Thursday, February 13, 2014

Hugh and Cry Revolt

Last week, buried in the middle of my blog post were these lines.
Yesterday Icelandic author Baldur Bjarnason wrote a great piece on ethics in publishing. This is a great observation on what a lot of commentators are seeing as the great divide between the two different publishing communities.
Hands up those people who can tell me what the two communities are....hmmmm.

Today, in a breaking news bombshell, those communities just got wider with a new website launched and funded by Hugh Howey looking specifically at crunching the data on publishing stats and earnings for Self Publishing and Hybrid authors. 
For those of you who don’t understand what this means...
If you have a Traditional publishing contract. Your book gets may get an advance. You may get up to 10% net of print price or up to 25% ebook price. You may get a quarterly statement on how sales are going but no other information. The marketing window for your book is usually 6 months...that’s 2 months before publication and 4 months after. After that the publisher is onto the next book and any blip in sales comes from author promotion. In the fine print of your book contract there may be a non-compete clause, you can’t publish with anyone else or anything else except the publisher. Your rights may be held in perpetuity (US law is the lifetime of the author plus 70 years) with no rights reversal clauses.
If you choose to self publish you may get up to 70% of ebook price with Amazon and whatever you set the profit of the book, after your costs have been taken out, on print. You do all the marketing work for as long as you want to.

In both models the author doesn’t really know what they are doing right or wrong with marketing. Data on what works and how different publishing models are successful is very thin on the ground.

From time to time surveys come out with data that says how well self publishing is doing against traditional publishing. I have linked to a few over the last few years in my blog. 
The ebook market where most authors self publish has been on the up. 

Today Hugh Howey’s report was released looking at raw data that crunched the numbers of the biggest selling genres (romance, sci-fi/fantasy and thriller/suspense) on Amazon on one day. 92% of the top 100 genre bestsellers were ebooks. Indie authors were outselling Traditional Big 5 authors in these categories. 

There are many bombs in this report. Porter Anderson does a good job of looking at them and extrapolating ideas but you should read the report for yourself. Hugh is the leading voice in the Indie author community at the moment. He is advocating a change to fairer contracts for authors and a partnership model with publishers. Below is his mission statement for the AuthorEarnings website.

Welcome to AuthorEarnings, where our purpose is to gather and share information so that writers can make informed decisions. Our secondary mission is to call for change within the publishing community for better pay and fairer terms in all contracts. This is a website by authors and for authors.

Two weeks ago he made it very clear just exactly what he thinks author contracts should consist of and what he thinks author societies should be advocating.

So after a few hours digesting The Report, Digital BookWorld weighed in with their analysis and they took issue with the one day data and the extrapolation thereof... however they also agreed that there was something rotten in the state of ....

Now Hugh is the first to say that this is one day...on Amazon... in January... and he is keen to have that dialogue from other authors on their experiences (see the website for ways to contribute to the discussion.) Steve Moseby takes up the challenge, he looks at the figures from The Report and wonders whether they are true based on his UK print figures and annual income after only one days data.

In Other News
Passive Guy sends out a warning over a contractual clause where any future law changes in any territory in the world will be the problem of the author. This, after an author was accused of blasphemy, following the passing of a law in India after her book was published. It all hinges on the word ‘will.’ He follows that up with another post on contracts. (As he is a lawyer he doth know what he speaks of.)

Cassandra Clare is tired of the constant carping of some who keep asking why she is still writing her book series ... she notes that male authors don’t get asked this. A thoughtful restrained response from a YA author.

In the Craft Section,

5 big screenwriting mistakes and 5 fixes...(this is a bookmark post!)

In the Marketing Section,

To Finish,
Hugh Howey again... He responds to a writer who has decided not to be tainted with self publishing because the goal is to emulate his heroes and publish the same way. A very interesting read and response by Hugh.


 Pic is from Passive Voices new range of tee shirts...check them out and chuckle... and maybe buy one or two.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Debating The Issues.

My daughter has been wandering the house singing ‘Happy Birthday New Zealand’ loudly as I try to collect my thoughts to put together this weeks roundup of opinion tips tricks and trends in publishing.

The collecting my thoughts bit has been haphazard over the last year with different things happening in this very busy... occasionally chaotic... household. My elder daughter back from Uni observed...Mum you don’t have a dedicated writing space anymore and put her finger on something that has been niggling me. So this week I got the chance to join a writing friend for four hours a day and just write...well write and plan a new children’s writing project that is as light as I can make it and a great challenge if I can pull it off. 
Writing with another person in the room is interesting... there is a mental whip hanging over you... the other person will see if I don’t keep at it. When we take a break for lunch we talk over something frustrating us in our project and bang the answer seems to be crystal clear coming from the other writing head, who is finishing a memoir project.
Another interesting side arriving ready to work. The twenty minute journey on a good day down the motorway...has me shedding, with each kilometer, household concerns. When they are all gone I can begin to think of my writing project and in pops something that I really need to take notice of.
Russell Blake puts it well with his great 3 D’s blog post onwriting.

Rebecca Smart wrote in her opinion piece for The Bookseller an interesting observation about publishing in Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. Publishing must become flexible and agile to stay afloat. This post has been resonating through the blogosphere as it comes from a publisher. 

Porter Anderson looks at the continuing debate over Mike and Chucks opinion pieces, that I profiled last week and how the debate has widened and almost polarised people into two different nations.

Bob Mayer has looked at the debates around self publishing over the last few weeks and written his perspective about being agile as a publisher. How he is walking the talk and bridging the gap between both sides.

Last week I mentioned the #EtherIssue debate on giving percentages to all collaborators in a self publishing project. Porter Anderson published an excellent roundup of the Twitter debate and has set the topic for the new debate. (5am our time tho)

News making waves across the blogosphere Hugh Howey has re-signed with Random House (UK) to bring out his print books. ( They are more agile than US publishers…)

Yesterday Icelandic author Baldur Bjarnason wrote a great piece on ethics in publishing. This is a great observation on what many commentators are seeing as the great divide between the two different publishing communities. (Traditional and Self Publishing)

Elisabeth Spann Craig has written a great post on her self publishing mistakes that have her readers saying Bookmark this!

Dean Wesley Smith has written a great post on publishing schedules. Always something to learn from Dean!

Publishers Weekly has highlighted the 6 best blogs to read if you want to keep up on what is happening  in publishing.

In Craft,

Rachel Gardner on thinking of your muse as a puppy that needs training and Good first drafts.

Writers Workout looks at divorcing the draft.

In Marketing,

Bibliocrunch on using Dropbox to review epub files and what your epub file size should be for each outlet.

To Finish,

Today is Waitangi Day, or the day we commemorate the signing of a ‘mutual respect’ treaty between two nations which began the ‘establishment’ of our country 174 years ago. Our biggest selling newspaper shot itself in the foot in my opinion by using a stupid fist raised logo to advertise there were no pictures of protests in today’s coverage of the annual commemoration ceremonies. Waitangi Day should be a day when we, as a nation, look at ourselves critically. 174 years ago Maori Chiefs sat down and debated among themselves for three days about whether they would sign a treaty. There were protests and arguments and very pointed questions aimed at the British about what was in it for them. Protest and debate shine a spotlight on what is not working well in a partnership. In the last forty years the watershed moments in our nation’s history (Land Marches, Nuclear Free ... ) were all aired at Waitangi. Denying that there is protest is not responsible or ethical journalism.

PS This post was supposed to be up last night…the computer ate my homework….

Pic from Dylan Horrocks…His Logo Fix for the NZ Herald.
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