CreateSpace Closing – It’s Official Amazon Publishing

It’s official! Amazon is closing CreateSpace “in a few weeks” and seems to be nudging people to move now. More on that below, including how the process has been simplified further – significantly in fact, especially for those with large catalogs who can now move the whole lot at once.

As I said in my post two weeks ago, it’s probably wise to get ahead of the big migration in a few weeks. Amazon has 2m titles to move; stuff is bound to go wrong. And my own experience with KDP Print customer service indicates that you might not want to get stuck in that queue with everyone else.

To encourage you to move now, Amazon has further streamlined the process and you can now port your entire catalog in one go right here. There’s also a pop-up which will initiate the process for you when you log into CreateSpace, but reports this morning suggest both are getting slammed right now. Don’t panic if you can’t get in today – you have “a few weeks.” Read More…

Elm Hill Books: Another HarperCollins Vanity Press Bewares

HarperCollins now has another Christian vanity press subsidiary with five-figure publishing packages, but this time the Big 5 publisher is also pimping out its sales reps and distribution network to sell the idea to novice authors. Elm Hill Books was launched last year and is the brainchild of Pete Nikolai – the longtime Director of Publishing Services at HarperCollins Christian Publishing. And both have form when it comes to exploiting writers.

In 2009, Pete Nikolai was working for HarperCollins subsidiary Thomas Nelson when, together with its CEO and Chairman Michael Hyatt, he partnered with Author Solutions to create WestBow Press. WestBow is a white-label Christian-flavored vanity publisher, pretty much the same any other Author Solution vanity imprint, just with a few crucifixes dotted around the place.

While Michael Hyatt subsequently reinvented himself as some kind of greasy life coach, Pete Nikolai ran WestBow as its Publisher, overseeing the sale of sub-standard publishing packages and countless, worthless marketing packages costings thousands of dollars. These marketing packages were sold using high-pressure sales tactics to unsuspecting newbies who had no business purchasing them, and little chance of recouping their investment. Read More…

How To Switch From Createspace to KDP Print Amazon Publishing

Ever since the launch of KDP Print, it has been rumored that Createspace is closing – after all, it doesn’t make sense to maintain a second, off-brand POD service, especially one where the architecture is creaking and security issues are multiplying.

I spoke to one of the senior Createspace people at NINC last year, and he explained that the two services have been slowly folding together at the back end for quite some time, and that they were now working out of the same building. What we’ve seen more recently is the gap between the two closing at the front end, with Createspace killing off extraneous services like copy-editing, and KDP Print replicating the last few features of Createspace it had been missing – things like author copies and expanded distribution.

Bar a couple of minor kinks to be ironed out, and a couple of international issues, that process is pretty much complete. Nobody knows for sure when Createspace will actually shut its doors, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it happens over the next few months. Which means you are going to have to move at some point. But should you do it now, or wait? Is the process tricky? I decided to find out. Read More…

Vanity and The Media Bewares Publishing

Experienced authors tend to chastise vanity press victims for not doing sufficient research, but the murky web of vanity partnerships — and the uncritical coverage which invariably accompanies same — makes it exceedingly difficult for newer writers to chart a safe path.

Some vanity presses are very good at crafting a veneer of legitimacy, one which can be very convincing to those starting out. Infamous vanity press conglomerate Author Solutions figured this out very early on, creating partnerships with Penguin, Harlequin, Writer’s Digest, Random House, HarperCollins/Thomas Nelson, Hay House, Reader’s Digest, Lulu, and Barnes & Noble.

These partnerships served two purposes. First, they delivered an endless stream of victims directly from the companies themselves who would refer business to Author Solutions in return for a cut. Second, they helped Author Solutions whitewash its past, acting as a reputational fig leaf, hiding its seamy nature until it was too late. Read More…

Granular Targeting 101 Marketing Resources

I’m pretty experienced with digital advertising at this point but when I got my interview for Google AdWords back in 2003 I had to… Google it to figure out what they did. And I still got it wrong!

I was quite lucky that I first interviewed with Overture (the former name of the digital advertising division of Google’s one-time rival, Yahoo) because I had absolutely no idea how these kind of ad platforms worked, let alone best practices. But I learned fast—Google’s training was excellent.

One thing that was drilled into us constantly was the importance of granular targeting. It might be a little more obvious in 2018, but back then the only really familiar advertising model was the broadcast one. Put your message in giant letters on the billboard. Flood the airwaves with ad spots. Take out full page ads in newspapers and magazines (for the kids: these are paper versions of websites that used to be popular). The basic strategy was a simple, brute force one; if the signal is strong enough, the right people will hear it. Read More…

Cassandra Dee and Mosaic Book Stuffing Amazon Bewares

The Amazon charts continue to be plagued by book stuffing, ten days into the new regime. Aside from one rather notable head on a pike — Chance Carter appears to have had his account shut down, but quite possibly for other actions — book stuffers are continuing largely as normal, only making minor tweaks to their presentation, simply appending the words “Collection” or “Compilation” to their titles and covers. And not even bothering to do that on all their (still) stuffed books.

The stuffers are clearly thumbing their noses at Amazon. They seem pretty damn confident that minor tweaks will fly, and that the whole new regulatory regime is, well, a sham. What will happen with someone like Cassandra Dee will be a good bellwether.

Cassandra Dee is the #1 author in Contemporary Romance, and she is a major book stuffer. Because of KDP’s catch-and-release approach to these guys, they are able to constantly make minor tweaks to how they stuff. I can only presume that KDP sends them communications about problematic breaches of the Content Guidelines, the stuffers make a minor tweak, and are allowed to continue… until the next time they get a KDP letter. Read More…

Amazon Faces Test Of Book Stuffing Policy Amazon Bewares

Amazon quietly rolled out new content guidelines on Friday to tackle the plague of book stuffing, along with some new metadata rules which all seem to be aimed at cleaning up the Kindle Store – something long overdue. However, one infamous book stuffer is already bragging about a loophole. This is a huge test for Amazon’s new policy and whether KDP will actually enforce it.

