Tag Archives: self publishing resources

Ebooks: Born to Click (2 of 3)

A Dictionary Made of Confetti


-When the process can be as simple as Writer to Internet to Reader, how does an agent add value? A great agent does add value, of course... An agent knows human beings who influence large groups of other human beings, knows what will be trending in six months, knows what Hollywood is looking for, can negotiate foreign rights, throws the right kind of party, etc, etc.

-Let's imagine... an agent working for a Big Five company. He/she knows how to play the game in NY, LA, London and Frankfurt. What would happen if he/she suddenly was given a big pile of money from Silicon Valley? It would be interesting and profitable to combine big data with real world experience, common sense and POD printers(or a tie in with Lightning Source). Ideally, the POD/LS side of things would revitalize the brick and mortars. A physical book will always be something of value. Going beyond sentimentality, a printed book advertises the ebook and is the focus of real world promotion like tours and giveaways... Musicians/audiobook mashups. Now throw Hollywood into the mix. Then add a reality TV show based on a writer's life or get some kind of American Idol Author thing happening. Yes, when the money gets this big, things get dumbed down. But twerking authors would certainly be a talking point! And, within this tall project's long shadow will be fertile swamps of enthusiasm, filled with authors and indies of all kinds...if they can do it, we can do it.

-When my eighth book is ready, I will create an outline that I will submit to an agent like Ted Weinstein:

-FWIW, I was once somewhat represented by an agent.


Amazon: Facts and Figures

"Amazon has 79% of UK ebook market"

France/ebook sales/ one company's market breakdown

Amazon/Apple/the Big Six/The Trial I

Amazon/Apple/the Big Six/The Trial

Why the Apple Ebook Ruling is a Loss for Publishers, Authors, and Readers

Jan 1, 2014 update

-Amazon is a monopoly that provides a service but not a product.

-Just after Amazon set up shop, there was a quote, related to Amazon's stocks or something. "Amazon..it's like they're selling a dollar for ninety cents."


I am an artist and a writer. Last year, I was fortunate to be involved with this. Alps Bethneck contributed to href="http://www.mottodistribution.com/wholesale/corridors-no-1-solitude.html" target="_blank">this. Alps is me.

Life magazine once described Hemingway as a narrative artist. A beautiful phrase; I'd use it if it fit. I have yet to find the phrase to describe what I do. I suppose it would either be a bloodless International Art English word assemblage or something that manages to reflect my Midwestern roots, my 80s NYC attitude, the Japanese nantokanantoka part of my persona, that chip on my shoulder which is annoyingly Parisian and the part of me that deeply understands the HK/China Handover. Singapore concrete green HDB one also can.

Art 2014: data + soul=Daulism


Before ebooks, 'writer' meant a someone who was unpublished; an author was someone whose name appeared on a published book. Perhaps a new word is needed...

An author, as proposed by Robert McKee, is one with authority. That is, someone mentally creates a world and then uses written language to share that world. An author's creation is believable; authentic. A writer conveys information. An author invites readers into an original and believable universe, even if the universe looks like Vietnam in 1968 or the French Revolution. Or features cats in hats. An author can create a universe inspired by two people in love... A writer uses words to serve one of many purposes: tell a story, convey information, sell products, record experiences etc. The boundaries are not always clear: here is my favorite example. I write, but I hope to become an author. Either way, I am happy when people read.

BOOKSACTUALLY My bookloving and quixotic friend can beat up your bookloving and quixotic friend.


BLOGS/RESOURCES FOR WRITERS 30days books Alliance of Independent Authors

Always Writing

The Creative Penn

Self Publishing Coach Susan Kaye Quinn The Secrets to Ebook Publishing Success Top ten blogs for writers

COMMERCIALS FOR BOOKS Need to make some.... majestically cheesy and informative, like this.

CONVERSION Ebook Architects did IATB. I Ate Tiong Bahru has quite a few footnotes and some unusual Chinese characters. All reports say that IATB is beautifully smooth... COVERS A poor cover means friction. A cover is a promise. If the cover looks like a million others, the words inside will be like a million others. I am proud to say I designed one of my covers and it is the worst cover on the internet. Furikake!


