Let’s Get Digital – Second Edition Released

19 September 2014

David Gaughran has just released a second edition of Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should, a favorite of many visitors to The Passive Voice.

Here’s what he says about it:

I’m very excited to announce the release of the new updated and expanded 2nd edition of Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should.

If you purchased the old 1st edition of Digital, you can grab the 2nd edition for free (instructions below). You won’t actually be able to purchase the new edition from Amazon if you bought the old one, so please follow those instructions to get your free copy.

. . . .

This new updated 2nd edition now has more options for those on a tighter budget, teaches you how to get your book into print (and why that helps selling e-books), tells you why you should start a mailing list immediately, and shares the pros and cons of going exclusive with Amazon. And that’s just for starters…

Link to the rest of David’s discussion of the new edition at Let’s Get Digital

And here’s a link to buy Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should

YouTube Takes Out Checkbook Again, Pays Its Stars to Make Videos

19 September 2014

From re/code:

The world’s biggest video site is paying people to make videos. Again.

YouTube is planning to invest millions in some of its biggest stars, in deals intended to create high-quality content for the site. The deals are also designed to encourage those stars to keep working on YouTube instead of migrating to other platforms.

. . . .

Instead of courting people from outside the YouTube ecosystem, like Madonna, it is focusing on “endemic” stars who already have big followings on the site. And it is going to pay them to create specific shows, instead of a suite of programs, and is promising to promote them to its billion-person audience.

Video producers and distributors who are discussing deals with YouTube executives say the site is talking about investing in different kinds of formats and different lengths; in some cases, YouTube is talking about pairing talent with more traditional Hollywood producers. The one constant is that they want to work with talent that is already popular on YouTube, like fashion star Bethany Mota.

. . . .

YouTube stars currently make money via advertising Google runs on the site; video makers have complained for a while that YouTube ad dollars aren’t high enough, and that the site takes too much of the revenue it does generate. Popular YouTubers also make money by selling integrated sponsorships in their own videos, and don’t have to share that money with YouTube.

. . . .

The new content push comes as some YouTube stars are entertaining offers from platforms that would like to be YouTube rivals, like IAC’s Vimeo, and Vessel, an upcoming service from former Hulu CEO Jason Kilar. None of those sites can ever rival YouTube’s reach, but they are telling Web stars they can generate more money there, either through ad sales, subscription fees or a combination.

YouTube head Susan Wojcicki, who started running the site in February, has made outreach to YouTube talent a priority. Last month she told Re/code that she was working on ways to “look at our creators, and think about how we can help them to grow and accelerate their businesses and this amazing content they’re building.”

Link to the rest at re/code

PG predicts star indie authors will be treated the same way someday.

The Invisible Growth in the Industry…or WYSIATI

19 September 2014

From Publishing Perspectives:

WYSIATI, an acronym borrowed from Daniel Kahneman’s Thinking Fast and Slow, means that “what you see is is all there is.” It’s something akin to a baby’s missing sense of object permanence: if it’s not in front of you, it doesn’t exist. This phenomenon would account for why [Judith] Appelbaum, a keen and practical observer of the publishing business, believes that the biggest change in the industry is something that has gone largely unnoticed.

. . . .

The introduction of important new digital formats notwithstanding, Appelbaum firmly believes that the most momentous change taking place right now in publishing is among small, independent, and self-publishers. “The enormous growth in small publishers and self-publishers began decades ago and has escalated enormously with digital opportunities.” Despite the existence of this growth, Appelbaum is convinced it is mostly undetected by the industry as a whole. “Its impact is almost as invisible as it used to be,” she says.

Appelbaum explains why this surge in indie publishing is mostly unnoticed. “Circling back to BISG, one goal from the beginning was to get some reliable numbers about what was happening. That’s a brave goal and it’s still a goal, but those figures still do not include enormous amounts of activity by small and self-publishers. They’re not there because a lot of very profitable smaller publishers sell either partly or exclusively outside the trade and nobody counts those sales. Nobody can count them. The people who might count them don’t care enough to count them because it’s not their main business.”

. . . .

Appelbaum explains that many self-published authors, whose sales may be significant, don’t report to anyone who’s compiling industry statistics. In addition, she says, many sales by established publishers into the gift market and other non-trade outlets go unreported. “BookScan figures are the best we have but it’s missing a whole lot. And Amazon never tells anybody anything and there’s a lot going on there.”

. . . .

