Archive for Indie Author News
One of the top concerns on most indie authors minds is what company to self-publish with. There are some strong benefits with throwing down exclusively with Amazon, but others want a more global reach for their content. The Publishing Service Index has just released their annual December report, which lists all of the companies out there that specialize in self-publishing. It goes into great detail on their overall reach and how many people have published with them.
The most significant change to this report is that that Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing has slipped to third and also reflects the growing discontent self-published authors have with the introduction of Amazon Unlimited and recent communications regarding the new VAT law in Europe for 2015. It is also quite surprising that Kobo Writing Life is only 13, since Kobo has the second largest mainstream digital bookstore in the world and and Barnes and Noble Nook Press did not even make the list.
Bookbaby will likely fall from the 12th position because the company has recently discontinued its free self-publishing option. Indie authors will have to pay $199 minimum and this price is poised to increase to $299 at the end of January 2015. It will be interesting to see how much they will plummet in the rankings, as authors embrace more affordable options.
What I think authors can appreciate the most is that two of Ingram’s properties are in the top five and CreateSpace is number one. Spark is primarily aimed at small publishing companies to digitize their portfolio and get it listed in the main Ingram catalog, where thousands of bookstores check every week to order books for their brick and motor stores. Lightning Source on the other hand is mainly aimed directly at self-published authors to have their books get printed on demand for inclusion in their main book catalog. Createspace is Amazons flagship print on demand service, where the production costs of making a tangible book is only charged once people order them. These three services prove that authors know that marketing their books purely online is foolhardy, and it is critically important to get their titles into bookstores.
DIY – Do-it-yourself bespoke services
ASP – Author Solutions Services (Packages) – May also include Partnership publishing programs
PUB – Also offers Mainstream Contracts or is a service imprint of a traditional publishing house
PRT – Printer (primarily a printer with some additional but limited services)
FULL – Fulfilment Services provided for distribution logistics, warehousing of stock (including supply to wholesaler and retailers)
CRW – Crowdsource
Reading is making a comeback around the world due to new technology in a variety of ebook readers and apps for cell phones, tablets, and computers. Ebook sales are growing every day. People who would never have considered writing a book are giving it a shot, adding ever more choices to a crowded marketplace. Even authors from traditional publishing are fighting to provide the next ebook “bestseller”. Sadly, there are some readers, reviewers, and columnists who refuse to give Indie Authors a fair trial and continue to support traditional publishing as the only way to find a well-written book. Happily, there are innumerable readers who disagree and are not only buying books written by Indie Authors, but refuse to purchase books from traditional publishers any longer. Let’s explore why.
Traditionally published ebooks are expensive. Even though printing, shipping, storage, and buy-backs are no longer part of the cost, traditional publishers are charging premium prices for their ebooks. In our current economy, it is hard for a single mom, student, average employee, or senior citizen to pay from $9.99 to $19.99 for one ebook download – even one written by a famous author. For $19.99, a reader of Indie Authors can buy several ebooks in a variety of genres, and possibly find the next “NY bestseller” among them.
Another reason to avoid traditional publishers is they tend to follow the leader in choosing what to publish, regardless of what readers are buying or requesting. They have flooded the market with erotic thrillers, vampires, quests, tell-all memoirs, how-to this or that, and most recently non-fiction political ramblings. Based on expensive market analysis, of course, but their market must be in downtown New York or San Francisco, when it should be on Average Street. Indie Authors, on the other hand, live on Average Street in Small Town. They know what their neighbors, friends, and blog followers are reading. They spend hours online, studying what is selling versus what is not, they join groups and blogs and take classes to learn more, they research their topic, and then they spend hour upon hour writing. They are connected to real life, which brings emotion, depth of character, and the need to tell a story from deep inside. Then the serious ones pull money from their own pockets to pay for a book cover, edits, and formatting, or they find an Indie Publisher willing to accept their work.
