The Business of Writing

Bread and Cupcakes

13 April 2018

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

I’m allergic to dairy. It’s one of the many allergies that sent me to Vegas. In Lincoln City, restaurants didn’t understand that no dairy meant no butter, no milk products, no cheese. The restaurants would often scrap off the offending item if they accidentally mixed it into my food, not caring about cross-contamination. Between that and my perfume allergy, I was no longer able to eat in any restaurant in the city by December.

So Vegas has been wonderful. When I say “allergy,” a restaurant here snaps to. They get it, because the competition for customers is so severe that everyone lives and dies by their Yelp reviews. One allergy screw-up and a restaurant is out of business. It’s been absolute heaven for me—except for bread.

I can’t find good dairy-free bread anywhere. I find some in grocery stores, but that bread is…mediocre at best.

So today, I was at my new haunt, the vegan bakery that supplies vegan desserts to half the restaurants in the city, and has fueled my sweet tooth since I moved here. I asked the owner if they made bread. They did not, although, she told me, every restaurant they do business with will buy dairy-free and gluten-free breads if they would provide it.

“You should!” I said with great enthusiasm.

“Oh, we can’t,” she said, looking tired. “We’re already doing too much as it is. We simply can’t take on any more.”

I get it. I really do.

Her bakery is so good that her clients want more. Not just more of what she already makes but more items. There’s a market, and they know she would fulfill that market with integrity, and it would add to the restaurants’ bottom line.

But she can’t.

Because they’re moderating growth.

It’s sensible. It really is. If you’re good at what you do, you will end up with more work than you can do.

When Dean and I started Pulphouse Publishing a hundred years ago, and people asked us for more of this and more of that, we worked hard to supply it. We hired more people, rearranged the business half a dozen times, and grew and grew and grew.

The problem with that was that the money didn’t grow and grow and grow with it. Accounts receivable grew, because our clients had 90 days to pay us, and often took 120 before we got too pissy.

The fact that the money didn’t arrive for nearly four months meant we were always running behind. It was a treadmill at top speed. It felt like we were going somewhere, but if we stopped moving, we would careen backwards and hit the wall.

. . . .

Writers get into this same situation. I’m in it right now. I’m getting settled from the move. I can finally see what life here in Vegas will be like. I know how Lincoln City will continue to factor in, and I know where I’ll be when. It no longer feels chaotic.

I’m still organizing my writing, revisiting deadlines and figuring out what I can do with my entire research library in boxes. And as I’ve been doing this, and I’m realizing just how much better I’m feeling, which is bringing hours back into the day, projects have reared their abandoned heads and asked, What about me? You haven’t thought of me for years.

I’m interested. I really am. I want to revive the old projects, do the work that fans are writing me and asking for, get a few projects done before any film/TV starts shooting (three possible at the moment), and explore some new ideas that have come up in the last year.

. . . .

A very real factor is time. There’s the time it will take me to write something, the time it will take me to rebuild my knowledge of a world I haven’t written in for a while, the time it’ll take to research something I want to write about.

But the bigger factor is the treadmill. I’m feeling better now. We’re having to look at the overall schedule for all of the businesses, given the changes my health has caused, so this is the perfect time to redo all of our plans.

If we’re going to add anything—if I’m going to add anything—the time is now. Just like this is the perfect time to delete something as well.

But we have to be really cautious. Because the biggest mistake we can make—as a business and I can make as a writer—is to work at the very edge of my productivity. Not the bottom edge, but the top edge, where every waking moment is spent on words or a deadline or something for the business.

. . . .

The quality won’t necessarily go down (although it might), but enjoyment will and there’s no reason to do this profession if it’s not fun.

That look on the bakery owner’s face was cautionary for me as I’m slowly returning to the land of the living. That frustration combined with the knowledge that taking the slower road, doing less and keeping the business alive, was the better choice—that look. I’ve experienced it.

But I’ve also fallen backwards off a treadmill (metaphorically and in real life), and it’s not something I want to do again.