As to what happens next, Appelbaum speculates: “What I think is that this segment is going to continue to grow, and I suspect that that visible segment is going to continue to be unable to see it and is going to wonder why what they see as their whole industry is flat.” With digital production and distribution making books “easier to get,” Appelbaum anticipates a continuing publishing surge, but one that will remain under the radar.

. . . .

As for the retail supply chain, Appelbaum is watching that as well. “I’m interested to see, and probably everybody is, how Amazon’s, shall we say, dominance is going to develop. But I wouldn’t hazard a guess except that I don’t think it’s going to kill the industry. I remember very well when B&N was evil incarnate, deciding which books got published and deciding on the covers, and if they didn’t want a book it was dead, dead, dead. That didn’t last forever!

Link to the rest at Publishing Perspectives and thanks to Tina for the tip.

The Tankers are Turning

18 September 2014

From Hugh Howey:

I gave a talk at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory last week, and one of the questions that came up during the Q&A was whether I’m a pessimist or an optimist. The second part of the question was if I thought the world I depict in WOOL has any chance of coming to fruition.

. . . .

I believe there’s a fine balance between begging for a better future and also being thankful for the progress of the past. If you ask me, the world is getting measurably better for the vast majority of people year after year.

. . . .

What’s important, in my view, is to pause in our protestations now and then and give homage to the progress others have made, to recognize the change happening around us before we dust ourselves off and demand one more concession.

This is true of social, ethical, and political progress. But it applies to less important things as well, like book publishing.

Those of us who self-publish are nimble. We can pivot on a dime and publish at the drop of one. If we have an idea, we can implement it the same day, see how it works, share our results, and at the same time learn from others. Not even Amazon moves fast enough for us. We often complain about how long it takes the ‘Zon to implement ideas. To the five major New York publishers, of course, Amazon’s advances must seem like the blitzkrieg.

If the five major New York publishers are like oil tankers, then Amazon is a destroyer, and we are erratic (and possibly annoying) jetskis. We are impatient for progress much as revolutionaries (and visionaries) in other fields often are. But I think it’s important to remember that there are visionaries on the decks of those other ships as well. A lot of smart people see where we need to go. Some of them have even turned over the wheel. It just takes longer for these behemoths to bend their wake.

. . . .

  •  Publishers are starting to experiment with reasonable ebook prices. Many of the top-selling traditionally published ebooks this year were in the $4.99 range, including John Green’s excellent The Fault in our Stars. (Now back up to $7+, but it was at $4.99 for most of this year.)
  • Backlist titles are also becoming more affordable. I’m buying traditionally published ebooks more often, as the number that I see priced above $8.99 are becoming fewer and fewer.
  • At least three publishers are rumored to be working on moving their operations out of the most expensive real estate in one of the priciest cities in the world.
  • A few publishers are experimenting with subscription services on a limited basis.
    Random House launched a portal for its authors that in some ways is superior to anything offered by digital retailers. The portal shows sales, foreign rights acquisitions, royalty statements, and includes marketing tip videos.

. . . .

  •  Release schedules are picking up, with books and sequels coming out in the same calendar year. The hesitation to publish two books by the same author in a 12-month span has rapidly deteriorated.

. . . .

  •  On the contract side, my agent has seen progress on a number of fronts, including the openness to strike non-compete clauses, better thresholds for reversion, a little movement on the deep discount royalty rate, and other positive signs that show self-publishing is having an impact as a competitive route to publication.

Link to the rest at Hugh Howey and thanks to Sandra for the tip.

But is it more fun to ride on a tanker or a jet ski?

Thanks, KDP Select! How I became an overnight (okay 30 year) success.

16 September 2014

From author Wayne Stinnett via Kindleboards:

For all you new folks wondering if your dream can ever come true. Yes, it can! But, dreaming about it won’t do it.

. . . .

Did I dream about making a better living for me and my family with my story telling? Yeah, for many years. Since before most of you on here were born. But, I was target fixated. That’s when a fighter pilot concentrates so hard on the tango he’s trying to shoot down, he completely misses the other one coming up behind him. My target for nearly three decades was getting on the bookstore shelves. I’d never heard of an ebook. Then, our oldest daughter and her husband (the one who is one of Amazon’s lower level execs) gave me a Kindle for Christmas two years ago. At the time, I didn’t even know he worked for Amazon. He was good to her and provided for her and that’s all that mattered. When I mentioned once that I’d been reading a lot of authors I’d never heard of on it, he told me they were probably self published. When I mentioned I’d been trying to get published since the eighties, he explained and showed me on my laptop how to do it. That was in June, 2013, one year and three months ago.

