Archives for category: Publishing in 2015

The acclaimed fantasy author, Charles de Lint, writes a column, “Books To Look For.” In the May-June Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, he reviews Black Wolf by Steph Shangraw, published by Prysmeat Books. Yes, that’s an independent publisher.

De Lint writes: “I’m fascinated with the proliferation of independently published books. But before I get into the whys and wherefores, let me first say that I don’t dislike offerings from what’s coming to be referred to as legacy publishing (i.e., books printed and distributed by the big publishing houses). I just think there’s room for everybody. The more voices writing their own stories there are, the more choices there are for readers. And a lot of voices from a lot of different sources are a good thing, especially since I’m not all that sure legacy publishers will be around that much longer.

“Or at least not in their current state. Ebooks haven’t completely overtaken paper books yet, but the writing seems to be on the wall. It’ll be especially interesting to see what happens as the coming generations of readers—more accustomed to reading everything on a screen, from texts to websites to magazines and books—become the main consumers.

“Which doesn’t mean I think paper books will disappear. I see them becoming more like physical pieces of art, lovingly designed and published by small presses that will celebrate the physical aspect of a book as well as what lies inside its pages. But the days seem to be numbered for the cheap mass market paperback—the kinds of books that most people read once, then dispose of. Ebooks fit that bill as well, but the delete button on your reader is a lot easier to utilize than having to box up a bunch of physical books and then haul them down to your local thrift shop.

“All of which certainly helps indie publishers, many of whom are of that generation cited above: they’ve matured with technology as a normal part of their lives. There’s a growing movement among these young authors—savvy with technology in a way that their elders aren’t—to do it all on one’s own.. . . .

“The authors who decide to go the indie route do so for a number of reasons other than the fact that a legacy publisher isn’t interested in their work. . . . Sometimes the subject matter is simply too edgy—too violent, perhaps, or dealing with sexual/political/social elements that don’t fit the philosophy or style of the legacy publisher.

“But sometimes. . . . it’s simply not the kind of book a legacy publisher would be interested in. The pacing doesn’t match that of titles currently doing well in the marketplace. There might be too much description, or the plot moves in odd directions. . . .

“If an editor did work on a book like this, they’d probably cut a lot of what some might consider unnecessary description, subplots, and backstory. They’d rearrange the plot elements into a more linear narrative, with more forward drive.

“Which makes me glad there’s now a ready outlet for authors with a more idiosyncratic way of telling a story.”

So there you have it, my friends. Do you think legacy publishing is going to disappear and that small presses will take over the business? What about ebooks? The latest statistic in Publisher’s Weekly is that ebook sales growth is down, but I don’t know how that compares to print sales. And we’re still talking about a three hundred million dollar market for ebooks.

A DIGEST Edition of May-June Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction is FREE on Amazon.com for readers with Kindles or Kindle Apps. This is NOT the full version of the magazine but it does contain my story “Teardrop.” You can also sign up to receive a monthly Digest edition—or not. Your choice! The Digest Edition is only available until June 15, so download yours today! http://www.amazon.com/dp/B004ZFZCKY/

From the author of Summer Of Love (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Summer of Love
is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.

The Gilded Age is on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Sony, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age
is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series,
is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is on US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo, Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories
is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India, and Mexico.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery)
is also on Amazon.com in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by Tom Robinson, worldwide Amazon.com links for Brazil, France, Germany, India, Italy, Japan, and Spain, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it,, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.
Thank you for your readership!

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We’ve got a wonderful little public library that’s a pleasant leafy walk away from home. Tom goes there nearly every week to borrow new magazines and books. We pay a lot of taxes to the city so, in a fair civic exchange, we save a bit of money in the cost of magazine subscriptions.

My mother always had a lot of magazines around and I learned to read with them. I love magazines to this day and regularly look over science magazines for research and ideas.

If the new issue is there, Tom will check out for me a writer’s magazine aimed squarely at aspiring writers. Ads for writers’ conventions, editors-for-hire, contests with entry fees, and other gimmicks to pick the unwary author’s pocket abound. But I glance the articles over in case I find any useful information and sometimes I do.

