An Open Letter to the DOJ from Someone Who Actually Cares About Writers (and Readers) Publishing

The leading literary agents’ organization – the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR) – penned an open letter to the Department of Justice (DOJ) opposing the terms of the settlement reached with three of the publishers named in the Agency price-fixing suit. I won’t go into the details of how wrongheaded that letter was. It has already been systematically taken apart by Joe Konrath, Bob Mayer, and Dean Wesley Smith. Also worth reading are Joe Konrath’s subsequent dismantling of another open letter to the DOJ written by Simon Lipskar (a board member of the AAR), as well as the comments made by Passive Guy on the same topic. If you have any doubt whose side (most) agents and the AAR are Read More…

Amazon Is Creating Competition, Not Killing It

The big topic (again) seems to be whether Amazon is a monopoly, or is heading in that direction, and whether they should be “stopped” (although, I’m never quite sure what that entails exactly). Barry Eisler dealt with this fear, rather conclusively, back in October in a guest post on Joe Konrath’s blog. But lately, the hysteria has been ratcheted up a notch by Mike Shatzkin’s sensible prediction that Amazon will soon be responsible for 50% of most publisher’s sales (I can’t link to Mike’s original piece at the moment, there seems to be a problem with his site, but Passive Guy quotes the main points). The Author’s Guild now has Amazon firmly in their sights. An article at the end of Read More…

Amazon Rakes In More Cash, And Spends It Wisely

Amazon announced its Q2 results yesterday, and the growth was stunning – net sales were up 51% on 2010, topping out at $9.91bn for the three month period ending June 30. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said that “low prices, expanding selection, fast delivery and innovation are driving the fastest growth we’ve seen in over a decade.” He also noted that the Kindle 3G with Special Offers (priced at $139) quickly became their bestselling Kindle. As usual, no exact numbers were given. Those deep pockets just keep getting deeper. But what are they doing with the money? Despite this staggering growth, profits are down 8% on the same period last year. Why? Some of the details from Amazon’s press release Read More…

Borders Inches Closer to Liquidation. What Happens Next?

The deadline to save Borders passed yesterday, meaning that they will now proceed to a bankruptcy-court auction tomorrow. It’s not quite over for America’s second-largest bookstore chain, and a bidder could still emerge in the next day-and-a-half to save the company – which employs nearly 11,000 people – from being liquidated. In fact, the Wall Street Journal reported today that Books-A-Million were in talks late last night about a deal. However, it seems clear that even if this move comes off, which is doubtful, it will only rescue part of the company, and a large amount of (further) store closures and layoffs is unavoidable. It seems likely now that the bones of Borders will be picked apart, and the remaining Read More…

Batting for a Broken System

There was a ridiculous article last week in the Wall Street Journal called “Cherish The Book Publishers – You’ll Miss Them When They’re Gone.” I was going to write a take-down of this, but Kris Rusch and Joe Konrath beat me to it. You should check out both their responses. Krus Rusch goes point-by-point, and Joe Konrath, in a post titled “The Tsunami of Crap”, laughs at the ridiculousness of it all: “Some people believe the ease of self-publishing means that millions of wannabe writers will flood the market with their crummy ebooks, and the good authors will get lost in the morass, and then family values will go unprotected and the economy will collapse and the world will crash Read More…

Major US Agency Moves Into Publishing. Or Do They?

It seems like the big news stories are coming every day now. That’s what happens when you combine the disruptive power of the internet with a revolutionary change like digital self-publishing. In an announcement that is sure to cause some surprise, Dystel & Goderich – agents for Barack Obama, Judge Judy, John Locke, Joy Bauer, David Morell, and Richard Dreyfuss – have announced a move into publishing. Or have they? I have made my feelings about agents moving into publishing quite clear on a number of occasions, and have always attempted to highlight the egregious practices that are becoming more common. However, before we grab the pitchforks and march on 5th Avenue, I’m going to ask for a moment to Read More…

JK Rowling Really Is Self-Publishing: A Closer Look

Now that the dust has settled a little, I would like to take some time today to examine aspects of JK Rowling’s move into self-publishing. As soon as the announcement was made, various people were tying themselves into knots to describe this as anything other than self-publishing. “Although some are likely to see Rowling’s decision to be her own publisher for her e-books as a significant one for the industry at large, Potter is a unique franchise.” That was from Publisher’s Weekly. Aside from the ludicrous suggestion that any writer couldn’t set up a website and sell their own work direct to the public, note they use “decision to be her own publisher” instead of the dreaded words “self-publishing”. Some Read More…

