Archives for posts with tag: Publishing Business

These days all the retailers require a navigational Table of Contents in your ebook, so if you’re uploading a new book, updating an edited version of your previously published book, adding new titles and links to your list, or adding new reviews, you’ll need to bite this particular bullet.

I must tell you, I resisted the new functionality at first. I argued against it. “Readers can already bookmark their ebooks in their ereaders, why should I add another layer of complexity?” And “This is fiction, not a textbook in which the reader may want to skip around to various chapters.”

Forget about arguing with Apple. “We require it, and that’s that,” they said. So does everyone else.

Smashwords offers a free video you can download that walks you through how to do it. I didn’t download it. After my laptop got seriously hacked last summer, I download as little as possible from the Internet.

And I don’t know about you, but my eyes glaze over reading Help on Microsoft Word. Plus, I found a major instance in which the Help didn’t provide the latest or the easiest information. So I figured out how to do this functionality myself.

Once I’d worked out the kinks, I really love the Navigational Table of Contents. It turns out to be a helpful tool in a reader’s ebook and makes your presentation more professional. It’s not difficult, just a bit time-consuming

First things first.

After your front matter page (book title, author, the usual disclaimer language, date of publication), insert a page and set up your Table of Contents. I think centering this looks best.

Type “Table of Contents,” then the headings, typically “Praise for Books by You,” “Contents of Your Book,” “About You the Author,” and “Books by You,” and any other special features your book may contain that you’d like a reader to jump to, such as a “Dedication,” “A Introductory Poem or Quotation,” or a “List of Sources.”

Shaken has a List of Sources, for example, because I did a lot research about earthquakes for that short novel (expanded from a novelette, “Deus Ex Machina, published in Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine). Same for The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria, in this case research about women Surrealist artists in Mexico, 1941.

But keep your TOC simple, with a bare bones of headings. You don’t want to overwhelm the reader on the second page of the ebook! Tip: If your ebook is divided into a few Parts, I think the Part titles work well in the Table of Contents. The Garden of Abracadabra is divided into three titled Parts, with chapters labeled only with numbers. Tesla, A Worthy of His Time: A Screenplay has five titled Acts.

That’s a small enough number of headings in addition to the basics not to overwhelm. Be sure to type the exact title of the Part, spelled correctly.

Tip: What if your book has only chapters with numbers and not titles? I’ve seen some TOCs in which the author has dutifully listed and centered the chapter numbers and linked to each. You’re under no obligation to list each and every numbered chapter, especially if the chapters have no chapter titles. It looks silly and clutters up the beginning of your ebook. The retailers don’t require it.

What to do? Set up your TOC as suggested above, including a heading, “Title of Your Book.” Then insert “Title of Your Book” on the first page of text above the first chapter, Bookmark and Hyperlink it as set forth below, and you’re good to go.

Tip: What if your book has numerous parts and chapters with titles?

Do not put them in your TOC.

Instead, link “Contents of Your Book” in your TOC to your Contents page with Part numbers and titles, and Chapter number and titles. Then, on the Contents page, you may Bookmark and Hyperlink each part or each part and chapter, if you wish.

Summer of Love has seven parts and twenty-one chapters. The Gilded Age has numerous parts and twenty chapters. I Bookmarked and Hyperlinked everything on a Contents page..

Celestial Girl, The Omnibus Edition (A Lily Modjeska Mystery) includes all four Books in the miniseries and maybe a hundred chapters altogether. I Bookmarked and Hyperlinked only the Books and left the chapters alone.

Next, the techie part.

This is for those of you who work with MS Word and have a .doc file for your ebook. This is the Gold Standard, uploadable on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Smashwords, which ships to Apple, Kobo, and Sony.

[If you’re working on an Apple device, I can’t help you.]

Step One: Bookmarking 1: Do this first. Select Table of Contents on your TOC page. On the top toolbar, click Insert. You will see the menu for various Inserts. In the middle of the toolbar, find Hyperlink and Bookmark.

Click on Bookmark. You will see a menu cuing you to name the Bookmark and an Add, Delete, Cancel list to the right.

Always start the Bookmark with a capital letter. No punctuation, no spaces, but you can capitalize letters within so you can easily identify the Bookmark when you go to Hyperlink to it.

Example: The first chapter in Summer of Love is “She’s Leaving Home”. The Bookmark for the chapter is “ShesLeavingHome”.

The menu will then cue you to Add.

Since we’re still on the Table of Contents heading on the TOC page, type in TOC and Add it. The Bookmark must always be TOC.

Tip: Be sure to Bookmark TOC properly. Neither the Smashwords Style Manual, the Amazon format guide, nor the MS Word Help state this!

When I uploaded my first updated ebook on Amazon, I got a Quality Notification stating that the GoTo function in the ebook wasn’t functioning. The Quality Team sent me a link to hellishly complicated MS Word instructions on an automated Table of Contents functionality. The Instructions, when I printed them out, were 6 pages long!

