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Self-publishing News: Getting The Word Out

Self-publishing News: Getting the Word Out

Dan Holloway head and shoulders photo

If you’re like me, then you will be thinking pretty much what I’m thinking. It’s that time of year. The year is so young and so full of possibility. And so old and full of disappointment. It’s the time when it’s not too late to claw back those ambitions we had do firmly in our sights. And yet, it feels so hard. OK, so that could sum up pretty much every Monday at about lunchtime, but particularly so in late January. Which is why I have left you a little treat as an “and finally”, a TEDx talk based on one of the best things any indie could read – Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code, a fabulous roadmap through the world of what we all need – “deep practice”.

Pronoun: Promising Terms for Indies

pronoun-ebook-distributionThis story snuck in about 5 minutes after I hit publish last week, so I’m hardly on the scoop, but that has given time for it to play out a little. It started with the announcement that the ebook distributor Pronoun was introducing some seriously impressive terms for authors. It was the final step in what has been a very quick march out of beta. Pronoun distributes to all major ebook retailers, and promises to push out books, and changes, to all of them within 48 hours of the change/upload being made. The headline figures of what look like very promising terms are these. 70% on sales below $2.99, even on Amazon. 65% on sales over $9.99, even on Amazon. And pricing to free, including on Amazon where you do not have to go through the torturous route of price matching. This sounded so good, a lot of questions were asked. Fortunately Jane Friedman was on hand to put them to Pronoun’s head of marketing (edited to add: hawk-eyed ALLi member Karl Drinkwater has pointed out that these royalty rates are Canada and US only. A full list is here).

Kindle Storyteller

The author, telling stories. Picture courtesy of Oxford Playhouse

The author, telling stories. Picture courtesy of Oxford Playhouse

Those of you who used to watch while biting their nails to the quick at this time of year to see if they’d made it to the next round of the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award will already be aware that award was superseded by Kindle Scout, which involved authors in the whole “being on Amazon” thing. And most of us will have, at some point, been pestered, I mean politely approached, to support someone’s Kindle Scout campaign. Well, now it appears Amazon has gone one further with Kindle Storyteller, which opens on 20 February and promises £20,000. Entries can be in any genre, fact or fiction, so long as they’re 5,000 words or more. Yay! But they have to be on KDP select for 90 days. Really not yay – the Digital Reader points out a whole load of reasons why this is basically a way to get new writers hooked. For me the real issue is in this part of the description – “Readers will play a significant role in the competition, with the award shortlist compiled based on customer ratings for the titles”. Oh goody. Another popularity contest. And for an award of this size and profile, that really doesn’t impress me in my Opening Up To Indies campaigning capacity. I want high profile prizes that get indies in front of great judges. Without all this popularity contest intermediation first that serves only to favour the long of mail list.

Overdrive and Kobo; Smashwords and Microsoft

smashwords-logo-300x225With a thanks list that goes back to the fabulous Mark Williams, there is interesting library news after last week’s story, with Kobo in beta testing of distribution through Overdrive. Meanwhile, Smashwords have made the news by finally paying royalties to all those authors who never made it over the $10 minimum payment threshold. And it seems that this is not a one-off, but that the $10 minimum for Paypal payments has now gone, and royalties of all amounts will now be paid monthly. Way to go, Mark Coker! And you will not have failed to notice that Microsoft looks like it’s opening an ebook store. What, if anything, this means or will amount to, time will tell.

Opening Up Audible

If there’s one thing everyone agrees on, it’s that audiobooks are big news. Which makes the announcement of the breakup of the exclusive arrangements Audible have with Apple and owners Amazon very big news. Competition authorities have decided this little nexus amounts to just too much of a stranglehold on the market. This is something else it will be interesting to watch as it pans out to see how many more avenues really do open up for us.

And finally

As promised – get your resolutions back on track by practising smart and deep

Upcoming Conferences and Events

FEBRUARY 2017

San Francisco Writers Conference, Feb 16-19 [San Francisco] Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Feb 8 [Washington]

MARCH 2017

London Book Fair, Mar 14-16 [London] Indie Author Fringe, Mar 18 [Online] Leipzig Book Fair, Mar 23-26 [Leipzig] Words for the Wounded, Mar 25 [High Wycombe, UK]

APRIL 2017

Resonate, Apr 19-22 [Belgrade] The Self-publishing Conference, Apr 22 [Leicester]

MAY 2017

99U Conference, May 5 [New York] Book Expo America, May 31 – Jun 2[New York]

JUNE 2017

Indie Author Fringe, Jun 3 [Online] Dublin Writers Conference, Jun 23-25 [Dublin]

OCTOBER 2017

Frankfurt Book Fair, Oct 11-15 [Frankfurt] Indie Author Fringe, Oct 14  [Online] BuCon, Oct 14 [Germany]

 

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This Post Has 11 Comments
  1. Further to Pronoun’s new deal, StreetLib CEO has posted in the International Indie Author Facebook Group asking Pronoun for more transparency on how pronoun is, and plans in the future, to operate.

    Antonio Tombolini heads Europe’s biggest aggregator, base in Italy, and this I believe marks the first time a “rival” distributor has spoken out about Pronoun and the possible long term consequences of a Big 5 owned aggregator offering a package that could potentially undermine the competition.

    Pronoun have been appraised of the post and invited to respond.

    https://www.facebook.com/groups/441469159372773/permalink/629140510605636/

    I somehow doubt it was coincidence that Smashwords suddenly decided to drop the Paypal payments threshold and to start paying monthly as Pronoun upped its game, but at this stage I don’t think the other aggregators have much to worry about.

    Pronoun is totally US focussed right now, so mainly a rival to Smashwords and Draft2Digital, but there’s too much mistrust right now to see pronoun make make inroads into their territory.

    Until Pronoun starts taking the global ebook market seriously there’s no threat to StreetLib or PublishDrive.

    But of course Macmillan is a savvy global player and as and when Pronoun start to offer indies serious global distribution and reach that Macmillan authors have then things could quickly change.

    Hoping Pronoun will engage Antonio Tombolini in this debate. Pronoun have of course previously explained their business model here at ALLi, but that was before they started offering the new royalty rates and the option to list at $0.00 on Amazon, etc.

    1. Thanks as always. I find Pronoun fascinating. They feel in many ways as though they’re adopting what’s actually in theory a very good practice of throwing stuff out and seeing what sticks then building on that. The problem is in an industry that relies on trust, such an experimental approach often loses the trust of the large base of clients on which they rely

  2. Dan, I had a hunch, and sat here and watched the video – and I’m stealing it and all its ideas.

    It validates struggle, eliminates passive learning – and is a perfect metaphor for the process of writing which is so hard for me: so what? Do it anyway – and you will get there, talent or not.

    Yes, there are people who will never get good at writing, as there are people who will never get great at soccer. But if they really wanted to, this says they could find a way – and that’s good enough for me.

    PS My husband did this at the school he worked for – his physics and chemistry students were getting 4s and 5s on AP exams – when the school, a special STEM school – didn’t even have AP courses. He had the students – and pushed them to see what they wanted to do and could do, while teaching the rest of the students the tough basic curriculum.

    1. 🙂 I first came across the ideas in Daniel Coyle’s book The Talent Code, and I was instantly struck how widely applicable they were, especially in writing. It’s so easy, especially when you’ve been writing for a while, to think you’re “practising” when actually you’re just repeating the same thing you’ve always been doing and not learning anything.

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Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40

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