Indie Authors’ Take on Amazon vs Hachette

Below is an overview of the publishing situation between Amazon and Hachette (plus other traditional publishing houses and their authors). Very good stuff written by Hugh Howey and other prominent indies that many authors agree with, including me. The situation affects publishers, authors and most importantly, readers.

Dear Readers,

Much is being said these days about changes in the book world, but not nearly enough is being said about the most important people in our industry.

You. The readers. Without you there wouldn’t be a book industry.

We owe you so much, and we are forever in your debt. Thank you for reading late into the night. Thank you for reading to your children. Thank you for missing that subway stop, for your word of mouth, your reviews, and your fan emails.

Thank you for seeking our books in so many ways—through brick and mortar stores, online, and in libraries. Thank you for enjoying these stories in all their forms—as digital books, paper books, and audiobooks.

We wanted this letter to be brief, but the topic is complicated. There is so much misinformation to correct, we wound up taking it point-by-point.

But for those readers with limited time, here is the crux of our message to you:

New York Publishing once controlled the book industry. They decided which stories you were allowed to read. They decided which authors were allowed to publish. They charged high prices while withholding less expensive formats. They paid authors as little as possible, usually between 2% and 12.5% of the list price of a book.

Amazon, in contrast, trusts you to decide what to read, and they strive to keep the price you pay low. They allow all writers to publish on their platform, and they pay authors between 35% and 70% of the list price of the book…

continue reading this article…

(There is also a petition to sign if you support the indie author-reader-Amazon revolution that is happening.)

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Smashwords Predictions for 2014

When Mark Coker speaks about e-publishing, writers listen. Or they should; the Smashwords CEO has done as much for indie authors as anyone. The following are highlights from his annual industry predictions. To see the entire article, visit the Smashwords blog post.

Highlights of Mark’s predictions:

  1. Big publishers lower prices – Until recently, it was rare to see a traditionally published book priced under $4.00.  In 2014 their temporary price promotions will give way to a new normal.  Discounting is a slippery slope.  Once customers are conditioned to expect big-name authors for $3.99 or less, the entire industry will be forced to go there.  The huge pricing advantage once enjoyed by indies will diminish in 2013.
  2. When everyone is pricing sub $4.00, price promotions will become less effective – If readers have an unlimited supply of high-quality books from their favorite authors at under $4.00, it means factors other than price will gain importance.
  3. Ebook growth slows – After a decade of exponential growth in ebooks with indies partying like it was 1999, growth is slowing. […] A normal cyclical shakeout is coming.
  4. Competition increases dramatically – With hundreds of thousands of new books published annually, and with retailer catalogs swelling to carry millions of titles, it may come across as trite for me to predict that completion will increase in 2014 for indies.
  5. Ebook sales, measured in dollar volume, will decrease in 2014 – Yikes.  I said it.  The nascent ebook market is likely to experience its first annual downturn in sales as measured in dollar volume.  […]  Global sales in developing countries remain one potential bright spot that could mitigate any sales contraction.
  6. Ebook unit market share will increase – Ebook consumption, measured in unit sales and downloads, and measured in words read digitally, will increase in 2014.
  7. A larger wave of big-name authors will defect to indieville – Multiple market forces will conspire to cause a large number of traditionally published authors to turn their backs on big publishers.
  8. It’s all about the writing – It doesn’t matter if you’re publishing a cookbook, romance novel, gardening how-to, memoir or political treatise.  Your job as the indie author is to write that super-fabulous book.
  9. All authors become indie authors – The best writers will have the option to publish independently AND traditionally, or do one or the other.
  10. Subscription ebook services will change the game – If the ebook subscription services – the most notable of which are Scribd and Oyster – can make their business models work, then they’ll drive a game changing shift in how readers value and consume books. […] Readers will be relieved of the cognitive load of having to decide if a given book is worth the purchase price.  Instead, they’ll surf and sample books with minimal friction, as if every book is free.
  11. Traditional publishers will reevaluate their approach to self-publishing – The vanity approach to self-publishing, as witnessed by Pearson/Penguin’s acquisition of Author Solutions (operates AuthorHouse, iUniverse, BookTango, Trafford, Xlibris, Palibrio, others…), has shown itself to be a boondoggle that harmed the brands of all traditional publishers.  […]  Their business model is expensive at best, and unethical at worst.  It’s about selling $15,000 publishing packages to authors who will never earn the money back.
  12. Platform is king – Platform is your ability to reach readers.  Authors who can build, maintain and leverage their platforms will have a significant competitive advantage over those who cannot.
  13. Multi-author collaborations will become more common – Authors are collaborating with fellow authors in their same genre or category on box set compilations of existing and original content.  These collaborations are often competitively priced and offer readers the opportunity to discover multiple new authors in a single book.
  14. Production takes on increased importance in 2014 – Organize your time to spend more time writing and less time on everything else.

Great predictions and advice. One of my questions not addressed above: what will happen to Barnes & Noble and its Nook? Feels like they’ve been sinking fast over the past two years. What are your thoughts about this list or 2014 in general?

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Amazon Kindle MatchBook Ebook-Paperback Package Deal

Buy and Save

Buy the print-digital bundle and save, save, save!

Amazon Kindle MatchBook is for authors with both ebooks and paper books. The concept is smart, allowing buyers of the print versions to get a dramatically reduced rate on the ebook sale to go with their purchase. Reader gets paperback and ebook. Author sells paperback and reduced ebook together. Amazon sells both print and digital copies of the same book. Cha-ching! Sounds like a free bag of chips with a sandwich order.

