Thursday, 28 August 2008

Amazon Buys Shelfari

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It has been announced that Amazon has bought Shelfari, a bookworm social networking site. At Selfari, both authors and avid readers alike can list their own, or other books they have read/written on their 'virtual bookshelf'. The site is heavily discussion and review driven and much of what I have seen there is already available through Amazon's own sites.

One can only deduce that this is another step in Amazon's drive to get a strong foothold in the bookmarket, particularly through the sale of Print-on-demand produced titles and electronic reader sales. Some may believe that this is good news for the Self-publishing and POD Subsidy publishers, but I'm not so sure. There are several other large sites on the internet with a similar book social network to Shelfari's, but from what I can see, the vast majority of books listed are from traditional publishers.

It will, nevertheless, be interesting to see how this all develops in regard to Self-published and Subsidy published authors.

Monday, 25 August 2008

Update August 2008 - Diggory Press Court Hearing

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It seems quite a while since there was last any developments in the court action taken by authors against Diggory Press in the uk. Stephen Manning of Checkpoint Press has issued an update as to where the case is currently for any interested parties. Earlier this month, there was a hearing about the court action and the following communication from Stephen reached me over the past weekend and I have posted it here in full.

(To all interested parties)

Having received several enquiries, I felt it was time to bring you up to date on the Diggory / Mrs Rosalind Franklin court hearing of Aug 12th last.

Basically, the judge would not discuss evidence at the hearing, but instead urged us to follow certain legal protocols and perhaps attempt mediation with Mrs Franklin before moving to the next stage. But unfortunately, despite several claimants' ongoing efforts at mediation with Mrs Franklin, there currently seems little prospect of success.. So the case is still very much active, and appears now to be on track for a full-blown civil case. Accordingly, there is limited information I can pass on in a relatively open forum such as this.

However, I believe it's fair to say that many of the active claimants are surprised at the multiple legalistic obstacles we are being asked to broach to secure what seems to us to be a simple black-and-white issue of theft and fraud (amonst other things). But the general sense of determination to follow through to a just outcome remains firm, but much now depends upon the orders of the judge, and any subsequent responses from Mrs Franklin...

I can also report that the list of authors who have forwarded complaints to me about Mrs Franklin / Diggory / Exposure / Meadow Books / Kingdom Come Publishing (yes, that's the latest RF 'enterprise' to appear online) - now numbers around seventy individuals... and more come in each week. Some of them have succesfully served warrants via the small claims system - or by contacting paypal online to retrieve their money - but once again, as far as I am aware - no-one has yet been succesful in actually geting their cash back. This is chiefly due to 'adroit manipulations' by RF that effectively prevents enforcement agencies being able to follow through in one way or another.. sorry but I can't go into too much detail at the moment.

Anyway, hope that brings most people up-to-date for the time being. It looks like we will be back in court for another hearing within the next two or three months - thereafter to a formal civil trial where witness will probably have to be called. Obviously, if anyone receiving this email has something they would like to add or offer in writing - please feel free to send it to me at this email address, and I will make sure it is forwarded to the appropriate place.

Thanks again to everyone for their encouragement and support thus far.. We'll send another update as-and-when developments occur..

Kind regards


Thursday, 14 August 2008

The Advance that Never Was

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Cate, daughter-in-law of 93 year old author, Lorna Page, yesterday clarified the story which has been filling the media over the past few days. Cate's original press release is available from the BBC site and clearly shows that no advance was ever claimed to have been paid to Ms Page for her book in her original press releases. It seems the the story grew a 'tale' once passed on to lazy media corporations. Well, I suppose it is August, and reporters are desperate for a good story, no matter what kind of detail they have to add to it!

