A new wave of Canadian book companies taps in to the popularity of self-publishing

14 February 2017

From The Globe and Mail:

A new wave of Canadian publishers is looking to tap in to the popularity of self-publishing and help authors do it in a more professional way.

“Everything we do is totally customized for the author and their book and their audience,” says Trena White, principal and co-founder of Vancouver-based Page Two Strategies.

Her company offers a variety of services to authors, such as editing, design, marketing and distribution support on a fee-for-service basis. In other cases, it acts as a traditional agent, representing authors to publishers.

“We felt that there are a lot of authors with really great book ideas that deserve a market that just are not getting picked up by traditional publishers,” Ms. White says.

. . . .

For self-published authors, standing out from the crowd is a challenge. After all, even big publishers don’t always get the marketing right, says Chris Hall, the co-owner of McNally Robinson, a Winnipeg bookstore that also has a location in Saskatoon.

“The vast majority of self-published authors sell to friends and family,” says Mr. Hall. He says that authors who use self-publishing services are often setting themselves up for disappointment. “They end up with hundreds of copies of their book and, realistically, most of them don’t get sold,” Mr. Hall.

He is wary of marketing services aimed at self-published authors and says writers should be careful they’re not getting taken advantage of. “People want to believe that their book is the best,” he says. “I hate to be the person to bring the realistic news, but the chances of success are very low.”

Link to the rest at The Globe and Mail

What REALLY Sold in 2016?

9 February 2017

From SFWA:

Finishing the book can seem like such a step forward!  Pop the champagne!

But then the author sits down to contemplate publishing.  Oh, the thorny questions!  Try for a commercial publisher?  Do the self publishing route?  Bring it out as an ebook only?  Pay for print layout and an ISBN and bring it out as print?

So many questions!

It can raise anyone’s blood pressure!

The latest on authorearnings.com, a good source of ‘who’s making what’ information, is that the times they are a’changin’ for today’s authors.  Maybe that stubborn determination to find an agent and get picked up by a NY publisher so that your book ends up in Barnes and Noble isn’t really worth the (huge) effort.

. . . .

Every genre has its own print-versus-ebook profile. Some genres are populated by big ebook readers while others have readers who still go for print. So there is no single answer for that question. There can be a difference even within a genre, depending on the age and gender of your readers. That’s always something I consider when I’m evaluating a book — who is the readership and what do they read?

. . . .

Print books used to be purchased pretty exclusively in brick and mortar bookstores.  It is nearly impossible for small commercial publishers and self published authors to get books onto those bookstore shelves, and authors sometimes come out losing money when they do because of bookstore ‘return’ requirements.

But now?

In 2016, 43% of all traditionally published books were purchased online.  Now, THAT is a reason to break out the champagne!  Why?  Because most readers pay little to no attention to the publisher.  As long as the small press or self published book looks professional and has a professional looking cover,  it’s competitive with books from the ‘bookstore’ publishers.  If your ebook or print book includes those 5 critical elements for success and looks like the other professionally published books out there, readers don’t care who published it.  They’ll look at price.

. . . .

In 2016, 21,800,000 self published print books were sold, mostly published through Create Space. The average price was $10.34. Amazon imprints sold another 959,000 copies.

Link to the rest at SFWA

Amazon launches £20,000 prize for self-published ebooks

8 February 2017

From The Telegraph:

Online retailer Amazon UK has taken on big awards such as the Man Booker and Costa Book Awards by launching its own literary prize – for self-published ebooks.

The Kindle Storyteller Prize carries a cash award of £20,000: far smaller than the £50,000 Man Booker Prize, but equal to the winner’s purse offered by the country’s two biggest poetry book awards, the TS Eliot Prize and Forward Prize.

The prize is open to any author who publishes their book through Kindle Direct Publishing between February 20 and May 19 this year. Entries from any genre are eligible – including fiction, non-fiction and collections of short stories – so long as they are more than 5,000 words and previously unpublished. Once published, individual printed copies of any of the books can also be ordered via Amazon’s print-on-demand service.

. . . .

“Great books deserve to be celebrated and that’s what we want to do with the Kindle Storyteller competition,” said an Amazon spokesperson. “Publishing a book has never been easier, and the Kindle Storyteller Award will reward the author whose story resonates most with both readers and literary experts.” Amazon will use readers’ interest in different titles online to help decide the shortlist, before the winner is chosen by an as-yet-unannounced panel of “both Amazon experts and literary authorities.”

