Yeeeah I'm late on my post again. This past weekend was an awesome writing retreat where I managed to a) relax a little, b) get a short story submitted to an invited market and c) get an actual plot, with plottitude down for my novel. My romantic interest character still refuses to name himself (and his conversations with my MC are consequently getting increasingly awkward and antagonistic), though I have some leads thanks to Twitter. But Monday was a five-hour drive, thanks to random traffic jams on my last leg, and that killed my brain for the rest of that afternoon, and Tuesday was an adventure in Who's To Blame For The Lack Of Internet (I loved Internode's subtly-phrased recorded support message that translated to "We know everything is down, will everyone please stop calling us"), and then there was Real Work that had to be done.
But, this made me smile. I especially like their definition for Platform, Self-Publishing Authors and Crazy Ranting People.
From the NYTimes: Helpful definitions for the modern author.
Wednesday, 04 December 2013
Once upon a time, there were some businesses who sold things to people. For as long as they could remember, they had to go out and find these things, decide if people would want them, put them on shelves and wait for the public to come and exchange them for money, and then repeat the process all over again when the public was sick of the old things, and there were new things to be found.
One day, they discovered a magic shelf that would stock itself, and the public would exchange its items for money that was just as good as the money they exchanged for the curated goods, but without any of the effort on the part of the businesses. Businesses all over were overjoyed at this new magic shelf, and everyone wanted one.
However, it wasn't long before the evil gremlin raised his head, and his name was: Give People An Anonymous Platform And They'll Create Porn. And everyone was amazed, because apparently none of these businesses have had even a passing look at the problems that other user-content-driven platforms have tackled.
WHSmith, B&N, Kobo and Amazon are astounded, just astounded I tell you, to discover that people are selling offensive books through their self-publishing platforms. The reaction has been from quarantining user-flagged offensive content (Amazon) to tearing down the entire self-pub arm of their business indefinitely (WHSmith), and there has been much handwriginging over how on earth they can possibly use this wonderful magic shelf without someone having to suck a lot of that magic out by reading and verifying each item it contains. Or in other words, This Is Why We Can't Have Nice Things.
Say what you like about Gen Y, these companies probably could have used an internet-savvy person on their team when they came up with these business plans in the first place, someone who would have told them in ten seconds that anonymity (hello, pseudonyms) and user-generated content leads to porn and depravity, particularly when the barrier-to-entry of creation is spectacularly low (it's words on a page! You don't even need photoshop!), and the possibility and ease of making money is surprisingly high.
Seriously, how did they not see this coming?
SFWA has a great article about this from an oddly self-pubbed perspective--with a moral of "just because you're independent doesn't mean you can do whatever you want, you're still beholden to the rules of the platform you're selling on" which I have to kinda answer with "well, duh", but maybe some people think Terms and Conditions are the computer equivilent of throwing salt over your shoulder (the post does have a lot of links to the original news and stories, however, and it's well worth a read).
A lot of the reports I read decried this as the end of self-publishing--*guffaw*. No. The end of self-publishing on these particular platforms, perhaps--though while WHSmith may not feel up to the challenge, I seriously doubt Amazon and B&N can afford to put this moneycow down. But even if they do, other platforms will rise in their place--hopefully with a better idea of how to handle the inevitable porn.
Sunday, 20 October 2013
The sit overhaul has stalled while large Life Things happen. Also, I discovered half the extensions I use at the moment are no longer supported and I have to find new ones to migrate to, which actually just opened up a giant wormhole of possibilities for NEW extensions that I could incorporate instead... Yeah. Update still in progress. Anyway.
This is over a year old, but it's new to me and I found it pertinent: David Farland is/has been one of the judges of the Writer of the Future contest. He has two great posts, firstly on ten reasons your story is outright rejected (they're mostly the ones we know - writer cannot create functional sentences, story does not actually contain story, etc). However he writes it very entertainingly and it's good to check out in preparation for the second post, which is why your story might not be outright rejected, but also never make it off the "almost" pile. This is a great overview of what stories need to have down in the bones. Here it's less prescriptive, because what's wrong isn't quite so common between stories, but rather a particular aspect of a story that has been neglected or poorly executed.