The idea offers price incentive to purchase a new paperback or hardcover, which typically cost quite a bit more than their ebook counterparts. The idea also encourages digital reading to people who are used to buying print. Could it be aimed at converting traditionalists?

From the official announcement:

We are excited to introduce Kindle MatchBook, an innovative new program which enables you to offer your Kindle book at a discount when readers purchase your print book, so you can sell more books. It’s easy to enroll.

Here’s how it works:

  1. Select your Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) title on your KDP Bookshelf and check the Enroll box for Kindle MatchBook on the “Rights & Pricing” page.
  2. Set the discount for your book by choosing a promotional list price of $2.99 or less.
  3. Save your Kindle MatchBook preferences.

By enrolling your book, you will be among the first to be able to take advantage of this new program. The Kindle MatchBook discount you select will not appear on until the program is fully launched in the coming weeks. We will notify you by e-mail as soon as your Kindle MatchBook discount is live. Your readers will soon have an easy and affordable way to read your book in both print and digital formats.

Bundling sales, a good idea to sell more books? What do you think?

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Major Updates to Google Books Partner Program Finally!

For years now indie authors in the know have been laughing at Google for their lame version of an ebook store. Why was it lame? Because it was surprisingly difficult to upload a book and it was basically impossible to update an existing one (without deleting it) and it was absolutely unthinkable to get any customer support whatsoever. And it still sort of is all of those things.

You see the point; these are bad signs for an ebook retailer when every action an indie author might need or want is challenging to impossible. Well, things might be changing. Emphasis on “might.” About time, we know. Lucky for Google, they had some cash to kick back and do nothing for the past few years while riding out the storm of non-activity unlike some book retailers who have sinking ships (not naming names here).

You may receive a gmail that goes a little something like this:

Dear Google Books Partner,

Improving the publishing experience is a top priority for Google Books. The Partner Program has evolved over the last few years, so we decided to build a brand new Google Play Books Partner Center–a new tool that’s faster and easier to use. Starting today, you’ll be able to use the new interface to manage your titles across Google Books and Google Play.

Highlights of the new Partner Center include:

  • Speed: Pages load more quickly, regardless of the size of your book catalog.
  • Convenience: Add and remove additional users, and convert prices into foreign currencies directly from your account.
  • Simplicity: Both preview and sales settings for your books can now be found in the same place, whether in the interface or in spreadsheets. Manage your account more easily with updated navigation and search.
  • Control: View and edit book descriptions, subjects/categories, and other bibliographic information right within the interface. Remove titles from your account with a few clicks.

These changes and many more new features are available to you immediately. We’ve prepared an overview to help you discover all of the new features in your account and help you along the way:

To get started, visit Thank you for partnering with us to make your books available on Google Books. We’re excited to provide an improved experience for you, and we hope you enjoy your new account interface.

If you have any questions or comments, contact us at


The Google Play Team

However, it still seems abnormally difficult to achieve uploads at Google Partner Program. One would think they have enough brains to create a simple upload system that is user-friendly like Amazon, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, Kobo, Barnes & Noble and so many others. There is no need to re-invent the wheel, Google. See what others are doing and go from there.

To fix the problem with the names of the files, I had to slightly adjust my labels. Google makes it a bit ambiguous saying “call your cover file (the ISBN number) followed by _frontcover.XYZ.” So I created (example numbers) 0123456789_frontcover.XYZ. Well, the XYZ is the jpg for example for a JPEG file so the cover file automatically calls itself 0123456789_frontcover.XYZ.jpg when all you really have to do is label it 0123456789_frontcover. The other confusion was a similar thing; Google asks you to name your pdf file (the ISBN) 0123456789_content.pdf. Again, when you send the pdf it automatically gets the suffix added to the file, so I was sending 0123456789_content.pdf.pdf. Finally it was confusing because Google is giving examples of 10 digits while ISBNs these days have 13.

What do you think, is Google now a good place to sell ebooks? Let’s hope so because it’s always nice having another distributor with long arms.

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Gutsy Pubslush Campaign, Rewards for You

Sonia Marsh unicycleAsking for help is not easy, especially for people like Sonia Marsh, who believes she should be able to do everything herself. And yet being an Indie author is extremely challenging, so she started a Pubslush campaign asking for your support.

Sonia Marsh at CoscoNote that Sonia is a great author and skilled at marketing. How many indies do you know who’ve landed Costco deals? Still she can use support.

By assistance Sonia means, “Anything you can do to support and spread my Pubslush campaign to the world.”

Sonia made a short video with 8 super “Gutsy” people which explains the campaign. The video and the contributor rewards are listed on the Pubslush page.

Sonia says, “I admit this is the first event I’ve put together and I want to do it right. You see, I feel a great deal of responsibility towards my fellow authors (64 of them) who have contributed their ‘My Gutsy Story®’ to the launch of our first: My Gutsy Story® Anthology: True Stories of Love, Courage and Adventure from Around the World.”

In order to make the September 26th, “Bring Out the Gutsy in You” Anthology launch a huge success, Sonia asks for your help in spreading the news and supporting the event. There are “Gutsy” rewards based on level of help. Featured at the event:

  • a professional film company to video the panel of “Gutsy People” for people who wish to share the video.
  • a famous keynote speaker, Marybeth Bond, aka the Gutsy Traveler.
  • a professional photographer taking photos of people attending our event (will be shared).
  • accommodations at the Regency South Coast Village Movie theater (see photos).
  • refreshments and a no host bar.
  • donations form the book’s proceeds to WomanSage, a non-profit that helps women in transition and a great cause to support.

If you have any questions, find more info here or contact sonia@soniamarsh. com

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