Monday, July 28, 2014

What’s Kindle Unlimited All About?

Amazon recently launched a new service - Kindle Unlimited. Basically, it’s an all-you-can-read service for $9.99 a month. Think “Netflix for books.” It’s not the first - Oyster has been around much longer - but since it’s Amazon, it does bring credibility to the idea.

There are a couple things to consider with this new venture.

For one, there are no Big-5 Publishers participating. The titles are limited right now and consist entirely of small publisher and independent titles. In fact, according to Tech Crunch, “...most major publishers have been working hard to create and invest in other partners. Oyster Books, for example, is a beneficiary of this anti-Amazon sentiment while houses like Zola Books are funded by publishing insiders.”

Since it’s late to the party, and it has a limited title base, most subscribers of other services probably won’t switch.

It probably won’t drastically change the industry, either. Not everyone wants to rent their books rather than buy them. As Book Business Magazine stated, “Everyone didn't stop buying tracks on iTunes when Spotify took off, so don't look for any seismic shifts here either.”

Will “NetFlix for books” really take off? With eBooks free to download from one’s local library, not to mention all of the titles most people already possess on their devices, this might be just another option for readers.

Are you signing up for Unlimited or thinking of ditching your Oyster account?

Now available -

Double Negative
By C. Lee McKenzie

Sixteen-year-old Hutch McQueen is a smart kid who can barely read. He makes one bad choice after another, trying to find a way to escape his rotten life at home and at school. Each time he gets into more trouble.

Buy it at Evernight Teen

Be sure to check out Double Negative and other new releases at my other site, The Circle of Friends.

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Three Ways to be Published and the Downside of Subsidy Publishing

I want to follow up my post last week on subsidy publishing. As I’ve stated before, I’m fortunate to have contacts with some incredible experts in the publishing industry. Publishing consultant Pete Masterson, who owns Aeonix, sent me a slew of information.

“I've actually addressed this topic on several occasions. From my web site I discuss "Vanity" or "Subsidy" publishers. In it, I explain the basic differences between publisher types.”

That page, and all of Pete’s site, holds a ton of information, and I invite you to explore it in detail.

He also sent me some extra material. This is a portion of the talk Pete gave at the BAIPA publisher's workshop a few years ago:

There are three basic ways to become a published author:

1. Have your manuscript accepted by a traditional trade book publishing company. You risk no money (beyond properly preparing your manuscript) and there is no cost to you. You will receive a modest advance (as a first time author) and, if the book sells, a royalty once the advance is paid off (most books never pay off the advance). Many trade publishers only give about 3 months for a book to show acceptable sales before withdrawing it from the market. Authors are expected to provide a significant amount of (unpaid) effort in marketing the book. Some small traditional publishers offer very small advances and will let a book remain on the market longer, giving some titles the time they need to establish themselves in the market. WIth larger publishers, you’ll usually need the services of an agent. Smaller publishers may be willing to work directly with an author.

2. Use a “self publishing” company to publish your book for you. You pay all the costs of publication, but you do not own any of the work you’ve paid for. You will sell very few books. This is discussed at length below.

3. Become a true independent self-publisher. You do the production work or hire the work out. You pay all the expenses of publishing and take on the risk of success for your book. There is a level of effort to this, but it is the most likely route to success for an author who is not published by a traditional trade book publisher.

So called "self-publishing companies" (actually subsidy publishers) are not, per se, a bad thing. However the substantial majority, especially among the most popular, operate with various levels of unethical behavior.

The immediate downside to subsidy publishing is that:

- You will have no credibility as a published author. Only those few people who don’t recognize the subsidy publisher’s name won’t immediately know you used a subsidy publisher.

- You will not get reviewed by Publishers Weekly, Library Journal or any of the other important pre-publication reviewers.

- Few, if any, reputable review publications will review the book.

- You will not get your book into mainstream distribution. Booksellers are very unlikely to order the book, although you might get a local store to accept a few copies as “local author” if they feel sorry enough for you. (Recently, an acquaintance was told they had to pay $400 to a bookstore to hold an author signing event for their book published by Author House.)

- Most of the time, the books will be priced above the market for similar sized books in a particular genre. Since subsidy published books include an extra profit for the subsidy house, the common trade discounts are not possible, so either the book will be sold with “short” discounts (making retailers unwilling to stock it) or at in inflated price to cover the necessary discounts in the supply channel (overpriced books don’t sell).

- Many subsidy publishers needlessly tie up your book with license terms that cut them in if you resell the book to another publisher (one wants 10% of any advance you get) or otherwise make it difficult to withdraw the book and republish it for yourself. There are a few who offer reasonable, time limited, non-exclusive contracts. It is vital that you read and understand any publishing contract offered to you.

- Production work done by subsidy publishers is usually mediocre, at best, and incompetent at worst. And there may be extra expenses not covered in the basic advertised price. Extra charges for cover design, charges from copyright registration, charges for using the publisher’s ISBN are often “required” options. Even after you pay for a cover design, etc, if you republish, you may not “own” the design and will have to pay additional extra charges for your typeset interior and cover files — or be forced to hire someone to do it over from scratch. Be sure to check the contract for these “extras” and to see if any rights of use are transferred to you for artwork you pay for.

The less-than-ethical subsidy publishers may call themselves “self publishing companies” — a term that’s clearly an oxymoron. If you don’t own the ISBN, you’re not self publishing. Others may call themselves “POD publishers” — POD — printing on demand — is simply a production method. It’s nothing special that a publisher can claim as a unique idea. Anyone can use POD methods to their own advantage (and actually make money, which can’t be easily done with a subsidy publisher).

Thank you very much, Pete!

