Archive for the ‘Self-Publishing’ Category

New Cover for Scandal

Saturday, July 28th, 2018

Have a look at the New Cover for Scandal

image of the new cover for Scandal - it's a hot Regency couple. The image is a paperback book that looks like it's standing up

New Cover for Scandal

I commissioned a new cover for Scandal because the previous cover, which I love to this day, was getting rejected for promotions because the guy was shirtless. ::sigh:: If you already purchased Scandal and want your copy to have the new cover, you should be able to follow the process for updating books at the vendor of your choice. I took the opportunity to update my booklist, but nothing else changed about the text so the only reason to update is the new cover, and a more recent list of my titles in the back.

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My Immortal Assassin – More Bad Ass than Ever!

Saturday, January 7th, 2017

I have obtained a reversion of rights to My Immortal Assassin, Book 3 in the My Immortals Series.

New cover, new backcover copy, UPDATED STORY

More about the book at my website page for the book.

Here’s the new cover.

A shirtless guy looking pretty bad ass against a glowy orange-red background. He's all moody and shit like a demon should be.

New Cover for My Immortal Assassin

And here’s the new backcover copy:

Sometimes revenge and love go hand-in-hand

Grayson “Gray” Spencer’s life as she knew it was over. Years of torture will do that to a person. Just when she’d given up all hope, someone sacrificed himself to save her and transformed Gray from a human into a mage. Determined to master her powers and exact revenge on those who imprisoned her, she must team up with a posh but sexy demon who will teach her everything… as long as she swears fealty to him.

Durian protects humankind from harm at the hands of his fellow demons. The highly trained assassin wants nothing to do with the punkish Gray, but her abilities are exactly what he needs to fulfill his mission.

Soon enough, Durian and Gray are bound together in a secret quest… and a fiery passion that makes the demon question everything he’s ever known. Their feelings threaten not only their hearts, but their entire society. They may survive, but how much will they lose in the process?

Changes? BUT WHY?

I did fairly intensive revisions. Unfortunately, there were errors (copy-editing and proofreading) but I’m pretty sure I got them all, though I surely managed to add some new ones (because that’s how such things work.) I am a firm believer in the Oxford comma, so I addressed that philosophical issue by adding those commas. The story remains essentially the same, but now reflects more of my vision for the series and a different editorial take. So, yes, the story structure is the much same, but I did significant wordsmithing and character-smithing. The changes got to the point that I had to concede to myself it’s a second edition. I have filed for a new copyright for this version.

The process of publishing this book would be a lot faster if the various vendors would allow authors to send them their reversion letters at the time of upload. In this case, Hachette removed their version of the book immediately upon revsersion– meaning in December 2016–which I greatly appreciate.

Irony of ironies, if they hadn’t, I could have done a DMCA take down and had the rights issue cleared before I published my version. This means the appearance of live links for my version will be slower as the vendors grind through their process for checking content. Which I also appreciate!

For the Curious

My Immortal Assassin has been under the income threshold for a reversion for over two years, but I wasn’t able to get Hachette to respond to reversion requests. I was informed by a lawyer I consulted that Hachette has no duty to respond to reversion requests where that request does not meet the terms of the reversion clause. No wonder authors are so frustrated with publishers. How does the author know if they’re being willfully ignored or ignored because the publisher has decided there are no grounds for reversion?

Ultimately (after two years and many many requests for a response) their position was that the book was still “in print” because there were 192 copies in the warehouse. Fair enough. I can do basic math so I knew that if I placed an order at, say, Amazon, I would pay $1500 for 192 books. Hachette can do math, too, so when I offered to buy back stock, they did some hand waving and shed tears over the $2,000 in royalties per year they would forego by reverting, and then offered to let me buy back stock for . . . $1500. I paid Hachette the money because I would get my reversion much faster and would not be at risk of someone deciding to print more copies.

Once Hachette was willing to discuss a buy back, things happened fairly quickly. I had my reversion letter in hand in mid-December. I very pleased Hachette and I were doing the same math. And I am thrilled to have the book back in my hands. None of this would have happened without the patience of my agent, Kristin Nelson.

 

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Your Opinion Needed!

