The Sky is Falling (Again)

24 April 2017

From The Crazy Chronicles by author  Elizabeth Barone:

I’ve been working in the indie publishing industry for five years, with a smattering of trad pub experience right before that. I mean a very tiny smattering; I had a couple short stories and poems published in journals before I got addicted to self-publishing, and I was with a small press for a year. But I’ve always been an introvert, and the thing most people don’t know about us introverts is that we’re super observant. We may not say much, but we see everything. And we pay attention.

Lately there’s been a lot of ugliness in the lit community. Some high profile authors were outed for attacking readers, there’s been a lot of mudslinging over diversity in fiction, and now I’m seeing a lot of authors griping about how “oversaturated” the industry is.

I get it. Amazon sales have tanked for everyone this month. In general, there’s been a decline in sales. The industry has been plateauing, trying to find its footing in the midst of this digital revolution. But I’ve noticed the panic really dig in to authors when Amazon changes something. And then things get ugly.

. . . .

For one, the market has always been full. Even before indie publishing took off—back when it was considered vanity publishing to go and print copies of your books and sell them out of your car—there was a vast traditional market. Book stores became more and more selective with who they gave shelf space to. It was a game of dollars—which publisher could pay the most to get their star author front and center in stores. And it still is.

. . . .

Authors, we’re not competitors. There are millions of readers around the world, with new markets opening up every single day. (Right now India and Nigeria’s ebook markets are booming, by the way.) Readers don’t play favorites. Sure, there are authors they love who they will always buy from right away. But most readers are just looking for something good to read that fits their tastes and their budget—especially while their favorites are in between releases.

Link to the rest at The Crazy Chronicles and thanks to A. for the tip.

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

It’s a great time to be a writer. Kind of.

21 April 2017

From ChicagoNow:

During last year’s NBA Finals, I wrote an article reminiscing about the times I guarded Golden State Warriors’ All-Star Draymond Green back in our high school basketball days. It was going to be super timely, especially as I watched Draymond knock down five threes in the first half of Game 7. He was playing like the best player on the court, well on pace to become the NBA Finals MVP.

The Cavs came back, Draymond didn’t win MVP, but I still published my post. I also reached out to the sports editor back at my hometown newspaper, sent the article to him in hopes they would run it. Maybe a big Sunday spread in the sports section!

I never heard anything back.

Fast forward almost a year later, and I saw the following post on LinkedIn from the same sports editor: Hi friends, I just want to let you know that my position of sports editor has been eliminated.

Not fired, eliminated. The role of sports editor at that paper no longer exists. And before I get into that, I’ve got one more related story.

In June, I am self-publishing a novel that I’ve been working on since the fall of 2008. I’ve wrestled with the self-publish vs. try to publish traditionally question for over three years (I’ll have many posts to come on this very subject). One of the reasons I decided to pull the trigger on the self-publishing route was the thought, “Hey, I won’t be able to get into Barnes & Noble, or airport bookstores, but maybe I could channel my door-to-door salesman side and get into local bookstores. And, since my novel takes place in my hometown, maybe my favorite hometown bookstore (Sleepy Hollow) would carry it.”

I Googled “Sleepy Hollow, ” and the top article was an article from July of 2016, “The final chapter. Sleepy Hollow Bookshop plans to close.” The next result was Sleepy Hollow’s listing on Yelp marked, “Sleepy Hollow Bookshop – CLOSED.”

. . . .

Twenty years ago, hell, maybe even just five years ago, an 18-year-old could’ve said, “I want to be a sports writer, so I’m gonna go to a great journalism school, get into a great graduate school, get an internship at a great newspaper, work my way up. At first I’ll be writing stories about grade school basketball, then middle school, high school, all the way up to the NBA. After 20, 30 years, I’ll be one of those people on ESPN’s Around the Horn. And THEN, once I have a big name for myself, I’ll write a book and it’ll be in every bookstore around the country, including my hometown store, where I’ll set up a table and sign autographs. I’ll tell a kid wearing a Chicago Bulls hat, ‘Now, make sure to study hard in school young lad, one day you can be right here.”