Digital Book World:

This past year was perhaps the most dynamic in the history of the U.S. trade publishing industry. In 2013, all ebooks by publishers became subject to retailer price controls and ebook prices plummeted. At the same time, ebook revenue growth has tapered off even as many of the largest publishers still reported digital gains. A handful of ebook subscription businesses were launched and libraries won some key victories in their fight to bring ebooks from all publishers to their patrons. It’s been another exciting year for the publishing industry – perhaps the most dynamic in the history of the business.

In 2013, all ebooks by publishers became subject to retailer price controls and ebook prices plummeted. At the same time, ebook revenue growth has tapered off even as many of the largest publishers still reported digital gains. A handful of ebook subscription businesses were launched and libraries won some key victories in their fight to bring ebooks from all publishers to their patrons.


a. digital portability of text(mobile and tablets)

b. semi-liberation of text from locked-in formats/DRM

c. social media's influence of book discovery and marketing

d. text enhancement: photos, videos, links, shared reading , etc.

e. ebook quality inconsistent: proofreading and editing "optional"

f. no economic, human or technical barriers to production and distribution

g. presence of physical books

h. the rise of the independently published book

1971 - 2013

a. evolution of digital books (CD-ROMs, ebooks)

b. the internet (Amazon,Facebook, blogs)

c. decreasing power of publishers,especially 2007(Borders bankruptcy)

d. July 4, 1971- Project Gutenberg's Michael Hart put the US Declaration of Independence online: the first ebook


Mass printing, global distribution and the tightly controlled reign of ink and paper


- How many books on Kindle sell about 5 a day? 50? What kind of books are they?

- Because their copyrights have not been renewed, many classic books are free ebooks.

-People pay at least ten bucks for the 100 minute experience of watching a film...?

- Should readers and authors hope that books priced at 1.99 and less are terrible? Meaning that something that costs 2.99 or more is at least proofread. There are countless articles and blog posts on this and I have no opinion. Marketing, publicity and perceived value are huge factors in this. Though I've experimented a bit, I'm waiting until I have eight books finished before I do serious marketing.

-How many books need to be sold, and at what price, to bring in $200 a month? $2000? $200,000 a year?

-Readers read to experience motion. Writers write to sell. Authors wrestle with words, buy a lottery ticket and hope...

The economics of publishing an ebook(mint.com)

Digital Book World's article on ebook bundling

Questioning the economics of ebook publishing (Harper Studio)

Ebooks/print books: Cannibalization and Expansion (UPenn/Hui Li)

Ebook sales figures(Publishing Perspectives) One last look at "indies" and pricing (Nathan Bransford)

Ebooks: Born to Click, Part 3 of 3

Ebooks: Born to Click (1 of 3)


This informal essay is my way of marking the end of a certain era in ebook history. It's part snapshot, part reference materials, part journal.At the end of this post are notes about me, my experiences and my books. Thanks to Doug Rolph for his insights on economics, Eric Hellman for his input and my dad for having taken care of our family by selling books.

το πνεύμα του Ιανού

After I finish writing eight books, I will begin marketing. Until then, I'll probably study the ebook world less and hopefully do more writing, arting and engaging with Life. When it does comes time for me to contribute to the marketing conversation, I hope I have something to say. For now, I present the following notes, quotes and thoughts as a means of punctuating a phase in the development of ebooks as I have seen and experienced it.

This is an exciting time. The ebook delivery platforms are finally stable, self-publishing has proven to have great value and a number of services have recently appeared that shorten the distances between readers and authors. It seems to me that indie ebooks and ebook marketing are about to enter a new era.

This blog post makes little mention of traditional publishing. This is simply because, as much as I would like to enjoy the benefits of being a Big 5/6 author, that fruit is not now within my reach. I am however, considering joining the Author's Guild.

Although I've done almost no marketing, I have studied the environments in which ebooks are created, presented, bought and sold. Some observations:

1. Except for uploading, nothing about ebooks is easy. Writing is the anti-social social media, full of long, long hours of pressure-filled solitude. Assembling an error-free book is never simple. The social part, finding an audience, is an immense challenge. I respect all of the authors mentioned in this post for they have successfully met these challenges and more.

