Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Amazon

An Author Writes an Open Letter to His Publisher . . .


Jerry J. Davis - Author

Jerry J. Davis

I have a friend named Jerry Davis, an author interviewed here back in 2012.

I recently discovered a fascinating post of his from back in 2014—Open Letter to Hachette CEO, Michael Pietsch.

I think it still has great validity for consideration by writers (and, writer’s friends...).

You may remember it was back when Amazon and Hachette were violently feuding

Here are just a few excerpts (but, do go read the whole thing...):

“Holding onto outdated business models by force is … well, completely backwards and ultimately a doomed path….Resisting the movement to ebooks is not the answer.”

“As a one of your authors who has also released his ebooks independently on Amazon, I have made FAR more sales on my own than with your publishing group. Far more sales, and far more income.”

“I have not seen a penny from my book with you in years, by the way, even though I KNOW it’s selling.

“But that’s beside the point.”

“…for godsake stop using your authors as leverage and accept one of Amazon’s offers to take them out of the middle.”

Even though some folks would say, “What’s the big deal? They stopped fighting.”, the fact that they’re big corporations would certainly make them prone, in today’s business environment, to fighting again.

Plus, one of the smartest publishers around has pointed out some of the possible harm Amazon, itself, may cause authors this year

What’s the solution?

Radical Self-Publishing—> try this post if you’re new to the idea…

Oh! You also might want to check out Jerry Davis’ books :-)
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Ten Publishing Predictions for 2017


2017 Book Industry Predictions I’ve been published by Lulu and FastPencil and Amazon and Wattpad… 

One of these days, I want to get around to being published by Smashwords

Perhaps (whenever I decide it’s “complete”), I’ll put my Story Bazaar there…

Nevertheless, if you put “Mark Coker(the Founder of Smashwords) into the search box at the upper right, you’ll find around 23 informative posts (including this one) about the BookWorld.

His article, 2017 Book Industry Predictions: Intrigue and Angst amid Boundless Opportunity, begins with these thoughts:

“If you could see into the future, what would you do to change it?

“Each year I polish off my imaginary crystal ball and attempt to divine how the boiling crosscurrents of technology, competitive intrigue, author aspirations, and reader tastes will shape the opportunities facing authors, publishers and retailers for the year ahead.

“As I caution each year, the prediction game is fraught with folly.  No one really knows what will happen tomorrow, though there are plenty of clues.

“Book publishing is in the grip of multiple long-term macro trends.  Like strong trade winds, these forces will fill the sails of those who can harness them while swamping those who don’t.

“2017 will mark a special milestone for the ebook industry.  It marks the ten year anniversary of the Kindle.  It’s also the ten year anniversary of Smashwords’ incorporation.  In early 2007, after three years of crafting our business plan, I hired our first programmer and began active development on the Smashwords platform which we launched in early 2008.”

He then has a fascinating section entitled, Ten Years of Indie Publishing in Review

Then follow his ten predictions (do take the link to the full article for Mark’s enlightening commentary on each of these predictions):

1.  Indie authors will continue to capture greater ebook market share in 2017 

2.  The glut [of books] will grow more pronounced

3.  Ebooks will face greater commoditization pressures in 2017

4.  The publishing industry will begin to recognize KDP Select as the cancer that it is

#5 is “missing” or it’s called Boiling Frogs

6.   Large ebook retailers pushed to the brink

7.  Kindle Unlimited will continue to harm single copy ebook sales in 2017

8.  Many indies will quit or scale back production

9.  Industry consolidation will hit self-publishing

10.   Amazon to face anti-trust scrutiny for unfair business practices

And, here are some of Mark’s closing remarks (directed straight at self-publishing writers — if you aren’t one, share this post with any you may know...):

“Okay, so I’ve painted a stark picture for 2017.  What are you going to do about it?

“First, remember that you are not powerless, despite the efforts of those who seek to beat you down and take your power.

“Recognize that the collective actions of authors and publishers like you will determine the course of this industry.  If you have strong feelings about a particular future you’d like to see realized, it’s incumbent upon you and everyone you know to take a stand, organize with fellow authors and put words to action.

“I realize some authors are unable take a public stand.  I’ve spoken with many of them – including many big name NY Times bestsellers – who’ve privately thanked me for speaking out for them, and they’ve encouraging me to continue speaking out.  Some of these authors have confided to me they’re unable to speak publicly for themselves.  They’re afraid of recrimination from Amazon; they’re afraid of recrimination from their friends; or they’re afraid of seeing their books carpet-bombed with one-star reviews from Amazon partisans.  If you must remain silent, I respect that.  But if you have the ability to share your concerns with your readers and author friends, whether publicly or privately, please do.  Do it for you.

“Despite the challenges writers and publishers face, I continue to believe as I’ve believed for the last decade that there’s never been a better time to be a writer.  There’s never been a more exciting time to be involved in publishing.”