Friday, November 25th, 2016

I’m pulling together the new cover for My Immortal Assassin. Here are 4 possibilities. Which do you like? There’s a poll at the bottom of this post, but feel free to add other feedback in the comments. Models + backgrounds are not fixed, meaning, any of them could have a blue or orange background. So. What do YOU think?

Version 004

Blue glowy background, youngerish model with some tats, model is slightly to the right of the image.

blue glowy background, shirtless model with some tats

004

Version 005

Orange glowy background, youngerish model, tats, slightly more intense look. Center of image.

glowy orange background, no tat shirtless model

005

Version 006

Orange glowy background, olderish model no tats, hands behind head.

glowy orange background, no tat shirtless model hands behind head

006

Version 007

Orange glowy background, no tats, olderosh model, arms at sides.

glowy orange background, no tat shirtless model

007

Which version do you like best?

View Results

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Sinclair Sisters Series Covers

Saturday, June 18th, 2016

Just so you can see, here are all three covers for the Sinclair Sisters Series. Now all three match. I’ve re-uploaded A Notorious Ruin to all the major vendors. If you want the updated cover, you’ll need to follow the vendor’s instructions for obtaining book updates, which is hard or easy, depending.

In writing news, I’m closing in on sending Surrender to Ruin out for first pass reading by someone who is not me.

Cover of Lord Ruin, super sexy Regnency dude looking at you like, yeah, I'm hot.

Lord Ruin. Book 1. Cover by Seductive Designs.

 

Sexy Super Cute Regency guy sitting in a chair bringing the heat. His shirt's kind of undone a little.

A Notorious Ruin. Book 2 Photography by Jenn LeBlanc. Cover Design by Damonza.

 

An unbelievably hot Regency man sitting on the arm of a chaise looking very smug

Surrender to Ruin. Book 3. Cover Photography by Jenn LeBlanc. Cover Design by Damonza

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Shoot!

Thursday, May 12th, 2016

After looking around and not finding the right images for the cover of Surrender To Ruin, I decided to go the custom route, using photographer Jenn LeBlanc. I knew the kind of image I wanted and which model I thought would be perfect. A couple of hours after I contacted her everything was set up with the model I hoped to use.

The photo shoot was today. Here’s three  of my favorites of the during-the-shoot pictures of the pictures of the pictures… These are pictures of the digital camera viewer. I can assure you the photos uploaded are crystal clear. All images by Jenn LeBlanc.

A Regency era gentleman looking very raking indeed. Smokin' hot.

Liking the look! credit: Jenn LeBlanc

 

Regency gentleman leaning against a chaise, looking smokin' hot and rakish

Rake? credit: Jenn LeBlanc

 

Regency era gentleman perched on edge of chaise. Super hot.

Yes. Please. credit: Jenn LeBlanc

 

I’ve narrowed the pictures down to several choices and am mulling them over ….  Covers matter a lot, and I knew I wanted a cover that was both eye-catching and conveyed the character in the book, and I wasn’t finding what I wanted among the stock art.

So many of the images are so good it’s going to be hard to decide. Which is a better place to be than wondering which image I’ll settle for.

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Evergreening Your Links

Friday, September 25th, 2015

What Is Evergreening Links?

Evergreening a link means making sure the destination of a link always lands the user in the correct place, even when the correct place changes. (P.S I will probably be tweaking this page for a bit, but as of this original writing, there were a lot of people who wanted to know quickly.)

TL;dr :: use a plugin such as Redirection, or a link shortening service such as Bit.ly (likely the paid version) or an installed application such as YOURLS to manage updating the destination of links inside your books.

I am writing this in the context of eBooks where authors include links to the books they’ve written in the back of the book. However, the concept applies to any link you make.

The Basic Problem for Authors who write More than One Book

The more backlist you have, the more books you end up republishing with updated links for books that have been published since you wrote the previous ones. It’s a problem and can end up being a lot of work. But what if there was a way change the destination of existing buy links without having to edit and update books you have already published?

There is. You need to create evergreen links for your books. You do this by creating a type of link in your book that goes to an external page where you can then send the user to the updated location, a redirection, if you will.

There are Three Ways To Create Evergreen Links

There are 3 basic ways to achieve evergreen links. Some of the methods have more than one approach. Don’t worry, I’ll explain each of them. Also, some people do better when they can see a demo or a video, so don’t give up if a written explanation doesn’t quite do it for you. (Sorry, making an interactive demo involves more time than I have right now.)

