Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Amazon

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

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 up at the top of this page.

Yep, it says Free Novel and 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 used to publish and distribute my novel? {I’ve since gone total Indie}

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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How Close to Insanity Is the Traditional Publishing Industry?


As of this writing, I have 11 posts about Traditional Publishers <— that link includes this post… 

But, I also have 33 posts about Traditional Publishing—see the Subject Index Links in the left side-bar, for other Fine Distinctions :-)

Usually, my GoTo person for explanations about the inane activities of traditional publishers is Joe Konrath.

But I’ve found another author who can eloquently explain the actions of an industry that’s being severely challenged by the opportunities created by digital technology

Before I share some insights from this author, I need to reference two posts I wrote back in 2014 about a fracas between one of the Big 5 traditional publishers and Amazon:

Financial “Entitlement” Morphs Into “Legal” Outrage ~ Amazon & Hachette

Almost Against My Will ~ Yet Another Look At The Amazon–Hachette Dispute…

I want you to be able to access those when you read what I’ll share from an article by author Gene Doucette, called The Collective Insanity of the Publishing Industry.

I should interrupt myself and give you a link (even though it’s also in the Subject Index Links) to all my posts on Self-Publishing, in case you’re a writer and what I share today makes you wonder where you can get published—in a sane manner

Also, I urge you to actually go read the full article by Mr. Doucette because he’s been Independently Published and Self-Published

A few excerpts from Gene’s article:

“In 2014, there was a drawn-out dispute between Amazon, and Hachette.”

“The essence of the dispute was that Hachette—and all the other publishers we affectionately refer to as ‘the Big 5’—wanted more control over the list price of their e-books on Amazon.”

“…if Hachette wanted to charge $15.99 for an ebook, and Amazon marked it down to $9.99, Hachette was still paid their cut of the full price of the book.”

Note: people tend to by more copies of a book if it costs less…

A few more excerpts:

“Hachette fought for, and won from Amazon, the return to something called the Agency Model, whereby they set their price and Amazon wasn’t allowed to reduce that price.”

“Soon after that contract was signed, the other Big 5 contracts came due, and they all asked for the same Agency Model arrangement.  Thus, the finest minds in publishing—or one might assume—negotiated themselves out of an arrangement whereby they sold more units at a lower cost without suffering the financial impact that comes with a lower unit cost.

“On purpose.

“This isn’t even the crazy part.”

Part of the crazy part was that the Big 5 then made their e-books even more expensive

Gene goes on to describe how, after 6 months of the Big 5’s reduced e-book sales, they proclaimed that print books were making a come back

You really should go read Gene’s description of these events—he writes extremely well; but, for me, the upshot is that traditional publishing, under pressure from the wild success of digital self-publishing, shot itself in both feet

And, this whole story doesn’t even approach the sick “games” traditional publishers play with the lives of their authors

Perhaps things like this were one of the reasons I published a novel that has a completely insane Corporate World
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Independent Bookstores ?vs? Indie Authors


Ever heard of Joe Konrath?

Independent Bookstores and Indie Authors

Image Courtesy of Brendan Gogarty ~ http://www.freeimages.com/photographer/brendan76-44966

If you take that last link, you’ll find 34 past posts that feature him

He’s a rare bird who was doing quite well in traditional publishing, had some difficulties that clearly disturbed him, took to Indie publishing and hasn’t looked back since.

If you need advice to navigate the life of Indie authorhood, he’s one of the top sources for reliable information.

A necessary word of caution: Mr. Konrath has “made it”—he works tirelessly—even if you follow his example you may never “succeed”—do read my most important post for writers

There’s a recent post of Joe’s called, Konrath’s Advice For Indie Booksellers.

He happens to have sold over 2 million books through Amazon.

He recently sent a newsletter to a large group of his readers (he hadn’t sent one since 2014…)

He received the following response from an Indie bookseller on his list:

“One of the first rules of marketing is know your audience.

“It is not the best technique to send an email soliciting orders for Amazon and their related products to Independent Bookstores. This is not the way to win friends and garner bookseller support.