The BBC followed up with the following:

Wednesday, 13 August 2008

POD Publisher Book Ranking - Analysis

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I want to have a look at what kinds of books sell best from POD publishers. I have selected five of the ‘heavy-hitters’ of POD publishers and listed their top five books by sales rank on this week. The publishers I have selected are:

Outskirts Press

1. How to Be A Super Hot Woman by Mandy Simons and Emily J. Terry (Paperback Mar 2007)
2. The Exclusive Layguide by Michael Antonio (Paperback Aug 2007)
3. Meat Smoking and Smokehouse Design by Stanley Marianski, Adam Marianski, Robert Marianski (Paperback Mar 2006)
4. The Master’s Guide to Cunnilingus by Vanessa Ryan (Paperback July 2006)
5. Uncommon Emotions by Lynn Galli (Paperback Jan 2008)

The list of titles from Outskirts Press is weighted heavily toward the category of Relationship/Sex/Dating, numbering 3 out of five of the titles. Of the other two, one is Food/Drink and just one title no.5 is a book of fiction. The date range is predominantly over one to two years in print. The sales ranking for the top title ‘How to Be A Super Hot woman’ comes in at 1849.

1. The Promised Land by Rick Norris (Paperback Nov 2005)
2. Soft Target by Conrad Jones (Paperback Jan 2008)
3. Raising A Vaccine Free Child by Wendy Lydall (Paperback Feb 2005)
4. Swim, Bike, Run, Laugh! by Dan Madson (Paperback Jun 2005)
5. Finding Reality by Keith Loy (Paperback 2008)

Here, the strength from Authorhouse seems to be books in the self-help category with 3 out of five books. The final two fall into the Sport and, again, we find just one fiction title. Interestingly, three of the titles were published as far back as 2005. The no.1 book sales ranking is 2804.

1. Darcy’s Passions by Regina Jeffers (Paperback Nov 2007)
2. K-Pax IV by Gene Brewer (Paperback March 2007)
3. Islamic Banking by Muhammad saleem (Paperback Jan 2006)
4. The Domain Game by David Kesmodel (Paperback May 2008)
5. Fishing Success Off The Beach by Richard Wiegand (Paperback Sept 2007)

Finally we have a list topped by a book of fiction from Xlibris. In fact, the number two title on the list is also fiction. The other three books are Business, Technology and the last title Hobby/leisure. Again, the nature of print-on-demand sees a ‘Jan 2006’ still available and selling from Amazon. The top sales ranking from Xlibris is 9875.

1. 101 Drama Games and Activities by David Farmer (Paperback Apr 2007)
2. The A-Z Guide to Santorini by Tony Oswin (Paperback Oct 2007)
3. Revenge of Killer Sudoku by djape (Paperback Oct 2007)
4. Gundog Training Made Easy by Eric Begbie (Paperback Nov 2006)
5. Withnail & I by Thomas Hewitt-McManus (Paperback July 2006)

No fiction titles appearing at all in the Lulu list. Instead, we have got, Hobby/Leisure, Travel guide, Puzzle, Hobby/Leisure, and a Film Compendium. No 2008 titles feature at all, but again the list stretches back more than two years. The top sales rank for the number one title is 5510, lower than I would have expected for one of the largest POD publishers on this list.

1. Vengeance Is Mine by Brandy Purdy (Paperback Dec 2007)
2. Solider of Rome: The Legionary by James Mace (Paperback Nov 2006)
3. Solider of Rome: The Sacrovir Revolt by James Mace (Paperback Feb 2008)
4. 100 Tips for Hoteliers by Peter J. Venison (Paperback dec 2005)
5. The Ghost Next Door by Mark Alan Morris (Paperback Jan 2004)

The biggest representation of fiction occurs on IUniverse’s list with three Historical Fiction titles. Business Management and Paranormal/supernatural make up the other two. The oldest book still selling here dates back to Jan 2004, more than four and a half years ago. The top ranking book comes in at 2719.

To summarise some of the information, I have looked at the year of publication and also the categories of the published books in the lists.

