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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Self-published E-book Authors Earning a Living

We've all heard about the 'superstars' (known as 'outliers' in the publishing industry) in the new and ever evolving self-publishing world (those with sales in the hundreds of thousands for a single month) ... you know, Amanda Hocking, Joe Konrath, John Locke, etc.

BUT, there are quite a number of self-publishers that are making a living selling anywhere from 800 to 20,000 e-books per month.

Details discussed in Publishing Perspectives by Robin Sullivan:

The New Midlist: Self-published E-book Authors Who Earn a Living

There have been many articles about self-published superstars like Amanda Hocking, Joe Konrath, and John Locke. While these success stories are noteworthy, we should look at them for what they are — outliers in the self-publishing world just as Stephen King and Stephenie Meyer are outliers in the big-six publishing industry. Most authors can never hope to reach sales in the hundreds of thousands for a single month, but there are more than a few who sell anywhere from 800 to 20,000. While selling books at this level would seem extraordinary by traditional publishing standards, the mere fact that so many self published authors have achieved this goal (with more being added each month), indicates that it is not an unusual occurrence.

Not only are these new mid-listers selling a lot of books, but they are also receiving significantly more money from each sale (the industry standard is a 25% royalty of net sales for e-books under contract by a big-six publisher). If a self-published author sells their book for $2.99 – $9.99, then Amazon will pay 70% ($2.09 – $6.99). Compare this to the $1.22 per book income (which needs to be shared with an agent) for a $6.99 e-book sold through a publisher. High volume combined with good revenue is providing self-published e-book authors five and six figure yearly incomes allowing them to quit their “day jobs” and make a living by doing what they love most–writing.

The Tipping Point

I regularly give lectures on the different options for publishing and up until recently my main point about self-publishing was the unprecedented control it provided. Recently I’ve had to change my presentations to also acknowledge that if you wish to maximize income then self-publishing, if done well, could provide the best revenue potential. A year ago I was definitely not making that statement — but a watershed moment occurred in October/November 2010. It was at this time that sales of e-books from previously unknown authors skyrocketed.

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

E-Books ... A Major Shakeup is Coming

Pottermore.com is coming! ... And bringing with it a real time, online lab that should flush out issues like e-book pricing, eliminating digital booksellers (i.e. Amazon) as the middleman, acceptance of a common format (i.e. ePub) acceptable to all devices across all platforms.

Phewwww! What a statement. Sounds like rocket science when it's only common sense.

This strategically, ingenious concept will force a faster solution to many bottlenecks created by the various device manufacturers and digital booksellers trying to kidnap the market for its own exclusive profit.

This could only be brought by something so popular and powerful unto itself that it would lend itself to an exclusive sales site, with its own rules, that would draw people away from the status quo.

That power is Harry Potter!

This from paidContent.org by Laura Hazard Owen:

Three Ways Pottermore.com Could Change Book Publishing

After a suspenseful buildup, J. K. Rowling has announced that Pottermore.com will be an e-bookstore, exclusively selling Harry Potter e-books and digital audiobooks. Pottermore could shake up digital publishing as much as the Harry Potter books first shook up print publishing over a decade ago. Here’s how.

Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) will be cut out as the middleman and could be forced to open up the Kindle to new book-publishing formats. Pottermore.com does not officially launch until October, and right now many details are still unclear. But we know that the site will be the only place to buy Harry Potter e-books and that they will be compatible with a range of devices. Rowling stressed that selling the books directly “means we can guarantee people everywhere are getting the same experience and at the same time,” and Pottermore CEO Rod Henwood told The Bookseller, “We want to make sure anyone who buys it can read it on any device. We are talking to the Kindles, the Apples, the Googles, Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS) to make sure they are compatible. We set the pricing, we maintain the policy of making them available to as many readers as possible.”

We don’t know if that means that Pottermore.com will be selling multiple editions of the Harry Potter books—in the Kindle format, say, alongside formats like EPUB—but it seems more likely that the site would sell e-books in just one format, probably EPUB. Right now, the Kindle doesn’t support the EPUB format. But if any author could get Amazon to change its policy, it’s J. K. Rowling. The Kindle has the largest market share of any e-reader in the U.S.—it’s believed to be between 60 and 65 percent—and it would be an incredibly dumb move for Amazon not to allow the Harry Potter e-books to be read on its device. The company would risk losing users to the Barnes & Noble Nook, the Kobo, and other devices that do support EPUB.

In fact, rumors that Amazon is going to start supporting EPUB have been floating around for awhile now, mainly in association with the news that the Kindle will support library lending this fall. Amazon should probably get on the EPUB train by July 31, when Pottermore.com is going to be opened up to a select million users.

Interesting experiments with pricing. Since Rowling is selling the e-books directly, she can do what she wants with pricing. Her UK publisher, Bloomsbury, and her U.S. publisher, Scholastic, are getting a cut, but these books are being ...

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Sunday, June 19, 2011

A Memoir is a Memoir is a Memoir ?

Here's a little question tonight for some thought and input:

Suppose you want to write a memoir based on true, exciting events from your past life ... but, due to lapsed time, you have to fictionalize some of the 'in-betweens' to link the true events together.

How do you characterize the story?

"A fictionalized memoir based on true events."

"A memoir"

"A creative nonfiction memoir (or narrative nonfiction memoir)."

