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Indie Author Essentials (your guide to going wide) : The Digest # 1

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Indie Author Essentials

your guide to going wide

The Digest

  1. 1

Mark Williams

The International Indie Author

The International Indie Author Facebook Group

 

© Mark Williams 2016

Introduction

The International Indie Author is a Facebook-focussed discussion and news group for indie authors looking to go wide and go global with their writing careers.

Important as Amazon unquestionably is to our career trajectories, there are many ways to compliment our Amazon sales with other revenue streams.

Over in the International Indie Author Facebook Group discussion ranges from Amazon and the other mainstream ebook stores to all manner of other ways in which we authors can build and safeguard our writing careers by reaching new readers.

Going wide and going global is not just about getting our ebooks into as many ebook stores as are practical, important though that is.

Going wide is also about being available in as many formats as practical, and in as many variant options as are practical.

Note the word practical, not possible. Each author needs to tailor their career-building to their needs and circumstances, and not all options discussed in the Essential Indie Author series will be relevant to every author.

It may well be that putting all our titles into Amazon’s KDP Select is the best option for some of us. It’s certainly the easiest, and at any given time there are always many authors singing its praises.

But equally there are many authors singing the praises of using Select as a tool with a few titles and going wide with the rest.

While still other authors will be showing us their sales figures and saying that going as wide as possible is the best route.

There are no right and wrong answers. What works well for one might not work so well for another. But only by being able to make informed decisions based on considering as many options as possible (and practical), can we get the best out of our writing careers.

The International Indie Author Facebook Group (LINK) is a great place to engage in daily discussion and debate about all our going wide and going global options, with news, views and analysis on an ever-changing global publishing scene.

During the course of any given month a lot of news and discussion takes place, and it’s easy for even the most dedicated internationalist indie author to miss key news posts and debates.

So to help indie authors keep up with the constantly shifting sand that is the international publishing arena I’ll be collating the key non-time-sensitive posts from the International Indie Author Facebook Group discussions into short, themed ebook summaries easily navigable and easily digested on any ereading device or app.

In addition to the very short essays on themed topics released as quick-fire ebooks, there will be also be a monthly ebook digest where we can find all the previous month’s non-time-sensitive discussion posts in one place, so we can dip into, see what we missed, or refresh our memory at our leisure.

 

 

Among the many subjects covered in this month’s Digest:

 

*
p<{color:#000;background:#fff;}. How one OverDrive library saw one million downloads in a year

 

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p<{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Meet the two CreateSpaces. Is CreateSpace Select on the cards?

 

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p<{color:#000;background:#fff;}. The full list of Tolino ebook stores across Europe

 

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p<{color:#1D2129;background:#fff;}. StreetLib – the internationalist indie author’s best kept secret

 

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p<{color:#1D2129;background:#fff;}. Using Wattpad data to target international hotspots for our books

 

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p<{color:#1D2129;background:#fff;}. ALLi’s KDP rules round up

 

*
p<{color:#1D2129;background:#fff;}. How to use foreign on-line newspapers to find an audience in foreign lands

 

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p<{color:#1D2129;background:#fff;}. The full list of Kobo partner stores

 

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p<{color:#1D2129;background:#fff;}. India mobile payments go multi-lingual – ebooks to follow

 

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p<{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Using international Book Fair footfall to anticipate future markets

 

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p<{color:#1D2129;background:#fff;}. Amazon is apparently losing $60 million a month in India. What it may mean for indie authors

 

*
p<{color:#1D2129;background:#fff;}. Selling Direct2Consumer (D2C) with Etsy and Shopify

 

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p<{color:#1D2129;background:#fff;}. Kobo’s new deal in Spain

 

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p<{color:#1D2129;background:#fff;}. The membership model

 

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p<{color:#1D2129;background:#fff;}. Selling books in Brazil with Avon and Tupperware

 

and much, much more.

 

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Author’s note.

 

 

 

 

AS A BRITISH EXPAT MOST of this book is written in British English, but some posts and quotes are by other International Indie Author Facebook Group members from posts or discussion thread, or from posts published elsewhere, and may be in American or Commonwealth English.

All care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information offered, and that the links are working (if any aren’t, do let me know), but do bear in mind the global publishing scene is in constant flux and what may be true or good advice one day may be quite redundant the next.

To keep up with the global publishing scene day to day join the International Indie Author Facebook Group and join in the discussion. (LINK)

This book and its content are offered free of charge, as is the content offered in the Facebook Group and on various blogs.

Needless to say the Facebook Group, the blogs and the free ebook collations are demanding of time and energy that I could be spending writing for myself.

Fortunately I live in a country where living costs are low and my income from my other books is adequate for my needs, and leave me enough over to support a number of nursery school projects here.

But if you’re finding the International Indie Author Facebook Group and blog posts and the Essential Indie Author ebooks helpful, do consider making a token donation to my nursery schools projects in The Gambia, West Africa. More on that at the back of this ebook.

 

 

 

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The Digest #1

 

 

 

November 2016

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Using Wattpad data to find international hotspots for our books

 

 

 

WATTPAD IS TEN YEARS old this month.

Yep, Wattpad has been about since before the Kindle was born, and a full three years before the Kindle store opened up to indies.

The big difference between the two of course is that with the Kindle store we can sell our ebooks and make money. Wattpad is primarily a way to connect with readers globally by giving our work away for free.

But before the shutters come down and we move on to the next item, let’s remember that “free” is actually a powerful tool, not least on Amazon, and plenty of authors are making big money by

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p<>{color:#000;}. using their KDP Select free days

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p<>{color:#000;}. getting price-matched to be perma-free

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p<>{color:#000;}. offering free material to reach audiences not usually on their radar

 

With Wattpad we can put up our works as samples, as serialised content, or as complete works. And even KDP Select authors can join in the fun because the exclusivity rule still allows us to use 10% of the book elsewhere. And what better place than Wattpad?

And actually, Wattpad can earn us money directly. Big money, sometimes. And Wattpad can even get us book and film deals!

If you’re not on Wattpad, or haven’t been near it for a while, then it’s really worth setting time aside to take a closer look.

I mean, seriously, can you afford not to have a presence on a site that gets XXXXXX

 

INSERT WATTPAD’S OWN STATS HERE

 

 

 

 

Among the many things Wattpad offers which the Kindle store doesn’t is truly global reach.

Just a reminder here that while Amazon fields a very impressive NUMBER global Kindle stores, readers outside those countries face either paying whispernet surcharges on their ebook purchases or being blocked altogether from seeing and downloading from the Kindle store.

But where Amazon does have reach, savvy indies an use Wattpad to help engage with and being more readers to the Amazon store, and as Wattpad has, effectively, global reach (countries like China and North Korea might disagree) it means Wattpad can be great for building a truly global fan base.

Another thing Wattpad offers is useful data. And sometimes that data can be a total surprise.

Take this first snapshot from the Wattpad data bin, which is for one short story title I have up on Wattpad.

 

 

Turns out this particular story has found a Wattpad audience in just one country. Yep, 100% of my Wattpad readership for this story is in... Indonesia.

That gives me something to chew on in terms of targetted promotion next year and also makes me wonder how, if the English-language version is finding a warm reception in Indonesia, a local-language translation might do.

Another title has 100% readership in the Philippines, and another 100% in the USA.

Wattpad also offers info on gender and age of readers.

I was stunned to find one of my *children's* titles getting 100% of its readers in the over-45 age bracket – in the US!

I’m now looking to duplicate this book with an adult cover for mature readers.

The second image (yet another book) shows the sort of wider coverage I usually expect to see, and again this is really useful for identifying where to focus next.

 

 

 

For this book again there’s strong interest in the USA, but what I love seeing is that I’m finding readers in the least likely places.

This particular title, unlike the one above, has found zero interest in Indonesia but is being read in the Philippines, Malaysia, India and Bangladesh in Asia, in the UK, Finland, Austria and Switzerland in Europe, and in South Africa, Namibia, Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana here on the African continent. Sadly zero engagement in Latin America.

This all refers to English-language titles. Next to start feeding out some of my translations on Wattpad to see how they fare.

For this sort of data-mining alone Wattpad is worth being on, but of course there’s so much more Wattpad has to offer.

Wattpad is one of my top priorities for engagement in 2017 as I try to gain traction in the many parts of the world where the mainstream retailers either ignore completely or make traction difficult.

Memo to (International Indie Group member and head of Kobo indie publishing) Mark Leslie Lefebvre:

– Kobo is potentially our biggest weapon in the fight for global reach, Mark, but if I send my Wattpad readers in Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, Namibia, Bangladesh, Malaysia, etc (as per second image) to Kobo they face paying the same price as I’ve set for the USA / Canada.

$3.99 may be a great deal for an ebook in Canada, but in much of the world that is a week’s food money for a family.

The territorial pricing options we now have (see below – new territorial pricing options have just rolled out on Kobo) are great, but sending the rest of the world by default to the most expensive price we are likely to have up is not a great way for us to gain traction globally.

That’s costing us readers and traction, and costing Kobo immediate revenue and lost future loyal customers who will be looking elsewhere to buy locally-affordable books..

It would be a big step forward if Kobo could separate the Rest-Of-The-World store from the North America store and allow us to set low ROTW prices to build loyal followings.

No other ebook retailer has the global reach Kobo has, but default charging of high prices in poor countries is not helping realize that potential.

I know Kobo and Wattpad work together on some things. It would be great to see the two Canada-based digital reading powerhouses pooling their data and giving authors a truly productive global engagement.

No word from Kobo yet or whether that might happen, but to be fair Kobo is busy juggling lots of other indie-friendly balls right now.

Integration with OverDrive, for example. See next item.

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One Public Library – One Million Ebook Downloads. 200 Million Overall. The Power of OverDrive.

 

 

 

USEFUL AS THE AUTHOR EARNINGS Report is in giving us an overview of the ebook market in the US and showing us how significant Amazon is for us, it doesn’t take into account small retailers, ebook subscription services and digital libraries.

These are all of course outlets those In KDP Select are missing out on. In itself a reason to be going wide. And all the more so when we look at how these “smaller outlets” are doing.

Reading some indie blogs one could be forgiven for thinking digital libraries were completely off limits to indie authors and not worth bothering with anyway (I’ll come back on ebook subscription services elsewhere), but in fact these “smaller” outlets are growing significantly. Especially digital libraries.

Take Harris County Library in Texas for example.

To kick off 2016 Harris County Library set itself the ambitious target of achieving one million ebook downloads. With 49 days to spare Harris County Library hit that target. Now it is setting a target of “at least” 2 million ebook downloads for 2017.

That’s just one county library. It’s not hard to see why OverDrive, across the board, is on target to exceed 200 million digital downloads before this year is over. And not just in the USA.

OverDrive supplies 35,000 libraries and schools in 63 countries (more than Apple!) and in over 50 languages. Some 12 titles are downloaded from OverDrive every second of every day.

When Steve Potash founded OverDrive back in the 1980s, long before Amazon came along, it was offering “ebooks” on, don’t laugh, floppy disks and the then new-fangled CD-Roms.

Even back in 2010, when the “ebook revolution” was just taking off, OverDrive saw 15 million ebook downloads.

Way back in 2011, as an early OverDrive indie, I was seeing significant downloads in Australia and New Zealand at a time when most indies really did think Amazon was the only show in town.

Back then OverDrive access wasn’t easy.

Now it’s as simple as signing up to an aggregator like StreetLib or PublishDrive or Shakespir.

And with the recent buyout of OverDrive by Rakuten, who also own Kobo, there’s a new synergy coming as Kobo and OverDrive work together to drive ebook awareness.

And the great news is Mark Leslie Lefebvre at Kobo is actively working to make sure us indies get a fair share of the Kobo-OverDrive action via Kobo Writing Life.

Are you getting your share of the OverDrive digital library action?

If not, here’s a few suggestions.

 

• Make sure your ebooks are actually in the OverDrive catalogue. But do take care not to duplicate them if you are using multiple aggregators to maximise your reach

• Make sure you let your readers know your books are available in digital libraries. A simple statement in your book backmatter like “available from all good ebook retailers, ebook subscription services and digital libraries worldwide” should get you past the Link Police

• Make sure your website, blog, etc, lets everyone know your ebooks are available. Don’t just link to OverDrive. That’s helpful, but many readers may not know what OverDrive is. Say “public library” or whatever

• Make sure everyone knows all they need is a library card. OverDrive apps are available for all devices (except dedicated non-Android e-readers)

• Let readers know they can “read for free” via OverDrive. Don’t worry. You’ll still get paid as the author/publisher!

• Click on and copy the [+ LINK+] to the Harris County Public Library story and spread the word – not least to your own local library. Let librarians everywhere know just what can be achieved with a little effort and a lot of enthusiasm

And don’t stop there.

Check your download reports and see where your OverDrive downloads are coming from. If you’re finding particular libraries are seeing some action (not just a one-off download) then reach out to the library direct and introduce yourself. Let the librarian know readers are liking your books and that you have others available. Offer some promo materials to the library. Let them know you have print books and audio-books available.

And not just at home, but globally.

Back in 2011-12 I did some great promo with libraries in Australia and New Zealand after I reached out to them when my books saw action in their libraries. They were delighted that an author in the UK even knew they existed, let alone was willing to engage with their patrons.

Nowadays OverDrive’s reach is much wider, and offers internationalist indie authors countless opportunities to build our global brand.

Yet most indies treat digital libraries as an afterthought, if they think about them at all.

That said, do remember that being in the OverDrive catalogue is only half the battle. Readers need to know we are there. The library still needs to know we are there and be willing to stock our titles.

For this reason I recommend we use StreetLib or PublishDrive rather than Shakespir to get into the OverDrive system. Wonderful as Shakespir is for some things, it carries some baggage in the public arena, and titles in the Shakespir catalogue on OverDrive may get a lukewarm reception from some librarians. Again, loading via StreetLib or PublishDrive can get around this perception problem.

Here’s that link to the Harris County Public Library story. A reminder. Over one million downloads from just one public library. (LINK)

Make sure OverDrive is a top priority in your 2017 Diversity plans.

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Ireland – It’s not just green pastures, Lord of the Dance and Guinness, you know.

 

 

 

GREAT NEWS FROM IRELAND, WHERE the country’s biggest bookseller Eason, like its UK rival Waterstone’s, has turned around massive losses and is on target to deliver a second year of profit this year.

Eason has 65 bookstores across the island of Ireland – 55 in the Irish Republic, which is an independent country within the European Union, and 10 in Northern Ireland which is part of the UK, a different independent country soon to not be part of the European Union (if you live elsewhere don’t even try to make sense of it).