  1. A plugin if you’re on WordPress or Blogger (SUPER easy!! Install the plugin and you’re done!)
  2. Build redirects at your website
  3. Use a link shortening service that allows you to update the destination of the link

Important Concepts

I assume you already understand how html links work. Even if you’ve only encountered them in the Word document you will upload to vendors, you should have encountered the need to create a link a user will click on to go someplace else. Other books you have written, for example, that you hope your readers will buy.

I also assume you are producing books customized for each of the major vendors such that in the version you upload to iBooks, all your buy links go to iBooks purchase pages. The version you upload to Amazon contains links that go to your Amazon buy pages. If you’re not doing this, you are losing sales.

I feel like I should repeat that. Backmatter links sell books. Vendor-specific links sell more books. You should have buy links in your books, and they should be vendor-specific for Amazon, iBooks, Google Play, Kobo and Nook at the very minimum. You will also need a generic version of your links. Those can go to your website.

No system is perfect (yet) but evergreening your links saves a lot of time and work.

Note: If you’re on the hosted, free version of WordPress, my understanding is you won’t be able to use plugins. Personally, while I realize that money can be an issue, this is an excellent reason to have a self-hosted WordPress install.

This is a business. Don’t leave money on the table because you’re too busy or don’t want to deal with the horror of tech. I get that, I really do. But if either of those things describe you, you can outsource the work. If readers loved your story, they WILL click those links to get more of your work.

Case Study

Assume you have written a three book series called Animals Who Talk.

Animals Who Talk Series!

  • Fred the Cat, Book 1
  • Suzy the Giraffe, Book 2
  • Roberta the Chicken, Book 3

Because you are a super fast writer, your production schedule looks like this:

Month 1: You write and publish Book 1.
Month 2: You write and publish Book 2.
Month 3: You write and publish Book 3.

The common situation is that at the time of publication, Book 1 will not contain any buy links to Books 2 or 3 because, of course, those books do not yet exist. On publication, Book 2 can contain links to Book 1 but not to Book 3. Book 3 CAN contain links to books 1 and 2.

On publication, without an evergreening system, the best you can do for Books 1 and 2 is send your readers to a webpage you set up about the series and/or each of the books. Sadly, the more clicks you put between your fans and your books, the fewer books you will sell. Commonly, this means an author will publish Book 2, wait for the vendor links to go live, then republish Book 1, which has been updated with the correct links for each vendor version of  Book 2. Then, when Book 3 is published, Books 1 and 2 are republished with updated links to Book 3. For each vendor.

An evergreening system means that all three books contain links to all the other books at the time you publish them. As vendor links go live for each of the books, you update your evergreening system (remember there is more than one way to do this!) once and only once without having to reupload ANY of your Animals Who Talk Series books.

Really Long and Detailed Explanation

You might want to skim or skip to the more technical explanations of the method below. Or you might want to read on to understand the use cases.

So, here’s my basic system:

I have YOURLS installed at cjewel.me This is not required, you can use one of the other methods, but the concept is more or less the same.

I devised a naming system for short link naming that I can remember and follow.

Using the example of a booklist in the back of books that are on sale containing a link to a book that isn’t available yet:

1. I create a page on my website in the books section of the site, for that specific book, The Adventures of Roberta the Chicken, let’s say. Below is the URL such a page would have on my website.

carolynjewel.com/books/robertathechicken.php

That page has all the information about the book as I would do for any book page on my website. This is the book’s permanent home at my website. I can update it at will.

2. Over at cjewel.me (or in my browser, either way works), I create links something like this—not my actual naming convention, I’m naming for clarity here:

http://cjewel.me/RobertaTheChicken_Amazon

http://cjewel.me/RobertaTheChicken_iBooks

etc.

I tell YOURLS that all the vendor links resolve to carolynjewel.com/books/robertathechicken.php

3. In my book Fred the Cat and in Suzy the Giraffe for my Animals Who Talk Series, in which Books 1 and 2 are on sale everywhere, but Book 3 isn’t yet, my backmatter list of books looks like this. These are links, of course:

Animals Who Talk Series!