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.

Why Newspapers Are Going Out of Business

20 March 2018

From Mises Wire:

It was announced this week that the Denver Post will soon be cutting one-third of its newsroom staff. The newsroom currently has 100 reporters, and that will soon be cut by 30 positions.

Reporters and other observers quickly began to look for whom to blame.

. . . .

This latest development comes mere weeks after the Denver Post announced it was erecting a pay wall around the site, no doubt in hopes of capturing more revenue.

At the time, one of the Post’s columnists blamed the readers themselves for the newspaper’s woes, implying that freeloaders were making it too difficult to deliver a media product and still keep the lights on. “We’re so over working for free,” the columnist concluded.

Well, now it appears that a third of the newsroom won’t be working at all since, apparently, the paywall isn’t bringing in as much revenue as hoped.

. . . .

The challenge for newspapers in this regard is no different than with any other market endeavor. In order to stay in business, firms must be able to offer consumers a product at a price that the consumer is willing to pay.

If consumers seem unwilling to pay for access to newspapers, this means the quality is perceived as being too low for the price demanded. The solution lies in either increasing the perceived quality, or reducing the price.

Recent studies have shown that many consumers — especially younger ones — are willing to pay for their news. In fact, the American Press Institute (API) concluded that “nearly 4 in 10 adults under age 35 are paying for news.” But here’s the rub: those who are still considering paying for news are price sensitive. The API’s surveys suggests consumers aren’t interested in paying more than one dollar per week (or 4-5 dollars per month) for their newspapers.  Unfortunately for the newspapers, many of them are asking for more than double that rate. The Denver Post demands 12 dollars per month to get past the paywall. That’s even more than The New York Times, which charges eight dollars per month.

. . . .

[T]here is an often-expressed sentiment among reporters, editors, and other newspaper staff that they are under-appreciated and that consumers should just be willing to pay more for access to newspapers. In other words, the belief among newspaper staff is “our quality is already fine, thank you very much. We perform an indispensable public service!” If the public is unwilling to see just how high the quality of newspaper work is, some seem to think, it just must be because the consumers are ignorant, prejudiced, or cheap.

. . . .

Now, it is arguably true that, as newspaper industry people claim, some of the reporting done by newspapers benefits society as a whole. For example, investigative journalism that exposes government corruption has benefits beyond the mere reading enjoyment of subscribers. Even people who aren’t subscribers and never read the publications in question benefit from these activities.

But only a small portion of what newspapers do even qualifies under this “public service” umbrella. Most papers devote the lion’s share of effort to coverage of sports, movies, the local bar scene, and local ribbon cuttings. At the same time, reporters with no actual experience or qualifications in public policy, economics, or business, churn out columns in the opinion pages. None of this counts as a “public service.”  Most of it is just entertainment or self-serving filler.

. . . .

[R]elying on the “public service” argument — and attempting to guilt people into paying more for newspapers — isn’t likely to pay the bills. As media scholar Clay Shirky has noted:

The newspaper people often note that newspapers benefit society as a whole. This is true, but irrelevant to the problem at hand; “You’re gonna miss us when we’re gone!” has never been much of a business model.

Link to the rest at Mises Wire

PG sees some parallels with traditional publishing.

The Smartest Ways to Use Email at Work

12 March 2018

From The Wall Street Journal:

Email has become so ingrained in our workday life that we rarely give it a second thought. Perhaps we should.

Researchers have been putting a laser focus on how we can be smarter about using email at work, and they have come up with surprising insights—from the best way to tame an overflowing inbox to the unintended consequences of punctuation choices.

In some cases, these findings completely overturn what we think we know about how to write messages. For instance, responding to email right away can be a terrible idea. And using emojis can be a great one.

. . . .

Don’t answer too quickly—or after hours

Replying to email promptly is a good thing, right? Not always. In fact, in companies whose cultures emphasize speed of response, workers are more stressed, less productive, more reactive and less likely to think strategically.

