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Author Topic: Self Publishing and eBooks? The future of Print?  (Read 547 times)
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rittchard
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« on: February 01, 2010, 09:36:56 PM »

aka... Is traditional print publishing on its way out?

This is kind of an offshoot out of the iPad thread, but with the advent of eBooks and more and more newspapers going out of traditional print, it seems to be an interesting topic for discussion.  There are actually quite a few sub-topics, such as what services a publisher provides (such as editing and promotion) and just how necessary they will be if/when traditional print media goes the way of the dinosaur (which of course is also debatable.

Crusis posted a very interesting link comparing an author's print vs ebook numbers:

http://jakonrath.blogspot.com/2009/10/kindle-numbers-traditional-publishing.html

- - -

And finally just to mix it up a bit, over lunch I was actually thinking about whether anyone would want to help develop an "Indie Reader" app for the iPhone/iPad.  The main app would be a Reader + Store, similar to Kindle, except we would allow any Joe Blow to upload their text, keywords, summary etc. and set their own price.  The app would have all the bells and whistles, top 10 lists, user reviews, user favorites, our own personal favorites, searches by genre and topic, etc. - basically a complete venue for wannabe/"independent" authors to show off their work.  All we would do is maintain the software, database and collect money lol.  But I forgot about all the legal crap with copyrights and such, so I kind of thought it wasn't worth mentioning, unless someone has an idea to get around all that.  I suppose we could just have a disclaimer but that doesn't seem very satisfying.
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TiLT
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2010, 09:39:38 PM »

Quote from: rittchard on February 01, 2010, 09:36:56 PM

And finally just to mix it up a bit, over lunch I was actually thinking about whether anyone would want to help develop an "Indie Reader" app for the iPhone/iPad.  The main app would be a Reader + Store, similar to Kindle, except we would allow any Joe Blow to upload their text, keywords, summary etc. and set their own price.  The app would have all the bells and whistles, top 10 lists, user reviews, user favorites, our own personal favorites, searches by genre and topic, etc. - basically a complete venue for wannabe/"independent" authors to show off their work.  All we would do is maintain the software, database and collect money lol.  But I forgot about all the legal crap with copyrights and such, so I kind of thought it wasn't worth mentioning, unless someone has an idea to get around all that.  I suppose we could just have a disclaimer but that doesn't seem very satisfying.

Amazon is already implementing this. IIRC, their new system allows any author to upload his books to the Kindle Store and set his own price. I think Amazon takes 30% of the profit, while the author keeps the rest.
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YellowKing
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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2010, 09:43:00 PM »

They've been asking the same thing about the music industry, and it really hasn't happened yet. Artists still seem to need that promotional giant in their corner.

It will be interesting to see how it shakes out, though. I'm certainly all for $2.00 ebooks by my favorite authors.  Tongue

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depward
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2010, 09:44:04 PM »

I've already published a short story I wrote on the Kindle Store for $0.99. In fact, Amazon's DTP (Digital Text Platform) is super easy and, really, anyone can upload any story they wish. As for price, as far as I could tell, the lowest I could set it was at $0.99.

Tilt is correct about the percentages... however, I think previously it was Amazon 65%. Now they moved to Apple's 70%.
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rittchard
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2010, 09:48:38 PM »

Quote from: depward on February 01, 2010, 09:44:04 PM

I've already published a short story I wrote on the Kindle Store for $0.99. In fact, Amazon's DTP (Digital Text Platform) is super easy and, really, anyone can upload any story they wish. As for price, as far as I could tell, the lowest I could set it was at $0.99.

Tilt is correct about the percentages... however, I think previously it was Amazon 65%. Now they moved to Apple's 70%.

That's pretty cool, I guess that's what the guy in the blog was referring to.  So does Amazon handle all of the "publishing" and legal and copyright issues?
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rittchard
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« Reply #5 on: February 01, 2010, 09:56:58 PM »

Just looked this over briefly:

https://dtp.amazon.com/mn/signin

That's absolutely wonderful, I had no idea this even existed.  Which does kind of beg the question if someone as big as Amazon is doing this, why hasn't it gained more attention? 

But anyway, the one thing I think is missing is some way for the independent guys to get more attention for themselves.  I don't know how the Kindle search system works but it would be neat if you could choose an option to see only "independent" authors along with the search, and if there were top 100 lists or whatever per genre for the indie guys. 
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depward
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« Reply #6 on: February 01, 2010, 11:38:20 PM »

Quote from: rittchard on February 01, 2010, 09:48:38 PM

Quote from: depward on February 01, 2010, 09:44:04 PM

I've already published a short story I wrote on the Kindle Store for $0.99. In fact, Amazon's DTP (Digital Text Platform) is super easy and, really, anyone can upload any story they wish. As for price, as far as I could tell, the lowest I could set it was at $0.99.