Where does that story fit into the 2017 landscape? Every step of that defined process is now in question. Newspapers struggling, bookstores struggling, many shutting down altogether. I mean even the value of a college journalism degree or graduate degree is in question.

. . . .

So yeah, I think it’s a terrible time to be a writer IF you’re using yesterday’s blueprint. It can lead to a devastating place where you’re left saying, “This isn’t fair. I played the game. I followed the rules. And this is what I have to show for it?”

. . . .

Would you rather…

Write a book, send it off to 5+ literary agents, wait, wait some more. Get rejected, send out another 5+, wait again, more rejections, then maybe, maybe, one finally takes a chance on you. They now try and sell your work to a publisher, the literary agent’s going to get 10-15 percent of the sales, the publisher needs to make money too, but that’s ok, because a year, two years, five years later they got you into a bookstore, you see the physical copy of your book on the shelf only to see out of the corner of your eye a sign reading, “80 percent off, going out of business sale.”


Start writing the book tomorrow. Tonight. Ask friends for editing help. Go on any of the hundreds of freelance sites to find some more editing help, grammar help, book cover design, formatting, etc., and then, when it’s all finished, throw it right up on Amazon. One click away.

P.S. Amazon is opening physical bookstores too… just saying.

Link to the rest at ChicagoNow

How a self-published author inspired by Stephen King knocked his idol from the top spot on Amazon

20 April 2017

From CNBC:

Dylan Jones, 39, started reading Stephen King novels when he was 11. He’s pretty sure he’s read all of King’s fiction, which is saying something: King is an impressively prolific author.

It was King who first inspired Jones to try writing. “He was, I think, probably the single reason that I started writing, to be honest,” Jones tells CNBC. “He’s definitely a role model.”

So it felt almost surreal when, on August 16, 2015, Jones’ novel, “Black Book,” the first-installment of an ongoing trilogy, passed King on the most popular list in the horror genre of And the triumph wasn’t a fluke: The novel, which Jones describes as a “time-traveling western,” has surpassed those of his idol a couple of times since then, too.

. . . .

That first time it happened, he was particularly excited. He was, as he says, “over the moon, of course! To see something I did on a laptop, not even with Microsoft Word, but with a free, open-source word processing software package — to see that climb above the reason that I started writing in the first place is quite a thing.”

. . . .

Nowadays, Jones reads and writes only fiction. “You read so much nonfiction online anyway everyday and in newspapers and magazines … if I am in a book, I just want to relax and escape,” he says.

. . . .

Nearly two decades ago, the Internet was still a novelty. He wasn’t able to use it yet to publish his work. So Jones bought research books to find the mailing addresses for magazines and he submitted paper copies of his short stories to them.

About once a month every month for years, Jones received rejections in response.

. . . .

He wrote, marketed and published “Black Book” over about six months in 2013 while maintaining his day job of building mobile and web applications. He self-published the novel on Amazon towards the end of the year. In the summer of 2015, a year and a half a year later, “Black Book” generated buzz online and started creeping up the charts.

Link to the rest at CNBC

Writer seeks Kindled spirit: Six novelists reveal how to self-publish successfully

16 April 2017

From Mail Online:

The dawn of the digital era means that authors can self-publish their books – and make a fortune. Laura Silverman asks six independent novelists to reveal the secrets of clicking with your readership.

. . . .

WHO: Mel Sherratt, 50, Stoke-on-Trent

EBOOKS SOLD: 1 million

SELF-PUBLISHING SUCCESS: The former housing officer had spent 12 years trying to bag a traditional deal, but was continuously turned down for being ‘cross-genre’ (her writing is a mix of women’s fiction, crime and thriller). At the end of 2011 she self-released her debut Taunting the Dead which reached No 3 in the Kindle UK fiction chart, topped the police procedurals category and has been downloaded 200,000 times. Mel has written 12 more ebooks – six of which she has published herself.

