Posts tagged ebook
The holidays are over. All those millions of new Kindles are unwrapped and in use. So I thought it might be a good time to take another peek at those bestseller lists, and see how the indies are faring in a market which some analysts believe has doubled since this time last year.
The answer is, very well.
If you’ve been reading here a while, you’ll remember that on December 20th I was window shopping for ebooks on Amazon and noticed something odd. Last October, there were a few indie books in the top seats of most genres, but the majority of each top 25 list was traditionally published books. In December, something seemed to have changed, and self published books were everywhere. I did a survey of four genres and posted the results here.
Today I revisited those genres, and added two more. So I’m covering Romance, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Thrillers, Mystery, and Horror today. What follows is an analysis of the top 25 breakdown in each genre on Amazon. Why Amazon? With around 70% of the US ebook market, Amazon represents a higher percentage of ebook sales than Bookscan does of print, making the Amazon lists the most reliable bestseller list for ebooks available today.
I’ve also mentioned how many of the top 25 were in the Kindle Select program, as this seems to be having an increasingly robust impact on bestseller listing.
- Romance: 24 self published, 1 trade published, 20 Kindle Select
- Fantasy: 18 self published, 7 trade published, 17 Kindle Select
- Science Fiction: 18 self published, 7 trade published, 14 Kindle Select
- Thrillers: 18 self published, 7 trade published, 19 Kindle Select
- Mystery: 21 self published, 4 trade published, 21 Kindle Select
- Horror: 23 self published, 2 trade published, 23 Kindle Select
So at this moment, self published books represent from 72-92% of these Top 25 bestseller lists.
Also noteworthy that 56-92% of the books on these lists were in the Kindle Select programs, and overall over 90% of the self published books were enrolled in Select. While Select may not be working perfectly for every writer, it does seem to now be key in reaching the very top of the Amazon bestseller lists.
Now, bestseller lists aren’t everything. They’re the top books right now. Tomorrow, some of those books will have swapped out. And thousands of other books, indie and trad pub, are selling just fine without ever reaching a bestseller list.
But it’s noteworthy that not only did indies grab the majority of the bestseller lists last month – they seem to have held that majority and even gained more ground on traditional publishers in some genres.
The prevalence of Select in those titles is also relevant, because it demonstrates the effectiveness of that program. While I still believe it’s something of a lottery – and most writers will probably do better to at least have *most* of their books available everywhere – it’s undeniable that Select is making magic for some writers. Having a book rotate through Select might be a powerful tool for indies to build name recognition on Amazon.
I’ve updated the blog. New look – a crisp, clean website which should load a little faster and look a little more professional. I have to admit, I liked the old stonework art I used to have. It’s art I made, back when I was doing game art, so it had a little personal appeal. But I have to admit the clean white looks sharp.
When I founded this blog back in Autumn 2010, I wasn’t really sure what I was doing with myself. I knew that publishing was changing. I knew I loved writing, and that the way the writing profession seemed to be shifting had a lot of appeal. I’ve run a few businesses, and enjoy the work. Authors as entrepreneurs? Sign me up!
I’ve ended up doing quite a lot more than that now, though. Yes, I’ve been writing, and yes, I’ve been publishing that work. But to date, I’ve earned more income from formatting work for other writers, and done more work advising others on how best to go about doing things in this new world. I’ve listened to some of the best in the business, and I’ve participated in, even run, some intensive studies of the changing publishing marketplace.
In the process, I’ve created a blog which is fairly scattered. And as a very bright person pointed out to me earlier today, that’s not really the best way to go about things. So this is a moment of refocus. The old blog name was centered around me, my learning, my SF and fantasy writing: “Swords and Starflight: Exploring the worlds of writing and publishing”.
The new blog name is “Digital Delta: Charting a course through the changing world of publishing.”
