Agency Model vs. Traditional Pricing: EBook Price-Fixers Fixin’ to Settle?

Originally Posted on April 11, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com

This just in: Apple and five major “price-fixing” publishing houses are fixin’ to settle with the US Justice Department after conspiring to control prices with their “agency model” vs. the standard and traditional way of retail pricing? Maybe. It looks like three of the big five publishers will.

What does this mean for the consumer–the eBook reading public? Maybe a check in the mail for all the over-priced eBooks they bought in the past, and much more reasonable pricing on big name, traditionally published authors’ eBooks in the future.

What does it mean to the “indie” authors who’ve found this time in publishing history to be a welcome boon to their publishing dreams? Perhaps stiffer competition with the brand name authors’ books? Maybe?

What do you think? Give us your dime’s worth–please comment!

But check out in this online Wall Street Journal article, first: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304444604577337573054615152.html

The Empire, er, uh–Big Publishing Strikes Back, or Apple Double Talk?

Originally Posted on April 14, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com

Round Two!

It seems a bit like double talk to me, but it sounds like Apple is taking the US DOJ to task, claiming they don’t have anything to do with the publisher industry’s eBook pricing.

However, Simon & Schuster, Hachette and News Corp’s HarperCollins agreed to settle citing that they didn’t want to be involved in a costly legal battle, but none are admitting to wrongdoing or collusion.

On the other hand, Apple, Macmillan, and Penguin Group have not only denied collusion and price-fixing but will likely fight the US DOJ charges.

More on this story is at: http://bit.ly/HHSamK

EBook Wars, Episode 1 & 2

EBook Wars, Episode 1

Originally Posted on March 14, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com

In a Galaxy not so far away!

Did you miss it–all the news about the battles being waged behind the scenes. On the surface, the eBook and ePublishing industry seems smooth and calm—as it should be? But there’s been a war being fought since before even the first Kindle found it’s way onto the retail shelf. In the past week, the battles have been about price-fixing, collusion and censorship.

So what’s this big war really boil down to? Fear. But I’ll get to that in a minute.

The good news? I think the “good guys” are winning. And who are these “good guys”? It’s you and me; Jill and Joe Reader. We should be the ones influencing this incredible new industry. After all, we are the consumers. Next in line are the writers. Being a part of this group as well, I have some pretty deep-rooted and passionate beliefs about how we writers should be able to influence today’s market, too.

The bottom line is this: readers want quality fiction of their own choosing at a reasonable price–and writers want to give it to them! It’s just that simple!

But, when you get big conglomerate corporations involved with high payrolls and stockholders who are focused on their own bottom line, this simple little process gets so-o-o complex. Of course it’s been that way for years.

So what’s new? What’s the big hub-bub about? Control is shifting and the big girls and boys of yesteryear publishing no longer have a chokehold on the readers and writers, telling writers: “You’ll write what we want you to write for the price we want to pay.” Telling readers: “We’ll decide what you can and can’t read, and you’ll pay what we say for it–and that’s going to be enough to finance our big NYC offices, all of our extravagance and hoopla.” They tell us, the reading public, that they’ll dig as deeply into our pockets as “the market will bare” and we’ll put up with it because we don’t have a choice.

You don’t agree? Well, two major developments have come up in the past few days. The first one you probably already heard about: the US Department of Justice is investigating price-fixing and collusion with the good ol’ girl and boy traditional publishing houses, as well as other somewhat shady practices that many of the eBook publishers have been involved in. This is fascinating stuff. You want to learn more? Check out JA Konrath’s March 10 blog post at: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/ . VERY ENLIGHTENING!

How about censorship? Legal is one thing: if what you want to read is within the law, you should be able to read it, right? And writers should be able to write and distribute any of their legal works, correct?

But what if a few folks don’t like some of the things that writers are putting out, and they don’t think, as readers, you should either? Hmm. Big Brother government, “Father Knows Best” publishing houses, and now “Mommy Dearest” wants to get involved, too? It seems that way. I’ve got to admit that there’s a whole bunch of new eBooks out there that I wouldn’t even touch—I find myself feeling guilty just having laid eyes on the stuff in a glance. But, if it’s legal, who am I to say you shouldn’t be able to read what I don’t care for?

Thanks to some really well-versed and vigilant warriors to champion the side of free speech, including Smashwords.com’s founder Mark Coker, PayPal and the credit card companies are relenting their earlier stand against processing funds for material they decide is inappropriate. This could have had a major negative affect in eBook sales and set free-speech back decades. This kind of censorship infringes on every American citizen’s right to free-speech.

Another victory for the “good guys”!

Your really need to read the details on this censorship battle. It’s important to us all. Find more at: http://blog.smashwords.com/

All this is about fear. Fear of change. Fear of the inevitable. Fear of losing a way of life that the big publishing conglomerates have learned to enjoy. They’ve been on the ropes for decades. Without the control over both writers and readers they’ve enjoyed for more than a hundred years, they can see the end is near. They’re afraid this new ePublishing industry is going to be their knock-out punch–and it could well be.