Has it occurred to most readers who refuse to touch an Indie Author ebook that famous traditionally published authors had to start somewhere? Not all of them were perfect when they began, either. Surprisingly, they still aren’t perfect after all these years, and neither are the teams of editors, proofers, and formatters who work on their books. [Another surprise, the teams don’t have nearly the members working on a book as when it went to print.] Chances are, yes, a reader will get a poorly written or unedited book from time to time when trying Indie Authors, but it’s also likely in a traditionally published ebook. And, which would you rather throw away, $3.99 or $19.99? Many Indie Authors now have beautiful ebook covers designed by talented artists, which are much more appealing than a multi-color background with a white text title, or a hatchet in a wall on a traditionally published cover. Indie Author covers also more closely describe the story than traditional publisher covers, particularly in Romance, Thrillers, and Suspense.
The most important reason to buy Indie Author ebooks is the majority of what readers spend actually goes to the author rather than to a publishing conglomerate. [Our Indie publishing company pays cover designers, editors, and formatters, and still pays the lion share of royalties to our authors. Traditional publishers have kept the majority of the money, and yet, some are struggling to remain in business and still others have gone under. Wonder why? Could it be lavish executive offices, huge exec salaries, and all those benefits?]
To select a well-written Indie Authored or Indie Published ebook, look at the cover to see if it is well designed. Read the description and check the front few pages. Read a sample if you have time. If any of this appears sloppy or contains spelling errors, move on to another book. But, maybe it will be neat, concise, and the cover, description, and first few pages will grab you and draw you into a story you would have otherwise missed – just because it is by an Indie Author.
Readers should be the ones to decide what is well-written, what books to avoid, and tell others through reviews and ratings. Free marketing should set ebook prices. Join those of us who are tired of being dictated to by a few large traditional publishers, snobbish reviewers, and uninformed columnists, and buy ebooks published by real people for real people – Indie Authors.
Barnes and Noble Nook Press is geared towards indie authors and allows them to self-publish their titles and sell them in the Nook online bookstore. The company has developed a new print on demand service that will allow their cadre of authors to print physical books.
Designed to be simple and provide a high level of customization, the NOOK Press print service provides customers with a complete do-it-yourself experience for creating a hardcover or paperback book. The new service offers black and white or color printing, high-quality paper choices, multiple trim sizes and cover treatments. Additionally, with NOOK Press Author Services, authors can now choose from a variety of packages and a la carte services to receive professional assistance making their book.
Authors and aspiring writers can use the new print service to create books for personalized gifting and keepsakes, and self-published authors can create promotional, review and personal resale copies.
“With the introduction of the NOOK Press print service, we’re providing authors, creators, crafters and more with a powerful new tool to bring their writing to print,” said Theresa Horner, General Manager of NOOK Press & Vice President of Content Acquisition at NOOK Media. “It is very exciting to have the NOOK Press platform supporting authors in multiple formats.”
“NOOK Press is proud to add print books to its portfolio of services. As the world of self-publishing grows, NOOK Press will continue to expand its easy-to-use content creation services in support of all authors, writers and creators,” said Doug Carlson, Executive Vice President of Digital Content and Chief Marketing Officer at NOOK Media LLC. “The NOOK Press team has created another outstanding experience for authors to showcase their content.”
It is important to note that the POD service will not get your book in Barnes and Noble bookstores. Amazon Createspace and Ingram Lightningsource will get your books on the main book lists that stores get and allow them to order the books to stock on their shelves.
Barnes and Noble also has not fully developed this system in-house and instead is relying on a yet unnamed 3rd party to provide the POD service. There is a rumor going on right now that this company is Author Solutions is providing the POD conversions.
This POD service is horrendously expensive, you are going to be paying $999 minimum and ranges in price to $2,199. You will get the assist though in creating illustrations and cover art though.
Indie Authors have their hands full with crafting a novel with the intention of selling it on Amazon. Not only do they have to research and write the book, but also have to play the role of editor. Poorly edited books can be the kiss of death and this has prompted a new start-up Advance Editions, to “make good books better” by drawing on the wisdom, knowledge and proofreading skills of readers around the world.