Any questions for Pete or about subsidy publishers?

Monday, July 14, 2014

Subsidy and Vanity Publishers - What Are They and Who Are They?

The definition is short and sweet:

Wikipedia - “A vanity press, vanity publisher, or subsidy publisher is a term describing a publishing house in which authors pay to have their books published.”

The Free Dictionary - “A publisher that publishes a book at the expense of the author.”

Authors who self-publish also pay to publish their own books. But if they use a subsidy press, they are not truly self-published because another factor besides money comes into play - ownership of the ISBN:

Street Directory - “When you publish via a Subsidy Press, they are technically the Publisher of Record because they own the ISBN number. They cannot (and will not) sell you the number, give you the number, or assign ownership of the number to you. As long as they own the ISBN, they are the publisher. You did not self-publish. You paid someone to publish you. The only way for you to own the ISBN is for you to buy it from the only ISBN broker in the US; Bowkers.”

If an author has not purchased the ISBN from Bowker, then they are not self-published.

Ultimately, a subsidy publisher is simply a servicing company. They make money by selling services to writers and authors. And like any business, they are in it to make money. So, for these services, they charge a much higher price so they can make a profit. (For example, if you register your work with the Copyright Office, it’s $35.00 and the cost of mailing two books. Some subsidy presses charge as high as $170.00 to do the same thing.)

The easiest way to remember the difference between the three types of publishing is through this formula:

Traditional -
Publisher pays all expenses to produce and distribute book
Publisher owns the ISBN
Publisher makes money by selling books to the public

Self -
Author pays all expenses to produce and distribute book
Author owns the ISBN
Author makes money by selling books to the public

Subsidy -
Author pays all expenses to produce and distribute book
Publisher owns the ISBN
Publisher makes money by selling services to the author

Now, who are these subsidy presses? Below is a short list of the hundreds out there.

Note that these three can also be considered subsidy presses - CreateSpace, Lulu, and Smashwords. (And there are several others.) Again, it all comes down to who owns the ISBN. If the author buys his or her ISBN from Bowker and uses those companies to print & distribute, it’s considered self-publishing. If the author uses an ISBN provided by those companies, then he or she is subsidy published.

List of Subsidy Publishers

Vantage Press
Author Solutions (AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris and Trafford)
Dorrance Publishing
Outskirts Press
Morris Publishing
America Star Books (formerly PublishAmerica)
Xulon Press
SBPRA/Strategic Book Publishing/Eloquent Books (formerly known as The Literary Agency Group and AEG Publishing Group)
Janus Press
Bookstand Publishing
Tate Publishing
Mill City Press
Whitmore Publishing Company

What other vanity presses have you encountered? Have you experience with one of these comapnies?

Monday, July 07, 2014

Search Word Pro - Pure Genius Resource for Writers and More!

One of the advantages of networking with others in the industry is to hear about new innovations long before they’re available.

I’ve known and worked with Paul J. Krupin for many years. He owns Direct Contact PR and is one of the top media experts in the business. A while back, he’d bounced an idea off me and sent me a sample of a revolutionary new marketing resource.

I was blown away. It was simple but pure genius.

And now, the series is available for everyone with more titles on the way.

From Paul’s own book, this is how it works:

Click on an icon link. Your results open up for you. Then you go looking for knowledge and ideas you can implement and benefit from, or people you want to contact. This is how this ebook works.
The goal of Search Word Pro is to help you improve your marketing success using the best and most current knowledge available. This is a very special personal tool designed to help you discover powerful and actionable information.

And that is the genius. Each search nets the most recent information. And you don’t have to struggle trying to find the right key words. Not only are there five search options for each topic, there are hundreds, even thousands, of key words and topics in each book. All just one click away. Now you see the potential!

Paul provides details and tips how to use the book to get the most potential. The benefits and possibilities are endless. And it’s not just books to benefit writers - there are health and business-specific titles, too.

Visit the Search Word Pro Website or this page on Amazon to see all of the titles.

I’m still going through the Nonfiction Book Marketing eBook and can’t recommend it enough. Go check out his books now!

Here’s just a sample of the titles for writers and authors:

Search Word Pro Book Marketing Series

Book Marketing
Nonfiction Book Marketing
Fiction Book Marketing
Children’s Book Marketing
Young Adult (YA) Book Marketing
Romance Book Marketing
Erotica Book Marketing
LGBT Book Marketing
Cookbooks Book Marketing
Memoir Book Marketing
Christian Book Marketing
Science Fiction Book Marketing
EBook Marketing
Kindle EBook Marketing
Bookstore Marketing

See a book that might help you?

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

The Insecure Writer's Support Group

It’s time for another edition of The Insecure Writer’s Support Group, hosted by Ninja Captain, Alex J. Cavanaugh. Don’t forget to check out the Facebook IWSG, too.

After completing some big projects, including moving and setting up a new website, I’m ready to get back into writing. I pulled out some outlines for some novella length stories and picked one. I already have character sheets for all four of the stories, so now all they need is for me to actually write them. My last fiction book was four years ago, so wish me luck as I dive back into storytelling.

And I want to share something that was posted last week on a List-Serv -

“Amazon is facing a battle with UK publishers as it seeks to secure more advantageous terms in its latest round of contract negotiations.

“The web giant wants the right to print books itself if publishers fail to provide adequate stock, and wants publishers to match any pricing deals it offers to other distributers.”

This was one of the responses:

“If publishers give in to this demand, presumably Amazon will require a copy of the finished publishing file to keep handy. Once Amazon has that, what is to keep Amazon from printing its own copies in-house even when the real publisher has adequate stock?”

Kind of scary when you think about it.