Year of Publication:
2004 - 1 title
2005 - 4 titles
2006 - 6 titles
2007 - 9 titles
2008 - 5 titles

Categories of Books Published:
Non-Fiction - 18 titles
Fiction - 7 titles

I must stress that this is a general analysis and as with all POD publishing and Self-Publishing, a great deal depends on the efforts and endeavours of the author to market and promote their own work, and to adopt and employ the best possible services and methods available to them. My conclusions are gathered from this particular ranking analysis and my past years research into POD publishers.

It is clear that a book published through print-on-demand technology has the potential to remain available to the buying public longer than a book printed by a traditional publisher through the standard first offset print run. In commercial terms, a large publisher will usually stick with a launched book and market it to the best of their means for a finite period, or until the first print run is exhausted. That is not to say that over a three to six month period, a significant percentage of the first print run may find itself returnable to the distributor/wholesaler, depending on the push and success of the book, and the willingness of the publisher to commit to a second print run if neccessary. With a POD published book, what is printed will find its way to the buying reader, by the very nature of print-on-demand requirements.

From the span of years of the above POD published books, even a low to moderate seller can steadily sell for some two to three years. This may very well culminate in a slow build-up of sales over a lengthy period of time.

POD publishing is no different than traditional, commercial publishing, in that non-fiction far outstretches the sales, and amount of titles published of fiction. On our above lists, non-fiction betters fiction published by POD publishers at a ratio of about three to one.

The strong categories of non-fiction seem to be a mix of Self-Help, Relationship/dating and Hobby/How-to titles. From looking at a wider spectrum of titles available from these publishers, we will also see that Mind/Body/Spirit are also very strong.

Regarding fiction, the concensus seems to be that POD publishing is not a viable method of seeing your great novel become a success. That is not to say that the promotional and marketing efforts of a POD publisher working closely with an author cannot make an exception to the rule. It is tough, but not entirely impossible.

What is clear regarding fiction published through a POD publisher, is that you have a better chance if your novel falls into the Historical or Sci-Fi categories. It could be argued, to be fair, that these are also the trends of success for traditional published books and commercially large publishers.

I would also like to make two observations I have noted from the analysis and my general research of POD publishers. Firstly, Lulu's ranking surprised me, in comparison to the other four POD publishers. Surprised - simply because I expected them to fair better when the overall sales rankings were compared. It may be simply the time I chose to do the analysis, but I had expected the sales ranking to be significantly better. Perhaps further analysis is required on my part. Secondly, iUniverse came out very strongly in the fiction category, having three titles in their top five. In light of my first observation about Lulu, could it be that those authors who publish through iUniverse and use this POD publisher's marketing service packs fair better than if they had published with another POD publisher. Is this where iUniverse's strength lies?

This may indeed become the focus of a future article. For now, please feel free to post any comments and feedback on what you as a published POD author have experienced.

Monday, 11 August 2008

Authorhouse - £310,000 advance!

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In light of my next posting about what POD published books sell best, I thought the article which appeared in this morning's Daily Telegraph very interesting. It would appear that POD publisher Authorhouse has paid out author Lorna Page a substancial advance for her novel 'A Dangerous Weakness'.

A quick check on adds further to this story as the book does not appear in an advance search of Authorhouse's top 30 titles. The book has been out since last month. It would appear that Ms Page has quite a number of other fictional 'nursing story' titles out as far back as 1944! Her publisher list includes, Gresham, Dales, Newton and Linford over the years.

The full Telegraph story is here.

Your thoughts on this very odd story appreciated. There does seem to be something more to this story than at first meets the eye.

There is now a discussion thread on this at

Also BBC Spotlight TV Interview:

Saturday, 9 August 2008

POD Publishers - Top 5 Book Sales

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In my next article, I plan to look at five big-hitters in POD publishing and examine what books actualy sell best in this particular field. The industry itself suggests DIY, Self-Help, Cookery, Spiritual/Religious and Politics are the main sellers. In effect, that fiction is really a no-go for POD authors. Well, lets see. Article in the next day or two. Feel free to add your own experiences.

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