Here’s how it works: Advance Editions posts half of the edited book online a few months ahead of publication and then opens up a feedback forum for that book in which the author participates. Users can check facts or simply contribute some bright ideas and in exchange they are rewarded with being credited in the book. For crowd-editors who get beyond the first half of the book and want to take on more, they are offered a 60% discount of the complete book at a number of online retailers.
Many authors are not only having their books edited, but people are weighing in on fact checking as well. Hector Macdonald is looking to hear from”spies, experts on drug reform, from residents of Brasilia, from anyone who knows the interior layout of Brazil’s Palácio do Planalto or SIS’s Vauxhall Cross headquarters. My characters come from all over the world – have I got their speech patterns right? If you’re into rock climbing, or handy with a motorcycle or a weapon, you’ll have a lot to contribute. You may have served with the French Foreign Legion, treated gunshot wounds, lived in Cyprus or worked as a physiotherapist – all relevant experiences. Or perhaps you just know what works in a story and what doesn’t, and you have an instinct for what could make this one better.”
Another book available on the site is Heidi Kingstone’s non-fictional account of her time in Afghanistan entitled, Dispatches from the Kabul Café. Kingstone is looking for contributions from those with particular expertise in Afghanistan and Kabul, the NATO invasion of Afghanistan, Afghan culture and language, soldiers and mercenaries and aid workers and advisers. Macdonald, meanwhile, is looking for insights into intelligence services, drug reform, Brasilia, motorbikes, weapons, climbing and Canadian speech.”
I think this new crowdsourced editing and contribution platform is totally valid and they really may be onto something. The trick, is how do you convince the type of people that these authots are looking for to join the platform? It might be an easy sell to students looking for a career in the publishing industry and having accredited works under their belts to help them land that first job.
Amazon Publishing currently has 15 different imprints that span every single literary genre. These books are not only sold online for Kindle e-readers but also physically printed and sent over to bookstores. Finding the next great book to throw their marketing engine behind has always been a risky proposition. Amazon is quietly approaching authors who self-publish under Kindle Direct Publishing for a new program that will kick-start a book and potentially earn a new publishing contract with Amazon – in 45 days or less.
Within the next few weeks KDP Authors will be asked to submit their complete, never-before-published book and cover. After a few days, Amazon will post the first pages of each book on a new website for readers to preview and nominate their favorites. Books with the most nominations will be reviewed by the Amazon team for potential publication.
Readers who are selected for Amazon publishing contracts will get incentives that compete with first time contracts by major publishers. Authors will receive a guaranteed $1,500 advance and 50% royalties on net eBook revenue. Amazon will also acquire worldwide publication rights for eBook and audio formats in all languages, but the author will retain all other rights, including print.
As a small reward to the people who nominated the eBook to become published will receive a free, early copy to help build momentum and customer reviews.
The titles selected for this yet unnamed Amazon program will not have their books published by Amazon Publishing. This is mainly why they are not offering book editing or cover art design. Instead, Amazon is hoping to give authors another reason to exclusively publish with them and forgo submitting their titles to the competition. It would make sense that this new program is the first phase for using KDP as a feeder system for Amazon to make more money off of the next great author. If anything, this might be a nice visibility booster for people with a good book and a great cover, who are struggling to be found.
I think more likely, Amazon is tired of authors who make a name for themselves selling their eBooks with Amazon then signing with traditional publishing houses for lucrative print contracts. The end game for this new eBook project is to publish audiobooks and eBooks and rope the authors into just dealing with Amazon and then saying “hey, why don’t we give you a bigger reason to continue to publish with us?”
Nook Press is the self-publishing system that Barnes and Noble developed to allow authors to submit eBooks and sell them online. It has been a US exclusive since its original launch, and only recently expanded to the UK. In order to better promote Nook Press as a viable alternative to Kindle Direct Publishing and Kobo Writing Life, Barnes and Noble has partnered with The Bookseller on a New Preview Section for Self-Published Authors in the UK.
NOOK Press will sponsor the new section and will be the exclusive source of self-published titles for preview consideration through April 2015. Each month, beginning in October, The Bookseller will select approximately 10 NOOK Press titles to feature on the new section. Authors simply have to be published on NOOK Press, or sign up and publish their works, to have the opportunity to be featured in The Bookseller’s Independent Author Previews.