“Knowing that you are putting your personal efforts into Amazon guarantees that your titles are  special order upon request only for my store.”

After he relates much more surrounding his relationship with booksellers and with Amazon, Joe says this:

“The above email…took me to task about one of the first rules of marketing. Well, what is one of the first rules of retail? Isn’t it stocking items that customers want to buy?

“In my novel ‘Dirty Martini’, I thanked over three thousand booksellers, by name. But once I signed with Amazon, these booksellers considered me the enemy, and refused to stock my books.

“Is that the way to compete with Amazon? By driving your customers to Amazon.com because they can’t find what they want at your bookstore?”

There’s also a link to a post from 2011 that had some suggestions Mr. Konrath had given Independent bookstores.

If you’re an independent author (or, want to be), I suggest you read both posts, carefully

But, just in case you don’t like taking links out of blog posts, here’s a list of his recommendations:

Remember why people shop indie
Hold author events
Start publishing

By the way, some bookstores have already become their own publishers… 

And, here’s one of Joe’s closing remarks to Indie Booksellers:

“Nobody wants to see the Indies disappear. There is a tremendous opportunity here, but it starts with taking the emotion out of how you view self-published authors and looking at it with an eye to what customers want.”

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Do We Have to Worry about Amazon Being Heavy-Handed Again?


The topic for today’s post came from the wonderful blog called The Passive Voice—usually showing snippets with links to other blogs but sometimes holding forth at length, eloquently—this time with the snippet/link about “Kindle e-Books will have a warning message if they have spelling mistakes or bad formatting.”

The passive guy (who’s actually a lawyer) led me to a somewhat detailed article at goodEreader.

Excerpts:

“Amazon has two stages of the warning system that will go live within a few short weeks.

If an e-book only contains a few spelling mistakes, but is still readable, a simple warning message will appear on the details page of that specific title.

“It will make the average book buyer aware that there are some issues.

“If the book has bad formatting issues, and basically renders it unreadable Amazon will suppress it and the book listing will be removed.”

Apparently, folks send notes from their e-readers to Amazon—like these:

spelling errors

I find this quite interesting because they seem to be saying Amazon will take action whether the book is uploaded by the author or comes from a publisher

I have two books on Amazon—one of each kind just mentioned…

I wrote about the typos of one of them back in June of 2012—A Book Review That Teaches The Author Something About Typos . . .—then, wrote about it again the other day—What Happens to a Book After It’s Published?

I’ve never told Amazon about typos I’ve seen in their e-books—have you?

Last time I looked the article had 71 comments and folks were either doubting Amazon will actually do this, or afraid they’ll do it but dump books that have purposeful misspellings, or drop books because some readers misreport for unfounded reasons

Excerpt:

“Currently, the only way users can report content issues is if you have an e-ink based reader, such as the Kindle Paperwhite or the Voyage. There is no reporting option for content errors on the Amazon Fire tablets or the Kindle e-reading apps for Android and iOS.”

Oh, also, the last time I checked, The Passive Voice snippet/link post had 67 comments; again, a mixed bag of disbelief, joy, query, and exasperation

There is one link in the goodEreader article to Amazon that says “a warning message“; however, I went to that page (found a bunch of sound advice about avoiding errors)  but only found one indication of action Amazon would take:

“Some errors cause a book to be incomplete or unusable. We refer to these as Critical Issues. Because Critical Issues significantly impact the reading experience, any Critical Issue will result in the book being removed from sale until the correction is made.”

I found no definition of “Critical Issues” though they may be what the goodEreader article called “bad formatting issues”

It appears goodEreader is conflating spelling mistakes and minor typos with major formatting issues by saying, “Amazon has two stages of the warning system that will go live within a few short weeks”.

Also, what they say really only deals with one warning (for typos) and one, seeming, unwarned removal

I did some searching for more on this story but have yet to find anyone else writing about it.

I suppose I’m sharing it because I trust that passive guy’s heads-up services; and, also, I’m curious if my book will start carrying a Warning

If you see anything, please, do share a link in the comments :-)
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