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“Ten Trends Shaping the Future of #Publishing”


If you use the Top Tags widget (down a bit in the left-side bar) and click on Mark Coker ( you can also just click that last link :-), you’ll find 22 posts that are involved, in some way, with his ideas (this one will be there, too…).

Mark is the Founder of Smashwords and one of the most savvy folks on the planet when it comes to the potentials of Self-Publishing.

If you’ve never heard of Smashwords, this quote from the site should be informative:

“Smashwords offers a catalog of over 350,000 vetted, well-formatted ebooks from over 100,000 authors and publishers.”

Mark had an article in Publishers Weekly called 10 Self-Publishing Trends to Watch.

I recommend that any writers or publishers reading this post go read the full article (also, readers who want some insight into how books are evolving…); but, here are his main ideas with a few other snippets to entice you to take the link to all of Mark’s valuable information:

“The future of publishing is fraught with opportunity and peril.”

That’s Mark’s first sentence—here are his main ideas:

* The rise of e-books

* Publishing and distribution democratized

* E-books going global

* The rise of indie authorship

* Indie authors are taking market share

* The stigma of self-publishing is disappearing

* The glut of high-quality, low-cost e-books will worsen

* Amazon is devaluing books with Kindle Unlimited

* Kindle Unlimited is undermining single-copy sales

* Indie authors are writing the next chapter of their industry’s story

Now, just a few cool sentences:

“Although the rate of growth has slowed for e-books, the affordability and accessibility of digital will continue to erode print readership.”

“Much of the opportunity for authors in the years ahead will come from international markets.”

“Every week, indie e-books top retailer bestseller lists, and hit the USA Today and New York Times lists.”

“…your e-book will forever be discoverable…more books will chase fewer readers.”

“The power center of the publishing industry is shifting from publishers to writers.”

Don’t forget, this man is at the center of the e-book and self-publishing revolution…
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
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Why Are There Still So Many People Who Don’t Have Books to Read?


Many organizations and individuals work very hard to get books to those who have none… worldreader

One individual is linked-to in the left side-bar—his organization is called GoneReadingyou can buy really cool gifts for readers; yet, they give “100% of after-tax profits to fund reading-related charities…”.

I have an interview with the founder of GoneReading.

Another organization I’ve written about is WorldReader (here are the posts I’ve done about them…).

Here’s just a bit of explanation of what WorldReader does:

Literacy is transformative

It increases earning potential, decreases inequality, improves health outcomes and breaks the cycle of poverty. Books are necessary for the development of literacy skills yet millions of people still have limited access to books.

We’re changing this.

WorldReader does its work by supplying folks with e-readers stocked with books appropriate for their age and culture

Plus, today on TechCrunch, there was an article involving WorldReader called, Amazon Launches the Kindle Reading Fund to Expand Digital Reading Around the World.

Do read the full article to find out how broadly Amazon‘s initiative reaches; but, here’s an excerpt about their affiliation with WorldReader:

“The company says its new collaboration with Worldreader will see Amazon donating thousands of Kindle e-readers to developing nations. The two have worked together previously, however. For example, Amazon recently supported Worldreader’s LEAP 2.0 library partnership in Kenya, which reaches around 500,000 people by bringing digital reading to 61 libraries in the country.”

It’s been said there are one billion people on our planet with no access to books

If you want to be inspired to do something about this, watch these two videos

This one was done in association with Kindle:

 

This one is from WorldReader, directly:


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What’s The Real Cost of #SelfPublishing?


More and more writers are looking at self-publishing as a viable alternative to the aging and unresponsive traditional path.

And, if you really want to go deep into this new way of getting books to readers (and its many ways of being described) you could visit the 142 articles I’ve written about self-publishing

I’ll be tagging this post with “self-publishing”, too; so, taking that link will, first, show you this post again; then, all the others

But, the title up there asks about cost.

Not just money—cost.

I’ll be comparing two different companies soon—companies that I would call Publishing-Aid Corporations—and you can begin to sense the wide range of monetary costs.

But, then there are the emotional costs, and the social costs, and the time costs

Naturally, traditional publishing has costs, too.

In spite of the advances offered to the lucky few writers accepted for publication by traditional companies, there are still emotional, social, and time costs—costs which can often be severe

So, in my estimation, the basic difference between self- and traditional publishing (after all cost considerations) is who owns the rights of the book:

Traditional—they own the rights.

Self—you own them.

And, rights mean you decide what happens to your book

I can hear a few readers thinking, “But, so what if I own the rights if nobody buys the book?”.

I’ll direct you to the thousands of authors who were accepted by a traditional house, had the book placed on the shelves of brick-and-mortar stores, and, in about two months, had them removed from the shelves, never to return

Either major method of book publishing has no iron-clad guarantees for sales and no magic formulas for success.