“Our goal with this new section is to discover the best new books published independently and made available to customers in the UK and we’re thrilled to have partnered with NOOK Press, one of the leading self-publishing platforms, to exclusively deliver this content through next April,” said Philip Jones, Editor at The Bookseller. “This is a new spin on what we have been doing for more than 100 years, and recognizes that some of the best new writing now comes through non-traditional channels. The Bookseller’s job remains the same, however, to shout about these books and bring them to the attention of our audiences. I know we’re all excited to read some of the great new publishing being made available through NOOK Press in the UK.”
“We are constantly looking at new ways to help NOOK Press authors get the exposure they deserve, which is why we’re thrilled about this new partnership with The Bookseller. It will give our self-published authors a new outlet to showcase their work, while giving NOOK customers another resource to discover their next great read,” said Colin Eustace, General Manager, Barnes & Noble S.à.r.l. “We also encourage self-published authors who are not yet on our platform to sign up today to be considered for this great opportunity and discover all of the great promotions available to NOOK Press authors.”
The Independent Author Network is a new service aimed at self-published authors. It was designed to serve as an unified author page, that tells the public what the author is all about and also links to their books and social media networks.
Amazon and other bookselling companies allow authors to setup their own pages, but tend to only promote books that that are for sale on their particular ecosystem. The IAN is more agnostic, authors can list their eBooks now matter where they are for sale. If an author sells physical books, there is code you can copy and paste for customers to buy it directly from services such as Paypal or Stripe.
IAN promotes books you list with them to over 300,000 followers and over 16,000 people a day visit the website. You can list your author profile for free, but they ding you if you want to sell your books.
If you have 1-6 books to promote, the membership setup fee is $24.95. A Silver membership allows you to include and promote 7-13 books on your page and costs $49.99.
In the end, the Independent Author Network may be a viable way for authors to promote themselves and get their names out there. Sure there are services like GoodReads and Amazon for this sort of thing, but constant promotion is certainly not a bad thing.
A new survey of readers in New Zealand, as reported by Stuff.co.nz, demonstrates that readers still prefer print over digital or audiobooks when it comes to self-selected texts. Despite the growing ebook market and an increase in digital readership in a few key age demographics, print wins out for most and for all the usual reasons.
According to the article on the findings, “Those most in favour of e-books were predictably under 30 year olds who only preferred the printed book by a 28 per cent to 27 per cent margin.
“Those aged 45 to 49 were the most hostile age cohort for e-books with 42 per cent preferring the printed version and 18 per cent an e-reader.
“Consistent with the BBQ debates the major factor cited by those who preferred reading printed books was that they enjoyed the feel and smell. A secondary factor coming through was that there was less strain on the eyes. Lower level factors cited by printed book advocates were they didn’t run out of power, it was easier to skip back and forward, habit and print books filled bookshelves.”
It may seem unrelated to some industry watchers, but the fact that consumers still prefer and buy more print than digital actually speaks to the increased validity of data about how self-published authors are faring in the market. Given that indie authors as a group generally sell more of their ebooks than their print titles, and given that consumers purchase more print than digital, it would show that the greater piece of the publishing pie that indies now earn is on even greater sales. They sell fewer books and at cheaper prices, yet still earn more income than traditionally published authors.
This data is no more prevalent than in the Author Earnings reports, who recent study of Barnes and Noble data showed that self-published authors are earning even higher amounts of income than traditionally published authors.
There are reports that Amazon has a Square reader-like device in the works, one that will plug into a smartphone or tablet (presumably not only the Fire phone or Kindle Fire) and allow small business people to take advantage of the reliance on credit cards that many consumers have. Just like other devices by Square and PayPal, this device–whenever it launches, although some sources say it will be advertised by Staples beginning August 12th–will help stand-alone entities who cannot afford the ongoing fees or contracts associated with most POS credit card machines. More importantly, devices such as these allow for portability, such as for sales at outdoor events, moveable festivals, and spur of the moment sales.
Even before Amazon’s attempt at joining this market, these portable devices are a must for indie authors.