. . . .

I cranked out my first book, with little or no guidance, in three months and published it last October. I put it out of my mind completely and started on the second one. Though it was 20K words longer, I cranked it out in 2-1/2 months. Mind you, I was working upwards of 70 hours a week as an over the road truck driver and writing in the sleeper of the truck. My first goal was getting both books published before Christmas and that’s just what I did, 178K words in less than six months, publishing my second book on 10/23. January sales were over $2500, more than enough for all the tools I wanted.

That’s when it hit me. I could make a living at this. Something else hit me at about the same time. The numbers. I realized I’d written 178,000 of my own words in two stories, in 178 days. One thousand words a day. And those two stories earned me $2500. It wasn’t hard to calculate that two more stories in six months would double that income.

. . . .

I wanted to write about something that I was emotionally too close to, so I sought the help of a young Marine who’d recently left the Corps after three tours in Iraq and Afghanistan as an Infantryman. He’s the son of a friend and suffered post traumatic stress. At first he was reluctant, until I told him about my own demons from Beirut. It took us a while, but I like to think we put together a fictional story that might help others to seek out someone to talk to. I published Fallen Pride in early April, 2014. Sales that month were equal to my best month as a truck driver. I was almost there.

From these boards, I learned a “feeder” was needed, but I was reluctant to reduce the price of my first book, or EGAD, make it permafree. So in just six weeks, I cranked out a 53K page prequel to the others and knowing that my dream was doable and already having a good emergency savings and retirement in place, I QUIT MY JOB half way through writing it. Fallen Out was published on May 30, two weeks before the one year anniversary of the first time I ever heard about self publishing. Since day one, it’s been my sales leader, drawing in more and more readers. I intentionally made it a little jerky, to more closely match the pace of my first book.

Last month, I earned more than four times my best trucking month and now KDP wants to reward that hard work by slapping on another three grand? Yes, my friends, dreams really can come true. But, not without sacrifice and hard work. Oh, and planning to succeed. In the Corps, I had a Platoon leader who always reminded us of the “Seven P’s”, “Proper prior planning prevents p!ss poor performance”.

Link to the rest at Kindleboards  and thanks to Michael for the tip.

Here’s a link to Wayne Stinnett’s books

Tracy Blythe, a Kirk Langley farmer’s daughter, achieves self-publishing success

15 September 2014

From the Ashbourne News Telegraph:

A Kirk Langley farmer’s daughter has written her own success story. Thanks to the powers of self-publishing Tracy Blythe has watched her first novel turn into a bestseller. She talks to Jill Gallone.

Imagine the story… a Derbyshire farmer’s daughter who can’t ever remember writing stories at school manages to pen a novel in two-hour blasts during her baby’s naps.

After years of hard graft she finishes the book, but it is rejected by 18 publishers.

Fast forward seven years and the book is plunged into the limelight after it is self-published online. Available as an ebook, it soars to the top of Amazon’s bestseller list. More than 200,000 readers snap it up.

It feels like a storyline from a novel, but it’s not; it’s happened to Duffield mum-of-two Tracy Blythe, now more famously known as Tracy Bloom.

. . . .

“Growing up on a farm creates a foundation for comedy,” she explains. “Farmers are very sharp and witty, so much so that when you are growing up the only way to get attention is to have plenty of witty replies.”

Tracy says she honed her humour from a young age. “Most farmers have a natural desire to say something funny. I think it comes from the fact that all farmers are running businesses, they are massive multi-taskers, work long hours and it can be quite solitary. So when they do meet up, they are ready to be very, very sociable.”

. . . .

Meanwhile, husband Bruce (occasionally mistakenly called Mr Bloom!) works at Rolls-Royce in Derby.

“We’re Derbyshire through and through,” says Tracy, who laughs when she hears about Bruce’s name mix-ups. “My agent suggested I wrote under a pen name because they said Blythe wasn’t very sparkly.

“Bruce finds it hilarious when he’s called Mr Bloom but in one article he was called John!”

. . . .

Tracy explains: “I was 36, had just had my first baby and gave up my career in marketing to move to America with Bruce. It was partly because I’d moved to a country where I didn’t know anyone that I started writing. It was my salvation. It gave me something to focus on – plus an excuse not to do the housework! I wrote in two-hour blasts when Tom went to sleep in the afternoons.