If you doubt my last sentence, please refer to my article, What About All The Authors Whose Books Don’t Sell Very Many Copies?

Here’s one quote from that article:

“The average U.S. book is now [2011] selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime.”

And, the last five years haven’t made things better

Plus, focusing on self-publishing, I offer a quote (from a man who knows what he’s talking about) from my article, Author Earnings:

“The forces that determine a book’s sales performance are often multi-dimensional, synergistic, opaque, delayed or simply not apparent.”

And, that same man (who’s the Founder of Smashwords, the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks) also says:

“We cannot promise you your book will sell well, even if you follow all the tips in this guide. In fact, most books, both traditionally published and self-published, don’t sell well. Whether your book is intended to inspire, inform or entertain, millions of other books and media forms are competing against you for your prospective reader’s ever-shrinking pie of attention.”

So, why publish?

If it’s to make money, the odds are slim to none.

Sure, you can study Amazon’s bestsellers, work really hard to copy the style of writing in some of that genre fiction, pay $1,000 for a remarkable cover, and upload it.

Still, no guarantees of any earnings

If you want to assure yourself that a book you’ve written from your heart and soul (something that might be very hard to stick in a genre…) reaches readers who care about it, and you aren’t looking to make money from it, you just might satisfy that goal; but, you’ll have to work your tail off self-promoting (even if a traditional publisher happens to take the book…).

Of course, if you’re exceeding wealthy and/or fantastically famous, you can forget everything I’m saying

So, for the rest of us mere mortals, we can suffer the years of rejections from the big houses and still sell very few books or we can self-publish and still sell very few books

So, why publish?

I guess we’re down to faith—faith in the writing you must do—faith in your ability to find readers—faith that humanity holds together long enough for someone to buy your book

O.K., I’ve tried to scare you away from publishing but you’re still reading

Monetary Cost

Traditional publishing—apparently none

Self-Publishing?

It varies, depending on many factors

I’ll give you two very different situations that characterize some of the more rational options.

In an article on Publishing PerspectivesWhat Does Self-Publishing Cost? The UK’s Reedsy Reads the Receipts—you can see what the services offered through one Publishing-Aid Corporation cost; but their reason for the costs are interesting…

Here are just a few excerpts from that article:

“Debates have raged for years in the charred channels of indie-author blog-and-gossip sites about what one should be prepared to pay in order to have a book professionally edited and designed for the marketplace.”

““A full edit on an 80,000-word manuscript,” Reedsy’s article tells us, “is likely going to cost you US$3,300.”

“Cover design, Reedsy’s research on its transactions tells us, runs an average $700, with 66 percent of the designers’ quotes running between $200 and $800.”

“Book interior design can be costlier, at an average $840, and up to $1,000.”

Reedsy is a “broker” of services for writers and, before any considerations of distribution or what it will cost to promote a book, they say you need to spend around $5,000 dollars for “…a book professionally edited and designed for the marketplace.”

I beg to differ

My self-published novel, Notes from An Alien, was released (in both print and e-book and distributed to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and Ingram) for $300.

Yes, the company I worked with had services similar to Reedsy; but, I didn’t have and couldn’t save more than what I spent

I must say that I learned a few things about book preparation without “professional” help

The book was edited by an English graduate student—no cost—she only wanted credit in the book.

Over about the first three years of the book’s life, various folk found a total of 8 typos and I found 4 errors-of-author-judgement.

I created the cover.

Yet, still, a reputable author, who was traditionally published, read my book (noticed no typos) and says it looks, feels, and reads like a professionally produced book

Here comes that wisdom that begins with “If I could do it all over…”:

I still would have self-published the way I did; I still would have had the editing done by the same woman; but, first, I would have passed the manuscript around more to help catch typos and errors-of-author-judgement, then uploaded the chapters to Wattpad to generate reader interest pre-publication.

As it is, I’ve uploaded it to Wattpad (the fully corrected version) and I’m promoting it by reading other folks and commenting and voting on their works—they, in turn, might read my book

I also work my tail off on this blog and have a link to the book in the left side-bar.

Yep, it says Free Novel and, even though the link will take you to places the book is for sale, I hope before you think I’m crazy for giving it away, you read my past post, Free = Sales ~ Give It Away & Sell More…

But, please don’t forget that “sell more” doesn’t automatically mean hundreds or thousands

So, who published and is distributing my novel?

FastPencil

I recommend that you (and I’m assuming you have the faith and enterprise it takes to bring a book into the world) go read FastPencil’s article, Author Worry: “How Much Does It REALLY Cost To Publish?”.
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If you don’t see a way to comment (or, “reply”) after this post, try up there at the top right…
Read Some Strange Fantasies
Grab A Free Novel…
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* Google Author Page
For Private Comments or Questions, Email: amzolt {at} gmail {dot} com