Appropriate, because that’s what I’ll be writing about here. Yes, I’ll talk some about my own writing still. But the majority of what I put up here will be detailed information and analysis about the publishing industry as it exists today, and as it is likely to exist in the near future.
Because we’ve seen enormous change over the last two years, monumental change just over the last twelve months. But I think we’re still at the tip of the iceberg, and there’s much more to come. We’re still collectively working to find ways of coping with just these first steps of the digital publishing revolution, but the deeper changes won’t happen for a while yet. I predict that the next three years are going to be a rollercoaster of events as retailers, publishers, agents, writers, and everyone else involved in the industry work overtime to keep up.
Change can be scary. Folks, change can also be a lot of fun. Change can mean endings, but change can also mean new beginnings, new opportunities.
Let’s find them together.
WAY back in December last year, I made a post with a set of predictions about what would happen in 2011, in the realm of ebooks and epublishing.
So I was curious, with the year ending, how I did. What came true? Where was my crystal ball horribly off?
- EPUB solidifies as the main open format. AMZ maintains its lead as the dominant format, however, losing some market share as iBook builds on the continued success of the iPad, but still holding 2/3 of the market for Amazon.
Yes. No real shockers there, though.
- Ereading Devices begin to coalesce into several main groups: dedicated eInk ereaders (long battery life, easier reading, but poor internet and less multipurpose), tablet computers (the iPad, Archos, and the numerous iPad clones planned by every major computer retailer for early next year), and pocket communications devices (basically, cell phones, often with video phone, often mini-tablets in their own right, with ereader functionality). None of these are dominant yet. Netbook sales plummet as tablet computers eat their market.
Yes. Although the Archos is dead, the Fire and Nook Tablet have risen to the challenge. Some computer manufacturers have had their tablets flop (Dell, HP), while others are seeing sales soar (Asus, Toshiba). The iPad is still dominant, but has a host of competing products, and phones continue to grow – the Samsung Note is a great example of a supersize cell phone that’s half cell, half tablet.
- By the end of 2011, wireless internet companies are offering cheap tablet computers for free with two year 3G/4G contract (not so far out; the cheap ones are only $100-200 retail right now), giving millions more people access to mobile internet tablets (with ereader capability).
Oops. I missed on this one. I still feel this was a missed opportunity for wireless providers. There are some *very* inexpensive tablets out there still, and 3G services are already offering discounts for the high end tablets like the Galaxy. Offering the basic models for free with a plan should be a no-brainer. But it hasn’t happened – not yet anyway. I’ll reserve this one for 2012.
- Amazon releases the color eInk Kindle. It sees sales as a niche product, since it costs more than the B&W eink, but doesn’t play video or look as crisp as LCD tablets – so it’s really mostly for readers who want to buy magazines and newspapers from Amazon.
I got this one part right. We certainly have a color Kindle! The Fire has sold millions of units already. But it’s not eInk. And far from being a niche product, it looks like the Fire is perhaps the most popular Kindle right now. The reason it’s not a niche is because it’s LCD, not eInk – so it has much broader potential appeal. Amazon’s moves with free video for Prime members has been a powerful stroke in marketing the Fire, too. So I hit the board on this, but missed the bullseye.
- Borders declares bankruptcy to reorganize. They close most or all of their big box stores, moving to a mostly online retail position with minimal brick exposure.
This happened. And then their reorganization failed, and they got an extension. Then it failed again, and they went under completely.
- At least three new ebook retailers take off to compete with Amazon, B&N, Borders, iBook, Sony, Kobo, and Smashwords.
Yes. Actually, there are quite a few more than three. But none have been able to generate enough market share to be real competitors yet. Some regional companies are getting into ebooks in a big way, though – Kalahari.com is serving some overseas markets in the same manner Amazon is here in the US, and is beginning to make people take notice, for instance.
- B&N begins the process to close their large stores, shifting to smaller print on demand stores capable of producing fast, quality books from their e-inventory. This does not happen in 2011, but they begin the work to make it happen.