Sunday, 22 September 2013
I should point out here that many indie authors are expert at reading sales numbers from sales rank. We’ve shared enough data and collected our own as we move through the lists, so that even as the numbers required to hit certain rankings grows over time with the growth of e-books in general, you can tell when something is amiss. At this point, it was cause for alarm. But then a pattern emerged. It turns out that two other authors have experienced the same thing and with the same number! Gail McHugh saw her book rise to #126 and go no higher. It appears that any flagged book, whether due to racy cover or racy content, is given a hard ceiling.
Tuesday, 11 June 2013
A fascinating article by Judith Tarr on how the world of publishing has changed since the heyday of the 80's, and the traps that well-established authors have been falling into. Worth a read even for newbies, because it helps frame the advice that these veterans give.
Tuesday, 04 June 2013
If you're new to the notion of self-pubbing, or even if you've been considering it a while, here are two great articles on what NOT to do:
Anne R Allen on 12 things not to do, from publishing solitary, stranded books, buying phony reviews, marketing to the wrong audience and biting the hands that might help you up.
Sarah Woodbury on getting fixated on the publishing thing instead of the writing thing - she has a host of great links to follow in her article, as well as some great advice.
Tuesday, 28 May 2013
Late post today - organising things for Odyssey is eating my time. But this is an interesting move on Amazon's part - they've created Kindle Worlds, where writers of fan fiction can sell fictions from licensed worlds on the kindle store. The original creators of the worlds get a slice of the pie, as does Amazon.
Worth noting however are the extreme clauses you're signing up for - a full and irrevocable rights grab on Amazon's part - for the life of the copyright they have excluse and complete license to all rights for any original components you create (original characters, original setting, etc) and you cannot use them in any other works. The original author can also take anything he or she particularly likes from your work and incoporate it into the 'official' world, with no recompense to you.
At least they've upfront about it. I think they're going to find slim pickings when they've explicitly banned pornography of any kind; by far the most common and popular fan fiction is erotica. They could have permitted authors to ban it on a 'world' by 'world' basis, as authors can set guidelines for what is acceptable fan fiction and (apparently) each submitted work is individually checked against that.
I'll be watching with interest, as new ways of making money off writing are inherently interesting, really. John Scalzi has more words to say on this.
Monday, 27 May 2013
Australia's summer seems to have looked up form its newspaper and realised it was late; my little weatherboard house has been sweltering in the past week (and then some, I've lost track) of heat. To the point that I have actually set up a camping bed in my kitchen; the only room with air con. And I'm someone who loves summer. Go figure.
That was a long-winded excuse for why this week's posts are largely link-fests (and the spectacularly uninspiring post title). Interesting stuff is going on, and I'm too sleep-deprived to muster up much comment (especially when other, more knowledgable people are already doing the commenting).
So: Random House brought out some new imprints: Hydra and Alibi. Their contracts were appalling, and the Science Fiction Writers of America organiation removed said imprints as qualifying publishers (this is a big deal. It's a big rubber stamp saying "do not publish with these guys"). John Scalzi wrote a critique.
SWFA and Scalzi said "yeeeeah... you're full of crap". Scalzi proceeded to crit the standard contract of Alibi, which was - shockingly - pretty much the same as the Hydra one.
This stuff is worth reading, if only to get a good idea of what a "run for the hills" contract looks like.
In unrelated news, big six publishers (after months of complaining how indie bucket-scraping pricing models were devaluing books) have been employing similar business tactics and finding them - what a surprise - fairly successful. That one's just there because I find the turnaround hypocrisy so damn amusing.
And there's a bit of a narfle going on about CreateSpace's sales reportings. Here's the original post, and here is the post on Passive Voice where I found it - the comments on PV are well worth the read for a sanity check.