As well as its bricks and mortar presence Eason has a significant online store where, many indies will be surprised to learn, they sell our ebooks.

The good news is Eason's online sales growth is running at over 30% pa, and a full 10% of Eason book sales happen online. No breakdown on ebook volume as compared to print.

If you’re wondering how to get your ebooks into the Eason store, chances are you’re already there as they are supplied by Kobo. (LINK)

The Bookseller report on Eason’s financial turnaround here, (LINK)

 

 

Beginners Level. PublishDrive on how to increase book sales.

 

 

 

PUBLISHDRIVE HAS A GREAT NEW post out on how to increase book sales.

A lot of it is routine stuff – good cover, savvy pricing, etc – but tucked away in there is something we so rarely see:

"Publishing is not about Amazon anymore, especially not in emerging markets where the growth rate of the ebook market is above 200% and the major ebook stores are not dominant."

Both PublishDrive and StreetLib offer great routes to these smaller outlets in the emerging markets, yet sadly even many advanced internationalist indies are not bothering to get on board.

Their loss.

StreetLib has the best Latin American distribution of any aggregator while PublishDrive gives us the best reach in Asia and eastern Europe, and has downstream analytics to die for. Both get us into Google Play’s 75 global stores.

See the PublishDrive post here. (LINK)

PublishDrive website here. (LINK

StreetLib website here. (LINK)

As well as selling ebooks for us StreetLib has lots more to offer, including POD (POS as they call it) and now there’s no upfront costs. More on this in a dedicated post shortly.

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Does The Election Of Donald Trump Spell Hard Times Ahead For Indie Authors?

 

 

 

I’M NOT AN AMERICAN AND HAD no role in the election, so will keep private thoughts private, but we do need to consider the repercussions of the Trump election as we plan ahead for the next five years.

Trump made a big pre-election deal about imposing massive tariffs to curb imports from China, and while not all election promises are carried through there seems a strong likelihood this one will have legs.

Our own thoughts are neither here nor there. The election is over and we all – wherever we are – must live with the consequences.

And one big consequence is likely to be smart-phone, tablet and e-reader costs sent soaring if Trump has his way. Not for nothing were all the tech companies against his election.

Teleread has a very brief post on this here - Does The Election Of Donald Trump Spell Hard Times Ahead For Indie Authors?

I’m not an American and had no role in the election, so will keep private thoughts private, but we do need to consider the repercussions of the Trump election as we plan ahead for the next five years.

Trump made a big pre-election deal about imposing massive tariffs to curb imports from China, and while not all election promises are carried through there seems a strong likelihood this one will have legs.

Our own thoughts are neither here nor there. The election is over and we all – wherever we are – must live with the consequences.

And one big consequence is likely to be smart-phone, tablet and e-reader costs sent soaring if Trump has his way. Not for nothing were all the tech companies against his election.

Teleread has a very brief post on this (LINK) -  but the realities will begin to hit home as we kick off 2017.

I’ve said previously we are facing seismic shifts in the near future, and we need to diversify if we are to ride out the tsunamis ahead rather than be swamped by them.

Needless to say the new president of the USA is one seismic shift I hadn’t planned for.

 

 

POV is all the rage this week!

 

 

 

THIS IS A GREAT INFOGRAPHIC from Reedsy that makes POV (Point of View) easy to make sense of. (LINK

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The $50 Nook Tablet.

 

 

 

BARNES & NOBLE HAS A NEW tablet out in time for Christmas. (LINK)

Needless to say some commentators are proclaiming it’s a disaster before it even reaches the stores, but other reviewers see it in a more favourable light.

That’s neither here nor there. And in any case, it will only be available in the US, so what’s that got to do with us internationalist indie authors?

Plenty, as it happens.

For us it’s a reminder that, while B&N and Nook may be struggling, there’s still life in the old dog and we should welcome any and all competition, at home or abroad.

The Nook tablet comes pre-installed with Google Play, and while it can download and work with the Kindle app it’s a safe bet most sales will come from B&N customers so any ebook sales driven by the new Nook tablet are likely to be through the Nook store or the Google Play store.

The next year or two are going to be critical for B&N, and therefore for us indie authors.

As more and more sales shift online (not so much ebooks, but print sales), so b&m stores will continue to struggle, shelf-space will continue to diminish and at some stage the tipping point will be reached where B&N will rapidly contract, perhaps to settle at a new state akin to Books-A-Million. Still lots of stores and a viable niche-market business, but nowhere near what B&N has now.

At that point the danger is that print runs become unviable (because of their reliance on volume to keep unit costs low) and the whole print sector contracts and , so the theory goes, readers migrate to digital.

But what seemed pretty likely five years ago is now still certainly possible, but not so probable.

As we wind down this decade it’s clear print and b&m bookstores still have plenty of life in them, as perhaps best evidenced by the fact that Amazon is opening b&m book stores to sell print books, something quite inconceivable back in 2010-2011 when the death of print and the death of publishers was being gleefully proclaimed.

Improvements in the economics and efficiency of digital printing also offers a new lease of life for bookstores meaning smaller print runs become viable and localized printers can arrange local delivery to stores, cutting out the costs of nationwide distribution networks.

The new Nook tablet is a sign that B&N, far from rolling over and meekly staying dead as some sectors of the indie movement would love to see happen, is fighting back.

Whether we will see any benefits in terms of Nook sales remains to be seen, but we should all be welcoming every attempt at renewal, whether in Nook digital or in B&N’s bricks & mortar venture.

B&N is diversifying, and that may well be the key to B&N still being here in five or ten years time.

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KDP Rules Round-Up

 

 

 

THERE WAS AN EXTREMELY HELPFUL round-up of Amazons rules governing KDP over on the ALLi blog. Well worth bookmarking for repeated future reference.

KDP rules area minefield, not least because they were not, until now, all to be found in one place.

It’s timely as just yesterday I received an “Amazon recommends” email from Zon UK telling me about a book that included in its title “a page-turning thriller for fans of Dan Brown.”

This sort of blatant abuse of another author’s name, along with using subjective wording like “page-turning” in the title has been outlawed by Amazon since way back in 2011, yet here was Amazon “recommending” this book to me.

That’s curation by algorithm for you.

Of course this kind of metadata abuse happens all the time, and possibly sometimes inadvertently, because authors may not be aware of the rules. But as John Doppler says in the ALLi post, ignorance is no excuse, and such crimes may get us banned from Amazon.

I’ll end this post with John’s summary on Amazon rules regarding titles and sub-titles, and rules governing keywords by way of example.

Check out the full post over at ALLi (LINK) for an overview of all the KDP rules - and bear in mind that just because other people seem to be getting away with ignoring the rules, and maybe we’ve breached a few ourselves and have had no comeback so far – doesn’t mean we won’t be pulled up next week or next month and find we’re in trouble with the KDP police and out titles have been flagged or pulled or our KDP account suspended.

 

Titles and Subtitles (Metadata)

[
• Titles must contain only the actual title of the book.]

[
• Titles may not contain unauthorized references to other titles, authors, or trademarked items]

[
• Titles may not refer to sales rank (e.g., “bestselling”)]

[
• Titles may not refer to price or promotions (e.g., “free”, “discounted”)]

[
• Companion books like study guides, summaries, critiques, or analysis must have a title that begins with that indication (e.g., “Critical Analysis of 50 Shades of Grey”)]

[
• Titles and subtitles should not contain extraneous words (e.g., description) that’s not shown on the cover of the book]

[
• Do not enter series title information if the book is not part of a series]

[
• Subtitle and Series Title fields are subject to the same restrictions as titles, above]

 

Keywords (Metadata)

[
Keywords cannot include any of the following:]

[
• The names of other authors or titles — Amazon considers this a serious offense]

[
• Amazon trademarks or program names (“KDP Select”, “Kindle Singles”, “Amazon Prime”, etc.)]

[
• Information repeated in other metadata, such as the author name, title, or series title]

[
• Claims about quality (“best”, “greatest”, “cheap”, etc.)]

[
• References to promotions or advertisements (e.g., “free”)]

[
• Time-sensitive information (“on sale”, “new”)]

[
• Common misspellings]

[
• References to things unrelated to your book (e.g., “romance” in a nonfiction book about UFO sightings)]

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India: Payments and Books.

 

 

 

REGULARS IN THE INTERNATIONAL INDIE Author Facebook Group will not be surprised to see a lot of coverage of India’s burgeoning publishing scene.

In fact, I regard India as the most exciting long-term prospect on the planet for indie authors. But as this post explored, there are hills to limb before we get there.

The online payments system PayTM, which enables millions of Indians to pay online for goods, has just announced it has seen 50 million app downloads from the Google Play store. (LINK)

Being able to pay for goods online is one of the biggest obstacles to e-commerce growth in the developing world, and operators like PayTM are as fundamental to the growth of e-commerce in these countries as the retailers themselves.

Amazon of course keeps its payments in-house for cost-efficiency and data-mining, so this announcement by PayTM will have no direct bearing on Amazon.

But what is significant is that these 50 million downloads come courtesy of the Google Play store.

That’s fifty million people going to the Google Play store who may also be using Google Play for digital downloads.

No guarantees they are, of course, and no guarantees they will find our ebooks if they do, but what we can say with certainty is that if our titles are not available in the Google Play Books store we have zero chance of seeing any action from any of these fifty million (and growing) Indians heading there.

And it’s not just about digital downloads like ebooks.

As PayTM grows its merchant base so more and more online sellers – including print book stores – will be able to serve more and more customers currently unable to buy online because they don’t have credit cards.

PayTM has partnerships with hundreds of thousands of outlets and is aiming to enable 5 million merchants by the end of the financial year.

In PayTM’s words, “This is a historic opportunity for India to skip the plastic generation and leapfrog to mobile payments.”

And this of course is a picture emerging across the globe, with payment-facilitators breaking new ground making e-commerce more user-friendly, all enabled by the ubiquitous smartphone that just a few short years ago was a luxury gimmick of the rich west.

For us authors going global this is great news, and can only get better, opening up our reach to millions – nay, billions – of people with smartphones in their hands currently disenfranchised by the inability to make online payments.

But of course no-one can even think of buying our books if we aren’t available where they are.

A final note, linking this post to recent posts about Wattpad.

Wattpad is the ideal way to connect with the global readers who can’t, right now, buy our books, but will be our future loyal readers if we will just take the time to engage with them.

Being on Wattpad – and similar globally accessible free-reading sites – should be an essential part of our long-term global strategy.

Right now some 15% of my Wattpad readers are in India, and hopefully will progress to buying my other books as and when they are enabled to.

As we head into 2017 I’ll be taking a closer look at free-reading sites and the long-term benefits of giving our work away free to the next generation of readers globally (not to be confused with flooding the existing western retailers with free, which is a different strategy with diminishing returns).

 

 

Beginner Level Fiction Writing – Using Multiple POVs In Fiction.

 

 

 

I KNOW MANY OF US HERE in the International Indie Author Group are seasoned professionals, but I also see a lot of members here at the early stage in their careers, and I get a lot of direct queries about basics, both in terms of distribution and of the actual writing process, and to some extent we are all at different levels with different aspects of our trade.

I don’t propose to start posting outright How To Write posts here, but for the benefit of newbies who understand the need to be putting quality work out but don’t have the experience or know-how I will be occasionally linking to posts – like this one over at Jane Friedman’s site (LINK) – with flags as above to denote the audience the linked posts are intended for.

Whether we are million-sellers with a ton of titles out there, intermediate authors with a handful of titles, or complete novices (as we all were at one time), it’s in all our interests to keep standards high.

 

 

 

Amazon Music Unlimited now live in the UK.

 

 

 

FOR £9.99 A MONTH (£2 PER month for Prime members) subscribers can now access over 40 million songs. (LINK)

Two things here,

First, the rise and rise of the subscription model.

Many indies are still indignantly steering clear of the subscription model because it’s soooo bad for authors. Curiously many of the same indies who screamed blue murder when Scribd and Oyster launched are in Select where inclusion in the Kindle Unlimited subscription model is part of the deal. You couldn’t make it up.

For those who do understand subscription is the new black, stay tuned to future posts as I’ll shortly be telling more about a great new option to get into the subscription market, which is booming globally..

But for now, let’s address point two.

Prime members will get the full Music Unlimited service for just £2 a month.

How long before the same goes for ebooks?

Right now Amazon just testing the waters with a curated selection (i.e. mostly not yours or mine) of 100,000 ebooks available free to Prime members.

At some stage soon it’s likely Amazon will go all the way and make the full one million titles in KU available free to Prime members.

Yes, it will bring lots more eyeballs to the KU selection, and yes it will means lots more page reads for the lucky few and the pot will see a token increase and the All-Stars payments will be wonderful.

But that will be fifty to sixty million (estimates vary) Prime members who will only be buying ebooks from the Kindle store when they absolutely have to.

Regular Kindle sales will plummet and the token gains in KU itself will be spread unevenly among the lucky few.

It will also impact on other retailers. Many Prime members may be in Prime for other benefits and buy ebooks elsewhere, but if they can read for free with Prime, why make the effort to go elsewhere?

Amazon is gradually releasing more big name titles into the KU pot – no exclusivity required – to sweeten the deal for readers. Today I received an email from Amazon UK promoting new additions to KU including Robert Ludlum.

And of course those 40 million songs from Music Unlimited for £2 a month will be another big distraction to Prime members who might otherwise be reading.

It’s a win-win-win for Amazon, of course. Whether readers are buying books or ebooks, listening to music instead of reading or watching films and TV instead of reading, the money is rolling in for Amazon.

As a business model I can’t fault it. All kudos to Jeff Bezos.

As an author, I see seismic shifts ahead as we writers try to keep market share against increasing choices and on increasingly tilted playing fields.

To those still chasing the Select dream and then complaining they are being shafted by Amazon, as I’m seeing so often right now, I would say, don’t take it so personally. Amazon isn’t shafting anyone. It’s running a business. And it’s running the business for Amazon’s benefit, not yours.

Sometimes our interests coincide, and that’s great. Sometimes they don’t, and that’s when those who have diversified stand a fighting chance of surviving the next seismic shake-up.

If we haven’t diversified our options, sown the seeds for the future and dug the protective bunkers then we will have only ourselves to blame down the road.

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Amazon Print-On-Demand. Meet the two CreateSpaces. Is POD-Select Exclusivity On the Cards?

DURING THE AMAZON-HACHETTE SPAT one of Amazon’s tactics was to push for Hachette and other publishers to use Amazon’s POD system, making sure all books were perma-available.