Typically, self-published authors take on all the “leg work” associated with their writing careers. That means not only finding their own professionals to assist with the actual creation of the book, but it means the marketing and promotion as well. Authors often find themselves looking for opportunities like speaking engagements, book signings, and more. Whereas a bestselling book tour set up by a major publisher will handle the sales of titles at each stop along the tour, a self-published author typically has to arrange the signing, set up the space at the venue, sell the books, and then sign. Portable card readers from trusted companies make sales far more likely in the increasingly cash-less society.
Also, a number of authors–who’ve been thwarted by bookstores and libraries when they call to request permission for a book signing–find themselves selling their work at events that are not strictly bibliocentric. Outdoor festivals, themed events, and city holidays come to mind. In these cases, there may not even be wifi to work from, let alone a cash register in place. A portable reader feeding into a cellphone can mean the difference between potential readers simply browsing, as opposed to buying.
Finally, just as the age-old “elevator pitch” wisdom meant being prepared to tell an agent or publisher about a manuscript on the off-chance the author bumped into one, the current wisdom for independent authors to be ready to sell a book at any time. The elevator pitch still applies, but it’s now shifted to talking one-on-one to a potential reader. But having a few copies of the authors’ books handy for these instances means giving away their work–which still isn’t a bad thing–but there’s only so long an author can afford to give away her print material. A portable card reader will let the author offer the book to a potential reader and take the reader up on his offer of payment.
But why Amazon’s? If the reader devices themselves are so useful, should it matter?
Obviously, that remains to be seen. Pricing will be the first factor; Square, Intuit, and PayPal readers are free when users sign up at the website, and cost about $10 or so when purchased through a store like Target or OfficeMax. Reports are that the Amazon reader will cost about the same. And with percentage fees as low as 2.4% (Intuit) and 2.8% (Square), it will interesting to see if Amazon’s ingrained drive to be a better value than everyone else results in a lower fee.
Moreover, with the constant threat of credit card fraud and identity theft, consumers may feel some measure of security by handing their cards to someone with the Amazon logo at the top of the card reader. On the flipside, there’s the potential for a customer to refuse on the grounds that they’re in the anti-Amazon camp.
However it works out, authors would do well to make sure they’re able to accept payments in some electronic way in order to maximize on their own hard work.
Ludicrous accusations have come out from various corners of the publishing industry, some of which are rabidly anti-Amazon and anti-self-publishing, claiming that the information in the notorious Author Earnings reports is flawed at best, and intentionally misleading at worst. The reports, which claim to only be interested in helping all authors make sound decisions based on a clear look at ebook sales data, are updated quarterly with different facets of bookselling.
Some of these allegations state that the “data is beyond bad,” and even well-known figures in the industry have called into question the very existence of the so-called Data Guy who assembles the numbers. Phillip Jones, editor of The Bookseller, was quoted in an article for The Guardian as saying, “The fact that we don’t know who this ‘Data Guy’ is or where he’s come from suggest that we should take the Author Earnings report with a large pinch of salt.”
Hugh Howey, bestselling author and much of the driving force behind the Author Earnings report, spoke with Good e-Reader about some of the accusations that have been hurled at the reports and their creators.
“Amazon might be surprised at how much writers love having access to information,” Howey explained in the interview. “They have to be good businesspeople. We’re curious about what works, so the more we can provide information, the better.”
One key point Howey made in reference to Amazon’s new pricing tool, KDP Pricing Support, is this: “While Amazon’s been fighting with publishers to get ebook prices down, I also think that a lot of self-published authors aren’t pricing their books high enough. What Amazon wants is to sell as many books as possible, and that means finding the most efficient price between where traditionally published authors and self-published authors price their books.”
But how does this wealth of information translate into arming authors with data?
“In all the punditry, there’s a lot of analysis of the book industry and it’s all focused on gross dollars: how much are bookstores making, how much are publishers making? But if authors are making a very small cut of a lot of those numbers, how is it helping authors to know the percentage of those dollars that are in print? That’s why we chose [Author Earnings] for the name of our website, because we wanted to focus on, ‘How much are the artists getting paid?'”
