Latest stats show indie authors setting the pace in the US digital market, a new ‘hybrid' publisher, and writing an expert sales description – just some of the self-publishing news stories this week from our ALLi partners and friends. Valerie Shanley reports …
US ebook Market Turns Page in Indies Favour … Latest data published by Author Earnings reports as of September 2015, the US ebook market shows traditionally-published authors are barely earning 40% of all Kindle ebook royalties paid, while self-published indie authors, and those published by Amazon’s imprints, are taking home almost 60%. This should be of interest to media commentators previously reporting a decline in ebook sales (and general revenue) since February 2014.
AE states that journalists were basing those stories only on declining figures from the Association of American Publishers (AAP) whose 1200 members include the Big Five traditional publishers.
But during that same 18 month period, Amazon’s ebook sales continued to grow and show a strong shift in reader purchasing away from trad to indie published ebooks. Essential reading not just for indie authors, but also for media peeps taking trad publisher stats verbatim.
Class Dismissed – But Jury Still Out on ASI ?… The second class action lawsuit lodged in the US against self-publishing provider Author Solutions (ASI), was dismissed in Indiana this week. Accusations of fraud against the company have been at the heart of two years of litigation. Publishers Weekly reports that the dismissal was voluntary, with prejudice, and both parties agreeing to end the litigation and pay their own costs.
The first class action (originally filed in April 2013) was denied in June this year, and then discontinued in August, following notice of a private settlement between the company and two author plaintiffs. While it is impossible to know what truly happened behind the closed legal doors, ASI continues to be on the radar of the ALLi Watchdog team and members.
“We hope to see an improvement in services to match this legal development,” said Orna Ross. “ASI needs to be more transparent with first-time authors about their alternative options and about the value of expensive services, marketing services in particular. The difference between vanity publishers and good self-publishing service providers (like Amazon, Ingram, Kobo, Nook, IBooks and good package providers like Matador and Silverwood) is that the former is only interested in selling its services while the latter enables authors to reach readers and sell books. Authors need to be vigilant, when starting out, and to ask the right questions.”
Vanity Cases Travel Further…Former IT professional now full-time author and ALLi India Ambassador, Rasana Atreya has an interesting post on her blog on being a panelist at the recent PublishingNext conference in Goa.
Her overall impression was very positive, but she writes that among the growing number of self-publishing services springing up all over the sub-continent, are those of which authors should remain wary.
Thanks to the work of writers' groups like ALLi, and watchdogs like Mick Rooney, Victoria Strauss and David Gaughran, “It is getting harder for UK- and US-based vanity publishers to get naïve authors to fall for their ‘publishing packages’ – which can run into tens of thousands of dollars, “ writes Rasana. “As a result, vanity publishers have moved operations to Asia and Africa. That includes India, of course.”
Blogging A Book …. ALLi Partner Member Jessica Bell is giving other authors the entire contents of her How to Self-Publish Your Book free on her blog. Jessica says this is partly a marketing strategy, to attract new fans to her Writing in A Nutshell series, a strategy that worked very well for indie Susan Kaye Quinn, but her benevolent book blogging is also to inform other indies.
“Researching how to self-publish a book is time consuming and confusing. And it's hard, as a beginner, to find everything you need to know in one place, using terms that are immediately understandable, and with the information set out in a way thatteaches one tried and tested process step by step, rather than an explanation of every single option that is available, which I believe can leave the author bewildered and overwhelmed.”
Big Data Will Read You a Story … ‘Machine-driven book analytics’ is the latest techie term we need to get our heads around, according to this Publishing Perspectives feature, which asks if there are more books than readers. With a guestimate of over a million new releases every year – what do we do with all these publications?
The answer is artificial intelligence (sort of), basically getting computers to do a lot of that colossal reading. Computers can recognise different genres and analyse plots, reports Alejandro Piscitelli, arguing that machine-driven book analytics is a practical tool to help society deal with the rise and rise of publications.
Just How Hard is it to Turn a 70,000-Word Book into a Couple of Hundred Words? …Pretty darn hard. But help is at hand as Bryan Cohen and Joanna Penn podcast on How to Write Your Book Sales Description . Both authors explain first why a book’s Amazon description is actually a sales description – and not a summary of the book.
“Ninety-nine percent of authors will only write a book synopsis in the description,” says Bryan. “Even a great description won’t necessarily sell, because when you’re just telling basically what happens in a story from your ‘500 feet up’ view it doesn’t connect always with your reader.”
Sound advice here – and worth remembering that it’s not the end of the world if you don’t get it spot-on first time.
“If people are worried about this, one of the best things about being indie is you can change it,” says Joanna.
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