Those are some of the conclusions reached by Emma Russell, senior lecturer in occupational psychology at Kingston University in the U.K., from a recent review of academic literature.

“People think that if they respond quickly to their colleague, that’s going to support a strong social relationship, but in terms of actual well-being and productivity, there was no evidence that that kind of culture is effective,” says Dr. Russell.

. . . .

A company culture where employees are encouraged to answer emails quickly may be especially difficult for highly conscientious people. Her research on such workers showed that email notifications caused them higher stress than other people and made them unproductive in their other work, even though they often put off answering the notes.

On the other hand, one size doesn’t fit all. Her preliminary findings from a new study of extroverts suggest that when they are working on routine tasks, being interrupted by an email notification might actually be good for them—the social stimulation may help them avoid boredom and complete their tasks more effectively.

. . . .

The best times to send an email

How do you get people to pay attention to your emails amid all the competing demands on their attention? Kristina Lerman, project leader at the University of Southern California’s Information Sciences Institute, has done extensive research on cognitive overload—how our brains respond when faced with too much information.

One key finding: When faced with a screen packed with information, people tend to focus on what’s at the top. So, it follows that you want to time your email to correspond with when people are checking.

In a 2015 study in collaboration with Yahoo Labs, Dr. Lerman and her colleague Farshad Kooti analyzed a huge data set of 16 billion emails—personal and business—to look for patterns. They found that people replied more quickly early in the week, and those replies were also longer. The same applied to time of day—between 8 a.m. and noon was best. “I use these findings myself,” says Dr. Lerman. “If I want to send an important email, I don’t do it on a Friday. I wait until Monday morning, so it’s much more likely to be at the top.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

Mickey Spillane’s Work Keeps Coming, 12 Years After His Death

2 March 2018

From The Wall Street Journal:

Mickey Spillane was never adored by critics. He famously said that his own father called his work “crud.” For the mystery novelist, none of it mattered.

“I don’t have fans,” he said in a 1981 People magazine interview. “I have customers. I’m a writer. I give ’em what they wanna read.”

He died in 2006 at 88, but his work hasn’t stopped. In the past 12 years, his estate has released nearly 20 of his unpublished and previously uncompleted novels and short stories, some as graphic novels and audio plays, many of them featuring the hard-boiled private eye he created, Mike Hammer.

“Killing Town,” begun in 1946 and hailed as Spillane’s first but previously unpublished novel, is due out in April. “The Last Stand,” believed to be his final completed work, is expected next month along with another unpublished work, “A Bullet for Satisfaction,” around his 100th birthday on March 9.

This afterlife is due largely to a longtime fan and fellow novelist, Max Allan Collins. Named a 2017 Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America, Mr. Collins as a teenager pelted his favorite author with admiring (and unanswered) letters.

. . . .

“We were very different,” said Mr. Collins, 69, from his home in Muscatine, Iowa. “I’m a Democrat. He was to the right of Attila the Hun.”

A friendship nonetheless ensued, and Spillane designated Mr. Collins as his literary executor.

“Give everything to Max,” he told his wife, Jane, Mr. Collins recalled. “He’ll know what to do.”

Ever since Spillane’s death, Mr. Collins has been sorting, assessing, editing and often completing the thousands of pages that Spillane kept in plastic storage tubs at his house in Murrells Inlet, S.C.

“I’ve been doing this since 2006, and I still have a full file drawer of material,” Mr. Collins said. “He called me his wastebasket.”

. . . .

Spillane’s enduring popularity is largely a matter of simplicity, Mr. Traylor said. “It’s not very highbrow, but it’s very real. It’s very Old Testament. It’s eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal

How to Collaborate Effectively with Other Indie Authors In Your Genre

26 February 2018

From The Alliance of Independent Authors:

Shortly after releasing my first book in the fall of 2015 I had my first exposure to other indie authors. It was at the Living Dead Horror Con in Portland, Oregon and they taught me two important things:

  • There was a lot I didn’t know about when it came to selling books
  • Other authors did not have to be seen as competitors.

