Sunday, March 27, 2011

Trade to Indie – Indie to Trade

The publishing industry has just gotten twice as interesting.

New York Times Best Seller Barry Eilser turned down a $500k deal with one publishing company to Indie publish his work.


Indie publisher Amanda Hocking accepts a $2mil deal with trade publishing company.

Clarification – Amanda's link goes to her blog, while Barry's goes to Dean Wesley Smith's blog. The reason for this is a long, rambling, (possibly drunken) blog-post that has a number of links out, one of which is pretty damn offensive.*

Romance author jumps ship.

Now this – Connie Brockway, seasoned and often published romance author has also decided to e-publish books her trade publishing company has rejected. Here is her reasoning, quoted from All About Romance:

"Oh, there's reasons a-plenty. First off, the contract I was offered was not good either monetarily and elsewise, the elsewise being in terms of eBooks. It doesn't take too much business acumen to look at recent eBook sales history and project that eBook readers aren't going to pony up the same amount for an eBook, that exists only as a virtual entity, as a paper book which costs substantially more to produce  (printing, shipping, warehousing, distribution, covers etc.) Or if they do, they aren't going to do it often. And if the publishers set the price too high, it's the authors that lose the most. I hate losing.

Of course, this was more than a business decision. Strictly as a writer, I'm squealing with joy at the notion of being completely free to write the stories I most want to read. And, I sincerely believe, that my readers most want to read."

She's not the first. If you really want to know who has jumped ship – Kindle Boards has an Indie Romance Author thread.

Note the last paragraph – "I'm squealing with joy at the notion of being completely free to write the stories I most want to read."

Well, I guess that she's kept her agent – and her options – open because she mentions Avon imprint, although she doesn't talk about her project with them.

These are signs the Great Publishing Divide between Trade and Indie market systems is being bridged, in both directions. Is this good news? Well, it depends on if you look at it as a reader or as a writer.

The Good News:

This is great news for readers. High quality stories from authors who know their job. They offer quality entertainment for – well, not cheap – but less than the price of a paperback book, available in the e-book format.

The Bad News:

Professional writers, who know the ins and outs of the business, are bringing their platforms – skill sets, contacts, readers and fans into the small pool of e-books.

This is going to blow the top off the cottage industry of e-pulp fiction. As more pros take the plunge, the quality of the books (and the higher prices) they bring to the table are going to force Indies to keep prices down.

The $.99 ghetto is just what I've been saying all along – e-pulp fiction and dime/dollar novels. Poor writing is going to sink those who can't keep it up. The book hoarding readers aren't going to review the books they never read. Word will never spread – unless the writing is top-notch.

Well – there you have it. A market update – pros and cons on both sides of the Great Publishing Divide.

Stay tuned. Heaven only knows what's going to happen next week.

*Unless you want to see a monkey sexually abuse a frog.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

E-Book Pricing - Part IV

The writer-blogs continue to buzz like stirred-up bees over e-book pricing. Kindle Boards, Authonomy, Nook Boards, Newbies' Guide to Publishing, Business Rusch, and Write 2 Publish - everyone has taken on the topic in an effort to figure it out. I've posted about it several times.

The last time I posted about pricing was to cave in to the pressure to sell "Let's Do Lunch" for $.99 in the hope the drop would bring on sales. My goal was to get 100 copies of my novel onto e-readers in 2011. Instead, sales on Amazon came to a screeching halt.

That goals was reached this week when I had Smashwords put LDL into it's promotion catalog for free. Readers (or book collectors) downloaded 72 copies. Adding that to the 30 copies already sold - I'm over 100 copies in less than 3 months for the year.

Reaching a goal requires re-evaluation.

*** UPDATE ***
Taking all sorts of things into consideration - including the cost of advertising, covers and editing for the new book - I raised the price of 'Let's Do Lunch.'

Writing is a business - the cost of doing business is pretty high these days. Just printing a single copy costs $20 with ink and paper. Internet, where I spend the bulk of my time, is $60 a month. As every adult knows, that's the tip of the iceberg.

Now I'm back to work on the next book.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Read an e-Book Week

I've put "Let's Do Lunch" in the Smashwords promotion that ends today.

All I can say is Holy Sh!t. As of 3:30 pm there have been 50 books 'sold' to customers. These people are NOT sampling - they are taking the book!

I've broken the 100 copy barrier! YAHOO!!!!!!!!

Even if the majority of these people are collectors, not readers - this has been the biggest week of 'sales' yet!

About the 100 copy barrier - the common wisdom is that a self-published book will never sell more than 100 copies. However this is backed by Nielson Book scan claiming the 'average' trade published book only sells 18 copies.

So with 115 or so books sold - I've broken that barrier and I'm SO happy about it. The day isn't over yet, I think the sale runs until midnight EDT.