Needless to say Hachette didn’t go down this route, but rest assured trad pub big and small is looking closely at, and investing in, what we loosely call POD, and as the costs come down so more and more print production will shift to this model.

It’s a bizarre irony that the technology supposedly killing print will end up being its saviour. More on that in another post.

Here to take a look at Amazon Print On Demand and how it differs from CreateSpace.

Basically, if you’re an indie author you’re not welcome. Amazon POD is a business venture for publishers, and indie authors trying to get in on the act will be shuffled off to the regular CreateSpace site as per the sidebar (LINK):

Amazon ram home the point that we indies are not “publishers” (LINK):

From FAQs:

 

Q 19. I am an author and I want to self-publish, can I take advantage of Print-On-Demand to publish my novel?

The information on this website is intended for publishers, however Amazon does offer Print-On-Demand services for authors who want to self-publish. Please visit (CreateSpace) for more information.

 

And yes, Amazon does go on to explain the difference. One key difference being Amazon give publishers “exclusive benefits” not available to us small-fry.

 

Q 20. What is the difference between CreateSpace and Print-On-Demand?

CreateSpace is the platform through which both independent authors and publishers using POD can upload and manage their titles.

The key difference between the two services is that Print-On-Demand offers benefits that are exclusive to publishers, including managed accounts, flexible uploading options and additional solutions for your titles.

 

As ever, it’s Amazon’s business and they set the rules, so forget the mutinous mumblings and rumblings. Just learn to enjoy the ride and roll with the punches.

CreateSpace still offers us indies great way to get our books into print and we’d be crazy not to be using CreateSpace as part of our “going wide” strategy.

But there are plenty of other options, like Ingram, and now StreetLib’s POS print-on-demand service has dropped its upfront fees that could be well worth exploring further.

Bottom line is, print is not going to fade into oblivion any time soon. Just the opposite. Continuing improvements and cost efficiency will make digital printing more and more central to publishers whatever our size.

And with Amazon’s drive to get more publishers using CreateSpace with the professional publisher option, the print arena is about to get a whole lot more competitive.

Many of us are seeing our CreateSpace titles appear in our KDP dashboard, and I would expect that to continue apace until all KDP authors have the KDP-CreateSpace set-up available.

CreateSpace itself will no doubt become a professional-publishers only site.

No idea yet what sort of royalties pro-publishers will get compared to us indies in CreateSpace Lite. Looks like we need to be signed up to get that sort of information.

Meantime don’t be surprised if Amazon starts offering an exclusive POD-Select option, whereby we indies can get some sort of extra benefits by eschewing Ingram, StreetLib POS and all the myriad other POD options competing with CreateSpace, and have our print titles available solely through Amazon.

 

 

Going Global For Advanced-Level Indies. Selling English-Language Books In Non-English-Language Countries.

 

 

 

NB: IF WE’RE NEW TO THE global indie scene this is probably not for us and may be seem daunting, and if we haven’t got full global distribution in place may be pointless. We can’t run before we can walk. For intermediate or advanced internationalist indies, bear in mind, as ever, we can’t do it all at once, but we can pick a few key areas to target and slowly build out our global presence.

Being an intrepid explorer never happier than when crossing borders, I’ve managed to become fluent in touristy stock phrases and questions in dozens of languages, but when it comes to translating my books I defer to those who might have skills beyond knowing how to ask for coffee and a burger or being directed to the nearest toilet when diarrhoea strikes.

Fortunately for me I was born and brought up in an English-speaking country and realised early on that my language was, serendipitously, the language of the world.

I’m a big fan of respecting and trying to engage with foreign cultures and languages, of course, but from experience I know that, when the going gets tough, the tough default to English to avoid misunderstandings and mishaps.

So when ebooks came along I realised immediately that that same stroke of good fortune meant that my English-language books had a potential global audience. Not for nothing was my first indie author blog, way back in 2010 when the ebook market was for all practical purposes the US and UK, called Mark Williams International.

As we head into 2017 and the countdown to 2020 the ebook (and general book and publishing) scene has never been more globally open, and while of course translations offer our best bet for the non-anglophone countries, there’s never been a better time to have our English-language titles spread as widely as possible.

Being there is half the battle.

Discoverability?

Simple things like taking our metadata seriously can play a big role in this. SEO matters, and not just for our Amazon product page, although this is a good place to start because whatever we apply there will likely work well more widely.

But the logical next step is to gravitate to where the English-language readers congregate in different countries.

There are two angles here – ex-pats and fluent-in-English natives.

For 2017 I’ll be running a series of posts on finding English-language readers abroad on a country-by-country basis, but here just some general suggestions to warm up.

As per another post here yesterday, I’ve found I’ve got active interest in Indonesia on Wattpad for one of my English-language titles.

English-speaking ex-pats? Quite possibly. But also English-speaking natives.

No real interest yet in South Korea, but as one of my predicted hotspots I want some traction in Korea

So for 2017 I’ll be trying to get more traction with my E-L titles in these countries, and one way will be to follow English-language newspapers that serve those countries.

There are three big players in Indonesia and four in Korea –

 

• The Bali Times

• The Jakarta Globe

• The Jakarta Post

 

• Korea JoongAng Daily

 
• The Korea Herald

 
• The Korea Times

 
• Indigo (as in South Korea, not Canada)

 

Plus lots of micro-players and ex-pat websites, etc.

These newspapers, and some sites, have culture pages and some dedicated book pages, and needless to say they are focussed on English-language works.

For many English-language readers in these countries the biggest challenge they face is finding content available to them. English-language interest is of course not big enough to justify bookstores stocking more than handful of big-name E-L titles, and as I’ve covered here many times, the big western retailers aren’t always available or accessible in foreign lands. Amazon and Apple for example do not sell ebooks in Indonesia or Korea.

So what’s a poor ex-pat or English-speaking native Indonesian or Korean to do? They look to the culture sections of E-L newspapers and websites and look for local bloggers who offer news about good books and services that are available locally.

Savvy outside indies can tap into this.

This post from the Jakarta Post last month - http://www.thejakartapost.com/…/frankfurt-book-fair-the-ris… - offered me some useful insights into the Indonesian publishing scene, and the correspondent, Stevie Emilia, is on my contact list.

In South Korea the Korean Times carries posts like this - http://koreatimes.co.kr/…/ne…/opinon/2016/10/137_215605.html
- from a Korean expat now living in Florida. The post isn’t of great interest per se (so far as this topic goes), but at the end we find this:

“Hyon O’Brien is a former reference librarian now living in the United States. She can be reached at [email protected]

If we happen to be keen to get traction in South Korea then Hyon O’Brien is a possible contact we can engage to tap local knowledge and perhaps tell us who else might be able to help, and should she be interested in our genre or book topic, we might have someone to champion our book to other readers in her circles.

From such little acorns do great oaks grow.

Many journals will have in-house culture/books reporters and quite apart from being useful to connect with for general info they might, if we can make the case for a local angle, run a post on us and our work. Many will be struggling to find good stories with real local interest and just rehash stories from the wider world, so will welcome a genuine local-interest angle.

When Fiberead published the Chinese translation of my flagship title in mainland China I was able to use my contacts I had built up over previous five years for my English-language titles to make sure the Chinese translation got off to a good start. It went from nowhere and an unknown brand by an unknown foreign author to #1 across several Chinese retailers pretty much overnight.

Yes, it took me five years to become an overnight success in China, but this game is all about the long haul, sowing seeds now for future harvests.

Okay, to wrap this up a few thoughts on some of the much easier markets to tap into: Spain, France and Germany.

Spanish, French and German translations are easy to come by, but we should not assume we can’t sell our English-language titles in volume here. There are over 300,000 British expats in Spain right now, and over a quarter million in France, and over 100,000 in Germany.

For fluent native-English speakers reverse the order. English is most widely spoken and read in Germany, then France, then Spain.

A captive audience for our English-language titles if only we can find them.

Likely as not they’ll be heading for English-language sites and newspapers. I’ll restrict myself to Spain here, as the biggest British expat option for us to pursue.

Here’s a list of no less than 36 English-language newspapers in Spain. (LINK)  (NB: some may be out of date and others may have come along since this list went live, but it is indicative.)

Some cater to small audiences – take the Tenerife Sun (LINK), for example.

But often we will think nothing of going on a blog tour where we are lucky to find a few dozen readers to promote our books to, so far from dismissing micro-outlets like these we should learn to nurture them.

I contribute occasional news items on ebooks to just such outlets. No payment, of course, but it gets my name out there and usually a book mention too, so long as I can show it’s actually available locally.

If we are active book reviewers and if, crucially, we can show the books are available locally, ideally in print and digital, we may well find they would welcome regular book reviews to keep their readers engaged.

When my Sherlock For Kids English-Spanish bilinguals went live in Spain I was able to get a run of small posts across the Spanish and English-language media in Spain and its territories and picked up a few sales along the way. Now my Sherlock For Kids audio books are rolling out I’ll be back again to follow up.

For 2017 I’ll be considerably upping my engagement with such outlets as a way of building my international brand, for both my translations and my English-language originals.

As per the opening comments, this is not something we can take on large-scale – choose a few key countries and focus, then repeat – and this is not for beginners. We must be fully available where the readers want to buy their books, not just where it is convenient for us, or we will just alienate prospective readers who find they can’t read our books.

Global success isn’t a right. Nor is it a lottery. It has to be earned.

 

 

 

Kindles Are Not The Only Fruit. Meet The Devices – The Energy Sistem PRO HD.

 

 

 

ENERGY SISTEM IS ONE OF THE top e-reader brands in Spain, but their e-readers appeal to a global audience.”

So says Michael Kozlowski in a GoodEreader review.

A gentle reminder that, while it seems almost all indie authors are Kindle users, for readers the Kindle is not always the first choice.

This particular ereader runs Android, meaning a user can download the Kindle app and buy from the Kindle store.

But… and here’s the thing.. if they planned on doing that then why not just buy a Kindle ereader or tablet in the first place?

Being an Android device the Energy Sistem comes with Google Play built in, and for non-tech savvy consumers that will be as far as they go.

And if they do decide to venture further it will likely be to a local ebook supplier.

Bottom line is there are gazillions of alternatives to the Kindle even in core Amazon Kindle countries like the US and UK, and in the real world beyond the Kindle zone most consumers are not buying Kindle devices or downloading Kindle apps at all because they will find they are blocked from downloading ebooks or are surcharged if they do.

As Kozlowski notes at the end of this report,

“Energy Sistem has some strong competition in the European e-reader market. The Tagus Iris was announced last week and is currently available to purchase at Casadellibro, which is the largest digital bookstores in Spain. Bookeen just released the Cybook Muse HD and Cybook Muse Light in France. Tolino just unveiled a brand new e-reader in Germany called the Vision 4 HD and it looks like a real winner.”

In the real world beyond our cozy indieverse Amazon is a river in South America.

Pessimists will see this as a downside to going global. Optimists will see this as an opportunity.

Device neutrality, like retailer neutrality, should inform and help shape our international reach.

When it comes to global ebook sales knowing which devices are the bigger players in different countries can help us hone our targetted promotion in different countries.

I often see indies doing a promo like “win a Kindle”, but if that’s our kind of marketing ploy then in France we’d be far better off saying “win a Bookeen Cybook” or in Germany “win a Tolino” or in Spain “win a Tagus Iris” or indeed an “Energy Sistem.”

Kindles are great. But they are not the only fruit.

 

 

Tablo Launches Communities with State Library Victoria.

 

 

 

TABLO IS A STRANGE BEAST. Based in Melbourne, Australia, Tablo (LINK) is iOS focussed and despite the assertion it will get our titles into bookstores, plural only offers upload to Apple – for which it takes 20%.

The new Communities project isn’t on the Tablo blog yet, and the email news release is rather convoluted, so wont attempt to reproduce it here.

Why would anyone want to use Tablo? Beats me.

If Tablo were offering some of the fancy Apple extras only available through Mac devices it might be worth that 20%, but I’ve tried using Tablo’s ebook formatting system and it’s a mess, to be honest.

Tablo has a glossy, professional website, but if it can’t produce us glossy, professional ebooks and won’t let us load our own epubs and will only get us into a store we can get into ourselves on better terms elsewhere, then who cares?

Has anyone used Tablo and perhaps has something positive to say about it?

I hate to be negative about any publishing route that offers us choice and a means to reach new audiences, but other than perhaps finding a handful of new readers in Victoria I’m struggling to see the benefits from Tablo.

Or am I missing something? Maybe it all looks very different on an iOS device.

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Meet The Retailers – Blio

 

 

 

BACK WHEN BLIO LAUNCHED IN 2010 it was cutting edge and offered us a great e-reading experience.

It still does, but sadly it has been overlooked by the indie movement, who tend to focus on a handful of big ebook retail outlets and assume readers will be doing the same.

Blio may not have the customer volume of Amazon or Apple or Kobo, but it does have a loyal consumer base, and those readers will likely only be buying from the Blio store or downloading via the Blio store from digital libraries supplied by the Axis 360 platform.

Blio also sells paperbacks and audiobooks.

No, our CreateSpace and ACX titles won’t be there, and of course nor will our Select ebooks.

But if we are with Shakespir and have the right boxes ticked then there’s good chance our titles will be in the Blio store and on the Axis 360 platform, as Blio is part of Baker & Taylor (in turn now part of Follett).

You can check to see if your ebooks are in Blio here. (LINK)

Parent company Follett is primarily an educational-content distributor, and for those of us with content for that sector we should be making sure Follett itself is on our distributor list. (LINK)

 

Amazon is reported to be losing $80 Million per month in India. On target for a $1 billion loss in 2017.

SO RUNS AN ARTICLE IN The Hindu (LINK), and given my focus on India and Amazon’s key role in that country I had to take a closer look at what it might mean for us indie authors.

Three takes on this for us internationalist indies.

First, “loss” here of course means long-term investment. Suffering now to reap the rewards later. It’s classic Amazon strategy, and one many indies can learn from.

It’s a bitter irony that Amazon, the company that has long-term strategy at its core, actively encourages short-term thinking among its suppliers, and KDP Select epitomises this.

While Select still has much to offer, and of course the lucky few will continue to do very well, even a glance at the indie-chatterati sites will show most indies are seeing the benefits of Select slowly fading, and are faced with the cold reality that their “we can always go wide again three months later” argument has no legs, because going wide is a long-term strategy and short-termists will never see any real benefits when they keep setting fire to their bridges.

Second, while this investment in India will include publishing, and bring us authors some rewards down the road, these losses has to be covered elsewhere, and all suppliers will feel the pinch as Amazon tries to balance its books.