Link to the rest at The Telegraph and thanks to Valerie for the tip.

PG suggests Amazon would have been more disruptive if it had offered a prize larger than the Mann Booker Prize.

Insurance For Suspended Amazon Accounts Is Here – Accounts Reinstated In 72 Hours Or Get Paid!

7 February 2017

From Helium 10:

“YOUR AMAZON SELLING PRIVILEGES HAVE BEEN REMOVED”

These words are enough to make any FBA seller’s blood run cold, and believe us when we say account suspension could happen to anybody selling on Amazon.

Anybody.

It makes no difference whether you have great feedback, low defect rates or you have been a successful and trusted FBA seller for years. If Amazon believes you’re in breach of their selling guidelines, they can pull your account, and they will do it without any notice and often without giving you a reason.

Until now, FBA sellers have had no option but to file an appeal against account suspension and wait…and miss out on sales…and wait…and miss out on profits…and wait…you get the picture.

Even worse, there’s a chance you did nothing wrong, or it’s not clear what you did wrong. In the meantime you’re left with a dead account, pulled products and a potentially frustrating time ahead getting everything reinstated. Amazon often shoots first and asks questions later which might be good protection for them, but for you it could be a total profit killer.

. . . .

That’s why we’re so excited to tell you about a brand new insurance product being released on 1st Feb that is designed to help FBA sellers to not only get their accounts reinstated quickly, but to GET PAID if reinstatement takes longer than 72 hours.

. . . .

Right now, what we can tell you is that this is no fly-by-night insurance product. The product will be available through Ashlin Hadden Insurance Agency and underwritten by Lloyd’s of London, one of the largest and most respected insurance corporations in the world. That’s a huge deal. Why? Lloyd’s of London has massive influence in the insurance industry and has covered everything over the years, from The Titanic to Kim Kardashian’s butt! If you want somebody fighting your corner for you, it’s them!

. . . .

Here’s something else that is cool. You’ll be supported every step of the way by 2 former Amazon employees and a dedicated suspension reinstatement team to get you through the appeal and reinstatement process. They will help you to file all the necessary paperwork, and their fees will be paid by Ashlin Hadden Insurance Agency. Of course, you can choose to use your own reinstatement specialist if you wish. If you go down this route, the insurance company will cover part of their costs.

By the way, if you knowingly did something fraudulent and your account got suspended, this article and the insurance it details isn’t for you. However, if you’ve had a suspension in the past, it doesn’t mean you’ll be automatically excluded. It will probably just cost you more.

Link to the rest at Helium 10 and thanks to Karen for the tip.

Sorry, but PG has no idea whether this is real or not. Several centuries ago, he did some work with Lloyds and they do cover some strange risks.  For example, Lloyds insured Jimmy Durante’s large nose, Bruce Springsteen’s voice and Keith Richards’ hands.

BAM! Publish: A Vanity Press?

6 February 2017

From Indies Unlimited:

It’s a common dream among first-time authors: you walk into your favorite local bookstore and there’s Your Book, sitting on the shelf for everyone to see – and buy. Alas, it’s unlikely to happen if you’re an indie author. If it happens at all, it will require a lot of hard work and persuasive energy on your part, as well as a store manager who’s willing to take a chance on an unknown author.

Books-A-Million, the second-largest bookstore chain in the United States, has developed a route for indies to get their books onto store shelves – but there’s a catch.

. . . .

This past November, Books-A-Million launched a revamp of its self-publishing platform. It’s now called BAM! Publish and it’s reportedly operated in partnership with FastPencil, which calls itself “the world’s largest publishing platform with hundreds of thousands of members worldwide”.

To be honest, I think Books-A-Million is only using FastPencil’s publishing software, and has contracted author services to somebody else. Here’s why: I gave up my email address to get a BAM! Publish bookstore marketing guide. When I immediately unsubscribed, it turned out the mailing list to which I’d been added belonged to Infinity Publishing – a vanity press in Pennsylvania with a 100 percent negative rating from the Better Business Bureau.