In fact, Hyperlink-Bookmark is simplicity itself, and I sent them an email to that effect. Some kind soul replied that all I needed to do was Bookmark the Table of Contents as TOC.

I really doubt the automated Table of Contents works across the many platforms you need to upload your ebook to. Don’t go there.

Step Two: Bookmarking 2: Next, you want to move on through your ebook and find each heading you want to Bookmark. That would be “Praise for Books by You,” “Contents of Your Book,” “About You the Author,” “Books by You,” and any special features your ebook offers, Part titles and Chapter titles. You want to do this first to make sure you match the Bookmark to the heading.

Select the text, Click Insert, Go to Bookmark, type in the Bookmark name, and click Add.

Tip: If, on the Bookmark menu, you see a little box to the left checked “Hidden bookmarks,” it means MS Word, in its mysterious way, has generated a line of code that will interfere with your legitimate Bookmarks. (Why oh why does Word do that?) Click a couple of times on “Hidden bookmarks,” not the checkbox, and you will see in your list of Bookmarks, one or more bookmarks beginning with _. Delete those bad boys! Delete them all!

Step Three: Hyperlinking: This is the fun part.

Go back to your Table of Contents page. Select a heading under Table of Contents and click on Hyperlink. You will get the Hyperlink menu. Click on Place in this Document to the left of the menu and–lo!–your list of Bookmarks will appear.

In the “Text to Display” box at the top, the selected heading should appear, but if it doesn’t, carefully type it in. Then find the Bookmark name you’ve given for the place in your book, click on it, add it, and save your file. You’re done!

Almost done.

Tip: Be sure to test each Hyperlink. Select the text, left click on it or click plus Ctrl, and MS Word should zoom you to the right spot.

Another tip: I have three different Books by Lisa Mason for each of the main retailers with different links and specialized text. I paste each in depending on the version of the ebook. When I do that, though, the Books by Lisa Mason Bookmark gets nullified and I have to reBookmark and reHyperlink it to make it work.

So there you have it, my friends. Creating a navigational Table of Contents in your ebook takes a little extra time—which none of us has!—but you’ve got to do it. I hope my trials and errors will help make the task a little easier for you.

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. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. NOW BACK IN PRINT at https://www.createspace.com/7257603 or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Summer-Love-Travel-Lisa-Mason/dp/1548106119/

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel (a New York Times Notable Book and New York Public Library Recommended Book). On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. NOW BACK IN PRINT at https://www.createspace.com/7511748 or on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/Gilded-Age-Time-Travel/dp/1975853172/

One Day in the Life of Alexa. On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. NOW IN PRINT on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/One-Life-Alexa-Lisa-Mason/dp/1546783091 or direct from the Printer: https://www.createspace.com/7181096

The Garden of Abracadabra (“Fun and enjoyable urban fantasy . . . I want to read more!) On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. NOW IN PRINT! ORDER at https://www.createspace.com/title/7675783 and on Amazon at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1978148291/

Arachne (a Locus Bestseller). On US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. On Kindle in France Kindle, Germany Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Spain Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Brazil Kindle, India Kindle, and Japan Kindle. SOON BACK IN PRINT.

Cyberweb (sequel to Arachne). is on US Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Brazil Kindle, France Kindle, Germany Kindle, India Kindle, Italy Kindle, Japan Kindle, Mexico Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, and Spain Kindle. SOON BACK IN PRINT.

Strange Ladies: 7 Stories (“A must-read collection—The San Francisco Review of Books). On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands. SOON IN PRINT!

Celestial Girl, A Lily Modjeska Mystery (Five stars) On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Shaken On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Hummers On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Daughter of the Tao On US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in AustraliaFrance, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

Every Mystery Unexplained On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Tomorrow’s Child On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, India, Mexico, and Netherlands.

The Sixty-third Anniversary of Hysteria On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

U F uh-O On BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

Tesla, A Screenplay On US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, BarnesandNoble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on Kindle in Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, and India.

My Charlotte: Patty’s Story On Barnes and Noble, US Kindle, UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, and Kobo. On Kindle in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, Netherlands, and Mexico. SOON IN PRINT!

“Illyria, My Love” is on US Kindle, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, and Smashwords. Also on UK Kindle, Canada Kindle, Australia Kindle, Germany Kindle, France Kindle, Spain Kindle, Italy Kindle, Netherlands Kindle, Japan Kindle, Brazil Kindle, Mexico Kindle, and India Kindle.

Please visit me at Lisa Mason’s Official Website for all my books, ebooks, stories, and screenplays, reviews, interviews, and blogs, adorable cat pictures, forthcoming works, 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, 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!

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!

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!

In October, 2013 I started a series of conversations with my acquaintance, the author Elle Emerson. I don’t have the link handy, but if you scroll back on WordPress to October 19, 2013, you’ll find our first conversation, which I entitled “Tales of Woe.”

Twenty years ago, Ms. Emerson began publishing stories in professional magazines and then books with two of the Big Five Publishers. She got good reviews, award nominations, and even a New York Times Notable Book designation.

