Dear Friends

8 October 2015

From Libba Bray:

Dear Friends,
I’m thrilled to announce that today is the pub day for my sixth novel, WE ARE ALL STRANGERS HERE—a story about a dysfunctional southern family, addiction, pedophilia, cannibalism, and the last days of New Wave, interwoven with the lucid dreaming of Manuel, a Sandinista rebel facing execution in 1986. It’s difficult for me to be “sales-y,” but I’m immensely proud of the work, which took me five years to write, and I hope you’ll consider ordering a copy. Thanks so much.
:-) Emily

Dear Friends,
My publicist, Shana, tells me I should “take a more proactive role” in promoting the book. So, you can now follow me on Twitter @TheNovelNovelist. On Facebook: WeRAllStrange. Tumblr: Write2Live. Instagram: StrangerBook. (Warning: Lots of pictures of our cat dressed as Ian McKellen.) Working on getting a YouTube channel, which…anybody know anything about how to shoot, edit, and score videos? Call me! Also blogging for Huffpo, making lists for Buzzfeed, moderating at Reddit, GIF-ing at Giphy, and helming a new podcast, The Novel Life. Whew! Not sure when I’ll write the next book, but every little bit helps, they say.
Fingers crossed,

Dear Friends,
For those who were confused, yes, WE ARE ALL STRANGERS HERE is under my pseudonym, T. J. Barrow. My publisher thought a fresh start with a gender-neutral name was the way to get my underwhelming sales record back on track. Don’t want to have to resort to self-publishing. LOL!

. . . .

Dear Friends,
Thanks to my new publicist, Tara (Shana left for a “quieter life” as a Navy Seal), I’ve got my first bookstore reading! This Saturday, 2:00 PM, I’ll be on a panel with local horticulturist, Sven Svensson (WHAT DO THE FLOWERS FEEL?), and former porn-set fluffier, Jeremy “Feather Touch” Dorado (STAYING UP). We’ll be reading and signing in the back of the store behind the story-time circle. Just follow the sound of the folk guitar and recorder. Trigger warning: clowns.
It’s Go-Time,

. . . .

Dear Friends,
I’ll be doing a LiveStream Q & A this Monday morning at 10:00 a.m. I know it’s right smack in the middle of the workday, but it’s still great exposure according to my new, new publicist, Lana. (Tara had a breakdown? Something about lying in the fetal position under her desk surrounded by a stash of office Keurig cups.) Anyway, if you want to watch my Q&A later, just look under BARROW, T.J., and scroll through the first two hundred-forty videos till you get to mine. Hint: I am not the program about T.J. Barrow, the serial killer.
Comin’ at ya live,

. . . .


Dear Friends,
News flash! I just found out I’ve got a corporate sponsorship opportunity? Colon Cleanse, Inc. is going to feature my book in their fall newsletter, which has a circulation of more than 10,000 dedicated readers. In exchange, I’ve agreed to let Colon Cleanse, Inc. simulcast my first colonoscopy in order to increase colon health awareness. Like my newest publicist, Mara, says: This is such a tremendous opportunity to remove a stigma and do some good for the world. It’s humbling to think that my little book could possibly save lives. #Grateful
Bottoms up,

. . . .

Dear Friends,
Don’t know if you saw the announcement in Variety, but serial killer T.J. Barrow just got a seven-figure, three-book deal, so I’m going to have to retire my nom de plume, which is fine, as the TV deal is off, my publisher has dropped the option for my next novel, and my agent ran off with my last publicist. Currently number eight on the wait list for a barista position at my local Starbucks. Out of Oxy.
Questioning all my life choices,

Link to the rest at Libba Bray and thanks to Diane for the tip.

Amazon Prime May Get TV Channels

8 October 2015

From Tom’s Guide:

Amazon Prime Instant Video can already connect you with a lot of network and broadcast TV favorites, but it may no longer be content to offer that kind of eclectic selection. One report suggests that Amazon may be preparing to offer full channels via its streaming service, and its first target might be CBS.

Financial news site The Street claims that three media executives from Amazon are working in conjunction with its video team to offer whole online channels rather than just individual shows. Whether this means Amazon will offer live TV or just a complete selection of streaming shows (and news) is anyone’s guess.