Definitely seeing the shift toward this in B&N, as they busily dump every store for which they don’t own the physical property. Not seeing them make major moves into POD based stores yet, and it’s possible they simply might skip that step entirely. Ebooks are growing so fast that there might be very little time between when big box bookstores stop being viable (probably happening in 2013-2014 here in the US) and when even POD based bookstores stop being viable due to increasing ebook dominance.
- Ebooks pass 25% of total consumer book sales.
Yes, happened in January. Dipped down a bit over the summer, but definitely back over 25% before the end of the year.
- Joe Konrath sells his millionth self-published Kindle book toward the end of the year (he’s passed 200k for 2010).
Darn it, I inserted this partly as a joke, but I really did think the guy had it in him. ;) He didn’t make it, far as I know, but I think he’s getting close. And good for him. Some people have done as much for indies as Joe has, but few have done more. He’s earned his success the hard way, and I’m glad for him.
- New York Times sets up the ebook bestseller list, as they have announced they plan to do. Over 10% of the books on the list are self-published by the end of the year, with signs that this is growing.
A tricky one. The NYT did indeed set up this list, but I did not predict that they would deliberately falsify their list by excluding indie books! This has devalued their list (already dubious) in terms of using it as any sort of measure of success. Later, they began adding a few self published books, but very few. As a result, at this writing only one of the top 25 fiction ebooks on their list is self published. HOWEVER – seven of the top 25 ebooks on Amazon are self published. And scanning fiction genres recently, 60-80% of the top 20 list for every genre I reviewed was self published. Indies have moved onto the bestseller lists in a very noticeable way.
- No major publisher shuts down (I know some folks are predicting this, but I just don’t see it, not next year anyway). However, we see more line consolidations and changes to infrastructure as publishers continue to prepare for the digital-primary publishing world.
Correctly predicted. I think we may see some issues for some publishers in the next year or two, but most are still reporting higher than normal profits, due largely to paying a lower than usual share of profits to writers on ebooks.
So that’s where we were. Many predictions were dead on; some were off on the specifics, but on in general. And I missed on a couple completely. ;) But that’s the nature of predictions. Overall, I think we’re sitting just about exactly where I expected us to be when I made those comments a year ago. Indie sales have moved to an undeniable chunk of the marketplace – not yet dominant perhaps, except in fiction, but substantial and growing. Publishers are still chugging along and beginning to come to grips with the new market. Retailers are continuing to battle for customers and work on improving the experience for their users.
It’s been a fascinating year – the year when the stage was really set. I think 2012 will be critical, too, because it will largely determine how the chips fall, where control of what work is published lands, and who ends up in the best position in the years ahead. Make smart decisions, folks – what we do now will have reverberations felt for many years to come.
It’s been two months since I checked in with Amazon rankings, and saw how indies were doing. In October, my survey showed that while traditional presses still dominated the top 10 in most genres, indie published books owned over 50% of the top 200 Amazon ebooks in romance, fantasy, mystery, thriller, science fiction, and horror genres. It was an amazing coup for indies, at the time. Powerful movement to the top seats across the board in fiction.
I went back last night to peek, and was floored by the results. Here’s the survey of the top 20 ebooks on Amazon in many genres. I’d welcome folks pointing out anything they see which I might have missed.
2 major press publications; 2 small press; 16 self published; 17 available on the Kindle Lending Library (KLL).
7 major press publications; 13 self published books; 10 books on KLL. Incidentally, the ONLY AUTHORS in the top 20 fantasy books who were not self published were George R.R. Martin and one book by Stephanie Meyer. With six of the seven titles all by one author (single books and a collection of his books), it’s not as good as it looks for major publishers.
2 major press publications; 2 small press published books; 16 self published books; 11 books on KLL.