Prices for BAM! Publish’s services sure look like a vanity press is involved. It’s free to set up your book on their platform, but even if you only plan to release it to friends and family, the link for ordering copies costs $59. Global distribution costs $299 ($349 for print and eBook). Editing services are similarly pricey, and marketing services run from $279 to $569.

Link to the rest at Indies Unlimited and thanks to Deb for the tip.

Self-Publishing in 2017: The Year in Preview

29 January 2017

From Publishers Weekly:

As 2017 begins, indie authors and publishers are having to navigate a fast-growing industry filled with new opportunities, but one that also presents challenges related to that expansion. To find continued success in self-publishing, it has become more important to expand the definition of “self-published author” to encompass new roles and new formats.

. . . .

“We can expect 2017 is going to continue to be a challenging market for all authors and publishers,” says Mark Coker, founder of Smashwords. He attributes this to the flood of titles that have entered the e-book space.

The growing supply is creating one set of difficulties for authors who are trying to get their titles discovered, and Coker says Amazon has not made anything easier for indie authors’ bottom lines with KDP Select, which requires participating authors to publish e-books exclusively with Amazon and allows titles to be eligible for Kindle Unlimited—a program that provides unlimited books for readers who pay a monthly subscription fee. He is critical of the online retail giant’s shift from compensating authors per books sold to a system based on the number of pages read.

Robin Cutler, director of IngramSpark, says that as a result of this drop in revenue from e-book content, indie authors who had previously focused on digital are looking to publish in print and other formats. “Getting their titles into brick-and-mortar bookstores as well as into libraries continues as a goal for many indie authors this year and into next year,” says Cutler.

Joel Friedlander, book designer and publishing consultant, seconds that, emphasizing that while getting print books into stores is not always easy, successful indie authors will be those who think outside traditional formats. “Authors are starting to understand that the world of book publishing is much bigger than e-books and print on demand,” he says.

. . . .

Just as 2017 will likely see self-publishing expand into different formats, it may also be a time when authors have to find ways to expand their own roles. They are adding such words as consultant, publisher, and marketer to their business cards and passing on lessons for success to other authors.

“They typically begin publishing their own work and through that experience learn how to establish a publishing business or service to help other authors,” says IngramSpark’s Cutler.

Friedlander predicts that more indie authors will become indie publishers by assisting other writers in bringing their books to market in 2017. “They figure out book publishing on a small scale with their own books, and then they say, ‘I could help Jane out with her books,’ and it’s a natural evolution,” he says.

Link to the rest at Publishers Weekly

The Great Amazon Battle of ’17

28 January 2017

From author J.M. Poole:

In this corner, one of the largest companies that currently exists:  Amazon.  In the opposite corner?  Me.

For those of you who may not know, I had to do battle with Amazon since they yanked my books and cancelled my author account.  If you’re curious enough to be here ’cause you’re wondering just what the hell happened, let me sum it up, in case you don’t want to read the War & Peace novel that ensues.  Then, if you’re still interested, read on, as I go into specifics.

The summary:  Amazon sent me an email Tuesday of this week at 5pm, only it landed in my Junk mail folder.  I didn’t see it until around 10pm that night.  They (Amazon) accused me of creating bogus accounts to boost page reads of Case of the One-Eyed Tiger (CCF#1).  They say it’s against their rules.  As a result, my KDP account was officially terminated and they inform me that all my books will be removed, which they were the following day by 5pm.   Now, bear in mind that I don’t know a damn thing about any “bogus accounts”.  I’m completely in the dark.  In a panic, I start writing emails, including sending one to Amazon’s bigwigs, and essentially prove to them that I have no knowledge of any bogus accounts and certainly didn’t create any.  Today (Thursday), I get the email from Amazon stating my account is reinstated.  My books reappear by 5pm.

. . . .

1/24/17.  10pm.  I’m skimming through my Junk emails and notice a message from “title-submissions@amazon.com”, specifically from a “Katy C.” and is dated from earlier in the day, from around 5pm.  The actual email is here.  They (Amazon) accused me of creating “systematic accounts” and using them to boost the page reads to manipulate the Kindle Unlimited platform.

1/24/17.  10:01pm.  Hoping this is just a phishing email, I immediately head to kdp.amazon.com to log into my account.  Unable to do so.  Have minor cardiac episode.  Am desperately hoping this is some type of sick joke.