. . . .

Online channels for streaming services are hardly unprecedented: Sling TV and PlayStation Vue are both predicated upon that very principle. But Amazon Prime is a much cheaper service, and adding traditional channels could change how streaming services acquire and broadcast new programs. For now, though, it’s only a rumor, albeit an intriguing one.

Link to the rest at Tom’s Guide

Bonnier is Working on its Own eBook Subscription Service

8 October 2015

From The Digital Reader:

With Oyster walking away and Scribd scaling back, it would be easy to assume that the future of streaming ebook services is Kindle Unlimited, but Bonnier would disagree.

This publishing conglomerate has just started developing a subscription ebook and audiobook service in its native Sweden.

Bookbeat is not yet open to the public and is in fact still recruiting staff, so there’s not much to say at this time, but I can report that the website is describing it as a flat rate service like Scribd or KU which will let users read as much as they want. The site is promising audiobooks and ebooks, including both backlist and the latest titles.

. . . .

When it does go live, Bookbeat will be competing with Bookmate (out of Russia), Mofibo (out of Denmark), and Fabula (out of Latvia). Two of the three already offer service in Sweden. That would give them the advantage – if not for the fact that Bonnier is backing Bookbeat as a “strategic investment”.

This is one of the major publishers in Sweden, and it will be making its titles available to Bookbeat. That will give the service an advantage.

Link to the rest at The Digital Reader and thanks to Jan for the tip.

Amazon Is Absolutely Eviscerating Other Retailers Online

7 October 2015

From re/code:

How dominant is Amazon becoming in online retail? More than four in 10 people turn to Amazon first when searching for products online, according to a survey commissioned by the e-commerce software startup BloomReach.

In a survey of 2,000 online shoppers in the U.S., 44 percent of respondents said they go directly to Amazon when looking to buy or research a product online. Thirty-four percent use search engines like Google as first stops for product searches. And just 21 percent start an online shopping trip by searching on another retailer’s website, according to the survey.

For comparison’s sake, a 2012 Forrester Research study found that at that time, 30 percent of U.S. online shoppers started on Amazon and 13 percent started on search engines.

. . . .

The new results highlight Amazon’s increased success in making its name synonymous with online shopping in the U.S and distancing itself from brick-and-mortar retailers.

. . . .

The survey also underscores Amazon’s competitive threat not only to traditional retailers, but to Google, too. Product searches are some of the most lucrative for Google, because of the ads they sell alongside normal search results.

Link to the rest at re/code

It has made me better loving you

7 October 2015

It has made me better loving you … it has made me wiser, and easier, and brighter. I used to want a great many things before, and to be angry that I did not have them. Theoretically, I was satisfied. I flattered myself that I had limited my wants. But I was subject to irritation; I used to have morbid sterile hateful fits of hunger, of desire. Now I really am satisfied, because I can’t think of anything better.

The Portrait of a Lady

Too many books? What ‘Super Thursday’ tells us about publishing

7 October 2015

From The Telegraph:

In his new book Power of Reading, the sociologist Frank Furedi talks about “the Gutenberg Parenthesis”. This is the idea that the age of the book was, in fact, a 500-year blip; that, thanks to the internet, we’re moving from a written culture back towards an oral one.

It’s the academic version of an argument you often hear. No one buys books. No one reads books – in print, anyway. No one makes books – at least, not the good kind, the kind they used to make before publishing became commercial and commoditised.

But is any of that actually true? I came across the Gutenberg idea because I decided to engage in an experiment: to take the temperature of the book market by looking at every single book published on a particular day. And not just any day, but this coming Thursday, October 8. This is “Super Thursday”, the busiest and most important date in the publishing calendar, when the big firms and big names launch their assault on the Christmas market, accompanied by a three-day promotional blitz under the banner “Books Are My Bag”.

. . . .

And if you look at the data, what do you find? For starters, you find the book market in rather better shape than most people expected. The number of books is up – The Bookseller’s Tom Tivnan estimates that there are 20 per cent more top-tier titles than last year. And so are publishers’ profits: after years of fretting about the impact of the internet, sales of print books have risen this year for the first time since 2007. Partly, says Tivnan, this is because of the resurgence of Waterstones, but it’s also because publishers have become savvier about what works online, and what reads best in print.