An article about “Partnership Publishing” from a recent issue caught my attention and I want to alert you, too. The article was written by a “literary agent” who “guides” aspiring authors into what I can only call yet another scam. One wonders who pays the agent’s commission—the unwary author who retains her or the “partnership publishers” she lines them up with. Maybe both.

Here’s how her spin starts out (and I quote):

“Authors embracing partnership publishing….are often tired of the hoops they have to jump through for the implied ‘stamp of legitimacy’ conferred by the traditional publishing industry.”

Okay, so are independent authors tired of the hoops. But independent authors can publish their books virtually for free if they’re willing to invest a little time in researching format, editing and proofing their own work, and learning how to put together a nice cover. None of those tasks are impossible or expensive.

The article goes on with the sales pitch: “Partnership publishers are modeled on traditional presses….Partnership presses typically publish their books in both print and e-formats and the traditional print distribution they offer is a big selling point as the self-pub world turns ever more digital.”

Hmm. Well, you as an independent author can also publish your book in print and ebook formats. But it’s quite true, independents still can’t compete with traditional publishers and traditional print distribution. This, as I’ve noted before in this blog, is the major hurdle for independent publishing. I haven’t seen it surmounted by anyone or any publisher yet other than a Big Five imprint.

Now the article tosses a sweetener into the mix: “While many review outlets are still trying to figure out how to classify partnership books, as of July 2014 Publishers Weekly began allowing partnership and other “hybrid” publishers to submit for reviews.”

Well, yes. Publishers Weekly also allows independently published books to be submitted for reviews—for $175 per six months. An established review venue like Book List will take your book for review—for a couple thousand bucks, including an ad. And on it goes. Everybody’s out to offer authors traditional services–for a price. It’s disgusting. And for the record, I haven’t seen any books published by partnership publishers on any bestseller list nor have I heard of any of these publishers prior to reading this article.

And now for clincher (I quote from the article again):

“Authors bear not only the cost of editing and production, but marketing and publicity…Partnership publishing is curated with a focus on quality and marketability. Partnership publishers—often staffed by seasoned book professionals, including acquisition editors and knowledgeable publishers at the helm—vet submissions just as traditional publishers do, culling those they feel have the greatest potential.”

Wait, wait. You have to pay to jump through those tired old hoops imposed by traditional publishers? And who are these acquisition editors? If they’re seasoned book professionals, why are they working for a scam like this instead of for a legitimate publisher?

And now for the sticker price:

“For some authors, the cost of partnership publishing can seem prohibitive…Authors who’ve selected pay-to-publish models have found it to be a $ 5,000–$ 10,000 investment, not including printing costs.”

Let me get this straight: one of these publishers is going to turn down an author willing and able to pony up ten grand to be “selected”? Are you kidding me?

So there you have it, my friends. If you simply want to write your memoirs and send copies to your family and friends, you can easily do that with some research into formatting and cover creation and do it yourself for free or a minimal cost. If you’ve got a compelling story to tell and want to present that to the world but feel you need help with editing, proofreading, and cover creation, you need only google people who will do any of those tasks for a price and, after researching them, hire someone yourself. You don’t need a middleman for that!

And if you want to become a professional writer, you need to educate yourself, read extensively, work hard, take your work out to professional markets, and take your chances.

As I’ve written in this blog many, many times, being a writer isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme!

Previous blog in this series:

State of the Biz: Publishing 2015, Part 1: Is Independent Publishing Dead? https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/12/08/state-of-the-biz-publishing-2015-part-1-is-independent-publishing-dead-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing 2015, Part 2: The Smashwords Speech: What Does It Mean? https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/12/19/state-of-the-biz-publishing-2015-part-2-the-smashwords-speech-what-does-it-mean-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Australia.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.
Thank you for your readership!

I picked up this speech from Publisher’s Weekly after receiving Mark Coker’s Smashwords blog distributed to authors, which puts a considerably gloomier spin on publishing in 2015. I’m quoting this verbatim with my comments interjected here and there:

PW: “Self-publishing isn’t going anywhere, and Smashwords’ Mark Coker recently took a look at how we got here.”

LM Comment: An unfortunate choice of words. I thought PW was going to say ‘Self-publishing is dying.’ What they meant to say is, ‘Self-publishing is here to stay.’