Here's something to consider: existing publishers have had screw ups with royalty reporting because the switch the digital was not compatible with their paper-based accountancy setup. CreateSpace was designed to be digital and automated from the get-go. There isn't a human in there to screw up or to steal from you. However, the extended distribution systems and third-party systems don't have any such guarantee. If there's a problem (and there isn't necessarily a problem) then it's here.
This is also the same woman that fueled the whole LendInk explosion (recap: Lendink facilitated legal ebook loaning. Authors decided it was illegal filesharing, generated spontaneous internet mob, shut down perfectly legitimate website).
This is a lesson in not instantly falling on the OMG EVIL CORPORATION IS STEALING FROM ME bandwagon. I'm not 100% clear on what's going on, here, but I'm fairly certain it's non-malicious mistakes at the worst, and Problem-Exists-Between-Author's-Brain-Cells at best.
Monday, 11 March 2013
IndieView, which I just discovered through the comments of another useless article posing whether self publishing has lost its stigma yet (newsflash: it only ever had a stigma to the people inside the industry. Readers don't care as long as the book is good. Hell, most readers would be hard pressed to name more than three of the "big six" publishers, let alone know if a publishing house is "legitimate".) has a great list of book bloggers who accept self-published books. If you have a new noel and you're looking for a review, it's a good place to have a nosy.
Inkling is someone trying to make books into an activity rather than an experience - Books 2.0, cloud-based, basically taking all of the current 'new' and 'in' things that businesses are trying to do and put them in a blender. I think they have the wrong angle. The comments over at the Passive Voice post on it are well worth a read, especially the thread started by commenter Tom Simon.
Some other choice comments:
William Ockham:I think what people fail to understand is that there is an important difference between being and doing. The biggest failures have been trying to turn “being” pastimes into “doing” pastimes. Reading for pleasure, watching a movie, and watching television are “being”. Having to “do something” is disruptive to the entire experience. Tom Simon: [...]The well-known phenomenon of being ‘bounced out of a story’ happens when your attention is taken off of the events of the story and drawn back to the text itself. Incompetent or pretentious writers do this all the time, which is one of the chief reasons why they fail to win a significant audience. When you try to make books interactive, you are yanking people’s attention back and forth between the story and the delivery mechanism on purpose, with the result that they can never concentrate fully on either one. It’s an easy recipe for frustration and disengagement.
I'd have to agree with the general sentiment - making interactive art is an awesome idea, but I think you're aiming at the wrong base medium. Things aren't made automatically 'better' just because they're interactive, especially if they were intended to be a passive pasttime in the first place. If you want to make a book "interactive", it's no longer really a book. It's not the same kind of experience at all, and you'd probably do better to stop trying to advertise it as such.
But oh, wait - if you don't call it an interactive book, then people might realise you're not really doing anything that's new... Oops.
And for no other reason than it's awesome: a cover of Macklemore's Thrift Shop that I actually prefer to the original song:
Tuesday, 19 February 2013
Bookish thinks a team of experts can better tell you what books you'd like than algorithms that notice what books you like. Human curation aside, it sure as hell doesn't scale, and that alone, in this industry, makes in infeasible. But apparently their terms of service are also a laugh riot:
And background: Passive Voice gets snarky about the lack of talent behind the endeavour (for context - these guys are competing with the brainboxes at Amazon who are tweaking algorithms.) and asks if the publishers can really 'get' what they're doing.
And Draft2Digital are a new alternative to Smashwords for getting your books into iTunes, Amazon, Kobo, etc. And apparently CreateSpace, which concerns me because, once again, that doesn't scale. You need a human eye to produce and format books pleasantly on that software (on any software, really), so either their books are going to be ugly as all get out, or they're going to rapidly find that option just doesn't work with the rest of the business model. But - there's a good discussions in the comments of the article over at Passive Voice regarding Draft2Digital's beta and some alternatives.
Tuesday, 12 February 2013
Michael J. Sullivan, traditionally published author, has a great post over at Amazing Stories breaking down exactly what you can earn via a bestselling novel, when traditionally published.
Here's a hint: a pittance. Even on a bestseller. His conclusion - you need several of these at a bare minimum to start even considering writing full time. And these aren't midlist numbers, these are bestsellers.
