Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing & Publishing ~

Tag Archives: E-book

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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Author Interview ~ Damaria Senne

Let’s begin with a brief Bio:

Damaria Senne is a writer and publisher based in South Africa. Her published works include How To Get Quoted In The Media, a guide to help small business owners and non-profit organisations get free media coverage; The Doll That Grew, a children’s book about a boy who takes revenge on his sister after she damaged his toy car for the second time; and, Waking Up Grandma,  the story of old Mrs McKay, who falls asleep anywhere, anytime. Her grandchildren take advantage of it and pull a lot of pranks on her while she’s asleep. But is Grandma having as much fun as they are?

Get more personal information about Damaria.

Now, on with the interview :-)

Damaria, why did you decide to self-publish some of your books?

For the past couple of years, I have been reading about the changes that are taking place in the publishing industry. I was especially interested in the notion that writers are increasingly taking control of their works through self-publishing, and that this is no longer looked on as a last-resort for losers who can’t land a traditional publishing contract, but rather a viable alternative which allows writers to make more money.

Also, some of my clients are traditional publishers for whom I work as a freelance publisher, overseeing the publishing of some of their books. I just finished a project where I oversaw the writing, editing and publishing of six books and am about to embark on another assignment publishing six books. So eventually it dawned on me that as a professional publisher, I understand the process of creating publishable material, so why don’t I use the same knowledge and skill on my own works?

This does not mean that I no longer wish to look for traditional publishing contracts though, or that I will not submit some of my books to other digital publishers. My plan is to have as wide a variety of publishers as possible, so I don’t keep my eggs in one basket.

Why did you choose to publish in ebook format and to use Amazon Kindle as your publishing platform?

As an avid reader, I meet a lot of readers online and what I found out is that many of them read ebooks.  Also, I don’t have the resources to make a splash publishing a decent print run of a book, and I have not set up a book distribution deal for my self-published works. So it made sense that I would choose to publish in the digital medium, as it allows me to reach a wide range of people worldwide without having to spend too much time or money on the project.

The first ebook, How To Get Quoted In The Media, was basically an experiment for me to test the self-publishing waters. The ebook was published in October 2011 as a PDF document available on sale on my blog. And while sales have not been fantastic, the ebook helped me land a client who offered me a retainer. The income from that client paid back my publishing costs (graphic design, typesetting, short print run for promotional copies and POD sales).

Meanwhile, I read about Amazon’s Kindle publishing platform and realised that it offered a more streamlined self-publishing process. Using it, I don’t have to worry about typesetting costs, because Kindle formats the book for me. And Amazon already attracts a big chunk of the reading public—all I’d have to do is make sure that those readers who like the kind of books I write can find my books.

Once I was feeling confident about using Amazon, I released a children’s book entitled The Doll That Grew  on that platform. The Amazon edition of The Doll That Grew is a second edition of the book. The first edition was published by Macmillan South Africa years ago. It’s now out of print and the rights have reverted to me.

Please, tell us about your experience of the self-publishing process.

I found that publishing through Amazon was easier than selling a PDF book through my web site. It certainly cost me less money.  Also, Amazon has credibility and people seem to take me more seriously when I say that my ebooks are available through Amazon than when I said that they were available through my blog.

That said, the self-publishing journey has not been easy, even though I did have experience as a publisher. First of all, I am by temperament more of a writing creative then a business professional, and I would rather spend all day creating characters and writing their stories, so focussing on the business aspects of the publishing process is not easy.

Secondly, I do need money to hire a professional editor and book cover designer for my book projects. So I’ve had to be very frugal with my earnings and designate as much money as I can on the self-publishing process. I also need money to place strategic advertisements on Google and Gumtree (a local online selling platform, much like Craigslist).

The hardest part of the process though, is the marketing and promotion of the book once it’s published.  This is a job that requires me to spend hours online, looking for free marketing and promotional opportunities. I have to admit that this is my least favourite job, as it takes a lot of time and does not yield immediate results (you have to be consistent and patient in your promotion efforts).