. . . .

I spent most of 2016 struggling to sell that first book and learning from others. I joined author groups online and started watching to see what others were doing to be successful.

One of the key things I saw that was driving results was authors working together.

There were groups for all the main genres and many sub-genres. I had success working with other horror authors and even the broader sci-fi genre, but there wasn’t one for my particular niche, zombies.

. . . .

At the end of 2016, I began reaching out to other authors writing in our sub-genre and asking them to join together.

The idea was simple, none of us can write fast enough to keep our readers occupied, so let’s not look at each other as competing for the same audience and instead let’s build a shared fan base.

We came together in a Facebook group to network, do cross-promotions, brainstorm, and work together. In short, #authorshelpingauthors. We call ourselves The Reanimated Writers.

. . . .

In 2017 our group grew to over 200 authors strong. I was shocked to learn there were that many of us writing in the zombie sub-genre, and we cover everything from dystopia, romance, humor, action, extreme horror and more underneath that umbrella. A number of authors stepped up to help me grow the group and bring ideas to fruition.

Link to the rest at The Alliance of Independent Authors

PG is once again reminded of one of the great benefits of the online communities of the Internet – groups of people with interests rare enough that they would be unlikely to encounter one another in the physical world can discover one another, cooperate and socialize online.

“The Lonely Lives” authors may have lived on an involuntary basis in earlier times need no longer be quite so lonely if authors do not wish them to be so.

During much of his early life, PG lived in rural areas and attended country schools. His classmates from grades 1-3 were Andy, Danny, Jim, Ernest plus two Sandies. From grades 4-6, his classmates were generally itinerant. He was never the only student in his grade, but was frequently in grades with two students and never recalls being in a grade with more than three.

He mentions grades because the two elementary schools he attended each had two classrooms. In the first, grades 1-4 met in a single classroom taught by one teacher (Edna Lascelles) in the basement while grades 5-8 were in another classroom taught by Mr. Lascelles upstairs. In the second elementary school he attended, grades 1-3 were in one room while grades 4-6 (taught by Betsy Smith) met in another. Betsy’s mother taught grades 1-3.

PG was extremely blessed by two excellent elementary school teachers, among the best he ever had, including college and law school.

PG mentions his early educational background, because, like many indie zombie authors, he never met anyone with interests very similar to his until he went to college. He was a gregarious little guy in elementary school and managed to get along with most of his classmates, but he has sometimes considered how his early life would have been much different if the Internet had been in existence and he could have explored friendships with a wider variety of his contemporaries.

Editorial Encroachment

24 February 2018

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

Last week, as I was searching for a friend’s book on Amazon, I made a loathsome discovery. My friend’s book, which is up for preorder, lists her name and the name of someone else on the byline.

I had never heard of that someone else. So I clicked on the preorder, and what did I see? A cover, with just my friend’s name on it.

So I glanced up at the title. Beneath it was this byline:

My Friend (Author), Annoying Person (Editor)

I went through the roof. My friend wrote that book. She hired Annoying Person to edit the book.

I looked up Annoying Person and found her terms and conditions. She sounds like a fairly knowledgeable editor. She only handles copy editing and line editing (although it sounds like she would have a pretty heavy hand). She explicitly says she does not do developmental editing.

Which means she has done exactly nothing on this book. She didn’t come up with the concept. She didn’t brainstorm the characters. She didn’t improve the plot. She didn’t imagine the setting.

All she did was tweak the words.

So why the hell is she getting credit for this book?

When I searched her name on Amazon, I found her listed on the byline of dozens of novels by many different writers—too many for this to be simple ignorance on the part of the writers themselves.

Annoying Person asks to be credited as editor on the book as part of her agreement with the writers. If they hire her, they have to list her as editor.