When a hundred self-pubbed authors chime in clamouring that they made that annual figure quite happily last month, self-publishing looks like the no-brainer, financially. But there is another side to consider:
Going with a traditional publisher means there's big business behind your book. A company that has put a fair whack of money into the title. And when someone comes along and makes ridiculous legal claims that result in Amazon shutting down sales of your book, that company (can, should, hopefully) brings their considerable resources to bear to get the mess sorted out ASAP.
If you're self-pubbed, you're on your own, as M.C.A Hogarth has discovered: known trademark-troll Games Workshop has decided that its trademark for 'space marines' that is registered for tabletop games should also apply to books now that it has branched out into publishing ebooks of its IP. They sent a DMCA to Amazon, who promptly took the ebook off sale.
[Edit: twleve hours after I wrote this, her Amazon links were back up. I don't yet know why, but I'd hazard a guess the rallying of the internet pleebs had a good bit to do with it. Personally, I think the demonstration of the point still holds - she was lucky that enough of the right people - people with large followings - noticed and cared enough to make a fuss.)
For the record: DMCA is about copyright, not trademark, and the two are subtly different. Amazon was not legally obligated to do squat, in this case.
The term 'space marine' was not invented by Games Workshop. It has been used in science fiction literature since the 1930's: well before the founders of Games Workshop were even born.
Also: you can't take a trademark registered for one area and apply it to another. Apple cannot sue grocers for calling things an 'apple'. Not even a macintosh apple. They can't sue the people who make macintoshes (the raincoat) either.
Games Workshop has no legal leg to stand on; this is blatant trolling. But the legal expenses to get this thrown out of court would easily run to five figures; money that Hogarth doesn't have.
That would be relatively small change to a traditional publisher, who would also have a PR department capitalising on the publicity and ensuring Hogarth's book sales tripled in the meantime.
Hogarth isn't without recourse - there is talk of the EFF taking up her case, of people raising a funds to help her fight the case, of finding a lawyer to take the case pro-bono. But this would have been over in moments had she had a company behind her.
Hell, if she had, Games Workshop likely wouldn't have even made the attempt. They'd have found another, softer target.
None of this is to say self-publishing is bad, or trad-pub is better. There are corrently cooperatives and companies springing up to help indies distribute into bookstores; I imagine something like a legal defence slushfund isn't infeasible. But risks like this are an important business-decision to make: to know that they can happen, even if you've done nothing wrong, and to decide what you'll do.
Passive Voice legal commentary on the Boing Boing article.
Monday, 11 February 2013
I've been trawling through my unread articles in Reader again - well, new-tabbing anything with an interesting title and marking the rest as read, I'll admit. There were over a thousand articles in there, I have other, more pressing means of procrastination. But an interesting constellation of articles emerged that I thought would be useful to juxtapose here:
The first two talk about the concept of "selling out" - examining where the need to earn a living conflicts with the (somewhat problematic and undefined) notion of 'artistic integrity'. My personal take, at the moment, is that I'll write what I want to write, but the tastes of my readers will probably influence what I want to write as a natural course, but there's an interesting discussion:io9: How to write for money without selling out too much - which is where the notion of 'artistic integrity' is trotted out, examined and left sort of shuffling its toes a little John Scalzi's response: Thoughts on selling out - who talks from the perspective of a writer who has to eat.
And on the self-publishing note, Jane Friedman comments (without disparagement) on the new model that seems to be emerging, for books-as-candy, churn-em-out-sell-em-quick self-publishing authors, and whether the self-publishing model as it stands really caters to smaller-volume niches such as so-called "serious" fiction, and non-fiction. And over on futurebook, they're arguing that the 'trade publishing' age is over. While we may have heard this one again and again (and some of the points are well-acknowledged, such as publisher's bizarre insistance on making themselves less palatable to their suppliers) there's some interesting commentary to be had on the publishing mergers as a recourse against Amazon.
Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Af first I wasn't going to talk about Nicholas Carr's WSJ article Don't Burn Your Books - he quotes studies without giving the link or discussing the methodology (and when you're going to take behaviour statistics, it matters), at least two of which were from institutions that are only concerned with traditional publishing, and he made no attempt to get any kind of correlating statistics from the people who actually sell books who might actually, y'know, know some stuff about this kind of thing.
His conclusion that e-books are going to fade off into a "complementary to traditional reading" makes me laugh. Same-old-same-old world-isn't-ending-everything's-okay-don't-panic claptrap. Print won't go away - pretty much every technology man every invented still has its niche somewhere - but digital is where it's going folks. Just ask Gen Y - they're the people up and coming, and Gen Z or whatever comes next isn't likely to be any less digi-friendly. I'll freely admit that e-book tech is still a pain in the arse for reference books - there's still no digital replacement for the skim-read and flick-through, and nobody's really bothered to improve on it, yet - but print is not going to lord it over as king forever.
However, Henry Baum's post Print Still Matters over on Self Publishing Review is a very interesting read alongside Carr's: discussing that while customers may purchase books digitally, they aren't necessarily discovering them that way, and that people are far more likely to buy an item if they've touched it - our feelings of ownership develop quickly, and once they do, not buying something feels like losing it.
As Baum notes, I would say that in our world of vanishing bookstores, this isn't likely to be a major factor for long, but the unlinking of discovering and purchasing is an interesting fact I hadn't previously considered. Print as a marketing avenue, rather than a primary revenue stream.
Tuesday, 22 January 2013
People read your work. They possibly like it. They possibly go look for other stuff you've done. Steve donates some money to help out the young lady who originally ran Spect The Halls, who has since had a lot of Big Life Events happen.
If you have something you'd like people to read, here is a good (and charitable) way to reach new readers. Note there is no payment for this publication.
Monday, 03 December 2012
Neil Gaiman is one of my favourite authors. Both because he writes interesting, thought-provoking, (often-chill-inducing) stuff, and because he frequently does Awesome Things. This is one of those Awesome Things:
He's teamed up with Audible to release a free audiobook of an unpublished short story, Click Clack the Rattlebag. You can go download it from Audible.com (worldwide) or Audible.co.uk (UK-only. It's a rights thing.) It's free, and available until the 31st of October.
That's not the really awesome bit. The awesome bit is that each time that book is downloaded before October 31st, money goes to Donors Choose (US) or Booktrust (UK) - charities that support education and literacy. If they reach 100,000 downloads before October 31st, those charities get $100,000 (and we get a photo of Neil reading one of his own books in the bath, because Tumblr works in mysterious ways.) You can read Neil's post introducing the idea here.
I've downloaded it. I've listened to it. It's wonderfully creepy, in keeping with Halloween and Neil's notion of All Hallow's Read. Neil himself reads it, and his voice is well-suited to it. Go downloady, and spread the word, the story will only be there until Halloween.
Friday, 26 October 2012
My mother sent me a link to what could be a breakthrough in the book-discovery mechanisms. I'll explain, then I'll give you the link, because the concept is fairly technical for anyone who doesn't already use the music-discovery programs.
One of the major problems for artists of all kinds is reaching their target audience - finding the people whose tastes happen to align with whatever they produce. This is the same everywhere - music, visual art, stories, games. We try all kinds of things, broad-spectrum broadcasts to try to reach everyone who might possibly be interested, with diminishing results. Books especially rely primarily on word-of-mouth, that phenomonal 'buzz' that a particular book gets that causes it to fly of the digital and physical shelves. We've tried, but we still can't bottle that.
Many start-ups have tried to cash in on it though. Even places like goodreads exist to help people find books. The main problem is, they all rely on people actually recommending them. They run off people, not the content itself. Without people, the service flounders, and then nobody joins, because nobody's using it, and it all just falls apart.