PW:The Self-Publishing Book Expo was held in New York City recently with Coker giving the keynote address. Several trends have led to the explosion of self-publishing, and many of those reasons have allowed Smashwords to grow into a leading distributor of e-books.

Here were Coker’s 10 trends in the self-publishing marketplace:

Coker: 1. Rise of ebooks
When Smashwords was incorporated in 2007, e-books accounted for one-half of one percent of the market, according to Coker. Amazon brought a lot of attention to the ebook market and it starting growing exponentially, Coker said.

“Today around 35 percent measured in dollar terms of the overall publishing market goes to ebooks and for some genres it’s even higher,” Coker said. “Print is not dead though. The growth of e-books has slowed. I think e-books will continue to grow of books purchased and read but at a much lower rate.”

LM Comment: ‘Measured in dollar terms.’ This means independent authors claim much higher percentage of revenues per title than traditional authors, which is quite true. As a percentage share of total books sold, however, ebooks remain at about ten percent of the total book market. I’ve noted that independent authors who also invest in print books (and it’s an out-of-pocket expense) sell about ten times more ebooks than of their print books. For traditional authors, this percentage skews just the other way, ten times more print books than ebooks. Why? Because independent print books still can’t begin to compete with the big distribution channels of traditional publishers.

Coker: “2. Trends in publishing tools
“The printing press is free and available to you, the knowledge is free and available to you,” Coker said “You have the knowledge and tools to publish like a professional and writers are taking advantages of these tools. It allows writers to go faster to market.”

LM Comment: Publishing ebooks is free with knowledge about formatting and such. But that’s not the same thing as ‘printing press,’ which implies print books and is not free at all.

Coker: “3. Self-publishing authors hitting best sellers lists
Self-published authors appear on every major ebook retailer’s best-sellers list, along with USA Today and the New York Times lists. Coker predicts this will only become the norm.

“By year 2020, 50 percent of the ebook market will be controlled by indie authors.”

LM Comment: But if expansion of the ebook market is slowing and the glut of free or 99 cent content is bloating, ‘50 percent of the ebook market’ is a misleading statistic. If the ebook market remains only ten percent of the total book market, that’s 50 percent of not very much.

Coker: “4. Stigma of self-publishing disappearing
“Six years ago, self-publishing was viewed as an option of last resort, it was viewed as a place for failed writers,” Coker said. “(Indie authors) realize now their books can be as a good or better than what is published by New York.”

With that, however, Coker notes the stigma of traditional publishing increases with much of it being self-inflicted. Examples include traditional publishers pricing ebooks too high, not publishing fast enough and aren’t giving authors enough control.

LM Comment: This is an interesting twist often employed by propagandists—to conflate or equate a single term in two different contexts without noting the difference. Confusing? I think so. He was talking about the “stigma” of indies, then switches to the “stigma” of traditionals. Traditional publishing has no stigma. The business is riddled with serious problems but I doubt anyone would say traditional publishing has a stigma.

Coker: “5. Traditional publishers don’t yet understand the indie author movement
A shining example was Pearson Penguin buying Author Solutions, a self-publishing company that has exploited authors.

“This acquisition confirmed the worst fear of many authors that their publishers don’t care about them,” Coker said. “I know that’s not true. I met so many people in the publishing industry. Publishers do care about authors, they care about people but this was a big mistake that they made, getting into vanity publishing.

“It was a mistake for a publisher to take money from a writer; they should never take money from a writer. The money should flow from readers to publishers to writers and not the other way around.”

LM Comment: Amen to this. In the next blog, I’ll tell you about what I’ve learned about “Partnership Publishing.” But here’s the first warning flag—if anyone approaches you as an author to engage in “partnership publishing,” check your handbag and pockets to make sure you’ve still got your wallet and run away. Fast.

Coker: “6. Rise of e-books subscription services
Oyster and Scribd are the fastest growing distribution channels at Smashwords.

LM Comment: My Smashwords titles have done well at Oyster and Scribd. But then, in July 2014, along came Amazon.com with Kindle Unlimited, a subscription service that offers readers free books, and purports to pay authors a percentage from a “fund” for every free borrow. Please see the previous blog in this series for my description of the serious detriment to authors resulting from KU.

Coker: “7. Amazon vs. Hachette
A deal was recently reached between Amazon and Hachette.