The site itself has had more than 100,000 unique visitors just in the six months the site has been in operation, which is fairly astounding considering the parties involved haven’t incorporated any promotional tactics other than basic social media sharing of the reports. It demonstrates a clear desire on the part of involved individuals to know more and to see clear data.
That data has been called into question, though, often by sources who see it as faulty but haven’t really explained why other than the argument that Author Earnings’ reports are free to the public and some companies charge for their data, causing some critics to wonder how thorough and accurate this information can be. Howey’s explanation of the information almost seems too simple, even to him, but it involves a tremendous amount of number crunching of the available data.
“If you believe that Amazon ranks books according to how well they’re selling, then there’s no flaw you could find with what we’re doing. We’re doing what you could do with a pencil and a web browser. Anybody could go through all these web pages for all the books and write down on a spreadsheet what the list price is, who published the book, and what its overall Amazon ranking is. With that information, you could figure out, okay, if a third of these books are self-published and only forty percent are traditionally published, and you do that for 120,000 books, that’s incredible. And we know that self-published authors are making seventy percent and traditionally published authors are making seventeen and a half percent, so even though the price for self-published books is lower it’s more than made up for by the royalty. The reason you haven’t seen anyone tear the methodology apart is because there’s nothing to it. It’s as simple as counting books on the bestsellers’ lists.”
Howey mentioned that the launch of Kindle Unlimited could have an impact on future reports, since there may be a need to correct for the fact that KU borrows are counted in the bestseller rankings. Given the fact that the book has to reach ten percent consumption on the part of the reader to even count as a “sale” or “borrow” for royalty purposes, it would be logical to think that a KU borrow would serve much the same purpose as a typical book sale for ranking purposes.
While Howey was not willing to “out” Data Guy or state the person or persons’ identity, he did assure outright the veracity of Data Guy’s status as a human being, and not some generic algorithm that spits out questionable information.
“What’s been funny is that we use the singular masculine pronoun because that’s what one blogger called my partner. It’s funny because it could be three other people working on this, it could be a company that I’m hiring, it could be a woman. My mom was a math teacher. The bias about who’s good at spreadsheets is funny.
“I’ve provided the data to download. Everyone wants to know what’s going on with Amazon, and our last data report was 120,000 titles. Every ranked book on Amazon has all the information right there if you want to go through and do some additional crunching on it. You can’t crunch it and come up with any other result than self-published authors are taking this huge chunk of income from writers’ market share. You can play with the variables all you want and it does not change the outcome.”
Despite rumors that circulated–and even a few sarcastic remarks–Howey would not name Data Guy specifically due to the fact that authors are prohibited by terms of service from openly sharing their sales figures. He and the other parties involved in creating Author Earnings stood a very real chance of violating those terms, and as Howey himself stated, he worried about pressing publish on the website and finding all of his books removed from Amazon the very next day.
“I’m not going to out the person unless they want to be outed.”
Any author, traditionally published or indie, can tell you that one of the hardest parts of the business side of being an author is finding genuine promotion opportunities that give authors a real sense of reader engagement. Apart from the flood of social media requests from authors asking consumers to purchase their books, far too many authors don’t have another step in mind for creating active dialogue about their works.
That’s where sites like Bublish come in, bringing with them the opportunities for authors and readers to connect over like content and common interests in reading material. But more than just a place for discussion to happen, Bublish is also building author tools, like the ability to build an email list for targeted announcements and the chance to offer pre-orders.
Bublish, who’s known for its targeted social interaction in which authors and readers connect through book “bubbles,” recently announced it had secured a $300,000 investment in its latest round of private funding, which will allow the company to expand its current features while exploring new capabilities that put control in the authors’ hands. According to the company, this funding round will be earmarked for projects that include “developing a suite of powerful creation and book promotion tools for publishers, additional social media integrations and book distribution services, expanding marketing capabilities and reach, and increasing business development partnerships with key publishers and industry influencers.”
“This investment is a huge endorsement of the Bublish platform,” said Kathy Meis, Bublish
Founder and President. “Our capabilities consistently expand as our user base of authors and
readers continues to grow exponentially.”