Third, as these losses mount it falls on the Amazon cloud to make up the difference to keep the investors happy. It’s arguable whether the AWS can muster that kind of additional income to keep Amazon in the black next year.

Recently Amazon has been enjoying unprecedented stock market highs, but the stock markets are fickle and a billion dollar loss in one country will be a hard pill to swallow.

Expect turbulence ahead as the markets react over the coming year. But keep focussed on India. These “losses” will eventually pay off big time in India and authors investing in India now will see the rewards too.

 

 

Staying with India for the next item.

 

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS, INTERNATIONAL Indie Author Facebook Group member Amar Vyas, on topping the Apple India kids’ podcast charts. (LINK)

What a great way to build up a future readership!

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Kobo now let’s us view the “foreign” localized stores.

 

 

 

KOBO IS GREAT FOR INTERNATIONAL reach but a big PITA for me has been not being able to see the localize stores, because Kobo automatically redirects us to our local Kobo store, or in my case, living in West Africa, the US “international” store.

So I was happier than a lamb with three tails when Kobo’s Mark L:eslie Lefebvre posted the following in the International Indie Author Facebook Group:

 

Quick FYI – we recently modified the main Kobo website to allow our customers to be able to see the listings in other countries. (We DEFAULT to your home territory since we can only sell things to you in the territory you are registered), but for authors, this means you can SEE what’s going on in other countries in terms of merchandising, in terms of how your title looks in another currency, etc.

IE, similar to the “experience” of going to amazon (dot) com vs amazon (dot) ca vs amazon (dot).de, amazon (dot) fr, etc

[You MAY need to be logged in in order to see the little country flag at the top – as it’s keyed to your Kobo account – and then click it to change and view your listings in other currencies/etc]

 

This came hard on the heels of Kobo’s new territorial pricing options, which I covered in the IIA FB Group the previous month and will return to again in more detail next month.

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Beyond The Ebook Store. How Avon and Tupperware are selling books in Brazil.

IN BRAZIL, OUTSIDE THE BIG cities, books are not easy to come by. As in most developing nations, fewer people read meaning less demand for books meaning fewer people read.

But still there are enough people interested in books to make being a bestseller in Brazil very lucrative if only we can get their attention.

Just hoping to sell online from outside the country is not a recipe for mega-sales. Far better if we can partner with some of the innovative booksellers inside the country who understand that in Brazil most people do not go online to Amazon or offline to their local equivalent of Barnes & Noble.

In fact one of the biggest sales channels in Brazil is door-to-door by partnering with cosmetics and kitchenware companies.

Publishing Perspectives reported today on a cook book that has sold 37 million copies in Brazil. Through the Avon catalogue. (LINK)

I’ve discussed here a few times how savvy indies could be teaming with non-book companies to get new sales channels. Right now I’m trying to get Thomas Cook interested in a specially-written series aimed at the Gambia tourist trade. But the possibilities are endless, and needn’t be limited to non-fiction and niche market titles.

Selling a Cookbook through Avon may not be as logical a fit as selling one through Tupperware, which is another big book-sales driver in Brazil, but both companies might be great fits for some of our titles.

Earlier this year I reported on an author who sold a children’s ballooning story to Virgin Airlines.

Corporate sales – direct or for selling through – are something we should also have on our “to investigate” lists for 2017.

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Amazon Prepares To Conquer The Middle East.

DUBAI-BASED SOUQ IS IN AMAZON’S sights, and that goes some way to explaining the recent moves by Amazon to counter anti-Muslim sentiment at home.

Historically Amazon has been notably absent from Muslim countries – the Kindle store for example is blocked across the Middle East and North Africa, and English-speaking Pakistan did not become the logical partner store for India (think UK/Ireland, Germany/Austria, France/Belgium, Australia/New Zealand).

Speculation varies as to whether this will be an outright buy or a stake, but it is one more sign that Amazon has the Middle East on its radar.

As with India this will probably mean a token Kindle store at some stage, and that would be welcome.

Currently Apple iBooks has no presence in the Middle East, while Kobo and Google Play are just beginning to establish themselves.

Books-wise the region is fraught with challenges, both from governmental and religious angles (usually the same thing in this case) and catering to local sensibilities will be a hurdle in its own right.

On paper the Arab nations are not “readers”, but my argument as ever is that availability and accessibility of reading material is the main cause, not any innate indifference to books.

As more local-language books become not just available but accessible (affordable and in formats local people want, from outlets local people go to) so demand will increase and in turn publishers big and small will make more content available.

Right now there’s almost zero incentive to invest in Arabic translations at an indie level because we don’t have the distribution options in place to make it viable. There are a handful of local ebook suppliers but no realistic way of getting into them

Whatever the outcome of the Souq (LINK) option, it’s a safe bet Amazon and other big retailers will increasingly try to corner the Arabic-speaking market, starting with the Middle East, and books will be a key part of that.

And given the establishment of the Sharjah Publishing City in the UAE, books might even prove to be the spearhead.

The Sharjah Publishing City, a purpose built city devoted solely to publishing, opens officially in January 2017.

The Middle East publishing scene is about to get a whole lot more exciting!

Maybe it’s time to start dusting off those Arabic-translation plans after all.

 

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Ron didn’t even upset her little ingredients on the toilet…

 

 

 

Now come on, be honest. Who isn’t reading on to find out more after a header like that?

International Indie Author Group member Amar Vyas posted it (in full below) to show how far AI (Artificial Intelligence) has to go before it starts writing our bestsellers.

This from Google’s AI Neural Network venture Literai: (LINK)

 

Ron didn’t even upset her little ingredients on the toilet, and a group of third-year girls last year. Highly bushy and then burst away from them quickly.

Thought you’re all right?” he said.

Harry grinned at Harry. “Why should she be cheerful so while you gave detentions, Moody!”

Or give them a hang of the fires and tell me — it’ll come and finish me in this Quidditch Diggory all been an Animagus like a moment,” Dumbledore snapped.

 

As I observed in comments, yesterday’s AI sci-fi is tomorrow’s reality.

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Swoon Reads launches hardcover editions and expands genre range.

 

 

 

MACMILLAN’S SWOON READS, ORIGINALLY a romance-orientated crowd-sourced submissions opportunity, is now open to pretty much all YA genres, and they’ve just released their first hardcover edition.

Swoon Reads is just one of the myriad ways in which the Big 5 and other big publishers are opening up non-agented routes to publication.

Indies serious about going wide and going global will understand that being a hybrid author with a presence in both the indie and trad pub sectorsmaximises our reach, and while Macmillan’s Swoon venture may not be a best fit for us, we should be constantly vigilant for new opportunities that trad pub bring for us.

Taking a contract like this may well mean a cut in received unit royalties compared to what we can get by self-publishing, but if we are basing our career trajectory on cold unit royalties we stand to miss out by not seeing the bigger picture.

A title or series signed up to a big publisher , even if it only does moderately well, can extend our brand and reach beyond what we can do on our own, and those new readers we connect with can then discover the rest of our catalogue and become loyal fans.

A solid diversity programme for 2017 should be inclusive of all possibilities.

 

D2C and 96% Royalties. Get Started Direct2Consumer With Shopify Lite.

 

 

 

SHOPIFY JUST DEPOSITED £9.58 IN my bank.

Nothing to get excited about on its own, but when you consider it was for a five-ebook package, each individually selling at £1.99 on Amazon, it gets more interesting.

On Amazon those five (children’s) books would have cost the buyer £1.99 × 5 = £9.95. I sell them as a pack of five (not a box set – some people prefer individual titles because they are easier to navigate and to share among the children) for a clean £10.

On Amazon each sale would net me 35% of the £1.99 each, sixty days after the end of the month in which the sale was made. That’s 0.70 a shot x 5 making a total royalty for the five books of £3.50 coming to me. Amazon would have taken £6.50 for brokering the deal.

Instead Shopify landed £9.58 in my UK account just four working days after the transaction. (3 days for US and Australia, 7 days for Canada.) That’s £6.08 *more* than the same sale would have got me on Amazon.

And for those wondering, that’s a 96% royalty rate.

Even for a higher priced item where Amazon paid the 70% royalty (minus the delivery charge) that’s still upwards of 26% less than my direct sale delivered.

Shopify will also let me sell direct on Facebook and Pinterest. Not a promotional link to a retailer but a direct sales button.

And of course I can put sales buttons on my website, blog, etc.

There’s a monthly fee of $9 for Shopify Lite, (LINK) which lets us do all the above.

The next step up is the Shopify store, which I plan on experimenting with in 2017. The monthly fee is a little higher, but when we’re collecting 95% of list price that’s no problem to cover if we have the traffic.

Where does the traffic come from? Our mailing lists are one good source. Plus of course we can directly promote our Shopify shop or individual sales links.

The downside of course is chart position on the mighty Amazon. Chart position equals visibility equals sales, as we all know.

But… If we are fielding niche-market titles (my bilinguals, for example), or have back-list titles that are not seeing much chart action anyway, D2C is a great way to maximise profits, and of course we have the customer data to up-sell further goods later.

And a shop of course means we can bundle items as we like, cross-promote items as we like, and make up our own categories, and add links to retailers too. The latter is always good idea for ebooks because some buyers will want the convenience of, say, Amazon’s one-click, or whatever.

With a shop (Shopify or whatever) we can also offer loyalty incentives. We can offer subscriptions. We can offer free bonus material. We can run promotions and competitions and special offers and Etc, etc.

Yes, these are things we can do on our regular websites, but a well-branded “shop” adds appeal and professionalism for the consumer,.

And a shopping cart system where consumers can load up a basket of goods rather than make an individual purchase then go back and do it all over again.

D2C shouldn’t be seen as trying to compete with, or as an alternative to, the big retailers. But to compliment the sales they bring us, and to build our brand and enlarge out reach.

Shopify, like Etsy and Ecwid and Selz and etc will let us load digital content and will take care of everything for us once we have the listings live, so before we protest it’s all too much work it’s actually no different in that respect from loading to Amazon or Kobo.

The big difference is that 95% royalty.

What’s your excuse for not going D2C?

Book fairs as indicators of potential global markets.

 

 

 

THE SIZE OF A BOOK MARKET IS often a reflection of local on-the-ground realties rather than potential.

It’s not necessarily that people in other countries are less interested in books and reading, so much as that they simply don’t have the book and reading infrastructure in place where they are to meet demand in a consumer-friendly way.

I’ll be coming back on this frequently in 2017 because as the Global New Renaissance gets into second gear as this decade winds down, consumer (readers, listeners, etc) worldwide are increasingly aware of what they are missing out on, and indies who go the extra mile to be available in so-called non-reading countries will reap the rewards.

Earlier this year the London Book Fair received 25,000 visitors.

Last month the Frankfurt Book Fair saw over a quarter million visitors step through its doors to see what publishing had to offer.

But Argentina’s Buenos Aries Book Fair regularly sees over one million attendees, with people queuing for hours to get a look at the book action.

And in similar vein the on-going Sharjah Book Fair in the United Arab Emirates, which winds up on the 12th, has seen 1.3 million visitors in just its first seven days.

Obviously many of these are professionals from overseas, but these massive visitor numbers also reflect keen local interest from local writers and from people who would love to read more but simply don’t have that opportunity because the local infrastructure isn’t in place to deliver books – in whatever format – at locally-acceptable prices.

It’s a reflection of the problem that in London and Frankfurt a company like Amazon will be there with stands aimed at indie authors and connecting with readers in the UK and Germany, while in Argentina Amazon is busy surcharging Argentines who want to buy Kindle ebooks, and in the UAE (and across the Middle East) Kindle ebook downloads are blocked.

Thanks to government support the UAE is about to become a hotbed of publishing and reading that will hopefully spill across the Middle East and beyond over the next few years, and there are signs Amazon is looking closely at the region (although a Kindle Singapore store is probably next on their list).

Argentina? Sadly Amazon’s ambitions in Latin America seems to have stalled with Brazil and Mexico, but fortunately for us and for Latin American readers there are plenty of other ways for us to engage in this exciting region.

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Wattpad Partners With Universal Cable Productions To Create Original TV From Wattpad Content. A Wattpad author gets a big publishing deal after just twelve months on Wattpad.

WHILE MANY INDIES CONTINUE TO regard Wattpad as some kind of third-rate option to post a chapter or two of our work before we get back to spamming everybody on Facebook, savvier indies are engaging with Wattpad for what it really is:

 

One of the foremost tools for global discovery, which can deliver benefits far beyond merely connecting with readers in far-flung lands.

 

In fact Wattpad has a history of not just connecting Wattpad authors with readers but also securing them deals with publishers, film and TV companies, and generating direct income from the site.

Wattpad has a subdivision called Wattpad Studios which is actively getting Wattpad content turned into global film and TV hits, as well as connecting with publishers and digital specialists. Earlier this year Wattpad partnered with Turner, and this week comes news that Canada-based Wattpad Studios has partnered with Universal Cable Productions (UCP), a division of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment. (LINK)

This isn’t simply a matter of a Universal Cable talent scout scouring Wattpad for something of interest, This is UCP mining Wattpad’s “real time data on what is trending, shared, reviewed and resonating with readers.”

No sooner had Wattpad announced the UCP deal than along came news of a fantasy author who, after just one year on Wattpad, raised enough interest to get the attention of St. Martin’s Press and secured a publishing deal brokered by Wattpad Studios.

““I think I’m still in shock,” says Kara Barbieri of the life-changing news. “I’ve been a writer for most of my life, and always wanted to be a published author. I can’t believe it’s finally happening, all because I shared my story on Wattpad.” (LINK)

The deal is for a trilogy, and the second book is currently being serialised on Wattpad.

Of course this didn’t happen out of the blue. Sticking our content on Wattpad and then forgetting about it is better than not being there at all, but if we take the time to actually engage with Wattpad then we are likely to see far better returns.

As per many previous posts here, I personally use Wattpad to engage with global readers and identify international hotspots of interest, but there’s much more to Wattpad than that.

Many Wattpad authors are now raking in cold, hard cash from interstitial ads placed in their stories. This option debuted in August of this year as part of Wattpad Futures, one of many Wattpad author-income-generating arms. (LINK)

Beta-testers who got an early shot at this option were typically earning $1000-$2000 per month just from having Wattpad place strategically-chosen ads in chapter breaks in their works on Wattpad.

That’s considerably more than many indies will see from their paid book sales, and this just for putting their works up for free on Wattpad,

Throw in Wattpad Brands and Wattpad Stars among many other features Wattpad has to offer us, and it’s not hard to see why I regard Wattpad as one of the most exciting out-of-the-box opportunities for indie authors who do not want to be dependent on the whims of a handful of big retailers.