A bright point for major publishers – 6 major press titles in the top 20; two small press; 12 self published books; 11 books on the KLL. This last is very important – all of the KLL books were self published, which means only one self published book made the top 20 without being in KLL.
A few things stand out here. First, that indie (by which I mean self published) dominance of ebooks has extended. Where once indies were largely excluded from the top 10 but dominant in the top 200, they now control a majority of the top 10 in many genres, and the top 20 in all genres surveyed. That’s a dramatic change. In this, the biggest sales period of the year for print publishers, to see indies simply step in and take over such an overwhelming majority of the top seats is unprecedented.
How did it happen?
If you go back to the numbers above, you’ll quickly see that the majority of the indie books which made the top 20 were enrolled in Kindle Select, a program which lets writers trade exclusivity on Amazon for entrance into the Kindle Lending Library. There’s been enormous debate over whether such a move is worthwhile to indies. Now the early evidence is in – and is strongly in favor of getting at least one book into KLL.
KLL loans out one book per month to all Amazon Prime members with Kindle devices. Those loans count as “sales” for purposes of Amazon Ranking placement, which means if a couple hundred people borrow your book, your ranking will go up very fast. This in turn creates more visibility for the book, which radically boosts overall sales, spurring the book even higher. KLL board are fairly consistently outperforming other Kindle books across the board right now, as a result. In addition, the author is paid a percentage of a monthly pool of money, based on units loaned.
So the initial numbers, at least, are in. KLL and KDP Select are boosting sales of indies in a very dramatic, very visible way. Coupled with continued insistence by major publishers on charging $10-15 for ebooks, this has accelerated the trend toward indie publishers gaining greater market share. This is bad news for the publishers, who are using the higher prices to help keep print sales alive while transitioning to digital, and who have been working hard to keep their books out of the Kindle Lending Library. They might still be successful on both counts; but their moves are having the side effect of ceding most of the ebook market to competitors.
Wrote this for a discussion elsewhere, and then I decided it made a great year-end retrospective on how far we’ve come this year. Some AMAZING stuff has happened this year!
Just think back for a moment about how much indie/self publishing has grown, over the last year. Digital publishing has created something of a renaissance for writers. Self publishing, or “indie” as just about everyone is saying today, is rapidly growing to a dominant position in the market. It’s not outliers, anymore.
In December 2010, the first indie book hit the Amazon ebook top 100. By March 2011, there were 37, and the number of self published titles has dipped below that only a couple of weeks since (Sunshine Deals). As of July, over 1/3 of the top 1000 Amazon ebooks were self published. In October, my own survey showed that *at least* 50% of the top 200 ebooks in romance, thriller, fantasy, mystery, science fiction, and horror genres were indie books (any book where I was unable to ascertain if it was indie or small press was marked “not indie”, which means there is probably error, but in favor of more self published market share, not less).
Based on the current data, there are *minimally* hundreds of writers making a full time living from their self published ebooks. Hard to say just how many, because sales vary and pricing varies as well (selling 200 copies a month of a $5 book earns about the same as 2000 copies per month of a 99 cent book).
Ebooks are already closing on 50% of the fiction market. They are expected to surpass that percentage, if they haven’t already, in the first few months of 2012 (after some ten million+ new ereaders are opened as Christmas presents). Nonfiction is lagging behind, but “text type” nonfiction is also shifting rapidly.
In short, traditional publishers have lost a double-digit percentage of the overall US trade book market to indie publishers, and will probably lose substantially more over the next year as more professionals move into publishing their own ebooks. That would have been unthinkable three years ago.
Now it’s reality.
It’s still an incredibly competitive environment. But then, so is traditional publishing. And editors are now routinely saying at writer’s conferences that they’re having greater success scoping out new talent on ebook bestseller lists than they are getting new writers from agents. What does that mean? Indie publishing might be turning into the new slushpile. Even if your goal is a big contract from a big publisher, your BEST course to achieve that might be to self publish a few books, prove your mettle – prove you have a market and fanbase! – and then approach some publishers. Publishers are finding that a proven writer with an existing fanbase is a surer bet than an unknown.