Get your copy of "Let's Do Lunch" while it is still free.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Another Cover for 'Lets Do Lunch'

This is a cute little cover that Bradley Wind did for LDL that I have never used.

I thought I should post this and see what people think.

I think my name is too small, but I like the rest of it.

 I think it captures the theme of the book very well.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Vastly Amusing Look Back at April 2009

It seems like a million years ago that Mary W. Walters wrote her "Talent Killers" post for The Militant Writer. Two years and 420 comments later - she's still getting hits and comments. I know because I get the RSS feed.

I'm absolutely positive that she didn't realize that we were on the cusp of the e-book revolution. Naturally she (and thousands of writers like her) were frustrated, in stead of a clear path to the Big Six of publishing - there was a locked gate. No one had a clue at the time but the publishing industry 'gate-keeping' system was about to be blown out of the water.

Ta! Da! 

Look where we are today. Times have changed to the point where a well-known mid-list writer with a sweet deal on the table will look at 25% of e-book sales as a deal breaker. Instead of leaping on the deal, the writer said to his agent 'Are you kidding? I can publish this myself and do better.'

Exit writer, door closed.

Publisher is out 75% of potential sales and agent out 20% of writer's cut in commission.

There are still authors who will go to any lengths to get rejected by an agent. There are still agents who will MAKE writers jump through hoops and go to all kinds of contortions to get rejected. Occasionally there will be hook-ups, contracts and even sales.

However, most of the writers I know have decided they are better off with DIY publishing.

I don't know if the rise of e-pulp fiction has impacted the bottom line of agents or publishers. I don't know if the slush pile has been affected - there may be no difference. I'm not even sure that it matters in the long run - except to the writers who have turned rejection into cash.

Readers seem to be happy - they have access to cheap books in hard times. E-readers are a great investment. I love mine.

I'm reading more than ever, cheap books, free books - first run books that I could never afford in hard-cover. Books by friends in the UK and Australia that I never would have seen otherwise.

The fact that I got a couple of bucks from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble didn't hurt either.

PS - this is a link to the Smashwords blog. Mark is all fired up about the 'Publishing Revolution.' I think you will enjoy it.

A Word About Sales and Other Stuff

Okay, I admit, more than one word.

Let's start with the good news - we've had the first Amazon UK sale of "Let's Do Lunch" in February. Smashwords sampling is over 80 - I expect it to be more than 100 by the end of the quarter. Total sales for January = 16, February = 14.

Barnes and Noble is my best market. I sell twice as many books there. Okay, so that means merely 8 or 9 sales per month. That triples my sales per month. The bottom line is that we've sold more copies of LDL in two months than in 6 months of 2010.

Ya, can't beat that with a stick - but who'd want to?

I replaced the Amazon cover of "Let's Do Lunch" to my 'way-back-when' cover. It's been 13 days since my last sale, it seems a change is in order.

Alas, I don't see myself putting - ahem - beefcake* on the cover. That's not the point of the story.(I am assured that covers including nude male torso shots sell vastly more copies than scenery covers. See the note at the bottom for the 'industry' term for such covers.)

I'm working on the cover I want - a photo of the building. Cropping the photo proved to be a challenge - the work-around frustrated me so, I had to set it aside for a few days.

Changes in the industry

Another mid-list writer has taken his work off the market - take a look at this post on Publisher's Weekly. The post in a nutshell: Mid-list writer had deal on the table, he asked about e-rights and was told the split would be 75% to 25% of net. He then asked if he was getting the 75% - however the answer was 'no.' He declined the offer, deciding to self-publish instead of taking a bad deal on his e-rights.

Why is this important? E-books don't 'go out of print' therefore he had signed away his e-rights FOREVER. While a single e-book title grossing $1,000 a month would be a pittance for the publishing company. For the writer this would be a substantial slice of month income.

I don't know of many people who would sneeze at an extra grand a month. Do you?

If you haven't discovered the Business Rusch by Kristine Katherine Rusch at least take a look at this one. At the risk of sounding hopelessly sexist - she has a woman's eye for navigating the turbulent waters of this changing industry. She doesn't browbeat the reader, she presents information and opinions in a common sense fashion while keeping her options open. (I say that's female because it seems much more sensible to keep your options open, instead of burning bridges. Burning bridges is a guy thing - like bungee-jumping.)

Or maybe it's the fact that I agree with her - Big Publishing is hardly dead. They are in a position to talk terms with the e-vendors and take advantage of e-books - with access to one hell of a back-list. After all, 1 book selling 500 copies a month times 100,000 (or more) books is NOT a pittance.

Last but not least

* I find the term 'man-tittie' offensive. Puleeezz ladies - some class!