Tilt is correct about the percentages... however, I think previously it was Amazon 65%. Now they moved to Apple's 70%.

That's pretty cool, I guess that's what the guy in the blog was referring to.  So does Amazon handle all of the "publishing" and legal and copyright issues?

They really kind of... don't. I mean, I don't think there's anything but someone maybe alerting to Amazon on the page that there's an issue with the published content.

I like your idea of creating an "independent" type of search on the Kindle Store. I have seen some good "indie publisher" marketing campaigns by using Twitter; believe it or not, loooots of people search "kindle" on Twitter to look for giveaways and contents they can enter. By marketing just on Twitter, I'm sure you could get a little bit of traction.

That being said, someone downloaded my short story on there (well, aside from me buying it just to be like hey, I purchased my own short story on the Kindle store!). Wish that person would have left a review, but oh well.
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Crusis
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2010, 12:30:58 AM »

Amazon now pays out 70% royalties on kindle sales provided you list the book between 2.99 and 9.99. It used to be 35%. I love it because I already split royalties 50% with my publisher. My first novel Among the Living has been out for about 6 months and has sold about 180 copies on kindle at $5.99 a shot. But it didn't become available until October last year so this has been a nice little boost to my sales.

A good friend of mine is self published. She started out online, writing a story on a forum. It grew into 3 novels. She took the books and paid an editor to go over them and paid an artist for the cover. Then she purchased a pro account on create space and put her books up. It was pretty risky but she was already developing a fan base. The nice thing about self pubbing is that you get a healthy chunk. Sure CreateSpace takes their cut but a writer can pull in 4 or 5 bucks a sale.

Of course it can also go the other way. It can be poorly edited, have crap artwork and sell maybe 2 or 3 copies. "Mom, Dad, buy my book please". A lot of people don't like self-publishing, they think it is a bad word like taxes. But publishing is changing. As long as you have a good marketable product and can reach an audience, what is wrong with doing it your own way?

As it turns out, her method was pretty well thought out. She went on to sell a lot of books. Like thousands of them in just a year. She has also picked up a movie option for the books and an agent that is actively soliciting her work to the big New York firms. Self publishing can work. The nice thing is that it looks good to the big guys. I know amazon picks up books that sell a lot and offer the authors full publishing deals.

Thanks for starting this thread!

-Tim
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kadnod
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« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2010, 12:36:20 AM »

The biggest reason to go for traditional publishing, if you want to be a full time author and have the choice of going that way, is the advance.  Sometimes great books just don't sell.  If you're relying purely on royalties from amazon or whatever and you release something unpopular, get ready to do something else for a while and write part time.  That's not necessarily a horrible deal, but it's something to keep in mind.

The biggest adavantage of going it alone is you gets all the loot if the book does well.  icon_wink

I'll try to come up with a more exhaustive list of the stuff a good publisher should be doing for folks who go that route later.
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rittchard
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« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2010, 01:30:44 AM »

Long long ago in high school I dreamed of being a writer.  But my conservative (practical?) parents crushed any thoughts of that and I became an engineer instead.  I always told myself that I would write in my spare time or after I was retired but I was just kidding myself.  In college I had so many different novel ideas which I would dream about and plot out during boring classes but I never really had the time to flesh them out and actually finish writing something.  That's always bugged me.  The closest I ever came was turning the first couple chapters of a book I was trying to write into a short story and submitting it somewhere off the advice of one of those books that's supposed to help you get published.  It wasn't really my best work but it was the only thing that I'd actually "finished" writing.  Of course it was horribly rejected and though I wasn't surprised I think I was pretty crushed by the experience.

This self publishing thing actually gives me some hope.  Now I know at the bare minimum if I ever get my act together and finish writing something, I don't have to worry about some editor telling me I suck, I can just publish it myself and I know at least ONE copy will get sold (to myself lol)!  I have to say it's pretty exciting, I haven't thought about writing in many years now.
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« Reply #10 on: February 02, 2010, 04:51:18 AM »

Quote from: YellowKing on February 01, 2010, 09:43:00 PM

Artists still seem to need that promotional giant in their corner.

Traditional book publishers have pulled back marketing for all but their established authors. There is very little advantage to new authors anymore in professional publishing houses since the promotion went away. I don't know much about electronic distribution, but I do know that self-publishing is entirely respectable for print now that new authors have to shill their own work.
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Crusis
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« Reply #11 on: February 02, 2010, 05:53:28 AM »

Quote from: Ironrod on February 02, 2010, 04:51:18 AM

Quote from: YellowKing on February 01, 2010, 09:43:00 PM

Artists still seem to need that promotional giant in their corner.