  • Fred the Cat, Book 1
  • Suzy the Giraffe, Book 2
  • Roberta the Chicken, Book 3

In the Amazon versions of books 1 and 2 my url (link) for Roberta the Chicken is:

http://cjewel.me/RobertaTheChicken_Amazon

There is no www because the point of YOURLS is to have short links, the install process makes that clear enough, so don’t worry about that.

For my iBooks versions of books 1 and 2, my link for Roberta The Chicken is:

http://cjewel.me/RobertaTheChicken_iBooks

Currently, both the Amazon and iBooks links will send the user to my website page for the book.

so, for iBooks:
<a href=”http://cjewel.me/RobertaTheChicken_iBooks”>Roberta The Chicken, Book 3</a>

Again, recall that, currently, all the various links take you to my website page for Roberta The Chicken.

This means that when readers of Books 1 and 2 click on the Roberta link, they will end up at my website page for Roberta the Chicken where they will be told the book isn’t available yet and hey, join my mailing list to get notified as soon as it’s released.

4. Fast forward 6 months and now Roberta The Chicken is done and I’ve uploaded it to all the vendors. iBooks goes live first because they are awesome like that. As soon as I have the live iBooks links:

I go to YOURLS and edit the link cjewel.me/RobertaTheChicken_iBooks so it points to the live iBooks URL instead of my website.

From that moment forward, a reader of the iBooks versions of Books 1 and 2 who clicks on the Roberta link, will go to the iBooks page for Roberta The Chicken.

When Amazon goes live, I go to YOURLS and update cjewel.me/RobertaTheChicken_Amazon to point to the Amazon page instead of my website.

Same for Amazon, as soon as I update the YOURLS link, anyone clicking the links in the Amazon version of books 1 and 2 gets sent to the Roberta Amazon buy page.

You can make your links book-specific so you know not just that your link came from an iBooks reader, but an iBooks reader of a specific book. I advise you to think about this and devise a system that works for you:

For Fred The Cat and Suzy the Giraffe, you could make links like this if you wanted to:

cjewel.me/FredTheCat_RobertaTheChicken_iBooks <– use that link in the iBooks version of the Fred book for the Roberta link

cjewel.me/SuzyTheSwan_RobertaTheChicken_iBooks <– use that link in the iBooks version of the Suzy book’s link to the Roberta book.

You need a naming system that makes sense to you. There”s no reason you can’t use really long “short” names, but it’s more opportunities for typos. But longer tends to make more sense. If you use abbreviations, never deviate from them. It’s worth it to spend some time working out your naming system.

YOURLS is also case sensitive, so FredTheCat is different from fredthecat.

It’s more work to track book-specific urls, but then you have more granular data and more data is better! You’d know that iBooks readers of FredTheCat clicked on line to the Roberta book 500 times while iBooks readers of Suzy The Giraffe have clicked on the Roberta link 754 times. Up to you.

This way, I do a lot less reuploading of books in order to update links. As long as I’m using my cjewel.me links, I can repoint my short links to wherever I want them to go. Some reuploading is unavoidable of course. Series you haven’t thought up yet, etc.

But How Do I Achieve this Magic??

1. Plugin

If you have a WordPress driven website, the Redirection plugin is simple to use. I know several authors who are using that plugin. My site is hybrid, so though I have Redirection installed for my WordPress instance, the plugin only redirects WordPress pages, not pages on the non-WordPress portion of my site, so this is not as useful for me as it is for others. But it’s nice to have. If you’re on wordpress, I’d recommend that. You don’t need to read any farther, unless you’re unclear on the timing of the process.

2. Redirects on a non-WordPress or non-Blogger site

Depending on your webhost, you can do your own redirects, either directly in the htaccess file (assuming you’re on a Linux flavor server) or via a tool your host provides, or by building a redirect page.

If you don’t know what an htaccess file is DO NOT not use the htaccess file method. You don’t know enough to do this safely. A typo or wrong setting could disable your entire site, and really, just don’t if you haven’t mucked around in this file before.

If you’re on a windows server, well, I doubt your webhost would give you direct access to IIS. If you don’t know what IIS is, then this is also not something you should expect to do.

Most people are going to be on a linux server and if you have a good webhost, there will be a website tool that allows you to set up redirects. Mine has one that is OK enough, and I use that tool from time to time, depending on what I need to do. I explain more about this below.