As writers, let’s provide the product readers want at a reasonable price. Don’t let those wonderful consumers down. Entertain them, enlighten them, inform them and enhance their lives.

EBook Wars, Episode 2

Originally Posted on March 24, 2012 on http://GordonKessler.com

Okay, so being a new sailor on a very shifty sea, I shouldn’t trust everything I read (forgive me for butchering Hannah Parker Kimball’s wonderful poem “One Way of Trusting”). And there is so much to read.

Should I believe “The Big Six Publishing Houses” (a.k.a. “the Cartel”–sorry, I couldn’t help my cynicism) and their allies, including Authors Guild president and bestselling author Scott Turow? I wanted to trust them. I trusted them for years because I had no choice and knew no better. They were doing what they wanted—and surely what they wanted was to benefit their suppliers, their members, their writers. They were selling books–but not mine.

When I signed that publishing contract back in ’92, I dreamed of what it would be like as an Authors Guild member, one of thousands of professional writers, many making a living from their writing and enjoying the benefits of the Authors Guild’s protective arms.

Man, has that changed.

So here we are in the electronic age. It is our future—the one we must embrace (until the day that giant EMP from the Sun knocks out all our eGadgets) if we wish to become successful authors. Some folks aren’t willing to embrace the future and don’t understand that they can’t hold back time and live in the past. This eFuture is inevitable. Everyone must adapt, even bestselling authors. They must understand that the old and familiar isn’t always the best, and who we dealt with in the past didn’t necessarily have our best interests in mind.

If what readers want to do is read, let them read. If what writers want to do is write, let them write. If what Amazon and a few of the other big Internet booksellers want to do is to satisfy their customers by getting them lots of product for very reasonable prices, let them channel the writers’ works to the readers’ eyes as cheaply and as efficiently as possible.

Check out JA Konrath’s most recent post on his blog at: http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/. Barry Eisler, joins in, as he did in the last post. And, once again, they’re discussing what Scott Turow has said, this time in a recent interview about “why we should fear Amazon”. It will absolutely floor you!

In these shifting seas, who are you to believe? For now, I’m plotting my course with those who seem to have the authors’ and readers’ interests in mind—Internet booksellers like Amazon and Smashwords—the ones accepting and selling our books to the consumer at reasonable prices and for very generous royalties. As for The Big Six Publishers and Authors Guild’s president Scott Turow: Wake up! Grasp the future, remember your customer, and give them what THEY want!

Should I do a Print On Demand paperback besides an eBook?

Indie authors are finding the most success with eBooks, by a considerable amount. But, since Print on Demand is easy and free through Amazon’s CreateSpace.com, what will it hurt? Then, you’ll have something tangible you can give to reviewers, friends and relatives, besides having one more way to market your work. There are other POD printers out there that do a fine job. Many of them charge a fee, depending on the extent of the work needed from their end. You should check out Lulu.com, iUniverse.com, Xlibris.com, and others before you make up your mind. Also, several of these POD printers, including Lulu.com will do hardcover books besides the popular trade paperback—CreateSpace.com only does trade paper but has a great distribution network. And no one is to say you can’t do both–trade paperback with CreateSpace.com and hardcover with Lulu.com.

Where should I publish my eBook first?

If you publish on Smashwords.com, they’ll put your book in all the important places. You could actually get by just fine by only publishing with Smashwords. Your book will then be listed on Amazon Kindle (that deal still hasn’t happened as of 6/4/2012), iBooks, B&N Nook, Kobo, Sony, etc. Just keep in mind that Smashwords is a business and they’ll get a meager cut of your royalty.

Publishing on Amazon for Kindle will put your work on the most popular eBook outlet in the world, by far. You get the full 70% royalty (35% if your book is priced at less than $2.99). If you publish on Smashwords and they place it on Amazon for you (if and when that becomes a possibility), your royalty will be about 15% less (60% on a book priced at $2.99 or over).

B&N for Nook is coming on strong, but still miles behind Kindle. With the Nook having a number of options to choose from, if you have a color children’s book you might consider publishing it on B&N yourself, rather than going through Smashwords where you’ll have to give them a cut of your royalties.

Then, there are the “others” (Kobo, Sony, iBooks etc.) Here again, you can cut out the middleman (Smashwords) if you go directly to these outlets—but, for the relatively few books you sell, will it really be worth the trouble? And there might be some additional hoops to jump through like Apple’s “publisher” requirement.

One you don’t have to consider, anymore: Google Books. They’ve shut this program down. From my experience, it was extremely buggy and not well maintained, anyway.

Pay it Forward/Reviews

A. /Read : One of the most important things you’ll do is to read other indie writers work, and review it in a very positive manner—if you can do so in good conscience. Why that last caveat? Because the only way you’ll truly help a fellow indie writer with a review is with a five-star review. A four star would be considered neutral, in most cases. Reviews, as much as anything else is what will sell books. If you want good reviews on your work, pay it forward: give good reviews to other indie writers.