“I had always wanted to write. When I was in marketing it was the part of the job I loved.”

Without the day job, her creative energies could be poured into her funny and romantic novel, No-one Ever Has Sex On A Tuesday. And though she was in Connecticut at the time, it had its roots in Derbyshire ante-natal classes.

“I went to ante-natal classes before we went to America and it struck me that a very random selection of people meet up to talk about a very intimate and life-changing experience.”

. . . .

“It went on sale as an ebook on Amazon in April 2013,” Tracy explains. “Amazon spotted it and put it on promotion on June 1. By June 8 it had gone to number one in the bestseller list and stayed there for three weeks. At the time it was hard to comprehend. I was an unknown author. It seemed just ridiculous.”

With thousands buying the book online, it wasn’t long before a publisher came knocking on Tracy’s door. “I got a book deal with Penguin Random House.”

This year the book finally came out in paperback in the UK – which means Tracy can see her novel in book stores. Self-publishing catapulted Tracy to the kind of success she hardly dared dream of.

Link to the rest at the Ashbourne News Telegraph and thanks to Sharon for the tip.

Here’s a link to Tracy’s book, No-One Ever Has Sex On A Tuesday: A Very Funny Romantic Novel

Is Amazon crazy?

15 September 2014

From author Lazette Gifford:

(This is not about one of my own books, but rather about a book that was published through A Conspiracy of Authors, which I oversee.)

I will not go into the specifics of what is going on in this case — no names and no book title, since nothing has been resolved yet — but I’d like people to consider something about Amazon which is so totally insane that I really couldn’t believe it was true until I had three different emails from them.

Anyone can simply go to Amazon Kindle and say ‘I wrote that book or I have rights to that book, not the person who published it’ and Amazon will immediately remove the book from the store without any sort of proof. Not only that, they will not put the book back up until both parties come to an agreement. So. . . .

So if this new person who claimed the book is his own work does so for malicious reasons, they need never come to an agreement and the book will never be for sale on Amazon. Apparently in such a situation, the best the true author can do is take the other person to court and force him to say they were wrong, which is going to cost money. For an Indie author with an ebook, that’s going to be tough.

. . . .

If the person isn’t interested in coming to terms, then the book is never going back up for sale. Here is the quote from one of Amazon’s emails (This exact line is in at least one other email as well):

If a resolution is reached, before we may take any appropriate action regarding the book(s), all involved parties must contact us via (email address).

Oh, and the other part from Amazon? They will also threaten to terminate the publisher’s account. That’s part of their ‘take any appropriate action’ part.

. . . .

Is it possible Amazon was provided with some sort of proof? I would like to think so, even if it is false information. However, all I have been able to get from Amazon is that someone made the claim. If they had proof (which I have asked to see and not gotten from Amazon or the other person) don’t you think Amazon would show it to the other party so they had a chance to at least know what was claimed against them?

Link to the rest at Lazette Gifford and thanks to J.A. for the tip.

Writers as Casualties of Commerce

15 September 2014

From author James Scott Bell via Kill Zone:

Since 2009 or so, the so-called midlist at traditional publishing houses has dried up faster than a mud patch in the Serengeti. The bleached bones of writers who did not earn out are scattered around in random configuration.

. . . .

I’ve heard from many friends and colleagues about traditionally published writers––some who have had relationships with a house for a decade or more––seeing their advances drop to record lows, or not being offered another contract at all.

And then what? What happens to these foundering careers?

. . . .

I was gobsmacked last month when I read a post by [NYT bestselling author Eileen] Goudge about her travails as a casualty of commerce. She describes what happened to her and many other writers this way:

I know from my husband, the aviation geek, that when a plane goes into what’s called a death spiral, as it reaches a certain altitude and succumbs to the pull of gravity, it can’t pull out. The same holds true for authors: fewer orders results in smaller print runs, a smaller marketing budget and lackluster sales, then a smaller advance for your next title, and the vicious cycle continues. In short, you’ve entered the “death spiral.”

The cold, hard truth is this: If the sales figures for your last title weren’t impressive enough to get booksellers to order your next title in sufficient quantities to make an impact, you’re basically screwed. It doesn’t matter if your previous titles sold a combined six million copies worldwide. You’re only as good as your last sell-through.

What’s even more dispiriting is that you’re perceived as a “failure” by publishers when your sales haven’t dropped but aren’t growing. You become a flat line on a graph. The publisher loses interest and drops the ball, then your sales really do tank. Worse, your poor performance, or “track” as it’s known, is like toilet paper stuck to your shoe, following you wherever you go in trying to get a deal with another publisher.