Self-Publishing & Trade Publishing Are Not Mutually Exclusive Paths

There was one thing that stuck out like a sore thumb amidst all the huffing and puffing surrounding Barry Eisler’s decision to sign with Amazon’s new imprint, Thomas & Mercer. Some people (both indie evangelists and arch-defenders of trade publishing), think that self-publishing and trade publishing are mutually exclusive paths. This nonsense needs to be dealt with right away. First off, there are many, many people who have trade deals who are also self-publishing other titles.

Self-Publishing & Trade Publishing Are Not Mutually Exclusive Paths

There was one thing that stuck out like a sore thumb amidst all the huffing and puffing surrounding Barry Eisler’s decision to sign with Amazon’s new imprint, Thomas & Mercer. Some people (both indie evangelists and arch-defenders of trade publishing), think that self-publishing and trade publishing are mutually exclusive paths. This nonsense needs to be dealt with right away. First off, there are many, many people who have trade deals who are also self-publishing other titles.

Publishers Skinning Authors, Eisler & Konrath, and The Never-Ending Blog Tour

I have to spend the day hauling giant loads of copper, chemicals, and silicone (don’t ask), so if you don’t mind, I will do a quick news round-up, and talk about some stuff appearing here and elsewhere in the coming days. Publishers & Agents Trying to Skin Their Authors The Passive Voice is my new favourite blog (thanks to Dean Wesley Smith). He provides excellent overviews of the disruptive changes occurring in publishing, and as a former lawyer, he is especially strong on how publishers are introducing worrying provisions in contracts, attempting to tie-up rights they haven’t paid for.

Publishers Skinning Authors, Eisler & Konrath, and The Never-Ending Blog Tour

I have to spend the day hauling giant loads of copper, chemicals, and silicone (don’t ask), so if you don’t mind, I will do a quick news round-up, and talk about some stuff appearing here and elsewhere in the coming days. Publishers & Agents Trying to Skin Their Authors The Passive Voice is my new favourite blog (thanks to Dean Wesley Smith). He provides excellent overviews of the disruptive changes occurring in publishing, and as a former lawyer, he is especially strong on how publishers are introducing worrying provisions in contracts, attempting to tie-up rights they haven’t paid for.

E-Reader War Heats Up and Amazon Launch New Imprints

Now that Transfection has flown the net, we can get back to business. Tomorrow, I will continue my free guide to self-publishing with a section on pricing. Today, I want to look at some of the big news stories of the last week or so. The E-Reader War Hots Up On Monday, Canadian upstart Kobo launched a new touchscreen e-reader for the tasty price of $129.99. It only weighs 200 grams (take that, iPad!) and uses the same e-ink technology as the Kindle (easy on the eyes, can be read in sunlight). It can store up to 1,000 books (and can be expanded to 30,000 with memory cards).

Some Other Stuff You Should Be Reading

Today’s is a short post as I have urgent work on a new release to complete. It’s the Golden Rule: writing always comes first, remember? I’ll make it up with a monster post on marketing and social media later in the week, the next step in my INDIE PUBLISHING FOR INTERNATIONAL WRITERS series. I just want to put you on to some interesting stuff going on that you might have missed.

Could Piracy Be Good For You?

When music industry revenues collapsed after the introduction of MP3s, many writers became worried. While musicians have been able to find alternative income streams – including touring and merchandise – writers generally have one: their stories. Not even Stephen King or J.K. Rowling would fill a stadium for a reading, and most mid-list authors and new writers are lucky if there is a decent turn-out for a free bookstore appearance. In my last post on piracy, I covered how the measures the publishing industry has undertaken to combat piracy have only served to alienate their paying customers, but today I want to look at piracy from a different perspective: its benefits. While I don’t condone piracy, I think it’s an Read More…

Amazon: The 800 Pound Gorilla

In trying to piece together a snapshot of the rapidly changing publishing landscape, we have taken a look at the challenges facing the traditional houses, the rise of the digital tide, how the price of a book breaks out, piracy, and the sudden ascension of the e-book to being the #1 selling format in the U.S. Today we are going to talk about the 800 Pound Gorilla.