. . . .

Katy C. – I’m at a loss as to what you’re referring to.  Are you insinuating that someone has hacked my KDP account?  I’ve been a self-published indie author since 2010.  I published my first novel with Amazon on that year and have since released a total of 12 novels.  I have never had a problem with anything there.  I can only assume someone is trying to hack my account.  I have since called Amazon Customer Service and they walked me through changing my password.  However, I am still unable to log into my KDP account. Could I get someone to call me at (***) ***-**** to discuss this?  I’m in the dark as much as you are with regards to this situation.  Thank you. Jeffrey M. Poole www.AuthorJMPoole.com

. . . .

1/25/17.  2:39pm.  First followup email from Amazon, specifically from “John M”.  It’s a shorter message and there’s no need to turn it into a PDF, either.  He writes:

Hello,

Thank you for your email concerning the status of your account.

Systematic accounts are those that facilitate illegitimate reading 
or borrow activity. You're welcome to promote your book through 
third-party websites and other services, but you are also responsible 
for ensuring that no tactics used to promote your book manipulate 
the Kindle platform and/or Kindle programs.

In order to help us evaluate your appeal, please provide any 
information about promotional or marketing service you might have used.

Best Regards,

John M

1/25/17.  4:45pm.  I noticed that every title I had released in the Kindle store was missing.  The only thing I had on Amazon was my paperbacks, and I wasn’t convinced they’d try to pull my Createspace account, either.  My day seriously started spiraling straight back to UberPissedVille, with a layover at DepressedTowne.

. . . .

1/25/17.  10:05pm.  I get another response back from Amazon, only this is from another new person.  This time, I get “Luca F”, and he writes:

Hello,

Thank you for your email concerning the status of your account.

Unfortunately, we need some more time to look into the matter. We are sorry for the delay and for any inconvenience it may cause you. We will be in touch within five business days.

Thank you for your patience.

Best Regards,

Luca F
Amazon.com

. . . .

1/25/17.  10:06pm.  Now I’m freaking out.  Why would a billionaire read/respond to my email?  Amazon just wants to sweep me under a rug somewhere and be done with me.  5 business days for some type of resolution?  Surely someone else must have gone through this hell.  I’m now researching this situation on Google.  I couldn’t be the only person that has ever fallen on the wrong side of ye almighty Amazon.  What I find, however, isn’t promising.  Those that have had their KDP accounts terminated don’t get them back.  Or, the very select few that I found that did, have said that it takes weeks, even months, to get the account back in good standing.  Everyone says the same thing.  Lack of a customer service number is disparaging as hell.   The only communication is through email.  In the pit of my stomach, I knew Amazon wasn’t going to reinstate my account.  Not without a fight.

Link to the rest at J.M. Poole and thanks to Bill and others for the tip.

PG says this is becoming a serious customer service problem for Amazon.

While no legitimate author would ever object to Amazon shutting down any of the various con artists that sometimes plague KDP, Amazon needs to get much smarter about the process of identifying and responding to bogus activities.

Amazon is one of the most sophisticated technical organizations on the planet. Surely they can assign someone with sufficient brainpower and technology chops to build a better fraud detection system.

Amazon knows an immense amount of information about its customers and their buying/reading habits. Amazon runs the largest and most-sophisticated cloud computing environment on the planet. Surely there are patterns of behavior that distinguish fraudsters from real book purchasers.

Is there any reason that Amazon could not temporarily suspend payments for page-based reading bonuses for specific books while still permitting authors to sell their other books as a more detailed investigation moves forward?

Digital Book World Indie 2017 Wrap-Up

24 January 2017

From author Ron Vitale:

The state of indie publishing is in flux. Is print coming back? Are indie authors losing sales? And with the rise of more competition from traditional publishers, what is an indie author to do?

Based right outside of Philadelphia, I took the train up to New York and went hoping to find answers at Digital Book World Indie 2017. Truth be told, one of the main reasons why I went was to hear Data Guy talk in the Tight Insights: The Indie Universe Quantified session. I wanted to see his data on the big screen. I could have listened to him for hours.

. . . .