. . . .

A-list celebrities, says Tivnan, “bring in revenue, but they’re a gamble – if you pay high six figures or even low seven figures, you have to sell a lot of books to earn that back”. Over the past couple of years, there were as many misses as hits, including such seemingly safe bets as Stephen Fry and John Cleese.

The celebrity market now is smaller and safer: lower advances, less risk.

. . . .

In fact, the picture that emerges from the full list is not one of commercial conformity, but bewildering variety. Of the adult titles published on Super Thursday, roughly 50 are academic, from critical portraits of Kierkegaard to a study of Adolf Hitler’s domestic interiors. Another 50 are educational or vocational. That leaves just over 200 “general” books for adults, of which fewer than a 10th are memoirs of any kind.

Yes, there are 11 books categorised as “humour”, and 10 books about football (Liverpool are top of the table, which isn’t a sentence you often hear, but Tivnan explains that they and Manchester United are the only guaranteed sellers). But taking a random set of titles yields a smorgasbord of topics: “Dogs as pets”, “Human geography”, “Dictionaries; crosswords”, “Poetry anthologies (various poets)”, “Historical maps and atlases”, “Formula One and Grand Prix”.

There is something else that leaps out from the list. These are not, in fact, books for the nation – they are books for its dads and grandads. There’s no chick-lit, for example, and the handful of novels tend to surge with testosterone: Martina Cole on crime, Harris on Rome, Bernard Cornwell on the Vikings, Melvyn Bragg rewriting the Peasants’ Revolt as a saga of blood, sex and pox.

. . . .

There’s a parallel here with television. For years, people fretted that online competition and shorter attention spans would see TV become a cultural wasteland. Instead, the big worry now is that we have reached “Peak TV”, with just too much good stuff competing for our attention. The same is true of publishing.

Yes, in the era of “Peak Book”, some worthy titles that hope to make a splash will struggle to muster a ripple.

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

Self-publishing is where many of our members–people with long traditional-publishing histories–are focused these days

7 October 2015

The post on the NINC conference yesterday generated a lot of good comments, including the following from Laura Resnick:

I think Friedman has done an excellent summary of various sessions some of the overall take-aways from this year’s conference (I was there).

As she notes in her piece, it’s a conference unlike any other. Whether traditional or indie, the focus of the organization has always been on experienced mid-career novelists, rather than for new or aspring writers (which most other conferences and organizations are geared to assist and educate (or fleece)).

The conference is heavily focused on the indie market these days (and this year’s theme was the international market for indies) for several reasons–

Self-publishing is where many of our members–people with long traditional-publishing histories–are focused these days. (One of my Nink columns last year was about how many writers, including bestsellers, are leaving traditional publishing to go indie full-time.)

Self-publishing is also the area we don’t know enough about, partly because it keeps evolving so rapidly (so there is always so much more to learn and probably will be for quite some time), and partly because this form of publishing is the one we have NOT already been doing for 10-20-30-40 years, whereas most of us have long traditional careers and have frankly don’t get that much out of hearing publishers, editors, and agents speak at conferences, since most of them are still staying the same things we’ve already heard them say dozens (or hudnreds) of times–because we’ve been around since cuneiform was the hot new thing.

And even for members like me, whose career is still probably about 90% traditional, being indie savvy is crucial, because for most career novelists, self-publishing is and/or will be a major aspect of one’s career from here forward. For most writers, controlling one’s own backlist makes the most fiscal and professional sense. Many of us may well be on our last-ever traditional publishers. (My hand goes up. I am very happy at DAW Books and hope to keep working with them for many years, but since every experience I had with other publishing houses for 20 years was somewhere between bad and truly nightmarish, I may well indie publish anything I don’t license to DAW, rather than ever deal with another publisher again. This is business, not ideology, so I make no fervent vows about it; but I’ve had so many bad experiences with so many publishers, I do have trouble defining what would make me want to trust another with my work ever again.)

Meanwhile, speaking of indie-friendly Ninc, I was chatting with the 2016 Nink editor, who was just appointed (and as a columnist, I wanted to make sure I’ve still got a job there, since editors can change format, fire columnists, hire new ones, etc.), and she mentioned that she’s never submitted to a publisher. Her career as a novelist has been indie all the way.