There was a push among some authors a few weeks back to get Amazon to lower the max payout size in Kindle Unlimited to 1,000 pages. Everyone proposing it knew it was an imperfect solution but argued it was better than the status quo. That was true, but the reason I didn’t join that call was simple: Amazon didn’t need new rules to tackle book stuffing, it needed a change in attitude. Stuffing was already breaking existing rules, Amazon was just not applying them. I was wondering what the point of new rules would be unless it was also accompanied by actual enforcement.

And now Amazon faces a test in the shape of book stuffer Tia Siren, who has made the most cosmetic of changes to her stuffed books — she has just appended the phrase “A Romance Compilation” to her book titles. — and is clearly thumbing her nose at Amazon and her fellow authors, while she continues to hoover up money from the communal author pot. Read More…

When #Cockygate And #Tiffanygate Collide Amazon Bewares

#Cockygate has been rolling for a month now and is quite multifaceted — touching on some pretty existential issues for writers, and indeed all creatives. This post from lawyer Marc Whipple tracks the beginning, in case you have been in a coma for the last month. The story also broke out into the mainstream briefly where it was covered by Vox and The Guardian, among others.

More recent developments are as follows. Multiple authors made creative stands against Faleena Hopkins’ extremely questionable trademark and even more dubious attempted enforcement of same, in the form of various Cocky-themed books and parodies. Hopkins responded with a video — which she since took down, presumably in case it destroyed her acting career — as well as a series of equally ill-advised posts.

Hopkins then filed suit against three parties: Kevin Kneupper, the author/lawyer who is formally challenging her trademark; Tara Crescent, an author who had published books with Cocky in the title previously; and Jennifer Watson, a publicist for an anthology raising funds to cover legal expenses of authors affected by all this. Read More…

Favorite Things: Blog Highlights 2011-2018 Bewares Publishing Writing

I thought I’d get the new blog rolling with two posts in one day. Why not, I’m the captain of this ship, dammit. You may have missed the monster post on Marketing in 2018 as it went out in the wee hours this morning — still stress testing traffic levels gradually on the new site. Speaking of…

I’m not one for anniversaries or the like, as my long-suffering partner will attest. And I generally save sentimentality for the saloon. Look forwards, not backwards, and all that palaver. But I did indulge myself a little when closing down my old blog and dove into those 2,000,000 views you guys generated since I started in 2011. Some interesting things jumped out! Read More…

Marketing Uncovered: How To Sell Books Marketing Resources

Marketing is more complicated than ever, but the tools we have for reaching readers are fantastic these days, and the rewards for reaching the summit of Mount Discovery are simply immense. Even worth this long-ass intro I’m about to drop! Sometimes we forget. I hear people complaining that things are down across the board and Amazon is squeezing the margin out of everyone, or that the Golden Era is over.

Sorry, it’s not true. The game has changed, and you might need to retool your approach, but don’t mistake that for a downturn. It’s dangerous to be over-influenced by Moany Maura threads on Kboards or Facebook. They will naturally attract fellow travelers — those who are also suffering right now for whatever reason. It’s totally not representative though. One why: if I was to post there, for example, and say that I’ve already made much more than I did last year… I would sound like a dick. Always beware confirmation bias.

I’m far from alone either. The KU author whose marketing I manage just hit 10,000,000 reads yesterday. For May. Which is insane! Last year was a record one for him and this one is shaping up to smash that. And if that doesn’t boggle the mind enough, there’s 50+ self-publishers out-earning him in reads right now too and a serious crowd nipping at his heels. Read More…

Welcome to the Superfan Factory Marketing Resources Writing

It’s almost exactly a year since I gave a talk at a conference in Austin which introduced a concept I call “The Reader Journey” – which is a bookish version of a new marketing paradigm that is helping companies understand their customers better, and how to tailor their marketing accordingly.

I’ve spent the last twelve months researching and testing and experimenting, and then organizing all this information into a structure which will help you understand exactly who you are writing for, plus how to sway them with your marketing messages. But also how to treat them after you have convinced them to buy. How to turn them into the kind of superfans that will do the selling for you.

Strangers to Superfans: A Marketing Guide to The Reader Journey is out now and you can pick up your copy from all these lovely retailers: Read More…

PSA: ReviewMeta Is Not Accurate Bewares Resources

There’s an article doing the rounds at the moment from the Washington Post suggesting that the Amazon is undergoing some kind of fake review crisis. There are problems with Amazon reviews, of course, but this article is based on some pretty flawed data. At least in how it pertains to the world of books, which is what I know, and what I’ll focus on here. I can’t speak to the world of diet supplements or fake tan or giant tubs of lube – alas.

The article’s claims are largely based on a flaky site called ReviewMeta, which seems far better at getting publicity for itself than correctly analyzing the trustworthiness of reviews, which is a pity as it would be a wonderful tool if it was in any way accurate.

I first heard about ReviewMeta back in 2016 and was very excited to test it out. Naturally, I started with my own books, as I can be pretty sure there are no fake reviews there, being the author, publisher, and marketer of all these titles, and someone who is fastidious about the rules as my name is literally my brand.

However, ReviewMeta seems to call into question a large number of my reviews and reviewers. And by extension me, I guess. And all of you too, because many of the random selection of books I checked had similar issues. The ReviewMeta site helpfully gives explanations for why its system made these determinations, and you can actually break down each component and get a further explanation. This transparency is hugely commendable. Read More…