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Kindle First – one more reason to be Going Wide (Unless We’re Amazon imprint authors, that is).

 

 

 

READ NEXT MONTH’S NEW RELEASES today. This month, you can download one of six early release Kindle First books for 99p, until 30 November, 2016.

 

So reads an email just in from Amazon UK, allowing me to buy any (or all) of six new Amazon imprint pre-releases for 0.99 each.

Needless to say they are already soaring up the charts and gathering reviews, and when they are “officially” released it’s a foregone conclusion they are going to grab those top spots in the charts.

Great for the author and great for Amazon. And this is Amazon’s shop. They can do what they like, of course. Don’t misinterpret this as a complaint.

But this is just one more reason why, as the October 2016 Author Earnings Report showed clearly, regular indies are seeing market share fall on Amazon while Amazon imprints surge ahead.

There are good reasons to go exclusive, with Amazon or any other outlet, and for those with sweetheart deals with any retailer then of course it makes sense. If you get an offer, go for it!

For the rest of us, exclusivity is always going to be a gamble, and as Amazon increases its focus on its own imprints at the expense of regular indies, more and more of us are seeing the benefits of going wide and going global.

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Books-A-Million Now Offering In-Store Placement For Indie Books.

 

 

 

WITH 260 BOOK STORES ACROSS the United States BAM is often overlooked by indies, who tend to see the world in terms of Amazon and B&N, but I’ve enjoyed a good few sales over the years from BAM, which used to have its ebooks supplied by OverDrive.

BAM now has its own self-pub portal (which for various reasons I’ve been unable to engage with) and this month comes news that BAM also offers indies the chance to get our print titles into their bricks and mortar stores.

From The Digital Reader, (LINK)

 

“According to the website, authors have to pay $399 and jump through a few hoops (including spending $2,800 or more):

[
1. You purchase one of our Premium Services Packages, or 1,000 print books]

[
2. When you’re ready, submit a copy of your book and purchase confirmation to your Books-A-Million contact]

[
3. Books-A-Million reviews your book for relevance and appearance]

[
4. Upon approval, Books-A-Million specifies local and/or other stores to stock your book, the on-shelf availability time period, and quantities required for each location]

[
5. You fund book publishing and shipping to approved locations]

[
6. If your book sells out, BAM will re-order/additional inventory at its option]

[
7. Unsold copies are returned to you at Books-A-Million expense after shelf-life expires]

[
8. Books sales and royalty payments are reported in your online workspace dashboard”]

 

Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader observed,

 

I question whether either program is worth it; the costs are high and the potential gain is minimal. With romance, thriller, and SF genres, for example, the market has largely gone digital. And since Createspace can distribute a POD title to bookstores, it obviates the value of bothering with niche programs like Nook Press Print or BAM Publish.

 

Hmmm.

Obviously Nate has never tried getting a CreateSpace title into B&N or BAM or other bookstores.

As for With romance, thriller, and SF genres, for example, the market has largely gone digital, Nate perhaps hasn’t heard that not all authors write romance, thriller or sci-fi and that even if they do there’s still a huge number of readers buying those genres in print.

Just not from us indies, because we aren’t available.

As I noted in comments,

[_ Given many bookstores will not stock CreateSpace books on principle (why would they want to support their biggest rival), and given CreateSpace does not offer print titles as part of the normal delivery infrastructure whereby bookstores receive and return book, there remains value to using these services *if* meaningful in-store placement can be offered. _]

The big issue for most authors will be the buy-first and maybe-later get the in-store facility.

But for established indies and hybrid authors with brand recognition, getting placement ought not to be a problem, and if they can convince management there might well be some money to be made from the many readers who for whatever reason prefer print.

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Kindles are not the only fruit. Meet The Devices – the Onyx Boox Kepler Pro.

 

 

 

WHEN WE STEP OUTSIDE OUR Kindle-centric world the range of e-reading devices available to consumers is beyond count.

The Digital Reader reported that the Onyx Boox Kepler Pro was newly available.

This is an Android ereading device which means we can actually download the Kindle app if we so desired, but most buyers will not have any particular reason to go to the Kindle store as opposed to any of the myriad alternative ebook retailers out there.

Nate Hoffelder at The Digital Reader wasn’t particularly impressed by this device, (LINK) but that’s neither here nor there.

This Kindles are not the only fruit series is to remind us all that in the real world outside our writerly existence, millions of readers will be looking at devices other than the Kindle, and many of those will be epub only.

Letting prospective readers know our titles are available for all devices should be an essential part of our promotion efforts when going wide.

Kobo Partner Stores

THIS MONTH KOBO WRITING LIFE shared an updated list of Kobo partner stores (not to be confused with Kobo localized stores), but International Indie Author Facebook Group members got an advance peek thanks to Mark Leslie Lefebvre

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p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. American Booksellers Association (LINK)

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p<>{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Angus & Robertson/BookWorld (LINK)

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Bol (Netherlands) (LINK)

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Collins (Australia) (LINK)

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Eason (Ireland) (LINK)

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Feltrinelli (Italy) (LINK)

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FNAC (France) (LINK)

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FNAC (Portugal) (LINK)

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Gandhi (Mexico) (LINK)

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Indigo (Canada) (LINK)

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La Central (Spain) (LINK)

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Livraria Cultura (Brazil) (LINK)

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Mondadori (Italy) (LINK)

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National Book Store (Philippines) (LINK)

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PaperPlus (New Zealand) (LINK)

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PriceMinister (France) (LINK)

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Librería Porrúa (Mexico) (LINK)

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Rakuten (Japan) (LINK)

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WH Smith (Great Britain) (LINK)

In fact there’s a question mark over the Philippines National Book Store, which is no longer showing any ebooks or references to Kobo. And of course just a week after this list was put up a new partnership was announced in Spain with Fnac Spain, as reported elsewhere in this Digest..

Another small point to bear in mind is that the Dutch Kobo partner-store Bol NL is not the same as the German ebook store Bol DE, which is operated as part of the Tolino group.

In discussion with the Kobo rep i n threads we were able to establish that Fnac Portugal only stocks ebooks if there is a print equivalent available in store.

Issues surrounding supply and entry into the other Kobo partner stores are on-going, but at the moment the only thing clear about the Kobo partner stores is that nothing is clear.

Stay tuned to the International Indie Author Facebook Group for updates.

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AudioBook News – Libro.fm signs deal with ABA.

 

 

 

The deal between audiobooks distributor Libro.fm (LINK) and the American Booksellers Association is finally live and it means audio-books with Libro.fm will be available in literally thousands of indie bookstores across America to add to the 160 already signed up.

Libro.fm is a US-only operation but audio-books are taking off across the world as digital negates the need for expensive devices, expensive disks or cassettes, and expensive delivery costs.

As the next stage of the Global New Renaissance unfolds, make sure audio is part of your strategy for global reach and global engagement.

Limited budget? Amazon’s ACX is a great way for us to get a foot in the door and see how easy a-books are to get out and make money from, with zero up-front costs.

And from there we can start thinking seriously about independent production for our next tranche of audio products if that’s a road we want to go down.

Full disclosure here – I’m a great fan of the royalty-share option for all my creative endeavours, and in the absence of alternatives I’m a big fan of Amazon’s ACX despite the restrictions ACX royalty-share imposes.

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Etsy – Thinking Outside The Ebook Store.

 

 

 

WHILE AMAZON SALES CONTINUE TO deteriorate for many indies, those of us who chose to go wide are often seeing revenue from other streams more than make up for the difference.

But going wide doesn’t just mean being on the other ebook retail platforms and supplementing those efforts with POD and audio.

There are a ton of other ways we can reach consumers with our books, ebooks and associated products.

My Shopify efforts are finally beginning to gain traction (see past posts ) and regular money (not much, but regular) is coming in.

And now Etsy is beginning to pay off.

Etsy is famously the handmade products platform where we sell trinkets and craft products, and so perhaps not somewhere an indie author would even consider as a means to connect with readers

But actually Etsy not only lets us sell our print books but also our ebooks and audio-books.

It takes just a few minutes to set up a “shop” on Etsy and load our ebooks in epub, mobi and PDF formats, upload covers, product description, set prices and… and off we go!

Margins are fantastic and we can price low to get consumer interest if we think that will help, although Etsy buyers are not looking for bargains, so we might even get away with pricing higher!

Etsy takes care of the downloads to the buyer and takes care of all the payments (allowing buyers to pay with credit cards, Paypal, Apple Pay, etc, without us having to have accounts ourselves) and the money, minus a small percentage (less than Amazon whatever price we charge!) and a token listing fee if we opt for automated listing renewal, is deposited direct in our bank account.

Print books, etc, can also be sold, but of course then we have to take care of delivery ourselves, but often we can get the POD supplier to deliver direct, so no big deal.

As 2017 kicks off and we head towards 2020 I’m putting a lot more energy into “other” outlets to spread the load and ride out the peaks and troughs of the mainstream book retailers.

Operators like Etsy, Shopify (which can get us direct sales on Facebook and Pinterest), Ecwid, Selz, eBay and a host of other services can get us reach among “non-readers” who might never go near a bookstore and may not be looking for a book themselves, but might think our books would make a great present for someone they know that does read.

And too we might connect with avid readers who happen to be on Etsy or Selz or whatever but who would never find us on Amazon or Apple or Kobo simply because we are lost in the ocean of other books competing for visibility.

Best of all, once we’ve taken the plunge and have fully stocked shops offering our print and digital titles we can then pop along to Vista and make some great accessory products and sell them in these stores too.

And do fancy things not so easily done on the main retailers, like bundling products (Buy 2 Get 1 Free, Buy 2 Box-Sets, or even set up subscriptions) or offer free gifts (mugs, fridge magnets, etc).with purchases.

And then we start pushing our email-list consumers towards our store instead of Amazon and co, and instead of making 70% or 35% we make 80%-90% regardless of list price.

There is soooo much more we indies can do to generate income, reach new readers, and build interest, if we are willing to step outside the convenient box that is mainstream ebook retail.

Hachette Reports Big Profits Despite Ebook Sales In Decline. Indigo Reports Sales Up. Indie Book Stores Sales Up. Indie Author Market Share Down on Amazon. What went wrong?

 

 

 

IT WAS ALL SOOOO PREDICTABLE. Along came the Kindle store and cheap ebooks and it was just so obvious print was dead, the big publishers were rearranging deckchairs on the Titanic, and bricks and mortar stores were absolutely not where customers wanted to shop.

Or so we were gleefully told.

And so it came to pass. Two big publishers amalgamated, Borders folded, bookstores closed and ebook sales soared.

But ebooks aside, this was nothing new. Just the normal cycle of business.

As we head into 2017 Amazon is lining up more and more bricks and mortar stores – not just for books, either. Grocery stores are on the cards. So much for the extinction of high street shopping as everyone buys online.

B&N may be struggling, but other b&m stores are doing just fine. So much so that commentators are having to remind us that these bookstores aren’t really bookstores any more, as they sell other things too.

Somehow this criteria doesn’t apply when we talk about Amazon, the bookstore that now makes just 7% of its revenue from books and publishing.

Simple fact is, diversity is key to survival, and is how Amazon got to be the powerhouse it is today.

Then there’s Hachette. The latest Harry Potter book has helped to boost Hachette’s profits, so the commentators are gleefully explaining that the book is in fact a playscript and therefore doesn’t count. I wonder what Shakespeare would make of that.

Hachette ebook sales are down, but strangely I don’t see many indies raving about their ebook sales soaring, and as we all know the Author Earnings Report confirmed clearly that indie sales are in fact down.

Indie commentators are gleefully explaining that Big Pub’s “agency pricing” is to blame for the fall in trad pub ebook sales, yet indie sales are falling too. Might it be there are actually other factors at play that can’t be blamed on Big Pub and are therefore best not mentioned?

One obvious factor we prefer not to think about is the rise and rise of alternative entertainment in the form of music and video streaming, and Pokemon Go alternative reality (AR), etc, all distracting might-be readers from actually reading.

But that’s just one factor. Diversity of reach beyond the mainstream retailers is another.

In a revealing interview last month Hachette’s head of digital, Neil de Young said about ebook sales,

“I think that digital reading is simply expanding into lots of different mediums that are difficult to quantify and track. Subscriptions services and library lending are on the rise as an example. Additionally, some verticals are migrating to mobile apps, we see this primarily in lifestyle and reference. I think digital reading is probably up overall, but it’s spread out across lots of different mediums that we don’t necessarily have good visibility into.” (LINK)

It’s an interesting point to ponder. Is ebook reading in decline, as AAP reports and even Author Earnings now suggests, or is in fact it simply the case that as smartphones take over from ereaders as the core digital consumption device, readers are looking elsewhere than just the big retailers for their daily dose of books?

Indie commentators tend to see the world in terms of our own parameters, forgetting that businesses – and consumers – work on models other than just what suits us.

Which is why while indies are obsessing about ebooks, Hachette’s business is still, as de Young notes, 70%-80% print.

Interactive ebooks are another area where many indies are so busy denouncing the idea because it isn’t convenient for us that we lose sight of the possibility that the people who matter – the consumers – might not share our myopic vision.

De Young mentions Mario Batali’s Big American Cookbook, which has app-like features like grocery lists, timers, and video, as an example of a very successful interactive ebook.

But if it isn’t topping the Kindle fiction charts then, as with the Harry Potter book being, heaven forbid, a playscript, it doesn’t count in the eyes of many indie commentators.

Bottom line is the publishing business is nowhere near as black and white as some indie commentators suggest.

Yes, as even de Young acknowledges, digital will eventually replace analogue as the primary consumption mode, for book-related products, but it‘s nowhere near happening yet.

And to the extent that it is happening at all, it is happening in consumption areas (subscription, sachet-marketing, serialisation, digital libraries, D2C, bulk supply, etc) beyond the mainstream retailers that most of us indies deem the only outlets worth bothering with.

Our loss.

If we intend on still being relevant come the end of this decade then we, like Big Pub, and b&m stores and, yes, the big retailers themselves, need to diversify and evolve as the consumer market evolves.

Partying like it’s 2012 may be convenient and easy, but wallowing in nostalgia for the good old days won’t pay the bills.

There are seismic shifts ahead and we can ride the tidal wave coming, or be swamped by it.

Make diversity the name of the game in 2017.

Diversity in output. Diversity in format. Diversity in reach. Diversity in consumer-engagement. Diversity in thinking.

 

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Here’s something you don’t see very often – one aggregator openly linking to its “rivals.”