But she didn’t get enough of a readership in a short enough timeframe and the Big Publishers crushed her career.

She knows a lot and has experienced a lot and I wanted to interview her and set out our conversations here.

I’ve been after her for months to tell me more. I regret to tell you she just called me and has declined to proceed further.

When I asked her why, she said, “Plenty of authors are writing about the problems with traditional publishing. The New York Times recently ran an article by a successful author who explained why she’s self-publishing her new book. Another author has written extensively in her blog about her problems. I don’t want to go there. However legitimate, these types of confessions sound like complaining. And I don’t see how it does anyone any good. If you’re traditionally published, you already know the score. If you’re not, you’ll probably never have to deal with it.” She laughed. “You’ll have to deal with self-publishing.”

Well, okay. Could she summarize her experiences?

“Sure,” she said. “Arrogant, careless, incompetent, lazy, disloyal literary agents.” [Note: Ms. Emerson has hired and fired five big agents.] “And arrogant, careless, incompetent, lazy, disloyal book editors.”

Could she give me some examples?

“Okay,” she said. “An editor who is no longer in publishing at all went off on his vacation to Italy after neglecting to include my Author’s Bio in the first edition of what was my biggest book. The book had to launch without it. This same editor withheld the payment of an advance after I had turned in my book. The editor had approved the book and was required under contract to pay me. But he stalled anyway as sort of a passive=aggressive power move even though my husband had just had surgery and we really needed the money. I had to get down on my hands and knees and beg for money I was legally and promptly owed.”

Wow. I was starting to get the picture. I should add, Ms. Emerson is an attractive, positive, cooperative, brilliant, business-savvy woman, as well as being talented and dedicated.

I was intrigued by her last words in our October interview. She had said: “I’ve been abused for years by the publishing business. The publishing business is just like a toxic parent.” What did she mean by that?

“If you’re a child with a toxic parent, you are totally dominated by that parent,” she said. “The parent controls your time, your activities, and your means of support. S/he demands that you meet every requirement the parent sets out, demands you abide by the parent’s rules, demands your loyalty and your love. In return, the parent doesn’t have to do anything. The parent can be cruel, withholding, manipulative, and careless, and you the child can’t do anything about it.”

“So traditional publishing is like that?” I said. I must tell you, she was making me nervous.

“You got it,” she said.

“What about independent publishing?” I wanted her opinion on this.

“It’s a time-consuming and expensive hobby that may or may not enable you to make a tiny living,” she said with a laugh. “I think there’s a lot of luck involved along with the hard work.”

So there you have it, my friends. “I have to get on with my life,” Ms. Emerson told me and ended the call. So do we all. I thanked her and said goodbye.

Previous Blogs in this Series:

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 1: Introduction https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/03/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-1-introduction-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 2: Who’s Reading? https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/07/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-2-whos-reading-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 3: The Shady Case of Fifty Shades https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/17/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-3-the-shady-case-of-fifty-shades-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 4: The Comet and the Long Tail Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-4-the-comet-and-the-long-tail-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 5: Authors’ Market Share Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/02/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-5-authors-market-share-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 6: Ebooks Versus Print Books Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-6-ebooks-versus-print-books-lisa-mason-sfwapro

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 7: Unlimited or Not Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/08/08/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-7-unlimited-or-not-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 8: Print Books in 2013 Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/08/13/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-8-print-books-in-2013-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 9: Amazon Vs Hatchett Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/08/16/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-9-amazon-vs-hatchett-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, Kobo, and Sony. Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, 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, Sony, 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, Kobo, and Sony; 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, 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!

No comment.

Seriously, if you have the time and inclination to follow this latest crisis in publishing, you only need to Google the title above to find ten thousand opinions and renditions of it.

One of the most absurd developments is multi-billion-dollar corporations soliciting the support of the people typically lowest and most powerless on their totem power—the Authors.

“What?” you say. “Aren’t writers the source of the content for both these corporations? Without authors, would they have any business to run?”

That’s right. But unless you as an author become like Stephenie Meyer or Suzanne Collins, you are one of thousands to a traditional publisher. Meaning, as I’ve detailed in this Blog Series and in the Crunching the Numbers Blog Series, They Don’t Care.

And Amazon? Amazon—and Smashwords, less so Barnes and Noble—has always been pro-author, especially independent authors. I, among many, am grateful for the opportunity to revitalize my backlist, find new readers, and even develop new projects without the interference of literary agents and editors.

One positive development in the dispute? Sensitive to the charge that Amazon offers “pre-orders” to traditional publishers but not to independent publishers, Amazon has just this week introduced a “pre-order” functionality for independent publishers and authors. (That’s another topic. Smashwords offers pre-orders, too.  I haven’t had a new title since the strategy became available, so I don’t have experience with it yet. When I do, I’ll let you know how it works and whether it works.)

If Amazon engages in business practices that Hatchett and its authors disapprove of, we can all come to our judgment about that. I personally have no business with Hatchett at the moment.