Actually, I wonder if most published memoirs don't in fact have a lot of made-up fragments to complete the story?

Any input will be a great learning experience for many, including yours truly, and greatly appreciated...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are Some Editors Too F**king Uppity?

From Publishing/Writing: Insights, News, Intrigue Blog:

Note the slash & Burn Editor image at left.

It seems some editors have admitted to canning a complete manuscript sent to them because they found a “technical” (grammatical) error on the first page!…Damn! Christ, in his second coming, wouldn’t stand a chance of surviving another crucifixion with these excessively puckered wordsmiths.

I feel that correcting these type of technical, grammatical errors is actually part of the goddamned editors job. Hell, editors that judge the whole manuscript content based on an incorrect word structure or phrasing mistake (of which, by the way, all the past, great authors were guilty) are simply lousy at their perceived function in life.

Having said that…here is an editors view by Ann Patty in Publishing Perspectives that cocked my trigger and with which I respectfully disagree in part:

Learn the F**king Rules!

Dumb errors in books and e-books are becoming more commonplace — but do overstretched publishers give a damn?

I was delighted to see the New York Times article last week about Johnny Temple’s success with Go the F*ck to Sleep. In this era of groupthink at the large publishers, it’s cause for celebration when a small house such as Akashic Books not only succeeds with a bold bet, but even manages to hang on to the property when the corporate sharks circle. Alas, my delight turned to consternation when I read the verse quoted in the article.

“The cats nestle close to their kittens,

The lambs have laid down with the sheep.

You’re cozy and warm in your bed, my dear.

Please go the f**k to sleep.”

Even my Word program, as I typed the above, knows that the second line should read “The lambs have lain down with the sheep.” Such a mistake, with a word whose meter and rhyme is incidental in the line, in poetry!

In my many years as an editor, the most frequent lesson I’ve had to impart to writers — from fledglings to award winners to mega-bestsellers — is about the difference between the transitive verb lay, laid, laid and the intransitive verb lie, lay, lain. Some authors get it; some never do, even after eight or nine books. That’s why there are editors and copy editors and proofreaders, right?

Where was the editor on Go the F*ck to Sleep? Where was the copy editor, the proofreader? How did that laid slip by them? Isn’t it their job to protect the writer from such an embarrassing mistake?

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Saturday, June 11, 2011

How To Contract the New Opportunities for Print Buyers

A little RE what should be included in publishers' contracts in todays world of multi-platform publishing.

You see, as I always suspected and posted in previous posts, the growing popularity of digital publishing would produce a tail long enough to also pull print publishing into a new more streamlined, cost-effective era that would synergize its popularity with that of digital...

You can get print fast and cheap today...If you know what to include in the print bid contract.

Interesting stuff!

Details by Bert N. Langford in FOLIO magazine:

Multi-Platform Publishing Offers New Opportunities for “Print” Buyers

If you have not bid out your work to the printing marketplace in the past three or more years, you are likely missing out on a great opportunity, not only in your print deal, but also the growing synergies between digital and print that printers now offer.

Within the following I’ll offer some tips (but not all, due to limited space) on how to conduct printing negotiations in a manner that maximizes your company’s benefits and opportunities.

Your first step is to form an aggressive yet adaptable strategy for how to conduct negotiations and track the comparative results. In all cases, create the comparative

printing analysis based on the same issue makeup found on your printer’s invoice (and reported by the same fiscal month) for the most recently completed fiscal year.

Then below the line, adjust the basic pricing results to consider all costs of doing business with each printer that can occur over the contract term.

This includes each printer’s ROI-proven digital/print Value-Added Program (VAP) of interest to your company. Consider each as another “adjustment” category (as the printer’s pricing is offset by savings/income). But contractually require that your company retains ownership of the data and can move to another printer later, without losing the program’s benefits.

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Monday, June 6, 2011

Editors - More Needed than Ever!

Editors are mysterious creatures...And mostly underappreciated. Whats been happening in their world with all the new instant tech publishing apparatus?

Yes, indeed ... with all the instant pub bullshit ... has the 'working-behind-the-scenes' wonder-makers (and often kingmakers of authors) been left out in the cold?

Not if the new and up-and-coming authors are smart!

This view from the Sydney Morning Herald

The future of publishing will be a tale of two books

Anybody who's been following the constant stream of bitching and moaning on my Twitter and Facebook feeds of late will know I have been editing and rewriting a manuscript. The third, and probably final book, in the Disappearance trilogy.

It's been kind of hell, and yet it's necessary. It's always necessary.

The people I feel sorry for are my editors, who get dragged arse backwards through the rusty barbed wire of the first and second drafts. You very rarely hear about editors in publishing. They're mysterious creatures, working in secret, shying away from bright lights and loud noises. Publishers hide them away, too. All the better to create an air of mystery and power around their authors. To encourage the idea that we are just so hell damn brilliant we get up in the morning and start farting out perfect copy.

We don't.

If we're lucky we have editors who smash and carve and tweak our raw output into something readable. I've been lucky to have some very good editors over the years, especially Jon Gibbs and Joel Naoum, who've been working on my latest book. As an example of how important an editor can be to the final shape of a book, I spent three hours on the phone with Jon the other day, nutting out a timeline issue. It started with just one stray thread that he pulled, quickly leading to the unravelling of the entire manuscript.

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