Sunday, March 30, 2014

The self-publishing lottery

Digital Book World writer Jeremy Greenfield, who is also a Forbes contributor posted an interesting, and I think revealing list on Forbes.  DBW compiles weekly lists of ebook bestsellers, and Greenfield went back and compiled those lists into totals of bestsellers for last year.  Counting newly-merged Penguin and Random House as one entity, and all self-published authors as one entity, this is what he came up with:

1. Penguin Random House — 478 best-sellers
2. Hachette — 258 best-sellers
3. Self-published — 99 best-sellers
4. HarperCollins — 91 best-sellers
5. Simon & Schuster — 72 best-sellers
You might think this list reveals that self-publishing is going great guns, and I think it is. But what the list doesn't show is almost as important as what it does. It doesn't say how many books were published in total, by each publisher/entity. If a batter hits 100 home runs out of 10,000 times at bat, it's not that great a home run average. But if he hits 100 out of 1,000, he's doing a lot better, and 100 out of 500, he's probably in the majors. 

So, that's my point. The list looks great until you count the at-bats for self-published authors. I'm not pushing doom and gloom, mind you, just realism. Know the odds, but do it if you want it badly enough. My motto is, even a tiny chance is better than no chance. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hugo reminder!

The Hugos are prestigious awards presented annually at the World Science Fiction Convention (aka Worldcon). If you are a member of the current Worldcon (to be held in London) or of last year's Worldcon, you can nominate your favorite book, short story, movie, TV episode, etc.  Nominations close on March 31, so don't procrastinate!

Note that you don't have to be an attending member. Supporting members can nominate and vote for Hugos, too!  The trophy is always a rocket ship, but the base varies from year to year. Can you tell where last year's Worldcon was held from this photo? I wonder if this year's will have Big Ben's tower or maybe St. Paul's?

Monday, February 24, 2014

We have a cover!

Isn't it pretty? I might ask the designer to scale back the shadow effect, but otherwise, I really like it!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Hello, world!

I check my blog's stats every so often and a recent trend is that people are finding it by searching Google in other (non-US) countries. Recent hits have come from Bulgaria, Hong Kong and India, as well as the more expected UK, Canada and Australia.  My most popular posts are those that give Kindle tips, especially the ones on putting non-Amazon books on a Kindle, so I suspect that Kindles being sold in other countries are driving much of my blog traffic.

On the other hand, I actually see more diverse foreign sales from Apple iBooks (via Smashwords) than any other retailer. Between Kindle, Apple, and Sony, I have sold books in India, New Zealand, and Australia, as well as the UK, Canada, Austria, Germany, Spain, and the Netherlands. The French don't seem to be interested in my books, but then, I'm not French and I write in English, so no surprise there.

It's totally cool to think of having readers around the world!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

eBook Self-publishing Platforms: go wide or go narrow?

Barnes & Noble has not done that well with their Nook ereader and tablet sales, certainly not compared to Kindle sales. Of course, like Amazon, they offer an app version for reading on other devices, like PCs, iPads, Android tablets, and phones. The Windows 8 version I have on my laptop is actually pretty nice, once you figure out that you have to right-click to get to the menus.  Interestingly, Nook sales of my books have crept up lately, and they're now about the same (or sometimes better) than my Kindle sales, which was surprising in light of the reported recent bad Nook news.

Barnes & Noble now offers a nice direct-to-Nook self-publishing platform in Nook Press.  One thing it offers is the ability to edit the epub file, and republish a corrected version if you need to. Amazon offers something similar, but only if you uploaded an HTML file, not if you uploaded a Kindle-formatted *.azw file. Some of my B&N books are actually coming from Smashwords, because before Nook Press, the B&N platform didn't offer much of an advantage. Ergo, only No Safe Haven, Tribes, and King of Trees are on the Nook Press platform itself; the others are being published  to the Nook store via Smashwords, which lets you push your books to many vendors. And of course, The Sixth Discipline has to stay as a Smashwords book because that's why it can be free.  Like Amazon's KDP platform, B&N's Nook Press won't let you make a book free forever. Smashwords does, and B&N and most other retailers make their price whatever the Smashwords price is, even if that price is zero cents.  

The one self-publishing platform I have not tried is Kobo's Writing Life. My Kobo sales via Smashwords have never encouraged me to make the effort to check them out. But whether you use individual retailers' platforms or Smashwords, I would urge all self-published authors to consider carefully before sticking with any one platform exclusively, even Kindle. The more outlets you have, the better your chances are of finding readers, and that's why we're all in this game.  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

A survey by any other name?

The Pew Research Group recently released the results of their study of reading habits of Americans. The Pew post was headlined "E-Reading Rises as Device Ownership Jumps." The first sentence of their overview pretty much sums up the results: "The proportion of Americans who read e-books is growing, but few have completely replaced print books for electronic versions."

The study got a lot of web coverage, but interestingly, the same study produced many different headlines:

Just Four Percent of Americans Read eBooks Only (Motherboard)

eBooks surge as devices multiply but print holds firm (NBC)

In this age of ebooks, print still alive (Des Moines Register)

Americans prefer print over ebooks (PBS)

Pew, Princeton study shows e-reading up (Teleread)

eReading is Risng But It's Not Replacing Print, Pew Research (Galleycat)

Headlines are, of course, meant to grab the reader's attention, but it is interesting to me that these headlines are so different, with the Motherboard one giving only a single stat, the PBS headline flatly ignoring the increase in e-reading, and the Teleread headline ignoring any preference for print. Of course, all of them have more info in the posts than in the headlines

I find it interesting that the Des Moines Register calls today "the age of ebooks." Personally, I think the real age of ebooks will start in 10 to 20 years from now. Until then I agree that print is still going to be necessary for true sweeping success, which is why, as I said in my last post, I plan to move to print and ebook publishing.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Paper is not dead to me!

I don't hate print books!  I prefer digital reading because of the convenience of having my library in my purse, and the fact that I can make the fonts whatever size is comfortable for me. But one reason I have only published in ebook form to date is that it takes a lot more time to publish in print; you have to format the book and make sure the pages look good. However, I have decided that with Saronna's Gift I'm going to try to do a simultaneous print and ebook release, using Amazon's CreateSpace print-on-demand (POD) service.  That means that Amazon customers will be able to order the book in print or read it on their Kindles or Kindle apps.

This is going to take me a little while longer to do, but I am hoping I can get both versions ready at the same time. Wish me luck as I make myself into a POD person (if you got that reference, you are probably not a millennial; if you didn't get it, check out this write up of Invasion of the Body Snatchers).

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Goodbye, 2013!

It was a pretty good year, but I have high hopes for 2014.  The Google Doodle for today shows 2013 partying in a 70's style disco while a 4 waits in the wings, ready to make it 2014, That's about the way I feel, except I never liked disco that much.

Happy New Year to all!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

It's almost Christmas!

I won't be blogging in the next several days, so I want to wish everyone Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Solstice, have a wonderful Kwanzaa! Whatever holidays you celebrate, I hope they're wonderful!  In the case of Hanukkah, that would be a past tense wish. :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Finally, a draft at least!

The cover for Saronna's Gift has been plagued by problems. This is my first cover that used an actual model, and the photographer had technical difficulties that required a reshoot.

Anyway, it's only a draft, because the colors aren't right and the typography is missing, but here is (more of less) what the cover of Saronna's Gift will look like.