One issue that Amazon has pursued in the litigation is that Hatchett charges too much for its e-books. Amazon has sounded a call for lower ebook prices from traditional publishers.

I strenuously object. That independent publishers and authors can offer ebooks at prices much lower than traditional publishers is our one main competitive advantage. I can offer you a quality acclaimed work like Summer of Love for $ 7.99 instead of $ 14.99. I applaud Hatchett charging $ 14.99 and up for its ebooks. Go for it.

I’ve been personally solicited to sign petitions by both corporations and have declined to participate in either.

So there you have it, my friends. What authors have to say will mostly likely amount to little, if nothing. Stay informed, but don’t lose any sleep over this dispute.

Previous Blogs in this Series:

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 1: Introduction https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/03/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-1-introduction-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 2: Who’s Reading? https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/07/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-2-whos-reading-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 3: The Shady Case of Fifty Shades https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/17/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-3-the-shady-case-of-fifty-shades-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 4: The Comet and the Long Tail Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-4-the-comet-and-the-long-tail-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 5: Authors’ Market Share Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/02/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-5-authors-market-share-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 6: Ebooks Versus Print Books Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-6-ebooks-versus-print-books-lisa-mason-sfwapro

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 7: Unlimited or Not Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/08/08/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-7-unlimited-or-not-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 8: Print Books in 2013 Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/08/13/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-8-print-books-in-2013-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, Kobo, and Sony. Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, 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, Sony, 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, Kobo, and Sony; 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, 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!

This just in from Publisher’s Weekly:

“Bowker released its estimates of print book production for 2013, noting that what they call “traditional” output–which includes self-publishers like CreateSpace, but excludes public domain POD factories like BiblioBazaar — dipped 2 percent from 309,957 titles in 2012 to a projected 304,912 titles in 2013. Despite the decline as compared to the previous year (and general growth in the several years before then) Bowker said the result “points to a relatively stable market for print works despite competition from e-books.”

The public domain business (or what Bowker refers to as “nontraditional” titles) declined far more significantly, to 1,108,183 titles, a decrease of 46 percent from its production of 2,042,840 titles in 2012. It’s important to remember, as we have reminded in the past, that Bowker’s official stats continue to measure only books issued in print form (including print on demand). They still do not tabulate counts for ebooks issued during the year, so the numbers clearly under-represent the actual amount of new volumes coming to market.

Among “traditional” titles, fiction remains the largest single category with 50,000 titles, a slight increase from the previous year, with the broad listing of juveniles second at 33,000 titles, followed by sociology/economics at 29,300 titles.”

What does that mean for you and me?

It’s pretty dire. If you’re a traditionally published author, expect advances, print runs, and publishers’ commitment to you to decline. Get ready to have your series discontinued. I’m sorry to say it, but that’s the way publishing (or any business) is. When sales decline, expenses are cut.

If you’re an independently published author and considering financing a print-on-demand print book, think again. If you don’t know HTML, you’ll have to hire someone who does. If you use CreateSpace, the only place you’ll be able to distribute your books is on Amazon.com, which owns CreateSpace. Not other on-line retailer will list your book (hint: they hate Amazon.com). If you actually do a print run, most independent bookstores won’t stock your book.

As I cautioned you in State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 6: Ebooks Versus Print Books, print books are a very risky business for you.

So there you have it, my friends. Just saying.

Previous Blogs in this Series:

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 1: Introduction https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/03/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-1-introduction-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 2: Who’s Reading? https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/07/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-2-whos-reading-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 3: The Shady Case of Fifty Shades https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/17/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-3-the-shady-case-of-fifty-shades-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 4: The Comet and the Long Tail Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.wordpress.com/2014/05/27/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-4-the-comet-and-the-long-tail-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 5: Authors’ Market Share Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/02/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-5-authors-market-share-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 6: Ebooks Versus Print Books Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/07/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-6-ebooks-versus-print-books-lisa-mason-sfwapro

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 7: Unlimited or Not Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/08/08/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-7-unlimited-or-not-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, Kobo, and Sony. Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, 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, Sony, 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, Kobo, and Sony; 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, 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!

Book Expo America was held in New York City last week. The biggest topic of discussion was the Hatchett Book Group’s landmark dispute with Amazon regarding pricing and the percentage of authors’ sales prices a publisher and a retailer are entitled to take. This is book business, folks. And pertinent to my State of the Biz Series, so I’m quoting in full here:

ABA (American Booksellers Association) CEO Oren Teicher addressed the organization at their annual membership meeting on Thursday afternoon in an enthusiastic vein: “I could not be more pleased to be able to reiterate – the indie bookstore resurgence has continued.”

At the same time, he noted how “the aggressive discounting and strong-arm tactics of the dominant online retailer continue to cause havoc. Its recent bullying assault of a major publisher is just the latest example of a unilateral and shortsighted strategy. To put it plainly: the book industry is being held hostage by a company far more interested in selling flat screen TV’s, diapers, and groceries. It is clear they are prepared to sacrifice a diverse publishing ecosystem to achieve retail dominance. That’s not good for anyone.”