STREETLIB’S NEW VENTURE INTO the USA, headed locally by Giacomo d’Angelo, faces a huge battle for brand recognition given the headstart Shakespir and Draft2Digital has in that field.

One reason I love StreetLib, despite their stoneage upload interface (which they assure me is being updated) is that StreetLib has global vision and embrace inclusivity.

It’s a theme explored in this post over on Medium where Giacomo d’Angelo notes,

“Completely relying on the commercial decisions of just one corporation, or even a few of them, isn’t smart at all. This decision will probably soon affect either you or your beloved readers!”

Check out all of what Giacomo has to say here. (LINK)

Memo to Giacomo, and to Anne-Catherine de Fombelle and Antonio Tombolini at StreetLib – you guys could really do with diversifying your media reach for posts like this. Despite being on Medium and following Giacomo I only came across this post through a third party.

Ditto Kinga Jentetics at PublishDrive – I try follow closely what you guys are doing and I still miss lots. A safe bet the majority of indies who don’t know StreetLib and PublishDrive even exist, let alone what you offer us, are not seeing posts like these.

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Books On TV. Apple Show Us How It’s Done.

 

 

 

HERE IN WEST AFRICA BOOKS ARE in extremely short supply. One textbook between a class is quite normal, and at nursery school level paper and pencils, let alone books, are luxuries most kids won’t experience even in school, let alone at home.

But just as the poorest countries on the planet are skipping the desktop era and going from no internet access to 3G and 4G smartphones, so the potential is there to skip the book supply problem and go straight from no books to in-class digital learning.

At the moment unit costs are still high for things like 32” flatscreen TVs (twice the cost of the UK, for example) but one such TV can be watched by a class of school kids and educational content loaded on a flashdrive can bring to life literacy and numeracy in a remote village class if someone turns up with a TV monitor and a car battery and inverter. A solar panel can keep that battery recharging for a long time.

Bigger screens and digital projectors are still ridiculously priced here, but as those prices come down so more and more schools will be able to engage.

In 2017 I’ll be launching some crowdfunding campaigns to try get this sort of simple tech into more schools here, but right now I’m looking on enviously at what Apple are offering kids in the rich west with their new iBooks StoryTime offering.

As other players get into this, and similar books are available without the need for an iOS device, there is huge potential globally to transform class education with this sort of book-app. played out on large screens.

For those writing for the education sector a whole new market segment is opening up.

But of course these sorts of enhanced ebooks have scope beyond education and the niche market genres like cookery and crafts, and also present exciting possibilities for fiction writers to create large-screen content.

And we really needn’t wait. Many laptops and smartphones have streaming or HDMI cable capacity already, meaning that we can offer dedicated large-screen enhanced content as a supplement to our regular titles.

Many authors of course are already doing this after a fashion with youtube videos, etc, but savvy authors can take this to the next level with presentations designed to be best watched on large screens.

And as ever, before we reel off the well-rehearsed stock excuses about not having the time or skills to do anything beyond write our ebooks, a reminder that we can always team up (for royalty share or fixed fee or some other barter exchange) with those who do have the time and skills and let them do the work, just as we do with cover designs, editing, translations, audiobooks, etc.

Large screen TV interactive books and book-related content is just one more way in which we can diversify in 2017.

 

 

Finding Publishers in East Africa.

 

 

 

International Indie Author Facebook Group member Jo Mach posted to say she was

 

trying to find a distributor or publisher to work with in Tanzania. I tried to make email contact with three I found listed on an online international publisher list. I had no response. I will soon have five children’s book with photographs from that area. Three are bilingual English/Swahili.

 

I was able to point Jo in the direction of an article in Publishing Perspectives about Huza Press in Rwanda (LINK), but as I said in response,

 

It’s the usual superficial waffle from Publishing Perspectives, which has gone sadly downhill this past year since Daniel Berkowitz got edged out.

But if you care to dig deeper you can check out Huza’s CEO Louise Umutoni, who has a mission statement on Linked-In (LINK)

I am committed to the development of the African continent. I strongly believe in the role that knowledge creation and dissemination will play in this process and hope to contribute to the growth of institutions and structures that facilitate this process.”

I added,

Umutoni is Rwanda-focussed and strictly-speaking looking to support Rwandan authors, but Swahili is spoken in Rwanda, and English is since 2008 the main language used in Rwandan schools, so a good chance your project may catch her interest directly as a path to literacy. In any case Umutoni may also have contacts elsewhere in the region and know the right people to speak to.

I then added,

Typically the Publishing Perspectives link to the original post in the New Times doesn’t work, but you can find the full post here. (LINK)

This is in itself a point worth developing. The New Times is Rwanda’s main English-language newspaper. There are plenty more, in all the key countries you need to be looking at. It would be worth spending some time checking those out, identifying culture and education correspondents for each, and getting in touch to explain your project and explaining how you are trying to find local publishers and interest from afar. Very likely they will jump on the story as a news item, and just possible some will take it further themselves, or someone in a position to take if further will see the news item and follow up.

A question on Translation Rights.

 

 

 

International Indie Author Group member Denise Baker Gaskins posted,

 
I just got an email from someone who might be interested in publishing my (nonfiction) book in Korean. I’ve never sold foreign-language rights before. What should I expect? They’ve asked me to send them a pdf copy for consideration. Is that normal? If they come back with a contract offer, what would be reasonable terms?

 

How long is a piece of string?

Reasonable terms depend on what you want from the deal and what you can do yourself without the deal.

Unreasonable terms are the first consideration. Red flags:

• Does the publisher ask you to pay towards publication or translation?

If yes, say goodbye.

• Does the publisher want rights for anything other than the Korean language?

If yes, say goodbye.

• Does the publisher require exclusivity for your other books, current or yet to be written?

If yes, say goodbye.

• Does the publisher want a never-ending (“in perpetuity”) contract?

If yes, say goodbye.

Beyond that, ask yourself this:

Can you - *realistically and cost-effectively* - translate, publish and distribute this book in South Korea yourself?

If yes, then do a lot of homework, research the publisher, research the market, and make an informed business decision.

If not, treat this as a golden goose.

At worst it’s X% of something as opposed to 100% of nothing.

At best, it could be the start of a very nice relationship with South Korean consumers for this and other books, and a route into other markets because once you prove your book has interest in one foreign market, publishers in other markets will want a share of the action.

Asking for a PDF is quite normal, and a good sign that they are serious. If this were a pirate outfit they’d have just downloaded and copied the book somewhere, not told you of their interest.

As you become more experienced there are other considerations you might want to ponder, and you might be in a position to negotiate better terms, but as a first foot on the global translations market ladder, subject to the red-flags mentioned above, this sounds promising.

Group member Pip Reid added, You might find this book useful : How Authors Sell Publishing Rights by Orna Ross (available from all good ebook stores).

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Kindles are not the only fruit. The Tolino Vision 4HD.

 

 

 

TOLINO HAS A NEW E-READER out in time for Christmas. (LINK)

No, I don’t collect affiliate sales fees and this is not an ad for the device.

Rather a reminder that, out there in the real world beyond the indieverse, readers do not all own Kindles and Amazon is not the one-stop ebook shop for most people in the world, no matter how much our sales data suggests otherwise.

Tolino is a major ereading device and app across much of western Europe (not just Germany). It’s also a consortium of ebook retailers again across much of western Europe (Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, Netherlands and beyond. And by any reasonable guestimate Tolino is on par – if not bigger than – the Amazon Kindle store in several of these countries.

Like with any dedicated epub device, Amazon ebooks are simply not compatible with these devices or apps, so it doesn’t matter how many times Tolino readers see our promo for our Kindle titles they aren’t going to buy our books.

Time and time and time again I see indies take the plunge and try to go wide and go global – and then carry on promoting their Amazon titles exactly as they did when they were in Select. And then they complain that they aren’t seeing any sales anywhere else.

At which point we might be feeling complacent and congratulating ourselves because we always add our Apple and Kobo and Google Play links, so we’ve covered all the bases.

But here’s the thing. These millions of Tolino customers are not using iTunes or Kobo or Google Pay Books. They are shopping at the Tolino stores.

Or whatever other store serves their particular device.

Too many to even think about promoting all the links, of course. but the simple expedient of saying

available at all good ebook stores and digital libraries

or

available in mobi and epub

or

available for all e-readers and tablets

will send out a clear message that it will be worth that reader’s time going to their preferred ebook store to buy.

And conversely when a Tolino reader sees Amazon, Nook, Apple, Kobo and Google Play links and nothing else it’s not unreasonable to assume the book is not going to be in their preferred ebook store, so they will move on to the next author.

Tolino here being used as an example. only. There are soooo many different ereading devices and apps out there that are not compatible with the Amazon store.

As we head into 2017 I’ll try explore further just how big the non-Kindle ereading market is outside the US and UK and why we need to get into the habit of promoting books rather than retailers.

And not just outside the US. Within the US there are literally hundreds of micro-ebook stores served by Kobo, for example, that are not seeing any benefit when we promote our Kobo link.

I’ll come back on this another time.

Here just to wrap up with a list of some of the Tolino stores (DE = Germany, AT = Austria, CH = Switzerland, NL = Netherlands).

 

• books.ch

 
• Buch.de

• buch.ch 

• Buecher.de

• eBook.de 

• Hugendubel.de

• Libri 

• libris.nl 

• Mayersche.de

 
• Osiander.de

 
• Thalia.de

 
• Thalia.at 

• Thalia.ch

• Weltbild.de

 
• Weltbild.at

 
• Weltbild.ch

 

We can get into Tolino direct if in Germany, (LINK) or via Draft2Digital, Shakespir, StreetLib or PublishDrive.

 

 

Kobo Spain – Kobo devices now being sold in Fnac stores.

KOBO HAS STRUCK A DEAL WITH Fnac Spain (LINK) to sell Kobo hardware, and possibly ebooks, but this may just be a hardware deal.

The move compliments Kobo’s presence in the La Central, which Kobo partnered with back in 2013.

Kobo already has partnerships with Fnac France (LINK) and Fnac Portugal (LINK).

According to GoodEreader’s coverage of the Fnac ES launch, “Kobo by Fnac offers a localized eBookstore built for the Spanish reader, offering the best Spanish, Catalan, Basque, and Galician language eBooks, within a global catalog of 5 million eBooks across more than 100 languages.”

At the time of this being published the Fnac Spain store wasn’t showing the Kobo ebook store, but hopefully that will have been sorted by when you are reading this.

The move compliments Kobo’s presence in the La Central, which Kobo partnered with back in 2013.

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Meet The Retailers – Bookmate.

WHEN IT COMES TO GOING GLOBAL, Bookmate (LINK) is a must. The originally-Russian ebook subscription service has reach far beyond Russia, with a dedicated presence in countries as far flung as Bolivia, Singapore and Indonesia, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan and the CIS.

Team Bookmate is currently negotiating for a firm presence in the Philippines, with Malaysia and Vietnam next on the cards, before they turn their attention to western Europe.

The Bookmate app is available in nine languages, but English, Russian, German and Spanish titles dominate when it comes to reading.

We can get our titles into Bookmate via StreetLib and PublishDrive.

Find Bookmate on Facebook here. (LINK)

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The Membership Model

BOOK MACHINE HAS AN INTERESTING post this week on the membership economy. It’s aimed art bigger publishers than us indies, but the model itself has much to offer whatever size we are.

Amazon Prime is a fine example of the membership model, of course. But so, although we may not think of them in those terms, is Kindle Unlimited, or Netflix. Where KU and Netflix differ from other subscription services is that some of the content they offer is exclusive, either as KDP Select content or as Netflix original content.

Pottermore is another fine example of the membership model.

In each case, while much of the content is available more widely, there is also exclusive content and other advantages available only to those who sign up.

Members can get benefits in myriad ways, and just how many really is down to how far we want to go.

For 2017 I’m launching my own Sherlock For Kids Club to build on my *Classics For Kids : Sherlock Holmes* series. The books are already available as ebooks, paperbacks and audio, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for potential returns, and the membership model gives me a great way to reach further..

An interactive membership club will allow me to engage directly with those who have shown enough interest (by signing up and participating, not just reading the books and moving on). In this instance the members will be children and their parents. A clear niche audience that I can offer, for example, drawing and story-telling competitions, the chance to be a character in a future *When Sherlock Was A Boy* book, child-friendly Sherlock-orientated quizzes and puzzles, and of course free and specially priced books and bundles, including personalised editions, signed copies, etc.

Yes, we can do all this through a well-thought-out newsletter, but newsletters are ephemeral things, received, read and discarded. It’s not as inclusive as a membership or club option, and most importantly it’s not inclusive of the membership itself.

newsletter subscribers do not get to interact with one another in the way they can in a membership group. A newsletter is a one-author-to-many-readers conduit. A two-way engagement.

A membership club model utilising a social tool like Facebook (or any like service) offers interactivity between members at a basic level, where the originating author can sit back and direct the flow without sacrificing editorial control or letting the club get hijacked by hostile or self-centred interests.

I’m soft-launching in the new year with a simple exclusive (ie private or “secret”) Facebook Group membership option, driving traffic in the usual ways.

Using my Shopify account I can sell direct on Facebook offering special members-only deals, and when hosting competition such as a Draw Sherlock contest members can upload their efforts direct for other members to see.

It will be a slow starter, of course, but from there I can engage schools and hopefully over the first year build interest to a point where a dedicated Sherlock For Kids members-only website becomes worthwhile.

It’s just one of many small-scale membership models I’m looking at for 2017 for my varied content, where I can focus fully but separately on Sherlock For Kids, or West Africa, or British thrillers, or YA boarding school mysteries, or etc.

In every instance there is exclusive bonus content that can be offered to make (free) membership worthwhile, and as it grows the option is there to offered tiered paid membership levels with extra benefits.

And of course all direct sales we can acquire instead of sending readers to the regular retail outlets, is more of that list price (up to 96% - see previous posts on Shopify) coming to us.

The membership model. Just one more way in which we can diversify this coming year, reduce our reliance on a handful of outlets, and have some control over our career trajectories.

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Kindle Unlimited Now Available In Australia.

 

Those indies still clinging onto Select have another excuse to give it “just one more try” as KU launches in Australia.

Several industry commentators including The Digital Reader fell into the exchange-rate trap and mouthed off about how expensive the KU-AU plan was, at a whopping $14 a month, ad that Australians were being fleeced – until someone pointed out that $14 AUD is actually about the same as $9.99 USD. (LINK)

Too funny, but also a lesson there for the many indies who let the retailer set the price when they upload titles to KDP, KWL, etc.

I’ll be coming back on international pricing in an in-depth post shortly.