To try to ramp up this process, I hired a freelance social media consultant to help me with this task. She spends an hour every day promoting my books and while I don’t believe that is enough time allocated to the task, it’s a good start. At least I’m guaranteed that some marketing and promotion happens every day.

What are the lessons you’ve learned from the venture?

Marketing and promotion are crucial to the success of a self-publishing project.  If you don’t do it, and don’t do it consistently, people won’t know that you have a good book available and, therefore, they won’t buy it. And what’s the point of writing, editing and publishing a good book if no one knows about it except you and a couple of your friends?

I also learnt to appreciate the role of a good editor in developing a good book. To be honest, the ebooks that I ended up publishing were very different from the books I initially wrote and that was mostly due to the editors who re-read the manuscripts and made very important suggestions on how I could improve them.

Publishing a non-fiction book as an ebook makes sense. But why do you also publish children’s books as ebooks? I thought children preferred illustrated books that they can touch and feel?

There is no denying that hard copy books are ideal reading material for children. But I believe that ebooks also have a role in the reading life of children. Books can be very expensive and with ebooks, parents can more easily afford to create a collection of children’s books to read for their children at bedtime.

I also write my children’s stories with the storytelling aspect kept in mind: there is a lot of drama and sound effects in the stories, and I also expect that the parents can also take some leeway with my stories, adding their own brand of drama to make them interesting for their children.

You talk about a collection of children’s books for parents. Are you planning to publish more children’s books and if so, when and how frequently? Oh! Also tell us about your latest release!!

So far, I’m planning to publish at least one children’s book a month, though I would publish more if I could write and edit the stories fast enough. My latest children’s book, Waking Up Grandma, was released on the 26th of March. It will be followed by my retelling of the African folktale, Tselane And The Giant, in April. The next 3 children’s books are in various stages of preparedness.

I’m also planning to translate the children’s books to French, German, Chinese and several South African languages ( Afrikaans, Zulu, Setswana and Xhosa). The Afrikaans version of The Doll That Grew is already available on Amazon, and I have assigned translators to work on the other language versions of the book. These translated books will be published as and when the translations are completed.

Are these children’s books all that you’re planning to publish in 2012?

If I was smart, I would say no, because I definitely have a lot on my plate with my own books. But I would also like to publish other people’s books on Amazon and a friend of mine has written two romance novels that are undergoing the editorial process to get them ready for publication through my company. The release dates have not been set yet, but I hope that these romances will be the start of more good things to come. I would also like to publish more non-fiction ebooks. I’ve asked Christelle Du Toit, my co-author for How To Get Quoted In The Media to write a sequel. Hopefully, she will be able to finish it this year and, maybe, we can publish it later in the year.

Damaria, you are a busy and delightful person! I do hope you’ll come back to our blog for another interview about your writing process or advice about how to write children’s books or, well, whatever more you want to share :-)

Folks, do go over to Damaria’s blog, it’s delightful, too!!

And, feel free to ask Damaria a question in the Comments…
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The Best Book On How To Be Successful As A Writer?

What’s your definition of success as a writer?

Lots of money? Lots of books? Both? Something else??

I just may have discovered the best book to read, no matter how you want to be successful

And, even though it’s called The Newbie’s Guide To Publishing, I feel it can help those who’ve already attained a bit of publishing success to find even more.

The author is Joe Konrath, and, if you click-through on that name-link you’ll read stuff like this:

“Konrath…spent…12 years garnering close to five hundred rejections for nine unpublished novels.”

He now has 12 published novels, 15 tie-in stories, and 22 other stories.

If you want an independent and forthright blog to read, his is it!

In January of this year, Konrath wrote:

“One hundred grand [$100,000]. That’s how much I’ve made on Amazon in the last three weeks.

“This is just for my self-pubbed Kindle titles. It doesn’t include Shaken and Stirred, which were published by Amazon’s imprints. It doesn’t include any of my legacy sales, print or ebook. It doesn’t include audiobook sales. It doesn’t include sales from other platforms.

“This is from my self-pubbed books. The ones the Big 6 rejected.”