Without providing exact figures, Teicher acknowledged that ABA members overall experienced a modest sales decline in 2013 after a strong 2012. His phrase was, “After a year of robust sales growth in 2012, the indie channel held on to the lion’s share of those gains in 2013.” The opening of 2014 was also soft, due in part to the weather, but “after a truly brutal winter that depressed retail sales nationwide… sales in the second quarter have recovered.” Teicher said, “There’s every reason to believe that 2014 will be another year of solid sales for the indie channel.”

He celebrated the gains in association members and member store locations announced informally through the AP, and celebrated how “a number of established stores are expanding and opening in new locations, and a whole new generation of younger booksellers are continuing to join our ranks.” Teicher also noted “what may be the most significant change,” which is the recent pattern in which “many veteran store owners who have put their blood, sweat, and tears into building successful businesses are finding buyers for their businesses.” He added, “Stores that just a few years ago might very well have closed are now beginning a new chapters of innovation and growth.”

Teicher also announced that the ABA has signed a new seven-year agreement with Reed “to continue our partnership at BookExpo America.” He noted, “Our ongoing co-sponsorship of BEA with Reed is based on a shared commitment to providing indie booksellers with the best possible experience – and value – by attending a large national event such as this.”

At the same time, Teicher acknowledged “there are also a significant number of threats to indie bookselling.” Among them, “Congressional gridlock seemingly has delayed progress on national e-fairness sales tax legislation and maintaining the sensible and needed reformations of the Senate’s USA Freedom Act.” Apparently the ABA also has misgivings about minimum wage legislation, which “may soon pose very difficult business decisions for members as they work to maintain the business profits necessary to pay an equitable wage.”

Teicher closed by saying, “While I do not ever under-estimate the challenges we face, by working together, I remain optimistic and confident that the best days of independent bookselling are ahead.”

So there you have it, my friends. The spirit of freedom and independence lives on in the bookselling world, taxes and corporate greed notwithstanding. I, for one, am very glad to see it!

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, Kobo, and Sony. Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, 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, on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, 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, Kobo, and Sony; 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 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, 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!

I’m reposting this because it fits in with my State of the Biz Series.

The following is a spoof, my friends, meant to send up the absurdities of Big Publishing’s marketing strategies. Apparently this hit so close to home, though, that when I posted it on Facebook back in August 2013, people actually took it seriously and made many exasperated comments. If you’re an author, I sincerely hope you get a chuckle, not a fit of weeping.

Here ‘tis:

As we all know, Big Publishing (BP) categorizes fiction according to the age of the main characters, who are meant to appeal to readers of the same age since everyone is so self-centered these days they only want to read about characters just like them (only much, much better or much, much worse). BP formulates its book marketing strategy according to these categories so you, the author, ignore them at your peril.

BP begins with Picture Books aimed at 3—5.5 years old (YO) with goofy illustrations that look as if they could have been drawn by a slightly slow 5 YO but in fact are drawn by cunning adults. BP moves on to Middle Grade, which has trended out to New Middle Grade (5.5—8). Middle Middle Grade (8—10), and Old Middle Grade (10—12.5).

From there BP leaps into the now somewhat dated but still hot Young Adult (YA), subdividing the category into Experimenting With Orgasms New Young Adult (12.5—14.5), Madly In Love With A Jerk Middle Young Adult (14.5—16.5), and Older and Wiser Old Young Adult (16.5—18.5), including the important subcategory Learning Archery, Watch Out Jerk Old Young Adult.

Now comes the hotter than hot, not dated yet but getting there fast, category New Adult (NA). BP is scrambling to subdivide NA into I’m So Troubled New New Adult (18.5—20.5), Crap, I’m Getting Old Middle New Adult (20.5—23.5), and I’m Supposed To Be Mature But I Still Ride A Skateboard Old New Adult (23.5—29.5).

The marketing demographic get dicey with I Felt Like Killing Myself When I Turned Thirty New-Thirtysomething Adult (29.5—32.5), Damn I Hate This Job Middle-Thirtysomething Adult (32.5—35.5), and I’m Divorcing That Jerk Old Thirtysomething Adult (35.5—39.5).

Dicier still are the Fortysomething Books–I Got Bifocals and My First Nose Ring New Forty (39.5—42.5), Having My Last Fling Middle Forty (42.5—46.5), and Having a Midlife Crisis Old Forty (46.5—49.5).

BP is puzzled how to market New Fifty (49.5—52.5) (dark, problematic downers), Mom Died And Left Me A Bunch Of Bills Middle Fifty (52.5—56.5). More saleable is the Still Flirty At Fifty Old Fifty Books (56.5—59.5).

It remains to be seen whether the readership will still be alive and solvent to buy I’m Still A Sixties Hippie at Sixty New Sixty books (59.5—62.5), let alone I Can’t Afford to Retire Middle Sixty books (62.5—65.5) or One Foot in the Grave Old Sixty books (65.5—69.5).