2A. HTML redirects

If you have a regular website, you could also build web pages for your redirects. This is probably more work and the reporting would depend on how good your website analytics tools are. If you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your site already, get it set up (Google “Google Webmaster Tools” and you should find all the info you need.) That will help with overall analytics. Plus, if you ever have a malware issue, having access to Webmaster Tools can get your site cleared faster.

This method requires that you know now to create a webpage and upload it to your server AND realize you have to test that you did it right. Typos happen, people.  It’s not hard, but honestly, why would you want to learn to do this when you could be writing instead? Outsource it.

Here’s an example of an html redirect page:

This will display the information about an updated page, then take the user there. For evergreening, you wouldn’t want the page to wait. I built this page when I switched my site from html to php and certain files needed a manual redirect. The page “about.shtml” redirects users to “about.php” so if someone out there on the web is linking to my about.shtml page they’ll end up at the new page.

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN”>
<html>
<head>
<title>Carolyn Jewel – About Carolyn Page Redirect</title>
<meta http-equiv=”REFRESH” content=”5;url=about.php”>
</HEAD>
<BODY>
<h1>carolynjewel.com</h1>
<p>This About Carolyn page has been updated. Please wait while you’re redirected to the spiffy new page!</p>
</BODY>
</HTML>

This line is the key one:
<meta http-equiv=”REFRESH” content=”5;url=about.php”>

The number 5 tells the page to wait 5 seconds then take the user to the url listed after ;url (that is, about.php)

You can set the number to any integer.

0 would be no wait. You’d still want to have the header and paragraph just in case someone’s browser or settings disallow redirects. Additional considerations go into deciding how to style the page and whether to provide a URL in the body, but I won’t bore you with that. For some pages where I do this for one reason or another, it looks just like my regular website.

If you elect to do this, I assume that you already understand at least something about what considerations go into building and styling a redirect.

3. Roll Your Own Short Links: YOURLS

YOURLS is free software that you install on your own domain that allows you to create and manage custom short links. Since the point is a short url you’ll need to register and host a domain then install and configure the software. I blogged earlier about installing YOURLS

Most of the process details for using YOURLS are explained above. When I needed to install an update to YOURLS I hired someone from Odesk. He was a Polish college student and did a great job for $22.00. It was totally worth it.

YOURLS comes with reporting so you can see how many times a link has registered a click, where they came from (IP address or country, and what time, etc.) There are other graphs and charts. Another advantage is that some vendors or sites have an issue with Bit.ly links because they can be used to obfuscate malware. Technically, so could a roll your own solution, but your short link domain wouldn’t be flagged unless you were a really bad person or got hacked. (Please don’t use a stupid password to secure your domain or the login to administer YOURLS.)

The advantage to a link shortening service (there are several such services) is that you can use them anywhere you want to, including Facebook, Twitter, etc, and for reasons other than book links. YOURLS includes a nifty tool that allows you to create short links from your browser. There is also a WordPress plugin that will create YOURLS short links to posts.

YOURLS is free, but I recommend you donate an amount you can afford. That would be super nice.

On Naming Systems and YOURLS customizations

Updating this post Dec/2016 to add some additional information.

Naming Systems

Here is the naming system I devised. YMMV. If I’d been thinking further ahead at the time, I would have made a few refinements, but this works for me. My short URL naming system consists of 3 parts.
1. Title Acronym
2. Vendor Acronym
3. Book Number (I assign a number to each of my books.)

So, suppose I have a new book titled Mika the Mouse and I have assigned it the acronym mtm. This is my 46th title.

My vendor acronyms are as follows:
Amazon: AMZ
iBooks: iBooks
Kobo: Kobo
Nook Press: NP
Google Play: GP
My website: WS

Now, suppose I want to add this link to my very first book, Passion’s Song. (acronym psong, book No. 1) My second book, Stolen Love, has an acronym of slove. It’s book #2.

Here is the short url for the Mika book at Amazon inside Passion’s Song:
mtmAMZ1 mtm+AMZ+1

And here it is for link in the Amazon version of Stolen Love:
mtmAMZ2 mtm+AMZ+2

Now the links Mika the Mouse inside those took books at B&N would be:
mtmNP1
mtmNP2

So, mtmiBooks45 is corresponds to the vendor URL to Mika the Mouse at iBooks inside Book No. 45. Which is… whichever title corresponds to Book No 45.

