Notes from An Alien

~ Explorations In Reading, Writing, and Publishing ~

Tag Archives: Forbes

What’s Your Favorite Flavor of Publishing?


Folks outside the U.S.A. may be correcting my spelling of the 4th word in the title of this post to “Flavour”

Kinds of Book Publishing

Image courtesy of Tracy Olson ~ http://www.freeimages.com/profile/designkryt

But, for anyone reading this, we’re talking about the 3rd definition of that word in my Oxford dictionary—“An indefinable characteristic quality”

There are so many ways to publish these days that many of them must be characterized with rather “indefinable” qualities that the media might call their “Spin”

Regular readers of this blog will know that I tend to lean toward “Self-Publishing” though I can see a few narrowly-defined situations where I might consider “Traditional Publishing“.

And, within the flavor-range of Self-Publishing, I can clearly recommend FastPencil and Smashwords.

And, as I scan the news-feeds and other resources I use to find material for this blog, I’m nearly continually seeing yet more Flavors of Publishing.

The latest to cross my threshold is Reedsybilled by themselves as the placeWhere authors meet the best editors, designers and marketers for their books”.

True, Reedsy is not calling itself a “publishing solution” but the media they’ve grabbed is trying hard to make them sound like a replacement for a traditional publishing house

Each linked source below will take you to their article about Reedsy.

Forbes (business magazine) says it’s “the platform that enables authors to collaborate with professional editors, designers and marketers directly rather than through a publishing house”.

The Guardian (newspaper) says “The main thing that sets Reedsy apart from the many companies offering ‘author services’ is its platform. This is a tech company first and foremost…”

TechCrunch (Nerdly tech site) says authors “can find freelancers, ask for a quote, and start exchanging messaging with these professionals”. (and, eventually pay them………)

Publishing Perspectives (seems self-explanatory) says “It proposes to become the must-go place where serious self-published writers can turn to get professional help and produce a high quality book in this exploding book market”.

MediaShift (not sure why they have “shift” in their name) says, as a reason for Reedsy’s existence, “For several years there had been a gold rush of self-published authors who, spurred by newspaper articles on Kindle millionaires, flooded the market with low-quality, poorly-written books in the hope of overnight success.”

So, Reedsy, essentially, has gathered around-200 freelancers in editing, designing, illustrating, and marketing and has created a site where you can employ them to help you get ready to publish books—Reedsy receiving 10% of the fee paid.

Two thoughts:

I see no mention on their site about how a book would actually be published. Yes, they clearly say they’re offering author services but they say nothing about helping you produce a book or guiding you toward such a conclusive act

They’ve garnered some very heavy-hitting media coverage; but, the following terms of their agreement may cause some to pause:

“The Platform: (i) is a beta version; (ii) is provided on an ‘as is’ basis; and (iii) may not be free of bugs or errors and you agree that the existence of any bugs or errors shall not constitute a breach of this agreement.”—“Access to the Platform is permitted on a temporary basis. We may suspend, withdraw, discontinue or change all or any part of the Platform without notice. We will not be liable to you if for any reason our site is unavailable at any time or for any period.”

So, it’s not a “Publishing Company” but it’s trying hard to seem as necessary as what a traditional publishing company offers

Why are there so many “companies” these days that package-up a few services that an enterprising individual could find on their own and present the package as some “absolutely essential” service?

However, I must end with the admission that once Reedsy settles out of its Beta-phase it just might be a good place to find some of the services an author who self-publishes might be able to afford
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Facebook’s Deceptions


I haven’t viewed my newsfeed on Facebook for years.

I do still push my blog posts out to them, plus Twitter, LinkedIn, and G+; but, I long ago lost faith in the personal value of these social media tools.

However, I know these social networks can have value for many folks.

Still, I blog, five days a week; and, blogging is social media.

The one big difference in blogging-as-social-media is that there are no faceless sets of algorithms or unaccountable groups of people manipulating what I post.

In case you haven’t yet heard, Facebook secretly manipulated the newsfeeds of nearly 700,000 people.

I have no clear evidence that Twitter or LinkedIn or G+ are engaged in similar practices but they certainly have the means, if they decide to mess with your account…

Basically, what Facebook did was to remove positive entries from some newsfeeds and negative entries from other newsfeeds, then sat back and watched how people responded…

Facebook’s deceptive indiscretions are all over the news but I’ll only give you a few excerpts from a handful of sources.

From The Guardian—Facebook reveals news feed experiment to control emotions:

“On Sunday evening, a senior British MP called for a parliamentary investigation into how Facebook and other social networks manipulated emotional and psychological responses of users by editing information supplied to them.”