Needless to say, since I discovered him, Joe Konrath has been referenced on this blog many times.

So, that book by him has over 360,000 words. And, you can get The Newbie’s Guide To Publishing, only $2.99.

If you still feel hesitant, I’ll let Barry Eisler, best-selling novelist, speak to you from the forward to Konrath’s book:

“There’s no one in the industry more knowledgeable than Joe about both the craft and business of writing. A Newbie’s Guide is the result of years-worth of thought, research, discussion, and, most of all, experience. Want to know how to develop compelling characters? Write crackling dialogue? Run the kind of guerilla marketing campaign publishers only dream of? Put together a cost-effective, kick-ass book tour? Want to maximize your chances of getting and staying published? Then you need to read Joe. This is a guy who never accepts the conventional wisdom, who never does anything just because that’s the way it’s always been done, who’s totally unafraid to try new things, who’s remarkably honest in reporting the results of his experiments, and who’s obsessed with sharing for free his uniquely valuable insights. Yeah, you can get published without reading Joe. But you can drive a car with the parking brake on, too — it’s just not the fastest way to get there.”

And, if you still don’t want to download Joe’s book, here’s a video from 2009 with Joe giving quite a bit of advice:

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E-books & Libraries of The Future . . .

Most folks know what “going to the library” means.

Thing is, that phrase carries different meanings for different people.

Many go to the library to take out books; some to upload e-books, some to meet a sweetheart, some to find a quiet place to rest from the stress of homelessness

I’ve looked at libraries a few different ways in previous posts. Here are a few:

Libraries Weathering The Storm In Publishing

Should We All Self-Publish A Book?

Been To Your Local Library Lately?

However, not all is well with the relationship between legacy publishers and libraries

Take this recent excerpt from a post on DailyTech:

“Last month, Random House announced that it would be making some changes to the way it sells e-books to libraries, including price increases. But libraries didn’t expect cost boosts as high as 300 percent, where no titles are offered under $25. Some even go as high as over $100 per title.”

The piece goes on to say:

“…Hachette and Macmillan have only made part of their list of e-book titles available to libraries, HarperCollins puts a 26-use expiration on its library e-books, and others like Simon & Schuster and Penguin don’t even let libraries lend out their e-books.”

If you’d like an in-depth take on a modern’s library’s issues, check out this article in The Tyee, Libraries of the Future!

Do you still use a local library?

Do you have fond memories of a library?

Do you think libraries will be able to sustain their operations with all the current changes in the Book World?
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E-Books, Libraries, and An Experiment In Blogging

I’ve always been a rather Benevolent Maverick.

Recently, I broke a blogging “rule” and had a post that ran over 4,000 words—Author Interview ~ Shannan Sinclair.

Today, I’m going to give three brief references to articles about e-books and see how many folks take the links, read the articles, and make a comment

I need to start by referencing a WebSite that will help set-up the first e-book article—O’Reilly ~ Tools of Change for Publishing—a conference held in New York City, February 13-15.

The first e-book article, from NPR, is, At Last, They See: E-Books ‘Democratize’ Publishing, which begins with:

“Not known as a hotbed of experimentation, the world of publishing has been slow to embrace the transition from print to e-books. This past week in New York, however, the Tools of Change digital publishing conference attracted entrepreneurs and innovators who are more excited by, rather than afraid of, the future.”

The next article is from PCWorldEbook Publishers Want Library Borrowing to Be Difficult—and begins with:

“In an effort to make library ebook borrowing less convenient, Penguin Group has discontinued over-the-air library book downloads for Kindle users.”

The third article is from an “Annoyed Librarian” on the Library Journal and is called, Ebooks and Libraries Don’t Mix. Here’s the opening:

“Libraries certainly are living in interesting times, and last week was no exception. We were also provided with more evidence supporting one of my hypotheses, which is that if you want to get something done, don’t involve the ALA [American Library Association].”

I’m sure I’ll be back to my normal routine tomorrow—featuring one article and commenting myself; but, that’s my post for today

I may get no comments :-)
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