How are indie authors going to compete and thrive against huge conglomerate corporations? At the end of the first session, Porter Anderson reminded all of us that when photographers needed to streamline their services, they came together to form a co-op. Professional services (developing the film, marketing, etc.) could be provided by reputable and vetted individuals while the photographers could stay out longer in the field, shooting. Anderson, in his understated way, turned to the audience and said, “Now it’s all on you.”

The biggest take home message from Digital Book World Indie is so simple that I almost missed it while preparing for the next talk. When we as indie authors unite, we have strength. We are the sum of our individual skills.

. . . .

While I sat in the conference room listening to the talks, I had my phone out, sharing information with members of a private Facebook group. And throughout the day, I kept checking in on Michael Anderle’s 20BooksTo50K Facebook group. I joined the 20BooksTo50K group back in December when there were 1,200 members. Less than a month later, there are more than 3,450 members. Fellow indie authors who are sharing their launch plans, screenshots from their sales dashboards, asking for advice on covers they are having designed and talk through the most in-the-weeds details about email lists.

. . . .

The mismatch between the experts at the conference and the brain power available from within the room itself could not have been more pronounced over the course of the day.

. . . .

The second most important lesson I learned at DBW Indie is that traditional publishers, to quote Jane Friedman, “are kicking ass in marketing.” Judith Curr’s (President & Publisher of Atria Books, a division of Simon & Schuster) talk brought that home to all the authors in the room. Not only are publishers creating apps such as Crave, but they are performing A/B tests with their advertising, targeting the appropriate readers with the ads as well as sending out thousands of ARCs in advance to build reviews online.

Judith Curr came to speak to a room full of indie authors with an olive branch, asking us to consider traditional publishing. The word “hybrid” floated throughout many of the sessions and authors were pitched not only by Curr, but by Kobo, Wattpad, Ingramspark and, if you wanted, one-on-one with iBooks. Opportunity flowed throughout the day.

The challenge that I see is that without the deep (for now) pockets of traditional publishers, indie authors will continue to struggle. Although traditional publishers have amazing teams to produce extremely high quality products, the opportunity for indie authors comes in our being able to control our own careers. We have choice. With knowledge, there is power. In today’s publishing, we could license our print book rights, but retain our ebook rights and publish as we like. We have bargaining power that did not exist a few years ago.

Link to the rest at Ron Vitale

Here’s a link to Ron Vitale’s books. If you like an author’s post, you can show your appreciation by checking out their books.

PG doesn’t know Mr. Vitale, but PG does know something about large conglomerates, including publishing conglomerates, pre-internet and internet marketing and technology in general.

Conglomerates are large collections of people and money that are not all the same. Some do reasonably well at attracting capital and running some of their businesses. Others do dumb things all the time.

If you want to rapidly accomplish something innovative, a conglomerate is not the way to go. If you want to attract and keep creative employees, a conglomerate is not the way to go.

No smart entrepreneur tries to start anything inside a conglomerate. Apple would have been killed in the crib inside a conglomerate. So would Amazon and Google.

As a group, publishing conglomerates are among the slowest and least innovative members of the conglomerate class. PG worked for one of the largest (RELX Group, previously known as Reed Elsevier) for three unhappy years and knows of what he speaks.

Specific points mentioned in the OP:

  • Apps such as Crave from big publishers. Do you know how easy it is to build an app? Ten-year-olds build apps. There are over two million apps on Apple’s App Store. PG looked at the most popular book apps on Apple’s App Store. The first page includes a large number of apps. Crave was not among them. Three out of the top five apps were from Amazon.
  • A/B tests for advertising. PG wasn’t one of the Mad Men, but his boss at a very large advertising agency would have qualified. Needless to say, PG’s adventures in advertising occurred centuries ago. A/B tests with advertising were a routine practice during Mad Men days.
  • Sending out ARCs in advance to build reviews online. Publishers have been doing this forever. Smart indie authors have email lists, social media accounts, etc., and use them to do the same thing.

PG agrees with the OP that authors should get together and share ideas, support each other, etc.

However, there’s a key difference when indie authors get together and when traditionally-published authors get together.

When an indie author hears or reads about a great idea for marketing, he/she can implement it immediately and see the results (good or bad) in a few days or weeks by watching their KDP dashboard. When a traditionally-published author hears the same idea, it’s a different experience.

To pirate a saying, an author needs a big publisher like a fish needs a bicycle.

 

Next Page »