This is a great ploy by Annoying Person. It got me to look up her name. I’m sure it brings her a lot of business.

And it decreases the sales of every single writer whose byline she leaches onto.

Got that? Having her name as editor on that byline hurts sales of the books dramatically.

. . . .

For years, traditional publishing has needed brand names to sell its books. Because traditional publishing has to go from bestselling book to bestselling book to meet its monthly quota, traditional publishing’s beleaguered editorial departments do what they can to manufacture bestsellers.

Some of those are movie tie-ins. Others are books that are “just like” the books by a big name. Mostly, though, the manufactured books piggyback off an established name.

Right now, James Patterson is running a regular fiction factory. By my count, he will have 25 new books with his byline on them in 2018. That doesn’t count the “James Patterson Presents” line where he introduces a book.

The dual byline thing is very generous of Patterson. A couple of friends of mine have worked with him on collaborative projects. He’s hands-on (unlike some writers who’ve done this), and he teaches his collaborators a lot about writing and plotting, even if they’ve been in the business a long time.

The dual byline usually boosts the sales of the secondary writer. I was familiar with almost every writer he worked with. All of his collaborators were established writers before they signed on to work with him. But as I scrolled through the list, I found a couple of names I didn’t recognize. I looked them up as well, and discovered they were established, but they were new to me.

That system works well for the secondary writer. It also works well for the publisher, because they’re minting money. And it works well for Patterson, because as he’s said in more than one interview, he has more ideas than he can get to in his lifetime.

He’s happy with this arrangement. And he’s not the only one who does this. Clive Cussler does the same thing, and has done so for decades.

This is actually a 1990s trick that publishers used to use a lot more than they do now. Now, most writers who want to let someone play in their worlds either do it with Kindle Worlds or something similar.

. . . .

I got to see lots and lots and lots of sales figures from these joint byline books. I know young writers who were brought in to work with the established writers, and I know established writers who mentored young writers.

I also was in the thick of publishing when this Thing was important in traditional publishing. Dean and I, as Pulphouse Publishing, were in a co-publishing deal with Bantam Books, and as such, were privy to a lot of their business decisions back in the day.

To a person, everyone involved in these co-writing ventures acknowledged that books with a joint byline did not sell as well as books with the author’s single byline.

Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch and thanks to Melinda and others for the tip.

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.

Scheduling and Time Management

15 February 2018

From author Alyson McLayne via Romance University:

With January just ended, I realize I haven’t set any goals for the year. And truthfully, as busy as I am, I can’t help but wonder What’s the point? I already have goals for this year in the form of deadlines: 3 books to complete, 12 newsletters to craft, 25+ blogs to write, and the world to wow on social media—not to mention conferences to attend and edits coming out of my ears.

Maybe, like me, you’ve reached the point where you no longer sit down and write a list of New Year’s Resolutions—only to fail come December 31st. Instead, perhaps you choose an inspiring word that becomes your mantra, or theme, for the year. One year I chose the word “success”, and last year a friend of mine chose the word “courage”. This year she has a catchphrase: “Seize the moment”.

These are all good ideas. I can only imagine that if we courageously seized the moment whenever we could during 2018 it would lead to great success!

But I feel like those kinds of words and the sentiment behind them are too ephemeral for me this year. I need something with more grit, more heft, to get me through the challenges I face. Like many of you, in addition to writing, I’m also busy on the home front—I have twin five-year-olds, a puppy, aging and sick parents, and a husband who works long hours.

. . . .

Scheduling and Time Management!

I’ve been playing around with scheduling for a while now, trying to figure out what works best for me—especially as my kids started kindergarten this year and the layout of my days changed to early mornings on school days (hard when I’m a night owl) and activities or play-dates in the late-afternoon.

Some days I feel so overwhelmed with everything I have to do, I jump from task to task and end up feeling like I’ve accomplished nothing—a downward spiral that leads to missed deadlines and burnout. When I work in a scattered fashion like this, I waste time shuttling between tasks and lose track of what I’m doing. Then it takes time and energy to get my brain re-focused on my original task.