Traditional book publishers have pulled back marketing for all but their established authors. There is very little advantage to new authors anymore in professional publishing houses since the promotion went away. I don't know much about electronic distribution, but I do know that self-publishing is entirely respectable for print now that new authors have to shill their own work.

Well said. You would be amazed how many New York lit authors sell barely 500 copies of their books.

Also, and this is straight from an agent. Now a days to get a book published and make a tidy bit of profit you have to have more than just good writing. They look for that something special or unique that will help market a book to perspective publishers. They turn down well written books all the time because they simply can't market them.

It's a freaking crapshoot. Some make it and some fail. Self pubbed, old school pubbed, you probably have a better chance of winning the loto then making it big as an author. But there is always that chance that something will be so unique it will just sell. Case in point. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Seth Grahame-Green. Laugh and scoff at his mashup. I know I did. He went small publisher. But his book sold itself, with a good bit of help from Jane Austen of course. Now it is in the sixteenth printing and he just signed a deal for half a million. His next book? Abraham Lincoln vampire hunter. It will sell too because he has a name for himself already.
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Ironrod
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« Reply #12 on: February 02, 2010, 07:10:19 AM »

Quote from: Crusis on February 02, 2010, 05:53:28 AM

Quote from: Ironrod on February 02, 2010, 04:51:18 AM

Quote from: YellowKing on February 01, 2010, 09:43:00 PM

Artists still seem to need that promotional giant in their corner.

Traditional book publishers have pulled back marketing for all but their established authors. There is very little advantage to new authors anymore in professional publishing houses since the promotion went away. I don't know much about electronic distribution, but I do know that self-publishing is entirely respectable for print now that new authors have to shill their own work.

Self pubbed, old school pubbed, you probably have a better chance of winning the loto then making it big as an author. But there is always that chance that something will be so unique it will just sell. Case in point. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Seth Grahame-Green. Laugh and scoff at his mashup. I know I did. He went small publisher. But his book sold itself, with a good bit of help from Jane Austen of course. Now it is in the sixteenth printing and he just signed a deal for half a million. His next book? Abraham Lincoln vampire hunter. It will sell too because he has a name for himself already.
My wife explained a phenomenon called "platforming" to me tonight, based on the experience of two authors she knows (one of them -- Nora Ephron's sister Hallie -- writes detective novels). "Platforming" is just pimping your own book sufficiently to generate some buzz. Agents and publishers both want to see some evidence of success before they will back an author. You almost have to print and sell a book before you can get published in the traditional sense. If you successfully platform, you unlock those mainstream resources and have a shot at the big time. But without a gimmick like your example, an aspiring author needs to do a lot of book readings and small-time media appearances before the established publishers get interested.
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« Reply #13 on: February 02, 2010, 03:17:19 PM »

A couple of things prospective authors should look for/beware of, from the POV of someone who has worked on the publisher's side:

1: Never pay a lit agent or publisher anything.   If you're self publishing, you're obviously going to cover your own costs.  But if someone says they're going to help you make it big as an author, but wants some sort of reading or start-up fee, you should run.  This person makes their living by collecting these fees,  not by helping authors.

2: Don't bother blindly sending manuscripts to publishers.   Odds are, they either won't read them for legal reasons or they'll throw them in a slush pile to be read by interns and assistants.  Most of these interns and assistants are aspiring writers themselves and will ridicule your work, regardless of quality, to make themselves feel superior.   Sending stuff to agents is a slightly better bet, but still really tough.  Developing some sort of "platform" first, as described by Ironrod and Crusis above, is probably the best way to go now.   If you've already got a sizeable audience from your website, blog, whatever, it's easier to pitch an editor, since it'll be easier for him to get his publisher to sign off on the book.   Hell, if your platform is impressive enough, editors and agents may start calling you blind, trying to get you to write a book for them. 

3: A good agent or editor should be interested in developing your career.  Many authors need a while to reach their full potential and a good agent or editor will realize this.  Don't work with someone who isn't giving you feedback or is constantly palming you off on their assistant, if you have a choice.   

4: Read and understand any contracts you sign in any sort of publishing arrangement, self or traditional.   This one is easy, but often overlooked.   If you don't understand something, research it until you do.   

5: If you go the traditional route, try to be nice to everybody you interact with.  There's a lot of "personalities" in the industry, to put it mildly, but taking a couple of minutes to be nice to the various folks you may interact with at your publisher's can pay off in the long run.  You may get your advance check quicker, more responsive marketing folks, better contract terms, etc.  And today's assistant may be tomorrow's big-shot. 
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