Inside Mika the Mouse at Amazon, I have links to all my other books, as follows:
psongAMZ45
sloveAMZ45

At iBooks:
psongiBooks45
sloveiBooks45

This means that for any given title, I am able to tell which clicks came from which title at which vendor. So, now I know things like, my collection of erotic short stories gets a lot of clicks. I was surprised. And now I know I should be writing more of those.

I know how many iBooks readers of My Dangerous Pleasure (Book 4 in a series) are clicking the link to Book 5.

Custom YOURLS updates

So. As of this writing, I have forty-five titles for which I have vendor links. At present, each new book contains links to all my other titles. I need 45 links for a book times each vendor plus my website. That’s 45×6 which is 270 links required for every new book. Obviously, it is not a very good use of time to do manual link creation or manual updates at that scale.

Because I elected to use a tracking system at a per book/per vendor level, I commissioned two custom YOURLS plugins to solve that problem. The plugins are based on my naming convention.

One of the plugins creates all the required links for a new title.

The other one batch updates a given title’s custom vendor link from one URL to another URL. Typically, that’s from my website to the now live vendor URL.

Two examples:

Suppose I have a brand new book in the Animals That Talk series, Mika The Moose. I will need a total of 270 inks for this book; One for every other book at every other vendor, plus my website. All those links initially point to my website. My custom plugin creates all 270 links automatically. All those new links point to my website page for the book. We’ll pretend, for the sake of the example, that I am so totally on the ball that I have loaded updates to all my other books with the link to this forthcoming title.

Now suppose I have a live vendor links for this title at iBooks. For all instances of the iBooks links for Mika the Mouse in all 45 of my iBooks titles, I need to change the destination of that URL from my website page for the book to the iBooks book page. My custom update plugin does this automatically.

If you have questions, let me know in the comments and I can clarify or what have you.

 

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Back and Still Alive

Wednesday, July 29th, 2015

I returned from the 2015 RWA national conference this past Sunday evening. Since this was my first conference as a member of the national board of RWA (As a Director at Large) my conference experience included duties and activities above and beyond the usual.

Alas, I was unable to pack in just a carry-on size bag, even with packing cubes and video watching. As a Board member, I was at conference from Saturday to the following Sunday. I would have totally been able to do carry-on, even with my admitted failings, if I were only there from Tuesday to Sunday.

But that turned out to be OK, because that meant I could put lots of books in my luggage. I’m still not clear on why my bag wasn’t overweight. The carry-on failure was mine. I brought too many clothes. There were items I did not wear… ::::but what if I’d needed them?????::::  One year someone spilled wine on my only pair of pants and boy do I wish I’d brought an extra pair. Oddly, my packing cubes were full on the way to conference but on the way back, one was empty. I guess I got better at rolling up things small. I’m a convert. Those make it really easy to keep organized.

Highlights of Conference

Guys. I got to shake hands with Nora Roberts!!!!  Tessa Dare and I met Jude Devereaux. I managed to put some brakes on the fangirling but not much. Tessa was gracious as always. I also met Carol Mortimer. Oh, gosh. It was wonderful.

The doughnut party was another success. Megan Frampton was in charge of fetching the doughnuts and they were delicious.

Box of doughnuts

Why you shouldn’t be late to the doughnut party

Workshops and Meetings

I didn’t make it to as many workshops as I’d hoped. Good thing I bought the conference recordings! The workshops I attended were fun and /or informative. I was able to meet up with a lot of authors I only see at conference even though I “talk” to them all the time on Facebook and Twitter or other author forums. The bar arrangement at the hotel was strange. It was as if no one believed Romance authors would want to sit around and drink and talk all day. I felt for the wait staff. There weren’t enough of them for the demand, but they were all lovely while insanely busy.

The Mood by Numbers

This one is harder for me to assess because as a Board member I have much more insight into the issues of the organization. In addition, my writing career is going far better than when I was traditionally publishing. That’s a pretty simple truth. From 1987 until 2010 I think my total writing income was something like $60,000 TOTAL for 17 books. That’s about $2,600 a year. From 2011 to present, total income is roughly $240,000 or about $60,000 a year, and 140,000 books sold. Those totals are actually higher because that doesn’t include income or books sold from projects that went through accounts that aren’t directly connected to my reporting. It’s closer to $260,000 and 160,000.