Recently (ie, the last few years), with the progression of digital music, services have sprung up to help people find music they may like based on what they already listen to. A bit like Amazon's "people who bought this also bought" except it doesn't rely on sales at all. It doesn't use user-interaction. Instead, it looks at the music itself - the tempo, the instruments, the melody signatures, the treble-vs-bass balance, a lot of other things that I can't think of, and it finds songs that are similar in those respects - by examining the digital files, not asking people. People are not involved. Which means you don't need user buy-in to get a good recommendation. Once you have a decent database of music for it to run on, it works just as well no matter how many users you have.
Someone has started doing this for books. It's called Booksai (Books AI). It has an algorithm to examine book content and find other content that is "similar". Now, I haven't looked at their algorithm. And I would argue that stories have an extra dimension of complexity that is absent from music - the level of semantic meaning to the text, which just isn't found in music at all. Individual notes do not, in themselves, mean anything. Individual words do. But this could be extroadinary, if they can pull it off. If they can nail the algorithm to do this well, that will mean a whole new paradigm in how we classify books, genre, and possibly even in how they're produced.
If you're interested, go ready here at Forbes.
Tuesday, 23 October 2012
I saw this on Self Publishing Review some time ago (I have a long, long list of 'remember to read this later' posts) and finally got around to looking at it... and my dodgy-detector (timey-wimey?) went 'ding'.
The puff piece they released is here. You can't find out anything more until you sign up for their beta - their site is only a landing page with a signin, that's it. No further information, anywhere. Not even a repost of the original information on the media release.
Dodgy-ding number one, but possibly attributable to poor thinking.
Their schtick is that you can publish your books with them "for free". They don't state what this actually means. It can't mean 100% royalties, because even if they want to pass on 100$ royalties, the merchant's fees (and Paypal, which they mention upfront as using) have to come from somewhere. But they state you can publish your book "without paying a dime". Dodgy-ding number two: they're clearly pitching this at authors who haven't done their research, who don't know that this is not, in fact, a unique selling point.
You must submit your books for approval. They'll only sell books they want to. Presumably this is so they can try to market themselves to book-buyers as not having the vast trucks of crap that the Kindle store et all does. But it also means their business has an inherent lack of scalability - someone has to be clicking "approve" on each book. That means they need to get more money out of wherever they're getting money. So this is a service that is more expensive, because fewer people can use it. Not dodgy, but worth keeping in mind when you start looking for the catch.
They reward you for spending time on their site (commenting, reviewing other books, interacting with fans) by making your book more prominent - being a 'featured author' etc. You can "unlock" extra free promotional tools by spending time on their site and promoting you book through them. Which is not in itself an evil, but the combination of game-addiction (rewarding you for repetitive simple behaviour, and the need to keep doing that behaviour to keep the reward) and disingenuity of the rewards (typically, a 'featured author' is someone who is good, not someone who just posted 5000 comments, and if they don't keep implying the former, their customers will just ignore it) rubs me the wrong way, plus the fact that this setup is just begging for someone to game it. And of course, you have to promote things their way for it to work in your favour.
And if you want to 'go above and beyond', you can shell out actual money to improve the attention your book will get, like advertising on their site, or custom book covers.
Wait, wait, wait, what? Custom book covers? As in, regular ebooks are given generic ones, and I have to pay more to use the cover I had designed by an actual artist? I really hope that's not what is meant, here. I hope that was a poorly-phrased way of saying "we have a team of freelance artists you can hire". Because if not, that completely changes the tone of this release to we will nickle and dime you for every damn thing.
It would help a lot if they posted any actual information about what they were planning. I am not going to sign up, when I can't read the terms of service for what I'm signing up for. I've seen that scam before, too. I don't know if the secrecy is intentional - never attribute to malice, etc - but the whole combination of manipulative behaviour, lack of information and odd (and undisclosed) business model is ringing way too many alarm bells for me.
Monday, 01 October 2012
There's a belief that goes hand-in-hand with capitalism: if people don't have to pay for things, they won't. If there is a mechanism for people to get your stuff for free, then everyone will do that, and you won't make any money. The logical follow-through from that is that you must therefore lock down all mechanisms through which people could get your stuff for free, so that they'll pay for it, one way or another.