Book marketing is so difficult!

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, Kobo, and Sony. Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, 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, Sony, 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. Five-star rated! On Nook, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Smashwords, Apple, Kobo, and Sony; 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 pro and reader reviews, 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, 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!

I received this blog from Smashwords today, detailing developments in the lawsuit between Amazon.com and the Hachette Book Group. The references to “I” below are to the blog’s author, Mark Coker, the founder of Smashwords. The links are his, as well.

The news is pertinent to my State of the Biz Series and of such importance, I’m reproducing it here:

“Amazon and Hachette Book Group are locked in an epic battle over the future of ebook publishing. The outcome of this dispute will have permanent ramifications for publishers and indie authors alike.

On one side you have Hachette, the fourth largest trade book publisher. Hachette earns over 1/3 of its US sales from ebooks. Hachette wants agency terms for its books. Hachette wants to control the list price of its books and earn 70% list from each sale. Smashwords announced agency terms with our retail partners in 2010.

On the other side is Amazon, a fierce opponent to agency pricing. Amazon wants the ability to discount books, and to enable greater discounting Amazon wants a larger percentage of the publisher’s pie. A story out Friday by Jeffrey Trachtenburg of the Wall Street Journal confirms Amazon is seeking to reduce the percentage paid to publishers. Amazon is seeking to weaken or abolish the agency model.

This is also the view of Andrew Albanese of Publishers Weekly, who in his March 16 story, Will the Agency Model Survive? speculated that the future of agency hangs in the balance. As Albanese writes in his piece, the timing of the Amazon/Hachette dispute is not coincidental.

One likely reason (for the current timing of the dispute) is that when the publishers’ 2012 consent decrees in the e-book price-fixing case begin to expire this fall, so too will Amazon’s ability to discount e-books. The parties don’t comment on specific negotiations (and neither Hachette or Amazon will comment directly on the current dispute or ongoing talks). But it is fair to say that Amazon officials likely see the current negotiations as their best chance to push for the end of agency pricing for e-books, and are apparently prepared to bring to bear all the pressure they can on publishers—whether on the Kindle side, or print. The question is, will the major publishers stick together to keep agency pricing for e-books?

The dispute is generating some spectacular fireworks. It’s also confirming the suspicions of Amazon’s worst critics. In an attempt to force Hachette to capitulate, Amazon is employing a shock and awe campaign of scorched earth retribution against Hachette. According to multiple press reports, Amazon has increased Hachette’s book prices to its customers then turned its automated merchandising algorithms into attack dogs that encourage customers to consider “similar items at a lower price“; Amazon is telling customers Hachette print books are out of stock; and is denying Hachette the ability to list preorders. For a company that prides itself in customer service, these are all customer-unfriendly moves. These actions also punish Hachette authors, who through no fault of their own will suffer reduced sales at Amazon.

For the last four years, indie ebook authors have endured similar iron-fisted policy enforcement and lost earnings with Amazon’s KDP price-matching, even when Amazon knew the out-of-sync ebook prices were not the author’s intention or fault. Amazon plays business like war. Overwhelming force pushes weak hands to surrender and comply.

In a letter written to Amazon by the Association of Author’s Representatives (AAR), a trade group representing literary agents, AAR likened Amazon’s tactics to hostage-taking and extortion.

Amazon defenders (and critics too) and will say business is business, and if you want to play in the Amazon sandbox – the world’s largest ebook store – you have to play by their rules. The Amazon defenders are correct. Amazon is under no obligation to carry Hachette’s books under the terms Hachette wants. Amazon is under no obligation to play nice.

The industry can cry until it’s blue in the face about how Amazon is ruthless and heavy-handed, and how other retailers are kinder and gentler. The truth of the argument doesn’t change the reality. Amazon does what it does because it can, because authors and publishers let them do it, and because it’s in Amazon’s nature to act this way. Lions eat wildebeest.

For its part, Hachette is sending letters to agents and authors asking for their patience and support. In their May 23 letter, Hachette wrote:

Please know that we are doing everything in our power to find a solution to this difficult situation, one that best serves our authors and their work, and that preserves our ability to survive and thrive as a strong and author-centric publishing company.

Amazon is playing a game of divide and conquer. Amazon knows if they weaken or cancel their agency agreement with Hachette that the other publishers will have less leverage to hold the line on agency. And whatever concessions Amazon gets, other retailers will want the same, further undermining the ability of publishers to control their prices or maintain their profits.

Amazon’s tactics hit Hachette in two places where it hurts:

  1. Author confidence – The dispute will undermine literary agent and author confidence that Hachette can deliver books to Amazon. This will cause some agents and authors to think twice before selling upcoming projects to Hachette.
  2. Profitability – Amazon knows that if they if they can make Hachette the first domino to fall in their anti-agency crusade, it’s more likely to force other publishers to abandon it as well. Once agency is eliminated, ebooks will become less profitable to publishers, which then marginalizes publishers by weakening their strategic power in the marketplace. With lower margins, publishers will have less flexibility to increase ebook royalty rates to authors at a time when their authors are clamoring for higher royalties. This would thereby compel more authors to self-publish directly with Amazon, which benefits Amazon.