EVERYTHING has changed. Everything we “knew” to be absolutely true in 2008 should be questioned today. It’s up to us to each stay tuned in on the new industry, because most of the old chestnuts are no longer valid today. But it’s also an amazingly exciting time to be writing!
The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) announced last week a new document describing their idea for best practices in ISBN use for publishing today, specifically addressing digital publishing. Some excepts from the press release:
New York, NY (December 7, 2011) – The Book Industry Study Group (BISG) announced today the publication of a new Policy Statement detailing best practices for assigning ISBNs to digital products. Developed over the past 18 months within BISG’s Identification Committee, BISG Policy Statement POL-1101 addresses the critical need to reduce product identification confusion in the market place in order to provide the best possible consumer-level purchasing experience.
BISG encourages all member companies and other industry stakeholders to download the Policy Statement online at http://www.bisg.org/what-we-do-cat-4-policy-statements.php and work toward adopting the suggested guidelines as soon as practical, with a target for new product introductions of no later than March 2012. The best practices are applicable to content intended for distribution to the general public in North America, but could be applied elsewhere as well.
The Policy Statement has been endorsed by BookNet Canada, a not-for-profit agency dedicated to innovation in the Canadian book supply chain, theNational Information Standards Organization (NISO), where content publishers, libraries, and software developers turn for information industry standards that allow them to work together, and IBPA, the Independent Book Publishers Association.
In the spring of 2010, BISG’s Identification Committee created a Working Group to research and gather data around the practice of assigning identifiers to digital content throughout the US supply chain. “The specific mandate of the Working Group was to gather a true picture of how the US book supply chain was handling ISBN assignments, and then formulate best practice recommendations based on this pragmatic understanding,” said Angela Bole, BISG’s Deputy Executive Director. “Around 60 unique individuals and 40 unique companies participated in the effort. It was a truly collaborative learning process.”
Noted Phil Madans, Director of Publishing Standards and Practices for Hachette Book Group and Chair of the Committee in charge of developing the Policy Statement, “It was quite a challenge to bring some measure of consistency and clarity to what our research revealed to be so chaotic and confused that some even reported thinking ISBN assignment should be optional–a ‘nice to have’. This, clearly, would not work.”
The full Policy Statement includes level-setting definitions for Physical Book, Digital Book and Consumer as well as general rules of ISBN assignment and particular best practices for identifying digital products in the supply network. In addition, the Statement includes eight examples intended to provide guidance on how to assign ISBNs to Digital Books in real life situations based on specific use cases.
The following excerpt starts on page 6 of the 12-page Policy Statement:
“Separate ISBNs should be assigned to all unique Digital Books for ordering, listing, delivery and sales tracking purposes. In general, there are three major factors that determine the need to assign unique ISBNs to Digital Books.
If two digital books are created, one an exact textual reproduction of a Physical Book and the other an enhanced version that includes video, audio, etc., then the two Digital Books are unique and different products, and each requires a unique ISBN.
If an EPUB format, a PDF format and a Mobi format (among others) are created, each format should be assigned a unique ISBN. This is similar to creating a hardcover and paperback edition of a Physical Book and should follow the same rules regarding ISBN assignment.
Rest of the press release available here.
Let’s face facts – this is a lot of hot air with no substance behind it.
ISBNs are a great system. I’m all for keeping it around, if it were made a fair and consistent system across all publishers. In Canada, for instance, it’s easy to agree to the BISG recommendations (as they noted in their press release) – because Canadians get ISBNs for free.