From ForbesFacebook Doesn’t Understand The Fuss About Its Emotion Manipulation Study:

“The larger debate is about what companies can do to their users without asking them first or telling them about it after. I asked Facebook yesterday what the review process was for conducting the study in January 2012, and its response reads a bit tone deaf. The focus is on whether the data use was appropriate rather than on the ethics of emotionally manipulating users to have a crappy day for science.”

From VentureBeatFacebook secretly experimented with the moods of 700,000 of its users:

“This experiment takes Facebook’s disregard to another level, as it actively sought to impact the wellbeing of users….And what is the point of this research? Why is it being conducted? Is it purely an academic exercise, or could it be used by some unscrupulous party to mess with people’s feeds and moods on a regular basis?”

From PCWorldFacebook researcher: ‘We care about the emotional impact of Facebook’:

“A Facebook researcher behind a controversial psychology experiment on users has defended the research, saying it was aimed at looking into a common concern that seeing friends post positive content on the social networking website leads people to feel negative or left out.

“The researchers were also concerned that exposure to friends’ negativity might lead people to avoid visiting Facebook. ‘We didn’t clearly state our motivations in the paper’, researcher Adam D.I. Kramer wrote on his Facebook page Sunday.

“’The reason we did this research is because we care about the emotional impact of Facebook and the people that use our product’, Kramer wrote.”

From the San Jose Mercury NewsFacebook runs into uproar over experiment that tested emotional reactions:

“‘People suffering from severe depression or on the verge of suicide could have been very adversely affected’, complained San Francisco artist Susan Lien Whigham in a Facebook post over the weekend. She added: ‘Shame on you Facebook. Whether or not it’s legally permissible, doing social experiments on people without their permission is ETHICALLY WRONG.'”

So…

What’s your take on this fracas?

If Facebook is doing things like this, which other companies are?

What does this mean to you as far as where our society is headed?

Care to share your thoughts or feelings in the Comments?
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Financial “Entitlement” Morphs Into “Legal” Outrage ~ Amazon & Hachette


Heard about the Battle—major retailer and big publisher?

Does it “matter”?

Perhaps

But, probably not in the way most of the news coverage would have you believe.

I’m going to give you a few links to some of the more ridiculous stories; but, first, I need to give you some defense against the verbal barrage.

Last year, in the post, So, What The Hell Is Wrong With Traditional Publishers?, I featured a piece by David Gaughran:

“Right after he indicates that the two essential players in the book-world are writers and readers and that retailers are at least acting somewhat rational about justifying their cut of the money (leaving agents, publishers, and distributors in a somewhat suspicious position), he says:

“’Publishers seem determined to move in the opposite direction: making the proposition of publishing with them less attractive rather than more attractive, reducing advances, worsening contract terms, and treating writers as marks rather than partners – despite whatever guff accompanies the launch of their latest initiatives.’”

And, another bit of defense against the other articles I’ll link to is this from Forbes:

As Hachette Battles Amazon, A Small Publisher Defends Bezos (Bezos owns Amazon)

O.K., here comes the media blitz

An apologist piece from The New York TimesHachette Chief Leads Book Publishers in Amazon Fight—that begins with “…Mr. Pietsch [the boss at Hachette] finds himself fighting not just for the future of Hachette, but for that of every publisher that works with Amazon.”

Hmm they seem to be overlooking that small publisher up there

Then, there’s the piece in SlateBringing Down the Hachette—that says:

“Literature could end up suffering

“If publishers make less money on every book, they are going to pay people less to write and edit them, and talented people will decide to do something else with their time.”

Maybe they could, uh self-publish………?

Plus, the article in Money MagazineWhy Amazon Is Battling Book Publishers — in Three Charts.

Maybe there’s some meat in this one but I’m a bit suspicious about reducing a complex issue to a few charts—as they say, the “map” isn’t the “territory”

And, again from The New York Times, an article that prompted the title I gave this post—How Book Publishers Can Beat Amazon—which has these incendiary words:

“…unless Amazon backs down — through public pressure or government intervention — publishers will have no choice but to employ their own nuclear option…”

Finally, a piece from the Miami HeraldPublishers could defeat Amazon — here’s how—which, even with its overkill title, makes a bit of sense:

“To be sure, what Amazon is doing is of the brass-knuckle variety, and while I get that authors are upset, the reality is that it is publishers who have made a Faustian bargain: Unwilling to make their cost structures viable in a digital world predicated on much lower costs and much higher volume, and unable to build their own DRM and companion devices, publishers embraced the Kindle’s DRM, and thus gave Amazon complete power over the only means of enforcing the artificial scarcity that undergirded their old-fashioned business model.”

Anyone with any opinions about this issue is encouraged to leave a comment—I’d appreciate it, even if it only makes me laugh
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You Wouldn’t Be Trying To Mislead Me, Would You?