And when I do try to concentrate on one project—writing my book, for example—my brain keeps expecting (and wanting) to click away to Goodreads or Facebook or Gmail or Mailerlite—the pathways it knows.

My ability to concentrate has been diminished by multi-tasking!

. . . .

[H]ow can I take the success from my last retreat and repeat it in smaller doses during my day to day writing schedule—even with edits, newsletters, blogs, social media requirements, kids, a dog, and a household to run?

First, let’s think about what I actually did before and during my retreat:

  1. I PLANNED the retreat ahead of time.
  2. I COMMITTED to the retreat.
  3. I DECIDED what I was going to work on before I arrived.
  4. I ELIMINATED distractions.
  5. I FOCUSED on only one project during the retreat (HIGHLAND BETRAYAL).
  6. I had an EXPECTATION that I would write a LOT.

. . . .

Here’s the best tip I can give you to stop losing hours to social media and other places on the web: download a program from the internet called Freedom and install it on your computer, tablet and/or phone. Freedom is a software program that allows you to block internet access in varying degrees—so you can cut yourself off entirely, or just cut yourself off from social media. I have several different settings, the one I use for writing cuts me off from everything but dictionary.com.

Freedom also allows me to schedule a start and stop time, so I can sync it up with my writing schedule. If I want to browse social media, but I don’t want to be at it for longer than half and hour, I can set Freedom to start after just 30 minutes. The program will cut you off automatically, so you don’t lose two hours looking at cute puppies and kittens.

Here are some other ways I eliminate distractions:

  1. I commit to my work time, which means no household chores, phone calls, texting/messaging with friends or playing with the dog. I let people know I’ll be incommunicado for that time, walk the dog beforehand, take lunch/tea/water with me into my office, and go to the bathroom before sitting down, etc.
  2. I leave my phone out of reach and turn off the sound. This is extremely important as I have access to social media, google, messaging, texting, and email on my phone. It has the potential to screw up an entire time-block.
  3. I set up Freedom ahead of time, so I don’t have internet access first thing in the morning or during work hours. If I go on social media, I set up Freedom to start after a certain amount of time.
  4. If you’re working in Word, set your document to Focus View (bottom left corner of your manuscript). That gives you a black border around your document, so you can’t see all the files on your desktop waiting for your attention.
  5. Try working at the library/coffee shop during the day if it’s too distracting at home.
  6. Engage sensory deprivation. For me that means wearing earplugs. (Did I mention I have kids?). Someone else might block noise by listening to their favorite music. Or you may be one of those people who can’t work without the TV on. Whatever the case may be, don’t forget to set it up before hand.

Link to the rest at Romance University

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

Confidential Business Information

11 February 2018

From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:

When the big indie publishing movement started almost a decade ago, we were all startled by it. From the ease of publishing ebooks directly to readers to the way that fortunes could be made, seemingly overnight, it all felt too good to be true.

And that created a culture of Prove It To Me. Part art of that culture was absolutely necessary. Most people did not believe that self-publishing could make them money. Those who did had either done it before, or had such wild success that they were as startled as the rest of us.

Joe Konrath and others started posting their indie sales numbers pretty early on.  I’m linking randomly to Joe’s blog posts from 2010, just because I remember him being so open about the numbers.

I also liked the tone of his blogs—surprise that the numbers were working out the way that they were; pleased that the numbers were working out the way that they were; and a small bit of worry that the numbers might not continue working out that way.

I’m assuming that they have for Joe, although I don’t know. He stopped reporting his sales numbers a long time ago. But he’s still going at it, still publishing his books, still analyzing what’s going on (mostly in his own career), and occasionally—very occasionally—blogging for writers.

In those days, most self-published writers posted their numbers, sometimes from all the sources (all two or three of them), and usually did so monthly. It was part of what became the indie community—this openness about how well you were doing, mixed with isn’t this great? and a lot of cheerleading (If I can do it, you can too.)