“It looks like Hachette prevailed with the ability to control ebooks, but this dispute revealed a lot of ugliness in the industry,” Coker said. “It created a lot of division. We saw authors attacking authors with people who took sides. It was unfortunate it devolved into that, but the dispute gave many publishers insight into Amazon’s strategy.”

Coker notes that Amazon is in the business of controlling its suppliers. Amazon views books as commodities and puts “the squeeze” on suppliers so they can offer consumers lower prices.

“Publishers don’t like being treated they are selling a commodity. This isn’t a product that could be outsourced to China,” Coker said. “This is a product that is created by writers like yourselves.”

Amazon will also put a large emphasis on its own books under its publishing umbrella.

“They have the right to decide what books they are going promote and what they have shown is that they are going to give a merchandising and discovery advantage to books that are published under Amazon and nowhere else,” Coker said. “Exclusivity is going to be core for them going forward.”

LM Comment: One of the most serious problems with traditional publishing is that they DO treat books like widgets. If a book doesn’t sell what they feel is an adequate number in a short period of time, the book is yanked out of print, and the author can’t do a thing about it. So while it’s quite true no business can outsource books, especially fiction, to China, the notion that traditional publishers aren’t treating books as a commodity is laughable. That’s why the independent publishing revolution arose in the first place, driven by many traditional authors like yours truly whose books were not treated well by traditional publishers.

Coker: “8. E-books going global
Last year, 45 percent of sales through Apple iBooks came from outside of the U.S. (on Smashwords).

LM Comment: Hooray for worldwide readers! But the huge question remains, how does an author become visible in media blizzard?

Coker: “9. Self-publishing leading to a tsunami of low quality books, but they are invisible
“Readers don’t respond to poor quality books,” Coker said. “The flip side is that it’s leading to tsunami of high quality books and enables more high quality books to be published like never before. That’s why self-publishing is so great, by allowing everything to be published, amazing works of brilliance are allowed to be published.”

LM Comment: Sadly, no they’re not invisible. They’re everywhere.

Coker: “10. For authors, everything gets tougher from here on out
“Like cobwebs of stainless steel, ebooks are immortal,” Coker said. “They will always be on the shelf. They will never be out of print. This is both good and bad. Self-published means you can earn you annuities for the rest of your life, but also means more competition, and the competition is going to get fiercer and fiercer every single year.”

Coker notes that supply of books will likely surpass the amount of people available to read them all. Therefore, it will make the road a bit more difficult even for those seeking the traditional route.

“For authors perusing traditional paths, lower advances, fewer publishers and fewer agents,” Coker said. “And for all authors it means it’s going to be tough to stand out.”

However, Coker’s own story about having to borrow money to keep Smashwords afloat in the beginning led to his last point to the authors at the Self-Publishing Book Expo.

“This is not the time to quit. This is the time to start,” he said. “Even though the future is challenging, there has never been a better time to publish. You now have access to a global market of millions of readers who are looking to discover the very best books.”

So there you have it, my friends. Coker’s speech to an independent publishing convention was quite different from the 2015 predictions blog he sent to Smashwords authors and the last point of the speech is the gist of the State of the Biz in 2015. Times are tough, there’s a hustler born every minute, and packagers and marketers and middlepersons and gatekeepers are scheming like mad how to get the talent’s money.

To me, this statement of Coker’s is the most salient: “It’s a mistake for a publisher to take money from a writer; they should never take money from a writer. The money should flow from readers to publishers to writers and not the other way around.”

In the next few blogs in this series, I’ll tell you what I’ve learned about “partnership publishing” and about true “hybrid publishing.”

Previous blog in this series:

State of the Biz: Publishing 2015, Part 1: Is Independent Publishing Dead? https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/12/08/state-of-the-biz-publishing-2015-part-1-is-independent-publishing-dead-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Australia.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

If you enjoy a title, please “Like” it, add five stars, write a review on the site where you bought it, Tweet it, blog it, post it, and share the word with your family and friends.

Your participation really matters.
Thank you for your readership!

Now that we’re winding down 2014, it’s time to talk about 2015. Several trends have been hitting the publishing business since July of this year and, to be frank, they’re not good. And only going to get worse in the new year.