In the US, ISBNs range from $1 each (very reasonable – I’d pay that) to over $100, depending upon the number of them purchased. This is a leftover from the era when encouraging the purchase of multiples made sense, because it was easier to manage. In the era of computers, it’s not relevant anymore – and the $125 price tag for individual ISBNs is now simply a weapon to hurt smaller publishers. This is a large expense – sometimes the biggest single expense – for self publishers producing ebooks, and it’s especially damaging for people writing and publishing short works of both fiction and nonfiction.
Once upon a time, you needed an ISBN to get books into retail chains. Still true, for print books most of the time. With ebooks? Neither Amazon or B&N require ISBNs, which means over 90% of the US ebook market is open to books without the numbers. Mr. Madan’s comments above about people believing ISBNs “should be optional–a ‘nice to have’” are ironic – because in the publishing of ebooks, that’s precisely what they are today. They are not essential; therefore they are optional. They’re an optional element which adds very little value to author-publishers, and a great deal of expense. So they’re an option which is often skipped.
In October, I personally surveyed the top 200 ebooks on Amazon in romance, mystery, thriller, fantasy, science fiction, mystery, and horror genres. Across the board, in every one of those genres, over 50% of the top 200 ebooks were self published. Virtually none of those self published books used ISBNs.
The ebook medium is already dominated by books without ISBNs. BISG is trying to play catch-up, at this point, and encourage folks to use the numbering system before it falls apart entirely.
And if they really want to make that work, here’s a clue about what they need to do:
Get Bowker to make every ISBN purchase cost $1 or less. Even if bought one at a time.
Anything short of that spells the end of the ISBN system. And honestly, even that might not save ISBNs at this point – the system might simply be doomed.
Which would be a shame. It’s a nice system, and there are some advantages to having it around. But it’s not going to survive if there is a severe economic disadvantage to most publishers (small ones) using the system, and it’s not going to survive if the system continues to unfairly favor large publishers.
Someone asked this question recently on a networking site I frequent. And I’ve seen a lot of people ask similar questions. They’re good questions, asked by good people who have a love of good stories in their hearts. There’s a fear that, without gatekeepers managing what is produced, tons and tons of badly written books will flood retailers, making it impossible for readers to find the good, well written works.
These are important concerns, and I wanted to address them.
First off, it’s a fallacy to think that publishers are primarily concerned with publishing quality literature. They’re primarily concerned with producing books that will sell. A certain minimal level of quality is part of that equation, but it’s not the prime motivator.
What I think we ought to do? Let writers publish what they want. Give readers a robust sample of each work to read before buying. Give readers a full money-back guarantee on books they buy, so if they buy a stinker they can return it. Give readers good tools to review, comment on, and rate books. Give readers excellent tools for searching through books to find the ones they want.
In short, keep doing what’s currently in place for ebooks.
Yes, anyone can publish. But there’s no deluge of self publishing. Amazon (where virtually all self or trade published ebooks go, even if they’re not being sold anywhere else) will put up between 400k and 440k new ebooks this year. Trade publishers are expected by the AAP to produce 360k new titles this year, most of which will have an ebook edition. So self published ebooks are still a minority on the biggest book retailer in the world.
And precisely because readers have excellent search tools, the ability to download and read large samples at their leisure, and the ability to return ebooks that are real stinkers, Bad Books Are Not Selling. They just aren’t. There are books selling which aren’t to my taste – and probably some selling well which aren’t to yours. But I doubt there are many, if any books selling a lot of copies (i.e. beyond friends and family) that are truly bad.
Not all great books are selling well. But very few if any bad ones are selling well.
It’s a different world. Writers need to be cognizant of marketing online, and what’s involved – they need to be a Presence. Have a positive image on the internet, build a rep for clear and powerful writing. And writers need to produce bunches of books, most of the time. One often is not enough anymore – especially not in fiction, where readers more than ever are flocking to writers who have multiple books available. More work means more payoff on the investment of time spent reading a book (checking out the author to see if you like her work). If you like the book, would you rather that writer have twenty others you can read and probably enjoy? Or none?