Talent is cheaper than table salt. What separates the talented individual from the successful one is a lot of hard work. Stephen King

Based on my experiences, the work breakdown of an 88,000 word novel looks something like this: 1000 words a day (88 days) or, more likely, 500 words a day (176 days). Call it 200 days to prepare something for a proofreader. Two months for corrections, art, and ebook conversion. So, a book takes about 300 working days to finalize. About... And then there are the thousands of actions needed to connect with readers... The title of Guy Kawasaki's excellent book says it all: APE, meaning Author, Publisher, Entrepreneur

This document, by Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords, is a data-based analysis of the ebook market. Highly recommended, it covers topics important for newbies and veterans. It touches upon issues like word count, pricing, marketing and more. For instance, his research shows that the average bestseller on Smashwords is 100,000 words, and the average romance is 112,195 words. (There are more links to resources at the end of this post.)

Very few traditionally published authors became bestsellers; the same is true for ebook publishing. My goal is not to become a bestseller, but to connect with the largest possible community of people who enjoy the art of reading.

2. A great writer or a great marketer...

....or, the frustration of being caught between not doing enough writing and not doing enough marketing. A writer writes, a salesman sells.

Self-publishing does not equal self-marketing. Spending money wisely on promotion money means income and time to write. (See the links below)

Twitter, Goodreads, FB, LinkedIn and blogging? All have their advantages and disadvantages...

3. There are no independent, hugely successful ebook-only self-publishers. Note: Two days after this post went up, I became aware of this great piece by Dana Beth Weinberg on Digital Book World. Thank you Jacqueline Church!

Amazon is huge, Apple is huge, Kobo and Smashwords are very big. Unless you are selling from your own website or the back of your car, you're not truly independent.

OK, A bit of an attention grabber there...but the author's need for a partnership with Amazon and ebook distributors is a dependence that cannot be overlooked. These "automatic partners" will always protect their interests first. They call the shots. Amazon is a business, not an author.

Amanda Hocking is a hugely successful author. At one point, the average daily sales figure of her self-published ebooks was 9000. Again: average DAILY book sales: nine thousand! Her success was based on hard work, technological first mover advantage and an indirect tie-in with Hollywood.

Consider: -the successful and pioneering integration of ebook readers into tablets and mobile as well as the launch of the Kindle (2007) and the iPad(2010)

-the large demographic of young women who bought readers and tablets - the fact that, having written many books, Hocking could quickly provide a new and large market with a variety of new titles - writing books about the paranormal when Hollywood is pushing the same cannot hurt. Twilight, the hugely successful series of movies about teen vampires began in 2008. Hocking's first book, My Blood Approves, began selling in 2010.

E.L. James' book phenomenon began in the fan fiction chat rooms for Twilight. The characters in Fifty Shades of Grey were originally the characters from Twilight. Could Master of the Universe, as her series was originally called, have achieved its success without an existing network of thousands of Twilight fans?

These two women made their mark upon society in two different ways. As shared, collective book-based experiences: WOW! However, the writing is..."not terrible" or worse

I remember SF/F authors complaining (back in 2011) that their readers hadn’t switched to e-books yet, casting jealous eyes at the outsized romance audience. But as readers did move across, we saw people like David Dalglish and BV Larson breaking out, and the rest of “genre” fiction soon followed. http://davidgaughran.wordpress.com/2013/10/22/amazon-makes-life-easier-for-authors-of-historical-literary-fiction/

There are "indie success stories" about authors who "rode into town" on the backs of traditional publishing. Funded by Big 6 money these "indies" were advertised and publicized, sent on book tours and given things like business cards. Possibly, audiobooks were made. Hundreds, if not thousands, of their books were given away, many to reviewers. As the 'first mover'possibilities of the ebook market became clear and realistic, these authors, knighted by the Big 6 and armed with credibility and connections, rode onto a battlefield with little opposition... Undoubtedly hard work was involved, but to label them as indies brings to mind the quip about George Bush: "...was born on third base and thinks he hit a triple."

There certainly are "ebook only" indies connecting with many readers and enjoying sales. I just don't know of any. (FOUND SOMEONE: LINDSAY BUROKER Please tell me about others! them! Somewhat related to this, are there any "ebook only" awards?

Here, authors talk about their sales experiences.

4. The ebook world evolves to reward the reader; the prepared author benefits from this. Fan fiction. Goodreads. Ebook readers on mobile phones. The mashup between big data and metadata. Entrepreneurs with vision who see ways to connect authors and readers in a new ways.

It is an exciting time.

Ebooks: Born to Click, Part 2 of 3 visit www.blacksteps.tv for parts 2 and 3 of this post, as well as information on art, books and ebooks