Blogger Kristen Lamb entertainingly tells it like it is.
I think in most authors’ minds, the answer is no. But there are ways to break into these seemingly impregnable fortresses of traditional book distribution for indie writers, and most of them involve a lot of leg-work. Plus driving (unless you live next door to a library).
As one commenter says below this informative article from Publisher’s Weekly, “Don’t just dream the dream — crunch the numbers and decide what options are best for you.”
Last week saw the launch of Pronoun, with a promise to provide authors with book creation tools and distribution to all major ebook retail channels. For free. Sounds like Smashwords, right? Yes, except that not only is ebook creation free, Pronoun doesn’t even take a cut! Authors will earn all of the remaining revenue after retail discounts. Taking zero (as in $00.00) profit from an author’s ebook sales, Pronoun will instead generate revenue from its existing publishing and data tracking businesses.
“The publishing industry treats authors like cogs in its machine – not as the creative foundation upon which their long-standing businesses are built,” said Josh Brody, Chief Executive Officer, Pronoun. “With Pronoun, we put authors at the heart of every decision we make as we invest in the power of technology to transform this market. Digital platforms are paving the way for creators across every media industry. We believe books are next.”
At launch, Pronoun lets authors:
- Create Beautiful Digital Books: Convert an edited manuscript to a professionally designed ebook that is compatible with every e-reader and mobile device. Manage cover art, layout, book descriptions, and keywords in a step-by-step interface.
- Sell Everywhere: Instantly distribute to all major retail channels: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBooks, Google Play, and Kobo. Make unlimited, free updates to Metadata.
- Market With Analytics: Access the largest proprietary dataset on the digital book market and see relevant, real-time data on books, categories, and market trends.
- Receive customized suggestions on pricing, categories, keywords, and more – all based on hard data, not guesswork. Track sales, marketing activities, and milestones through a single platform.
- Get Live Notifications: Opt in to get proactive alerts on daily sales, new book reviews, when books enter a bestseller list, or when an action can improve a book’s position on retailers’ sites.
- Receive Consolidated Monthly Payments: Get convenient electronic payments for sales across all retailers in a single monthly deposit.
- Free ISBN: Get a free ISBN for every book published on Pronoun.
- Build a Publishing Team: Access Pronoun’s network of vetted professional service providers, including editors, cover designers, copy editors, and publicists.
“We’re clearing away more than a hundred years of dust that has settled on the publishing industry and its business model. Over the past few years, our team built a platform that respects everything we love about books, but embraces the new reality of how people discover, purchase, and read them,” said Ben Zhuk, Chief Product Officer, Pronoun. “With Pronoun, authors get the control and support they need so they can spend more time doing what they love – writing.”
Too good to be true? I think not.
Mark Coker, founder of indie publishing platform Smashwords, wrote an interesting blog post last week on the demise (or “sunsetting” in their own wonderful euphemism) of ebook subscription service Oyster after its buyout by Google. The comments following the post are also interesting. Let’s face it, authors and publishers are living in interesting times…
A piece in the New York Times last week seemed to offer statistical evidence that ebook sales have dipped while traditional print book sales have risen.
Matthew Ingram, writing in Fortune, provides a counter-argument and backs it up with wider industry figures.
It may be that large publishers are keeping ebook prices artificially high, leading to a fall in the sales of their books while the indie market remains stable. What are your opinions on the price of a traditionally published ebook compared to the print version? After all, an ebook has virtually zero production and distribution costs compared to the paper book. Are traditional publishers price-gouging consumers and now paying the price?
Roz Morris interviewed me for her wonderful Undercover Soundtrack site last year, and now she’s posted this fascinatingly honest interview with a mysteriously anonymous author. In it, they discuss whether independent publishing has hit a wall, fallen off a cliff or is simply in a downturn as part of a normal cyclical phase.
The author is quoted as saying:
“I check in on Kindleboards now and again. Yesterday I saw an author who started out making $13,000 a MONTH on four poorly written books say she’s now ghosting for other indies to make ends meet. Another author posted about the publication of his new ‘novel’, which is 117 pages long with lots of white space (probably 15K words) and selling for $2.99. Everyone was fawning over him and his swift production.”
Have we reached the top of the cliff? If so, should we admire the view, walk back the way we came, or take the plunge and hope that this is just a metaphor and not reality?
Photo credit: Peter Morgan / Foter / CC BY
Reviews are always nice. Nice reviews are even nicer! Check out what Toronto indie culture and zine mag Broken Pencil had to say about Starley’s Rust besides this:
Dutton is in his element crafting together a sci-fi adventure with a good blend of sincerity and humour that, without such a fine balance, can be the downfall of any YA fiction.
On July 20th I posted a photo on my professional Facebook page. It was a screenshot showing the words “The End… of the Embodied trilogy book 3”. And then I went on vacation with my girlfriend to Romania (which is a wonderful place to visit, by the way).
I had hoped to finish that draft of my latest novel before heading across the Atlantic and I actually managed it just under the wire (pats self on back) even though it ended up being longer than books one and two. Now for the editing and rewriting. In my opinion, the only way to do that properly is to step away from the manuscript, unhook my brain from all thoughts of Kari Marriner and her adventures with the Embodied, and come at it with fresh eyes and a sharpened blue pencil. I’ll give it another week on top of the vacation time…
This morning I took down book 3’s scene cards from the wall where they’ve been looming over my desk since I started writing book 2, Starley’s Rust, eighteen months ago. I think I’ll fill the space with photos of my kids or maybe draw a target on the wall that I can aim at with the crumpled opening pages from my next book as I yank them angrily out of the typewriter. That, by the way, is a fiction. It’s what I do, see?
This is an exciting and scary time for any writer because tackling a rewrite means finding out whether what you’ve written is great or crap (or most likely somewhere in the middle). I had a great time writing this book, and with a bit of luck the excitement I felt will have translated itself onto the page in an entertaining and interesting way. With a bit of luck.
One thing this novel is still lacking is a title. Or, rather, it has too many titles. From around twenty options, I’ve whittled it down to ten and I’m waiting on (ten)terhooks for my editor and beta readers to finish the draft so I can share the list and see what they think.
In the meantime I’ve already started researching my next novel. And it won’t be for young adults…
I started writing the final novel in the Embodied Trilogy yesterday at Else’s in Montreal. And before anyone asks, it doesn’t have a title yet.