Astroturfing: The Source of Zombie Memes in Publishing?

Why are there so many zombie memes in publishing? Why is there so much groupthink? It might be because the industry isn’t particularly diverse. Or it could be that book-lovers are nostalgic types who are automatically wary of change. But I suspect it’s astroturfing by the publishing establishment, a practice admitted to last month by YS Chi, chairman of Elsevier and president of the International Publishers Association, in paragraph six of this article. For the click-lazy, here’s the money quote (emphasis mine): “We gathered all the communications people together to discuss the issues and create an action plan. We have a multi-faceted audience to address, and in the next 12 months you will see key messages delivered, compelling stories of our Read More…

Publishing Is Easy

There are three primary tasks a writer must undertake to get her work into the hands of readers: writing, publishing, and marketing. Out of those three, I respectfully submit, publishing is by far the easiest. Writing Writing a book is hard, and writing a good book is even harder – at least from the perspective of the inexperienced writer. Most people who think about writing a book never start one. Most people who start one never finish it. And most people who finish a book never polish it to the point where it’s ready for prime-time and/or never get it out the door for one reason or another. To write a good book, you have to put in the time Read More…

Don’t Be Fooled: Big Publishing Hates Competition

The reaction to the filing of the DoJ’s antitrust suit was laughable, if somewhat predictable. Among other things, the DoJ has been accused of working for Amazon – helping them to “destroy the publishing industry.” If you want to sample the mindset I’m referring to, simply visit the comments of any article on the matter in the trade press – such as this or this (although this vocal group are strangely absent from articles such as this one describing publishers’ (alleged!) attempts to cover up their actions by deleting emails). I’m not sure when “the publishing industry” become exclusively synonymous with the largest publishers. I’m not sure when their narrow interests became everyone’s interests, because what’s good for Penguin isn’t Read More…

Don't Be Fooled: Big Publishing Hates Competition

The reaction to the filing of the DoJ’s antitrust suit was laughable, if somewhat predictable. Among other things, the DoJ has been accused of working for Amazon – helping them to “destroy the publishing industry.” If you want to sample the mindset I’m referring to, simply visit the comments of any article on the matter in the trade press – such as this or this (although this vocal group are strangely absent from articles such as this one describing publishers’ (alleged!) attempts to cover up their actions by deleting emails). I’m not sure when “the publishing industry” become exclusively synonymous with the largest publishers. I’m not sure when their narrow interests became everyone’s interests, because what’s good for Penguin isn’t 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…

Publishers Desperately Trying To Protect Print Sales, And Failing

It has been apparent for quite some time that large publishers had been desperately trying to slow the (inevitable) transition to e-books – much as they might deny it. Despite all the breathless talk of “transmedia” and “metadata” and the furious rate of backlist digitization, the overarching strategy was clear: protect print sales at all costs, and pray that e-books will plateau soon (and that international markets won’t take to them with quite the same relish). This is the only logical conclusion from tactics that include pricing e-books artificially high (even, allegedly, going as far as price-fixing, for which they are being investigated by the EU, the (US) Justice Department, and are the subject of a number of class action Read More…

Why The Digital Revolution Threatens Large Publishers

I think I’ve made a robust case for a digital future, but I’m less sure I’ve convincingly explained why the digital revolution threatens large publishers. In Thursday’s post, we looked at the recent BookStats survey of the American publishing industry. Some are touting its results as evidence that publishing is in rude health. I argued that the report only covers the very beginning of the e-book explosion that began late last year which has radically changed the marketplace, and which will adversely affect the fortunes of the larger publishers. That sparked a vigorous discussion in the comments, and one person (correctly) pointed out that lots of those big-selling e-books are being sold by the large publishers, that they have huge Read More…

Indie Author Scott Nicholson Signs Two-Book Deal With Amazon

Scott Nicholson has been picked up by Amazon’s increasingly busy imprint Thomas & Mercer. He signed a two-book deal which will include his self-published title, Liquid Fear, and the forthcoming sequel, Chronic Fear. Both will be released by Amazon on December 20 this year. Summer is traditionally a slow period in publishing. Not for Thomas & Mercer, who have also snapped up Michael Wallace and J Carson Black in the last ten days, adding them to their earlier batch of summer signings JA Konrath, Barry Eisler, and Blake Crouch. Along with some of the popular backlist titles of Ed McBain, Thomas & Mercer have an extremely strong line-up heading into the holiday season and beyond.

Agents And Publishing: A Roadmap For Writers

I haven’t spoken much about the news this week that more agents are moving into publishing. I have already made my feelings clear here and in my book. In any event, there has been excellent coverage elsewhere, by Passive Guy, and Courtney Milan. Also, one of the agencies in question (there was another later in the week), BookEnds, has indicated that they will be providing more comprehensive information next week, so I think it’s fair to allow them time to do that before dealing with their particular proposed venture. Instead, I would like to suggest a potential roadmap for writers to make sense of all these different variations of agents getting involved in publishing. I’m not going to tell you what to think. Read More…

E-reader War Heats Up. How Can You Profit?

The big players are already jockeying for position in advance of what promises to be a bumper holiday season for e-reader, tablet, and e-book sales. All the major manufacturers are expected to release new e-readers and tablets including Sony, Apple, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble. In addition, there are expected to be a range of devices from a selection of manufacturers tied to the Google platform. While users of one device aren’t necessarily chained to the retailer’s e-bookstore, customers will tend to do most of their shopping there because it’s just easier. The one major exception to that trend was Apple.

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…

Let’s Get Digital Released Today!

It is with great pleasure, and no small amount of pride, that I can tell you that Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should has been officially launched. It’s been three hard months to get to this point, but it has all been worth it. I’m very proud of this book, and I think people will get a lot out of it. As regular readers will know, I’m trying an experiment with this book. The PDF Version is free – here – for anyone to copy, download, share, print, or email. You can also purchase an e-reader compatible version for $2.99 from Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, or Smashwords. If you notice a funny price on Amazon Read More…

Let's Get Digital Released Today!

It is with great pleasure, and no small amount of pride, that I can tell you that Let’s Get Digital: How To Self-Publish, And Why You Should has been officially launched. It’s been three hard months to get to this point, but it has all been worth it. I’m very proud of this book, and I think people will get a lot out of it. As regular readers will know, I’m trying an experiment with this book. The PDF Version is free – here – for anyone to copy, download, share, print, or email. You can also purchase an e-reader compatible version for $2.99 from Amazon, Amazon UK, Amazon DE, or Smashwords. If you notice a funny price on Amazon 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…

Weekend Reading, Live Chat With J Carson Black & More

A quick round-up today, then it’s back to getting Let’s Get Digital: How To (And Why You Should) Self-Publish ready for upload. If I get it up on Sunday or Monday, it should be live on Wednesday or Thursday. As soon as it goes live on Amazon, the free PDF version will go live, right here. If you want to read a copy a few days ahead of anyone else, I have 10 0 left to give away. All I ask in return is that you read it quickly and try and post a review on Amazon on release day (or as soon as possible after). If you are interested, please leave a note in the comments (or email me at david dot Read More…