This is the time of year when my day job in a university gets interesting. In a couple of weeks a whole new group of fresh-eyed students will arrive and we get to do the whole Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society thing, inspiring them with dreams of what they could be. It's been making me think – it's a long time since I felt at the start of something, a future panning out in front waiting to be grabbed – but, as writers, that's where we are every time we start a new book. Carpe diem.
Smashwords: Global Pricing and Classifying Erotica
I have a great affection for Smashwords. When I started self-publishing they were the only real show in town, and Mark Coker is tireless in supporting indies. Which is why it's nice to be able to feature not one but two news stories from them.
The first comes hot on the heels of Barnes and Noble‘s mass deletion and partial reinstatement of the accounts of indie erotica authors. Smashwords has always been a home for erotica writers, but now writers are being asked to classify their works, specifically in relation to taboo subject matter. For Smashwords, this is a matter of restoring trust, specifically about ensuring their largest retailers are able to stock “mainstream erotica” without running the risk of carrying titles that breach their terms. Restoring confidence is great. It might also have been good if the announcement had also emphasized the importance of having the trust of authors as well as retailers.
Secondly, a very welcome initiative is the option for global pricing. Authors can now separately choose the price that is right for each market from their Smashwords dashboard.
Piracy is a subject many indies think about a lot. Not a day goes by without at least one of my indie friends finding a copy of their work somewhere it shouldn't be. So a new Polish study into the effects of piracy on legitimate sales makes interesting reading. Perhaps unsurprisingly the research confirms an earlier study that showed piracy had little or no effect on legitimate sales. That may make one wonder why writers get so consumed by the subject, but, in my experience, the damage comes from something far less tangible than sales impact.
For those who remain concerned about piracy, an interesting development is a new form of digital watermarking, which embeds a key that will enable bounty hunters who report pirated copies of ebooks to claim a Bitcoin reward. If you're wondering why something sounds slightly weird about that but can't think what, here's Digital Reader to explain why it's a terrible idea.
Finally, a reminder that if you are worried about pirated copies of your work, Blasty, a tool that finds and, well, blasts any dodgy copies, is your friend.
Just What is the Impact of Amazon?
It's a question we often hear. If you're Hillary Clinton, it would seem that one impact Amazon has is cleaning up after your one-star reviews. (Other authors may have other experiences).
This week, at a literary conference in Pune, India, publishers claimed Amazon was wiping out bookstores. Amazon's moves in India have certainly been in the news a lot recently. This may sound alarmist, but it's a playing field that's rapidly changing and needs watching. Thank you to Mark Williams for the tip.
One of the things Amazon is most notorious for, in Europe at least, is its relation to national tax offices. Now it seems as though the European Union is putting on a collective effort to stop giant corporations like Amazon avoiding tax on revenue in one country by headquartering in another.
Facebook Ads: The Survey
Facebook ads for authors are a big thing, and we often hear from the writers who have done very nicely form them. But what has been the indie-on-the- street's experience? Now you can contribute to a survey that wants to examine just that. The survey, from Michael Alvear, author of Make A Killing on Kindle, will be an invaluable resource for authors who want to make an informed decision about what to do with scarce marketing funds.
Dates for the Diary: Read an Ebook Day and Indie Author Fringe
Today, if you were unaware, is Read an Ebook Day. If you use the #ebooklove hashtag across social media you can win stuff from the lovely people at Kobo and Overdrive. And we are now just a month away from 2017's final Indie Author Fringe, which will accompany the Frankfurt Book Fair. It is on Saturday 14th October, so don't forget the date for the usual 24 hours of indie fabulousness. And you can start to get involved already with the cover competition.
Upcoming Conferences and Events
Bookbaby Independent Authors Conference, Nov 3-5 [Philadelphia] 20 Books Vegas, Nov 3-5 [Las Vegas] The Author Business Conference, 4 November [Manchester] W3C Publishing Summit, Nov 9-10 [San Francisco] WriteCon, Nov 11 [Zurich, Switzerland]
20 Books London, Feb 3-4 [London]
Self-publishing Conference, Apr 28, [Leicester]