B. /Promote: when asked what you’re reading—or just to pop off on a blog what you’re reading (a novel by I M Indie) and how good it is—is also a very good way to pay it forward, and you should receive the same from other indie authors.

Effective Social Networking

I’ve listed several sources to help understand the numerous and most popular social networking sites being used today.  Will they help your promote your books? Most definitely–if you use them properly.

Add your thoughts to this discussion, please!

A. Facebook http://clickwisdom.com/14/9-effective-and-slightly-badass-ways-to-use-facebook/

http://www.business2community.com/social-media/7-effective-facebook-marketing-tactics-012142

B. Twitter http://www.blogtips.org/twitter-for-dummies-part-5-10-tips-for-effective-tweeting/

http://www.twitip.com/when-tweeting-less-can-help-you-be-a-more-effective-twitter-user/

C. LinkedIn http://www.chrisbrogan.com/use-linkedin-effectively/

D. MySpace http://www.redlemonclub.com/social-media/how-to-properly-get-set-up-for-self-promotion-through-myspace/

http://www.myspace-search.com/2010/06/02/using-your-myspace-effectively/ (about marketing music, but there is somewhat of a parallel to books)

E. “Boards” There are also a few blogs called “boards” or message boards. The most popular of these for eBook authors is probably the “Kindle Boards”. Authors beware—don’t spam on a reader board—you will be severely rebuked! Get to know the other commenters on any board/blog before you market your work—and never be too blatant about it. DON’T go after individual board/blog members by email, trying to hock your wares: this is super unprofessional and will be looked at with great disfavor.

Spamming: Authors beware—don’t spam—you will likely be severely rebuked! Get to know the other commenters on any board/blog before you market your work—and never be too blatant about it. DON’T go after individual board/blog members by email, trying to hock your wares: this is super unprofessional and will be looked at with great disfavor. This link will help you have a better understanding of blog/board etiquette: http://blog.steffanantonas.com/23-rules-of-thumb-for-effective-blogging.htm

How do I get on a blog tour?

Blog tours get your name out to the readers–the ones that will be buying your book–and gives you a larger Web presence. Don’t discount the value of a good blog tour.  Here are a few links that will help guide you to your first successful tour:

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2011/02/17/blog-tours-for-authors-the-5-commandments-of-blog-tourists/ 

http://www.pumpupyourbookpromotion.com/virtualbooktours.html

http://bookmarketingmaven.typepad.com/book_marketing_maven/2010/04/blog-tours-for-authors-do-they-work.html

What do you have to add that will help your fellow “Indie”?

Effective Blogging

How do I blog—what should I say? Here are a few sources to help us who are new to blogging better understand and use this very important tool to promote our work:

http://blog.steffanantonas.com/23-rules-of-thumb-for-effective-blogging.htm http://www.problogger.net/archives/2008/07/10/nine-signs-of-an-effective-blog-post/ http://michaelhyatt.com/anatomy-of-an-effective-blog-post.html

Do you have any thoughts?

 

EBook Readers

Looking for a good eBook reader? It’s a fair investment, so you’ll want something that will last you a few years.

There are a lot of really good ones out there, but one very important concern that isn’t about the eReader itself: what books can you download on the device? Consider whether you want to be able to read those out only on Kindle (Kindle/Amazon probably has the broadest selection) or only on Nook (B&N/Nook is catching up). If you can read either of these formats, you’ll be able to read 99.9% of the eBooks available. So consider whether or not the device will download applications to allow you to read other formats.

These things are changing by the minute, as is technology. Here’s a site that compares current eBook Readers as of the date of this post: http://ebook-reader-review.toptenreviews.com/. I think it does a pretty good job of considering the important features and conveniences.

Below is my somewhat updated comment from it’s original posting a year ago on June 5, 2011. It still has some valid food for thought:

I have the first version of Sony Reader (I now have the Kindle Fire and LOVE IT!).  I do not recommend it, but I understand later versions are much better.  Personally, I would search online for a couple of those comparison websites/blogs and see how they stack up (latest Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Sony). You might even decide on an iPad or Xoom, so that you can have much more than just an eReader—I have the Xoom and love it, but it’s super expensive (they come down a little since this post–still really enjoy mine). Another advantage of the Xoom and iPad is that you can download apps that will allow you to read about any format of eBook (many eBook readers are app capable now, as well).

When considering the basic eReader, remember how very convenient it is to be able to download on the fly (like at a hotel, Starbucks, etc.) without having to go through your PC (can’t do that with my old Sony). Also, with some books, color is important, and not just for covers (my Sony only shows a B & W of cover).  I’m sure the “color” eReaders available go for a premium—but it’s something to consider, especially if you ever want to download children’s books—or if they ever make travel, photo, or other image dependent books available in eBook formats (many of the new eBook readers are color capable now).

This is an area that I know little about—but should (and will) research soon.  Anything you find out that you can pass along will be beneficial to all.