People have been trying to mislead me for at least 60 years—how about you?

Way back between my Saturday cartoons the ads promised me a lot more fun than any cereal could ever hope to provide

A bit later, the ads in the back of the comic books lured me into begging money from my parents for an Ant Farm—thin clear-plastic box with sand in it, separate cardboard tube with the ants, and a message that the ants were asleep and would wake when I put them in the sand—I waited for a few days—they were indeed dead

Luckily, the first girl I was sweet on warned me that every girl did Not want chocolates

There were thousands more attacks on my credulity; then, in my forties, I began to find certain things that stayed true no matter what I thought.

So, there’s this survey claiming to show the preferences of writers for either traditional or self-publishing.

The Los Angeles Times article about the survey begins with:

“Writers prefer to be published by a traditional publisher over self-publishing. Go figure.”

That happens to be a statement that’s misleading to the max—how did they find out what all writers prefer?

Then, they attempt to cover the misleading pontification with misdirection:

“More than 9,000 authors responded to questions about the publishing industry in a report to be issued next week. Of the writers surveyed, 57.8% said they’d rather go the traditional route with their next book than try self-publishing.

“These aren’t just old-fashioned authors. That percentage includes writers who have been both self-published and traditionally published. What’s more, the survey was conducted by Writers Digest and Digital Book World — which certainly captures people interested in digital publishing.”

9,000 authors is probably enough to show some kind of trend, right?

But wait… what kind of authors are these 9,000 souls?

The article about the survey in Digital Book World says:

“The survey sample is a non-scientific sample, since it is voluntary rather than a random sample. The authors, most of whom responded after receiving a notification from Writer’s Digest about the survey, may not be representative of the population of authors.”

They also say:

“The majority of respondents to the survey were aspiring authors who had not yet published a manuscript

That last statement should make any person who’s been severely misled in their lives consider that all the other numbers and pseudo-scientific pronouncements about the survey are rubbish.

Something rather surprising about the author of the article in Digital Book World is that they’re “…Professor of Sociology at Queens College – CUNY…” where they direct “…the MA Program in Data Analytics and Applied Social Research.”

Perhaps they got paid really well for lending their credentials to such sloppy surveying

I truly hope writers aren’t taken in by attempts like this.

I can’t avoid quoting one more statement that goes even further into the realm of fantasy surveys:

“The greatest preference for traditionally publishing was reported by traditionally published authors (87.2%) followed by not-yet-published authors (76.8%).”

Are they hoping that big percentages will prove that “Writers prefer to be published by a traditional publisher over self-publishing.”, in spite of the fact that those who’ve already been accepted by legacy publishers and those who’ve never been published might just not be the folks who can be relied on to help decide what most writers want??

There are a few true statements in that article but the effect is somewhat like those commercials between the cartoons—Yep, this is Really cereal!!!

So, if you happen to be the kind of person who lets their opinion be swayed by names like the Los Angeles Times, Writer’s Digest, and Digital Book World, you can also be misled by Forbes

Finally, if you happen to find out what most writers prefer, would you let me know?
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Selling Books from The Trunk of Your Car . . .


I’ve heard tales of authors buying a gang-load of their book, loading them in the trunk, driving thousands of miles, stopping at hundreds of bookstores, and selling their creation by hand

Well, Suw Charman-Anderson, over at Forbes, has an article called, Self-Publishing And Direct Sales: Pros, Cons And Problems.

Though, Suw isn’t talking about hand-selling from the trunk of a car—she mentions a digital direct sales provider called, DPD: Digital Product Delivery.

They have a 30-day free trial and flat-rate pricing, beginning at $10/month for 1 Gb storage of up to 20 titles.

Suw began using DPD because she “was fed up with the hideously basic tools that Amazon provide and wanted to experiment more than Amazon would let me.”

The tools she needed are ways to track sales and hook distribution to an email subscription service, among other niceties

For another take on direct selling of books, check out the article From Me to You: Selling Books on a Direct Basis.

Both articles bring up the scale-factor—spaces like Amazon have a huge appeal since the site has built-in marketing advantages

I’ve chosen a middle path: My publisher, FastPencil, distributes my books to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, iBooks, and Ingram. Plus, I use a sales widget on this blog.

Not as direct as using a service like DPD but satisfactory—for me.

As far as the tracking of purchases, connection to email clients, and other statistical concerns, I’m content to leave that to others more concerned with maximizing their reach or pull or bottom-line

I have this transcendental attitude that Forces greater than the Market will, if my book deserves it, create the Paths to the Readers’ eyes and minds and hearts

Still, if you want to consider a robust direct sales and marketing strategy, you could start by reading this article
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