The cheerleading is mostly gone. Now it’s more business focused, and many of the people who are posting their numbers are trying to sell their method for garnering those sales.

. . . .

There’s nothing sinister about keeping information private. (Although there can be, at times.) Most businesses just prefer to work that way. They want to control the reveal of information.

I’ve often been in conflict with that reveal, because I’ve been a reporter off and on throughout my life. There are rules and ethics behind how reputable reporters get information, many of those adjudicated in courts of law.

In doing this blog, I often know much more information than I can comfortably (or legally) reveal to you folks. It’s part of the business.

So let’s come back to publishing.

. . . .

The latest Author Earnings report came out on January 22, after nearly a year of silence.  Data Guy has been capturing information what he says are the million top selling titles every single day, and then using his algorithm to turn that information into actual sales numbers. He’s tweaking Amazon’s algorithms so that they work for him.

Data Guy has done this, keeping his name and identity private, for four years now. He has done a lot of work to gather this information. He says he only uses information that’s publically available…to someone with his skills. Then he uses his own secret sauce to scrape and interpret the data.

I’ve always had a slightly queasy reaction to Data Guy’s methodology, because I can’t verify it. At worst, I figured, he was a white hat hacker. At best, he was right about how he got the information. Early on, I was usually one of the last people to report his findings, expecting Amazon to shut him down.

After years, and his appearance at various conferences, I figured Amazon knew about him. If they didn’t like what he was doing, or saw it as a threat to their private algorithms, they would shut him down. Apparently, in this early stage, anyway, they saw him as another data capture service.

They might also have had no qualms about what he was doing because he was not making money from it.

Anyway, this report’s findings are a nice confirmation of what we’ve all been saying—that the market has matured, and ebooks continue to grow. That would have made a nice two-day story, something that would have helped the publishing community along.

But hand-in-glove with the new report was the announcement that Data Guy has started a new company. It was only a matter of time before Data Guy did this. Either he would quit offering the information for free and go on to doing other things, or he would monetize his work. (I had thought, early on, that Hugh Howey paid him. I’m not sure what their arrangement is.)

In response to a question I asked on the site, Data Guy said the cost of providing this information has become so extreme he either had to monetize it or quit. That makes sense to me.

The method he chose to monetize this product, however, angered a ton of indie writers. The anger is only growing as I write this on January 26.

. . . .

This is not what Data Guy promised indie writers when he started setting up this company. First, he spoke at the annual conferences for Romance Writers of America and Novelists, Inc, promising writers that if they shared their personal data with him, he would then create an algorithm that would allow them (for a fee) to see their own numbers as scraped by his algorithm.

A lot of writers—many big names—shared their data with him, so he could tweak his product. When he announced the new business, however, it was clear that his business model revealed all of this information…to companies that have revenues of ten million or more. I did a piece just a few weeks ago on traditional publishers. Ten million is the minimum threshold for what I was calling “small traditional publishers” —if you look at publically available financial data on those companies.

How Data Guy will be able to verify this information is beyond me. I now consider him untrustworthy when it comes to handling information. He gathered information from writers under false pretenses, and is now giving it to their competitors. (I write this on January 26, so this may have changed.)

The writers themselves cannot access their own personal information, to even see if it’s accurate. (I can guarantee that it does not check a writer’s complete sales or income. Writers earn from many, many more sources than Amazon, even online.)

. . . .

When the free report came out, there was a list of the top-selling indie writers—by name—with the promise that some big corporation could get their sales numbers if the big corporation paid for it. Just the list of the top 50 indie writers had some big reveals that the writers themselves did not want public.

To make matters worse, none of those writers gave him permission to use their names. I suspect (although I do not know) that some of those writers gave him information to help him tweak his algorithm, thinking they would be getting personal data from him, not data on other companies. He betrayed them.

Writer after writer wrote to him, demanding their names be removed from that 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.

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