Quality editing still matters. People don’t really care about the occasional error. People care a lot about seeing errors on every page. And that’s not all editing does, either – I almost used “lot” twice in that last sentence, and self-edited the second one out, restructuring the sentence to make it work without the second “lot”. A good editor will see when you’re making mistakes like that and help fix them. Goodness knows, I have enough quirks like that in my own writing! =)
Quality production still matters. AIDA is a concept in marketing. Attention, Interest, Desire, Action. An excellent cover helps grab attention as a potential customer scans the books in his favorite genre. The goal is that the reader clicks the link to see the book’s page. Then, the good blurb (and ranking/reviews) help create interest – the goal here is to convince the reader to download the sample. The sample generates Desire – ideally, by the end of the sample the reader is so hooked that she immediately clicks the “Buy Now!” link at the end of the book, and you’ve sold another copy (Action).
EACH stage of the AIDA process requires quality. Failing anywhere in that chain creates a break that allows potential buyers to slip away. So yes, quality is as important as ever.
I think it’s important to remember that in the end, the reader is the only audience who matters. You are writing to the reader – writing something that will touch, educate, inform, or entertain the reader. Accomplish that, and produce the work in a quality manner. Anything beyond that is a matter of choice.
For those who don’t know yet, Book Country is a program founded by Penguin last spring as a community for writers. Which is fine. But now, Penguin has gone a step past that. Joe Konrath has already been talking about this. I figured I’d chime in with a few comments as well.
It means Penguin thinks writers are stupid. And that they’ve decided to start a subsidy press.
There have been subsidy press scams around for years. These force writers to pay up front for book production costs, and then on top of that they take a large percentage of the income from book sales. I’ve spoken about these before. The problem with subsidy presses is not that they charge up front (which is fine) or that they take a percentage (which is fine), but that they do BOTH. And that’s not OK.
Take Penguin/Book Country, for example. $549 is not atypical for print and ebook production. You’d pay about $50-150 for ebook conversion to all major formats, and you’d pay $200-500 for print book design. So they’re not over the moon expensive there. And they’re only taking 30% of net on ebook sales (not sure what percent on print), which isn’t terrible either. The problem is that they’re doing both, which is a HORRIBLE deal when you can get a freelance designer to make the book for you for $300-600 and no percent – or find a small press willing to pay all the production costs AND edit your book for 50% of net.
Consider: say I indie publish, and don’t want to bother learning how to make my own ebooks. I pay someone $100 to format the book, and spend half an hour uploading it to the various retailers. I sell 5000 copies over the next X years at $2.99 each, and make ten grand. Or, I use Book Country, pay them $99 for the ebook-only option they have, and they keep 30% of the net. I make $7000. I’ve just paid them $3100 for a $100 job.
On what planet is that a good deal?
Or, you can use their “do it yourself” option. You format your own print and ebook; you give it to them along with $299, and Book Country will upload it to the various retailers for you. Understand: that means they’re spending about $70 in fees for the print book, nothing for uploading the ebooks, and it’s taking them about a half hour to an hour. So you’re paying them $229 for an hour of work, which seems…a little high to me. And worse, again they’re taking 30% of your income on all sales.
The bottom line? This is not a good deal. This is not even close to a fair deal. In fact, this is such an incredibly BAD deal that I find it offensive it’s even been offered.
It’s not a deal.
It’s an insult.
This is what the publisher thinks of us, writers: that they can offer a deal this awful and we’ll take it.
The world has changed, and we have much better options now, thanks.
Spread the word, writers. Let’s make sure not one person falls for this awful program.
Jewels in the Night – A short story of the Accord
By Kevin O. McLaughlin
Almost every war comes down to resources. The side that has them, wins.
Deny key resources to the other side, and you can crush them.
Nicholas Stein is forced to stand by, helpless, while the enemy uses a new ship to destroy the US colony on Luna. The loss will devastate his nation’s ability to wage war – unless Stein can find a way to balance the scales.