This clashes horribly with the more socialist aspects of our society, like libraries. The whole point of libraries is that you get things for free. Because the philosophy is that books increase education and awareness of individuals, and a community with a greater proportion of educated and aware individuals is a healthier, more progressive society. Therefore we should make it as easy as possible for individuals to gain access to books. So we'll let people have them for free.
Publishers didn't mind so much when books were physical items. There's a limit to how many copies of Harry Potter could be checked out at once, and most people would go and buy the book instead of waiting. But that falls apart with ebooks, because there are no physical limitations to a bunch of ones and zeros. So publishers decided to invent some, to support the logical follow-through up above: if libraries can lend unlimited books to unlimited people, no one will buy any books.
Let's ignore the fact that this is patently ridiculous. After all, there's already the equivilent of this mythical library, and it's not going away. It's called the Internet. You can find (almost) any book digitised for free, available for download, if you take the trouble to look. And yet, people are still buying books. I'm not going to go into the reasons why - this post is not about piracy (though Steve Saus has a great argument to make to pirates, when you find them: Pirating means you hate the thing you claim to love. Go ready.)
No, this is about ebooks and libraries. Ursula Le Guin, over at Book View Cafe, has an excellent summation, and I think Konrath's solution to it is pretty much spot on, except for one point - purely for purposes of quality control, and ensuring new readers aren't put off by terrible formatting issues or the like, I would amend point 5 to be: if a new ebook format comes out that the library wants to support, I will provide it, or they can send me the converted file for my approval.
But yes - the capitalist approach to socialist scenarios really doesn't work. I don't know why we keep thinking it will, to be honest.
Tuesday, 04 September 2012
There's a weird thing with publishing at the moment. It's obvious that ebooks are where things are headed - anyone in doubt need only look at where the movie and music industries went before us - and yet instead of figuring ways to embrace and profit from this change, publishers seem determined to sabotage their ebook sales to support their paper ones. Starting with Nate Hoffelder's post about Brent Weeks' frustrated tweeted response to a reader , where Hoffelder points out that Weeks has no control over the price of his book, and still conflating work effort with market worth - something that artists really have to learn not to do in the digital age. There's an interesting response building on that over at AmericanEditor, too, musing on why publishers are so bent on paper-over-ebooks. Like Dean Wesley Smith said over a year ago, now, publishers seem to be facing a Kodak problem. They think they're selling books (Kodak: ways to produce photographs) but really their business model is completely wrapped around moving paper (kodak: selling film.) When technology renders their business model obsolete, they need to get a new business model or go out of business.
And speaking of business, more beware-of-the-leopard calls for author services to self-publish, because "self publishing is so hard" (it's bloody not. It's just not something you can pick up in an afternoon, necessarily, if you'r enot already acquainted with the technology. But it's not rocket science.) Kristine Kathryn Rusch has a fantastic post on an absolutely horrendous business practise she's discovered, where the epublisher puts up your books (not edited, you need to do that yourself) gives you 15% of the profits, has complete control over all social media marketing for the book, and enough wiggle room in the terms of service to never have to pay you a cent. Seriously, go read.
And her post has prompted another from Dean Wesley Smith on the evils of paying people a percentage of your profits to do day-labour. If you're looking into self-publishing at the moment, and wondering what path to take, you really should read this. Do not pay percentages. Pay up-front fees for the services. End of story.
If you need someone who'll handle your conversions for a fee rather than a percentage (and quite a reasonable fee at that), Steve Saus over at Alliteration Ink offers various conversions and services a la carte.
Monday, 03 September 2012
Any of you not living in the US have probably come across this at least once: you read a review of an ebook and decide it looks promising, click through to the amazon page only to be greeted by the message that this ebook isn't available in your region. However, you can buy the hardcover version if you wish (if you're prepared to pay triple to include shipping and wait six weeks. Yeah. Thanks.)
This isn't amazon being evil, or the publisher being evil. It's to do with territorial rights, and how they're policed/enforced slightly differently between paper versions and ebooks. For a great explanation that pretty much covers the lot: read here.
Monday, 16 July 2012