Meantime KU-AU is unlikely to bring much to the table for those in Select, and of course nothing to those who aren’t.

That said, Kindloe Australia’s reach looks impressive on paper. Here’s th ful reach of our ebooks on Kindle AU:

 

*
p<>{color:#606060;}. Australia

*
p<>{color:#606060;}. New Zealand

*
p<>{color:#606060;}. Cocos (Keeling) Islands

*
p<>{color:#606060;}. Christmas Island

*
p<>{color:#606060;}. Heard Island

*
p<>{color:#606060;}. McDonald Islands

*
p<>{color:#606060;}. Cook Islands

*
p<>{color:#606060;}. Tokelau

*
p<>{color:#606060;}. Niue

*
p<>{color:#606060;}. Norfolk Island

 

Other retailers with Australian localised stores should have the same reach.

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Sprint-Based Digital Innovation – Flipper, and Why “Just one More Try” Isn’t a Viable Career Strategy for Indies.

 

 

 

 

WITH AN EYE ON THE CHRISTMAs trade Penguin Random House UK has launched Flipper, a book-recommendation tool. (LINK)

I can’t get it to work, but that may be a territorial issue. But what little I can see of it is impressive and shows once again that while the die-hard indie fringe is still crowing about how publishers are dinosaurs and digital will destroy them, the publishers themselves continue to embrace and innovate.

“Sprint-based digital innovation” is one of PRH’s consumer-driven initiatives to identify and exploit niches consumers point to – as per example this Christmas-gift-book recommendation tool. We can expect a bigger and better version of this in 2017 aimed at a wider audience.

Behind this, of course, is not just the issue of driving sales at retailers, but perhaps more importantly longer-term of harvesting consumer data and engaging in direct sales (D2C).

Harvesting consumer data in the form of an email list is of course common in the indieverse – and ironically some are making even bigger money selling the email-list idea itself – but we indies are in danger of being left behind if we continue to focus solely on “email lists” as the holy grail to sales when in fact all we are doing is building a twentieth century email list and then sending those readers to a big retailer for our next book, usually with the object of blipping the charts for a day or so..

That’s a great start, of course, and a well-managed email list (as opposed to a predatory spammy list) can be very effective.

But it’s also limited in scope and lacking vision. I’ll be exploring our options in future posts.

Here just to say that, as we head into 2017 and the countdown to 2020 gets under way – the era of 5G, virtual reality and the Internet of Things – we are in danger of expending far too much effort clinging on to what worked last year instead of looking at what will work next year.

Looking at the indie landscape it’s quite depressing how little has changed for most of us since 2009.

We indies could do with some “sprint-based digital innovation” ourselves

Many indie blogs and FB groups are still repeating the same tired old discussions they were having five years, four years ago, three years ago, two years ago and last year about how to promote, how to get “discovered”, whether or not to be in Select, whether or not to go wide, whether to have translations, audio-books and paperbacks, etc.

All utterly convinced life is unfair, Big Pub and the retailers and agents and successful indies are conspiring against the little guy, and that if they just carry on doing what sort of half worked five years ago and worked a little bit four years ago and pretty much hasn’t worked since, it might all suddenly change tomorrow. Or Spielberg will appear on their doorstep with the life-changing contract in his hand.

Optimism is great. We all need to persevere when things aren’t going so well, and sometime external factors can totally disrupt our career trajectories.

But we also need to be realistic. To take the blinkers off and see when an idea is past its sell-by date, is on its last legs, or simply was never going to work in the first place, no matter how easy and convenient it was for us.

I’m not into New Year Resolutions – if something’s worth doing then do it now, don’t use the calendar as an excuse to put it off.

But if we ever needed something to focus on as we say goodbye to the final few weeks of this year and embrace 2017,it should be to sit back and take an objective look at where we are now, and address what hasn’t worked and why.

Because if we don’t, then this time in 2019, many of us will be heading into the next decade still having these same blinkered debates about how to promote, how to get “discovered”, whether or not to be in Select, whether or not to go wide, whether to have translations, audio-books and paperbacks, etc.

In November 2019 we’ll still telling ourselves that just because it hasn’t worked for the past eight years doesn’t mean it won’t work tomorrow, if we give it just one more try.

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StreetLib Distribution

 

 

 

 

WHEN DECIDING WHICH AGGREGATOR to use for any given title we need to first know where the aggregator can get us and compare that list to an alternative distributor’s options.

This ensures we don’t duplicate our titles, ensures we haven’t missed an outlet completely, and allows us to visit the outlets individually to check all our metadata, covers, pricing, etc, has fed through properly.

The latter is important.

Not every retailer (in fact, apart from Apple and Google Play no retailer) has the resources and tech skills of Amazon, and so for whatever good or bad reasons, sometimes covers don’t appear, or the product description gets mangled or whatever. Usually these can be fixed if we let the distributor know there’s a problem.

It’s worth the effort because we could be missing not just on immediate sales but potential future sales from readers who see our messed-up listings and move on to another book and author.

I’ll come back on distribution reach in detail in future posts, but for today here’s the current list of outlets StreetLib may get our titles into.

I say may because

a) Not all titles are suitable for every retailer (an academic textbook retailer is not going to stock our paranormal shapeshifter fantasy)

b) Some retailers will limit their stock by volume or language or some other criteria

c) Some outlets on the list below may be out of date.

Team StreetLib, I had to, for example, omit Sony and Txtr, two now defunct outlets still showing on the StreetLib list in the self-publish dashboard.

Others may also be non-operational. I will at some stage work my way through them all, but meanwhile if anyone knows that any of the below are in fact now defunct do let me (and StreetLib!) know.

Some of these are retailers, some libraries, some subscription services, some are themselves sub-distributors, etc. I haven’t made any distinction below, but I will have a more comprehensive breakdown of the StreetLib list in the New Year when I’ll be issuing a series of ebook guides to going wide with detailed analysis of each aggregator and what they can and cannot do for us.

To do that I need first to pick the brains of the StreetLib team and make sense of

a) the discrepancies between the list of outlets we can opt in or out of in the upload dashboard, and the list of partner stores. For example, Spain’s Tudos Tus and Spain’s El Corte Ingles are listed on the book-stores page but not in the upload dashboard.

b) why titles that would be logical fits are not appearing in significant and relevant outlets. For example, the Spanish-language Latin American subscription service Leamos is carrying more of my English-language tiles than my Spanish titles

c) why the book-store page says our titles will be in Bajalibros LatAm but the upload dashboard says Bajalibros EU, suggesting only Spain.

Lots more questions to come. StreetLib! 

Meantime here’s the StreetLib list as in the upload dashboard of StreetLib Selfpublish today.

 

1. 24Symbols

2. 9am.it

3. Amazon (all Kindle stores except China)

4. Apple iBooks (51 global ebook stores)

5. Artcivic.com

6. Bajalibros.com/EU

7. Barnes & Noble

8. Bezkartek.pl

9. Biblet.it

10. Bidi.la

11. Bookmate.com

12. Bookolico.com

13. Bookrepublic.it

14. Casadellibro

15. Decalibro.it

16. Dottorebook.com

17. Ebook.it

18. Ebooklife.it

19. Evribook.com

20. Feedbooks.com

21. Gandhi

22. Google Play Books (75 global ebook stores)

23. Harmankitap.com

24. Hoepli.it

25. Hummingbirddm.com

26. Ibs.it

27. Ilgiardinodeilibri.it

28. Kitabyte.com

29. Kobo (best global reach with localized and partner stores)

30. Leamos.com

31. Libreriaebook.it

32. Libreriarizzoli.corriere.it

33. Libreriauniversitaria.it

34. Librisalus.it

35. Librisite.com

36. Librouniversitario.it

37. Macbook

38. Macrolibrarsi.it

39. Medialibrary.it

40. Mrebook.it

41. Mystore.biblon.it

42. Nineva

43. Nubleer.com

44. Omniabuk.com

45. OverDrive.com

46. Perubookstore.com

47. Playster.com

48. Readdict.com

49. Sanpaolostore.it

50. Scribd.com

51. Sebina.it

52. StreetLib.com

53. Thefirstclub.net

54. Tolino

55. Unilibro.it

56. Webster.it

57. Winvaria.it

 

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EbooksAreForever Lives! Maybe.

 

 

 

 

THERE’S BEEN NO SIGN OF life on the EbooksAreForever indie-books-into-libraries venture since summer 2015, when it all seemed to grind to a halt.

Yet now out of the blue comes news that Amigos eShelf Services has apparently signed a deal with EbooksAreForever. (LINK)

I’m not sure this means anything at all right now. EAF appears to be dead in the water – not a blog post or tweet for over a year – and even if this is a sign of life then at best this means that libraries can, if they were ever so inclined, and happened to be using Amigos in the first place, go to the EAF website and look at the indie titles available to buy.

“As a result, a library can now visit the EAF website and purchase individual titles or the entire collection using its Amigos eShelf Service identification number.”

The thing is, we indies have been getting into digital libraries for years via OverDrive and Baker & Taylor, etc, so I have never seen the need for a service like EAF except as a curated service for the elite few.

That might have been great if there had been the interest from libraries, but libraries already geared up to big suppliers like B& T and OverDrive and 3M were never going to engage large scale with EAF for a handful of curated titles.

And there was always the bizarre anomaly that one of the big name indies behind this project – Joe Konrath – is a major advocate of Amazon’s KDP Select which requires exclusivity and prevents any participating indie having their ebook anywhere else – including in digital libraries.

But any and all extra options open to us are of course to be welcomed, and if EbooksAreForever has in fact been just slumbering and is not defunct then this may indeed be good news of sorts.

Maybe the “bonanza of awesomeness” promised in the last EAF blog post in August 2015 is finally coming.

But given the last tweet from EAF was in September 2015, who can say?

 

 

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To Inkitt or not to Inkitt

 

 

 

 

THAT WAS THE QUESTION OLGA Olha posed when linking to a post in What’s New In Publishing. (LINK)

“In less than 2 years from launch, Inkitt has attracted over 700,000 unique readers”, claims the Inkitt press release, before going on to talk about the signing of the platform’s first four algorithm-chosen novels, which apparently all became “bestsellers in their respective categories upon launch.”

Of course, being a bestseller in a nonsense category is pretty meaningless, and at this point I’m not that familiar with Inkitt, but that didn’t stop me offering an off-the-cuff assessment.

Essentially Inkitt is, at the consumer end another free-reading site, not unlike Wattpad, but with a unique angle in that it employs an algorithm which analyzes reading patterns to predict future bestsellers and then offers to publish the book if said book is predicted to be bestseller material.

Or so the theory goes.

A couple of pale red flags for anyone thinking of jumping in with Inkitt.

Their opening gambit is classic but unsound.

The entire publishing industry has always relied upon the subjective and emotional opinions of their decision makers. This is why Harry Potter was rejected by 13 publishers, Twilight by 14 and Carrie by Stephen King was refused by 30 publishers.”

Well, we indies certainly like to cite these sort of “facts” as proof-positive trad pub doesn’t know what it’s doing,

Or just maybe the first half dozen submissions were crap and the author rewrote and rewrote and learned the craft further and even then professional editors called for more substantive rewrites. These “X got rejected Y number of times” stories have no value unless the first draft that was rejected was the same one later accepted. And even then so many other factors come into play. Maybe the first rejections were because the timing was wrong or the newbie author sent the book to the wrong type of publisher, etc, etc.

But getting back to Inkitt.

The author submits a novel. Readers respond. If Inkitt’s algorithm perceives a positive response then Inkitt offers a publishing deal.

Here’s where it gets murky.

The deal is ebook only, as you’d expect.

Inkitt: “[_ We publish your eBook and run marketing campaigns to make it a bestseller. If we don’t sell more than 1,000 books within 12 months, you get all your rights back. You receive a 50% royalty.” _]

50% of what? List price? Net? How does Inkitt define net if so?

Where will Inkitt get the book out to? Just the usual handful of stores we can easily do ourselves?

Marketing campaigns? Sounds grand, but that could mean a tweet and an FB post on day one and then sit back and see what happens.

Then it gets murkier.

“[_ We pitch your book to A-list publishers (e.g. Penguin Random House, Simon & Schuster, Macmillan, HarperCollins and Hachette) and negotiate the best licensing terms for you. You receive an 85% royalty.” _]

85%???!! We only get 70% max when we self-publish!

What means of course is that Inkitt take a standard 15% fee from whatever these publishers, if they take any notice at all of Inkitt, might deliver.

Scaling from eBook to Print

[_ Once we publish your eBook and make it a bestseller, we negotiate the best print deal for you with our A-List publishing partners to scale the success of your novel. You receive an 85% royalty _].”

There’s that nonsensical 85% royalty again.

As for scaling…

Essentially Inkitt are not scaling our book to print at all. The big publisher will do that in the unlikely event Inkitt can a) get their attention, and b) convince them the book is worth investing in. Selling a thousand ebooks at a super-cheap price over a year maybe good news for newbie indies testing the water, but it is not going to have the Big 5 fighting one another to offer seven-figure deals.

Off-the-cuff conclusion – submit titles to Inkitt and see what response you get, but I’d like to see the contract and get clarification of what comes next before accepting any publishing offer from Inkitt.

From my preliminary investigation we’d be far better off looking at Kindle Scout, where the lucky winners would get some serious kick from Amazon’s algorithms.

 

 

“Foreign Language” Audio-Books. And A New Ereader In Spain.

 

 

 

PAINFUL AS IT IS FOR US BRITS and Americans to even contemplate, not everyone in the world speaks English.

Many of us have by now ventured into translations, but fewer into audio-book translations.

Or indeed audio-book originals in other languages for those of us for whom English is a second language.

But audio-book sales are not just surging in the US and UK. They are surging globally, in countless languages.

I’ve been slowly putting together notes for a n in-depth look at non-English audio outlets, but this week GoodEreader has a post on Ubook, Latin America’s premier audiobook subscription service, so I’m following that up with a quick mention here.

Ubook (LINK) operates out of Rio in Brazil, but offers audiobooks in Portuguese, Spanish and English.

The English-language section (LINK) - isn’t too exciting, but it’s another place to reach consumers.

However the real interest here is in the Brazil/Portugal Portuguese market and the Spain/USA/Latin America Spanish-language market.

Kozlowski has a brief interview with the team behind Ubook.

On a separate note, it’s not often Michael Kozlowski comes up with anything that hasn’t been covered better elsewhere but this week GoodEreader excels itself and also has a report on the new Tagus Iris ereader.

Again, painful as it is for us Brits and Americans to contemplate, not everyone owns or wants a Kindle, and in the rest of the world “local” ereaders are where the action is – and therefore the ebook sales are.