Just remember, independent publishing—ebooks, in particular—hit the publishing business like a tsunami a mere four and a half years ago, in 2010. As a traditionally published author with a backlist that the Big Publisher just wouldn’t keep in print—like 90 or 95 percent of other traditionally published authors including some big names—the ebook revolution presented a huge opportunity to get worthy titles available again to long-time readers and new readers.

Further, with the huge contractions and distortions in Traditional Big Publishing, the ebook further provided the opportunity to introduce new works without the interference and parasitism of literary agents and the Big Publishers themselves.

I’ve explored at length the clear strength of the numbers and the flow of income for an individual ebook, comparing independent publishing versus traditional publishing. Please see my earlier blogs on this site, “Crunching the Publishing Numbers, Parts 1 through 4.”

Independent publishing of a print book presents a much gloomier picture. My research has shown a huge disconnect between independently published ebooks and the print books (even for a goodly number of ebooks sold, print books lag behind by orders of magnitude), whereas traditionally published print and ebooks tend to skew in just the opposite direction (eight times the number of print books sold for every ebook).

Further, except in the case of independent ebooks/print books with large amounts of capital to fund promotion and marketing ($100,000 in the case of Fifty Shades of Grey, according to some reports), most independent publishers and authors cannot begin to match the marketing power of Traditional Publishers.

So what happened in July, 2014 to make matters worse for independent authors?

Let me preface what I’m about to say with this: I really appreciate Amazon.com. They were in the forefront of making ebook publishing effective and easy for independent authors. They went the mile (as has Smashwords) with explaining what you needed to do to upload your book. They’ve vastly improved their uploading system, cover uploading system, and reporting of revenues.

That said, in July Amazon.com launched Kindle Unlimited, automatically converting all Kindle Select “free” books to the Unlimited program. This placed close to 50,000 “free” books for readers to choose from.

I say “free” because, behind the scenes, Amazon offers authors a royalty or stipend for each borrowed book, with the amount paid out of a “fund.”

I’m not going to explain how Select and Unlimited work here, since all that information is on Amazon.

But here’s what happened, and I’m seeing reports all over the Internet, beginning with Smashword’s most recent blog by founder Mark Coker.

Authors who opt into Select/Unlimited must remove their books from any other retailer and list exclusively with Amazon. Since those authors must take whatever Amazon decides to pay out to them (contrasting sharply with your ability to specify your sales price outside of the Select/Unlimited program) and since such a huge number of authors decided to opt into the system (thus reducing the per-unit share of the “fund”), I’ve seen authors reporting a 75% decline in revenues since July, 2014.

And what about authors like me who have opted to retain control of their books, the markets where they list them, and their prices? We, too, have seen a reduction in revenues, in many cases by 50—70%. Why? Because of the glut of free ebooks.

But just remember, “free” doesn’t equal “quality.” Will readers start to realize the distinction after getting an eyeful of “free” ebooks?

We can only hope. But as the “Fifty Shades” phenom taught everyone, readers like what they like sometimes regardless of conventionally regarded standards of quality.

So there you have it, my friends. If you thought independent publishing as an amateur writer or even as a dedicated, well-educated professional writer of something other than fiction, be advised: publishing is not (and never has been) a get-rich-quick scheme. It will take some real ingenuity to make your publishing endeavors work in 2015.

I have some ideas about that. Stay tuned.

From the author of Summer Of Love, A Time Travel (a Philip K. Dick Award Finalist and San Francisco Chronicle Recommended Book) on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo.
Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Australia..

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Gilded Age, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, “Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy,” on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords.
The Garden of Abracadabra, Volume 1 of the Abracadabra Series, is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four books. On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories, five-star rated, “A fantastic collection,” on Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony.
Strange Ladies: 7 Stories is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story on Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo;
My Charlotte: Patty’s Story is also on Amazon.com worldwide in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and Mexico.

Visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable pet pictures, forthcoming projects, fine art and bespoke jewelry by my husband Tom Robinson, worldwide links, and more!

And on Lisa Mason’s Blog, on my Facebook Author Page, on my Facebook Profile Page, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on LinkedIn, on Twitter at @lisaSmason, at Smashwords, at Apple, at Kobo, at Sony, and at Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.

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