KEY ADVICE: Get to grips with your marketing. ‘I often review my backlist and produce a yearly marketing schedule to offer my books at different prices,’ she says. ‘I can put the books on promotion whenever I want.’

THE PAYOFF: ‘I started self-publishing five years ago and have made a six-figure salary in each of the past three years.’

. . . .

 WHO: Janet MacLeod Trotter, 59, Northumberland

EBOOKS SOLD: 800,000

SELF-PUBLISHING SUCCESS: ‘My success has only come about because I self-published,’ says Janet, who had 12 of her novels published in the traditional way but was dropped by her publisher in 2010. She turned to self-publishing to raise money for her brother after he was injured in a bike accident.

The Vanishing of Ruth went to No 1 in the Waterstones crime and romance categories in 2011. After the success of her first ebook, she self-published her backlist and now has 22 books to her name. The Tea Planter’s Daughter was one of the top ten bestsellers of 2012 for a self-published author.

KEY ADVICE: Judge your book by its cover. ‘Give your books a new look every so often,’ she says. ‘I’m currently revamping the covers for my Jarrow trilogy. When you’re self-publishing, the design and look of your book or series is all down to you.’

THE PAYOFF: ‘For the first time in 30 years, I’m making a decent living from my writing.’

Link to the rest at Mail Online and thanks to Mike for the tip.

Amazon’s Third-Party Sellers Hit By Hackers

10 April 2017

From The Wall Street Journal:

Hackers are targeting the growing population of third-party sellers on Inc., using stolen credentials to post fake deals and steal cash.

In recent weeks, attackers have changed the bank-deposit information on Amazon accounts of active sellers to steal tens of thousands of dollars from each, according to several sellers and advisers. Attackers also have hacked into the Amazon accounts of sellers who haven’t used them recently to post nonexistent merchandise for sale at steep discounts in an attempt to pocket the cash, those people say.

The fraud stems largely from email and password credentials stolen from previously hacked accounts and then sold on what’s dubbed the “dark web,” a network of anonymous internet servers where hackers communicate and trade illicit information. Such hacks previously have favored sites such as PayPal Inc. and eBay Inc., but Amazon recently has become a target of choice, according to cybersecurity experts.

. . . .

While the precise scope and financial impact of the Amazon attacks is unclear, some sellers say the hacks have shaken their confidence in Amazon’s security measures. Such third-party merchants are critical for Amazon’s retail business, with more than two million sellers on the site accounting for more than half of its sales, including more than 100,000 sellers who each now sell in excess of $100,000 annually.

. . . .

Margina Dennis, who rarely uses her seller account, discovered she had been hacked late last month when she started to receive notifications to ship Nintendo Switch videogame systems. She notified Amazon immediately that she hadn’t listed the device, but Amazon still tried to charge her for unreceived items, she said.

“This has been a nightmare,” said the makeup artist, who said Sunday afternoon she was still waiting for resolution.

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)

PG is going to increase the password security for Mrs. PG’s KDP account. If you need help generating a strong password, LastPass has a free service for doing so.

Dear Rabbi Zahavy – Your Talmudic advice column

8 April 2017

From The Jewish Standard:

Dear Rabbi Zahavy,

I have assembled much personal material and I have written a book-length memoir about my life and my family. I now want to publish it. I approached several publishers. Because I am an unknown amateur writer, they want a hefty sum of money from me to support the publishing venture. I am not sure whether to do this or not.

Ambivalent Author in Alpine

Dear Ambivalent,

Yes, indeed, we are the people of the books. In the center of our synagogues there are no icons, but there stand our books — our Torah scrolls — up front of us.

We revere our main book. We kiss it when it passes in front of us in procession and we dance with it on a festival day. And one Judaic value that is out there, but not commonly observed, says that it is a mitzvah for every Jew to write a sefer Torah.