Bublish has operated under its concept of “authorpreneurship,” meaning their focus is to empower authors with the equipment to not only be writers, but to be businessmen in charge of their own products as well.
Whenever a new tool comes along that makes it even easier for indie authors to share their content with a broader audience, it’s exciting. So after seeing a post by TechCrunch on a new ebook creation platform that doesn’t cost the user any money, uploads seamlessly from his Google Drive account, and can be tailored right there on the screen in front of him, I had to try it out.
Unfortunately, the reality was a little less exciting.
Heading over to liber.io only a little while ago, the very first issue was that Mozilla freaked out about letting me use the site. Two different warning screens came up telling me that Mozilla couldn’t verify the security of the site, and even after telling Mozilla, “It’s okay, I got this,” it was slow and iffy-looking. I logged in with my Google+ account and established a new password, and I appreciated the fact that Liberio pointed out this new password would in no way affect my Google+ password.
After giving Liberio permission to access my contacts list, my email, my DNA sample, and my second grade report card, I was in. Unfortunately, clicking on the only thing that looked like an “Add new file” option didn’t do anything for the first five minutes or so. I finally refreshed the screen twice and it came to life.
The interface is very intuitive, I must say, but it’s not very functional. By clicking on the very large icon that resembles a piece of paper with a plus sign in it, I was finally given a box that let me choose a file from my Google Drive account or directly uploads from my computer. I chose the upload option, selected a manuscript I’ve been playing around with, and waited.
Then complete code filled the box on the screen. Instead of seeing my ebook, absolute gibberish took over. Unfortunately, despite the presence of a trash folder, I can’t see any way to remove the file I uploaded. I right-clicked, I dragged, I sacrificed a small woodland creature…nothing. As an author who now has an unpublished manuscript floating around the internet with no discernible way to remove it, I’m more than a little put out right now.
Now some of you may be chuckling to yourselves and shaking your head at my own ebook incompetence, and I welcome your laughter. It’s quite obvious that either Liberio or I didn’t do something right. Given that Liberio just moved out of private beta per TechCrunch’s announcement, there are kinks that are possibly still being worked out, but if my own misunderstanding of the system was at fault, then I have to say it’s not as intuitive as I thought.
My final assessment is that it will be a powerful tool when it works correctly, and anything that gives authors even better tools is fantastic. I also see tremendous potential for the educational arena, both higher ed and the K12 sectors, as teachers could easily create ebooks of content for their students. And with more and more schools instituting Bring Your Own Device initiatives, ereading is gaining a lot of traction in public schools, meaning teachers can incorporate a lot of original content in the process. Overall, when it works perfectly, this could be something of a game changer.
New information and knowledge have come to light thanks to the efforts of a core group of individuals; author Hugh Howey and his mathematical number cruncher Data Guy have released exhaustive information through the Author Earnings reports designed to help authors make informed decisions concerning their publishing.
Rather than fight the Author Earnings efforts and information with their collective heads in the sand, Amazon seems to be reading and incorporating the information into tools for their authors. In the public beta of a new feature, KDP Pricing Support, Amazon has opened a new toolbox for authors to better understand their book pricing and the impact is has on their overall sales.
Amazon’s new tool gives authors who wish to use the free service a snapshot of where similar books are performing and at which price points, thereby recommending a price for their titles. Authors are then given the option to one-click to institute that price for their books. It’s interesting to note that when a Good e-Reader staffer tested the new service, it was discovered that some of the author’s titles were priced as much as seven dollars US lower than the typical book performing at peak sales for that category; other titles were already priced at the recommended $2.99. None of the authors’ books were priced higher than the service’s recommendation, a characteristic that is common among self-published authors who tend to underprice their content.
The tool is available for all KDP authors to try out by clicking on the button in the “Rights and Pricing” section of their dashboards, and Amazon has stated that the beta period is open to all users in an attempt to help them uncover which features authors rely on. Books that are not enrolled in Amazon’s exclusive KDP Select program are still eligible for the service, and more information can be found HERE.