This is something I’ll be looking at closely in 2017 because, counterintuitive though it may seem in our sheltered Amazon-centric lives, if a consumer has an epub device they are not going to be shopping at the local Kindle store for their ebooks.

Across Europe and elsewhere we need to bear this in mind. The Kindle store is meaningless without a Kindle ereader or a Kindle app, and with so many other ereaders and tablets out there (that most of us in the US and UK will never have heard of) it’s not hard to see why the Kindle stores outside the US and UK tend to struggle.

What’s interesting with the Tagus Iris is that it is not only being sold in Casa del Libro, Spain’s biggest ebook store, but allows consumers to buy ebooks direct from that store.

I’ll be taking a closer look at Casa del Libro soon in a Meet The Retailers post.

 

Kobo Promotion Deals Available Right Now.

 

 

 

OKAY, WHEN I SAY RIGHT NOW I now mean right then, and by the time you are reading this many or all of these promos may be ancient history, but I’m including this post as I wrote it to give everyone clear idea of the kind of opportunities Kobo affords its loyal authors.

We kick off November with several Kobo Promotions fully booked, but plenty of others still have spaces, and some are taking bookings for as far ahead as March 2017.

As usual there’s a great selection of deals and most have no upfront costs. None require exclusivity.

Currently available promotions first below. Unavailable promotions further down to show what you may have been missing out on.

Another reminder, this was the list in early November 2016 and is repeated here as an example of Kobo’s Promotions options.

 

 

Deals Page Spotlight – Romance

Available times

Nov 15 2016 – Nov 30 2016 10%

Dec 1 2016 – Dec 15 2016 10%

Dec 15 2016 – Dec 31 2016 10%

Dec 30 2016 – Jan 16 2017 10%

Jan 16 2017 – Jan 31 2017 10%

Feb 1 2017 – Feb 15 2017 10%

Feb 15 2017 – Feb 28 2017 10%

Mar 1 2017 – Mar 15 2017 10%

Mar 15 2017 – Mar 31 2017 10%

 

Free Spotlight – Romance

Available times

Nov 14 2016 – Nov 20 2016 £6.00 GBP

 

Free Spotlight – Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror

Available times

Nov 14 2016 – Nov 20 2016 £6.00 GBP

 

Free Spotlight – Fiction/Non-Fiction

Available times

Nov 14 2016 – Nov 20 2016 £3.00 GBP

 

Free Spotlight – Editor’s Pick – Romance

Available times

Nov 14 2016 – Nov 20 2016 £30.00 GBP

 

Deals Page Spotlight – Kids & Teen

Available times

Nov 15 2016 – Nov 30 2016 10%

Dec 1 2016 – Dec 15 2016 10%

Dec 15 2016 – Dec 31 2016 10%

 

Daily Deal – Homepage Placement

Available times

Dec 5 2016 – Dec 5 2016 £50.00 GBP

Dec 12 2016 – Dec 12 2016 £50.00 GBP

Dec 13 2016 – Dec 13 2016 £50.00 GBP

 

Deals Page Spotlight – Box Sets

Available times

Nov 15 2016 – Nov 30 2016 10%

Dec 1 2016 – Dec 15 2016 10%

Dec 15 2016 – Dec 31 2016 10%

Dec 30 2016 – Jan 16 2017 10%

Jan 16 2017 – Jan 31 2017 10%

 

Double Daily Deal

Available times

Nov 15 2016 – Nov 15 2016 10%

Nov 16 2016 – Nov 16 2016 10%

Nov 17 2016 – Nov 17 2016 10%

Nov 18 2016 – Nov 18 2016 10%

Nov 19 2016 – Nov 19 2016 10%

Nov 20 2016 – Nov 20 2016 10%

Nov 21 2016 – Nov 21 2016 10%

Nov 22 2016 – Nov 22 2016 10%

Nov 23 2016 – Nov 23 2016 10%

Nov 24 2016 – Nov 24 2016 10%

Nov 25 2016 – Nov 25 2016 10%

Nov 26 2016 – Nov 26 2016 10%

Nov 27 2016 – Nov 27 2016 10%

Nov 28 2016 – Nov 28 2016 10%

Nov 29 2016 – Nov 29 2016 10%

Nov 30 2016 – Nov 30 2016 10%

Deals Page Spotlight – Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Available times

Nov 15 2016 – Nov 30 2016 10%

Dec 1 2016 – Dec 15 2016 10%

Dec 15 2016 – Dec 31 2016 10%

 

Free Spotlight – Editor’s Pick – Mysteries & Thrillers

Available times

Nov 14 2016 – Nov 20 2016 £15.00 GBP

 

Free eBook Spotlight – Mysteries & Thrillers

Available times

Nov 14 2016 – Nov 20 2016 £3.00 GBP

 

November 35% Off Sale

Available times

Nov 17 2016 – Nov 21 2016 10%

 

Deals Page Spotlight – Thrillers

Available times

Nov 15 2016 – Nov 30 2016 10%

Dec 1 2016 – Dec 15 2016 10%

Dec 15 2016 – Dec 31 2016 10%

 

Free Spotlight – Editor’s Pick – Sci-Fi, Fantasy & Horror

Available times

Nov 14 2016 – Nov 20 2016 £15.00 GBP

 

Free Spotlight – Kids & Teen

Available times

Nov 14 2016 – Nov 20 2016 £3.00 GBP

These are currently unavailable, but do keep an eye on the KWL Promotions dashboard for updates.

 

Kobo Next – Romance

Available times

None

 

Kobo Next – Fiction & Literature

Available times

None

 

Kobo Next – Mysteries & Thrillers

Available times

None

 

Kobo Next – Sci-Fi & Fantasy

Available times

None

 

Kobo Next – Nonfiction

Available times

None

 

Paranormal Romance Sale

Available times

None

 

Free Spotlight – Editor’s Pick – Kids & Teen

Available times

None

 

Black Friday & Cyber Monday Weekend Sale

Available times

None

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PublishDrive To Distribute Audio-Books?

 

 

 

I’ve mentioned a few times here that Xin-Xii have a marker in the audio-book distribution sector and that StreetLib and PublishDrive would do well to be looking at this sector.

Just today received a questionnaire from PublishDrive aiming to gauge interest.

Smart move by PublishDrive.

Many indies will be using ACX and that limits our distribution options, but for those of us with full rights we would welcome every distribution option we can get.

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AudioBook Production Options.

 

 

 

LINDSAY BUROKER HAS A USEFUL summary of the audio-book scene this week. Of particular interest is her point about indies being approached by production companies who spot the ebooks doing well. (LINK)

Also, for anyone who missed it, do check out this post here in the International Indie Author Group yesterday, where in comments Anna Erishkigal and Karen Myers discuss home-production. (LINK)

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58% of British Ebook Buyers Read Mystery/Thriller/Suspense.

 

 

 

THIS LATEST SUPERDATA REPORT COMPILED from a Paypal survey confirms a broadly recognised trend in print sales – that in the UK, unlike the US, the dominant fiction genre is mystery/thriller/suspense.

The Paypal-data driven report is instructive and likely reflects, but of course does not include confirmed sales from the big retailers, but as a survey of ebook readers across ten countries there are some useful takeaways apart from the UK genre confirmation.

For example, Poland has more ebook readers than Germany. This is something Amazon might want to look at. Currently Amazon surcharges Polish readers, but despite this, as per previous reports on Poland, mobi- files are hugely popular and local publishers ensure they have their ebooks available in epub and mobi.

Poles spend half as much as Germans when it comes to ebooks, but that’s to do with relative prices. In Germany ebooks are still expensive.

That may also be a factor in the report that Germany, France, Spain and the United Arab Emirates all spend more on ebooks each month than the US, while all five plus Italy and Japan outspend the UK, leaving only Russia and Poland with a lower spending figure among the ten nations surveyed.

E-readers, it seems, are the most popular reading device in Italy, Germany, Spain and the UK, but tablets the preferred option in the USA and France, while in the UAE ereaders are the least popular option.

In Japan, the UAE, Russia and Poland smartphones are far more popular but, surprisingly, PCs/macs are still major reading devices in these countries and the most popular option in Poland.

The dominance of ereaders in the western markets of course goes a long way towards explaining why enhanced ebooks have failed to gain traction.

Overall the report is more about games than ebooks, but still a useful snapshot, so long as we bear in mind its limitations, something Michael Kozlowski over at GoodEreader noticeably failed to do. (LINK)

“I think that (Paypal) is in a solid position to release meaningful data because so many app developers and digital bookstores use them for payment processing,” gushes Kozlowski in his typical post-first-engage-brain-later manner.

But as I said in comments there,

“Leaving aside the small point that the vast majority of ebook sales in the ten countries will be through the Big 5 retailers that do not use or need Paypal, this report is anyway not taken from Paypal sales data but from a ten nation survey of 10k respondents.

“The data is perhaps most telling in regard to the UAE, Russia and Poland where Amazon either blocks downloads (UAE ) or surcharges ebook readers (Russian and Poland) and where Apple and Nook are not options (all three) and so where Paypal might be a significant payment option.”

You can find the full Superdata/Paypal report here, for what it’s worth. (LINK)

The Membership Model

Book Machine has an interesting post this week on the membership economy. It’s aimed art bigger publishers than us indies, but the model itself has much to offer whatever size we are.

Amazon Prime is a fine example of the membership model, of course. But so, although we may not think of them in those terms, is Kindle Unlimited, or Netflix. Where tKU and Netflix differ from other subscription services is that some of the content they offer is exclusive, either as KDP Select content or as Netflix original content.

Pottermore is another fine example of the membership model.

In each case, while much of the content is available more widely, there is also exclusive content and other advantages available only to those who sign up.

Members can get benefits in myriad ways, and just how many really is down to how far we want to go.

For 2017 I’m launching my own Sherlock For Kids Club to build on my *Classics For Kids : Sherlock Holmes* series. The books are already available as ebooks, paperbacks and audio, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg for potential returns, and the membership model gives me a great way to reach further..

An interactive membership club will allow me to engage directly with those who have shown enough interest (by signing up and participating, not just reading the books and moving on). In this instance the members will be children and their parents. A clear niche audience that I can offer, for example, drawing and story-telling competitions, the chance to be a character in a future *When Sherlock Was A Boy* book, child-friendly Sherlock-orientated quizzes and puzzles, and of course free and specially priced books and bundles, including personalised editions, signed copies, etc.

Yes, we can do all this through a well-thought-out newsletter, but newsletters are ephemeral things, received, read and discarded. It’s not as inclusive as a membership or club option, and most importantly it’s not inclusive of the membership itself.

Newsletter subscribers do not get to interact with one another in the way they can in a membership group. A newsletter is a one-author-to-many-readers conduit. A two-way engagement.

A membership club model utilising a social tool like Facebook (or any like service) offers interactivity between members at a basic level, where the originating author can sit back and direct the flow without sacrificing editorial control or letting the club get hijacked by hostile or self-centred interests.

I’m soft-launching in the new year with a simple exclusive (ie private or “secret”) Facebook Group membership option, driving traffic in the usual ways.

Using my Shopify account I can sell direct on Facebook offering special members-only deals, and when hosting competition such as a Draw Sherlock contest members can upload their efforts direct for other members to see.

It will be a slow starter, of course, but from there I can engage schools and hopefully over the first year build interest to a point where a dedicated Sherlock For Kids members-only website becomes worthwhile.

It’s just one of many small-scale membership models I’m looking at for 2017 for my varied content, where I can focus fully but separately on Sherlock For Kids, or West Africa, or British thrillers, or YA boarding school mysteries, or etc.

In every instance there is exclusive bonus content that can be offered to make (free) membership worthwhile, and as it grows the option is there to offered tiered paid membership levels with extra benefits.

And of course all direct sales we can acquire instead of sending readers to the regular retail outlets, is more of that list price (up to 96% - see previous posts on Shopify) coming to us.

The membership model. Just one more way in which we can diversify this coming year, reduce our reliance on a handful of outlets, and have some control over our career trajectories.

 

 

And finally…

 

 

 

 

AND THAT WAS NOVEMBER 2016, but (Kobo promotion dates aside) much of the information will be relevant for a long time to come. But do double-check for any changes since publication before acting on anything here.

 

 

A gentle reminder. This book and its content are offered free of charge, as is the content offered in the International Indie Author Facebook Group and on various blogs.

Needless to say the Facebook Group, the blogs and the free ebook collations are demanding of time and energy that I could be spending writing for myself.

Fortunately I live in a country where living costs are low and my income from my other books is adequate for my needs, and leaves me enough over to support a number of nursery school projects here.

But if you’re finding the International Indie Author Facebook Group and blog posts and the Essential Indie Author ebooks helpful, perhaps you’d consider making a token donation to my nursery schools projects in The Gambia, West Africa.

 

 

£1 GBP ($1.25 USD / 1.17 euros) will keep a child in exercise books and pencils for a nursery school term.

 

£2 GBP will pay for a child’s school shoes or school bag.

 

£10 GBP will pay a term’s nursery school fees.

 

None of the children in the image above would be attending school without outside help.

 

 

When you live in a home like this, without electricity or running water, finding money to pay for the kids to go to school is a luxury you can only dream about.

 

 

And when the kids do get to school the classrooms are overcrowded and poorly equipped.

Individual donations can help enormously. So can regular child and family sponsorship.

If you are a teacher or have children at school or just happen to live near a school, do think about the possibility of twinning your local school with a school here in West Africa.

 

For more information contact me direct at [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Indie Author Essentials (your guide to going wide) : The Digest # 1

Among the many subjects covered in this month’s Digest: • How one OverDrive library saw one million downloads in a year • Meet the two CreateSpaces. Is CreateSpace Select on the cards? • The full list of Tolino ebook stores across Europe • StreetLib – the internationalist indie author’s best kept secret • Using Wattpad data to target international hotspots for our books • ALLi’s KDP rules round up • How to use foreign on-line newspapers to find an audience in foreign lands • The full list of Kobo partner stores • India mobile payments go multi-lingual - ebooks to follow • Using international Book Fair footfall to anticipate future markets • Amazon is apparently losing $60 million a month in India. What it may mean for indie authors • Selling Direct2Consumer (D2C) with Etsy and Shopify • Kobo’s new deal in Spain • The membership model • Selling books in Brazil with Avon and Tupperware and much, much more.

  • Author: Mark Williams
  • Published: 2016-12-07 18:35:58
  • Words: 23335
Indie Author Essentials  (your guide to going wide) : The Digest  # 1 Indie Author Essentials  (your guide to going wide) : The Digest  # 1