The larger literate world we live in respects books, and book making too. You should know that the way people make books is changing now rapidly from day to day. Technology is making the self-publishing of everything from Facebook posts, to blogs, essays, to full-length books, easier every passing week.

As Jews, and as Americans, we cherish our books. And you want to write one of your own and publish it. I get that. It is in our genes and in our culture.

You describe a vanity publication scenario. The book you want to release has substantial personal value but — prepare for the shock — no real commercial worth. Should you publish it? And if so, should you pay a press to do that for you?

. . . .

Will the publication of this book make anyone in your family or community cringe? If so, is that what you want? It might be so — but I hope that is not your intent.

Have you had a literary friend or agent review the quality of your writing? It does not have to be great literature. But you do want clean, logical, understandable copy, free of obvious mistakes and infelicities. You need to make sure that what you wrote does not sound too weird or goofy or off-the-wall (unless that is how you want it to sound).

. . . .

If your answers to these questions make you inclined to publish, then allow me to describe to you two scenarios that will enable you to forego the expensive vanity press alternative and to publish your book yourself.

If what you want to produce is an eBook, I recommend you go ahead and use the service called Amazon Kindle Direct. And if you want to publish an on-demand paperback book, I suggest that you use Amazon’s CreateSpace.

The publication cost can be zero if you do all the preparations yourself. Or they can be minimal with the affordable a la carte help available from the company.

In both cases your books will be created on demand, meaning that you will not need to rent warehouse space to store your book inventory. And in both cases you will be able to order copies of your books from Amazon, the best sales platform on Earth.

. . . .

The bottom line is if you decide to self-publish, be glad. You will not pay out large fees to a vanity publisher. You can do most of the work yourself. And at the end of the process, you will have a presentable, professional volume to look at with pride and to show off — to give as a gift and perhaps to sell (a few copies) to others with satisfaction.

So yes, go ahead with your plan to publish. When you look finally with pride and delight at your published volume, you will know without doubt that it is number one on your own “best kveller list.”

Link to the rest at The Jewish Standard

Manchester is ‘an indie author hotspot’ for Amazon

6 April 2017

From The Bookseller:

Amazon has revealed statistics from its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) programme claiming Manchester as “an indie publishing hotspot”.

The northern city is home to more independently published authors per capita than any other town or city in the UK, based on Amazon’s ranking of the highest concentrations of self-published authors using its Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform. ​The data reflects the number of KDP authors in “top 50” towns – in terms of population – divided by population.

Manchester is the only place in the North West to feature in KDP’s “top 10 publishing hotspots in the UK”. After that, York was the second highest, followed by Nottingham; Bristol; Southampton; Plymouth; Milton Keynes; Northampton; Portsmouth; and Edinburgh.

Link to the rest at The Bookseller

Tate Publishing loses second major case

2 April 2017

From NewsOK:

A vendor that supplied printing services to vanity publisher Tate Publishing & Enterprises was awarded a summary judgment on March 31 that could cost Tate more than $2 million.

Xerox Corp. was granted the award after Tate failed to respond to the motion.

The judgment authorizes Xerox to collect $1,446,070.67 from Tate Publishing & Enterprises, and $450,308.18 from Ryan Tate, the company’s CEO.

. . . .

The vanity press, whose attorneys bowed out of the case early this year after telling a judge they hadn’t been paid, did not send a representative to attend the hearing.

A text sent to the CEO’s phone Friday asking for comment was not answered.

The March 31 decision is the second major setback Tate Publishing has encountered since it lost its attorneys.

On Feb. 9, an Oklahoma City federal judge considering a lawsuit filed against Tate by a Tennessee-based printing services firm also awarded a default judgment worth more than $2 million.

. . . .

Writers and musicians who were under contract with Tate as late as in 2016 continue to share stories about money they paid to Tate Publishing to produce their works.

One writer, Heather D. Nelson, is publishing a series of stories she has written that are based on interviews she has done with other Tate clients. She is publishing those stories on her site,

Nelson said March 31 she understands some authors who have agreed to sign a hold-harmless release against Tate Publishing and have sent the firm $50, have been getting their manuscripts returned.