Publishers deserve much of the blame for making their ebook margins such an appetizing target for Amazon. Amazon’s assault on their margins should come as no surprise. In 2012, Adam Lashinsky of Fortune Magazine wrote that a favorite Jeff Bezos aphorism is “Your margin is my opportunity.” Publishers have been complaining about Amazon for years yet still supplied them the books that created Amazon.

Publishers have been reporting healthy earnings in recent months, driven in large part by high-margin ebook sales. Publishers pay authors only 25% of net ebook proceeds, whereas indie authors earn 85-100% of net proceeds. In other words, publishers made themselves a target for a company whose very DNA is programmed to strip suppliers (publishers) of their margin.

From a PR perspective, Amazon can cast their move as taking from the greedy publishers to provide customers lower prices. But in the end, they’re really taking from authors.

Hachette faces a dilemma. They face the lose/lose decision of either giving that margin to Amazon, or choosing to kiss its Amazon relationship goodbye. It would be painful for publishers to say goodbye to Amazon. Amazon controls approximately 1/3 of the overall trade book market in the US, and up to 50-60% of the ebook market.

In 2010, publishers presented Amazon with a unified front by simultaneously demanding agency pricing terms. This forced Amazon to capitulate and accept agency pricing. It was a different world back then. Amazon’s nascent Kindle ebook business needed the books of big publishers. The bitter aftertaste has never left Amazon’s mouth.

The publishers viewed agency as a better model.  The US DoJ viewed the united front as collusion.

In 2014, publishers are more disposable to Amazon than they once were, thanks in part to the rise of indie authorship, and thanks also to better business diversification. Amazon’s business is no longer as dependent upon books as it once was. They sell everything under the sun, from diapers to shoes to cloud services to groceries to media devices.

Books represent only one of hundreds of layers of icing on the cake of Amazon. Amazon can lose money on books while still operating a profitable business.

Pure-play book retailers – Kobo and Barnes & Noble for example, must earn money from book sales. Unlike Amazon, they don’t have the financial resources to sell books at a loss forever. Publishers must also earn money from book sales, otherwise they can’t keep the lights on.

If Amazon can abolish agency pricing it will have the power to put its largest pure-play book retailing competitors out of business.  This will make the publishers even more dependent upon Amazon, which further weakens their power.

How can Hachette get out of this mess? None of its options are good. Amazon holds the strongest hand in this high-stakes poker match.

The boldest option is for Hachette to play the nuclear card: they can withdraw all their books from Amazon.  Hachette could direct readers to more publisher-friendly platforms and stores. Hachette could also make a more concerted effort to develop new channels of distribution. Curiously, neither Hachette nor any other major NY publisher has ever attempted to sell their books in the Smashwords ebook store, despite the fact that Smashwords pays up to 80% list. Publisher insistence on DRM is one of several factors that has locked them into Amazon and locked them out of new outlets. Most of the publishers are also refusing to work with the new ebook subscription services, or have treated libraries as second-class citizens, even though these two channels provide yet another healthy counterbalance to a single retailer’s dominance.

It’s uncertain if Hachette or other publishers could survive if they abandon Amazon. Would authors and literary agents continue to support them if their books didn’t reach Amazon?

The window of opportunity for such a bold move is closing quickly. Within the next several years, ebooks as a percentage of the overall book market will increase as print declines. Within a few years, Amazon’s sales of indie-supplied ebooks will probably exceed sales of publisher-supplied books. This means the leverage publishers hold over Amazon will diminish each year.

The other alternative is for Hachette to capitulate to Amazon, which is akin to Hachette accepting a long term death sentence. Amazon views publishers as unnecessary intermediaries.  Amazon works to disintermediate the intermediaries so it can control the relationship with the creators (authors) and the customers.

The other Big 5 publishers might do well to play their nuclear cards before it’s too late.

If the big publishers capitulate and abandon agency, the other retailers, in order to remain competitive, will be forced to abandon their agency agreements with the publishers as well, otherwise Amazon would have the ability to underprice them. And then the pure-play book retailers would fall.

Are Indie Authors Next in the Crosshairs?

The dispute with Hachette foreshadows what comes next for indie ebook authors at Amazon who have grown comfortable to KDP’s 70% royalty rates.

Think about my divide and conquer reference above. Indies are already divided and conquered at Amazon, but most don’t realize this. These indies all have direct-upload relationships with Amazon. They don’t have the collective bargaining power of a large publisher to advocate on their behalf. As the unfolding events indicate, it’s questionable if even a large publisher has leverage over Amazon.

If Hachette doesn’t have the power to maintain 70% earnings, how will million-copy-selling New York Times bestselling indie authors have any power when Amazon decides to put the squeeze on them? And how about the rest of the indie community which has even less leverage over Amazon?