. . . .

Some highlights of the week for me were the workshop presented by Gareth Cuddy from Vearsa, which focused on very specific tips, tools, and techniques for indie writers to think like and run their writing businesses like competitive start-up companies. (The fact that Cuddy is a cute Irishman with a charming accent had NOTHING to do with my paying rapt attention to him.) Draft2Digital (who have a lot of clients among Ninc members) also gave a couple of excellent workshops–and they were lots of fun at the bar, too. There was a very detailed session on using Booktrakr, presented by its creator, which I liked, since I have trouble learning software. Trajectory was really interesting, though they made my head hurt (lots of graphs and numbers). Germany’s Matthias Matting got a lot of members very enthused with his detaiked, step by step discussion of breaking into the German language market as an indie (excellent session, though it mostly convinced me that this process is not for me, and may never be). BookBub’s session was excellent–and so crowded that I could barely find a scrap of floor to sit on (the chairs were full before I got there). Courtney Milan’s session was excellent, too, though I missed a lot of it; she talked about how to figure out which of your marketing efforts are working. Amazon had a big presence, as they usually do at Ninc; I only attended one of their sessions, but I got a lot out of it (possibly, though, because I’m still pretty far behind the curve in indie; it may have been remedial for someone more advanced than I am).

Everyone who was there will have different take-aways, since there was multi-track programming most of the time, so we all attended different things.

My least favorite session was the Authors’ Guild presentation. Nothing in their presentation about contracts, rights, and reversion was inaccurate, but their information and advice seemed like it came from the 20th century and was mostly aimed at aspiring writers and newcomers, rather than at experienced career novelists making a living in the 21st century.

My FAVORITE presentation, though it’s not relevant to professional self-education, was Eileen Dreyer and Sally Hawkes session on their summer trip to Belgium for the reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo. Their presentation was simulanteously hilarious, fascinating, and moving. If you look up their blogs, I think you can find their blog accounts of that trip.

Stephenie Meyer Swaps Genders in New ‘Twilight’

7 October 2015

From The Wall Street Journal:

Twi-hards, settle into your reading chairs and brace yourselves for the news: there’s a new book out.

In honor of “Twilight”’s 10th Anniversary, author Stephenie Meyer appeared on “Good Morning America” today to announce a new addition to the vampire romance canon, which has sold over 150 million copies worldwide. Behold “Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined,” a, well, reimagining of the same story updated with a female vampire and human teenage love interest. Clocking in at 442 pages, the novel challenges the common interpretation of Bella Swan as a “damsel in distress,” Meyer said. “That’s always bothered me a little bit… I thought, what if we switched it around a little bit and see how a boy does?” Answer? “It’s about the same.”

Readers, bid Bella Swan and all her lovelorn neuroticism adieu, and meet Beaufort (“Beau”) Swan, a warm-blooded teen with less of a “chip on his shoulder.”

Link to the rest at The Wall Street Journal (Link may expire)
Twilight Tenth Anniversary/Life and Death was #1 in all books when PG put up this post.

Ebooks change the game for both backlist and export

7 October 2015

From veteran publishing consultant Mike Shatzkin:

There are two aspects of the business that ebooks should really change.

One is that ebooks can really enable increases in sales of the backlist.

The other is that ebooks will really enable sales outside the publisher’s home territory.

The second piece of this hardly even requires much effort. At a conference called Camp Coresource hosted by Ingram two weeks ago, Mary Cummings of Diversion Books, which last year launched a romance-only eBookstore app,EverAfter Romance, reported just short of half of EverAfter’s app users are coming from outside the “home” (US) market. Of that 49 percent, only about 6 percent come from the UK and Canada. Of course, Diversion owns world rights on many titles. And the rest of the world has far more than half the people, even far more than half the English speakers, in the world. So the US is still responsible for far more users per capita, but that’s really of secondary importance. Getting half one’s customers from markets that would have been very hard to reach ten years ago — without any extraordinary efforts — is a very new thing.