But Nelson said numerous others are seeking a return of their works without signing the release, and that she has visited with dozens of authors about their experiences with the firm.

Link to the rest at NewsOK and thanks to Meryl and others for the tip.

One of PG’s standard aphorisms when speaking to his clients about business deals is, “Don’t do business with crooks.”

No matter how carefully-crafted the contract may be, it won’t work when the counterparty is a crook.

Perhaps there is a vanity press somewhere that isn’t a crook, but PG doesn’t know who that would be.

Amazon Author Insights

24 March 2017

PG says you need to check out Amazon Author Insights if you haven’t done so already.

From Elizabeth Spann Craig via  Amazon Author Insights:

I used to feel like the sole, income-focused writer in any group I was in. I was the one on any panel hesitantly bringing up ways that writers could make money with their writing.

I’ve noticed now that there are more writers like me out there and I’m more relaxed about being a commercial fiction writer.

I’ve been asked by parents, college students, and high school students about what degree is needed for becoming a writer.

But that’s one of the wonderful things about being a writer. You don’t have to have a degree in anything.  I was an English major, but that’s as far as I went with it.  When asked for my advice, I ask what type of writing they’re wanting to do and what their end-goal/their child’s end-goal is.  If the goal is “a career in writing,” then I’ll go as far as to suggest that they don’t go the MFA (Master in Fine Arts) route. They should instead read as much and as widely as they can and start writing.

. . . .

Writers at the start of their careers should ask themselves: am I writing to please myself or am I writing to appeal to a broader market? My kids are older and if I didn’t make a living at this, I’d be getting a day-job.  Writing is my full-time job.  I’m not making a ton, but I’m making more than if I taught school and more than I’d make at any other job; I’ve been out of the traditional workforce since my first child was born in 1997.

. . . .

It’s better, in the current environment, to self-pub instead of trad-pub (most of the time).  I experienced first-hand cutbacks that publishers are employing to save costs.  When I started out, 3-book deals were the norm at Penguin.  That unfortunately changed.  The merger between Penguin and Random House meant a layoff for my editor. Now there are many stories about how difficult it is getting to break into the industry and the market. It’s obviously still possible to do so…but at what cost?  I made and make a good deal more from my self-published books than my traditionally published books.

. . . .

Write series.  Series are currently more popular with readers.  I’m wondering if it’s because readers, once they’ve spent the time investing in the story world and characters, want to read more in that same story world.  Lucky for us–because series are easier and quicker to write for the same reasons: the story world is established, as well as the story’s recurring characters (descriptions, traits).  Most of the work is already done.

Link to the rest at Amazon Author Insights

The New Crave in Publishing

20 March 2017

From The West Georgian:

Every writer’s dream of signing a publishing contract is becoming harder to make reality. Unless you are already a best selling author or celebrity, publishing companies have become harder to please. Self-Publishing has become the saving grace for writers who do not have the means to be represented by professional companies.

“Self-publishing has become very easy and affordable,” said Lisa Adams, Book Publishing professor for Continuing Education. “The amount of editors that are looking for books in the traditional world has shrunk. It was always really hard to get a book published and now it is exponentially hard.”

Companies like Amazon, Lulu, Infinity Publishing and more, make self-publishing possible. All the author has to do is write a story, decide whether they want it to be Print On Demand (POD), an E-book or both. Once they decided they upload their manuscript, choose their cover, font, price and voilà. Their story is available for sale online.

. . . .

A self-published author has the joy of dodging the long wait time and process that is inevitable when publishing traditionally. The process of getting a book published traditionally can be stressful with all of the people the book goes through and the process of making the book meet the standards of the company. Self-publishing gives the author control over their creation. “Compared to the traditional process, as an author you have control over your project,” said Adams. “You decided the title, cover etcetera. In traditional publishing, the publisher decides everything and has the right to change anything they want to.”

Link to the rest at The West Georgian

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