Indie News Beat: The Potential Perils of Percentages

IndieNewsBeatwithCJHave you ever wondered about those percentage royalty rates Amazon offers? What is it with Amazon giving 35% for a sale in a certain price range, and then 70% in a higher price range?

The reason I ask is because of our need for predictability. We like certainty; we like the comfort of knowing what we’re going to get and what’s going to happen. But with many of us, the problem is that predictability tends to evolve into a sense of entitlement. If you’re in a position of power, the fastest way to get people to hate you is to deny them something to which they believe they’re entitled. Parents the world over have to walk the tightrope of whether to discipline their children, since the act of punishing them by denying them something is just as likely to exacerbate undesired behaviour as to correct it. At the societal level, over the last few years regimes in many countries have been finding out the best way to turn a localised insurgency into a full-scale revolution is to deny their populations access to the internet, something which didn’t even exist a generation ago. Continue reading “Indie News Beat: The Potential Perils of Percentages”

Indie News Beat: The Shifting Stigma

Indie News BeatUnless you were living under a rock last month, you’ll have heard about Hugh Howey’s incendiary new website in which he and an anonymous friend collate a mass of book sales data to show that self-published titles are taking more and more of the spoils. Cue much wailing and gnashing of teeth from nearly everyone (it seemed), given that so much data analysed in such depth was perhaps bound to be open to selective interpretations.

Over on Publishers Weekly, Smashwords founder Mark Coker took a more sober approach, pointing out that: “What matters is the directional trend, and the strong social, cultural and economic forces that will propel the trend forward in a direction unfavorable to publishers.” In an excellent article which is a must-read for all Independent Authors, Coker goes on to describe how the perception of stigma is shifting. From just a few years ago, when self-publishing had “failure” written all over it, we’re now moving to a point where traditional publishing is getting its share of negativity: the lousy royalties on e-books and their own vanity imprints ready to fleece the unsuspecting Indie, which Coker politely calls “misguided”. The more heated the debate gets, the more useful it is to listen to a cooler head. Continue reading “Indie News Beat: The Shifting Stigma”

Indie News Beat: Future Shock

Indie Publishing NewsOne of the fun things about being a Science Fiction fan is seeing how previously predicted futures pan out as time passes. But the truth is, very few writers from the past managed to get anything right. Even the grandfather of the genre, H.G. Wells, was invariably off the mark when he tied himself down with certain events happening by certain dates. Probably his most accurate forecast was in The Last War, written in 1914, in which he predicted the atomic bomb, although his bomb kept exploding continuously.

Arthur C. Clarke deserves much kudos for predicting in the 1950s that the Earth would be ringed by satellites to aid communication, but as we get closer to today, much of what has been invented over the last generation cannot be found predicted in books written thirty or more years ago. And a lot of what was predicted has not come to pass. Continue reading “Indie News Beat: Future Shock”

Indie News Beat: Which Perspective Would You Like with 2014?

As another New Year kicks off, it’s worth taking a look around at what’s being said about this crazy industry we call publishing. For many of us, it’s the data that matters: the most popular sites for readers, the titles they’re buying, which genres are ‘hot’ (and is there a snowball’s chance in hell we could bang out 50k words before that genre goes cold?). However much we may dislike marketing our books, we need to decide where they should be, what the ideal price point is, and many more variables which could see a few more copies downloaded.

So what might this year hold? If you can make it through the hyperbole, a good place to start is Ten Bold Predictions for 2014. Yes, last year was the best ever, except that now the price of eBooks is “plummeting”. Good news for readers, but if the mainstreams are finally bringing eBook prices down to what Independent Authors have been selling them at for a while, where does that leave the latter? Another telltale factoid is that “ebook revenue has tapered off”, which also supports the suggestion that mainstreams now understand they’ve milked the eBook market as much as they can. The problem for Independent Authors is that it removes a fundamental selling point: that our ebooks were cheaper.

An interesting perspective, and much useful information, is to be had in this article by Paul Jarvis. He describes his own experiences with using Indie sites to sell his books, and talks about publishing a book on Amazon as though it were a bit of a chore: “It took 12 hours [for his book to be on sale] which isn’t bad… Basically, there’s a lot of waiting for Amazon…” I found Jarvis’s use of Indie sites to sell his books to be a refreshing change, given that in my experience, Amazon is the number one place where a book has to be available. Continue reading “Indie News Beat: Which Perspective Would You Like with 2014?”

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