Goudge details some of the things that happened to her, personal and corporate. One of them is fairly common: a key executive or editor who is your champion leaves or gets laid off or moves to another company. You become an “orphan” at the house and your books don’t get the attention they used to.

. . . .

A writer friend of hers told Goudge she should go indie. She resisted at first, but the friend simply asked, “What’s the alternative?”

So Eileen Goudge jumped into the indie waters, more than a bit nervous about it. But then discovered something wonderful:

My creative wellspring that’d been drying up, due to all the discouragement I’d received over the past few years, was suddenly gushing. An idea for a mystery series, something I’d long dreamed of writing, came to me during a walk on the beach in my hometown of Santa Cruz, California, where I lived before I moved to New York City. Why not set my mystery series in a fictional town resembling Santa Cruz? … I immediately got to work. I was on fire!

Goudge is pro enough, and has seen enough, to know that nothing is rock-solid certain in a writing career. But she concludes:

Was it worth it? Only time will tell. Meanwhile there it is, beating in my breast: that feathered thing called hope. Something I thought I’d lost, regained. Something to celebrate.

Link to the rest at Kill Zone and thanks to Anthea for the tip.

Here’s a link to James Scott Bell’s books

When you own

13 September 2014

When you own the property, you’re a king. Without it, you’re a peon.

Bob Evans, motion picture producer and thanks to CG for the tip.

Son’s gift to writer mom is one for the books

8 September 2014

From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

Off they go to college, to hone their skills, navigate relationships and, ultimately, look beyond themselves to a complex world in need of their talents.

Unless you’re Stryker Thompson, and you pretty much had locked all that up before move-in day.

Thompson, 18, began classes at the University of Minnesota last week on a Presidential Scholarship. He enters the U from St. Paul’s Como Park High School, carrying 65 credits from 14 successful AP exams. He graduated fourth in his class, won policy debate competitions, played baseball and held down a part-time job.

But the big story here is none of those things. It’s quiet and sweet, much like Thompson. It’s the story of a uniquely perceptive young man, and his mother, a writer, who now wakes up every morning “filled with self-purpose.”

Mary Petrie cannot believe “the labor, stealth and detail” her son employed to self-publish her novel this summer. She had put the book, and her dreams, on hold more than a decade ago to help care for her family.

Her son, though, was taking copious mental notes. “There are things in people’s lives that need to be fulfilled,” he said over pancakes at a St. Paul diner.

. . . .

 He knew, vaguely, that she had written a novel when he was about 6, and that it had come close to being accepted by a major publishing house.

. . . .

Ultimately, the book went nowhere. As the real estate market tanked, Petrie jumped in to help the family financially, taking a job teaching English and gender and women’s studies at Inver Hills Community College. Still, she often talked about self-publishing.

“She said that for years,” Thompson said. “She repeated it so much. You keep on putting it off until it’s part of your schedule to put it off. She didn’t have time in her schedule to do it.”

She even shared with her son what the book cover might look like, pulling from a closet a yellow dress, sleeveless, sprinkled with red poppies.

Eventually, she stopped talking about the book altogether.

. . . .

He casually asked his mom to send him files of her chapters, one by one. Maybe he’d read them, but he wasn’t promising.

Of course, he read every one, in the evenings and on weekends, in between studying for seven AP classes and serving as captain of the debate team and pondering German philosophers Nietzsche and Heidegger.

He fixed typos, added page breaks and indents, deleted extra spaces between words. “I got into a groove,” he said, “but it was very meticulous work.”

. . . .

He studied online forums for the pros and cons of self-publishing. He ultimately went with, a website that allows printing on demand.

An hour after his graduation party, he headed to the home of his girlfriend, graphic designer Tessa Portuese, to design the cover and pick a cover font.

. . . .

On June 20, after returning from a debate tournament, Thompson nervously crossed the street to where the book proof awaited. He went into his basement and wrapped it up in blue tissue. He came upstairs and walked toward his mom, who was sitting in the kitchen after yoga, eating alone at the table. “Mom,” he said. “I got you a little something. For raising me.”

She tore at the paper and saw the book — with the yellow dress on the cover. “I’d never seen her cry that much,” Thompson said. “We were both crying.” And hugging, Petrie added.

Link to the rest at Star-Tribune

Here’s a link to Mary’s book

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