Jewels in the Night
By Kevin O. McLaughlin
He would never forget having a front row seat to seeing ten thousand lives extinguished in nuclear fire. No one could forget that sight. The worst was not being able to do anything about it, except avenge the fallen. For a naval captain, being unable to prevent the deaths of those he was sworn to defend was the second worst possible fate. Being forced to hang helpless in space while those people were slaughtered was the worst.
“Alea iacta est,” he said.
No one else heard his words. The only other people within radio range were his six marines, each wearing a space suit similar to his own. Pitch black, and equipped with the latest in stealth hardware, the suits were extremely hard to spot, so long as none of them used their radios. The operation was to be accomplished under radio silence until they’d made contact with the enemy.
That was still in the future. For now, Captain Nicholas Stein was for all intents alone in space with nothing but his thoughts and the destruction of the lunar colony to keep him company. He was near enough to see the detonations. He imagined that he could hear the screams.
The United States had simply gambled and lost. Since discovering there were fissionable materials on the moon for mining, the US had been able to come out well ahead in the war back on Earth. China had burned up most of its own fissionable material for energy during the early years of the war, as had the US. Access to a new energy source was essential, and the only moon base belonged to the US. In fact, the Chinese supposedly had no ships capable of reaching the moon at all. The only ship the US Navy had set to guard the lunar colony was Stein’s own largely toothless old cruiser. With an old engine, a crew of two dozen, and no external weapons at all, the ship wasn’t much of a defense.
But then, no one had thought they needed to spend on defense in space. The US-Euro supremacy there had been unchallenged for years. Until today.
Stein dialed up the resolution on his helmet camera. There she was. The Chinese ship no one had thought existed. Beautiful, really. She looked like a predator, so obviously built to bring death. Which she had done with callous ease, the huge engines carrying her swiftly to the target while Stein’s own ship was too far to be able to intercept.
He’d gone over the math himself, over and over. There simply had been no way to coax enough speed out of his older ship to intercept the aggressor. He’d have ordered his ship to ram the enemy, if he could have thought of a way to accomplish that. There simply wasn’t. The enemy had timed their attack while his ship was too far away to respond.
So instead Stein had his ship lay himself and his men in the likely course his enemy would follow back to Earth. Like a minefield, they drifted in the void, subtle accelerations calculated by suit computers bringing them into an intercept. Just seven more bits of man-made debris in an orbital that had been filled with junk by a century of spaceflight. He was confident they wouldn’t be seen.
The ship was getting closer. His suit computer was still receiving a data feed from nearby US satellites, giving him precise information about the enemy ship’s course. The suit began making small course adjustments again, bringing him directly into the path of the ship with small spurts of energy. He’d guessed their course correctly. By setting his own ship on the route he had chosen, there was only one clean path back to Earth that would take the ship in without exposing it to fire from the US hunter-killer satellites in geosynchronous orbit over North America and Europe. Ever closer it loomed, still moving fast despite his suit’s attempts to match velocity. This was going to be tight.
Then he spotted one of his men for the first time in hours. From his angle, it looked like he was falling toward the ship, and the man was falling below him. For whatever reason, the marine hadn’t managed to boost his speed enough, and was just falling to fast. A moment later, and Stein saw the marine’s dark suit break into fragments against the dull gray hull of the ship. He closed his eyes for a moment.
Accelerate too much, and he’d be spotted. Too little, and he’d splatter against their hull or miss entirely and be burned to a crisp by the ship’s thrust.
So, today I am part of another blog hop – hope to see some folks popping in! This is the second time I’ve done this, and I’ll be doing things a little differently. This is an enormous hop. Tons of blogs involved. So if you’re new to the site, welcome! Please feel free to pop around a bit. I have an old award-winning short story of mine which I posted here for visitors to enjoy; if you’re into traditional fantasy stories, take a peek.