This global reality comes up in another frequent current discussion. The big publishers are suggesting that ebook sales have plateaued, perhaps even declined. Amazon says “not true”, that ebook sales are still rising. Some analysis, such as what is done by Data Guy for Author Earnings, says that the publishers’ big books are losing ebook share to the indies, primarily relying on data scraped from Amazon to make the case. The most commonly-offered explanations are that publishers’ success forcing higher ebook prices for their titles, combined with a decline in new converts to ebooks (who are inclined to “load up” their devices when they first start reading digitally) account for the apparent trend.

. . . .

The point to capture is that just having ebooks for sale around the globe can bring markets to a customer’s door, wherever the book originated. Any rights management policy that prevents an ebook from being on sale anywhere is likely to be costing some sales.

The backlist challenge is trickier and the results might not be as obvious. Two of the biggest drivers of ebook sales are discovery in response to search and the amplified effect of existing sales momentum in bestseller lists and retailer recommendations. (“People who bought this, bought that.”) A power law distribution seems inherent in ebook sales. Those that sell develop sales momentum; those that don’t remain hidden and buried.

But a lot of that has to do with metadata. Publishers have been getting better and better at writing the descriptive copy that determines whether search engines identity them as an “answer” to the right queries. That means that as you go back in time, the copy is less and less likely to be useful for the purpose.

And there are some realities about budgets and effort allocation in big companies to take into account. The lion’s share, and that means more than 90 percent, of budgets and internal effort allocations for marketing go to the current frontlist. The backlist has many times the number of titles as the frontlist, so a much smaller amount of money and assignable labor is spread over a far larger number of titles. On a per-title basis, there have hardly been any resources available for backlist.

. . . .

And, on top of that, publishers often count on backlist sales to be the most profitable precisely because they don’t have to allocate marketing spending or staff time to those books. There sometimes seems to be a fear operating at publishing houses that starting to expend marketing effort on backlist is opening a Pandora’s Box which would compromise the most profitable aspect of their business.

Link to the rest at The Shatzkin Files

Is it now the time for something completely different?

7 October 2015

From Futurebook:

This morning, The Bookseller reported that Waterstones was taking Kindle devices off most of its shelves due to “pitiful” sales.

No great surprise here: the chain’s managing director James Daunt said after Christmas 2014 that device sales, once strong, had tapered off, a reflection of a digital market that has moved beyond its adoption-period.

Daunt has never made any secret that under him Waterstones’ job was to deliver what its customers want: at the time of the Kindle deal in 2012 Daunt said that a number were choosing to read digitally, and Waterstones needed to be in that game [the video of Daunt announcing the Kindle deal is still available via YouTube].

Yet he also maintained that there was room for both types of reading: that the Kindle would not entirely displace the need and desire to read physical texts.

. . . .

Should we take Waterstones’ move to de-stock Amazon’s Kindle as another signal that the era of the dedicated e-reader is over? Or simply that Waterstones, like Barnes & Noble, wasn’t a good seller of tech? In other words, is it Waterstones, or the Kindle that we should be worried about?

In response to the second question, Amazon says no. The company said it was “pleased with the positive momentum and growing distribution of Kindle and Fire tablet sales” and added that kindle book sales in the UK were also growing. Amazon said: “Our devices are now available in over 2,500 retail locations across the UK, including Argos, Tesco, Dixons, John Lewis and recent additions like Sainsbury’s, Boots and Shop Direct. Our UK, US and worldwide Kindle book sales are growing in 2015.”

It made a similar point to the Wall Street Journal a couple of months ago. Kobo and Nook, both of which continue to launch new devices, would doubtless agree. When Kobo first arrived on the scene, its founder Michael Serbinis said he expected this to be a 25 year transition. We are one-fifth of the way through.

. . . .

Waterstones wasn’t the best tech-retailer in the business. It’s m.d. didn’t believe in the product, its booksellers only sold them through gritted teeth, and its offer was confused. Yes, you could buy a Kindle, but no you could not buy content for it through Waterstones. At the time of the deal, Waterstones promised a Waterstones specific home-page for Kindle users, but if it was ever implemented I never saw it. Waterstones simply never bridged the gap between the sale of the device and the sale of the content. Instead the chain still sells ePub e-books from its website, pointing out that they can be loaded on to all devices “except for Kindle”.

Link to the rest at Futurebook

« Previous PageNext Page »

WordPress Search Engine Optimization Powered