How long until Amazon puts on the squeeze?  The squeeze may already have started. In February, Amazon gutted the royalty rates they pay for audiobooks, as Laura Hazard Owen reported at GigaOm in her story, Amazon-owned Audible lowers royalty rates on self-published audiobooks. Previously, authors earned up to 90% list. Under the new terms, authors earn from 25% to 40% list. Amazon can do this because they dominate audiobooks.

At any time, Amazon could choose to eliminate the 70% royalty option at KDP. They could offer the same terms as their Audible division: 25% list if you’re non-exclusive, and 40% list if you’re exclusive.

If Amazon tightens the screws, indies will face the same painful decision Hachette now faces. Either swallow the bitter pill, or remove your books from Amazon.

Most indies would probably choose to accept lower royalties at Amazon under the logic that something is better than nothing. As individuals, indies have little leverage against Amazon.

Most vulnerable to any change in policy at Amazon are the indie authors who supply approximately 500,000 ebooks to Amazon’s KDP Select program.

Advice to Indie Authors: Four Steps to Improve your Independence

Is it really necessary that retailers and publishers should view one another as war-like adversaries, or as predator and prey? I don’t think so. At Smashwords, we serve our authors by serving our retailers. We help our retail partners efficiently receive, ingest and sell our authors’ books. By opening up new retail and library channels, we support our authors. We think our new channels help our retailers too, because each new channel we open is a reminder that exclusivity is bad for publishing. What leverage we do have we apply to negotiating fair and equitable agreements that are win/wins for our authors and retailers. We want our retail partners to profit from our books, because if they don’t profit it’s not a long-term sustainable relationship. We believe the 70/30 agency split provides retailers a fair profit. I’ve always believed that partnership and cooperation are preferable to war.

As an indie author, it’s important you understand that you’re the future of publishing. Your choices matter. Your decisions will shape not only your future but the future for all indies. Your decisions will shape how retailers treat you. Independence is earned – it’s not something you can take for granted. Here are four tips to preserve your independence:

  1. Choose your partners carefully. In the Indie Author Manifesto I wrote that indie authors should seek business relationships marked by partnership, fairness, equity and mutually aligned interests.
  2. Favor retail partners that support the agency model. Agency puts authors and publishers in control and frees retailers to compete against one another based on customer experience rather than cut-throat price wars. The agency model enables lower customer prices because more of the money goes to the author/publisher rather than the retailer.Indies have used agency to lower ebooks prices while publishers made the mistake of using agency to raise prices.Agency establishes a framework by which authors and retailers can work in partnership rather than as predator and prey.
  3. Avoid exclusivity. Exclusivity makes you dependent upon a single retailer. Work for independence, the opposite of dependence. Diversify your income stream by distributing everywhere. Every retailer reaches new readers you otherwise won’t reach. Each retailer, and each store they operate in each country, represents its own unique micro-market of readers. It can take years to develop readership, so maintain a strong and steady course of uninterrupted full distribution. This is similar advice I gave gave in 2011 when I cautioned authors to steer clear of Amazon’s KDP Select option.
  4. Support a vibrant ecosystem of multiple competing retailers. On your website and in your promotions, provide direct links to your books at each retail partner. Give your fans choice. Choice makes your books more accessible to readers.”

So there you have it from Smashwords, my friends. The four points above are good advice, which I follow. Note that this means you’ll have to have three different formats for each book—one for Amazon, one for Barnes and Noble, and one for Smashwords. I post my titles on Apple and Kobo via Smashwords, but if you have the technical expertise to post directly on Apple and Kobo (as yet, I don’t, so it’s easier and quicker for me to post on those sites via Smashwords), you’ll need special formats for each of those sites, too.

Bear in mind, too, that Smashwords has a vested interest in stirring up authors’ anxiety about Amazon—they are bitter rival competitors for the retailing of ebooks.

Like Big Media’s continued investment in Blockbusters (as a select few individuals define and choose such properties) to the neglect of everything else, Amazon’s strategy is horrible for authors. All authors.

Next:

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 6: Market Share Lisa Mason #SFWApro

Previous Blogs in this Series:

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond, Part 1: Introduction https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/03/18/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-1-introduction-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 2: Who’s Reading? https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/07/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-2-whos-reading-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 3: The Shady Case of Fifty Shades https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/04/17/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-3-the-shady-case-of-fifty-shades-lisa-mason-sfwapro/

State of the Biz: Publishing in 2014 and Beyond Part 4: The Comet and the Long Tail Lisa Mason #SFWApro https://lisamasontheauthor.com/2014/05/27/state-of-the-biz-publishing-in-2014-and-beyond-part-4-the-comet-and-the-long-tail-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, Kobo, and Sony. Summer of Love, A Time Travel is also on Amazon.com in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Brazil, Japan, and India.

The Gilded Age, A Time Travel on BarnesandNoble, US Kindle, Canada Kindle, UK Kindle, Apple, Kobo, Sony, 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, Sony, 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, Kobo, and Sony; 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, 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!