I had none of my old anxieties and fears about contracts and publishers, and that was great. I had some killer hallway conversations with authors about career planning and management. My anxieties now are about the bets I placed on certain career events. For example, I “bet” if you will, that I would get reversions for 6 of my traditionally published books. I got three of the hoped-for reversions. I had the basic plan B in place and that’s the trajectory I’ll follow now.

For me, I made contacts and arrangements with my fellow authors that I expect to materially improve my career position and that is the reason to go to the RWA national conference.

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Nook?

Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Last week Nook announced it was shuttering its international store and now there is, at least as far as I can tell, unsupported claims that the North American Nook store will also be closed. Maybe. But I’m not so sure. But first, the international issue.

From the get-go, I had doubts about Nook’s International offering. The first red flag was that it could take 6-8 weeks for a book uploaded through Nook Press to show up for sale in the UK and EU countries. A delay that long suggests a manual process, as in the US store and the International store not being served by the same servers and back-end. It made me wonder if they were doing uploads via spreadsheet and there were subtle indications and a few whispers that this might be true. Certainly, a 6-8 week lag is inexplicable if the US NookPress back-end was the same as the European operations. I really don’t know, but to me, that was a sign that something just wasn’t right with the implementation AND with the corporate commitment.

Then came VAT and B&N did it all wrong. They were the ONLY vendor that had no way of saying, hey, “assume the price I’m giving you includes VAT.” It totally screwed authors who felt felt they should/must/needed/wanted to normalize prices. Nook made it impossible for an author to provide EU/UK prices that end in .99 — a proven sales strategy. It put self-published authors at risk of running afoul of EU fixed price book laws as well as Amazon price matching. I worried about the price matching because in one case, when I lowered the price of a book I was promoting, Amazon price-matched the UK version of my book to the Nook version within two hours of my update at Nook — before I’d gotten around to the other vendors. Amazon didn’t price match the US price for another two days.

Theoretically, other book vendors shouldn’t have to care about the self-publishing environment at Amazon. They ought to be free to have whatever policies they like. That is not the reality. Google, which could be killing it in self-publishing, has several policies in place that keep a lot of self-publishers out of Google Play because those policies wreak havoc with those titles at Amazon. In fact, Christmas in The Duke’s Arms had to be taken off sale at Google because they’d decided to discount the book to $0.99 and Amazon was price matching it in an environment where that was harmful to our pricing strategy for the next anthology.

That’s a reality, and regardless of the fact that Google can, of course, do whatever it likes, there are many, many authors who do not publish to Google because of this (but also because their discounting policy requires keeping a brain-busting accounting of List Price/Actual Price. It’s awful awful awful.)

Bringing this back to Nook in the US, Nook did what was easy for them regarding VAT and immediately screwed self-published authors.

Now, I can also say that over the past two years, Nook has been a decreasingly important vendor in terms of sales. From everything I can tell, they still impose an artificial ceiling on the ranking of self-published books. They also made it difficult to find Nook Books at their website. I got a lot of emails from frustrated Nook readers who could not find my books in a search. Jesus. Just a terrible, terrible user experience.

Plainly Nook is looking to spin off the eBook store, which wouldn’t be so bad — especially if it ended up in the hands of someone committed to the tool. (I find that doubtful, alas.)

But does it make sense for Barnes&Noble to have no way to buy products on-line? Does it really make sense for Nook to shut out self-published titles entirely? Only if they intend to go the “Indie” route and hand everything over to Kobo the way other physical bookstores do. Which, you know, is a conceivable result.

If Nook Press spins off, it seems to me it would have to become more like Book Baby (::snort::) or Draft2Digital— an aggregator. OR it would have to try to be an independent eBook store. If it’s doing to try that, then I would be whispering to Draft2Digital that they need a direct-to-consumer storefront. They already have a superior author interface and they can already handle multiple file versions whereas Nook, to achieve that, would have to develop Kindle compatible processes. I don’t think Smashwords is a serious contender, by the way. They, too, impose harmful terms and policies on authors. (Automatic opt-ins, enforcing the text of  copyright statements when they are not the copyright holder so what the hell business is it of theirs how I word my copyright statements? their broken ePub upload process. No. Just no.)

D2D, however, appears to have real tech chops and a UX team that knows what the X in UX means, which appears to entirely escape Smashwords.

Interesting.

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Books Prices in the EU…Continued

Saturday, January 3rd, 2015

France and Germany . . .

This is a continuation of my previous post on this issue.

I can’t find any confirmation that the fixed book pricing laws in place in France only apply to books in French. What I find is this explanation of the French law as of 2011:

lesechos.fr

C’est fait : la loi sur le prix unique des e-books a été définitivement adoptée par le Parlement français. Après le Sénat, l’Assemblée nationale a entériné mardi soir, par un vote quasi unanime, la proposition de loi UMP qui autorise un éditeur français à fixer le prix des ouvrages sous format numérique, comme c’est le cas pour le papier. Et cette règle s’appliquera aux libraires en ligne installés en France comme aux revendeurs installés à l’étranger comme Apple, Amazon ou Google. Sur le papier, le dispositif devrait donc réjouir les éditeurs, les libraires et aussi les distributeurs de produits culturels établis en France comme la FNAC qui redoutaient les distorsions de concurrence.

What this says according to my French with a confirmative (sort of) assist from Google translate, is that French PUBLISHERS set the price of their books and that all French booksellers and resellers must abide by that price. It also says that online sellers “settled in France” such as Amazon, Apple, and Google, are also subject to that law. So…. Assume for the moment that I am the publisher of my book on sale in France. I set my price and Apple, Amazon, and Google must comply with that price. Therefore (and I’m not a lawyer anywhere in the world) Apple should not be rounding up my prices in France.

Does this mean that I must give all vendors in France the same price? I see ambiguity on that point. The assumption of the law appears to be that publishers do not want their books discounted ever. There’s some indication that you could discount by no more than 5%.

When I look at Amazon.fr, I can see that the publisher for the French translation of Scandal is listed as J’ai Lu which is, indeed, the company that contracted for French rights to Scandal. My self-published books on Amazon.fr show the publisher as “cJewel Books” which is the imprint name I assigned to the ISBN and gave to Amazon as the publisher.

So…. I would seem to be a publisher in France for the purposes of the price law, which also suggests that I have been thinking about this in a slightly inaccurate way. In France, it’s not that all books must be the same price. It’s that publishers get to set the price and distributors and resellers, including Amazon, must sell the book for that price without discounts.

The law appears to be silent on whether I, as a publisher, can give different prices to different French vendors, because, I speculate, that state of affairs was not the point of the law. The law was intended to prevent discounts on the publisher-set price.

I have to wonder if this means Kobo is out of compliance with French law because it does not permit me, the publisher, to set the French price. I can only set the EU price.

Germany….

Germany has a law that is similar to France’s but also more than a century older. It, too, applies to publishers setting prices. According to this 2004 document from the Legal department of the German Publishers and Booksellers Association German Book Prices – PDF Publishers must provide the same price to all German vendors. From the document (which is in English):

The law is relatively short, as it consists of only 10 articles.
§ 1 reemphasizes that it is the overall intention of this law to protect books as a cultural good.

According to Art. 2 the law applies to all sorts of books, i.e. printed works. This includes not only printed books, but also music notes, cartography products like maps and globes as well as substitutions or reproductions of books.

According to Art. 5 the publisher or importer of a book shall determine the retail price of such book for the German territory. Foreign language books which are almost exclusively sold outside of Germany are not included in the law’s scope of application. (emphasis added)

Art. 3 obliges the vendor of the book to keep this determined price. Any retailer is forced by law to keep the fixed price. Consequently also the publisher himself has to keep its own fixed prices if he sells a book directly to customers. However, the law does not prevent the publisher to change such fixed prices at his discretion. He is free to adjust the applicable fixed prices according to market conditions or any other considerations he may have. (emphasis added)


According to Art. 8 publishers may cancel the fixed price if the edition of one particular book has been published for more than 18 months.

Note the two things I bolded there. Assuming the rules set out in this 2004 document have not changed, my English language version of, say, Scandal, would not be subject to this law. Maybe. Depends how you interpret “almost exclusively sold outside of Germany.” However, my German translations would be subject to this law.

Interesting. But none of this resolves the ambiguity. Nor does any of this solve the Nook problem, or, the Kobo one, or Apple rounding up.

 

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